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Showing posts with label Identity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Identity. Show all posts

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Way I Am versus What He says I am – Purity 615

 The Way I Am versus What He says I am – Purity 615

Purity 615 12/30/2021  Purity 615 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of “a brother and a friend” facing the setting sun on one of the beaches in Sandy Hook NJ comes to us as they recently made this epic photo their profile pic earlier this week.  His identity is obscured as he was looking in the opposite direction of the camera and his name is being withheld because even though we are brothers, from our college days, and friends, he may or may not be in agreement with everything I have to say. I would like to think we can be friends even when we don’t agree on everything.  

I hope he won’t take offense at my using his photo, like some ex-friends, to highlight the natural beauty of God’s creation that is all around him and the fact that our identities are likewise a part of God’s all surrounding kingdom.   To my friend, if you do take offense, I ask for your forgiveness, sir.  Like the Blues Brothers, I am on a mission from God and I got the indication that the Lord had need of it. 

In perhaps what is one of his signature songs, “The Way I Am”, the rapper Eminem, instead of defending himself or trying to deny the media reports about him, decided to embrace the chaos, proclaiming: 

I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn't, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am, huh
I don't know, it's just the way I am

Eminem wasn’t really agree with the media reports of course and was making his own report of how the media tried to classify him in a certain light, how people were out to profit from him, and how he had no privacy because he realized his dream of fame and fortune but had to suffer the insults of the mainstream music industry who didn’t embrace him at the time as  he states that “Radio won’t even play my jam”.

When I listened to Eminem back in the day, I used to pump that song to the max and angrily sing along with Marshal Mathers because after the loss of my infant son I had become disillusioned with the American Dream and life in general and idolized the Detroit rapper and the way he angrily proclaimed how he didn’t care what anyone thought about him, he was who he was and that was just the way he was.    

As we go through life, we grow from children to adults having to decide who we will be in life through our choices. The things we like, the things we do, our tastes, our talents, our personality, and our relationships all come together to paint a picture of who we are, and our thoughts and actions are directed by who we perceive ourselves to be. 

If the world tells you are an angry person, and you agree with it, you will behave in a way that is consistent with that perception. When offended, you will lash out because that’s “just the way I am.”  

In Hamlet, Polonius advises his son Laertes: “to thine own self be true”, but as we can see who that “own self” is can be shaped by the world around us and what we decide to be.     

The world will judge you on your performance. If you don’t have riches, beauty, or accomplishments you won’t be much in the world’s eyes.  

Satan and his demonic minions will encourage a spirit of rebellion in you and will insist that you are your own boss and like to do things your way and that no one is going to tell you what you can and can’t do. 

You may unwittingly have sympathy for the devil and agree with him, as our American culture stresses individual freedom and has increasingly redefined the standards of morality to accept things that were once considered perverse, shameful, or illegal as normal.  

Who we are is influenced by what we believe and how we choose to live according to those beliefs.

So as much as some of us like to think of ourselves as “self-made men”, we should recognize that we are influenced by the world, but we should also consider the Creator of the world, God.  

There are no “self-made men as God created the heavens and the earth and all the living beings that inhabit it.  

Part of our conflicts in choosing “who I am” comes from the fact that God made us in His image and gave us all a conscience, writing His law on our hearts.

Even though we may know in our hearts when we do wrong as children, we can harden our hearts and change our minds to accept our sins as normal and acceptable as we grow into adults.  

And for most of us, who aren’t completely hardened in our own concepts of morality by sin, if we are honest, we know we are doing wrong and we are not right with God but feel utterly hopeless to change it because it’s “just the way I am”, right?  

Well, the word of God tells us you can have a new and eternal life when you put your faith in Christ. So although you may feel set in your ways, God makes a new way when you come into relationship with Him.   

No matter what you define your self as or what you have “made” yourself into, you don’t have any power to forge your own path into eternity. Those who don’t put their faith in Christ will have to face Him one day to be judged and suffer eternal separation from God in a place described as outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Not a pleasant thought, I know, but I have to share it because Jesus warned of it, and I have come to know that God is real, and people are only saved from His wrath by making peace with Him by putting your faith in Christ. 

Just as our friend’s photo would be pretty lame, without the beauty of God’s creation surrounding Him,  we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in the world and will be subject to the Creator of it.  We have to come into harmony with that Creator as our purpose in life and the only way we do that is by aligning ourselves with Him by accepting His plan for our redemption and making Christ our Lord and Savior.  

The world is a maelstrom of changing ideas, fashions, and philosophies but God’s word stands forever and what it says about us should be considered.  

Without Christ, we are sinners waiting for judgement. 

With Christ, we are saints that have been forgiven and provided with life eternal and power over sin.      

So consider the big picture and the fact that you are living in the context of God.   Instead of embracing the lies of the world that pass away, choose to believe the word of God that will stand forever.  

Instead of being “just the way I am”, listen to the Great I AM and inherit all of the promises of God and a new identity based on what He says about you by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.   

Our struggles to find an identity in this world come from the fact that we choose to ignore the big picture and deny the fact that the Creator made us and has a plan for our lives.  

The struggles with our identity stop and peace, love, and joy come when we stop worrying about “whatever they say I am”,  and we choose to agree with and own our identity of who we are in Christ. In Christ, we are accepted, secure, and significant.  

Hey, we all make our own choices of who we will be in life, but I just want to encourage you to consider who you will be when this life ends and the possibility for living out a new life in Christ where you can know and experience progressive goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, self-control, peace, love and joy.  

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 2:13 (NLT2)
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Today’s verse teaches us that the power in our Christian walk of faith comes through God working in us.   

Every person who puts their faith in Christ receives the Holy Spirit. After salvation, the Spirit of God encourages us to live according to God’s ways by making us more sensitive to the “wrongness” of our sins and by drawing us to pursue the things of God and to turn from our old ways of doing things.  

As stated above, we, even people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, can harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and continue in our lifestyles of sin.  

But as today’s verse indicates, when we choose to follow the Lord’s will for our lives to be sanctified and listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we receive “the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”  

So if you are wondering why you haven’t changed much from when you said “Yes” to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is because you are not choosing to follow Him consistently and you are not letting God work within you because of your choosing your ways rather than His.  

So let go and let God work within you to give you the desire and power to do what pleases Him by simply praying to God that His will be done on earth, and in your life, as it is in heaven. 

Keep walking and talking with God and you will be amazed as your desires change and you see Him working in your life.  

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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we begin sharing from Chapter 2.    

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 2

OVERCOMING FALSE GUIDANCE

If you really want to experience your freedom in Christ, the first step is to renounce previous or current involvement with any activity or group that denies Jesus Christ, offers guidance through sources contrary to the Word of God, or requires secret ceremonies or covenants. The Bible teaches that “he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” 44 Renounce means to forsake or say no to something or someone. Renounce is the first step toward repentance, which means to turn away from something and towards something else. Repentance literally means a change of mind, but it is much more comprehensive in its application.

When the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to be baptized by John, “He said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.’”45 Jesus knew their repentance was incomplete. They wanted the blessing of God but didn’t want to give up their traditions, practices, and religious positions.

THE NEED TO RENOUNCE

The public declaration: “I renounce you Satan and all your works and all your ways” has historically been a part of the Church’s profession of faith since its earliest days. To this day members of most liturgical churches are encouraged to make that public profession at salvation or confirmation. In the Early Church, believers would literally face west and make that declaration. Then they would face east and declare their belief in God. The statement is only generic, however. Every work of Satan and every way of Satan had to be renounced in order for repentance to be complete.

To be free from the past, it is necessary to specifically renounce every false religion, false teacher, false practice, and every means of false guidance you have participated in. Many people come to Christ and make a profession of faith, but continue in their old ways of seeking guidance and participation in false religious practices. That is not complete repentance. If we declare something as true, then it is just as important to declare the counterfeit as false. You cannot believe the truth and believe a lie at the same time and experience your freedom in Christ.

The Cross dealt with the forgiveness of our sins. The Resurrection provided us with new life in Christ, and the Ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father assured us of the authority and power to live a victorious life in Christ. But the moment we are born again, our minds are not totally renewed. That is why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”46 The Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension make all that possible. Now we can repent and renew our minds. We can renounce the lies, the false guidance, and the false teachers. And we can choose the truth as led by the Holy Spirit.

DEMONIC FORCES AT WORK

The Apostle Paul warned us what we can expect in this world: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”47 Concerning the last days, Jesus said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”48 These deceptive belief systems and false teachings are counterfeits. They may appear to mimic the truth, but they are in fact satanically inspired lies. They are taught by false teachers who often represent themselves as followers of Christ.49

When assessing counterfeits of Christianity, no criterion is more important than the doctrine of Jesus Christ. If any person or group will not or cannot say that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the King of kings, and the great I AM, then they should be considered suspect.50 Many people under the influence of Satan can say that Jesus is Lord, but when asked to say Jesus is their Lord, they simply repeat, “Jesus is Lord.” The Devil knows that Jesus is the Lord of the universe, but will not profess Jesus as his Lord, nor will his followers.

A second identifiable trait of false religions and the occult is an offer of salvation or enlightenment through something other than faith in the finished work of Christ. Satan blinds the minds of people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.51 New Age proponents teach that we are not separated from God by our sin and therefore have no need to repent. They say we are God and only need to be enlightened. What a lie!

Third, psychics, gurus, shamans, and false prophets offer a special quality of life, esoteric knowledge, or special power that is available by connecting with cosmic energy sources, secret rituals, ceremonies, or covenants. Occult means hidden, concealed or secret, which is in total contrast to the nature of God, who does everything in the light. What is really hidden from view, however, is Satan, the puppet master. His goal is to keep humanity in bondage by drawing us away from the truth that would set us free. Genuine repentance is the means by which we experience our freedom, as we renounce the lies and choose the truth.

TAKING A VERBAL STAND

The believer has a responsibility to submit to God and resist the devil.52 In doing so they are recognizing God’s authority over their lives and His authority over the demonic realm.53 They are taking their rightful position at Christ’s right hand and standing against the devil, using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. They are exercising dependence upon God and the authority they have in Christ.

The Bible relates the story of unregenerate men who tried to exert authority over the demonic realm by using rituals and incantations. Such futility will bring disastrous results. The seven sons of Sceva were unbelievers trying to cast out demons in Jesus’ name without an authentic relationship with Him.54 They were stripped of their clothes, beaten up, and kicked out. Their efforts were similar to occultic practices that try to manipulate the spirit world to do their will, but not God’s will.

The biblical example of breaking counterfeit religious ties with the past is found in Acts 19:18-20. Many of the new Christians in Ephesus had been deeply involved in false religions and the occult through worship at the Temple of Artemis. Luke writes in verse 18, “Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.” The open disclosure of occult practices was followed by the positive action of ridding themselves of anything associated with that darkness. “And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all.”

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

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Am I a Christian, Blue? – Checking the Clues 2 - Purity 537

 

Am I a Christian, Blue? – Checking the Clues 2   - Purity 537

Purity 537 09/29/2021  Purity 537 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a roadside meadow and tree line underneath a cloud filled September sky comes to us from yours truly as I felt moved to just stop and grab this moment of simple scenic beauty while I was driving through the Westerlo NY area on September 21st, which was if you don’t recall, the last day of summer of 2021.  

I share it for its simple beauty but also because it features a road which represents moving forward and making progress.  It’s Thursday and I share pictures of pathways or roadways of some sort today as a reminder or an encouragement to take the opportunity to step on, or keep walking on, the path of Christian Discipleship that is defined by a life walking in the Spirit and which leads to the growth of the fruit of the Spirit and increasing levels of maturity in our Christian faith.  It just also happens to be the path that leads to freedom. 

I teach am teaching the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course from Freedom in Christ Ministries this evening at Rock Solid Church in Hudson NY and invite anyone local to join us at 6:30pm.  For those not within driving distance of the church, I have already uploaded a podcast version of the teaching for the first three lessons and will be uploading the fourth installment after tonight’s class. So if you want to be encouraged in your faith, to learn something new, or to be equipped with the tools to overcome, or to help others overcome, personal and spiritual conflicts join us for class.

Well yesterday, we started a series in where we started an investigation in to the question of “What is a Christian?” or “Is this person a Christian?” And as the Children’s show “Blue’s Clues” was in the news recently because they celebrated 25 years of programming, I was motivated to channel the inquiring spirit of Blue and that inquisitive theme to help us look at the questions of our faith and to help us examine the “clues” that would tell us if people we encountered were “real” or authentic Christians.   

Yesterday we looked at the significant “clue” of church membership or attendance as a good indicator but not a guarantee of whether someone was an authentic Christian. 

So today when I asked “Blue” (FYI, one source states that Blue signifies the Healing Power of God (https://www.color-meanings.com/biblical-meaning-colors/) which “clue” we would be looking for today, in my imagination, “Blue” was holding a small mirror.  

In our dialog, with me asking questions and Blue murmuring as she does, I was able to discern that before we started looking for anymore “clues” about other people’s authentic Christianity,  Blue wanted me to make sure I was a real Christian!  

So I thought about the question? What in my life made me know I was a Christian?  Now while our self-examination may prove helpful to determine whether those around us are Christians, it is the question of our identity as a Christian that is really the most important thing that we can investigate and confirm.  

Blue really turned the tables on us today because while we started to look for “clues” in the outside world about other people, she wanted us to “play fair” and put ourselves to the test too.     

So if someone were to ask you when you became a Christian or how you became a Christians, what would you say, boys and girls?    

Well the “state of grace” that determines whether or not someone is a Christian has to do with whether or not we are “saved” from God’s wrath by having a reconciled relationship with God through putting our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord in Savior.  

Romans 10:9 (NKJV) tells us
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Now this verse tells us that we are “saved” only if we confess (agree with) that Jesus is our Lord and that we believe in our heart that He was raised from the dead, meaning that we believe that Christ’s dying on the Cross was meaningful, that it paid the cost of our sins, and that Christ’s resurrection proved that He was the Son of God and God the Son.  Confessing with our mouths “the Lord Jesus” means we not only publicly identify ourselves with Jesus Christ as our Savior, but agree to live according to what Jesus taught, to be obedient.  The Apostle Peter, who was able to walk on water when he obeyed Christ’s call to “come” wrote:

1 Peter 1:13-15 (NKJV)
13  Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
15  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,.

I point to this verse and the fact that our conduct should be changed when we become Christians because many people don’t understand the implications of “confessing with our mouth the Lord Jesus” and I wanted to make it clear that there is more than just “saying a prayer” to being a Christian. 

But let’s make first things first.   Although we as Christians are supposed to become holy in our conduct, our entrance into God’s kingdom starts with that verbal confession. We must name and proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior before we can successfully live like a Christian.  

We can’t become holy first, nor are we required to.   That’s like going through boot camp before you sign up for military service.  It doesn’t work that way.  You sign an agreement with the service and then the kind and gentle drill sergeants will train and encourage you to become a soldier.  Like military service, when you sign up to be in Christ’s army you are literally signing your life away.   

So if we are looking in the mirror, and trying to determine if we “look like a Christian”, we should stop and ask ourselves: “Have I honestly confessed the Lord Jesus with my mouth, and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead? Did I sign my life away to be saved and agree to make Jesus my Lord?”   

For me, I can point to a specific time and place when I did that. I heard a gospel message on the radio and because of it I really believed “in my heart”, not just intellectually, that God had raised Christ from the dead and that if I made Christ my Lord I would be saved.

So have you ever done that, boys, and girls?

If you don’t believe in your heart that Christ was raised from the dead by God,  that whole idea will just seem like nonsense to you, and you will be hesitant to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

You won’t want to tell your friends, coworkers, or family. You won’t want to tell anyone about this crazy story of how a man dying on the cross has meaning and purpose. That Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is used to cause a reconciliation with an unseen God and man and that it gives eternal life to anyone that names Jesus their Lord and Savior.

So, hopefully most of you reading with this will say you have done this. You have confessed the Lord Jesus.  If you haven’t and want to, say this prayer:

Dear God,

I know I’m a sinner. I know my sin deserves to be punished. I believe Christ died for me and rose from you grave. I trust Jesus alone as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for the forgiveness and everlasting life I now have.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Well if you said that prayer, you just signed “your life away” and joined God’s kingdom as His beloved child.  You are a Christian. You no longer have to fear death because you have been forgiven of all your sins and have eternal life.

From this point forward, because you named Jesus as your Lord, you should endeavor to follow the One who saved you by reading the word of God and applying its teachings to your life, step by step, one day at a time. 

Our Christian faith is not about perfection its about progress.  We don’t beat ourselves up when we fail, we pick ourselves up because God’s forgiven us and is encouraging us to walk into the abundant life that He wants us to experience.

So keep walking and talking with God, our faith doesn’t have to be complicated it just has to be continuous. So rejoice in your salvation and take another step today towards the good things that God has prepared for you.  

        

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)
11  Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!

 

Today’s verse teaches us why we should read the Bible and meditate on its truth.  

Well as we may have welcomed some  people into the kingdom today, they may be wondering “Now What?” 

Well the good news is that you can rest.  You no longer have to fear what happens when you die. You have been given eternal life because of God’s grace. You didn’t have to earn it. You should be filled with joy and gratitude for having been shown the truth of the gospel and for receiving forgiveness and new spiritual life.   

The next step? We should learn about the God who gave us mercy and grace by reading His word. Start with the New Testament to learn all about Jesus and pay attention to His teaching to learn how we should behave as Christians.  Think about those truths as you go about your day and try to live according to them.  

That’s what today’s verse is teaching us and motivating us to do. For if we hide the truths of God’s word in our heart, we might not sin against God.”   I like the fact that the verse says might. I like to imagine that God understands that we won’t be perfect in our walk but still encourages us to express our love for Him by reading His word, meditating on it, and doing what it says. 

So if you don’t have a regular practice of reading and meditating on God’s word, start today and commit yourself to a regular practice of drawing close to God by studying His word.   

The Bible is true, and today’s verse encourages us that if we hide its truth in our hearts we just might not sin against God.  So put the word to the test by hiding it in your heart, and experience its power to transform your mind and change your behavior, not because you are trying hard but because you are learning to be the person that God has made you to be and because He has given you the power to become it,

 

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

 

Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s Blended Family’s

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

The Blended Family

God's Recipe for Success

by

June Hunt


Introduction

Do you feel that the mix of your family is basically a mess? If you mix flour, sugar, eggs and oil together... it takes some work to get them to blend. But when the mixture is exposed to the heat of an oven for just the right amount of time, a chemical reaction occurs that bonds the separate ingredients into a delicious dessert. Likewise, when members of a blended family are subjected to the heat of new living conditions and differing personalities, it takes some work to come together as a connected family unit. Each individual needs to make every effort to promote peace and build one another up so that the family will be bonded in love and in unity.

"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." (Romans 14:19)


I. Definitions

Blended families, with their many challenges, have been around for a long time. They are formed for different reasons. When a spouse with children remarries after the death of a partner, the situation is difficult. But when the family unit becomes a blend of his children, her children and their children, the recipe for success requires a great deal of understanding and forgiveness.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13)

A. What Is a Blended Family?

  • The blended family is a family unit in which one or both of the spouses have been previously married and bring a child or children to the relationship.
  • The word blended means "mixed together." It suggests a combining of separate units into an integrated whole.
  • The stepfamily is a family unit in which at least one spouse has a parental relationship with a child based on marriage, not blood.

B. What Is a Nuclear Family?

The nuclear family is a traditional family unit composed of...

  • one husband and one wife
  • one marriage
  • one or more children from one union

C. God's Heart on Remarriage

  • Remarriage is permitted when the marriage covenant is broken by...
    • death
      "By law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man." (Romans 7:2-3)
    • —defilement (adultery)
      "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9)
    • —desertion and divorce (a controversial position)
      Only because of a hardened heart on the part of the one who leaves—God's heart is one of reconciliation.
      "But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace." (1 Corinthians 7:15)
  • Remarriage is not permitted...
    • to an unbeliever
      "A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord." (1 Corinthians 7:39)
    • to a former spouse who has married another
      "If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)
    • —to a divorced person whose spouse has not broken the marriage covenant
      "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9)
  • Remarriage is not God's preferred state for everyone.
    "I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:7-9)


Biblical Counseling Keys - Biblical Counseling Keys – Biblical Counseling Keys: The Blended Family: God's Recipe for Success.

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

 

 

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Purity 285: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Purity 285

Good morning!

Today’s photo comes from a friend who caught this great shot of the moon near their home in the Chatham area of upstate NY in Columbia County. 

I share it because even in the darkest night God can give us hope.  As I reported yesterday it has been a week since asking for prayers for my parents, Kathy and Matt, who both caught Covid-19.  Dad is on the other side of quarantine and considers himself recovered. My mother reports that she has improved to the point where the doctors will take her off oxygen soon and track her progress in anticipation of releasing her from the hospital.  My mom says, “the prayers are working”. So thank you to all who have prayed. 

As much as we strive to establish our lives individually, there is nothing like an illness in the family to remind you that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.  Whether you like it or not, your family is your family, for better or worse.  Sometimes families are very close and sometimes very estranged from one another.  As significant or insignificant as our familial relationships are in our lives, the Lord calls us to be in His royal family and makes no bones about who comes first.   God does.  

I mention this because its true and because even though our families can be a great source of comfort, they can also be less than that and even be a great source of pain. 

Recently, I counseled a parent of adult children who reported that they were continually accused by one of their children for not providing an equal amount of love to them as their siblings when growing up.  This parent also reported that this issue had been apologized for and apparently resolved more than once, even though they honestly didn’t think there was any disparity of treatment by them with their children.  Another crisis had hit the family, and like a broken record that keeps playing the same song, the accusations and complaints came up once again, leaving them defensive and seeking an answer of how to put this business aside for good.  

While I couldn’t guarantee that the child would ever forgive them for the real or perceived lack of love or attention, I knew someone who could: Jesus.  The resolution of personal and spiritual conflicts can only come from God.  

I advised the parent, that as a Christian, we are called to forgive others because we have been forgiven for all we have done because of our faith in Christ.  So in regards to the situation with the child I advised that the parent should ask the Lord to reveal the truth about how they had interacted with the child through the years and now and to ask the Lord for forgiveness for any wrong doing or bitterness that they have done.  But most importantly, after doing this, I advised the parent that they had to accept the Lord’s forgiveness and declare that “it is finished”. As far as God is concerned, they have resolved any “sin” or wrongdoing that they were responsible for.    They have done their part with the Lord.  

As for the child, because the parent had asked for forgiveness previously and received it, the parent needs to understand that the child is troubled and will only find resolution to their issues with the Lord. The fundamental problem here is that the child either doesn’t know the love of the Lord or has forgotten it. 

All the love or attention that a parent can give, pales in comparison to the love of the Lord.   The child has wrongly based their self-worth on pleasing and receiving love from the parent when they should base their self-worth on their identity in Christ.  If they did this, they would forgive the parent for any pain, neglect, or lack of love the parent was guilty of, and they would certainly cease bringing up the real or perceived wrongs from years in the past.  

However, if the parent believes asking the child for forgiveness will help them or the child get past this recent crisis, they should do so. To not resolve issues that we could is prideful.  We, as Christians, are called to be peacemakers.

But what if, the child continues, this repeating cycle of blaming the parent? 

This is where our maturity is tested.  Knowing that we have been forgiven of all wrong doing by the Lord, and because we understand the child is troubled, if the parent stands in faith, they will dismiss any thoughts of accusation or condemnation and instead do their best to forgive the child for their lack of maturity and show them love in whatever way they can.  

If these patterns are toxic, unhealthy, and unsafe (which is not the case here), we can offer forgiveness and make amends to make things right but when we realize that there will be no peace, we can take a break from interacting with the other person, or cease the relationship altogether while praying for the Lord to change the other person.

The only way to rise above earthly familial dysfunction is to identify with your heavenly father and to live your life sharing His love and living according to His ways.  

 

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This morning’s meditation verses were:

1 John 1:8 (NKJV)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

 Today’s meditation verse is perhaps the most favorite verse of “Christians” who aren’t free.

 “See we’re all sinners! I told you! Now stand back, as I continue to live a life full of hopelessness that comes from my love/hate relationship that I have with my sin. Thanks for forgiving me Jesus, because I really need it today and I will really need it tomorrow too.”  

 That may seem silly to some, but that was me! After most of my life spent in bondage to my addictions to alcohol, drugs, and sex, I figured there was no way to be free and that’s what faith in Christ was for: endless forgiveness.  And it is!

 However, if you read the New Testament you learn that Jesus also calls us not to sin.

 John 8:11 (NKJV) 

11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."  

 “Say what? Wait a minute, Come on Jesus. From the way I understood it, You do the forgiving and I do the sinning… unless I got that wrong?”

 I did get that wrong. Although 1 John 1:8 and other verses in the Bible point to the reality that even Christians can and will sin, we are forgiven, and we are to endeavor to live out our freedom over sin.  In fact, if we read the entirety of 1 John, we would see that John’s epistle is all about overcoming our sin.   

 Before you get depressed, like I was, you have to realize that when you came to faith in Christ it wasn’t because you were a good person, you did enough good things, or you were deserving. You were chosen for eternal life because Jesus wanted you.   

John 5:21 (NLT2) 

21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, Christ wants you.  That’s the only reason you are saved.  Christ chose you.  He loves you and, just like when we love people who make horrible decisions with their lives, He knows there is a better life for you: a life without the sin that gives some pleasure but eventually causes you pain. 

Christ loves you so much that He gave His life for you and has granted you eternal life but He also gave you the power to turn from the wrong things you do in your life and  overcome them. 

So go to the Lord and repent of the sins that seem impossible to live without and ask Him for the wisdom and strength to stop and abandon the sin that so easily besets you.  If you walk and talk with Him, God will lead you out of your personal darkness and show you that those things you did don’t define you.  He does.

He made you, chose you to know the truth and to live forever with Him. He has a better life filled with peace, love, and joy but living with darkness in our lives will only keep us from it.   Trust in Him and follow where He leads. His path leads to glory. Take the first, or another, step toward it today.    

Today we continue chapter 5 of Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where the authors discuss how anxiety is a battle for the mind and the fact that we must discern the origin of “our” thoughts and oppose any thoughts that contradict our identity in Christ.

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

Anxiety as a Battle for the Mind

The second standard of mental health is to be relatively free from anxiety. Anxiety is fear without an apparent cause. Fear is not the same as anxiety, in that it is actually identified by its object. For instance, we fear other people, death, snakes or enclosed places, etc.

Many people are paralyzed by fears that seem to be irrational to others because they don't see the object of the fear, or they question its validity. When people fear something that others can't hear or see, it is usually called a panic or anxiety attack because they can't identify the object of their fear.

Again, such cases often prove to be a spiritual battle for the mind. These thoughts are very disturbing and very real. Others can't see or hear what suffering persons are going through because the object of their fear can't be seen or heard in a visual or auditory sense. Remember, we wrestle "not against flesh and blood" (Ephes. 6:12). In other words, our enemy does not materialize in the physical realm because the battle is spiritual. It is also very, very real.

The Origin of Your Thoughts

It is critical to distinguish between deceiving thoughts from the enemy and thoughts that are truly yours. If you think that tempting or accusing thoughts are your own, then you are going to draw some very bad conclusions about yourself. Understand that God cannot tempt you, but the devil will. "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone" (James 1:13). Jesus will never accuse you, because there is "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). But the devil "deceives the whole world" (Rev. 12:9), and accuses the brethren day and night (see Rev. 12:10).

A very mature and godly pastor's wife discovered that she had cancer. Her doctors immediately put her on chemotherapy. Then she became very fearful. When I visited with her, she said, "I'm not sure if I am a Christian." I asked her why she would even question her salvation, and she said, "When I go to church I have these blasphemous thoughts go through my mind, and many times I struggle with evil and perverted thoughts."

"That's not you!" I told her, "Scripture teaches that you, 'joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man'" (Romans 7:22).

If such thoughts originated from the woman herself, then what would she logically conclude about herself? She reasoned, If those thoughts were actually coming from my own nature, then I must not be a Christian. Consequently, she was frightened about the prospect of dying. After all, how can a Christian think those kinds of thoughts? Any Christian can choose to think them, but these thoughts don't originate from who they are in Christ. Because of this woman's maturity, I was able to help her get rid of those thoughts within an hour. She never questioned her salvation again.

False Identity or True?

Every Christian has tempting thoughts, but many don't understand the battle for their minds. Suppose a young man had a sexually tempting thought about another man. At first he may be a little surprised and would probably just brush it off. He certainly is not going to tell anybody. If the thoughts persist, he may start wondering why he is thinking these thoughts. "If I am thinking these thoughts, then maybe I am homosexual," he may conclude. If so, he just bought a false identity, and it could be years, if ever, before he shares what was going on in his mind. People struggling with depression are plagued with myriad thoughts that are not true.

True mental health is characterized by "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension," guarding "your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7). It begins with a true knowledge of our heavenly Father and a true knowledge of who we are in Christ. If you knew and believed,

That your heavenly Father loved you (see Ephes. 3:14-19);

That you now have eternal life in Christ (see John 3:16);

That you are spiritually alive right now (see 1 John 5:11);

That He would never leave nor forsake you (see Hebrews 13:5);

That He has completely forgiven you (see Col. 2:13, 14);

That He would supply all your needs (see Phil. 4:19);

That you were a child of God (see Romans 8:16);

That there was no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:1);

That you have an eternal purpose for being here (see Ephes. 2:10);

That you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (see Phil. 4:13);

That God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline (see 2 Tim. 1:7);

That the peace of God was guarding your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus (see Phil. 4:7);

then you would have the foundational beliefs necessary to establish mental, emotional and spiritual health.

The most common deception associated with mental and emotional illness is a distorted belief in God and yourself. If you don't think that is true, then go to any mental ward in a hospital and you will find some of the most religious people you have ever met. But when you question them about their beliefs in God or themselves, you will quickly discover that what they believe is riddled with distortions and deception.


Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

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

 

God bless you all!