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Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts

Friday, May 27, 2022

Seeing, Feeling, and Enduring the Wind - The Full Acceptance of the Mystery – Purity 742




 Seeing, Feeling, and Enduring the Wind - The Full Acceptance of the Mystery – Purity 742

Purity 742 05/27/2022  Purity 742 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s short video, also shared on YouTube, of weeds being moved by the wind as I take my canine companion, Harley for a walk was recorded yesterday as we walked along Waite Road near my country side home. 

The strong wind blowing the weeds, and a recent teaching at my local church on the Holy Spirit,  reminded me of Jesus’ words in

John 3:5-8 (NKJV) where He said:
5  … "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."   

For those who don’t know, the mysterious statement regarding being “born in the Spirit” is quite simple. Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are born of God (1 John 5:1) , are given eternal life (John 3:16), receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38. Rom 8:9 ) and are simultaneously sealed by God (Eph 1:13-14, 4:30).  Every person who makes Jesus their Lord and Savior receives the Holy Spirit when their faith in Him and are guaranteed a place in God’s family and eternal kingdom for all time, for there is nothing that can separate us from His love when we become “born again”, when we become “born of the Spirit”.  

But that is just the beginning folks.  Just like the wind blows in today’s video, after we put our faith in Jesus Christ we will feel and see the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. 

After we come to faith in Christ and decide to follow Him with our lives, we can feel the Holy Spirit in our lives, primarily through the joy of our salvation. When we put our faith in Christ, we have joy because we know that we have been forgiven, we have peace with God, we are made His children, and we need never fear death or God’s wrath again.  If we abide in the truth of who we are in Christ, the joy of our salvation can be a continual well spring of hope and motivation to live the Christian life.

Another way we can feel the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives isn’t warm and fuzzy.  After becoming “born of the Spirit”, we can feel convicted when we think and act in ways that are contrary to God’s way. Even though we have the assurance of our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, somehow the sins we were very comfortable with before coming to faith in Christ, aren’t as much fun as they used to be and we feel a conviction in our spirit’s to repent. The Holy Spirit will cause us to feel that our sins aren’t “okay” just because they are forgiven.

If we walk in the Spirit, where we attempt to follow Jesus’s example and live according to God’s ways, we will feel the desire to stop doing what used to do and start doing what God’s wisdom shows us we could do.  The Holy Spirit’s conviction can sting but healing and peace is found when we surrender to righteous and holy the life God calls us to live.  

The mystery of our faith lies in the acceptance of who we are in Christ and the surrender to God’s will by rejecting all the world’s various options for living that “seem right to a man” and making the decision to follow the Truth, the Way, and The Life: Jesus Christ.  

Our decision to be a disciple of Christ includes believing the good news but it also includes the progressive seeking of the Lord where we attempt to know Him more and His will for our life by understanding the word of God and the implications it has for our lives.  

The appropriate response to being “born of the Spirit” is to live like it, to walk in the Spirit.  And this walk will confound you at times because like Christ’s words says about the wind in general, the mighty rushing wind of the person of the Holy Spirit blows where he wishes. We might not always know where He is coming from or where He is going to send us to, but His leadings will never contradict the word of God and always lead to our growing in our faith and in our love for God.    

Now in man’s attempt to simplify the mystery of faith, we often try to reduce it to pat slogan like: just do the right thing, all the time. Do the right thing and good things will happen to you. 

While this sentiment is seemingly a good one, it can easily become corrupted as man can become prideful and believe that the blessings they have in life are merely the result of their wise decision to work hard and be a “good person” and it can also lead to a false belief of self sufficiency that determines that they don’t need God, or can decide that their sins are okay, because after all no one is perfect, and they work hard after all.  These sentiments would lead to sin and cause us to suffer which could possibly cause us to stop trusting God.   

Yes, whether it is the product of our own or someone else’s sin or whether it is just an affect of the conditions of a world that has been broken because of sin, there is suffering and death in this world.   

Do good, get good is not an equation that always works and in light of the natural course of a life on the earth, where people get sick, age, and die, if we don’t have an understanding of these things according to God’s wisdom, we may think that we have been given a “raw deal”.  

When the “winds of change and tragedy” blow into our lives, our foundation our faith and our relationship with God will be tested.   

If we don’t have an understanding of who we are in Christ and who God is that can equally explain blessings and the “curses” of a fallen world broken by sin, we will be blown all over the place in our emotions and in our responses.  

If we don’t investigate our faith enough to attempt to understand and accept  paradoxes such as: 

·       (Unless Christ returns first), we will die, yet we will live,

·       We are saints, but yet we can and will sin,

·       We are free from sin, and yet we can still choose to sin

·       We may prosper, but suffering may and probably will come

·       The Lord loves us but the world will hate us  

·       People without faith in Jesus may prosper, while those with faith in Christ may suffer  

·       We can “do everything right” and still not get what we want or suffer loss.

So walking in the Spirit may lead to feelings of great joy and victory as we experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives but it  can also seem to at times to be like we are walking against the winds of a hostile world of suffering and death, against the winds of adversity, and against those constantly blowing winds of change.  

But the Lord is over and above those winds. He calms the storms. And regardless of the sufferings and loss that we will encounter in our walk through life on this earth, if we walk with Him we will endure and be able to know His peace no matter what storms come our way.    

So accept the word of God and obey what it says to know God more and to grow into the person He calls you to be.  While much of our faith can seem mysterious, when we seek the Lord and accept the truth of who He is, who we are in Christ, and what He says about the ways things work we will discover that we can always trust that Lord will “get it right” and that He “will do what’s right”.  

So keep walking and talking with God, He will show you the way the wind blows and how we can endure it and be carried along by it to the place He wants us to go.       

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Timothy 2:5 (NLT2)
5  For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.

Today’s Bible verse plainly declares the truth that there is one mediator between God and Man: Jesus Christ.  

Enough said?  

I hope so. The exclusivity of Christ to save is a challenge for the world to accept because of the spiritual blindness that we suffer from before we are graced with a revelation of the truth of the gospel by the Holy Spirit.  In truth, The Lord saves us. We can’t save ourselves. In our own wisdom we would never choose to follow the Lord. Our salvation is a gift from God.  

We can’t convince or argue anyone into God’s kingdom.  

But imagine if we could, would we choose it?  While our faith is logical when we understand that it is the truth, when you are on the outside looking in it is “foolishness” to those who are perishing.  

The idea of a free gift, by itself is a hard pill for some people to swallow as their experience has taught them that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”.

The idea of substitutionary atonement through blood sacrifice would probably send us screaming and running for the exits. We have to explain how this works to Christians so it is no surprise that those outside of the faith choose to reject it.  

But course of human history contains a man know as Jesus Christ of Nazareth who influenced the course of global history, that not only established the way we number our days with the “year of our Lord” but who also influenced people to change the way they live their individual lives and cause some to champion righteous causes that establish institutions that established law and order and compassionate services to societies.

There is great evidence in the word of God, archaeology, and in the testimonies of individuals lives to validate the truth of Jesus Christ as the one Mediator who can reconcile mankind to God and I pray that Lord uses some of it to open the eyes of the spiritual blind and welcome more into His kingdom today.  

So let people know that they need to be reconciled to God and tell them of the Way that God makes it possible.  While it can seem complicated explaining the gospel to someone, rest assured that when you speak of it, you are telling the truth and if God wills it, it will be heard and accepted.  

Our mission on earth is tell others of the love, mercy, and grace that God has given us through the revelation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So be bold, tell the truth in love and leave results up to God.

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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

5. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning money with the desire to use our money to make others glad in God.

Everything I said in Chapter 7 assumed that we had money to use in a radical way to show that Christ and not money is our Treasure. But money does not grow on trees; we work for it. We provide some service or make some product that others will pay for. So my point here is that, as we work, we should dream of how to use our excess money to make others glad in God. Of course, we should use all our money to make others glad in God, in the sense that our whole life has this aim. But the point here is that our secular work can become a great God-exalting blessing to the world if we aim to take the earnings we don’t need for ourselves (and we need far less than we think) and meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus.

The Able-Bodied Earners Help the Victims of Loss

God clearly tells us that we should work to provide the needs of those who can’t meet their own needs. It’s true that everyone should work if he can, and that, in general, if you work you will have what you need. “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread” (Proverbs 12:11). But this general rule is not absolute. Drought may strike your farm; thieves may steal what you’ve earned; disability may end your earning power. All that is part of the curse that sin brought into the world. But God, in his mercy, wills that the work of the able-bodied supply the needs of the helpless, especially in hard times. 

Three passages of Scripture make this plain. In 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul speaks to children and grandchildren regarding the aged widows: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” In Acts 20:35 Paul refers to his own manual labor and then says, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Then in Ephesians 4:28 Paul doesn’t settle for saying, “Don’t steal, work!” He says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” You can steal to have. Or you can work to have. Or you can work to have to give. When the third option comes from joy in God’s goodness, it makes him look great in the world.

6. We make much of Christ in our secular work by treating the web of relationships it creates as a gift of God to be loved by sharing the Gospel and by practical deeds of help.

I put this last not because it is least important but because some who put it first never say anything else about the importance of secular work. I have made this mistake myself. Personal evangelism is so important that it is easy to think of it as the only important thing in life. But we have seen that the Bible puts a lot of emphasis on adorning the Gospel, not merely saying the Gospel. But now I want to say that speaking the good news of Christ is part of why God put you in your job. He has woven you into the fabric of others’ lives so that you will tell them the Gospel. Without this, all our adorning behavior may lack the one thing that could make it life-giving.

The Christian’s calling includes making his or her mouth a fountain of life. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11). The link with eternal life is faith in Jesus Christ. No nice feelings about you as a good employee will save anyone. People must know the Gospel, which is the power of God unto eternal life (Romans 1:16). “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

The early church was a “gospelling” band of people. They spoke the Gospel. When the believers were driven out of Jerusalem because of persecution after Stephen’s martyrdom, they “went about preaching the word”—literally, “evangelizing or gospelling the word” (Acts 8:4). The Gospel was on their lips in all their new relationships. Their self-identity was “proclaimers”: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Freely they had received. Freely they gave.

They were moved by the words of Jesus concerning the value of a single human life: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life?” (Mark 8:36–37). They felt the weight of what C. S. Lewis spoke twenty centuries later when he pondered the relationship between winning one soul to Christ, on the one hand, and the value of his own vocation as an Oxford scholar of English Literature on the other hand:

The Christian will take literature a little less seriously than the cultured Pagan.… The unbeliever is always apt to make a kind of religion of his aesthetic experiences … and he commonly wishes to maintain his superiority to the great mass of mankind who turn to books for mere recreation. But the Christian knows from the outset that the salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world: and as for superiority, he knows that the vulgar since they include most of the poor probably include most of the superiors.

The point is not that Lewis quit his work and became a full-time evangelist, nor that you should. The point is that he saw the meaning of his work in proper perspective and knew that more than one thing gave it significance. To each of the five ways that we have mentioned above, Lewis would add that his vocation created a web of relationships in which he could speak the Gospel. Once when he was criticized for oversimplifying the Gospel, he responded to his critic:

[He] would be a more helpful critic if he advised a cure as well as asserting many diseases. How does he himself do such work? What methods, and with what success, does he employ when he is trying to convert the great mass of storekeepers, lawyers, realtors, morticians, policemen and artisans who surround him in his own city?

Perhaps one other thing should be mentioned in regard to the relationships created by where we live and work. For many of you the move toward missions and deeds of mercy will not be a move away from your work but with your work to another, more needy, less-reached part of the world. Christians should seriously ask not only what their vocation is, but where it should be lived out. We should not assume that teachers and carpenters and computer programmers and managers and CPAs and doctors and pilots should do their work in America. That very vocation may be better used in a country that is otherwise hard to get into, or in a place where poverty makes access to the Gospel difficult. In this way the web of relationships created by our work is not only strategic but intentional.

Conclusion

In conclusion, secular work is not a waste when we make much of Christ from 8 to 5. God’s will in this age is that his people be scattered like salt and light in all legitimate vocations. His aim is to be known, because knowing him is life and joy. He does not call us out of the world. He does not remove the need to work. He does not destroy society and culture. Through his scattered saints he spreads a passion for his supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples. If you work like the world, you will waste your life, no matter how rich you get. But if your work creates a web of redemptive relationships and becomes an adornment for the Gospel of the glory of Christ, your satisfaction will last forever and God will be exalted in your joy.[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 150–154.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

May the Fourth Be With You? And Also with You? - Purity 722


 May the Fourth Be With You? And Also with You? - Purity 722

Purity 722 05/04/2022   Purity 722 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the “mountains majesty” of a morning view of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the backdrop of Lone Pine California comes to us from a friend’s recent epic journey out west.  Apparently they had checked into their modest accommodations in Lone Pine in the middle of the night, and were totally surprised by the stunning view that what was literally across the street.  

Well, it’s Wednesday again and I thought a view of the Sierra Nevadas was a good way to represent hump day and decided to share my friends experience of surprise as a fitting analogy of how we can be surprised and amazed at, not only the beauty of His creation, but by the presence of God in our lives!

Today is also May the 4th, and today Star Wars Enthusiasts may greet you with  “May the Fourth be with you!” to enjoy the play on words that echo’s that scifi classic’s line “May the Force be with you”.  

When I hear phrases like that, my upbringing in the Roman Catholic church almost conditions me to reply with: “And also with you!” as the catholic mass would encourage its participants to say that in response, when the priest or someone in the congregations would say “Peace be with you”.  That might be showing my age though because wouldn’t you know it, the Catholic Church tradition has changed and now the proper response to “Peace be with you.” Is now “And also with your spirit.”  

“And also with your spirit”? When did they change that?

But I guess a little change is to be expected when new popes come into power and have the authority to change church tradition with a papal edict.  Who said the Catholic church wasn’t a “spirit-filled” church or always did things the same way? 

I’ll just leave that there and encourage all who listen to or read this message that it is through faith in Christ ALONE that we are saved, not in church tradition or in the adoration of, or via petition through, the saints that we are forgiven and accepted by God.

Anyway all of these things, May the Fourth, the surprising presence of God in our Life, and “also with your spirit” has me thinking of that Third Person of the Godhead: The Holy Spirit and how He can be misunderstood as a “force” instead of a person.   

Because I am pressed for time in the morning, I can’t give too much time presenting the evidence for the personhood of the Holy Spirit so I am sharing a link to article on Blueletterbible.org by Don Stewart (https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/stewart_don/faq/the-identity-of-the-holy-spirit/05-is-the-holy-spirit-a-person.cfm) that thoroughly explains the following six ways that the Holy Spirit is a person:

“The Holy Spirit Is a Person

The fact that the Holy Spirit is a person can be observed in six ways.

1.    He has the characteristics of a person.

2.    He acts like a person.

3.    He is treated as a person.

4.    He has the ministry of a person.

5.    He is mentioned in connection with other persons.

6.    He is the Third Person of the Trinity, and therefore, is personal.”

Like, I said there is a link on the blog in which Don Stewart uses scripture to thoroughly supports each of these six points, and I invite you to check it out so you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Holy Spirit is not a “force”, He is a person.  

He just happens to person who is God, is a Spirit, and indwells those who put their faith in Jesus Christ!

So, as point 6  in Stewart’s article states, the Holy Spirit is very personal and we can know that He is with us in two very significant ways. 

1.    The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin.  

John 16:8 (NKJV) Jesus speaking about the Holy Spirit said:
8  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The “he” in this verse demonstrates that Christ considered the Holy Spirit a person but this verse also gives us a clue of how the Holy Spirit will interact with us.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins.  In that function, He causes people to see their need of a Savior, Jesus, and He causes believers to repent of their sins and walk in the newness of their lives in Christ.  

Us “sinners saved by grace” are guided by the Holy Spirit to turn from our old sinful ways and to be more like Jesus by living a righteous and holy life through the Holy Spirit’s power. It is through faith and through the Holy Spirit, that we can love God more than our sin and cause us to have a change of heart and mind that will transform us into the people God wants us to be.   The Holy Spirit helps us with this process in the second way He works with us.

2.    The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.   

In John 16:13 (NKJV) Jesus says:
13  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

The Holy Spirit speaks the truth of God’s Word and reveals to us the truth of our need for Jesus as Our Lord and Savior but He doesn’t stop there.  As we turn to God and walk in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will reveal more information to us.  We experience this when we develop new insights and understanding of the word of God and the way things really are. The Holy Spirit shifts our paradigms as He shows us what we need to know to be faithful followers of Christ.   

God’s presence in this world, through His creation, through His word, and through the Holy Spirit working in and through believers, can be a big surprise for those of us who thought Christianity was just a set of rules and regulations, who thought of Christianity as a religion rather than a rich relationship with the living God.   

This discovery, that God was real, alive, and active in the life of believers, was a game changer for me and that is why I will spend the rest of my life encouraging people to “keep walking and talking with God”. God loves us and He sent Christ to save us and He gives those who put their faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit to guide us.  More than a “force” the Holy Spirit is a person who will speak to your spirit to encourage you to walk in His ways and to experience His fruit.  Christ wanted us to have life and life more abundantly and He gave us the Holy Spirit to get us there.  

So don’t be surprised. God has been here all along and just like the light of day revealed the Sierra Nevadas to my friend, the light of the word of God and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives can show us that we have never been alone and can lead us to the life God always wanted us to have.  

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 149:4 (NLT2)
4  For the LORD delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

Today’s Bible verse confirms that the Lord delights in His people and He crowns the humble with victory.

What the NLT calls victory, the NKJV and other versions of the Bible calls salvation.  The NKJV and other versions also refer the “crowning” that the NLT speaks of as a process of “beautification” as the Lord makes the humble beautiful with salvation.  

Forgive my sentimental heart of a newly wed but I got an experiential taste of the “beauty of the humble” this past weekend when my wife TammyLyn got water baptized at our church.  TammyLyn had an idea of a few things to say before taking the plunge but as she was brought before the crowd of our church she “froze” and was speechless as she humbly submitted to God’s commandment to be baptized. 

 And while some may think I would have been disappointed by my wife’s missed opportunity to give glory to God, her humble submission before the Lord made her absolutely beautiful in my eyes in a way I can’t fully explain.  Her speechlessness took her by surprise but I think it actually is a good reflection of what we bring to the table in our salvation, nothing.  To be saved, we really can’t say anything to God to be approved, we can only humbly submit to the Lordship of Jesus and surrender to His will for our lives.   

And as today’s verse tells us, God delights in our humble surrender to become His people by crowning us with victory of over death and sin as we are given a new eternal life and the power to overcome when we humbly follow the Lord’s will for our lives.

In Christ we have salvation and victory, He crowns us for His glory and gives us the salvation that makes us and our lives absolutely beautiful!

 

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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

“If I Perish, I Perish”

Queen Esther is another example of courageous risk in the service of love and for the glory of God. There was a Jewish man named Mordecai who lived in the fifth century before Christ during the Jews’ exile. He had a younger orphaned cousin named Esther whom he had adopted as a daughter. She grew up to be beautiful and eventually was taken by Persia’s King Ahasuerus to be his queen. Haman, one of Ahasuerus’s chief princes, hated Mordecai and all the Jewish refugees and persuaded the king to decree that they be exterminated. The king did not realize that his own queen was a Jew.

Mordecai sent word to Esther to go before the king and plead the case of her people. But Esther knew there was a royal law that anyone who approached the king without being called would be put to death, unless he lifted his golden scepter. She also knew that her people’s lives were at stake. Esther sent her response to Mordecai with these words:

“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:15–16)

“If I perish, I perish.” What does that mean? It means that Esther did not know what the outcome of her act would be. She had no special revelation from God. She made her decision on the basis of wisdom and love for her people and trust in God. She had to risk or run. She did not know how it would turn out. So she made her decision and handed the results over to God. “If I perish, I perish.” And this was right.

“We Will Not Serve Your Gods”

Consider one more example from the Old Testament. The setting is Babylon. The Jewish people are in exile. The king is Nebuchadnezzar. He sets up an image of gold, then commands that when the trumpet sounds, all the people will bow down to the image. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not bow down. They worshiped the one true God of Israel.

So Nebuchadnezzar threatened them and said that if they did not worship the image, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. They answered:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. (Daniel 3:16–18)

This was sheer risk. “We believe our God will deliver us. But even if he doesn’t, we will not serve your gods.” They did not know how it would turn out. They said virtually the same thing Esther said: “If we perish, we perish.” And they handed the outcome to God the same way Joab and Abishai did: “And may the Lord do what seems good to him.” And this was right. It is right to risk for the cause of God.

“I Am Ready to Die for the Name of the Lord Jesus”

The great New Testament risk-taker was the apostle Paul. Picture him first on his way to Jerusalem after years of suffering for Christ almost everywhere he went. He had bound himself in the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:21) to go to Jerusalem. He had collected money for the poor, and he was going to see that it was delivered faithfully. He got as far as Caesarea, and a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea, symbolically bound his own hands and feet with Paul’s belt, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’ ” (Acts 21:11).

When the believers heard, this they begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. He responded, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).Then, Luke tells us, his friends relented: “And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, ‘Let the will of the Lord be done’ ” (Acts 21:14).   

In other words, Paul believed that this trip to Jerusalem was necessary for the cause of Christ. He did not know the details of what would happen there or what the outcome would be. Arrest and affliction for sure. But then what? Death? Imprisonment? Banishment? No one knew. So what did they say? They could agree on one thing: “The will of the Lord be done!” Or as Joab said, “May the Lord do what seems good to him.” And this was right.

“In Every City … Afflictions Await Me”

In fact, Paul’s whole life was one stressful risk after another. He said in Acts 20:23, “The Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.” But he never knew in what form they would come, or when they would come, or by whom they would come. Paul had decided to risk his life in Jerusalem with the full knowledge of what it might be like. What he had already endured left him no doubt about what might happen in Jerusalem:

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24–28)

What does this mean? It means that Paul never knew where the next blow would come from. Every day he risked his life for the cause of God. The roads weren’t safe. The rivers weren’t safe. His own people, the Jews, weren’t safe. The Gentiles weren’t safe. The cities weren’t safe. The wilderness wasn’t safe. The sea wasn’t safe. Even the so-called Christian brothers weren’t safe. Safety was a mirage. It didn’t exist for the apostle Paul.

He had two choices: waste his life or live with risk. And he answered this choice clearly: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). He never knew what the day would hold. But the Calvary road beckoned. And he risked his life every day. And this was right.[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 82–86.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Hey Universe? – Let me tell you about my Jesus! – Purity 650


 Hey Universe? – Let me tell you about my Jesus! –  Purity 650

Purity 650  02/09/2022  Purity 650 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of yesterday’s sunset over the frozen Hudson River from the vantage point of my back yard in Stuyvesant NY comes to us from yours truly as the sun’s dwindling light over the horizon seemed to be calling me to peak around my house and to capture the moment.  Part of me wanted to remove the propane tanks and the decorative well from the photo in some way but I decided to share this photo as is because “it was what it was” and “it is what it is” and whatever inspired me to capture this photo told me that appreciating beauty isn’t always about focusing on the things that are perfect and that life is a beautiful thing that may have some things that may not be pretty but can be useful or necessary all the same.  

The propane tanks fuel my generator so if the power goes out those unsightly tanks are deeply appreciated and the decorative well while it serves no functional purpose has a charm of its own and does cover up the not so picturesque cylindrical hub that actually is the well to my home.  

Well, it’s Wednesday again and while I didn’t share a mountai to represent making it to the mid-week hump, I think I caught the setting sun more or less in the middle of this photo to visually represent the week’s mid-way point.    

You know that “pull” or call  that took me out of the “middle” of going into my house at the end of yesterday’s workday and the view that I found reminds me of something I saw one of my friends post on FB a few days ago.   

This friend apparently had car trouble on a particularly cold day and was sharing a post to report it in which they stated, “Hey universe!” bordered by a couple of middle fingers emoji to express their displeasure with these unfortunate circumstances.  I know they are a follower of Eastern Mysticism, and I was amused because while their “pseudo religion/philosophy” of life would normally explain the outcomes of their life as a result of their ”karma”, their misfortune was not accepted with patience or lovingkindness and their response seemed to be less than “enlightened” and not to be in “harmony with the universe.”   

Now while my friend blamed his misfortune on the impersonal universe, I would like to point out that in capturing today’s photo I could have also easily fallen into the trap of personalizing the universe as I enjoyed a pleasant experience with God’s creation, where I could have wrongly assigned a divine status to the universe itself, elevating the creation over the creator.   

As someone who was lost in the form of Eastern Mysticism known as Buddhism for years, I personally know the real danger of doing away with God in light of living with a world view of cosmic cause and effect where there are no judgements of right and wrong and where “things just happen” in some mystical form of “what goes around comes around”.   

For those who feel that Christianity fails to address “karma”, I would say that the facts of a Sovereign God who created and shapes the destiny of His creation and rewards those who diligently seek Him and who judges and punishes the wicked, with Bible verses that tell us that we “reap what we sow”, more than adequately answers the questions that Eastern Mysticism, and systems of belief that make a god out of the universe, bring up.  

When I meet people from our western culture that fall into these pantheistic belief systems, I usually get the idea that they were disappointed in, or not adequately taught the truth that, Christianity teaches, which accurately displays the personal God who developed a redemptive plan and gave us a tangible expression of His “personhood” in Jesus Christ.  

I know when I was lost in Buddhism, I was so mad at God and viewed Him as cold, judgmental, and uncaring that I decided for myself that He didn’t exist and that I would only focus on the good I could see in His created order rather than deal with His reality and my sin.       

But the Lord reached me through a radio message that told me the truth about Jesus and what God’s plan for mankind means in light of the gospel. It means God is alive, holy, and good and He loves us.     

When I run into friends that don’t believe, like I didn’t, I so want to express to them how our relationship with God isn’t about our performance or pleasing some angry uncaring God. Our relationship with God is a love relationship and the one in the wrong in that relationship is us. We have run from God, and He sent Jesus to show us what He is like and to save us from ourselves.   

Jesus told His disciples, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.  Jesus’ love, care, holiness, power, and goodness reflect the truth about God. 

So if you are angry at God, or just doubt His existence, look at Jesus and you will know what He is like.  

For those of you who are shouting “Hey universe”,  I want to share the lyrics to “My Jesus” by Anne Wilson to assure you that God is good, and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The song’s chorus says:

 

… He makes a way where there ain't no way
Rises up from an empty grave
Ain't no sinner that He can't save
Let me tell you 'bout my Jesus
His love is strong, and His grace is free
And the good news is I know that He
Can do for you what He's done for me
Let me tell you 'bout my Jesus
And let my Jesus change your life

… Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Amen

The love of God has changed my life. Jesus has saved me and led me out of the darkness of my life that was full of shame, guilt, anger, fear, depression, and confusion. The Bible tells the story of God and how He sent His Son to show mankind who He is and how He loves us and wants us to be set free from sin and death.  

Stop screaming to “the universe” and look to the God who created it and thank Him for all the good you have ever known because He provided it and then ask Him to show you who He is and what your purpose in life is supposed to be.  

God loves you and merely asks that you walk with Him to see all there is to see and the beauty that awaits you just around the next corner when you answer His call and open your eyes to see Him.   

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Corinthians 5:6 (NLT2)
6  So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.

Today’s verse speaks of the confidence we can have when we are walking by faith and of the assurance that there is a future fulfillment of being at home with the Lord that we can look forward to.    

The previous verse in this passage of scripture speaks of the fact that God has prepared us for the glorification of our dying bodies by giving us the guarantee of the Holy Spirit.  

When we place our faith in Jesus, we receive spiritual life and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who testifies to our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16), meaning, yes indeed, we have been saved, we have been forgiven, we are really Christians, and have all the promises of God given to us.   

That’s why we can be confident.  Our lives change the moment we trust in Jesus, and we experience the new life in the Spirit progressively as we continue to believe the truth of the gospel and start following the Lord by applying His wisdom and ways to our lives.  

If you don’t “feel” like a Christian, it’s probably because you don’t believe it or doubt it and it is almost certainly because you are not living like one.   

So grab a hold of that confidence, by grabbing a hold of your identity in Christ and by turning from the world’s ways and embracing God’s way for living.   

When you do that you will enjoy the benefits of the assurance of your salvation and the fruit of the Spirit in your life.  

But today’s verse also addresses our life with God in eternity. So yeah, due to the nature of the world and the temporary state of our physical bodies, we will suffer here on earth even though we are walking in the Spirit.  

Negative circumstances and people can bring us down.  The state of our health can cause us pain and discomfort.  While we can rise above a lot of these sufferings through the practice of our faith, today’s verse encourages us that these suffering will one day end when we eventually find our home with the Lord where we will receive glorified bodies and where there will be no more pain, weeping, or death.    

So be confident knowing that you have the Spirit of God in you to empower your walk through life  but also rejoice that no matter how good or bad we have it on the earth, the Lord will one day welcome us to a more glorious state when we are welcomed into His eternal kingdom where we will know what it is like to finally be home, for good!  

 

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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we begin sharing from Chapter 8.  

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

CHAPTER EIGHT - OVERCOMING ANCESTRAL SINS

The last issue that needs to be resolved is related to ancestral sins that are passed on from one generation to another and spiritual attacks that come from the enemy. This step is crucial for those who come from very dysfunctional families or families involved in cults or the occult. This step breaks the final links of bondage that have chained you to your past. You cannot passively take your places in Christ; you must actively choose to accept yourself as a new creation in Christ and take your place in the family of God.

THE INFLUENCE OF HERITAGE

Unless we make concerted efforts to do otherwise, we will perpetuate the habits, customs, and traditions passed on in our families for generations. The families we were born into and the way we have been raised shaped our present beliefs and behaviors. Some of those family traits can be very good, and others not so good. Jesus said, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”148 Our personalities and temperaments have been mostly established by the time we are five years old, and nobody has contributed more to our early development than our parents.

This generational connection is clearly observed in cycles of abuse. The abused become abusers. This cycle is passed on genetically, environmentally and spiritually. First, we can be genetically predisposed to certain strengths and weaknesses. However, that does not make us alcoholics, or drug addicts, or gay. We took on those traits by the choices we make, but some may be more vulnerable than others due to genetic differences.

Second, the environment we were raised in is the biggest contributor to our development. This process of learning is more caught that taught. The actions of our parents have spoken louder than their words. If you were raised in a home where pornography was left around the house, you will struggle with lust more than the person who was raised in a morally responsible home. Mental strongholds are formed primarily from the environments in which we were raised. By environment, I mean the friends we had, the neighborhoods we played in, the churches we went to (or didn’t go to) and the parents (or single parent or guardian) who raised us.

The third contributor to our development is spiritual. In the Ten Commandments, God said, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”149 God blesses those who are obedient to His covenant to the thousandth generation but the iniquities of those who are disobedient are passed on to the third and fourth generations.

 

 ---------------------------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