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Showing posts with label Freedom in Christ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Freedom in Christ. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Register for a Freedom In Christ Discipleship Course for this Fall, Now!


 Announcement Podcast

I am happy to announce that I will be facilitating another round of the Freedom in Christ Course for Freedom in Christ Ministries this fall! And we are going national! My group is the only men’s group and we will be meeting on Tuesday evenings via Zoom.

But there other classes available as well, see below and follow the link to register!

Freedom in Christ Course Classes

Classes start the week of September 6th

Freedom in Christ Ministries is offering national Freedom in Christ Course classes with registration open now.

There are 5 different class options. These are being organized by Sue Huber, CFMA from the Northeast team. They are open to everyone.

The Freedom in Christ Course is designed to help every Christian become a fruitful disciple and make their life count. Over 350,000 people have gone through the curriculum in English, and it has been translated into over 25 languages. Some of the areas covered in the course include:

– How we became brand-new people from the inside out when we became Christians

– Why we can go boldly into God’s presence any time we like without fear

– How nothing we do can make God love us any more or any less

– How to resolve the effects of even the deepest issues from the past

– How to deal with repeating patterns of sin

– Understanding what God’s purpose for your life is (it may not be what you think!)

This is our foundational discipleship course.

If you know anyone who is interested, please have them apply soon. We have already had 14 people sign up in the last 12 hours! To find out more:

https://www.ficm.org/.../freedom-in-christ-course-fall-2022/.

Applications/registrations will be open through August 23, 2022.

 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

God’s Perfect Grace - Purity 777


 God’s Perfect Grace - Purity 777

Purity 777 7/7/2022 Purity 777 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of morning on the Indian River in Sebastian Florida comes to us from a friend who captured this scene and shared it back on May 27th but has since set their course and mind on Carolina, as they recently shared their plans to build a new house in the Tar Heel State! As moss doesn’t grow on a rolling stone, my friend has been active in his retirement travels but seems to be laying stakes to a new home. Somehow I can’t think of this move as “settling down though, and it  may be best to consider this move as establishing a new “base of operations” because there always seems to be a new chapter to my friend’s ongoing journey.  

Well, It’s Thursday again, and I share today’s photo because the pier it highlights is a path of sorts and I will once again be encouraging others to travel the path of Christian Discipleship as I felt moved to a study of Freedom in Christ Ministries’ The Grace Course on Zoom with some former graduates of the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course.   

The last lesson in the Freedom in Christ course is entitled “What’s Next?” and so I offered an answer to that question, The Grace Course is next, and I invited others to pursue it and am pleased to some of my old friends have decided to join me. 

The thing about ministry or pursuing the Lord is that you have to be fully prepared to “go it alone”, as in “no matter what Lord, I will follow You”, and you have to realize that just because you are motivated to “do something for God’s kingdom or glory”, it doesn’t mean anyone else will share in that desire.  

I have often said that “When you decide to charge up a mountain for God, don’t be surprised to discover that no one is following your lead.”  I realize that you can’t infect others with your zeal for the Lord and can only humble give invitations and allow others to decide for themselves whether they want to walk with you or not.  

This will be my first time facilitating this particular course, so I only offered it to those who have graduated from the Freedom in Christ Course and have gone through the Steps to Freedom in Christ.  The ones I have invited have their Freedom in Christ so I won’t have to do too much convincing, I don’t think,  when we walk through the material that is intended to help course participants to “live in God’s grace every moment of every day” for the rest of their lives.  

Like I said, I don’t think I will have to do too much convincing here, but make no mistake, I am not taking it for granted that my friends fully understand God’s grace and how to continually live in it because it something that we may have to continually remind ourselves of and fight to stay in.  

Now when I say fight, obviously I am not talking about wrestling with God to keep His grace, because as the course teaches, God’s grace has nothing to do with our performance! Read or listen to that again if you missed it:  God’s grace has nothing to do with your performance!  

For those intrigued, I am sharing a link to the Grace Course Participant’s Guide (https://freedominchrist.com/thegracecourseworkbook.aspx) that present’s a cliff notes version of the teaching.   

So, no we don’t fight or work to get God’s grace, but we may have to renew our minds to understand it and to apply it to our lives and we may have to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil to prevent us from “losing it”. 

We can’t lose God’s grace, either, but the world system we have grown up in and the enemy might try to convince us that we can or that God’s grace is just “too good to be true”.   But’s God’s grace is true and you know you have received it when you can not only can “see the truth of the gospel” but have made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior.  

Grace and Faith are all tied up in a knot and Christ is the “door” and the Holy Spirit seals the deal.  

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)
8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9  not of works, lest anyone should boast.
10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

So grace is a free gift, received through faith in Christ and it establishes peace with God, an unbreakable relationship with Him, and a purpose for us to walk into through Him.  

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…” but now that we have been saved let’s keep going in that song, let’s keep going in God’s grace as the song says:

“Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.” – (Amazing Grace by John Newton.)

We have been through the fire but we are not home, so let’s keep going in God’s grace.  Let’s keep walking and talking with God and discover those “good works” He has prepared for us to walk into.  Our life in Christ is never a “done deal” in terms of our purpose.  He offers us the invitation to eternal life and that means that in Christ our journey has just begun and by God’s grace we walk it out knowing that one day we will be led home.   

     

Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT2)
4  But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,
5  that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

Today’s Bible verse speaks of, surprise, God’s grace.  Okay I didn’t craft this message beforehand, quite frankly, as I sit down to write each morning I sometimes think I know where I am going to go and then suddenly find myself writing about something else.  

I didn’t plan on sharing Ephesians 2:8-10 above but here we are, with the next verses shared from my separate resources that just happen to be Ephesians 2:4-5, that just happen to mention God’s grace!  

Today’s verses tell us that God is rich in mercy and that He loves us and that even though we were dead, with a capital D – not realy in the text – but you know what I mean,  DEAD because of our sins ,  God gave us life!

When? When did God do that? When Christ was raised from the dead. Oh yes and it is only by God’s grace that you have been saved, in bold, again not in the text but for emphasis, been saved!  

Been saved, when?  For me? Uh March of 2010?  No!  when Christ was raised from the dead!

These verses indicate something huge that we can easily miss.  God knows all right. He knows the end from the beginning, right?   So guess what, God knew beforehand, like way before hand, who would receive life through Christ.  And the culmination of their our lives in Christ, happened in essence, the moment Christ was raised from the dead!

When Christ died, he paid for our sins – It is finished right?- but when He was raised from the dead, we were given new life – with Him.  Jesus had to be resurrected, for us to receive new life through Him.   In essence, even though it would be accomplished many years later for each of us, when Christ was raised from the dead – all the work was done, by God, to save us.   

And why was this all done? Because God is merciful and He loves us. He picked us! Long before we were born, He knew who would be saved and when Christ was raised from the dead the only thing left to be done was for history to take it’s course, resulting in every man, woman, and child who ever would give themselves to the Lordship of Jesus to say “Yes”.  

God is in charge of history. He knows the end from the beginning and He allows us to play a part in it.  Our words and actions can be used by the Lord to share the good news that will cause another of His sons and daughters to come home.  

God is so good. We are so blessed. And in reality, we have been blessed long before we ever knew it.   

Hey all though we are not perfect and life is not perfect, God’s grace is and I can’t help but to find it strangely ironic that I would be writing about His perfection on July 7th.  Seven is the number of perfection – so 7/7 and just God is funny, and perfect, this just happens to be the 777th Purity message I have written.  

Let’s thank God for His perfect grace, His perfect mercy, and His perfect love that not only casts out all fear but fills our hearts and our very lives with joy!

______________________________________________________________________

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

PART II

Paul’s Teaching on the Powers

What the apostle paul has to say about the powers of darkness should be formative for our thinking as Christians. For those of us who regard his letters as containing theology that is normative for belief and practice, Paul’s teaching on the powers should shape and refine our world view. A careful assessment of his teaching on this topic is therefore essential, especially since our modern world view is often thought to be at odds with the biblical teaching on evil spirits.

How is Paul to be understood on this issue? Does he disagree with the prevailing cultural assumption that evil spirits do not exist? What does he think about the idea of evil spirits influencing the affairs of humanity and opposing God’s plan of salvation? How does Paul instruct his churches to respond to those forces?

These questions are best answered when we see Paul and his letters in their first-century religious and cultural context. After we investigate the source of Paul’s teaching and the manner of his response to the early Christians in the light of their setting, we will be able to clarify the extent to which Paul agreed with common conceptions about evil spirits and where he differed. Most important of all, we will be able to see, from his perspective, how believers should view the realm of the powers of darkness in light of their relationship with Christ.

6

What Are the Powers?

Since the enlightenment, many scholars have “demythologized” the powers of darkness in an attempt to relate scriptural statements that refer to evil forces to modern life. For such scholars the idea of the demonic is a cultural or mythical way of referring to the evil thoughts and actions of an individual person or a corrupt social institution. They claim that principalities and powers are identical to the other hostile forces in Paul’s letters, specifically the powers of sin, the law, flesh and death.

What exactly did Paul think? Did he conceive of the powers as spirits having their own independent existence, or did he regard them as mere projections of the abstract notions of personal, corporate and political evil?

They Are Real!

On this issue Paul was certainly a man of his times. In line with popular Jewish and pagan thought he too assumed that the world is filled with evil spirits who are hostile to humanity. He never showed any doubt about the existence of such a realm. Instead, he taught his churches how to live and minister in a world where these powerful supernatural opponents exist.

We need to be more precise, however. It is not enough just to observe that he believed in evil spirits; we need to see what he really thought about them. It is therefore important to discern how much of the popular belief he accepted and what portions he rejected. Part of our answer to this question can be answered by looking at the varied terminology he used for the powers of darkness (see p. 218).[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 


[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 87–90.


Monday, July 4, 2022

And We’re Up! - Independence and Experiencing Freedom - Purity 774




And We’re Up! - Independence and Experiencing Freedom - Purity 774

Purity 774 7/4/2022  Purity 774 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a woman paddle boarding underneath an ethereal sky towards the blazing sun comes to us from a friend who shared this photo from their maiden voyage and initial attempts at this sport back on June 20th.   With effort they succeed and happily announced, “And we’re up!” to celebrate their victory and freedom to explore the nearby waterways in a brand new way.  

Today in America, we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day and it is my prayer that my friends celebrate their freedom today in a way that will give them peace and joy! It is also my prayer that we all express our thanks to our country’s forefathers and ancestors who fought for and created our country and the God that blessed their endeavors to establish a country in which we can freely live and worship the Lord.  

On July 4th, 1776, in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, the forefathers of our country  appealed to claim the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”  that we are endowed with by our Creator, God. In the Declaration they listed the offenses of the tyrannical rule of the King of England, declared their intentions to “throw off” the bonds of “Despotism” and “alter their former Systems of Government”.  At summation of the declaration, the forefathers appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world”, again that’s God, to rectify their intentions to govern themselves, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”. (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript)     

With our declaration, the forefathers stood on the truths regarding freedom that were self-evident, that God created, and made an appeal to the Lord to provide the freedom that they sought, relying on His protection.  History tells the story of how their efforts were blessed with success.  

However, although the forefathers invoked the truth of the order that God created and made an appeal to receive His divine providence on July 4th 1776, the seeds of discord detailed in the declaration had happened years before its signing, and the fighting of what became known as the American Revolutionary War had already begun with the Battle of Lexington in April of 1775 and wouldn’t conclude completely until 1783 when Britain accepted American independence with the Treaty of Paris. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War)  

God’s providential hand can be seen throughout this period of American history but America wasn’t instantly blessed with freedom. Freedom isn’t free. Men and women had to suffer, fight, and die in the process.  Men had to resist the injustices and take action.   So today we should be very grateful for our nation’s founding forefathers and citizenry who paid the cost in order that we can be free.  

And, of course, as Christians we should always be thankful for God for establishing His created order in which it is very evident that all men were created equal, in His image as the word says, and that His word supports the fact of our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . I’m sharing a link an article by Desiring God.org’s John Bloom on that topic today (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/life-liberty-and-the-pursuit-of-happiness). 

Of course, as American’s we are free, but unless we are able to exercise our freedom we wouldn’t really be free.  The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, for instance, gives us the freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. (https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/page/things-you-need).  If the government stopped me from sharing my blog or podcast and silenced my voice that wishes to encourage faith in Jesus Christ and living free in Him, I would be able to say that my American freedom was in “name only”, meaning I was free in theory but not in practice.   

Likewise, I challenge Christians to make sure that they are exercising their rights to life everlasting, liberty in Christ, and the pursuit of joy, the happiness that is not based on circumstances and goes beyond all understanding.   If you don’t have joy and peace which could be said to be freedom from fear, anxiety and depression, or if you don’t have freedom from the sins of the flesh, I would say that your claim to life in Christ and Christian freedom is in “name only”, you are not experiencing or exercising your freedom in Christ.

So Today of all days, I would encourage my friends to make a declaration to throw off the oppressive government’s of the world, the flesh, and the devil and declare yourself to be independent of them by paradoxically declaring your freedom by declaring your dependence on God.  

That’s okay, the forefathers did the same thing in our nation’s declaration of independence, they recognized His truth and relied on His divine providence for their success in experiencing their freedom.   

And like a revolutionary war hero, we can follow their example by declaring the injustices of a life of selfishness and sin and the tyrannical rule that we have allowed ourselves to live under by appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World to help us. 

But just like a Minute Man, who risked everything to experience freedom, we too as Christians must be willing to do more than just declare ourselves “independent” from our problems that steal our freedom, we must wage war on them and with the Lord’s help defeat them.   

Through Jesus Christ, God has given us the victory. Through Christ, God has given us freedom. But to be truly free we have to experience it. And to experience it, we must fight the battles of spiritual warfare and strive to live under the government of God’s kingdom rather than the tyrannical rule of the world, the flesh, and the devil.      

So fight the good fight of faith and keep walking and talking with God, and one day – maybe today – you can. Like my friend on her paddle board, announce “And we’re up!” when you experience rising above the things that kept you from living free in Christ!      

 

Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Joel 2:13 (NLT2)
13  Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of the heart work that is inherent in turning from the things that grieve us and is required for knowing the Lord’s compassion and mercy.  

Not, for nothing, but choosing to accept Jesus as Lord and choosing to return to the Lord with our initial salvation or after a fall into sin can be some heartbreaking work! The real hurt in this heartbreaking work of repentance though is to our pride mostly but it also can be pain born from the fact that we may have known better but still chose to rebel against the Lord and to go our own way.   

Coming to the realization that our sin is something that is wicked serious, also seriously wicked, and is something that we simply can not pay back is a heart breaking loss of our belief of our self sufficiency or relative goodness.    When we learn sin is sin and we are as lost as the most despicable rebellious criminal, our pride is destroyed as we realize that there is nothing we can do to save ourself.  The fact of our cosmic treason against the Lord is deserving of punishment and is irredeemable can cause us to lose hope and grieve. 

But the Lord calls us to repentance, forgiveness, and life everlasting through Jesus Christ.   Today’s verse assures us of God’s unfailing love and that the Lord is not out to punish us but we must receive His mercy and compassion through faith in Christ alone.    

When we realize God’s love by accepting Jesus as Lord, our grief turns into joy.   

But today’s verse can also apply to those of us who should know better, who have Jesus as Lord, but have unwittingly or very determinably fallen into sin again!   

Here the Lord is telling us not to beat ourselves up, but to tear our hearts, change our minds, to put our hearts into following Him.    

God’s mercy, compassion, and love are infinite.  So if we stumble, we just need to return to the Lord and we will receive it again but to stop the sin-confess merry go round of shame, we need to tear our hearts and return to the Lord with all of our heart, all of our minds, and all of our strength to experience the freedom that comes from following Him.   

______________________________________________________________________

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

Jesus on the Attack—Exorcism

Jesus’ activity in casting out evil spirits was one of the most remarkable things about him to the people of his day. The Gospel writers devoted substantial portions of their narrative, recounting Jesus’ engagement with these spirits. It is thus important to draw out the meaning of this significant activity of Jesus.

As Jesus began his ministry, he described himself as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1–2:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Lk 4:18–19, italics mine)

The Father sent Jesus to proclaim a message of liberation—liberation for people enslaved to sin and trapped in the bondage and oppression of Satan’s kingdom. Jesus interpreted Isaiah’s “prisoners” not as literal criminals in chains serving their just sentence for a crime (as, for example, imprisoned debtors). Jesus came to set free all those imprisoned by sin—prisoners of Satan.

While Luke used the Isaiah passage to set the stage for his entire Gospel, Jesus’ conflict with Satan and his evil powers has a major part in all of the Gospels. Many commentators have remarked on the overtones of Jesus’ message of liberation for the forgiveness of sins, but surprisingly few have brought out the spiritual dimension of this liberation—freedom from captivity to Satan’s kingdom.

Significantly, in Luke’s Gospel, immediately after Jesus preached in the synagogue at Nazareth, he released a man from control of a demon in the synagogue of Capernaum (Lk 4:31–37; Mk 1:23–28). This incident is the first time we see Jesus on the attack. He exerted his divine power to free the man from the tyrannizing influence of the evil spirit.

In stark contrast to the elaborate methods of the exorcists of his time, Jesus merely uttered a simple command: “Be quiet and come out of him.” Typically, Jewish and Hellenistic exorcistic formulas consisted of invoking numerous deities, using magical names (unintelligible combinations of letters), the use of some kind of magical material (such as a gem or a piece of lead) and often the performance of some rite. Jesus, however, is able to cast out the spirits by his own authority, much to the surprise of the leaders of the Capernaum synagogue and the crowds.

This manifestation of his power often resulted in a popular notoriety that Jesus was quick to suppress. Nevertheless, Jesus healed many from their direct demonic affliction. In addition to the specific accounts of exorcism in the Gospels are a number of summary statements recounting Jesus’ frontal assault on Satan’s kingdom. Mark, for instance, tells us that at Capernaum, “the whole city had gathered at the door. And he healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk 1:33–34 NASB). Exorcism was an ongoing part of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Jesus gives a parabolic explanation of the meaning of his exorcisms in all three synoptic Gospels (Mk 3:20–30; Mt 12:22–30; Lk 11:14–23). His statement came in response to an incisive accusation from Jewish authorities from Jerusalem. They accused Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebub (an alias of Satan) and of performing his many exorcisms by the ruler of the demons.

In response Jesus contends, first of all, that it is foolish to think Satan would work against his own purposes by fighting against his own forces. If he does, he is finished! Second, Jesus relates the following parable:

No one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. (Mk 3:27; see also Mt 12:29; Lk 11:21–22.)

From the context of Jesus’ words it is clear “the strong man” is a reference to Satan, and his “house” corresponds to his kingdom. “Possessions” are Satan’s greatest value and are not things, but people. Satan holds unbelieving humanity in bondage. Christ has come to engage this “strong man” and plunder his house; that is, to release the captives in Satan’s kingdom.

This passage thus becomes a very important testimony to Jesus’ mission. It provides additional clarification to the nature of the atonement. Jesus came not only to deal with the problem of sin in the world, but also to deal with God’s prime supernatural opponent—Satan himself!

Jesus’ many exorcisms clearly demonstrate his power over the evil one. They also provide numerous examples of Jesus’ ability to “bind” Satan and “rob his house.” In Mark’s account of the Gerasene demoniac, a man plagued with perhaps thousands of demons, it is highly significant to note that “no one could bind him” (Mk 5:1–20, esp. v. 3). With only the concise command, “come out of the man, you unclean spirit,” Jesus freed this man from horrific demonic influence.

The exorcisms, however, were not adequate by themselves to deal in any decisive way with the devil and his powers; that is, to “tie him up.” They can only foreshadow an event of much greater importance. Early Christian tradition uniformly looks to the cross/resurrection event as the point of fundamental significance in Christ’s conflict with the powers (Jn 12:31–33; Acts 2:34–35; Eph 1:20–22; Col 2:15; Phil 2:9–11; Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 3:8). It was through this event that Satan and his hosts were dealt the fatal blow that spelled their final doom. The “strong man” was defeated.

Having defeated Satan, Christ is able to plunder his kingdom through the church’s evangelistic outreach. The parable of the binding of the strong man probably provided great encouragement to the evangelistic efforts of the early church. Since Satan was in some sense “tied up” at the cross, the church (as Christ’s agents) could now “carry off his possessions.”

The demons themselves seemed to be aware of the significance of Christ’s mission when they said to him, “Have you come to destroy us?” (Mk 1:24). This statement looks beyond their defeat at the cross to forebode their ultimate eschatological destruction at Christ’s Second Coming. The strong man was indeed vanquished at the cross, but he is still active and still powerful. He has no authority over Christ and the kingdom of God—this was settled at the cross. Until the kingdom of God comes in its fullness, however, Satan will continue opposing God’s people in an attempt to extend his own kingdom. The church needs to watch, pray and proclaim the gospel.

Matthew and Luke make it clear that the exorcisms are in some way a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom. Jesus once told his accusers, “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit [finger in Luke] of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:28; Lk 11:20). Ethelbert Stauffer explains the meaning in this way, “The Kingdom of God is present where the dominion of the adversary has been overthrown.” His explanation certainly does not exhaust the full meaning of God’s kingdom, but it does place an appropriate emphasis on the meaning of the kingdom in relationship to the work of Satan. Susan Garrett remarks, “As the Kingdom of Satan diminishes, the Kingdom of God grows proportionately.… Every healing, exorcism, or raising from the dead is a loss for Satan and a gain for God.”7[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 77–80.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Instinct, Reactivity and Responding – Freedom in Christ - Purity 769


Instinct, Reactivity and Responding – Freedom in Christ - Purity 769

Purity 769 06/28/2022 Purity 769 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of farmland and  my canine companion, Harley, thrusting his head into some roadside weeds underneath pleasant blue skies comes to us from your truly as I captured this random photo somewhere along Waite Road back on May 29th.  

The power lines in the background that obscure the simplicity of this pastural scene and the fact of my doggie friend’s head is in a bunch of weeds would usually relegate a photo like this to the trash.  But apparently I take more photos than I look at and this photo remained on my phone for the last month and it is oddly appropriate for what’s on my mind this morning.  

My friend, Harley, follows his nose. Although he has learned to respond to some basic commands, he is still mostly pure instinct.  Here his nose causes him to thrust his head into some road side weeds possibly smelling the remnants of the sent of a rabbit, another animal’s spray or waste, or something dead, all of which seem to be a dog’s nose’s bread and butter. As much as I think at times that Harley is a “good dog” who listens, sometimes his instincts kicks in and causes him to behave in ways I wish he wouldn’t.

The Best example of this is when I began trusting him off his leash to allow him to run free in those farmland fields unencumbered as he on several instances would run at top speeds with the unadulterated joys of freedom and would make his way back to me without incident. But then on Easter Sunday, his instincts got the best of him.  While “running free” Harley discovered the delightful scents of cow manure and out of his pure joy and instincts, he inexplicably rolled around in said manure, putting me and him in the dog house of disappointment when his new scent was discovered back at the house. 

I could imagine me asking: “Why did you do it boy?” and his silent unblinking response as if to say: “What did you expect? I’m a dog.”   As if to paraphrase a line from the movie Animal House, which I will edit, “You “messed” up. You trusted us.”   

But he’s a dog. Right? Surely humans should know better and learn from their mistakes and not just blindly react to situations in the ways they have in the past, especially when they have had a measure of success in overcoming their old patterns of behavior.  

OOF, I wish I could say it wasn’t so.  I don’t have to look far, maybe only as far as the nearest mirror, to be able to testify of the difficulty of changing the ways we behave.   “Relapse is part of recovery” is a phrase because of this tendency to react rather than respond and to go back to old thought and behavior patterns when we are not diligent in renewing our minds with the word of God.   

Recently, I was disappointed to hear of a teen who had success in overcoming symptoms of depression, thoughts of suicide, and acts of self-harm had an emotional relapse and reverted to an act of self-harm, cutting themselves. Their parent was dumbfounded because they had been doing so well, having successfully gone through a teen mental health treatment program and been removed from the bullying elements that had caused much of their problems.    

However, this teen, who apparently only moments before been happy and interacting with their family, went to their room overwhelmed with emotions and shortly after emerged distraught with bleeding wounds.  I don’t know the details but the trigger to this outburst was a text message that they had received from someone from their past. So one warped individual with no compassion or empathy decided to reach out and touch someone, and intentionally or not, caused this teen to be dragged back into depression, thoughts of suicide, and an act of self-harm.

It's very easy to place blame here: the texter is obviously at fault here but without knowing the content or context of the message we can only speculate and assume that it was a negative message of derision. But to be honest, with text especially, the message received may be different from the message sent especially when emotions are involved. Communication can be a subtle thing. “I know what you meant” “I didn’t mean THAT!”

Because of the complexity of human emotions and the difficulties of communication the possibilities for an event that would precipitate an emotional reaction and an unwise decision are endless.     

As I considered this situation, I was obviously angered by the texter but as I contemplated the responses of this teen’s support group, I was a little dumbfounded by how there seemed to be little consideration of the relapsed teen’s personal responsibility in the way they chose to react to the text. 

I can only assume that somewhere along the lines in this teen’s previous mental health treatment that they were given instruction or encouragement to talk to someone when they were having problems.  They were surrounded by family. SO why didn’t they go to someone? Why didn’t they show someone the text? Why didn’t they tell someone what was going on in their life? Why didn’t they stop themselves when they had thoughts to hurt themselves?     

And then I thought about it.  We only learn what we choose to learn.  We only do what is required. To get out of a mental health hospitalization, all you have to do is demonstrate that you are no longer a danger to yourself or others.  You have to demonstrate through your affect, you mood, that you have stabilized and can verbally express your intention not to harm yourself or others, verbally, and agree to seek help if you are in crisis.   That’s it really.  

The hospital and mental health systems don’t exist to imprison people and they can not read the thoughts and intentions of the people they treat. Unfortunately, most of modern psychology has an atheistic world view and the relativistic morality that it brings paints the world in shades of gray and is hesitant to instruct clients with the wisdom of good and evil and the basic tenants of problem solving.  

While the world and all that is in it, including malicious texters, is a big problem, it isn’t the problem we should try to resolve.   The problem in mental health is in self perception and the way we interact with the world.  A Christian worldview would insist on each of our personal responsibility for the things we say, think, and do and how that lines up with the very black and white moral principles that God establishes in His word. 

Our guilt feelings, depression, and low view of ourselves may be a result of the fact that we are living independently from God and have ignored all of His wisdom and have instead decided to live by the world’s “dog eat dog, it’s a jungle out there, “I’ll do what I want” mentality.  

In this instance, whatever was sent in the text and whatever it said about the teen who received it, whether it was based on facts regarding the teen’s appearance, behaviors, or past,  wouldn’t overrule what God says about that teen.   The “Who I am in Christ list (https://www.mt4christ.org/2022/06/celebrating-life-and-freedom-purity-766.html) which I shared recently and am sharing a link to the post in which I shared it, spells out what God thinks about us when we are in Christ.  In Christ, we are accepted, significant, and secure.    

If this teen knew this, they disregard the opinions of men.  They disregard the opinion of some teasing adolescent bully who undoubtedly has some unresolved issues in their life if they feel the need to build themselves up by tearing someone else down.    

So as much as the world sucks, and as much as people can suck, it is up to us to know that it is not the world that defines us.

Of course, this all presupposes some knowledge of, and faith in, Jesus Christ.   

While we can use cognitive therapy from the world to develop better strategies to employ when we face triggers.  Those strategies won’t set you free. The world’s positive affirmations are usual pretty general and won’t give you any authority to based your positive affirmations on other than man’s logic which can so easily be derailed in a world that is quite often irrational and chaotic.  

So with out peace with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, there is only so much you can do: thus relapse is a part of recovery.  This seemingly contradictory statement is accepted wholesale in the world because: What did you expect? You messed up. You trusted us.    

Without Christ, we are in bondage to sin, we are separated from God, and all those good things that the “Who I am in Christ” list says about us, isn’t true for those without Christ, and they don’t have the authority of the maker of the universe to tell them that they are loved, significant, secure, or accepted.   

Christ gives us the forgiveness of sins and life eternal but He also gives us the power to overcome. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ in us, we can say no to sin. With the word of God, we can renew our mind to change our thoughts and emotions. And we can stand on the authority of the maker of all things, to know the truth and to see it grow in our lives.

So, stop acting on instinct, stop reacting, and start responding by seeking the Lord and His ways for our lives.   Step 1 is surrendering to the Lordship of Christ by making Christ our Lord and Savior. Step 2 is to surrender to the truth of who you are in Christ. Step 3 is to start living according to who you are in Christ and by the wisdom of God’s word.  

While we may run off from time to time and make a mess of ourselves, when we are in Christ we know always have a home and we always have peace with our Master. And we start obeying Our Master by believing what He says about us and by doing what He would have us do, we can have one dog-gone good life in the peace of His presence.

 

 

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Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT2)
18  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of receiving spiritual sight and the process of sanctification.

Here the Apostle Paul describes our new life in Christ, our transformation.   We see the truth of God and then we become more and more like Him. 

It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress and the more we seek to see and reflect the Lord’s glory we become more and more like Him.    

Our faith was never supposed to be spent sitting idly in worship services remaining more or less unchanged.  Our faith is process of change, a process of transformation that brings us closer and closer to God until we reflect His goodness, His character, and His glory.  

 

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Angelic Fall

In the Jewish literature of this period one of the most prominent themes was the belief that demons came into the world as a result of unnatural sexual relations between angels and human beings. This belief is based on an interpretation of Genesis 6:1–2 and 4, which says:

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.… The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.

Many Jewish writers interpreted the reference to “sons of God” as angels (called “Watchers”), who rebelled against God. The disastrous consequence of this unnatural union resulted in the birth of the Nephilim, the source of demons and evil spirits. The Jewish apocalyptic book of 1 Enoch spends thirty-one chapters elaborating on this fall (1 Enoch 6–36). According to this account, after the physical beauty of women on earth erotically tantalized some 200 angels, led by a certain Semyaz, the angels made a joint decision to violate their divinely given boundaries by engaging in sexual activity with the women. While they were occupying the earth, they taught people many evil arts, including alchemy, astrology, incantations and warfare. The women, made pregnant by these supernatural beings, gave birth to freakish giants. These giants committed numerous atrocities, yet their deaths did not prove to be the end of rampant evil—demons came from them:

But now the giants who are born from the union of the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. Evil spirits have come out of their bodies.… The spirits of the giants oppress each other; they will corrupt, fall, be excited, and fall upon the earth, and cause sorrow. They eat no food, nor become thirsty, nor find obstacles. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of the people and against the women, because they have proceeded forth from them. (1 Enoch 15:8–12)

It was believed these evil spirits, which issued from the giants, would continue to corrupt humanity until the end of the age when God would put an end to their hostility and judge them. In Jewish literature this rebellion is referred to many times as responsible for the presence of demons. Meanwhile, the good angels, Raphael and Michael, have bound those angels who were guilty of this crime against women under the earth, where they will remain until the judgment (1 Enoch 10:1–14; cf. Jude 6; 1 Pet 3:19–20; 2 Pet 2:4).

We may wonder about the time before this rebellion, especially in view of the Genesis account of the serpent’s temptation of Eve. Was there some prior angelic rebellion in Jewish belief? It is clear that the same Jewish literature speaks of the existence and malignant workings of evil angels prior to the Fall. There is virtually no discussion, however, about how or when Satan and his angelic cohorts came on the scene. This literature refers to a major figurehead of evil called “Satan,” the leader of a group of angels also referred to as “Satans.” These Satans accuse people and lead them astray. Interestingly, according to 1 Enoch, it was one of these Satanic messengers, named Gader’el, who misled Eve in the garden (1 Enoch 69:6). The Jews must have assumed true some kind of pre-Adam fall in order to explain the evil character and function of this Satan and his hostile messengers (see 1 Enoch 40:7; 53:3; 54:6).

Classes and Names

Asmodaeus, Semyaza, Azazel, Mastema, Beliar, Satan, Sammael and Satanail are just a few of the names used to refer to the evil angelic powers current in Judaism by the time of Paul. While there is a certain amount of diversity regarding the specific functions of each of these powers, there is a fairly common belief in Satan as the chief. These powers of evil are represented as each having a significant measure of authority within the structured hierarchy. For example, Semyaza is identified as the chief of those angels who cohabited with women. Of the 200 angels who came to earth with him, they were divided into groups of ten, with a prince, such as Arakeb, Rame’el and Tam’el, set over each.

A similar concern to name the evil angels and classify them according to their function was typical of much of this Jewish literature. Equally prominent is the arrangement and naming of the good angels surrounding the throne of God.

In the years following the New Testament era this fascination with the spirit realm did not diminish. There are frequent references to evil angels and spirits in the rabbinic literature. Far more evil spirits are identified and described. In fact, one scholar has counted 123 different demons identified by name in the rabbinic literature![1]

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

 



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 65–67.