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Showing posts with label Love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Love. Show all posts

Monday, September 26, 2022

I Love You, Lord - Purity 846


I Love You, Lord - Purity 846

Purity 846 09/26/2022 Purity 846 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a blazing sun with a crown of clouds over the cornfields and woods off of Waite Road in Easton comes to us from yours truly as I was “blinded” by the light of the last Setting Sun of September 2022 this weekend.  I must have been in the right place at the right time because just before this I was impressed by those wispy clouds as I walked up Waite Road but the sun was unremarkable with the landscape before me being shrouded mostly in the shadows of an otherwise chilly late September day. But as I turned to go back to my countryside home the sun seemed to positively explode with light and heat as I seemed to be directly in its path. The light was so bright that I had to squint to take this photo and it made me stop and wonder out loud: “Is Jesus coming back today, Lord?”  My question went unanswered but I replied:  “If so Lord, that’s okay with me!”  

And then I thought that maybe this was one of those “Paul on the Road to Damascus” moments where I would hear the audible voice of God with some direct instructions to follow.   But I didn’t hear any audible voice. 

But I still felt that absolutely wonderful in that light and thanked the Lord for the goodness of my life all the same and I let Him know that I loved Him with a smile and a simple: “I love you, Lord.”  

Hey, the people we love need to hear it. And although it may seem strange, I’m just following the Christ’s commandments when I tell my heavenly Father, I love Him.

In Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV) in answering a question about which was the greatest commandment in the law: Jesus said:
37   "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38  This is the first and great commandment.
39  And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
40  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

So how exactly do you love the Lord? You tell Him! I love you, Lord!

Some Christians wonder why their hearts and minds of faith don’t seem to be on the same page. Unfortunately, our experiences with our earthly fathers and our issues with authority in general can impact our view of God.  But He is significantly different from any earthly father or any authority figure.  

When you ponder the greatness of God, you should think: What’s not to love!

Everything good we have ever experienced was the results of God’s creation or provision.  That blazing sun: God. The earth below, the sky above: God.  My canine walking companion? God.  MY beloved wife, waiting for me in my country side home? God.  The food she prepared four dinner: God.     

Me, my mind, my body, the air that I breathe, and the long life’s journey through darkness and confusion to come to this place where appreciate all of this: God again.  

So yeah, I said it that Saturday afternoon, and I say it a lot, in various times and places: I love you, Lord.   You should try it sometime.   

In my love for the Lord sometimes I can get downright upset with my “neighbors” for not knowing Him and am tempted to chastise people to “seek the Lord” and stop breaking Him heart by ignoring His voice to come to Him and to live according to His wisdom. 

Then I remember how ignorant, rebellious, stubborn, and foolish I once was and still am in some ways when it comes to following the Lord’s perfect will for my life and then I ease back and decide to just offer a friendly encouragement to keep “walking and talking with God”.  

What I have to say to others is far less important than what God has to say and so this morning I am deciding to share what I read in Ecclesiastes this morning, because it’s the word of God, and because I want to love my neighbor as myself, by sharing with you all what I know I needed the most: the wisdom that comes from on high, the word that comes from the heavenly Father who loves you and seeks to help you.  

Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 (NASB)
1  Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen

rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.


2  Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.

3  For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.
4  When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow!
5  It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.
6  Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
7  For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness.

Rather, fear God.

8  If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.
9  After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.
10  He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.


11  When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on?


12  The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much;

 

but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.
13  There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.
14  When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him.


15  As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.
16  This also is a grievous evil—exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind?
17  Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger.


18  Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.


19  Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.


20  For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.

So draw near to hear the Lord speak and be occupied with the gladness of heart that results from knowing that everything you have is a gift from God and you should enjoy it fully as you keep on walking and talking with Him

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 146:7 (NLT2)
7  He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners.

Today’s Bible verss assures us that the Lord provides justice to the oppressed, food to the hungry, and He sets the prisoners free.  

God provides all the food on the earth so if you are hungry go to where the food is and be prepared to work for it. The nation of Israel had to gather the manna, the “bread from heaven”, in the wilderness, and the Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NLT2)
10  Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”

 

So for the hungry, the food is out there but I would encourage you to also feed on the word of God.  

 

As for justice, this is a fallen world where people literally get away with murder so some maybe tempted to say that “there is no justice” but that would be a short sighted view that denies the existence of a just and holy God who will punish the evil deeds that were not forgiven by the blood of Christ.

 

And finally, in this cancel culture, even though I have been set free from my former bondages of personal darkness , thank you Lord, if things continue to progress in the ways they are going, I could very well be imprisoned for my religious beliefs in some dystopian one world order society.  But even if I am muzzled and put in some gulag for Christians somewhere down the road, the bars and chains that I am imprisoned with won’t take away my freedom in Christ.

 

God’s kingdom is eternal and He sets us free by giving us new life in the spirit.  The word of God is true and as big as the promises in this psalm may seem. Each one of them is true and will be fulfilled one way or the other.

  

_____________________________________________

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

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

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

Chapter Three

Simple Obedience – continues

 

Fundamentally eliminating simple obedience introduces a principle of scripture foreign to the Gospel. According to it, in order to understand scripture, one first must have a key to interpreting it. But that key would not be the living Christ himself in judgment and grace, and using the key would not be according to the will of the living Holy Spirit alone. Rather, the key to scripture would be a general doctrine of grace, and we ourselves would decide its use. The problem of following Christ shows itself here to be a hermeneutical problem. But it should be clear to a Gospel-oriented hermeneutic that we cannot simply identify ourselves directly with those called by Jesus. Instead, those who are called in scripture themselves belong to the word of God and thus to the proclamation of the word. In preaching we hear not only Jesus’ answer to a disciple’s question, which could also be our own question. Rather, question and answer together must be proclaimed as the word of scripture. Simple obedience would be misunderstood hermeneutically if we were to act and follow as if we were contemporaries of the biblical disciples. But the Christ proclaimed to us in scripture is, through every word he says, the one whose gift of faith is granted only to the obedient, faith to the obedient alone. We cannot and may not go behind the word of scripture to the actual events. Instead, we are called to follow Christ by the entire word of scripture, simply because we do not intend to wish to violate scripture by legalistically applying a principle to it, even that of a doctrine of faith.

This shows that a paradoxical understanding of Jesus’ commandments must include a simple understanding, precisely because we do not intend to set up a law, but to proclaim Christ. That nearly takes care of the suspicion that simple obedience might mean some sort of meritorious human achievement, a facere quod in se est [to do what is in oneself], and a precondition one would have to fulfill for faith. Obedience to Jesus’ call is never an autonomous human deed. Thus, not even something like actually giving away one’s wealth is the obedience required. It could be that such a step would not be obedience to Jesus at all, but instead, a free choice of one’s own lifestyle. It could be a Christian ideal, a Franciscan ideal of poverty. It could be that by giving away wealth, people affirm themselves and an ideal, and not Jesus’ command. It could be that they do not become free from themselves, but even more trapped in themselves. The step into the situation is not something people offer Jesus; it is always Jesus’ gracious offer to people. It is legitimate only when it is done that way, but then it is no longer a free human possibility.[23]

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, for God all things are possible’ ” (Matt. 19:23–26).

It can be inferred from the perplexity of the disciples about Jesus’ word and from their question—“Who, then, can be saved?”—that they believe that the case of the rich young man is not an individual case, but the most general case possible. They do not ask, “Which rich person?” Instead, they ask the general question, “Who, then, can be saved?” This is because everyone, even the disciples, forms part of those rich people, for whom it is so difficult to enter heaven. Jesus’ answer confirms this interpretation of his words by his disciples. Being saved by discipleship is not a human possibility, but for God all things are possible.[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 Pathway 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), 82–83.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Last Call Before Mourning – Purity 757


Last Call Before Mourning  – Purity 757

Purity 757 06/14/2022 Purity 757 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a group of palm trees under a 4 p.m. sun comes to us from a friend who recently visited the shores of Kahekili Beach in Kaanapali, Hawaii.  Our friend enjoys snorkeling here and decided to scatter some of the ashes of their beloved grandmother 25 yards off the beach between these palm trees in one of the most breathtaking views on the island of Maui to honor her memory.  So now they can visit her every year, and if we ever visit Maui, our friend invites us to visit her too.  

Deciding what to do with the ashes of our departed loved ones is a highly personal decision. When my ex-wife’s mother died, my family took a trip to southwest and spread her ashes in a couple of undisclosed locations in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico because Mary had deep affections for those areas of the United States and had vague plans to retire there someday.  So we honored her memory with the trip and released her ashes to desert winds to mingle her ashes with the sands that she loved.

The spreading of ashes was our way of honoring her wishes and it was a way of saying goodbye to her. Our relationship with her, although it hasn’t ended, has changed.  Our relationship with her lives on in our memories of course but the spiritual reality of life beyond the grave indicates that we very well may see her again.  

As far as the departed go we may not always know if they a saving relationship with the Lord, but in Mary’s case, I can testify that even though she was far from perfect, quite far actually, I can state when push came to shove, and when things were serious concerning the state of her health and the uncertainty of the length of her life, Mary named Jesus as her Lord and Savior. 

And as funny as it sounds, Mary’s health crisis that eventually led to her death was one of those time stamps of my entrance into God’s kingdom.   In 2010, Mary suffered a ruptured ulcer and had to section of her intestines removed. The doctors tried to put her back together but she wounds never really healed, and after a subsequent surgery to try to put her back together again, after 18 months of being in the hospital, the pain and trauma of that surgery caused Mary to decide to give up the fight and let nature take its course.

But before that end there was a beginning, Mary was in the ICU after her rupture and I was a full fledge practicing Buddhist at the time and working construction as part of  splicing crew.  I did a lot of flagging of traffic in those days.  After Mary’s admittance in the  hospital, I looked up some Buddhist medicine chants/prayers I guess, and while I would flag traffic at work, I would speak those unintelligible words and phrases in hopes that their utterances would somehow result in “good karma” and healing for my mother-in-law.   I know, they didn’t work. Surprise…. OOFF. 

So that the environment in which the Lord decided to come into my life and pull me out of the darkness.  Doing Buddhist medicine chants in the morning, I got saved by a Christian gospel radio message in the afternoon of March 19, 2010.  But I believe that I wasn’t the only one the Lord had in mind when He brought me into His grace.    

So, full fledge Buddhist gets saved and his mother in law is in the hospital and it is not clear if she will live our die, so what do you do?   You try to save her too!

So sometime after my salvation, I went to my mother in law’s hospital room and to lead her through a sinner’s prayer to confirm that Jesus was her Lord and Savior. 

My ex-wife who had the dubious pleasure of watching the shifting winds of change of her husband’s life and personality through the years, thought I was absolutely insane, I think, and she wasn’t happy about my new found faith in Christ and my status of a self proclaimed “born again Christian”, as evidence by our eventual divorce.

But it was desperate times with her mom, and even though she didn’t quite know what to make of what had happened to me, Michele didn’t try to stop me when I told her I wanted to pray with her mother.  

Mary was a mess.  Her hospitalization had done a number on her and when I sat before her to pray her voice was a dry almost soundless whisper but she was fully conscious and relatively normal after her extended stay and release from the ICU.  So she was fully awake and in her right mind, as far as Mary went anyway, shots fired. What? I kid.  If you knew Mary Sapp, you know what I’m talking about. 

Mary was an ultra-liberal feminist and protesting champion for almost any disenfranchised group or cause but she did have a semblance of Christian faith, as an Episcopalian, and even served on the vestry of her Episcopalian church. Before we anoint her St. Mary though let me be clear that it was liberal church. I was liberal I went there before walking away from Christianity.  The reverends their were good servants of the church and I always enjoyed the liturgical services they performed and the messages they delivered.  But Reverend Keith and Reverend Bob were gay.  Yup, not like flamboyantly gay, but cohabiting life partner quasi closeted gay.  So yeah, I was married by a gay minister. Wide and Deep were the errors of my former existence.    

So after coming to faith in Christ and understanding that church membership, no matter liberal or conservative, wasn’t enough to save you, I wanted to make sure that my mother-in-law was specific in naming Jesus as here Lord and Savior. It is by grace alone and through faith in Christ alone that we are saved, and with Mary’s life in question I wanted to make sure she was “in” the kingdom.  

So, I sat down in front of Mary and explained that I had put my faith in Jesus Christ and that I wanted to lead her through a prayer to make Jesus her Lord and Savior.   Much to my surprise, she didn’t object or smirk but wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agreed to be led through the sinner’s prayer. Even though her voice was a whisper, Mary prayed the prayer to be forgive of her sins and that proclaimed Jesus as the Lord and Savior of her life.     

So when comes to her eternal destiny, even though it’s hard to imagine considering her past, I believe that Mary put her faith where she needed to, in Christ alone, and that she has been saved from God’s wrath and is in His kingdom now.   

After my salvation, I couldn’t just assume Mary’s service on the vestry of her liberal Episcopal church meant she had faith in Jesus.  Even though I didn’t know the scriptures verses at the time, I had

Romans 10:9-13 (NKJV) in mind, that tell 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. 10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13  For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."  

In a hospital room, with tubes, scars, and a raspy voice that was only above that of a whisper, Mary Sapp called on the name of the Lord, and because the word says it, I believe she was saved by the Lord’s mercy and grace.  

So as we begin the second day of the work week, keep walking and talking with God. And  let’s be clear and let’s be specific in who we believe in and make our loved ones know about the gospel of Jesus Christ and clear up any misconceptions they may hold about “being a good person” or having their “good works outweigh their bad works” and let them know that salvation and the forgiveness of sins only comes by faith in Christ alone. And let’s be bold to encourage our friends, family, and anyone else to call on the name of Jesus, as Lord and Savior, to be saved.  

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Peter 1:22 (NLT2)
22  You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us of what happened at our salvation and the obligation of love that comes with it.  

The verse says we “must” show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters as we are called to love each other deeply with all our hearts.   As my testimony stated, we may be called to love difficult people and be called to make sure they are indeed our brothers and sisters in the faith.  

The greatest act of love, as demonstrated by Christ, is to save that which is lost, to save someone’s life.

So if we are unclear about someone’s salvation or if we know they are not in the body of Christ, we must show our love for them by praying for their salvation and by delivering the good news and encouraging their reception of God’s free gift.  

But we are also called to not stop there, we are to love our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ after they are saved too. And that could be difficult!

If you ever wondered where you could learn to be faithful, kind, gentle, forgiving, loving, and patient, wonder no more! The place where you can learn to practice those characteristics of a mature Christian is the local church!   

People are people and just because we are all saints the moment we put our faith in Jesus doesn’t mean we will always act like saints.   So the local church is where we can develop godly friendships and relationships, that will require the application of our faith.  

IF we love our brothers and sisters we will be patient with them, we will be kind, we will be faithful in our dealings with them. We will be gentle in our interactions.  We will undoubtedly be called to forgive from time to time. And all of that will strengthen our patience.  

So if you don’t attend church, you should. It is in the body of Christ where we can grow as Christians, and if we are not taking a chance and putting ourselves out there to show the love of God, we won’t grow into the person God would call us to be.  

It is because of God’s love that we will live, and so we should share that love and grow in that love as part of our purpose to be more like Him.   

 

 

 

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

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

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

Simon the Magician: Acts 8

In the book of Acts Luke records four separate instances involving the use of magic. In three of these instances Luke directly connects the magic with the work of Satan or his demons.

In Samaria a magician named Simon was bringing great attention to himself because of the amazing things he accomplished with his magic. So awestruck were the people of Samaria that they nicknamed him “The Great Power” (8:10).

Philip’s preaching of the gospel proved more compelling, however, and many Samaritans turned their lives to Jesus Christ, eventually even Simon. Luke paints Philip’s ministry in terms of what some missiologists would today call “a power encounter.” Although Luke does not describe it in terms of a showdown between Philip and Simon, he clearly indicates that Philip’s display of divine power is what gave him his hearing: “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said” (8:6). Philip’s miraculous signs completely overshadowed Simon’s. Philip made evil spirits come out of many people and healed numerous paralytics and cripples.

Luke simply tells us about Simon’s conversion without going into detail about whether he too had evil spirits commanded out of him. Unfortunately Simon allowed his affection for supernatural powers to take precedence over his devotion to the Lord Jesus and asked to buy the ability to impart the Holy Spirit to others. Detecting his perverse motives, Peter rebuked him in the strongest of terms, telling him to repent of his wickedness and observing that he was “full of bitterness and captive to sin” (8:23).

Some later church tradition claims Simon continued in his quest for divine power and became the originator of what would be known as Gnosticism. The second-century apocryphal book Acts of Peter vividly narrates Simon losing in a “power encounter” with the apostle Peter in Rome. After leading many astray with his heretical teaching, Simon allegedly flew in the air over the city of Rome, defying Peter. Peter prayed to the Lord, and Simon was struck down, causing his leg to break in three places.

A Jewish Magician and False Prophet: Acts 13

Luke surprises us by introducing his readers to a Jewish magician who went by the name Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus), or Elymas (13:4–12). Actually, we will later find (chapter four) that there was widespread Jewish involvement in magic, witchcraft and sorcery. The apostle Paul encountered this magician on the island of Cyprus at the outset of his first missionary outreach. Interestingly, this sorcerer was formally attached to a major political figure on the island, the proconsul Sergius Paulus.

Luke does not elaborate on the extent of the influence Elymas wielded with Sergius Paulus. Since political officials frequently consulted astrologers and diviners for guidance, we are safe to speculate that Elymas’s influence extended to the proconsul’s governance and to the political and economic structures he was responsible for. Most important for Paul, however, was the decisive opposition the magician presented to communicate effectively the gospel to Sergius Paulus and perhaps even to the area over which he governed.

Luke presents this sorcerer as the major opposition to Paul’s mission. Paul perceived the man to be under the control of Satan himself and pointedly revealed his true character to his face: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, [he] looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?’ ” (13:10). Paul then took firm action against the magician. He announced that the hand of the Lord Jesus would be against him and he will be blinded. Immediately Elymas lost his sight. The “power encounter” again proved effective for the success of the gospel; the proconsul put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Spirit of Divination: Acts 16

While Paul was in Philippi, a slave girl with a “spirit of divination” troubled Paul greatly by following him and his companions around day after day shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” This spirit of divination was literally a “Python spirit” (Greek=pythōn), according to Luke. By this spirit, the girl was able to predict the future. Meanwhile, some profit-seeking individuals, who later created great problems for Paul (16:16–21), exploited her and her supernatural ability.

The Python spirit was associated with the oracle at Delphi in Greece (about eighty miles northwest of Athens), where the female prophetess was called a Python. In classical mythology the Python was a serpent that guarded the Delphic oracle and was slain by the god Apollo. Throughout antiquity people came from all over the Near East to consult the oracle at Delphi for advice. It was widely believed to be the center of the earth. An opening in the ground at the site emitted a gas that the Delphic prophetess would breathe in order to receive her prophetic insight. She would then pass on the information to the person in verse form. The grateful traveler would then depart, leaving votive offerings and expensive gifts.

Many people also believed the Pythian prophetess had a god living within her belly. This belief led to her being called “a belly talker,” since she was observed talking in a deep second voice while making her predictions. In fact, some ancient literature attributes this second voice to a daimōn.

Because Paul clearly believed a demon controlled this girl, he commanded the spirit within her: “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Without any argument or hesitation, the spirit departed. Luke’s attention then shifts to the irate reaction of the girl’s owners, and this brief account is all that we know about her in Scripture.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 31–33.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Poseidon Adventure and the World Turned Upside Down – Purity 755


The Poseidon Adventure and the World Turned Upside Down – Purity 755

Purity 755 06/11/2022  Purity 755 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the afternoon sky over the Albany Labor Temple, the home of Teamsters Local 294, on Third Street Extension comes to us from yours truly as I grabbed this quick pic as I got into my car at the end of the work week yesterday. 

While I could always appreciate a view of the heavenlies, since coming to Christ, I am definitely a “sky guy” and often find myself marveling over what’s going on just over our heads while the world is so concerned with the goings on down on the ground. When I look up, I get a small idea of just how magnificent God’s creation is and it causes me to give Him thanks and praise for His handiwork.  

Yesterday, I commented more than once to the Lord about His wonderful work in the skies throughout the day and was so distracted by it as my workday came to an end that I forgot about my company’s policy not to return to the garage “too early”. Whoops.  And it was only because I wasn’t rushing to leave at the end of the day that I thought to take this photo.  Sometimes you have to stop and look around at life and enjoy the here and now and all that the Lord has provided you. 

That was the apparent theme yesterday afternoon, as after a traffic delay caused me to arrive late at my countryside home, I made the decision to skip an evening appointment for a new ministry opportunity to enjoy the meal my wife had prepared me for dinner, to take my canine friend Harley for a walk under that same but different magnificent sky, and to spend quality time with the Mrs. for the rest of the evening.    

Well its Saturday, we made it to the weekend, and it is my prayer that all of my friends use the weekend to enjoy the here and now of what the Lord has provided you and that you take some time to give Him thanks and praise by walking and talking with Him.

One of the things that was said of the apostles was that they “set the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), Undoubtedly, the people that they encountered wondered how simple fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, someone who had been a Pharisee who actively sought to persecute the early church, and others could all be united in proclaiming the same message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and how it was through faith in Him alone that one could be saved from the wrath of God. How could these men who were scattered or were Christ’s enemies at His arrest be changed into those who would boldly proclaim Him as our only hope a short time later?

Well when the Lord reveals to you the truth about Christ and His resurrection, your world gets turned upside down. When you are forgiven of your sins and are given a new and eternal life, it’s a whole new ball game. Having a revelation of the truth of the gospel changes things.  Having an encounter with God, makes all things new. Ask me how I know.  

If you have been following the blog for any length of time, you know that I often reflect on music lyrics or themes from movies, to try to explain concepts regarding our Christian faith to encourage Christians to have a closer walk with the Lord and to live out their faith authentically.  

Yesterday morning, during my morning exercise, as I thought about how the gospel has changed the world in general and how it has turned my world upside down personally, I remembered the 1972 disaster epic film, the Poseidon Adventure.  As I reflected on the plot, settings, and characters of the Poseidon Adventure and how it details a group of survivors desperate attempt to survive, I realized that its themes could be analogous of the gospel of Jesus Christ.    

In the movie, a luxury cruise ship’s captain is influenced by the owner of the cruise line company to make an unwise decision to go full speed into the direct path of a 90 foot tsunami wave, causing the ship to be completely turned upside down, immediately killing most of the crew and passengers.  But some crew and passengers remain alive in the air that is captured in the upside down boat.  While most of the remaining passengers are influenced by the ships purser to stay put and wait for help, in total denial of the facts of the situation, a small group of survivors is led by an unconventional  reverend to go up in this world turned upside down to try to find a way of escape through the bottom of the boat.  

The star studded cast that includes Gene Hackman as the Reverend, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, and Shelly Winters does a wonderful job of portraying the human experience of trying to band together to survive.  

In the twists and turns of the journey to the end, lives are lost, and sacrifices are made, culminating in Hackman’s Reverend Frank Scott, yelling out to God in complaint about the groups misfortunes and lives lost, asking how many more lives, how many more sacrifices it would take to please Him, before he surrenders his life to save his adopted flock.

The man who cursed God one moment for “working against them”, in the next freely gave his life to save his friends, exclaiming “Take Me!”

Before dropping to his death, the reverend turns to the downcast survivors and makes one last encouragement: “You can make it. Keep going!”, telling the remaining leader, Borgnine’s character to “Get them through!”



(https://youtu.be/aNOmTuwnGYg)

The film’s setting, the Poseidon turned upside down and slowly falling apart can be seen as our world, slowly fading away and destined to die.  

The remaining passengers could represent humanity.   

The captain, who knew better, and owner, who didn’t, are both influenced by money and perish. 

The purser, who before the disaster commented that he was the “real captain of the ship”, represents earthly knowledge, expertise, and authority.  But those things don’t matter in a world turn upside down and in light of the question of life and death is shown to be lacking solutions.  The purser and all who trust in his knowledge, authority and expertise perish when they refuse to follow the reverend.  

The Reverend Frank Scott, an unconventional man of God who can think outside of the box to help people regardless of the circumstances, is shown to be the one who knows the way to life.  Only the people who follow him survive. 

And in sacrificing himself, the reverend represents a type of Christ. Although he voices a hearty complaint over the cup of suffering he receives, after he encourages his people to keep going, he goes silent and goes into eternity with no sign of fear.

When you know the gospel it changes everything. It turns your world upside down and you see the truth every where you look. You see the beauty, you see the pain. But you know the hope in the here and now and for what lies beyond where we can’t see.

So let me encourage you, that whatever disasters you may face in this life, “You can make it. Keep going.”  

But just like in the Poseidon Adventure, the only way you survive is to follow the man of God, Jesus Christ.   He came to earth to live and die for us. He is the truth, the way, and the life.    

And when you put your faith in Him, your new life as a Christian may seem like the world turned upside down but in Christ you will your footing and discover the ways that the Lord has for you to walk in, and even when you thought there was no way. 

So keep walking and talking with God, where sometimes it can seem that up is down and down is up, but somehow through it all there is always peace.

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NLT2)
6  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
7  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Today’s Bible verses continue where we left off yesterday. My resource presents 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 all at once, but I decided to split them because there is so much about love stated in these four verses that I didn’t want go through them too quickly. 

Love rejoices whenever the truth wins out, not about injustice.  

OOF before coming to Christ, I rejoiced over “getting away” with things.  That spirit of rebellion that encourages you to cut corners, break rules, and take what you want regardless of circumstances can have you revel in your successes but that selfish spirit is not love. The spirit of “doing things my way” is the opposite of love – indifference toward God and your fellow man.  While we can glory in the injustices that favor us, true love would favor justice and the truth winning out.  

Full acceptance, love, has to be in the light of the truth. We can’t say we love someone if we don’t know the truth about them. Love can’t be based on lies.   

And as today’s verses tell us, love never gives up.  When we give up on a relationship, love is gone, love has come to an end. 

The choice to love is the choice to hope, to have faith, and to endure.  And in relationships in order for love to survive, both parties must eventually choose to give and receive it.    

With God or man,  One party can pour out all the love they can muster toward someone else. But if that other person, doesn’t receive and give love in return, love’s purpose isn’t realized.  

Here truth comes into play, if we say we love but don’t really love, our lies will be found out eventually.  

If our love is a lie, it will eventually be exposed and the relationship will end, with pain and possibly betrayal. On earth that means heartache and broken relationships.  

But with God, who loves all men because He is love, when our love for Him is a lie, our lie will be exposed and result in eternal separation from Him.  

The answers to the questions of life, love, and death are all the same. The answer is God. The answers come from the Creator and we must make peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ to be able to know what love is.    

So seek the truth, receive the love of God that is offered through Jesus Christ, and show you know what love is by sharing it with the world

 

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 Begin  sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

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

A Protective Charm

The first text we will examine is a short recipe for a protective charm (or amulet) to be worn like a necklace. The purpose of this amulet was to protect the wearer from harmful or evil spirits.

While there is no need to perform a magical rite with this charm, there are specific instructions on how the amulet is to be fashioned: “Onto lime wood write with vermilion this name.… Enclose it in a purple skin, hang it around your neck and wear it.”

The second part of the recipe gives a series of magical names to be written on the charm: “epokopt kopto bai baitokarakopto karakopto chilokopto bai” (in some of the texts that I cite below, such magical names will be summarized by “magical names”). Although these words are transliterated from the Greek and are unintelligible to us, they were no more intelligible to most Greek readers. They are magical words, probably the names of the spirits who are supposed to make this magical charm effective. Often magical names were invoked together with the names of known gods and goddesses, such as Hekate, Artemis, Selene, Kore, Kronos, Aphrodite and others. All of the magical texts show an incredible amount of syncretism; that is, the mixing together of various elements from different religious beliefs and practices. Any name thought to be laden with supernatural power could be invoked. Hence, one will find Greek, Egyptian, Persian, Phrygian and Roman deities all invoked in the same text.

The third part of the text contains the command that the spirit agents are being summoned to fulfill: “Guard me from every daimon of the air, on the earth and under the earth, and from every angel and phantom and ghostly visitation and enchantment.” This representative example is what is called apotropaic magic; that is, the “warding off” of demons and harmful spirits.

In the magical papyri the Greek word daimōn did not necessarily signify an evil or harmful spirit. Although in this magical recipe the term is plainly used to refer to the spirits who could inflict harm, by itself the word has no moral connotations. In the classical era before the New Testament age, the word daimōn had been used for the gods (such as Apollo, Dionysus and Hermes) and for supernatural beings regarded as somewhat lower than the gods. Increasingly it was used of the supernatural intermediaries (between the gods and humanity) and of the spirits of nature. Many regarded the daimones (plural form) who filled the air to be the disembodied souls of the dead, especially heroes. Influence from the East, especially Persian and Jewish thought, resulted in the Greek word daimōn taking on an increasingly evil connotation in its common use. Both daimōn and the related word daimonion are consistently used to refer to an evil spirit in the New Testament. Throughout this book the term demon will be used in reference to evil spirits and daimōn will be used in its neutral sense.

This magical text illustrates fear and dread of the spirit realm felt by the general populace. This magical recipe also illustrates the fact that people believed evil powers populated all of creation, including the air, the earth and the underworld. Magic provided a means for dealing with the fear of this reality.

Numerous accounts could be given to depict the great fear of demons among people in antiquity. It was believed these evil beings could even threaten to bring death. One ancient writer gives an account of a certain wise man, or shaman, endowed with a knowledge of the magical arts who could exhibit a certain measure of control over these hostile forces. Apollonius of Tyana became a well-known wonder worker throughout the Mediterranean world. He lived during the time of Paul, and Flavius Philostratus chronicled his life about a century later. This work is very important for giving us further insight into the folk belief of the time.

On one occasion Apollonius of Tyana encountered a woman whose sixteen-year-old son had been possessed by a demon for two years. She was aware of his possession because of her son’s altered behavior and because the demon allegedly revealed itself to the woman using the boy’s voice. The demon claimed to be the ghost of a dead person who hated women and was in love with the boy. The mother, understandably anguished over her son’s tormented condition, explained to Apollonius all the symptoms. Among other things, she observed that “the boy does not even have his own voice, but speaks in a deep, hollow tone, the way grown-up men do, and when he looks at me, his eyes don’t seem to be his own.” The mother explained to Apollonius that whenever she had tried to bring the boy to him, the demon would threaten to throw the young man into a crevice or off of a precipice and kill him. Apollonius confidently responded to the woman by supplying her with something like an amulet or a magical recipe that would prevent the demon from killing the boy.

A Love Potion

The second text provides us with a vivid illustration of how magic involved the direct assistance of supernatural beings to perform a given request. This recipe, recorded on a papyrus scroll discovered in Egypt, reveals how a certain lovesick Theodorus attempted to gain the affection of a woman named Matrona. The intent of the recipe is stated simply: “Let Matrona love Theodorus for all the time of her life.” This type of “love potion” is commonly called an aphrodisiac.

There is virtually no magical rite for Theodorus to perform, but the text does presuppose that he has obtained some of her hair. The recipe is quite expansive, however, in invoking the help of the underworld gods and spirits. The formula continues:

I entrust this charm to you, underworld gods, to Pluto uessemigadon ortho baubo, to Kore, Persephoneia, Ereschigal, and to Adonis era … puonrth and to underworld Hermias Thoth phokentazepseu and to mighty Anubis cherichtha kanchene … th, keeper of the keys of the gates of Hades, and to the underworld gods and to the untimely dead, lads and lasses.

The final phrase, “to the untimely dead, lads and lasses,” lends some insight into a common interpretation of a segment of the spirit realm by the ancients. Many in the Greco-Roman world believed people who were heroes or who had suffered an untimely death became disembodied spirits after death. They would customarily take on a rather evil disposition and could bring harm to someone if commanded to do so through a curse.

The text goes on to invoke two additional goddesses (Hekate and Artemis) and uses many more magical names. It is also very clear that the conjurer expects these supernatural beings to accomplish his stated intent to make Matrona a devoted lover of Theodorus. The formula is quite explicit:

I adjure all ghosts [Greek=demonas] in this place to come to the assistance of this ghost. Raise yourself up for me from the repose that keeps you and go out into every district and every quarter and every house and every shop, and drive, spellbind Matrona … that she may not have intercourse vaginal, anal, or oral with anyone else, nor be able to go with any other man than Theodorus … and never let Matrona … be able to endure or be healthy or find sleep night or day without Theodorus.

In this particular case the conjurer is not exactly sure which “demon” will be compelled to perform the task. The spell continues: “Do not turn aside from hearing me, ghost [Greek=demon], whoever you are, and raise yourself up for me, for I adjure you by the lady Hekate Artemis demon damno damnolukake damnippae damnomenia damnobathira damnobathiri damnomenia dameamone, tail-swallower, night roamer.” Here it appears that the conjurer is threatening a “demon” by the goddess of the underworld, Hekate Artemis, and certain magical names. Thus, Hekate Artemis will enforce his request because she is believed to respond to these magical names and the epithets that are ascribed to her. Other magical texts even give instances of hymns to be sung to the deities, which would render them more receptive to the requests of the petitioner. In this text the implication for the “demon” is clear—there is now no choice but to respond to the request of Theodorus. The “demon” is thus manipulated by the conjurer.

A Spell to Inflict Harm

The last example is a rather horrific piece of black magic that has an elaborate rite. It is a recipe for inflicting great harm on an enemy. The rite is to proceed as follows:

Take a lead lamella [thin, metal plate] and inscribe with a bronze stylus the following names and the Figure [depicted in the papyrus text], and after smearing it with blood from a bat, roll up the lamella in the usual fashion. Cut open a frog and put it into its stomach. After stitching it up with Anubian thread and a bronze needle, hang it up on a reed from your property by means of hairs from the tip of the tail of a black ox, at the east of the property near the rising of the sun.

Following this is an invocation of supernatural beings and the statement of the devilish command to the powers:

Supreme angels, just as this frog drips with blood and dries up, so also will the body of him [a space to insert the name of the victim] whom [a space to insert the name of the victim’s mother] bore, because I conjure you, who are in command of fire maskelli maskello.

It is important to understand that the conjurer is not invoking the good “angels” surrounding the Christian or Jewish God, Yahweh. In the Hellenistic era pagans used the term “angel” (angelos) for supernatural beings and messengers. Here the idea of a supernatural assistant or servant is what is in mind.

Various parts of this magical rite seem rather strange and nonsensical to us. Indeed, for the person who performed the rite, a rational explanation for the details may have defied explanation, but it was believed to work! There was, however, a somewhat rational basis for certain aspects of the magic rite. Magic was based partly on a system of correspondences. Animals, plants, herbs, precious stones and metals were believed to be associated with or to symbolize various gods and demons; therefore, they could be used to attract or repel the presence and influence of these supernatural beings. Moreover, the use of written symbols functioned in much the same way. The seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, for instance, were used in magical texts to represent the seven planetary deities.

These three magical texts give us a glimpse not only of the nature of magic, but also of some fundamental assumptions behind magic: Gods, spirits, angels and demons do exist; they are involved in everyday life; and, most important, they can be manipulated.

Numerous words, names and titles are used in the magical texts to refer to the wide array of spirit beings. From all religious traditions during the New Testament era, people seem to have used a broad vocabulary for the spirit realm. While much of Paul’s vocabulary for the principalities and powers can be found in the magical papyri, he was probably drawing more specifically from the vast reservoir of terminology in the demonology and angelology of first-century Judaism (see chapter four). Pagan readers would have clearly understood what Paul was talking about when he referred to principalities and powers since they shared many of the same terms and concepts with Judaism.[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 22–27.