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Showing posts with label James. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James. Show all posts

Monday, December 5, 2022

Roughing it Through - Purity 906


Roughing it Through -  Purity 906

Purity 906 12/05/2022 Purity 906 Podcast

Purity 906 On YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo comfy beach furniture in the foreground of palm trees, blue skies, and the blue water of the Caribbean Sea comes to us from a friend who is “roughing it for a bit” while on a December vacation at the Westin Cozumel in San de Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico.   Looking at this scene, I can almost feel the warm Caribbean breeze coming off of the water and can imagine the smell of coconuts or pineapple from suntan oil or a virgin Pina Colada.  

But to paraphrase a line from the rapper, ICE-T from the intro of his song Body Count: “Stuff ain’t like that! It’s real messed up”!  

Yup, It’s Monday and the 5th day of December in Upstate NY and while I am going to delight over the fact that there is no snow in the forecast in my neck of the woods, I’m not on vacation in the Caribbean, so it’s back to work and I can only expect to be enjoying the brisk air of the great outdoors with a current temperature of 22 degrees, and an expected high of 44 degrees, and sunny skies!   

But seriously, the joy of the Lord is my strength, and because of Him I can simultaneously have joy for my friend in the Caribbean, not envy, and actually find joy on Monday morning for the relative “goodness” of my forecast because I know it could always be worse! For December in NY, I’ll take it!

I am well rested this Monday morning after a weekend with my wife at our countryside home and am filled with the joy and anticipation of my own Christmas vacation that is only a couple of weeks away.  

So to remind you all of a couple of the letters on our Joy finding acronym,  MT has found joy this morning in 4 out of the 5 letters of “GAMES” - 

1 – G – Gratitude - for right now – feeling good physically, emotionally, and spiritually at this present moment while writing, thank you very much

2 – A- Anticipation – looking forward to things in the future, like the temperature rising today, and my Christmas vacation in a couple of weeks! 

3 – M – Memories – reflecting on good things in the past, like my past weekend with my wife! 

4 – E- Experience – I have joy in the experience of writing and recording this journal/ blog/podcast entry! and can plan other experiences that give me joy! 

The “S” is singing – and I will spare you that, I guess, but I will probably do that on the drive to work!

No wonder why my life is filled with joy! But as I stated, while anyone can work “GAMES” to get joy out of their experience of life, when you have a relationship with the Lord, through faith in Jesus Christ, you have the joy of the Lord and the peace that goes beyond all understanding because YOU KNOW – you are forgiven, you are loved, and YOU’RE “GONNA LIVE FOREVER…. Gonna Live For Ever”  Okay got the singing out of the way too!

And speaking of getting things out of the way…. 

I know… what about those times in life when people, things, or circumstance are “rough”, and it is difficult to find joy?  When “stuff ain’t like that” when they are “real messed up”?    When are people, places ,or things blocking your goals?  

Well,

James 1:2-5 (NLT2) tells us
2  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5  If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

The joy of trials of course can only be experienced when you go through them with God, when you ask Him to give you strength and wisdom, He will help you either to overcome or to endure them and sometimes it’s a little bit of both.  

On Saturday, my wife, stepdaughter, and I faced the “negative circumstances” of a rainy day, blocking our goal, to enjoy some time doing some holiday themed outdoor activities.  But when that negative circumstance faced us, I recalled the indoor holiday splendor of Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield Massachusetts and suddenly we were on a road trip and was pleasantly surprised to watch my wife and stepdaughter who are “not into candles” have their minds changed by the quality scents that they discovered at Yankee Candle Village! Afterwards, we stopped at Friendly’s and overindulged with food and ice cream.  So although we faced the negative circumstances, we discovered something spontaneous that salvaged the day but as the darkness fell, we were ready get home to relax.  

Unfortunately, however, we weren’t done with facing obstacles to our “goals”.  With thoughts of “That was fun, but I just want to go home” dancing in our heads we began our return trip, getting on MA 112,  where we discovered a tree in the middle of the road blocking our way!

I don’t know if you are familiar with travelling through Massachusetts and Vermont in the Green Mountain Area of New England, but it probably won’t surprise you that there are not a whole lot of options for alternate routes.  But when we saw that we couldn’t go forward my wife did the best that she could to navigate using my phone to find us a way around the blocked road. 

SO we back tracked a way and started taking side roads that quickly turned into winding dirt roads! But the GPS eventually self-corrected and announced that it found a way! So we followed it and reemerged on MA 112, hoping we were past the obstacle we encountered.    

But the first road sign I saw was very familiar and the next one confirmed to me that we were going right back to where we started!  So with no confidence that we would find a way around the tree I just drove towards it hoping that someone had called the county or state to remove it.  

But it hadn’t been that long, and cars were lined up on either side of the tree.  Unbelievably, I just started responding, by putting on a head lamp I keep in my car and leaving the car and walking up the hill to “go help”!

As I walked up, the person in the car ahead of me, said “If they need help moving things, let me know!”  “Okay…” I thought… focusing on the massive trees that had fallen in the road.  

I was member of the line crew for a few years and did “pole break” callouts at night before so I guess this wasn’t my first rodeo with picking up the broken things before and I as I walked up to the scene decided to take of my glasses, as I wasn’t going to be doing any reading, and I didn’t think it would fill the men I encountered with confidence when “Jerry Lewis” or “Poindexter” showed up to help!

When I got on the scene one man was standing watching as another man was struggling to pull his chainsaw out of the huge tree in which it was stuck. In fact there were 2 chainsaws stuck in the tree, the second chainsaw guy had apparently left to go get chains or a bigger saw or something, leaving a bystander to watch this other chainsaw guy to struggle.  

I just started to “do what I could” to “get the stuff out of my way”.  So I just started grabbing tree limbs and broken off sections of trees and throwing them into the darkness on the side of the road.  The bystander immediately got the idea to do the same.  So while chainsaw guy was playing tug of war with tree to get his saw free we were able to clear a quarter of the road on the left side.  Another guy showed up stating he had a truck and a chain that could be used to pull the tree and left to go get it and bring it up.  While truck guy was gone, other men showed up to clear branches, and thank God – chainsaw guy got his saw loose and revved it up and used better tactics to make “big tree” into smaller pieces. 

Truck guy showed up and even though we didn’t end up using his truck or chain it was a good thing that he did.  Chain saw guy was making good progress but there was a huge branch of the tree still overhead and he wasn’t clearly. While the other men were either just standing around or were clearing branches, I and truck guy voiced our concerns that chainsaw guy was about to risk injury by not thinking and just cutting.  Luckily he listened to “truck guy’s” suggestion to “Cut it from the other side” because  he was planning to cut by reaching up – something you shouldn’t do.  So he got safely out of his own way and with a decisive cut, the overhead tree like branch came safely crashing down!

Chainsaw guy just had to do one more cut and I and one of the first guys on the scene who had helped me move a few other sections of tree prior to this were able to lift up the last piece and clear the road. Throughout, I just kept working and throwing everything into the project, clearing everything from mini trees to twigs off the road and encouraging the other men, with a “That’s it brother”  or a “Way to go” where appropriate.    

With the road cleared,  we all celebrated for a second and then we were off to our vehicles, an impromptu band of brothers had “got ‘er done” with never introducing ourselves or knowing where we were from.  As I ran back to my car, “Truck guy” gave me a hearty “Good job” and other motorists shouted their “thanks”.   I was pumped by the adrenaline of the moment and just very satisfied with my efforts and by the fact that we could get out of there.

So in life, you may run into obstacles that you can get around.  We avoided a rainy day by finding something indoors to do.  But even though we tried to get  around that tree, there was no way to go but to go through it.  

And that’s life, we face life head on, and we use our wisdom and abilities to deal it with the best we can.   I know that this story sounds like a great tale of men overcoming the elements, but I won’t beat my chest and say, “we did it”.  Because I know the One who is really in charge, and I know that He was with us.  Nobody got hurt. Believe me, people could have.  While “Truck guy” didn’t get to use his truck or chain, God put him there to speak wisdom into the situation. 

While I was, saying “Yo! Brother, watch you’re back!’, truck guy’s experience and direction gave chainsaw guy a moment to think and to be safe.  As chainsaw saw guy took his instructions, and the other men just stood around at a distance, truck guy and I looked at each other and smiled and shook our heads, knowing that we just might have been instrumental in saving chainsaw guy embarrassment or injury. 

So while some people, may doubt that God had anything to do with this situation, I point out our safety and success here all under His watch and he was instrumental in bringing all of these men together to “do good” for others.  

So, I know it’s Monday and we may have to “rough it for a bit”, for real, but let’s remember that “all we can do is all we can do “and no matter what we face, when we keep walking and talking with God, we can endure or overcome whatever obstacles we face in life, and we can do it with joy!

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

Hebrews 6:10-12 (NLT2)
10  For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
11  Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.
12  Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.

 Today’s verses encourage us because it points out the fact that “GOD knows, and He will not forget” how hard we work and how we love and care for others.  

Often in life, we can feel that nobody appreciates what we do, how hard we work or how much we do to take care of others. Those feelings of not being appreciated can make us feel like we are being taken for granted and cause us to become depressed.  

But today’s verses tell us that God sees what we do, that He will not forget our efforts to work and love others, and that we should continue to “keep doing what we are doing” because He sees it and will reward us. We will inherit the promise of God because of our faith and endurance.  

So have faith, endure all things on your plate, and keep working and keep loving others because its’ the right thing to do, according to God, and because we can trust that God won’t forget it and will lead us to “good things” in His kingdom, forever and always.

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

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

The Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

Chapter Nine

Baptism

In the Synoptic Gospels the concept of discipleship can express almost the full breadth and content of relations between the disciple and Jesus Christ. In the Pauline texts, however, this concept recedes almost completely into the background. Paul’s primary concern is not to proclaim the story of the Lord’s earthly life to us, but rather his presence as the risen and glorified Lord, and his work for us. This requires him to develop a new and distinctive terminology. Paul derives this new terminology from the special nature of his subject matter; its purpose is to capture what unites the proclamation of the one Lord who lived, died, and rose again. To express the full witness of Christ requires more than a single set of terms. Paul’s terminology thus confirms that of the Synoptic Gospels, and vice versa. Neither terminology is intrinsically preferable to the other. After all, we do not “belong to Paul, or to Apollos, or to Cephas, or to Christ”; instead, our faith rests on the unity of the scriptural testimony to Christ. If we hold that the Christ Paul proclaims is still present to us in the same way, whereas the Synoptic Gospels testify to a presence of Christ which we no longer know, we break up the unity of scripture.[2] True, many regard the use of such language as reflecting thought that is grounded in history and in keeping with the Reformation. But in fact, it is just the opposite, namely, religious enthusiasm of the most dangerous kind. For how do we know that Christ is still present with us today in the way that Paul proclaims? How else, but from scripture itself? Or should this perhaps be the place to talk about an experience of Christ’s presence and reality that would be free and independent of the word of scripture? But if it is indeed scripture alone that assures us of Christ’s presence, then it must be scripture as a whole, the scripture which also testifies to the ongoing presence of the synoptic Jesus Christ. The synoptic Christ is neither more nor less distant from us than the Christ of Paul. The Christ who is present with us is the Christ to whom the whole of scripture testifies. He is the incarnate, crucified, risen, and glorified Christ; and he encounters us in his word. The different terminology with which the Synoptic Gospels and Paul communicate this message does not undermine the unity of the scriptural testimony.

What the Synoptics describe as hearing and following the call to discipleship, Paul expresses with the concept of baptism.

Baptism is not something we offer to God. It is, rather, something Jesus Christ offers to us. It is grounded solely in the will of Jesus Christ, as expressed in his gracious call. Baptism is essentially a paradoxically passive action; it means being baptized, suffering Christ’s call. In baptism we become Christ’s possession. The name of Jesus Christ is spoken over baptismal candidates, they gain a share in that name; they are baptized “into Jesus Christ” (είζ, Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27; Matt. 28:19). They now belong to Jesus Christ. Having been rescued from the rule of this world, they now have become Christ’s own.

Baptism thus implies a break. Christ invades the realm of Satan and lays hold of those who belong to him, thereby creating his church-community [Gemeinde]. Past and present are thus torn asunder. The old has passed away, everything has become new. The break does not come about by our breaking our chains out of an unquenchable thirst to see our life and all things ordered in a new and free way. Long ago, Christ himself had already brought about that break. In baptism this break now also takes effect in my own life. I am deprived of my immediate relationship to the given realities of the world, since Christ the mediator and Lord has stepped in between me and the world. Those who are baptized no longer belong to the world, no longer serve the world, and are no longer subject to it. They belong to Christ alone, and relate to the world only through Christ.

The break with the world is absolute. It requires and causes our death. In baptism we die together with our old world. This death must be understood in the strictest sense as an event that is suffered. It is not as if we were asked to bring about this death ourselves through various kinds of sacrifice and renunciation. That would be an impossible attempt. Such a death would never be the death of the old self which Christ demands. The old self cannot kill itself. It cannot will its own death. We die in Christ alone; we die through Christ and with Christ. Christ is our death. It is for the sake of community with Christ, and only in that community, that we die. In baptism we receive both community with Christ and our death as a gift of grace.[12] This death is a gift of grace which we can never create for ourselves. True, in this death judgment is passed on the old self and its sin. But out of this judgment rises the new self which has died to the world and to sin. This death is thus not the final, angry rejection of the creature by its creator but rather the gracious acceptance of the creature by the creator. This death taking place in baptism is the gracious death which is ours through the death of Christ. It is the death in the power and community of the cross of Christ. Those who become Christ’s own must come under his cross. They must suffer and die with him. Those who are granted community with Christ must die the grace-filled death of baptism. That is the rule of the cross of Christ under which Jesus places his disciples. Christ’s death and cross were cruel and hard; however, because of our community with him, the yoke of our cross is easy and light.[15] The cross of Christ is the gracious death, which we die once and for all in our baptism; the cross to which we are called is our daily dying in the power of the death accomplished by Christ. Baptism thus means to be received into the community of the cross of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3ff.; Col. 2:12). The believer is placed under the cross of Christ.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 205–209.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Today! – The Forward Direction of Our Faith – Purity 738


 

Today! – The Forward Direction of Our Faith – Purity 738

Purity 738 05/23/2022 Purity 738 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo on a golden sunset sky shining through between two pine trees comes to us from a friend in Hudson NY who captured and share this view on social media this past Saturday.  They experienced and shared a similar view yesterday, also shared on the blog today,  and noted that they only cropped their photos “to take out the powerlines lines” that would have diminished the splendor of what God wanted us to see.       


Well, it’s Monday and my friend’s efforts at editing his photos for maximum effect has me thinking about the wisdom of shifting our focus to the things that are good in the here and now and looking ahead rather than getting bogged down by the frustrations that are present and the things that are in the past.   

The best example from scripture that I can think of that could teach us to keep moving forward ad not looking back is Lot’s wife.  

Genesis 19:26 (NKJV) says
26  But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

 

Okay, while that is unlikely to literally happen if we dwell on the things in our past. Jesus told us to remember Lot’s wife and also recommended a forward looking disposition as He called us to surrender ourselves to what the Lord would have us do.   In talking about the future “day of the Lord”, Jesus said.   

 

Luke 17:31-33 (NKJV)
31  In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
32  Remember Lot's wife.
33  Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

 

Here Jesus is putting the emphasis on our following where the Lord would lead us rather than being concerned over material possessions or our personal desires over the Lord’s will for our lives.  

 

Christ reiterated the focus of moving forward and following the Lord in

 

Luke 9:62 (NKJV) where He said to one who hesitated in following Him:
62  …, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

 

Similarly the Apostle Paul encourages the forwarding looking disposition in:

 

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)
13  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

This forward thinking is supposed to be the general disposition of the Christian’s walk.  We don’t dwell on the things we may have accomplished in the past but look forward to what we can do today, or in the days ahead,  for the kingdom of God. 

 

We also don’t dwell on the pain of the past.

 

The enemy would encourage us to look to the past to either condemn us for our past sinful lifestyles or to remind us of the injustices and sufferings we had to suffer through to foster feelings of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. 

 

But the Christian should realize that the Lord was faithful to bring us through the past sufferings and that we are not who we used to be. We are new creations in Christ and, as Christians, we forgive from the heart and release the bitterness of the pains we have suffered, trusting that God has forgiven us, healed, us and that He will deal with all the injustices of the world when Christ returns.  

 

And if we are going through some present sufferings, the Christian is to take care of what they can do for today, keep moving forward, and keeping trusting that the Lord will help us to endure until we overcome and walk out of this present darkness.   

 

This forward thinking disposition of the Christian should also be applied to avoid the tendency to be drawn into discontentment by falling into the error of dwelling on the mythic remembrance of the “good old days”.   

 

I just saw one of my contemporaries, share a post on social media where the source for this post was lamenting of how kids today would never know the joys of the 70’s and 80’s where kids used to  go everywhere unattended on bicycles.   You may have seen other posts like these where “hanging out down by the crick” or some other activity of baby boomers or gen x’ers” was romanticized and lamented over.  

There are two problems with these types of posts.  1.  They are not true. 2. They are pointless.    

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and I can tell you, honestly, that they weren’t what they are cracked up to be.  Frankly, they sucked. Technology was terrible. Bullying was common place. What we called entertainment and fashion was shallow and embarrassing. Materialism, Sexual harassment and hateful discrimination practices were the soup de jour.  The “good old days” of the 70’s or 80’s or any time period in the past is a myth. It’s selective memory. It’s a lie. 

And the lie of nostalgia is propagated by the enemy and mankind to breed discontentment and division.  When I moved into my new house the previous owner had a Ronald Regan campaign ad in the basement.  I am sharing a photo of a similar Regan ad on the blog, if you want to see it.


Do you know what it said?   That’s right, “Make America Great Again”  

So our yesteryear, wasn’t so hot for that people back in the 80’s.  They wanted to turn back the clock.  The point is we have to find happiness now, and looking back isn’t the direction that we are going in.   We have to do things today that will effect our tomorrows.  

That brings up my second, point – nostalgia is pointless because we can’t turn back the clock to “the good old days”.  Instead of lamenting about what we had and lost, we should be thankful for what we have now, and rejoice, and move into days ahead by looking forward and not being turned “salty” by looking back.  

So if you are facing challenges today, look at them accurately for what they are today and for how they will affect the future and while we should learn from the pain and mistakes of the past, we shouldn’t allow them to add to what is happening today to steal our present day peace.    

Likewise, instead of dwelling on the “good old days” of the past, we should look to the follow the Lord and thank Him for the good things we have in the here and now.

So keep moving forward! And keep walking and talking with God.  Thank Him for a new day in which to live and to rejoice that He has made you, has saved you, and has more in store you.  

We might be burdened with a lot on our plates this Monday but there is nothing we can can’t walk through when we are walking with the Lord and the things of the past usually trip us up, so step beyond the past by stepping forward into today and what lies ahead where the Lord is leading us. 

Time only goes one way, forward. So no matter where you are going geographically today, know that time will advance and the only thing we can be sure of regarding our futures is the fact that Lord will be there. So walk with Him today and everyday, to experience the peace of His presence and to benefit from the gifts of His wisdom and strength that we receive when we follow His lead.

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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:

James 5:16 (NLT2)
16  Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us to find healing through confession and to always pray.  

We confess to one another not to be forgiven.  When we put our faith in Christ we were forgiven of all our sins: past, present, and future.  

So why confess our sins to one another?  We confess to one another to receive support and assistance in our efforts to repent and stop sinning.  This verse is describing an accountability relationship where someone attempts to turn from a sinful habit by bringing their struggle out into the light, in front of their brothers and sisters in Christ to receive their love and support until they achieve victory over their besetting sin. 

When we stop our besetting sins, we are healed of them!  

And that is where the power and wonderful results come from: our prayers to be a righteous person. The wonderful results in this section of scripture is our sanctification!

So while these verses are often used by Christians who are seeking a miraculous healing, the context shows us that they are actually in reference to the “miracle of sanctification” that the Lord wants us to experience.  

We have been freedom from sin and death.  But to overcome our sinful habits of the past, we will need to pray and we very well may need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ.   Our healing as Christian encompasses far more than our physical bodies.  When we turn from our pasts to reflect the image of Christ in the way we live our lives, we show the truth of our healing as we demonstrate that we really have been made new creations in Christ.

 

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.

Partnership of Ox and People

Not everyone should be a missionary or a pastor. There is to be a partnership between goers and senders. Concerning pastors in the church Paul says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” (1 Timothy 5:18), meaning: pay your pastor. But that implies that some folks must be earning grain to put under the poor ox’s nose. This is also the pattern for missionaries in the New Testament. “Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing” (Titus 3:13). In other words, Not everybody should go to minister with Paul; some should stay behind, work, and supply the ones who go. Similarly Paul planned for the Roman church to be his supply base as he headed for Spain: “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while” (Romans 15:24).

He assumed they would be gainfully employed so they could give. That’s why he said to the Thessalonian believers, “Work with your hands … so that you may … be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12). In fact, Paul was so provoked by the idle busybodies in Thessalonica that he wrote in a second letter:

We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.… If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3:7–11)

Similarly, he said to the Ephesians, “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” (Ephesians 4:28).

Stay in Your Job “with God”

The call to be a Christian was not a call to leave your secular vocation. That’s the clear point of 1 Corinthians 7:17–24. Paul sums up his teaching there with these words: “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (verse 24). Paul had a high view of the providence of God—that God had sovereignly “assigned” or “called” unbelievers to positions in life where their conversion would have significant impact for his glory. “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (verse 17). Paul does not mean that changing jobs is wrong in the Christian life—otherwise no one could become a vocational pastor or missionary except very young people (unlike Jesus who changed from carpentry to full-time ministry when he was thirty, Luke 3:23). What Paul does mean is that when we are converted we should not jump to the conclusion, my job must change. Rather our thought should be, God has put me here, and I should now display his worth in this job. As verse 24 says, “there let him remain with God.”

Therefore, the burning question for most Christians should be: How can my life count for the glory of God in my secular vocation? I am assuming from all that has been said in this book so far that the aim of life is the same, whether in a secular vocation or in a church or mission vocation. Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. The question is, How? The Bible points to at least six answers.

1. We can make much of God in our secular job through the fellowship that we enjoy with him throughout the day in all our work.

In other words, we enjoy God’s being there for us as we listen to his voice, and talk to him, and cast all our burdens on him, and experience his guidance and care. The biblical pointer to this truth is 1 Corinthians 7:24. When you are converted, stay in your job and enjoy God’s presence. “In whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” These last two words are important. Christians do not just go to work. They go to work “with God.” They do not just do a job. They do their job “with God.” God is with them.

A More Personal Promise

This is not the same as the general promises made to the church as a whole. God promises to the church corporately, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). The promise for you in your secular job is different. When the saints are at work in their secular employment, they are scattered. They are not together in church. So the command to “remain there with God” is a promise that you may know God’s fellowship personally and individually on the job.

Breathing out Continual Thanks to God for All Things

One way to enjoy God’s presence and fellowship is through thankful awareness that your ability to do any work at all, including this work, is owing to his grace. “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). All your faculties of sight and hearing and touch, all your motor skills with hands and legs, all your mental acts of observing and organizing and assessing, all your skills that make you good at this particular job—all these things are God’s gifts. To know this can fill you with a sense of continual thankfulness offered up to God in prayer. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever” (Psalm 86:12). Sometimes the wonder of who God is will rise up in us while we work, and we will whisper his praise: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great!” (Psalm 104:1).

When you add to this the awareness that you depend on God for every future minute of life and for all the help you need, your thankfulness flows over into faith for each upcoming moment and for the remainder of the day and week and month and year and decade. This is faith in future grace. It can be expressed in prayer to God with biblical words like, “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’ ” (Psalm 31:14). Or you can say, “Your steadfast love never ceases; your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning (and every afternoon!); great is your faithfulness!” (paraphrase of Lamentations 3:22–23).

Taking the Promises to Work

Supporting this thankfulness and praise and trust are the promises of God that you can take to work every day—written in your Bible or memorized in your head. This is the way God speaks to you through the day. He encourages you, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He reminds you that the challenges of the afternoon are not too hard for him to manage: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). He tells you not to be anxious, but to ask him for whatever you need (Philippians 4:6), and says, “Cast all your anxieties on me, for I care for you” (paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:7). And he promises to guide you through the day: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

In this way we fellowship with God, listening to him through his Word and thanking him and praising him and calling on him for all we need. It is an honor to God if you stay in your secular job “with God” in this way. This is not a wasted life. God delights in being trusted and enjoyed. It shows his value. And when we remind ourselves that none of these undeserved blessings could be ours apart from the death of Christ in our place, every heartbeat of joy in God becomes a boasting in the cross.[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), 134–138.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Ice Cold Hearts - Hostility towards God’s Word – Purity 686

 

Ice Cold Hearts - Hostility towards God’s Word – Purity 686

Purity 686 03/23/2022 Purity 686 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the setting sun nestled between two snowy peaks at the Sterling Shores Nature Center in Sterling NY comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography who shared this snowy sight back on January 26th of 2022.  

Well It’s Wednesday again and I thought that today’s sunset photo was a good representation of our arrival to the midweek hump and as most of the white stuff has vanished from sight I thought that it might be safe enough to fondly remember the snows of January without the fear that my sharing this photo would jinx us and cause another snow storm to come. As I posted this, I sort of “fearfully looked over my shoulder” by checking the latest weather forecast, something I am not in the habit of doing, just to make sure snow wasn’t already forecasted in the next week, and it isn’t.  So I think we are safe, but if we get hit by an unexpected snowstorm I apologize for causing the Lord to prove me wrong and to send us snow again.  

The inconsistent weather patterns in our area has caused some people to share memes that state that we are in the “spring of deception” which will be followed by “third winter”. So if snow should return, I know… Don’t SAY IT!  If snow should fall again, It’s not like it would be totally unprecedented and would be a direct result of me sharing a photo that featured snow.  That’s superstitious, right?    

Man’s desperation to see meaning in events that happen simultaneously, and to make sense of what can seem to be a chaotic universe, can make us believe in jinx’s and become fearful of what we will say, believing that our words will change reality itself. However, our words do not create reality. 

The only word’s that do that are the words of God as He spoke the universe into existence which is detailed in the book of Genesis.   However, some people would sooner believe in jinxes before they would believe that the Bible is truly the word of God.   

I saw a friend comment on a meme that asked us to “Name something that people think is in the Bible but isn’t”.  While my friend’s comment pointed out what the Bible actually said regarding a certain topic, that may support their personal agenda in that area more than the spirit of what the word actually points, I was more concerned with the comments other people had made than theirs.  

While the choice of my friend’s example may indicate they subscribe to a point of view that is twisting the word of God  a little bit to support their personal beliefs, at least they recognize what a Bible verse literally says and that the Bible holds a place of authority as it is the inerrant word of God.  

Which brings us to the comments that made my blood run cold with fear and trepidation for the people who posted them.  While some may grow hot with righteous indignation towards those who deny that the Bible is God’s message to the people He created, I tend to become almost fearful because I recognize that I held similar opinions of disbelief in the past and know beyond a shadow of doubt that my unbelieving ways had me on a course of destruction and the road to perdition.   

The meme asked us to “Name something that people think is in the Bible but isn’t”.  

One commenter stated: “The word of God” 

Another said: “The accumulated words and intentions an actual deity.”

A third stated: “One single solitary word written or said by Jesus….”  

This third commenter then shared some statements about the New Testament Scriptures that just weren’t true that I won’t repeat.

A few Christians did choose to present the facts regarding the truth and reliability of the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament Scriptures to refute and educate this person but their responses seemed to indicate that they simply refused to accept the preponderance of the evidence presented to them that would cause them to admit that the Bible accurately reflects the events of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  

With that said, this is not an apologetic website or podcast. If you want that information, I would direct you to Frank Turek’s https://crossexamined.org/ or invite you to watch Lee Strobel’s original documentary: The Case for Christ:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abLATf6Q9Ls for free on YouTube.  Those two resources provide more than enough information to support the Christian faith for those who have a open mind to accept where the evidence will lead them.   

No, my purpose is to encourage people to seek the Lord for themselves and to encourage Christians to follow the Lord everyday of their lives by renewing their minds with the truth of God’s word and by applying its wisdom to their lives.  

I was outside the faith guys. I was essential an atheist at one point in my life.  I was a practicing Buddhist for about 5 years of my life.   So I know the smug rebellious attitude of superiority that lies behind comments like these that disbelieve that the Bible is the inspired word of God.  

But I wasn’t as “religious”, bold, or daring as these deceived prophets for the forces of darkness. 

Reading these comments reminds me of the thief on the cross passage in Luke, where one man being crucified with Christ, blasphemes Jesus by saying “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!”  Causing the other condemned man being crucified with Christ to say:

Luke 23:40-42 (NKJV)
40  …, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?
41  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."
42  Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."  

I relate to the second thief because, I was Him: a rebellious criminal who deserved condemnation, death, and an eternity in hell. But just like that thief, I was given a divine revelation to see the truth of who Christ is and received His mercy and grace when I finally admitted to what is painfully clear to those who seek the truth: that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God and God the Son, and it is only through faith in Him that we can be reconciled to God.  

So when I saw those comments, I didn’t get angry, I got scared for the people that wrote them and I prayed that the Lord would be merciful to them the way that He was merciful to me and that one day their eyes would be opened to the truth that the Bible is the word of God and everything it says about Jesus is true. 

As someone who has walked out of the darkness of disbelief, the bondage to addictions, and who has experienced the reality of the influences of the forces of darkness, I know that these people have been deceived and have chosen themselves, and most likely their personal sins, over the truth that there is a God who has a purpose for their lives.

The enemy has influenced them to chose themselves, and not only that, to encourage others to choose themselves, by denying the existence of God, denying the Bible as His word, and denying the truth regarding Jesus Christ. 

The thought that these people would have to one day face the Lord and explain their comments and face His wrath fills me with terror.  That spirit  of rebellion that would tell the Creator of all things “that I know better” is comically ignorant but is absolutely sinister as it would put us in alliance with Satan himself.     

The Old Testament prophets often cried “Woe…” when they referred to those who were to face God’s judgment and wrath. Their proclamations of doom were often joined by heartfelt impassioned cries for the rebellious to repent and turn to God to avoid their destruction. 

When I see people make comments like these or say things that reveal their cold hearts toward God I am filled with fear for them and the revulsion that comes from knowing just how evil the spirit of disbelief is at its core.   

But these people have no idea what they are talking about and if they don’t turn from their views and make peace with God by placing their faith in Christ they will be eternally lost and fully responsible for their own destruction.

So instead of shouting condemnation at those who blatantly deny God and trample the name of Jesus, pity them and pray for them to be saved.   They are just like how I used to be, although even I didn’t have the gumption to say things like this with any degree of certainty and certainly not in a public forum. 

Why would they do that? They can’t know that they are correct in their assumptions, without any degree of doubt, right?  

No they can’t, so them speaking out in public to deny the word of God, His existence, and His Son, is their desperate attempt to proclaim their “wisdom” and “self-sufficiency” but unwittingly they are sharing the propaganda of Satan and if they don’t change their tune there will be hell to pay.  

Woe to these people, for they know not what they do. Are they literally evil, no probably not at all. They probably have capacity for being kind and loving but they are deceived, are speaking lies, and will be held accountable.  

As scary as it is for these outspoken commenters, it is just as scary for those who don’t speak out against God but who have still chosen to disbelieve and not place their faith in Jesus.   Whether you are a militant atheist, believe in another religion, or are just “meh” about the things of God, your fate will be very similar as all of these options will result in eternal separation for God in hell.  

All roads don’t lead heaven. Only one path does and that path, the narrow path of Jesus Christ, that leads to eternal life, is only truthfully presented in the Bible. 

So if you hear someone deny the word, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit,  you can be sure they are in mortal danger of eternal torment.

So be compassionate to those who hate us and who hate God’s word.  They know not what they do or the seriousness of their situation.  So as we walk through this world “walking and talking with God”, if you get the chance, gently encourage others with the love of God to examine the Bible for themselves and to seek the Lord and all the evidence for Him.  If they seek Him, they will find Him but they need to know that there is hope that they can.

We pray for those are spiritually blind, that their eyes be opened to the truth of Jesus Christ and that they would be saved.   In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.   

______________________________________________________________________

If you are interested in taking an online course with Freedom in Christ Ministries below you will find the course options for our Spring Session. The classes will meet for 1.5-2 hours once a week for 12 weeks starting the first full week of April. Our prayer is that you will be able to set aside time for one of these wonderful courses. They truly are life changing!

 

Spring registration is now open! We are offering these times.

1.     Women’s Group, Starting Wednesday, April 6 at 10:00 AM EDT.

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3.     Men’s Group, Starting Tuesday, April 5 at 7:00 PM EDT.

4.     Men's Group, Starting Thursday, April 7 at 6:30 PM EDT.

5.     CO-ED SPANISH SPEAKING Group, Starting Tuesday, April 5 at 7:00 PM EDT.

6.     CO-ED Group, Starting Thursday, April 7 at 7:00 PM EDT.

 

If you are interested in taking the Freedom in Christ Course, please click the Sign-up Form link below to register for your desired course time.

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We encourage you to order your books now through the FICM online Bookstore at Freedominchrist.com. You will need the Freedom in Christ Course Participant’s Guide and The Steps to Freedom in Christ booklet. 

 

For the SPANISH participant's book click here. For the SPANISH Steps to Freedom click here or search SPG004-1 in the bookstore search bar.

                       

All materials and shipping should cost you no more than $25.

 

Once registration has closed, you will receive an introduction email confirming your course time and giving you additional information about your instructor and how the course works.

  

Sign up and order your books today! Class registration will close on Sunday, March 27

______________________________________________________________________

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is :

James 1:12 (NLT2)
12  God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of the crown of life that is promised to those who love Him and how that loving relationship effects our walk on the earth.   

Sometimes I like to examine the word of God to remind myself of what the Bible actually says.  Like that meme suggests, some things we believe the Bible says aren’t in there. But this verse is.  So what does it say?

First and foremost we should understand that this is written to the “church”, those who have faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  It applies to them and them only.    But even if we are in Christ we have to be careful with the word of God because we can wrongly assume how to apply it.  

This verse tells us “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.” 

He sure does. We are blessed when we say no to sin.  Not only do we not suffer the negative earthly consequences of sin, by not sinning we also show God that we love Him by obeying His commandments.   When we endure testing and resist temptation, we become spiritually mature disciples, another blessing.   

And the next line tells us that “Afterward, we will receive the “crown of life” that God has promised to those who love Him.”   

Here we have to be careful, because we could fall into the trap that it is because of our enduring testing and temptation that we are given the “crown of life”.  

I know it says “Afterward” there and that could make us believe that the reception of the “crown of life” is contingent on enduring testing and temptation.  If we believe that then we would believe the opposite too. If we don’t endure testing and temptation, we don’t receive the “crown of life”.  

But that’s why we have to keep reading and consider the whole counsel of God’s word.   This verse tells us that the “crown of life” is promised to those who love God, not to those who endure testing and temptation. It is promised to those who love Him, period.  

The rest of scripture tells us that it is through faith alone that we are saved. It is not because of our works.   So receiving the crown of life is not based on our ability to endure testing and temptation, it is promised to those who love God, the expression of which is shown through our placing our faith in Jesus.  

We show our love for God by putting our faith in His Son. That gives us the promise of the crown of life.   

So what about the word “afterward”, well “after our lives of Christian discipleship on earth come to an end, we will receive the crown of life. 

When we are called into eternity, we receive that eternal “crown of life” but we receive it because it is promised to those who love God, not because of our skill or proficiency at enduring testing and temptation.   

So rejoice, that crown of life was promised to you the moment you put your faith in Christ and although you will certainly be blessed by God for enduring testing and temptation, you don’t have to worry about your performance preventing you from living with Him forever.   

 

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 June Hunt’s Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation.  

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 his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

B. What Are Some Causes for Compulsive Overeating and Bingeing?

Binge eating typically starts in late adolescence or early adulthood, usually following a major attempt at weight loss. Like the alcoholic who can’t say no to a drink, binge eaters can’t seem to say no to food. In truth, it is not that they can’t say no but that they believe they can’t say no. This lie becomes their truth and thus dictates their experience. How a person behaves has everything to do with what a person believes. If you are persuaded that you are powerless in a situation, you will act powerless, thus reinforcing your initial persuasion.

To change behavior, you need to first change the beliefs behind the behavior. The same applies to triggers associated with behaviors. The power of a trigger lies in the strength of the belief behind it. This is one of the reasons God places so much emphasis on knowing truths, believing truths, and rejecting lies. In fact, 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew alone Jesus is recorded as saying, “I tell you the truth.” No wonder He said …

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

(John 4:24)

Numerous reasons are cited as to why a person chooses to eat food to excess. A feeling, mood, event, thought, or action can propel people into an eating frenzy. Some common causes and typical triggers include …

     Abnormal functioning of the hypothalamus region of the brain, which controls appetite

     Chemical imbalance in the brain

     Childhood or current abuse

     Conclusion of a diet

     Consumption of too much alcohol

     Critical parents or caregivers

     Depressed or agitated mood

     Genetic factors

     Isolation, loneliness, or detachment

     Impaired metabolism of food

     Parental modeling

     Peer, family, or cultural pressure

     Poor judgment

     Self-rejection

     Uncomfortable feelings, such as anxiety or stress

     Victim mentality

     Weak impulse control

Regardless of the myriad of causes behind someone’s developing an eating disorder or the multiple triggers that set off the troublesome behavior, the same solution—Jesus Christ—and the truths of His Word apply to all.…

“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!… It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

(2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 1:30)[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] June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 21–22.