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Showing posts with label Grace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

“Saying Grace” with our Lives- Purity 901

 

“Saying Grace” with our Lives-  Purity 901        

Purity 901 11/29/2022 Purity 901 Podcast

Purity 901 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of an outlet of the Hudson River in the shadows of the fading light of day comes to us from yours truly as my wife and I decided to enjoy the last bit of daylight this past Saturday in each other’s company on a walk at Hudson Crossing Park, in Schuylerville NY.   I had spent most of the day indoors working on power point presentations for the Bonhoeffer series I am producing while TammyLyn went to lunch with her mother and daughters but upon her return, with the day disappearing, I just had a sudden impulse to “do something!” and off we went and I’m glad we did. Not only did Isnag this spooky beautiful photo but I got to spend some simple “quality time” with my wife, where we didn’t necessarily say or do much but enjoyed the simple fact that we were together and that we loved one another.  

Well, It’s Tuesday, and I guess recalling this past weekend’s little excursion is my attempt to encourage you to be cognizant of the time you have and to utilize it, where you can, to enjoy your life and let the people you love know you appreciate them.  At that late afternoon hour, we could have just surrendered to the regular routine of getting ready for dinner and watched the daylight wane from the inside of our country side home but instead we enjoyed the last brightness of the day on the drive to Hudson Crossing and at a time some may have determined to be “too late” to go on a walk, we were on our way out, having seen every bit of daylight in a place where we could enjoy God’s creation in each other’s company rather than indoors.   

I think about this “stuff” often, the fact that although God gives us His word to guide us, He also gives us a lot of “free time” to decide what to do with our lives. We can work. We can study. We can sleep. We can stay indoors. We can go out. But the thing is, even though I do enjoy my times walking and talking with God outside, I have pondered the fact that much of our human existence would seem to be “a wash” in terms of the impact that our decisions make on our lives.  In the grand scheme, one single day in our lives may not mean that much, and in hindsight, we can analyze similar days and see no difference between a day spent indoors or a day spent outside.

There is little in and of itself of certain experiences that make them “better than others” and God’s word is rather silent on what we should do with the particulars of each and every day of our lives. We can do anything and one thing isn’t necessarily better than another!  

However, the reason I write this blog and do this podcast is that I have discovered, and continue to learn, that a life spent, regardless of our particular activities, in the “presence” of the Lord and in the context of who we are in Christ is a life that is spent in peace, love, and joy.  

Anybody looking on the outside at TammyLyn and I during our walk in the park, would have counted two in our party, but they would have been missing Someone.  Yes, we were alone but the love and gratitude that we expressed towards each other at various times in our little stroll was replete with mentions of the God that we credit with bringing us together and with thanks given in His direction.  

As easy as this is to do when you are surrounded by the glory of God’s natural creation outside, it is also something you can do inside too. 

I have to admit that before TammyLyn, I never was much of a “saying grace” Christian but early on in our relationship I saw that it was a regular practice for her. Or at least I guess it was because since I have entered her life, the “saying grace” thing seems to have fallen to me!

But social awkwardness aside, its easy to do. What could be more appropriate than thanking the Lord for providing the food that you are going to eat, and in my case, for the beautiful woman who lovingly prepared it?  

So, that’s just one way we can keep the Lord in the midst of our presence while indoors, but the truth is that I am continually “saying grace” over my life as I literally thank God moment to moment for all the things I encounter.  When I say “keep walking and talking with God”, I really mean it, like literally. 

Yes, like “Wow that dude’s crazy”, walking and talking with God.  While I can’t say that all of my life is without problems, a lot of which I create myself, walking through life and recognizing the beauty of just being with the people we love, just being where you are, and just being alive is something God never tires of hearing about, or at least He hasn’t complained to me about my constant awe and thanks!

So if you are not doing this already, start living with and start loving the Lord. There is much to be thankful for and unlike some of our human companions, He never tires of hearing us “point out the obvious” or in telling Him about how we feel.  

The constructs of society and just the “business as usual” way we do things can make us “less free” as we are absorbed into the mundanity of the humdrum, when the truth is that our lives are a miracle and a mystery and there’s nothing humdrum about them. But you have to open your eyes to see it and open your heart to feel it,  the One that you never have to be ashamed to share your “silly thoughts” with is the Lord.  

So it’s another boring Tuesday again… or it is another day of living the adventure of our lives?, where we can do almost anything we want, with consequences of course, but even in the tight confines of doing what we “need to do” we can still find wonder and joy. 

So look around and appreciate where you are, or go “DO SOMETHING” and appreciate that, but no matter what you decided to do with this last Tuesday of November in the year of our Lord 2022, turn aside and thank the Lord for what you encounter.  

The pathway to peace isn’t a destination, its determined by the way you walk and the company you keep.  

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 4:8 (NLT2)
8  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Today’s verse highlights the importance of what we think about in our Christian walk.  I can’t recall exactly what I was thinking about on my Saturday afternoon walk with my wife TammyLyn, but I can tell you this: I wasn’t thinking about my problems, my work, or the “bad state of the world” and because I didn’t think on those things I recall the walk quite fondly.  

But let’s not get that twisted, okay? We are not to walk through life in denial.  The world is out there and the failure to recognize our surroundings and our responsibilities will eventual cause us to suffer.  We are to be stewards of what God has given us and care for it. 

However, at the same time we can manage that quite well without dwelling on the things that will lead us into sin or that will disturb our peace. 

As much as we are “world citizens” and care  for our fellow man, in truth there is not much we can do about the events that are distant from us, or even near to us, unless we choose to get involved with them.  

So, there you go. If you choose to think on things that disturb you, I would like to hold you accountable by suggesting that your thoughts should not just be something that will steal your peace, but that you would seek to solve the situations that disturb you.  Oh yeah, I’m no political pundit but if the way of the world bothers you so much, I’m going to call you out and tell you to “do something about it”.  

I have had friends that would spend hours telling me about political situations or conspiracy theories and I would listen for a while but then would always ask: “So what should I DO?”

Unbelievably, or perhaps very believably, other than getting obsessed or angry like them, they didn’t have many helpful suggestions or a course of action that would correct the situations other to hand the problems over to someone else.

Thinking about problems will steal your peace but figuring out solutions and ENACTING THEM is another matter.

Solving problems is what we are supposed to do on earth as Christians.  But the biggest problem is sin and the fact that we are hopeless without Jesus.  

So that’s my suggestion every time: put your faith in Christ and apply God’s word to the way you live your life.  

And listen today’s verse’s advice: think on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  

The world is fading away, and our lives on it every moment.  There is only so much we can do, but we should do it, if we can.  But the way to peace, no matter what we accomplish, is the way of the Lord and to think on those things that He would have us think about.

 

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

Today we continue sharing from 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.

The Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Suffering of the Messengers

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware [the people], for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

¶ “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!” (Matt. 10:16–25).

Lack of success and enmity cannot dissuade the messengers from the fact that they are sent by Jesus. As a mighty strength and consolation, Jesus repeats: “Behold, I send you!” It is not their own way or their own enterprise; they are sent. In this the Lord promises that he will remain with his messengers when they will be like sheep among the wolves, defenseless, powerless, fearful, and in great danger. Nothing will happen to them that Jesus does not know. “Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” How often the servants of Jesus have misused this statement! How difficult it is even for the willing messenger to understand this rightly and remain obedient! Who can always distinguish between spiritual wisdom and worldly cleverness? How tempting it is, therefore, to renounce all “wisdom” and only be as simple as doves, which, one-sided, is disobedience. Who tells us when we avoid suffering out of fear and when we seek it out of recklessness? Who shows us the hidden boundaries drawn here? It is the same disobedience, whether we use the commandment to be wise against innocence, or the other way around, whether we use innocence against wisdom. Because no human heart can fully know itself, and because Jesus never called his disciples to uncertainty, but always to greatest certainty, this warning by Jesus can only call the disciples back to the word. Wherever the word is, that is where the disciples are to be. That is their true wisdom and their true innocence. If the word must retreat, because it is obviously being rejected, then the disciples should retreat with the word. If the word remains in an open struggle, then the disciples should remain. They will have to act wisely and simply at the same time. But the disciples should never set out on a road out of “wisdom,” when that road cannot be approved by the word of Jesus. They should never justify with “spiritual wisdom” a way which does not correspond to the word of Jesus. Only the truth of the word will teach them to recognize what is wise. But it can never be “wise” to break off the smallest piece of the truth, for the sake of some human prospect or hope. Our own evaluation of our situation cannot make us see what is wise; only the truth of the word of God can do that. The only thing that is always wise is staying with the truth of God. Here alone is the place where of God’s faithfulness and aid are promised. At all times it will prove to be the “wisest” for the disciples at this time and in the coming time to simply stand by the word of God.

The word will give the messengers true knowledge of the people. “Beware the people.” The disciples should not show fear of the people, nor evil mistrust, least of all hatred toward human beings, nor should they show thoughtless trustfulness or faith in the good in all people. Instead, they should show true knowledge of the relationship of the word to the people and the people to the word. If they understand this soberly, then they will not be scared by Jesus’ announcement that their path among the people will be a path of suffering. Rather, they will be able to endure it. A wonderful strength resides in the disciples’ suffering. Criminals suffer their punishment in hiddenness. But the disciples’ path of suffering will lead them before princes and kings, “for my sake, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles.” The good news will be propagated by suffering. That is the plan of God and the will of Jesus; and that is why in the hour of accountability before courts and thrones the disciples will be given the power to give a good confession, to offer a fearless witness. The Holy Spirit itself will be with them. It will make them invincible. It will give them “a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:15). Because the disciples hold fast to the word in their suffering, the word will remain with them. Self-sought martyrdom would not have this promise. But the promise is absolutely certain for those who suffer with the word.

Hate toward the word of Jesus’ messengers will remain until the end of time. Hate will pronounce the disciples guilty of all the divisions which will come over cities and houses. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned by everyone as destroyers of the family, as forces leading the people astray, as crazy enthusiasts and troublemakers. Then the temptation to fall away will be very near to the disciples. But the end is also near. Until its coming they are to remain faithful, to endure, to stand fast. Only those who stand fast with Jesus and his word to the end will be blessed. But when the end comes, when the enmity toward Jesus and his disciples is revealed for all the world to see, then and only then should the disciples flee from one city to another, in order to proclaim the word where it will still be heard. Even in this flight, they are not separated from the word, but stand fast with it.

The promise of Jesus that he will come again soon has been kept for us by the church-community in the belief that it is true. Its fulfillment is a mystery, and it is not a good thing to look for human ways to evade the issue. But what is clear, and the only thing important for us today, is the fact that the return of Jesus will come quickly. His coming is more certain than our being able to complete our work in his service. It is more certain than our death. Jesus’ messengers can receive no greater consolation in all this than the certainty that in their suffering they will be like their Lord. Whatever happens to the master will happen to the disciple; whatever happens to the lord will also happen to the servant. If Jesus is called a devil, then that will happen even more to the servants of his house. So Jesus will be with them and they will be like Christ in everything.[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)

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), 192–195.


Friday, August 19, 2022

Sharing God’s Grace - Purity 814


Sharing God’s Grace - Purity 814

Purity 814 08/19/2022  Purity 814 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a what appears to be two setting suns comes to us from my niece, Megan, as she recently shared this photo on social media from what I believe to be a sunset  over somewhere near Ocean City Maryland as my brother Mike and his family has made summer visits to the “White Marlin Capital of the World” a family tradition.

Well as the sunsets on another work week and the third week of August it is my prayer that my friends and family use the weekend, forecasted to be a hot one in my neck of the woods, to make some summer memories that will endure well after the Summer of ’22 is a distant memory.  

Growing up my immediate family enjoyed family vacations is Cape Cod and in Lake George New York and those short trips had a real impact on my memories of my childhood. While I also remember summer time fun at home those trips stand out because we went somewhere “different” and some of those places we revisited because we were fond of them and they became somewhat familiar.  

I myself took my family on trips to Cape Cod and Lake George when my kids were younger to try to share the experience that I had enjoyed as a kid.  Now my brother Mike has discovered and fallen in love with Ocean City and has made that a tradition that his kids will fondly remember and possibly take their kids to one day.  

One of the things we do in our lives is to try to share the good things with our loved ones. In life we discover things that we enjoyed and felt were worthwhile and out of our love we try to share them with our family, our friends, and sometimes anyone who will listen.  

While I could give lots recommendations on places to travel to because of the places I have gone, the good thing that I wish to share with my family, my friends, and anybody who will listen is the life of peace and joy that is found through faith in Jesus Christ and the daily decision to walk and talk with God as we live our lives.    

Last night was the last Zoom meeting of The Grace Course that I have been facilitating and although I had planned on using the session to review the Steps to Experiencing God’s Grace the meeting turned into a discussion about how to share what we have learned about experiencing our Freedom in Christ and the wonders of God’s grace with others.  

Sometimes I wonder if participants in these groups or classes are “getting it”. Are they understanding and experiencing their freedom in Christ. Are they drawing close to God and applying the truth of God’s word, that the lessons are based on, to their lives?  

Through the years of recovery and discipleship ministry, I have seen breakthroughs and victory. I have seen people just walk away almost immediately. I have seen people go through the Freedom in Christ course and seems to agree with the material but then refuse to go through the Steps to Freedom in Christ. I have seen others go through the Steps and seem to have a significant moment of repentance with God only to disappear from my radar, making me wonder if they were just going through the motions or even worse, if the enemy hadn’t reclaimed the ground he had momentarily lost.  

But then you have moments like last night where the participants openly testify to the significant difference the Freedom in Christ course and the Grace Course has made in their lives and how they are now motivated to share what they have come to know with others.  Rather than packing up their books because schools out for the summer, these men are asking God “What’s next?” and “How can I make other people understand God’s grace?”

One of our participants has begun a gospel tract ministry to try to reach those who don’t love of God.  Another one has become with an interfaith group of various Christian denominations that seek to establish unity around the gospel of Jesus Christ. This man also has a heart for youth and will be teaching a group of 8th and 9th graders and last discussed what he can do to possibly make an impact in these adolescents lives to lead them toward God and away from the traps of the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

Another participant has recently moved back to his childhood neighborhood and sees how things have gotten worse in his community and he feels he may have a call on his life to encourage the youth in his neighborhood to turn away from the streets and to follow the Lord’s will for their lives.  

One of the purposes of Christian Discipleship is to replicate, to teach and encourage others to teach and encourage others, and to boldly go where ever the Lord leads you.  And last night, I really got the sense that God has blessed my efforts to encourage these men to follow Christ. They have a heart to set the captives free and to open the eyes of the blind.   

But discipleship is also about community and we have that as well.  We encourage one another in our faith and we will be meeting again in two weeks as they have agreed to join me as I have decided to walk through Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship and to podcast it, to encourage others to pick up their crosses and to surrender to God’s will for their lives.   

I actually am on vacation next week but I don’t have any plans to travel. Instead I will be working on taking Bonhoeffer’s book and crafting it into a presentation that will attempt to share the experience that I had when I first read it.  Like a favorite summer vacation spot, I look forward to showing the good things I found in Bonhoeffers book, the encouragement to be an authentic Christian, to live in and for Christ.  

So enjoy the summer while you can this weekend but as you marvel at the splendor of the summer sights and sounds, remember that your heavenly Father made it all for us to enjoy and that His creation calls us to ponder the Creator and the meaning and purpose that He has for us.  

He wants us to know Him. That’s why He sent Christ, to save that which was lost and to lead us to know the Father and the wonders of His love.  

So keep walking and talking with God because when you know Him and His grace, it will cause you to want the share the peace and joy you have in Him with your family, your friends, and anyone who will listen.     

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Hebrews 3:14 (NLT2)
14  For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Today’s verse encourages us to endure in our faith and to keep the wonder of our salvation that we had when we first believed, stating that when we do that we will share in all that Christ has for us.  

Faith is not something we get once and then can put on a shelf for the day we die.  Here the writer of Hebrews encourages us to not forget the joy of when we first believed and encourages us to persevere in our faith with the assurance that we will share in all that belongs to Christ.   

The fruit of the spirit grows in our lives when we walk in the Spirit. Christ said in John 15 to Abide in Him and we would produce much fruit.  The fruit can be good works of course but we should also understand that the fruit can be the good work done in us, in the cultivation of kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness. patience, love, peace, joy, and self-control in our life.   

Our relationship with God will last for eternity so we should be encouraged to be faithful to the end, because although this life may be finite, there really is no end in sight as the Lord will welcome us into heaven if we should die or He will rapture us into His kingdom when He prepares for His second coming.   

Christ has eternal life. It is ours through faith in Him. The fruit of the Spirit describe Jesus’ character. They are ours when we follow Him.  So be faithful to the end and these things that belong to Christ will be shared with you.  

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

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

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

The Clash of World Views

Christians face a dilemma. If we accept at face value the Bible’s affirmation of the reality of evil spirits, we create an unbridgeable gulf between our world view and the prevailing Western world view. How can we accept the overthrown premises of a prescientific world view by believing in the real existence of demons and evil spirits?

The crux of the issue for all interpreters is the degree to which we should allow our Western scientific world view to determine our conclusions. Modern hermeneutical theory has convincingly demonstrated that none of us are objective interpreters. We all approach the texts with individual pre-understandings (especially our culture and theological tradition) that influence the results of our analysis of Scripture. This bias should not make us despair of finding the truth and its relevance for our situation. Rather, it should force us to undertake a careful examination of our own presuppositions and assumptions while at the same time attempting to interpret the meaning of Scripture in its own language, cultural, religious and social setting. We then engage in what Anthony Thiselton speaks of as “an ongoing dialogue with the text in which the text itself progressively corrects and reshapes the interpreter’s own questions and assumptions.” All three parts of this hermeneutical process are essential in finding the meaning and relevance of Scripture in our own day.

As was demonstrated in part one of this book, there is no question that people living in the first century believed in evil spirits, including all of the New Testament writers, particularly Paul. At this point the modern scientific world view stands in direct contradiction to the first-century world view and also the biblical world view. In his recent book on Jesus, Marcus Borg is certainly aware of this interpretational difficulty. He notes:

Within the framework of the modern world view, we are inclined to see “[demon] possession” as a primitive prescientific diagnosis of a condition which must have another explanation. Most likely, we would see it as a psychopathological condition which includes among its symptoms the delusion of believing one’s self to be possessed. Social conditions also seem to be a factor.… But whatever the modern explanation might be, and however much psychological or social factors might be involved, it must be stressed that Jesus and his contemporaries (along with people in most cultures) thought that people could be possessed or inhabited by a spirit or spirits from another plane. Their world view took for granted the actual existence of such spirits.

Although Borg does not give us help in overcoming the clash between the two cultures, he frames the nature of the issue quite clearly. For us the question now becomes whether the New Testament view of evil spirits should reshape and correct the prevailing Western world view on this particular point.

In the first volume of a projected trilogy on the powers, Auburn Seminary professor Walter Wink reveals the controlling influence of his cultural presuppositions in thinking about the biblical references to the powers. He candidly remarks:

We moderns cannot bring ourselves by any feat of will or imagination to believe in the real existence of these mythological entities that traditionally have been lumped under the general category “principalities and powers.” … It is as impossible for most of us to believe in the real existence of demonic or angelic powers as it is to believe in dragons, or elves, or a flat world.

He then proceeds to demythologize the language of power in the New Testament, ending up with an interpretation of the powers as the abstract “inner essence” of social systems, political structures and institutions (see the next chapter). Wink’s views have already had a significant influence on evangelical thought with regard to the powers.[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), 176–177.

Friday, July 22, 2022

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide! – God’s Remedy for Shame - Purity 790


 

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide! – God’s Remedy for Shame  - Purity 790

Purity 790 07/22/2022 Purity 790 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a magnificent sunflower sunset comes to us from a friend who shared this scene from near their home in Milton, Kentucky on social media back on July 17th.

I don’t know all the details of this friend’s story but I know that their journey is similar to mine, involving the pain of divorce in spite of their faith and the joy of a new Christ centered marriage. They are enjoying the dawn of a new life where they have left behind the troubles of the past as they progressively sought to follow the Lord’s lead. When I see them share scenes from the latest chapters of their journey, I rejoice because each scene of the simple joys of their new life provide evidence that the Lord was faithful to provide a way to “the promised land” to one who was faithful to follow Him.

In this sense, their story is my story as I am thanking God that it is Friday because not only will today mark the end of another work week and the beginning of the weekend but today I will leave work, regardless of how my day goes, with the pure joy of anticipation of being in the loving arms of my wife again as our “two household lives” will converge and become one again as we are reunited at our countryside home in Easton NY.  

Reunited and it feels so good. So I am rejoicing over my friend’s new life, my life, my wife, and the transformation I am continuing to witness in the lives of the men that I meet with via Zoom as we review Freedom in Christ Ministries’ “The Grace Course”.  

The Grace Course material is great but our fellowship of mutual support, as we are open and honest about our walk of faith, is what really makes our two hour meetings seem to fly by as we seek to grow in our maturity and fight the good fight by applying the wisdom of God’s word to our daily lives.    Although none of us are perfect, we have all agreed that we have made significant progress on the “path of Christian Discipleship” and our meetings are a reminder of the victories we have won and an encouragement to keep “walking and talking with God.”

Last night’s session was on the topic of shame and how it can be brought into our lives through our family, work, or church dynamics where the “shoulds” and “ought to’s” standards that are established can make us feel that we don’t measure up. Shame can also come from the regrettable things we have done or even from the things that others have done to us.  Our sense of shame typically sends us running away from God and causes us to develop strategies for dealing with it that deny, cover, bury or seek to overcome our shame by our own efforts.

While our different strategies may work for a while, residual shame can remain despite our best efforts because whereas:

Guilt says: “I did something wrong. I made a mistake.” ,

Shame says “There is something wrong with me! I am the mistake”.      

So no matter what you do or where you go, there you are: unacceptable, sick, twisted, warped, wrong, degenerate, dirty, or “DIFFERENT”.  Shame says : “You can run but you can’t hide! Eventually, others will know who you really are and they will reject you!”   

So we run, we hide, or we work to overcome certain problem areas so we can feel acceptable… but even if we achieve a measure of success, shame says that there will still be something very very wrong about us, fundamentally on the inside.  

But God gives us a remedy for our brokenness. God gives us a way to take away our shame.

Romans 10:9-11 (NKJV) says
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

The remedy for our sense of disgrace is God’s grace!  Overcoming our sense of shame, is not about our efforts, it’s about His grace:

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

It’s not about our making ourselves into a new person, it’s about realizing that through our faith in Christ we have already been made new and there is nothing to be ashamed about.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) says
17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV) says
16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

So through putting our faith Christ, and by living by faith – by living according to who we are in Christ and by the wisdom of the word of God,  we walk into the new life that God has for us, leaving our shame – our sense of unacceptableness – behind because we are accepted! Through God’s gift of grace we have been forgiven, made righteous, and given a new and eternal life. God has taken away our shame and He doesn’t want us carrying it or condemning ourselves anymore.

Romans 8:1 (NKJV)
1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

We tried to run. We tried to hide. We tried to be all that we could be, but it never solved anything. No matter where we went, there we were.

But God found us and He has pulled us out of the shadows of our former lives and invites us to walk with Him into the light of a new life. So keep your chin up, and know that you are accepted by the only One who really matters and He has agreed to never leave you or forsake you as you walk out your journey of faith, from here to eternity.  

He made you, He saved you and He has healed you by making you new. So keep walking and talking with God, and rejoice over the new dawn, the new day, and the new life that the Lord has made in you.

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 119:2 (NLT2)
2  Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.

Today’s verse describes the spiritual condition of one who obeys God’s laws and continues to search for Him with all of their heart.  The condition is joy!

In this one little verse lies the truth regarding walking in the Spirit. When we simply obey the Lord and continually seek Him and His will for our lives, we have joy.

Throughout scripture God directs us to obey Him, to turn to Him, and follow Him.

If we view God’s law as a set of rules, we will undoubtedly feel condemned because we can’t keep them or we will rebel and seek to beat God at His own game by breaking them and avoiding detection or any negative consequences.  Our pride doesn’t like being told what to do so we will challenge God’s law and the devil or our own imaginations will seek acceptable alternatives to obedience.

We look for short cuts. We look at what the world does and see that there are various different ways to live. So we trust in ourselves, what our families have taught us, or what see in the world and we disobey. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we suffer but regardless when we have to continue to work to create peaceful circumstances and environments, the inevitable will happen: we will fail and we will struggle and will lose our “happiness”. What we create is not joy. It’s happiness because “we made it happen”….  

But joy is different. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and it doesn’t depend on circumstances. Joy depends on our relationship with God and when we search for Him with all our hearts and live according to His ways by obeying His law, we are blessed with an abiding sense of joy that can endure through even the most tumultuous times in our lives.  

The wisdom in today’s verse is plain and simple.  But although it may be simple, it may not be easy because this joyful path is only discovered by surrendering our pride and agreeing to humble ourselves to trust and obey the Lord’s law, His instructions for living, rather than going our own way.   

This way to joy may not be easy but it is worth it.

Christ went to the cross because of the joy set before Him.  The joy was twofold. Jesus had joy over doing the Father’s will – thus proving today’s verse as true – Christ had joy because He obeyed.

But Jesus also had joy because His death on the cross meant that He was making a way for all of us to be forgiven and to experience the joy of our salvation.  

So be like Jesus, obey the Lord’s law and search for Him and His will for your life with all your heart and discover the joy that has been set before you.

______________________________________________________________________

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.

9  The Influence of the Powers on Believers

The painful influence of the evil one continues to be felt throughout the world. The horrors of war, poverty, financial exploitation and racial discrimination are evident worldwide. Christians do not appear to be immune to Satan’s solicitations to evil. Many succumb. Stories of adultery, financial improprieties, hypocrisy, division and the like are all too typical of the modern church. Many pastoral counselors are reporting numerous cases of Christians struggling with direct demonic involvement in their lives.

Satan As a Defeated but Active Enemy

Life experience amply demonstrates to us that Satan and his forces are still quite actively engaged in their malignant activity. Throughout his letters Paul assumed Satan’s continuing powerful opposition to God’s people, and he worked with his churches on how to respond to that evil. Yet, at the same time, Paul was convinced that Christ’s death and resurrection had defeated and disarmed the powers of darkness (Col 2:15). How are we to make sense of these two seemingly contradictory points of view?

First, Christ did win a decisive victory over the powers through the cross. Because of his death and resurrection, Christ broke their compelling grip on humanity, thereby enabling him to rescue people from Satan’s domain and install them as members into his own kingdom. Because those hostile forces have no power or authority over Christ, they consequently have no power or authority over members of his body. Believers acquiesce to the influence of evil powers only in so far as they do not depend on the resources available to them in Christ. Believers can resist Satan’s enticements to sin when they appropriate God’s power made available to them through their union with Christ.

Second, a decisive battle frequently determines the outcome of a war. Christ’s victory on the cross forever determined the outcome of Christ’s conflict with the powers of darkness. The war continues, but every battle is a relatively minor skirmish in comparison to the battle won through Christ’s death and resurrection. Oscar Cullmann has drawn a helpful analogy to Christ’s conflict with the powers by using the two major events of World War 2—D-Day and VE-Day. No one would doubt that the outcome of World War 2 was decided when the Allied forces landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944 (D-Day). Yet VE-Day, the day of final victory, did not arrive until May 8, 1945, almost a year later. Numerous battles were fought and many casualties were sustained, but the enemy’s failure to prevent the successful Allied invasion determined the war. Another scholar relates this to the conflict Christ and his church face with the powers:

D-Day was but the prelude to V-Day, the Day of Christ, the parousia, the day of the final victory of God in Christ. It is the conviction that though the campaign may drag on and V-Day, the day of final glory may still be out of sight, D-Day is over and the powers of evil have received a blow from which they can never recover.

The church continues to live in this “mopping up” period. Final victory is assured, but it is still a dangerous time, and there are many battles to be fought. Satan and his powers continue to attack the church, hold unbelieving humanity in bondage and promote every kind of evil throughout the world. Believers will continue to suffer the painful effects of the large-scale evil spurred on by the powers of darkness—evils such as war, morally deplorable public policies, crime, gang violence and the like. But the powers can no longer take us captive, separate us from God and keep us in sin. We have freedom in Christ. We have a message of redemption and freedom to proclaim.[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), 122–123.

Monday, July 11, 2022

A Wonderful Life on Monday? - Purity 780


A Wonderful Life on Monday? - Purity 780

Purity 780 7/11/2022  Purity 780 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of my canine pal, Harley, leading the way up Waite Rd underneath a positively cloudless sky and bright morning sun comes to us from yours truly as I capture this scene this past Saturday.  

Well, it’s Monday again and let’s face it, if you keep moving forward through time and space, and who doesn’t, eventually you leave the weekend behind and find yourself at the beginning of a new work week.   As we go through this repetition and continually face the truth that we simply must work to support ourselves we may set our hopes on the future and the day we can finally retire and be “done” with all this work and just rest and relax.

While it’s good to plan for the future and make plans to be secure in our latter days, looking to forward to a future happiness can have some subtle and unexpected negative side effects.  

if we are looking forward to a future happiness, we may fall victim to feelings of frustration and discontentment that will steal away our present joy.  

In the holiday classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey, played wonderfully by Jimmy Stewart, is in a crisis that is no fault of his own but if left unresolved threatens to destroy all that he has worked for and could very well take away his freedom.   The problem is financial. The money is gone and if he doesn’t think of someway to get it poverty and prison are real and present dangers.  The crisis is so real and present that in his desperate moment his nemesis suggests that because his only significant financial asset is a life insurance policy, he is “worth more dead than alive” and because George loves his family, the business he built, and the people it supports, George contemplates suicide to get the money that will solve the problem.  

But God….  Yup, although this “Christmas” move is light on the gospel and biblical accuracy, because George’s plight is soon spread by word of mouth throughout his local community, his many friends and family pray for the Lord to help George and in his most desperate hour.  And Lord comes through by sending an angel to intervene and stop George’s suicide and to show George that His life is worthy living. The angel then reveals to George just how wonderful his life has been by showing him what life would have been without him in the world.   

The movie is a “slow burn” as in it takes a while to build to the crisis and the climax but the slow build up is masterful in that it documents the ups and downs of a regular life of struggle where George Bailey tried to of the right thing by raising his family and working, putting his youthful dreams of world travel permanently on hold.  The goodness of George’s life is forgotten in the crisis and it is only through showing the affects of his part in the life of his family, friends, and local community that George is able to see just how wonderful his life has been, resulting in his moment of clarity when he tearfully begs the angel to live again, fully accepting whatever negative consequences may come as long as the goodness of his life is not erased.   

When he is brought back to reality George rejoices! Although all the nagging little problems of his life are still in place and the huge crisis still has not been resolved, Bailey rejoices because he has the faith that comes from knowing that he can face whatever tomorrow brings because of the goodness of today.  Although today is far from perfect, George has no regrets because his life of love has been restored.  

And sure enough, God works through other people and the crisis, that wasn’t fair, and was caused by the mistakes of another and the evil of other men, is resolved when the community of friends that George made through his life of sacrifice and struggle come together in dramatic fashion to save the day.   

I rehash that Hollywood Christmas classic today, in the middle of July, because with the problems of this current economy and the changing circumstances of life that included death, disease, and personal struggles some of us may be feeling “the heat” this summer that has nothing to do with the daily temperature.    Some of us may be facing an acute crisis or we may be in the midst of an ongoing problem that may take weeks, months, or years to walk through. Or we might just be bother by our status quo and look forward to the better days of retirement.  

But I wanted to remind myself and all my friends that, to get to today, we have made it through a lot. We have overcome struggles that may be well documented or may be completely unknown to most of the people in our lives but we have made it!

And even if things aren’t perfect today, I can assure you that you are not alone in your struggles.  God loves you and cares about you and when you trust in Him by placing your faith in Jesus, He will hear your cries, walk with you, and work all things together for your good.  

So that sounds good, God is working for your ultimate good!  

But guess what, the truth is that He has been with us all along and has blessed us right up to today.  So count your blessings. Count the good things you have in your life: your health, your family, your things, and of course the past that you have walked through that made you the person you are today.  

You don’t necessarily have to be a George Bailey to know you have had a wonderful life.  If you even have one aspect of your life that is good, that can be enough to hold onto to remind yourself that you have something to be thankful for.

And if you know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have to realize that you have a hope that lasts from here to eternity, but at the same time you should see God’s hand in your life right now.  If you go to Him for strength, guidance, and love, you will receive it.  If you remember what He has done for others and what He has done for you, you can see that you really have a wonderful life, even on a Monday morning.  

So don’t look to some future happiness, your retirement, or even heaven when the goodness of God can be seen by looking at the present through the reflection of the past that brought you here. 

We’ve made it to another Monday and another work week, Thank God.  We get to go out and work to support the good things we want to do with our lives, and we get to love those around us as we do it. 

So keep walking and talking with God and know that in Christ, your past is wonderful, even if it just means that you are no longer there, your present is wonderful, and your future is going to be simply magnificent as one day we will see the God who loved us all long and we live with Him forever and ever, Amen.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT2)
4  But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,
5  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
6  He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
7  Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

Today’s Bible verses speaks of the confidence we can have in Christ: that we have been forgiven, declared righteous, and given a new eternal life.  

Hey, I got to admit it. It has been a while since I have been in Titus.  It’s a short epistle and I honestly don’t recall anything about it! Talk about honest and transparent huh?

The Bible is a big book filled with things we need to know and need to apply to our life to experience the renewing of our mind and a life in the Spirit.   So we need to study it because awesome spiritual truths about who we are in Christ like the ones contained in today’s verses are in there.  

This short section of scripture says a mouthful:  Like:

·       God is our savior

·       He saved us

·       We are saved Not because of the righteous things we have done

·       God is merciful

·       Our sins are washed away

·       We have a new birth, a new life through the Holy Spirit

·       The Holy Spirit has been poured upon us through Jesus Christ, our Savior

·       We are declared righteous because of God’s grace

·       We can have confidence of our eternal life!

In these few verses is the summation of the spiritual realities of our faith.  God’s grace, God’s mercy, Our forgiveness, our righteousness, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and Christ as Savior are all here.  

So take note of these verses, Titus 3:4-7, that  reveal so much of what happens when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. We need to know this, believe it, and receive it: by applying it to the way we look at ourselves and the way we live, so that we will display the confidence of someone who knows they have been forgiven, are righteous, and has the guarantee of eternal life.  

In Christ, we receive God’s grace, and this knowledge should be applied to our experience to give us joy and confidence for today and every day, from here to eternity. 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

What Paul Does Not Say

While Paul has much to say about the powers of darkness, there is a lot that he does not say, particularly when we read his letters against the background of the Judaism of his day. It would certainly be helpful for us to pin Paul down on a few of the issues regarding the powers; however, we will have to be content with not knowing the full extent of his thinking about evil spirits. Here are a few of the areas where Paul is silent:

1. An explanation of the angelic rebellion and fall. Many traditions point to God’s judgment on the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 and on the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 as texts that go beyond a mere description of the historical circumstances of those particular kings and impart to us insight into the rebellion of Satan and a host of angels. Much of Judaism during the Greco-Roman period pointed to Genesis 6 and the account of “the sons of God” (interpreted as angels) sleeping with mortal women and giving birth to creatures who became demonic spirits as the origin of the powers of darkness (see, for example, 1 Enoch 6–11). Paul never endorsed or alluded to either of these traditions (or any others) regarding the origin of evil spirits. He merely assumed the presence of evil supernatural beings in the world who are hostile to God and to the church. Why? “The reason is that these problems of origin are thrown into the background by most pressing and realistic questions about the wiles of the devil in actual life.”

2. The names of the angelic powers. We have seen that much of the Jewish literature current at the time of Paul (especially the apocalyptic literature) focused on identifying the powers by name, such as Ruax, Barsafael, Artosael and Belbel. Apart from a single reference to Satan as Belial (2 Cor 6:15), Paul has no concern to name the spirits. For him this would likely be a worthless undertaking, since they would all respond to Christ’s authority.

3. The order within the angelic hierarchy. While Paul used many of the categories for angelic beings found within Jewish apocalyptic texts, he never gave any insight into the relative ranks of the principalities, powers and authorities. The Jewish Testament of Adam lists the angelic powers according to their various orders—from the lowest to the highest—giving their respective functions. The Testament gives the lowest order as the angels, followed by archangels, archons, authorities, powers, dominions, and then the highest orders, thrones, seraphim and cherubim. Paul’s varied references to the powers shows no concern at all with the respective ranks or orders. Again, Paul’s concern was primarily functional; that is, he wanted his churches to know that there are powerful angelic beings who assail Christians, and they should be prepared to respond to them.

4. The activities of certain demons and how they are thwarted. Some forms of Judaism considered it important to know the precise authority that evil spirits had over people and the manner in which they could be overcome. For instance, an evil spirit named “Lix Tetrax” was believed to promote disunity and start fires. Only through the work and authority of the good archangel Azael could the evil activity of Lix Tetrax be thwarted (Testament of Solomon 7:1–8). In contrast the apostle Paul pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ alone as the source of the believers’ authority over the powers of darkness. He never alluded to the need for invoking angels or possessing special knowledge about the function of the various evil spirits.

5. Territories ruled by evil angels. The book of Daniel reveals that good and evil angels have been set over certain countries. Specifically, Daniel spoke of evil angels who exercise influence over Persia and Greece, whereas the good angel Michael fights against these angels on behalf of Israel Although. Paul showed a great deal of dependence on the book of Daniel for some of his terms and concepts (including the term arch┼Źn), Paul himself never connected the powers of darkness with any specific country or territory. For instance, he never entreated God to thwart the angelic prince over Rome or to bind the demonic ruler over Corinth. This may be explained in part by the fact that he normally spoke in rather comprehensive terms when he referred to the powers; for example, he lumped them all together and spoke of Christ’s supremacy or the believer’s authority over them. It is likely that, for Paul, it was not a matter of great importance for a believer to identify precisely the evil angel wielding the supreme authority over a territory in the demonic hierarchy. What Paul stressed is the recognition that there are powerful demonic emissaries who attack the church and hinder its mission and that they can be overcome only through reliance on the power of God.[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), 98–99.