Labels

Showing posts with label Good Works. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Good Works. Show all posts

Friday, January 6, 2023

No Good Deed… When God Puts a Limit on "Good Works" - Purity 934

 


No Good Deed… When God Puts a Limit on "Good Works" -   Purity 934

Purity 934 01/06/2023 Purity 934 Podcast

Purity 934 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a thriving corn field underneath an exquisitely blue sky with idyllic cumulus cloud formations comes to us from yours truly as I captured this peaceful scene on Waite Rd in Easton back on August 13th of 2022.   

Well, It’s Friday and while I pulled the short straw and have to work tomorrow, I know that for most today is greeted with joy or at least relief as the first work week of 2023 will draw to a close at “quitting time” later today and I am choosing to rejoice with those who will be rejoicing and pray that all who read or hear this message have an easy day at work and a wonderful weekend.   

One sign of a healthy, growing, mature Christian is seen by one’s ability to share in the joy of others. Rather than giving into feelings of envy or coveting someone else’s good fortunes, our hearts thrive when we can share in someone else joy rather than lament over our perceived lack.  

One of the prayers from Dr. Neil Anderson’s “Overcomer’s Covenant in Christ” is to “choose to adopt the attitude of Christ, which was to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind” to “regard others as more important than” ourselves, “and not merely to look out for” our “own personal interests but also the interests of others”, knowing it is more blessed to receive.  

So as Christians who seek to do the Lord’s will, we try to adopt an attitude that considers the needs of others and to look for opportunities to “do good works”, to help others when we can.  

When we walk in the Spirit where we are drawing close to God and listening for His guidance, occasionally we will receive intuitions or promptings to step out and do good works.  Some of these promptings or opportunities are pretty easy to recognize.  If your local church is organizing an event where you can serve the church or the community in some way,  that’s a wide open invitation to step out in faith and lend a helping hand.  Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to say “Yes” to everything, nor does it mean that you should exercise “your freedom from legalism” by saying “No” to everything!

We have to be discerning in doing “good works” and be sure that we are doing them for the right reasons and with the right spirit.  If you are signing up to do “good works” because you think it will make God love you more or that He will accept you more, I would invite you to review the teaching from Dr. Anderson’s “Victory over the Darkness” to gain the understanding of who you are in Christ and to accept the fact that God’s love and acceptance are not impacted by your efforts. God loves and accepts us according to His grace, not our works.   

If you become frustrated or angry or feel you are doing “good works” out of obligation, you should probably take a break from them because you are probably burned out or operating from a self-focused attitude that has forgotten all that you have received in Christ and that it is a blessing to be able to represent His kingdom and to do the good works He has prepared for you to walk into.    We don’t “have to” do good works, we are blessed to “get to” do good works and to give God glory.    If you don’t feel “blessed” by the ”good work” you do for God, you may need to remind yourself of who you are in Christ and what that means. 

Without Christ, we are eternally lost. We are dead. Did you forget that?  We don’t operate by obligation. We could never pay back God for what He did for us. It’s not about that.  

But if we truly grasp and meditate on all that we have in Christ, we should have a well spring of joy in our lives that never runs out. When we focus on the world or ourselves instead of focusing on what God has done for us, that joy can dry up. So abide in Christ, in prayer, worship, praise, and meditation, to keep your joy flowing, so you can have an abiding peace and joy that will naturally lead you to step out into good works.  

I will keep it real and admit that sometimes frustrating things or circumstances can arise and the outcomes of our good works can be less than we expected, but when your motivation is to surrender to the service of the Lord for His glory and out of the joy of your salvation,  you will be able to endure the negative and accept the results for what they are or as another lesson for growth on the path to sanctification.   

I often share the story of organizing “bell ringing” for the salvation Army during Christmas time at my former church and how a colleague  was less then joyful to be standing outside in the cold in the early morning hours as we partnered to do the first shift on the opening weekend of that Christmas drive a couple of years ago.  Although he was enthusiastic to sign up, he wasn’t “feeling it” early that morning.  But I showed him how it was done and impressed upon him that we were blessed to be out there collecting funds for a good cause and greeting people with a hearty “Good morning!” and “Merry Christmas”.  It was awesome to his grumpiness disappear, as his frown turned upside down and he gave into the “joy set before us.” 

We later went to lunch and were talking about our recovery ministry and a woman in the restaurant overheard us and came over to tell us her testimony of how the Lord had led her out of the darkness years ago and how she was over 30 years sober because she trusted God to bring her out of her addiction.  We were blessed by her testimony and encouraged her to keep on walking and talking with God and she seemed to appreciate it because even though she had the victory she seemed to need to get her “joy” back and so she tapped into ours because we were openly rejoicing over what we had done and by what God was doing in our recovery ministry and the good works of the day.  

Joy is infectious. Its is the fruit of the Spirit and it grows when we praise the Lord and follow where He leads us. 

Now I have to ease back on the joy meter a little here. I definitely want to encourage you to operate in joy and seek good works to give God glory but we also have to be discerning and realize that some of the “ideas” we get to do good works are not necessarily “God breathed” and we have to be open to His guidance when He calls us to ease back or to walk away from situations that we thought were a “good work” but either prove to be our own ideas or that our “work here is done”.  

I have two examples of this. 

Years ago I saw on social media that a Facebook friend was having difficulties with the new housing that they were blessed with. They needed furniture and a few things around the apartment needed fixing.  Feeling that this was a great opportunity to do good works, I offered up to bring over some old furniture right away and to try to see if I could possibly help with some other things.  I was encouraged to help this “friend” because they had made some posts about going to church and turning over a new leaf from their previous broken existence.  So I rushed over and delivered the furniture but after I talked to them for a few minutes “my spirit” told me to “ease back” and walk away because their faith was surface level and disingenuous and perhaps a “scam” because they were obviously still living a sinful lifestyle and their requests for additional help seemed opportunistic. They didn’t seem to be working towards righting their situation but seemed to have their hands out to take whatever they could get.  When we discussed their “new found faith” I got the impression they had found a local church that was giving to them and they were gladly accepting their help but they were only in it for what they could get.  So I felt foolish, I gladly gave what I did without regrets but pulled the plug on that “good work” project and encouraged them to stay connected to that local church to receive the help and guidance they needed.  

Was that mean? No, I don’t think so. Is this a good testimony, where this friend went on to be strong in the Lord and to be transformed.  No unfortunately it is not. It appears that my spirit was right because as far as I know they quickly gave up their new faith.   

I’m sure there are some who would say that I should have done more and that I could have turned things around, but I don’t think that is the case.  That was years ago, and I have continued to be “out there” encouraging and inviting people to the ministries I have done and to follow the Lord, but I still haven’t heard from this person.   

The other example was similar. I recently decided to bless a person with Christmas card and very small and modest gift, a $5.00, gift card because  I felt lead to bless them. This person is on public assistance I believe, is distant family, and has special needs.  We have been chatting on FB messenger and they asked about a Christmas card and asked for gift, a $30 dollar gift card to a restaurant.  I decided to be kind and send them a Christmas card and obviously a more modest gift.  I had considered giving the full amount but something in “my spirit” told me that what I sent was “enough”. 

I felt good about it. “Look at me, sending a gift to one of the “least of these”, right?  

Well, now I know why my spirit told me that my meager gift was “enough?’  Just like my previous experience, this “friend” seemed energized by my giving and quickly told me about the fact that their birthday is this month and they asked for 2 – or 3 gifts cards ($30 or $40 dollars each, please) and a “small handheld computer”.    

I didn’t really consider sending the money but offered to send them my old laptop and actually started to prepare to ship it to them.  

But before I got a chance to send it out, they contacted me again asking for the gift cards.  When I made it clear that I wasn’t going to send them any, I realized that maybe that the fact that my spirit told me “$5 was enough” meant that I wasn’t necessarily “called” to bend over backwards to “bless” this person. Maybe my idea to do this “good work” was more about stroking my ego than answering the Lord’s call.  

So I asked if my old lap top, from 2014 with windows 7, was something that they wanted.  They quickly replied that they wanted a “hand held” computer – indicating that what I wanted wouldn’t be welcome and that they basically wanted a “new” computer.  

It was at that point that I realized that “I was done”, this wasn’t necessarily something I was “supposed to do” and if anything it was either a lesson for me to be discerning or possibly a lesson to this person to pursue work to obtain what they desired.  They admitted that they wanted a “paying job”.

 So I don’t know if this interaction will light a spark and move them seek employment or if it was just a lesson for me to be discerning in offering help.  My offer of an old lap top seemed to be a good idea but could be seen to be an insult.  We have to be careful when we seek to help the “least of these” not to give “less than” what they desire or need.   I think that our “benevolent ideas” are so benevolent when we give people our junk. This why some charities refuse to take used toys or items. It isn’t really a blessing to receive junk. 

So my magnanimous attempt to “be nice” ended up opening my eyes to this and have humbled me.   Causing me to warn all of you to be discerning in “answering the call to “do good works” and to be sure that our attempts to offer help or meet needs will meet the expectations of and actually bless the people we want to help.   And so I join with the Apostle Paul who prayed:

Philippians 1:9-11 (NKJV)
9  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
10  that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
11  being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.  

As representatives to the King, we want to do right things for the right reasons, using our knowledge and discernment to be filled with the fruits of righteousness and to do “good works” that will actually give glory to God.  

So I encourage you to do good works but to be led the Spirit and to know when “enough is enough” or when to say “No.” and when to “turn and walk away.”   When we do things in our own strength or to stroke our egos, they usually result in a mess and cause us to think that “no good deed goes unpunished” but in truth these “failures” should humble us and cause us to see that we may have misread our signals or have been given the opportunity to learn patience and wisdom from our mistakes.  

We learn as we go, right? So keep walking and talking with God and try to listen every once in a while. Sometimes He may tell you back off, rather than press in. 

___________________________________________

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 A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’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 SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

By  ARTHUR W. PINK

CHAPTER TWO

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN CREATION

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

Having shown that sovereignty characterizes the whole Being of God, let us now observe how it marks all His ways and dealings.

In the great expanse of eternity which stretches behind Genesis 1:1, the universe was unborn and creation existed only in the mind of the great Creator. In His sovereign majesty God dwelt all alone. We refer to that far distant period before the heavens and the earth were created. There were then no angels to hymn God’s praises, no creatures to occupy His notice, no rebels to be brought into subjection. The great God was all alone amid the awful silence of His own vast universe. But even at that time, if time it could be called, God was sovereign. He might create or not create according to His own good pleasure. He might create this way or that way; He might create one world or one million worlds, and who was there to resist His will? He might call into existence a million different creatures and place them on absolute equality, endowing them with the same faculties and placing them in the same environment; or, He might create a million creatures each differing from the others, and possessing nothing in common save their creaturehood, and who was there to challenge His right? If He so pleased, He might call into existence a world so immense that its dimensions were utterly beyond finite computation; and were He so disposed, He might create an organism so small that nothing but the most powerful microscope could reveal its existence to human eyes. It was His sovereign right to create, on the one hand, the exalted seraphim to burn around His throne, and on the other hand, the tiny insect which dies the same hour that it is born. If the mighty God chose to have one vast gradation in His universe, from loftiest seraph to creeping reptile, from revolving worlds to floating atoms, from macrocosm to microcosm, instead of making everything uniform, who was there to question His sovereign pleasure?

Behold then the exercise of Divine sovereignty long before man ever saw the light. With whom took God counsel in the creation and disposition of His creatures? See the birds as they fly through the air, the beasts as they roam the earth, the fishes as they swim in the sea, and then ask, Who was is that made them to differ? Was it not their Creator who sovereignly assigned their various locations and adaptations to them!

Turn your eye to the heavens and observe the mysteries of Divine sovereignty which there confront the thoughtful beholder: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:41). But why should they? Why should the sun be more glorious than all the other planets? Why should there be stars of the first magnitude and others of the tenth? Why such amazing inequalities? Why should some of the heavenly bodies be more favorably placed than others in their relation to the sun? And why should there be “shooting stars,” falling stars, “wandering stars” (Jude 13), in a word, ruined stars? And the only possible answer is, “For Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

Come now to our own planet. Why should two thirds of its surface be covered with water, and why should so much of its remaining third be unfit for human cultivation or habitation? Why should there be vast stretches of marshes, deserts and ice-fields? Why should one country be so inferior, topographically, from another? Why should one be fertile, and another almost barren? Why should one be rich in minerals and another own none? Why should the climate of one be congenial and healthy, and another uncongenial and unhealthy? Why should one abound in rivers and lakes, and another be almost devoid of them? Why should one be constantly troubled with earthquakes, and another be almost entirely free from then? Why? Because thus it pleased the Creator and Upholder of all things.[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/@MT4Christ247

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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 



[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 35–36.


Friday, October 7, 2022

Acting on “Good Thoughts” - Walking in the Spirit - Purity 856


 

Acting on “Good Thoughts”  - Walking in the Spirit - Purity 856

Purity 856 10/07/2022 Purity 856

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun setting the misty clouds of morning ablaze for God’s glory comes to us from yours truly as I was racing to work yesterday and took some “blind shots” as I drove up the overpass of 787 North on my way to work.   I didn’t know what I would get at the time, but I trusted that something good may come from my efforts and I was blessed with this scene of the clouds and fog enshrouding Rensselaer being illuminated by the sun with a sliver of the Hudson River reflecting the shore line, with the cold hard gray wall and guard rail of the overpass in the foreground highlighting the contrast between the splendor of God’s creation and what man can create.   

Don’t get me wrong while the beauty of God’s creation will always be superior to what man can create, God put man on the earth for a purpose and while that guard rail may not be pretty, it keeps us safe and is part of a structure that is extremely useful for travel and for giving us a different perspective that just wouldn’t exist if men didn’t make it.  

Well, it’s Friday and it is my prayer that all my friends have a good and quick workday as some of us will be enjoying a three day weekend on the other side of our 9 to 5. 

This morning, while I was working out the worship song I was listening to caused me to think of a brother who recently asked for a moment to talk about his walk of faith and how negative thoughts have been plaguing his mind as he seeks to follow the Lord’s will for his life.  

The Holy Spirit put it on my heart to share that song with him as an encouragement. So I stopped what I was doing and immediately emailed my friend and brother in Christ a link to the song on YouTube.   Even though it disrupted my workout, I “answered the call” that I felt the Holy Spirit put on me this morning. And I didn’t regret it.  

And this is a good example of how the Holy Spirit may work in our lives.  We suddenly get a thought to help someone or to do something for someone that we could easily dismiss as “a nice thought”.  But if we are seeking to do the Lord’s will for us, we have to realize that these “nice thoughts” may be the Lord inviting us to “do good works”.  The question is: will we just dismiss those nice thoughts or will we act on them?   

Back in my pre-Christ days, in the midst of euphoric experiences brought upon me through the use of psychedelic drugs, on occasion I would get some grand altruistic vision to do go something good for others or to clean up my act.  In the heights of my euphoria I thought “I could do that!” but do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. 

In fact it was worse than that. Perhaps this was the spiritual forces of darkness discouraging me or just my habitual low self-esteem that plagued me back then, but on the summit of my altruistic vision I would have the realization that I wasn’t a “good person”. I was a drunk and a drug addict. I was high! And the ideas that I could do anything “good” was ridiculous.

So the joy of the experience of imagining myself doing something good, came grinding to a halt, as I realized that I was just some guy high in a basement, up late reveling on drugs and alcohol, by himself, while his wife and children slept upstairs.  This guy was “crazy” if he thought he could do anything good. 

And so I would turn my attention to something else and forget about the “good things” that I could do.   

Like I said, whether it was me recognizing the facts, my low self-esteem, or the spiritual forces of darkness seeking to keep me in bondage to my addictions,  I didn’t do the good things that I had thought of and I was in that basement for years.  

But God, right?  Yeah.  While I do work out in a basement during the week, I no longer spend time hiding away in my “man cave” reveling and entertaining myself.   God called me out of the darkness and now when I get a thought to do something good, I act on it. I do it as soon as possible.   And I have learned that regardless of the results of my actions, I have never regretted doing the good things that I felt compelled to do.  

And sometimes, one good thing leads to another. 

So after I emailed my friend that link to a song on YouTube, I remembered that I wanted to compile a playlist of Christian worship music that inspired me on my journey to victory and freedom in Christ to share with the participants of the Freedom in Christ course that I facilitate. So, this morning’s work out was cut short and I rushed upstairs to get it done, now!

So I did and I have already shared it on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit and I am sharing it here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYr9n4D1yfkqTat0ovqY0CRkhIJ2Tq61r

You see, one of the things that I discovered on the path of Christian Discipleship is that our worship is a weapon and it is a spiritual practice that increases our joy and our love for our Heavenly Faither.  

How does this “martial art of the Christian disciple” work?  

It’s simple.  You get alone. You play Christian worship music that moves you. You sing the songs and think about the Lord and what He has done, in general and in your life specifically.   You can do this while driving to work or you can do this in the privacy of your own home.   I also recommend “singing with feeling”, preferably as loud as you can.  

Perry Stone says that when we open our mouths in worship, singing and crying out to the Lord it “rolls away the stone” and allows the Holy Spirit to come out and opens us up for His infilling.   And based on my experience and growth through worship, I would say that Perry Stone sums it up pretty good.  

I have experienced the manifest presence of God at various times in periods of worship and prayer.  When we draw close to God and give Him thanks and praise, He draws close to us, and sometimes in dramatic fashion.  

I have no doubts because I know God lives because I experienced His presence.  

So there’s the playlist, and my advice: SEEK the Lord, repent of your worldly ways, make a commitment to follow Him, worship Him, and ask for The baptism of the Holy Spirit and see what happens.  When we keep seeking, when we keep asking, when we keep knocking, eventually the door to God in our lives will swing wide open and reveal to us the manifest presence of God and the reality of what a relationship with God really means.  

Through the Holy Spirit, God will reveal biblical truths to you in ways you never knew when you have a practice of Bible study. He will compel you to do good things that we may not be comfortable with.  And He will touch our hearts and minds when new surrender to Him in worship.   

So keep walking and talking with God, because when you experience His presence  you will realize that you have never been alone and that He is waiting for you to answer His call to the new and abundant life that He has for you.  

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 57:2 (NLT2)
2  I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to cry out to the Lord Most High and to take joy in the fact that He is the one who will fulfill His purpose for us.  

I posit that our relationship with God is an interactive and cooperative experience.  We do our part by seeking to know God through His word and by applying it to our lives, but God is the one who brings the results for our efforts and the blessings we could have never expected.

God is sovereign. That means He reigns, and He determines the course of His creation and human history. History is HIS STORY.  What has come to pass was ordained by God. He even uses evil for good.

So if you want to know what God’s will is, look at what has happened.  Our pasts reveal the consequences of our actions, for good and bad choices, but they also reveal the path that God has put us on.  Why were we born into this age? Why were we placed in our families in this part of the world.  God determined it. 

So where should we go?  

God invites everyone to have peace with Him through Jesus Christ and to follow Him to find their purpose.  And as today’s verse indicates God will fulfill it for us. 

IF we follow the Lord we will find His “good”, “acceptable” or “perfect: will for our lives (Romans 12: 2) So which will it be? That is determined by how we follow the Lord, by how much we “renew our minds” and present our bodies as living sacrifices for righteousness (Romans 12:1-2).    So we have free will and the more we follow the Lord the more “perfect” our purpose will be.  

But if we don’t make peace with Him by placing our faith in Christ, the purpose He will fulfill for us is to receive His just wrath, to be punished and to be separated from Him for all eternity. As we chose to reject His love and wisdom in life, we reject His presence after life and reap the consequences of our rebellion and sin.  

So don’t do that, submit to God and make peace with God through Christ and follow Him to experience the good things He has for you.

And the best thing about it all is that He fulfills our purpose, so we can answer the calls that God puts on our life and leave the results up to Him. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Amen.

 

____________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Beatitudes

Jesus on the mountain, the crowd, the disciples. The crowd sees: There is Jesus with his disciples, who have joined him. The disciples—not so long before, they themselves were fully part of the crowd. They were just like all the others. Then Jesus’ call came. So they left everything behind and followed him. Since then they have belonged to Jesus—completely. Now they go with him, live with him, follow him wherever he leads them. Something has happened to them which has not happened to the others. This is an extremely unsettling and offensive fact, which is visibly evident to the crowd. The disciples see: this is the people from whom they have come, the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is the chosen community of God. It is the people as church [Volkskirche].[2] When the disciples were called by Jesus from out of the people, they did the most obvious and natural thing lost sheep of the house of Israel could do: they followed the voice of the good shepherd, because they knew his voice. They belong to this people, indeed, especially because of the path on which they were led. They will live among this people, they will go into it and preach Jesus’ call and the splendor of discipleship. But how will it all end? Jesus sees: his disciples are over there. They have visibly left the people to join him. He has called each individual one. They have given up everything in response to his call. Now they are living in renunciation and want; they are the poorest of the poor, the most tempted of the tempted, the hungriest of the hungry. They have only him. Yes, and with him they have nothing in the world, nothing at all, but everything, everything with God. So far, he has found only a small community, but it is a great community he is looking for, when he looks at the people. Disciples and the people belong together. The disciples will be his messengers; they will find listeners and believers here and there. Nevertheless, there will be enmity between the disciples and the people until the end. Everyone’s rage at God and God’s word will fall on his disciples, and they will be rejected with him. The cross comes into view. Christ, the disciples, the people—one can already see the whole history of the suffering of Jesus and his community.1

Therefore, “Blessed!” Jesus is speaking to the disciples (cf. Luke 6:20ff.). He is speaking to those who are already under the power of his call. That call has made them poor, tempted, and hungry. He calls them blessed, not because of their want or renunciation. Neither want nor renunciation are in themselves any reason to be called blessed. The only adequate reason is the call and the promise, for whose sake those following him live in want and renunciation. The observation that some of the Beatitudes speak of want and others of the disciples’ intentional renunciation or special virtues has no special meaning. Objective want and personal renunciation have their joint basis in Christ’s call and promise. Neither of them has any value or claim in itself.

Jesus calls his disciples blessed. The people hear it and are dismayed at witnessing what happens. That which belongs to the whole people of Israel, according to God’s promise, is now being awarded to the small community of disciples chosen by Jesus: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But the disciples and the people are one in that they are all the community called by God. Jesus’ blessing should lead to decisions and salvation for all of them. All are called to be what they truly are. The disciples are blessed because of Jesus’ call that they followed. The entire people of God is blessed because of the promise which pertains to them. But will God’s people, in faith in Jesus Christ and his word, now in fact seize the promise or will they, in unfaith, depart from Christ and his community? That remains the issue.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 100–102.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Adopted to Walk in His Ways - Purity 775


Adopted to Walk in His Ways - Purity 775

Purity 775 7/5/2022 Purity 775 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Cliff Seguin standing beside the trailer for Operation Adopt a Soldier underneath blue skies comes to us from yours truly as I grabbed this candid photo of the nonprofit organization’s founder and chairman after we had finished marching in the village of Argyle’s Independence Day Parade yesterday.   Founded in 2003, Operation Adopt a Soldi (https://www.operationadoptasoldier.org/) provides support to U.S. Soldiers stationed worldwide through the generous assistance of volunteers from the Saratoga, Albany, Queensbury, and Clifton Park, NY areas. 

My purpose in of marching in yesterday’s parade was multifaceted as through this single act of service I was able to: 

·       Celebrate my individual freedom as a United States citizen

·       Participate in the Village of Argyle’s expression of their community’s love for freedom

·       Support those who serve the cause of upholding our freedom by serving in the military by representing an organization dedicated to giving them support

·       Support the good work that Operation Adopt a Soldier does

·       Honor my father-in-law’s individual efforts as the founder and Chairman of Operation Adopt a Soldier

·       Honor my father by carrying the flag for the U.S. Navy

·       Join my wife and step kids in honoring their father and grandfather through their participation in his community service.

Considering all that is involved here, how could I not agree to march in yesterdays’ Fourth of July Parade? 

Add to all these reasons the fact that this simple act of service qualifies as a “good work” that the Lord may have prepared for me to walk into and it really wasn’t a question of whether or not I would join my father-in-law because it would please him.  It is such a wonderful thing to consider how we can meet our purpose of pleasing God through our loving and serving others.  With all of these things in play, I believe my participation in the parade also may have pleased my Heavenly Father, and since living to serve Him is the primary purpose for the rest of my days on earth, I pleased myself as well! Talk about a win-win-win situation!

Not only did I get to serve my family and support those who serve to protect our freedom, but through the expression of my love for others I undoubtedly pleased the Lord, and that gives me joy!

Since coming to faith and Christ and surrendering to His will for my life, I have been guided to not only deal with walking away from my personal problems but have been guided into serving others in various ministries and charitable organizations. 

My journey shows me that the truth of the aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ that we are not only saved “from” God’s wrath through the forgiveness of our sins but we are “saved to”:

1.    Become more like Him through our personal sanctification in our developing our character to reflect His righteousness

2.    Show the love of God through acts of kindness and service to others and the community at large.  

3.    Let people know the reason for our hope, our changed lives, and our service by letting them know that our faith in Christ has given us a new life and  the power to overcome our personal demons and has motivated us to do good works in His name.

As adopted children of the king of all Creation, our purpose is to be transformed into what He wants us to be, to represent Him in the earth, and to welcome others to make peace with Him through faith in Christ and to join His family and kingdom.   

When you are adopted in His family, the love we have for being given a new life and from being set free from sin and death should drive us to further experience the reality of who we are in Christ through our actions.  

To echo the sentiments of John F Kennedy’s inaugural speech on becoming the 35th president of the United States, who said “ ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country…”, I would say as Christian’s we should not be overly concerned with asking how we can be blessed by God, but we should be more concerned by how we can serve God, by how we can share His love and be used by Him to bring more into His kingdom.   

In reviewing my walk with the Lord and by seeing others supposedly on the same path, I feel we may be asking the wrong questions when we come into the Lord’s royal family.   We shouldn’t be asking: “What’s in this for me?” or  “What do I have to do, now that I am a Christian?” Or perhaps worse, “What can’t I do, now that I am a Christian?!?”  , we should instead be seeking what we can do to know Him more, to be more like Him, and to show other’s His love?  

Our relationship with the Lord shouldn’t be viewed as prohibitions or requirements of what we can’t or what we must do, our relationship should an exploration of the One we love and a process of discovery of the possibilities and opportunities that our relationship with the Creator of all things presents to us. Our adoption into God’s family should result in our finding our identity and our purpose in our new life as His children.  

So keep walking and talking with God and follow where He leads. When we pursue the Lord as His child, we discover our faith isn’t a forced march of “obedience or else” but is a journey of meaning and purpose that results in peace, love, and joy.  

 

Today’s Bible verse does not come to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”, because that resource has been left behind at my countryside home in Easton NY, I believe so, I draw upon the verse of the Day from the devotional “Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary Wilder Tileston. In that resource, .

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Isaiah 27:8 (NLT2)
8  No, but he exiled Israel to call her to account. She was exiled from her land as though blown away in a storm from the east.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of the exile of the nation of Israel from their land as though by a “storm from the east”.  

A Cliff notes version of the Old Testament would undoubtedly point to the holiness of God and the consequences that His chosen people faced when they disobeyed His commands.  The Old Testament prophets repeatedly warn the nation of Israel of God’s righteousness and try to encourage the kings and people of Israel to repent and go His way but the people refused to listen and lost God’s favor and their autonomy and freedom because they were a “stiff necked”, stubborn, people.   

As today’s verse tells us God called Israel “to account” by exiling her to a foreign land where they would be treated as slaves and subject to foreign rules with limited freedoms to live and worship their Lord.   

The interplay of the course of human history and God’s sovereign control confounds us and when bad things happen to us we have a tendency to remove God from the equation.  If God, why evil? Is the question that atheists present, challenging us to explain why a good God would allow “bad things” to happen to “good people”?  

Those invaded by a foreign power and exiled from their land would probably blame their minister of defense or point to the tyrannical powers that defeated them as the reason why their freedoms were lost.  

But scripture tells us that as much as “God works all things together for good”, it also tells us that God is holy and will use afflictions of various sorts to punish the nations or to draw his people to repentance.   

It’s not just some “storm from the east” that may be causing us to suffer, our calamities may be consequences for our poor decisions or a “pruning” of sorts that the Lord is using to get our attention and to cause us to repent of our worldly ways, or to strengthen our trust in and reliance upon Him.    

With God, nothing happens in a vacuum. We are never removed from His presence. So when things go wrong, we should draw close to Him to seek His wisdom, guidance, strength, and love.     

He may be showing us the error of our ways and be directing us to follow Him by rejecting our sin and adopting His ways to live righteously.  

Or He may be teaching us about the lack of our self sufficiency and our weaknesses and be drawing us to rely on Him and walk with Him through a season where our efforts alone will not be enough to see us through.       

None of us can claim following the Lord perfectly, so whether we are enjoying a time of prosperity or find ourselves in a season of struggle or loss,  we can always seek to examine our thoughts and actions and what is happening to us to try to discern what the Lord is trying to teach us.    

Regardless the storms we face in life, we can be assured that the Lord is above them and that through our interactions with Him we can find peace in His presence.  So draw close to God and follow where His mighty rushing wind direct your steps.

______________________________________________________________________

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 World Is Under the Authority of Satan

Satan is called a “strong man” because of his wide-ranging power and authority. He is the ruler (archōn) over an entire army of evil spirits (Mk 3:22), and he possesses a measure of authority over all the kingdoms of the world (Mt 4:8–9; Lk 4:6). The Johannine literature has much to say about Satan as a “ruler.” The Gospel of John refers to Satan as “the prince (archōn) of this world” three times (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). In his first epistle, John states the idea most forcefully: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19).

His world rule does not mean the whole world is involved in the occult or is engaged in grossly immoral conduct. It does mean the world stands apart from God; and therefore, the world has affiliation with the devil. In Jesus’ teaching (and subsequently in John’s teaching), there are only two masters—God and Satan. Those who have not professed Christ are still a part of Satan’s kingdom. John records Jesus’ comments to a group of Jewish religious leaders, who had rejected him: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.… You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire” (Jn 8:42, 44). A similar thought is conveyed in Jesus’ parable of the weeds, where the weeds represent “the sons of the evil one” (Mt 13:24–30, 36–43). The weeds, sown by the devil, grow alongside the wheat (“sons of the kingdom”) until the end of the age when there is a separation and the grain is harvested and the weeds are burned.

John’s Gospel contains no reflection on the meaning of Satan’s title, “prince of this world.” The term “prince,” or archōn, was used widely to denote the highest official in a city or a region in the Greco-Roman world. Even in the Greek Old Testament archōn was used for a national, local or tribal leader. This common political term was first applied to the hierarchical organization of the supernatural realm in the book of Daniel (10:13, 20–21 and 12:1), where it refers to the chief or leader among the angelic powers. In the synoptic Gospels the devil is described as the “chief ruler” (archōn) of the demons (Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15). In John’s Gospel this rulership is extended to the entire world. For John the “world” refers to human society in terms of its organized opposition to God. It appears that while Satan’s influence and control is primarily over people, it also extends to human institutions and organizations, the social and political order.

Victory on the Cross

As seen in the parable of the strong man recorded in all three synoptic Gospels, Christ’s death and resurrection marked the decisive defeat of Satan. The Gospel of John also looks to the paramount significance of the cross in terms of its implications for Satan. In John’s recounting of Jesus’ passion prediction, Jesus said, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out” (Jn 12:31). Later in the same Gospel, Jesus speaks of the Spirit convicting the world concerning judgment, “because the prince of this world now stands condemned” (Jn 16:11). In his epistle John summarizes Jesus’ mission, which culminated in the death and resurrection of Christ, by affirming that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn 3:8b).

In speaking of the devil being “driven out” as a result of the cross, John is not representing Jesus as a helpless romantic who cannot recognize existing evil in the world. Neither should the statement be interpreted as Satan’s expulsion from heaven (cf. Rev 12:7–9). Rather, Jesus is speaking of a definite loss of authority by Satan over the world. Christians face the unique tension of having conquered Satan by virtue of their identification with Christ’s work on the cross (cf. 1 Jn 2:13–14) and needing to continue the war with Satan while they still live in this world during the present evil age. New Testament scholars describe this paradox as an “eschatological tension”—the “now” but “not yet” of our Christian lives. The new age has dawned, the kingdom of God is present, but only partially. Satan continues his hostile activity, but he has no power, authority or control over those who appropriate their new identity in Christ. Thus Jesus exhorts his disciples to “remain in me” as a branch remains in a vine (Jn 15:1–8).

Now that Satan has been “cast out,” Christ can build his church. In John 12, Jesus continues by saying, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). Jesus now exercises a saving sovereignty over the world, but not a political sovereignty.

The cross also condemns Satan (Jn 16:11). There will be an ultimate future condemnation of Satan, but on the basis of the cross. Raymond Brown comments, “The very fact that Jesus stands justified before the Father means that Satan has been condemned and has lost his power over the world.” Jesus’ death may have seemed to be a major victory for his enemies, but it had a surprising outcome. Jesus was raised, redemption was procured, and Satan was condemned. Moreover, Jesus is still present after his death in the person of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:7).

Whereas, in the exorcisms Jesus liberated a few individuals from the power of the devil, by his death and resurrection he liberated the entire race. All who exercise faith in Christ, and “abide” in him, can share in his victory over Satan and the powers of darkness.[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), 80–82.