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

Friday, October 7, 2022

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


 

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

Purity 856 10/07/2022 Purity 856

Good morning,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And sometimes, one good thing leads to another. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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:

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

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

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

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

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

So where should we go?  

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Beatitudes

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

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

Jesus calls his disciples blessed. The people hear it and are dismayed at witnessing what happens. That which belongs to the whole people of Israel, according to God’s promise, is now being awarded to the small community of disciples chosen by Jesus: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But the disciples and the people are one in that they are all the community called by God. Jesus’ blessing should lead to decisions and salvation for all of them. All are called to be what they truly are. The disciples are blessed because of Jesus’ call that they followed. The entire people of God is blessed because of the promise which pertains to them. But will God’s people, in faith in Jesus Christ and his word, now in fact seize the promise or will they, in unfaith, depart from Christ and his community? That remains the issue.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 100–102.

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.       

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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:

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.