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

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Jesus Trusts in Us? The Key to Discipleship - Purity 633


 Jesus Trusts in Us?  The Key to Discipleship  - Purity 633

Purity 633 01/20/2022  

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blue cumulus cloud filled sky over County Route 26A in Stuyvesant NY comes to us from September 10th, 2021 and yours truly as I was moved to pull over to capture this simple but beautiful scene of a roadway disappearing around a bend.    

Well, It’s Thursday and I take photos like this one, of pathways, to encourage others to step onto the path of Christian Discipleship as I will be facilitating a Men’s Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course Discussion on Zoom this evening.  Christian Discipleship is always on my mind because I live it and on Thursdays I encourage others to discover the abundant life that is the result of living it. Discipleship is a lifestyle of learning, application, and purpose.

Dictionary.com defines discipleship as the condition or situation of being a disciple, a follower, or a student of some philosophy, especially a follower of Jesus Christ. 

I love the fact that this site acknowledges that one of the best examples of what defines discipleship is the follower of Jesus Christ.   In this age of post Christian society and cultural diversity that is moving us toward the end times, instances of Christ being mentioned or respected will become less and less so its nice to see that His example hasn’t been erased just yet. (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discipleship)

The second definition that the website lists is “the group of followers of Christ in His lifetime”.   I put that one in quotes. His lifetime, capital H! The use of a capital H in the personal pronouns of He, Him, Himself or a capital Y in You or Your when referring to Jesus Christ is done to admit and acknowledge His exalted status as God.   So Dictionary.com not only glorifies Jesus Christ as the example of discipleship but it also unwittingly testifies to His deity.   

Again in this post Christian world that’s nice to see. So let the countdown begin, for someone to complain and demand these references to Jesus be removed.   Hey if they can ban nativity displays in the public square and remove the Ten Commandments from courthouses, they can certainly edit a few lines on a dictionary website.

Amazingly, my surprise and joy didn’t end there.  For the second definition, dictionary.com provided an example of its use which said:

“The key to Jesus’ discipleship was his personal trust in his disciples.”  Okay small h’s but I’ll take it. 

While the natural born skeptic in me could point to how one of Jesus’ disciples betrayed Him and how the other Apostles, in fear of their lives, abandoned Christ, so much for trusting those disciples, I would agree with this example of what the key to discipleship is: trust.  

Discipleship is not only a condition or a situation. Discipleship is a relationship and like all beneficial relationships it is built on trust.   The disciple has to trust that the discipler is teaching something worthwhile and that the lessons they learn will have a benefit to their lives. 

Also, as dictionary.com’s example for usage points out, the discipler has to trust the disciple too.  The discipler has to trust that the disciples will absorb what they are taught and will be faithful to apply the teachings to their lives to represent what they have learned.  

Jesus Christ trusted His disciples to be true their calling and He did so with the knowledge that one of them would betray Him.  And despite the other Apostle’s failures when Christ was arrested, they showed themselves to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ by establishing the early church with all but one of them going to early deaths as martyrs for the cause of Christ.   

A discipler can’t make their disciples learn or follow the teachings they impart. The responsibility for the absorption and application of the wisdom taught is the sole responsibility of the disciple.

As Christians, we are not just supposed to be believers in Jesus. We are supposed to be Christ’s disciples. We are supposed to learn about Him and His teachings and apply them to our lives in a way that would represent Him.   

When we do less than that, those outside of the faith are right to point out our hypocrisy.

As someone who came to faith in Jesus Christ relatively late in life, I decided that I would do my best to learn and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ because I knew of the tremendous gift that I had been given in my salvation and I didn’t want to be someone who could be accused of being a hypocrite.  I wanted to be a real authentic Christian and God has worked in my life to slowly progress towards that goal.   

One term that is used in the Bible that is used to describe living a Christian Disciple’s life is “walking in the Spirit”.  When we walk in the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit of peace, love, joy, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience and self-control begin to grow in our lives but it is our responsibility to walk into them.   

As Christians, we are disciples of Christ and, just like Jesus trusted the original Apostles, He is trusting us to answer His call and follow Him.  

So be true to the calling that the Lord has put on your life. His words and example are trustworthy and will lead you into a life of victory, freedom, and purpose that leads to an abundant life of experiencing the fruit of the Spirit here on earth and will eventually take you to the ultimate good of being welcomed into His eternal kingdom.   Trust in Christ and represent Him as His disciple and experience the peace that comes from knowing that you are in a harmonious and trusting relationship with God.


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 4:13 (NLT2)
13  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Today’s verse is one of those verses that can empower your faith walk and inspire you to accomplish things you never dreamed of and to shift the paradigms that the world has programmed you with.  

Many Bible scholars temper this verse by encouraging Christians to look at the context of this epistle to point out that the Apostle Paul was describing both living abundantly and going through quite a bit of suffering and that if the context is properly understood we might not use this verse as a magical incantation that will guarantee us of our success. 

This verse isn’t supposed to echo the America song “You Can Do Magic”  that says “You can do magic, You can have anything that you desire.”  That song was talking about the magic of seduction.. so anyway.  

Okay, so no we shouldn’t necessarily think that saying this verse will give us anything we want.  However,  I don’t think an understanding of the context of this verse necessarily negates the ability for our faith in God to overcome and achieve great things.  

The biggest lie that the enemy tells us to discourage our victory and our pursuing our purpose in Christ is that something is impossible.   I’ll say it again. The biggest lie that the enemy tells us is that something is impossible.   

If we temper the power of our faith and try to discourage our brothers and sisters in Christ from pursuing what they feel the Lord is calling them to we could be supporting the enemy’s agenda.   

If we don’t try, we may never discover what we can do. If we don’t preserve, we may never discover what the Lord has for us on the other side of our trials.  

While today’s verse won’t give you all the material blessings you may want in life, it can empower you to become more like Christ and the context of this verse does not temper that promise.  We need to know that we can do everything through Christ when we are suffering.  This word from God can be applied at all times and in every season of life.  

Rather than a Christian “abracadabra”, it is a word from the Lord to encourage us to follow Him regardless of the circumstance and to live our lives according to His wisdom and ways.       

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 5.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

RELATING TO AUTHORITY

Daniel is a powerful example of submission. It could be argued that King Nebuchadnezzar overstepped his authority by requiring Daniel and his people to do something that went against their faith. Notice how Daniel responded. He showed respect to the king and those who carried out the king’s commands. Nebuchadnezzar wanted those who were in his service to eat the food he chose. Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s food, so he sought permission from his immediate superior to eat as God required, as long as he remained healthy enough to be a servant of the King, which is all the King really wanted. Because he was not defiant, nor disrespectful, “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.”94 Daniel offered a creative alternative that allowed the commander to save face in the sight of the king and to also fulfill the wishes of the king to have wise and healthy servants.

The Lord’s Prayer95 is a model for how we are to appeal to those who are in authority over us. First, we must have a right standing, which is reflected in the phrase, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” In most judicial systems, we must approach the judge in a court of law with respect. It would be considered contempt of court if we didn’t. We respectfully address the judge as “Your honor.”

If there are any unresolved personal issues between yourself and the one you wish to make an appeal to, you better get them resolved first. That is true for our God as well as judges in courts of law or supervisors at work. We couldn’t approach God until He found a way to forgive us, and any judge who is personally biased toward or against the accused must remove himself from the case. If a teenager has been disrespectful and disobedient to his father, he should get that straightened out before he asks for the keys to the car.

Second, we should be committed to the success of those who are in authority and willing to do their will as long as it doesn’t violate who we are in Christ. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10). We must do nothing that would hinder them from carrying out their God-given responsibilities. People in leadership cannot accomplish much without the loyal support of those who are under them. Those who are in a submissive role will not prosper in their rebellion. Scripture says, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.

Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”96

One of Satan’s more potent strategies is to discredit spiritual leaders. Your loyalty to those who are in authority over you will be tested. This fact is especially true in Christian ministries and in the home. Everybody will be tempted with subtle thoughts such as: I don’t like the way he did that; I could do it better than that; This is what I would do if I were in that position; or I’m the one who should be running the show around here. It doesn’t make any difference if those thoughts come from the pit, from other disloyal members or from your own flesh; they are wrong according to James 3:13-18:

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Most leaders will listen to our appeals if they know we are concerned for their responsibilities and their reputations. The Lord withheld judgment upon the Israelites when Moses petitioned Him. He based his appeal on the reputation of God.97 God can only bless us if we are submissive, 98 and in doing so, we find favor with Him.99 Life will be more difficult for us if the ones we are serving are failing in their responsibilities. Every passage that commands us to be submissive ends in a promise for the ones who are—and condemnation for those who aren’t.

Third, our appeals must be based on legitimate needs. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread.”100 Every leader is subject to the needs of those he serves, and the Lord will bring conviction upon those who do not hear the legitimate cries of their people. However, requests for selfish desires may justifiably go unanswered. Few things can turn off a parent more than an ungrateful child who demands more than what is needed.

Fourth, our appeals must come from hearts that are free from bitterness. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”101 Anyone who has allowed a root of bitterness to spring up and defile others should not expect favor from those who are in authority. When Simon requested authority from the apostles, Peter refused saying, “You are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”102

Fifth, our appeals should be for proper direction in life, which is reflected in the phrase, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”103 Every

human institution has been given its authority by God “for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”104

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

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

Friday, January 14, 2022

Light My Fire and Move Me into doing Uncommon Things – Agreeing to Walk in the Spirit - Purity 628


 

Light My Fire and Move Me into doing Uncommon Things – Agreeing to Walk in the Spirit -  Purity 628

Purity 628 01/14/2022  Purity 628 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a roaring fire on what was a 16 degree night last weekend comes to us from a friend who did the uncommon thing of having a campfire meal of steak and local vegetables on a January night where few would follow his example. But the company of their significant other and the heat of the fire seemed to enough to warm their bodies and hearts as they felt cozy with what they called “low key relaxation”.  I would have said it was low degree relaxation.  But seriously,  I have a lot of respect for people who do the uncommon thing and don’t let their surrounding circumstances prevent them from enjoying their lives.  

Well, it’s Friday and we can thank the Lord for the day and the weekend ahead and I invite you to consider doing something with your weekend that isn’t common.

Last night I had the honor of leading a Zoom meeting with a group of men who have all decided to do what has become an uncommon thing.  They have decided to follow the Lord’s will for their lives by trusting Him to help them to overcome their personal and spiritual conflicts to experience their freedom in Christ. They begun the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course from Freedom in Christ Ministries and although we are only in our second week, one of the participants already has given a testimony of achieving a victory over a personal struggle because they put into practice what they learned from the course.   Before ending the meeting last night I encouraged all the men that they could experience their freedom and have similar victories if they would apply the teachings, which are based on the word of God, to their lives.  

I also encouraged them with the knowledge that when they came to faith in Christ they received the Holy Spirit, and He communicates with us in three ways:

1.    Communion – When we come to the Lord in prayer, worship, or Bible Study and we feel the presence of the Lord or especially close to God the Holy Spirit is manifesting His presence and moving us into closer relationship with God by revealing things about God that we didn’t fully grasp or understand. 

2.    Conscience – After coming to Christ, sinning ain’t like it used to be! Our consciences tell us that our sinful behaviors are in opposition to who we are in Christ. And if we commit ourselves to follow the Lord, we have a heightened sensitivity to sin and have a motivation to forsake it. The Holy Spirit is the one that is convicting our consciences to turn to God’s ways.

3.    Intuition – Who ever said that our faith walk was one sided communication?  If we are walking in the Spirit, we will receive intuitions that will lead us to do good works or do uncommon things like talk to someone about Jesus or to pray for someone.  The leadings of the Holy Spirit never lead us into sin. They lead us to do good things or to impart knowledge to others and when we follow the Spirit’s lead we never regret it because we have the assurance that, regardless of the results, we were faithful to the Lord’s call. 

I encouraged the men that although the choice to follow the Lord may result in negative responses from the world, and even family and friends, their choice to agree with the Lord about how they should live and actually apply it to their lives may be uncommon but it will be the choice that leads to the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. 

To end the meeting we read through the Who I Am in Christ resource (https://www.ficm.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/who-i-am-in-christ05.pdf)  that is a list of statements that proclaim the truth of God’s word about our condition of being accepted, secure and significant when we are in Christ.  I read the scripture references for each statement and discovered that for many of the verses there was a condition to the promises that God would fulfill. The condition was to be faithful and to live according to the Lord’s ways. The condition was to follow Him.   

Many times Christians live mostly in the world and rest on God’s forgiveness of their sins and remain unchanged and struggle with the same things they did before coming to Christ.     

Christian Counselor, J.E. Adam’s note on Proverbs 28:9  provides some hard truth regarding seeking the Lord’s favor in prayer when your heart is not His or if you are not following Him. He writes:  

“It does no good to urge an unbeliever to pray about his problem. Because biblical counselors seek change that pleases God, nothing that an unbeliever does (short of repentance) will be accepted by Him (cf. 2:14b, 22; Rm 8:8). The prayer of rebellious believers is likewise ineffectual (1 Pe 3:7).”

I hate to be blasé about this but to quote the NY State Lottery: “You have to be in it to win it.”   

So in order to experience the abundant life that Jesus wants us to live, we have to do the uncommon thing and stop living for ourselves and start to live according to our new Identity in Christ.  

So light the fires, and kick the tires, and make a decision to follow the Lord every day, It doesn’t have to be complicated, It starts with the decision to surrender some of our time to draw close to Him in prayer and Bible study and to continually meditate on who we are in Christ to shape our thoughts and our behaviors to be conformed to the image of Christ. 

When we do that we will experience the peace, love, joy, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, and self-control that the Lord has already poured into us with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We just have to start living like we should as a child of God to see those fruit grow in our lives.  

So do the uncommon thing and keep walking and talking with God.  People might think you have gone off the deep end but, brothers and sisters can I tell you, that’s where the living waters of the Holy Spirit really flow and they will move you to the abundant life you always wanted but never thought you could have.    


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 28:13 (NLT2)
13  People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Today’s verse tells us of the mercy we receive that comes to us from God when we confess them to Him. 

Brothers and sisters, if you are new to the Bible and want to take a crack at the Old Testament, I would recommend reading the Book of Proverbs. It is loaded with pithy spiritual nuggets of truth that are definitive about the way we should go if we want to live in harmony with God.

No matter how rich and famous you may be, if you conceal your sins and do not confess them and bring them under the atoning work of the cross by making Jesus your Lord and Savior, you will not prosper.

The verse for evangelism, John 3:16, is a beloved promise for the believer but is a harsh warning for those who don’t. 

John 3:16 (NKJV)
16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

That one word, perish, says it all.  If you conceal your sins, or don’t believe in sin, it doesn’t matter, you ultimately will not prosper; you will perish.  

But as today’s verse points out, God has made a way for us to receive mercy.   By putting your faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, you are forgiven and are mercifully given a place n God’s eternal kingdom as an adopted child of God.  

This verse also has real life application as well. Hey, we are not perfect, and we will make mistakes and do things we shouldn’t.  If we hide what we have done we will be tormented by guilt, shame, and fear but if we confess what we have done we may receive mercy here on earth.  

Confession, as we taught yesterday, means to agree with God.  So in our daily lives, if we mess up or do something stupid we need to throw ourselves under the bus, rat ourselves out, and tell the truth with the full knowledge that we may have to suffer some negative consequences, but if we do that we will be honoring the Lord’s will for our lives to repent and we can have the conviction and motivation to forsake the ways that led us astray.   

But there is a way not to suffer.  Don’t do anything you will need to conceal or confess! There is great freedom when you have nothing to hide and nothing to confess. So follow the Lord and know how good His mercy feels when you apply His wisdom to your life.


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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

GETTING TO THE EMOTIONAL CORE

As you pray through your list of names, stay with each individual until you are sure you have dealt with all the remembered pain—what he or she did, how he or she hurt you, how he or she made you feel (rejected, unloved, unworthy, dirty, etc.). This process is important because facing specific issues is what enables you to get to the emotional core, where the damage was done and the healing takes place. Forgiving superficially results in superficial freedom and healing.

Many people have sincerely tried to forgive but weren’t able to because they didn’t understand the real source of their bitterness and the subsequent lies they have believed about themselves. Feelings of abandonment would fit into this category. Forgiving someone for hurting you may only be dealing with the symptom. You may need to ask yourself, “What specifically happened to me?” “How did I respond at the time?” and “How has it affected me today?” Anger, sadness, and depression are only the emotional consequences of what happened.

Physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse can also severely damage your self-concept. Your identity becomes wrapped around the abuse. A rape victim may feel like a whore, and the emotionally battered person may feel worthless. Forgiving the person for making her feel like a whore or feeling worthless will not get it done. She would need to forgive like this: “I forgive that man who raped me, for forcing me to have sex with him against my will, and for violating my body, which is a temple of God, when I wanted to glorify God in my body. And I renounce the lie that I am a whore or that my body is dirty.” (More will be said about this kind of renunciation in Step Six.) Or you may need to pray,

 “I forgive my mother for saying I will never amount to anything and for constantly putting me down by saying ___________________ (be specific), because it made me feel ___________________ (state how it made you feel, i.e. incompetent, inferior, worthless, etc.). I renounce the lies that I have believed about myself. I am not the terrible person my mother said I was; I am a child of God, and I choose to believe what God says about me.”

Hurtful experiences in early childhood shape our self-perceptions. It is common to hear people tearfully pray: “Lord, I forgive my father (or mother) for beating me, for never caring about what was happening in my life, for not believing me when I told him about the sexual abuse. I forgive him for what he said and did that caused me to feel dirty, unloved, and worthless.” Such negative programming contributes to a distorted sense of self. Forgiving others connects them to a loving Father who sees them as His children, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

Mental strongholds are torn down as people forgive those who have offended them. They have lived under the condemnation of those labels for years. For the liberated Christian, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”85 Lies are exposed so they can live according to the truth of who they really are in Christ.

PREPARING YOUR HEARTS

Bitterness is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person will die. It is to the soul what cancer is to the body. If you knew that you had a form of cancer that could be removed by surgery, wouldn’t you say to the doctor, “Go for it! Get it all!”? Bitterness, like cancer, affects every part 

of your being. Forgiving from your heart those who have hurt you is God’s way of removing the cancer.

Tragically, this cancer of the soul is a communicable disease that can be spread to others. That is why the Word of God says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”86 Entire families and churches can be defiled by roots of bitterness.

God may bring to mind offending people and experiences you have totally forgotten. Let Him do it even if it is painful. Remember, you are doing this for your sake. God wants you to be free. Don’t rationalize or explain the offender’s behavior. Forgiveness is dealing with your pain and leaving the other person to God. Positive feelings will follow in time; freeing yourself from the past is the critical issue right now.

Don’t say, “Lord, please help me to forgive” because He is already helping you. Don’t say, “Lord, I want to forgive” because you are bypassing the hard-core choice to forgive, which is your responsibility. Stay with each individual until you are sure you have dealt with all the remembered pain—what they did, how they hurt you, how they made you feel (rejected, unloved, unworthy, dirty, etc.).

Are you ready to forgive the people on your list so that you can be free in Christ and so that those people and your past no longer have any control over you? If you are ready, then for each person on your list pray aloud as follows:

Lord, I choose to forgive ____________________

(name the person) for_______________________

(what they did or failed to do), which made me feel

________________________________________

(share the painful memories).

 

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Following the Obscured Path that Leads to Good - Purity 627

Following the Obscured Path that Leads to Good -  Purity 627

Purity 627 01/13/2022  Purity 627 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a stream disappearing into a snow covered forest comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene when I was out working in Poestenkill NY back on November 30th of last year.  If time permits I will also share a couple of videos on the blog of that stream flowing to perhaps provide you with a moment of peace.  (Video didn't process!, Maybe Later)   

I know if you are in the colder parts of our country and are negatively affected by the weather probably the last thing you want to see is a picture of snow! But I share it today for two reasons.  The first reason is, no matter how much may dislike to feel and deal with snowy weather, you have to admit that it is pretty to look at.  


The second reason I share it is because this stream is a pathway of sorts and on Thursdays I generally share photos of pathways to encourage people to step on to, or keep walking on, the path of Christian Discipleship which means that you decide to live your life according to God’s way and continually seek His presence, wisdom, guidance, and strength through prayer, Bible study and simply “walking and talking with God”.  

I encourage this choice on Thursday’s specifically because that is the night that I have taught or led a ministry to help other Christians realize their freedom in Christ for the past 6 years. I had done this in the past at my local church but now I have been blessed with the opportunity to lead a Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course for Men via Zoom for Freedom in Christ Ministries.  To express your interest in joining a Freedom in Christ course use the “get help” link that I am providing on the blog today. (https://www.ficm.org/get-help/).   


I chose todays photo to reflect that the pathway of Christian Discipleship is not always  hospitable. The snow here could represent the cold reception that you will get when you let your family and friends know that you have decided to follow Jesus with the way you live your life going forward. 

The fact that those snow covered trees seem to block and obscure where this stream pathway goes could represent the fact that the world, the flesh, and the devil doesn’t want you to go to where that stream ends and it could also represent the fact that in this Christian walk of faith we don’t always have the assurance of where this is path is leading us.

It also represents the need for us to trust and have faith that God has put us on this path and, no matter what we may experience along the way, we can trust that God will lead us to a good place and be with us every step of the way.  

That paradox of our having uncertainty because of what we can not see and having to be certain that God will see us through is what the path of Christian Discipleship is all about: faith in God over and above our present circumstances and feelings.  

To have that assurance of God’s presence in our lives we have to be walking with Him rather than going our own way. We have to be seeking His wisdom and ways rather than relying on the ways of the world or the ways we have always done things before. 

When we put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior our relationship with God is established. We are forgiven of our sins and given eternal life. We become new creations that are free from sin and death.  

We receive spiritual life and many blessings and promises through Christ but in order to experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives here and now, we have to trust God, turn from our old ways, and follow Him.  The pathway may not always be easy but it leads to peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience and self-control.  

Just like when you are hiking on a path obscured by a dense forest and you have to trust that the ones who have gone before you will take you to somewhere worthwhile, we  have to trust that God called us to follow Him and that He won’t lead us astray.    


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 1:9 (NLT2)
9  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Today’s verse tells us that God continually forgives confessed sin and that He will cleanse us from all wickedness.   

Today’s verse subtly speaks of the spiritual reality of God’s enduring love for us and how it demonstrated by the fact that He is faithful to forgive us and move us out of the darkness of our besetting sins.  

But I like to point out that this verse describes a relationship. The verse doesn’t just tell us that God will forgive us and cleanse us. Before those awesome promises of God there is a condition. The verse tells us that “when we confess our sins to Him” is the condition that leads to that forgiveness and cleansing.   

The Greek word that is translated as “confess” in this verse is homologeō and the first definition for that word in Strong’s Lexicon is “to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent.  

So when we are to “confess” our sins. We are not to just list our transgressions. 

“This is what I did Lord. Forgive me.”

No, we are to agree with God. We are to say the same thing as He would about our sins which is that our behaviors are missing the mark of how a child of God would behave and that we will turn from them and forsake them to follow the Lord’s way.  

Now don’t get me wrong here, your forgiveness of your sins and your right standing with God was established and is irrevocable when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.  

This verse is not saying that if we don’t confess our sins we won’t be accepted into God’s kingdom.  This verse is speaking about your relationship with God and the fact that we are “saints who will sin”.  

God knows that our Christian life will not be sinless perfection but He doesn’t want us to live in condemnation when we fail. Instead He wants us to come to Him to reestablish the harmony of our relationship with Him that our sin gets in the way of.  He wants us to re-experience the peace of our forgiven status by confessing to Him when we fail.  

This could lead to a cycle of sin-confess sin confess if we don’t understand that we are to agree with God and repent and to:

John 8:11 (NLT2)
11  … Go and sin no more.”   

The agreeing with God, our repentance, is what will lead to us to being cleanse from all wickedness.  God doesn’t want you on the merry go round of sin and empty confession. He wants you to know not only the peace of your continual forgiveness but He wants you to experience the joy of being cleansed of your wickedness and the close relationship you can have when you confess and agree with God.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Your sins don’t need to trip you up but to get over them you need to draw close to God and agree with Him in the way you should go.  

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

JUSTICE, MERCY, AND GRACE

Consider these simple definitions of justice, mercy and grace as they apply to relationships: Justice is giving people what they deserve. If God were perfectly just in dealing with us, we would all go to hell. God is a just God, and “The wages of sin is death.”78

Mercy is not giving people what they deserve. “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.”79 Justice had to be served, so Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God.

Grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”80 Forgiveness and eternal life are free gifts from God.

So the Lord instructs us to, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”81 We are not to give people what they deserve (be merciful); we are to give them what they don’t deserve (be gracious). We are called to love people, not because they are lovable or deserve to be loved, but because we have become “partakers of the divine nature.”82 God loves us because it is His nature to love us. “God is love.”83 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”84 This ability to love one another is possible only by the grace of God, as is the ability to forgive as we have been forgiven.

The most common Greek word in the New Testament translated to forgive basically means to send away or to let go. In forgiving, we send away the devil so he can’t torment us, and we let go of the past so it can no longer have a hold on us. The pain and anger is released as we forgive from our hearts.

WHAT TO AVOID

Two major errors are to be avoided when addressing the issue of forgiveness. The first is more common among counselors. Influenced by secular resources, some counselors teach that forgiveness is a process and tell many that they are not ready to forgive. They tell people they have to go through all the painful memories first and then they will be able to forgive. The problem is they will never get there. Rehearsing the painful memories week after week only deepens the wounds and reinforces the abuse. The implication is that one has to heal in order to forgive, but in actuality, it is the other way around. We forgive in order to heal.

The other error is more common in the Church. The extreme version would sound like this: “You shouldn’t feel that way; you just need to forgive.” They just bypassed forgiveness. We have to forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is a hard choice, which includes: (1) allowing God to surface the names of every offending person and painful memory; (2) agreeing to live with the consequences of the other person’s sin without seeking revenge; and (3) letting God deal with the offending person in His way and in His time.

All forgiveness is efficacious or substitutionary. Christ paid the price for our sins, and we pay the price for those who sinned against us. In a practical sense, forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sins. “But that isn’t fair,” some protest. Of course it isn’t, but we will have to do so anyway. Everybody is living with the consequences of somebody else’s sin. We are all living with the consequences of Adam’s sin. We have the choice to live in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness.

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship