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Showing posts with label Luke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luke. Show all posts

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Changes and the Dreaded Concept of Future Contemplation: the 5 year plan! - Purity 813


 Changes and the Dreaded Concept of Future Contemplation: the 5 year plan! - Purity 813

Purity 813 08/18/2022  Purity 813 Podcast

Good morning,

 

Today’s photo of a set of tire tracks going into a field of gold comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene when I went a little further down Waite Road than usual while walking the dog, back on July 23rd

Well, it’s Thursday again and as usual I am sharing another photo of a pathway as an encouragement for my all my friends to either get on, or “keep on keeping on”, on the pathway of Christian Discipleship.

Tonight is the last meeting of The Grace Course Discipleship group that I facilitate on Zoom, and it has me thinking about the course of our lives and how they are filled with beginnings and endings and how the changes keep on rolling from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, and from season to season.  The concept of stability or the status quo really is an illusion and if we think that things will always remain the same we are deceiving ourselves. 

As much as we can experience peace when we walk in the Spirit, the path of Christian Discipleship is progressive and forward thinking. One of the questions that I noticed that continually comes up as I have tried to live my life according to my Christian faith is: “What’s next Lord?” as I seek to walk into the meaning and purpose that God has for me. 

If you didn’t know it, it’s “back to school season” and changes, they are going to come. Many of my friends in other states have already shared the “first day of the school year” photos of their kids and soon the kids, adolescents, and young adults in the Empire state are going to have to walk that walk too. 

My kids are college age. My daughter Haley recently got her Associates degree and Brennan finished his freshman year with mixed results that were reminiscent of his high school days. 

Haley works at Lowes as a cashier and has decided to not to continue her studies this fall.  So this morning, I agonized over and made the decision to have her begin paying “rent”.  I have decided to ease her into it a bit and while she won’t be paying a full portion of a third of the living expenses at my home, she will be paying $100 a week.  I advised her that this demand would continue and be increased yearly at her subsequent birthdays until she would pay a full third of the mortgage and utilities upon her 25 birthdays. I also advised her that this demand for rent would be suspended if she chose to become a full time college student again and that I would take all things in consideration in this regard.   

As for my son Brennan, his freshman studies ended in May and since then he has not sought employment and a few days ago admitted he hadn’t registered for school and wasn’t sure if he would.  Today just happens to be the day that students would have to pay their tuition, so I sent him a message to make him aware and to encourage him either to register for school or to get a job.   I also advised him of his sister having to begin paying rent and that if he was not a full time student, he too would have to pay rent after his 21st birthday in December.  

So it’s like, AHHH, tough love… I don’t know.  You sort of want to be “cool Dad” but at the same time I feel that I need to make my kids responsible and encourage them to be self-sufficient, to contemplate their futures, and seek their independence.  

I just got married in January and while TammyLyn and I are doing this two household thing mostly because of our kids, any illusion of “status quo” in our lives currently will increasingly be revealed as an illusion as the years pass and we seek to be joined together under one roof. 

While we don’t know exactly what will happen over the next five years, the time it will take for TammyLyn’s youngest to graduate high school, we know that there is the potential for huge changes on our respective horizons in terms of our respective careers and living situations. 

So my “pulling the trigger” on having my kids pay rent is intended for them to realize that while things seem relatively stable in our lives now, they aren’t necessarily going to stay that way and that they should begin to develop that dreaded concept of future contemplation: the 5 year plan.  

OOF… it hurts to say it, because I only have the vaguest idea of what my 5 year plan will be!   

But relax, the good thing is that the future doesn’t happen all at once.   Christ said in: 

Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT2)
25  “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
26  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?
27  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28  “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,
29  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
30  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31  “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
32  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
33  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

So don’t worry about tomorrow or 5 years from now. If look ahead a little bit, with the idea of what we want to accomplish in the next 5 years and start taking steps in that direction, we can get to where we want to be.  

But in the meantime, we have to take care of the things and people that are in front of us.  We have to love and care for the things and people God has put into our lives in the moment, but we should also be loving enough to be honest about how things will and need to change in the future. 

Although we may feel utterly groundless when we contemplate the uncertainty of the future, if we are faithful to follow the Lord, we can be prepared for whatever changes may come our way.  

Christ also said something about building things on a rock versus building on shifting sands:

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT2)
24  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.
25  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.
26  But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.
27  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

  When you stand on the Rock, your house will stand. So listen to the teachings of Jesus and follow them.  

So as we move ever closer to a new season in our lives, keep walking and talking with God. Keep an eye on the horizon but make sure you are looking at the next step you need to make too.  Although the change times and season can seem like shifting sands, we can be steady as we go when we walk in the Spirit.  

 

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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:

Luke 11:9 (NLT2)
9  “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus who encourages our perseverance and faith in prayer.  

The thing that might not always be clear when we regard Christ’s words in this verse is the implication of a continuous relationship and conversation with God that implicit in these instructions.   In the midst of our keep on asking, and seeking, and knocking,  we should realize that we should also be listening and looking for where God wants us to go.  

Do we just keep hammering away at a door that won’t open? We could and maybe we should, if we really believe that what we are asking for is the Lord’s will. 

But in our walk of faith we have to remember that we don’t know everything and what we may think is best may not be.  

But I encourage you to be persistent because sometimes the door will open when we least expect it.   

However, in my faith walk I can testify to persistently praying for certain situations that did not change, the door remained shut and in retrospect, I thank God that didn’t open!

God knows best. 

But here’s the deal, because He knows best we need to keep asking, seeking, and knocking in terms of following Him and praying to Him, no matter what. He will direct our paths and He will give us the good things we ask for if it is in His will and part of the joy of walking with God is discovering just what those good things are and when those good things will come. 

In truth, in our salvation, we have already received all we will ever need. So what we get to experience through the rest of our lives is just a bonus. SO be faithful to follow, and keep asking, seeking, and knocking to discover what the Lord has in store for you.

 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

The Modern Understanding of Myth

According to contemporary academic studies of religion, however, the primary function of the term myth is not to pass judgment on the factuality of an event or the metaphysical reality of a spirit. Myth has a vital role to play in society by giving an account of its sacred origins. “It reports realities and events from the origin of the world that remain valid for the basis and purpose of all there is. Consequently, a myth functions as a model for human activity, society, wisdom, and knowledge.” As Paul Ricoeur points out, myth is distinct from history in that it narrates the founding events that occur before time.8

According to this modern definition of myth, every society has a narrative of its origins, that is, a cosmogonic myth. For most people in the West the myths of evolutionism and materialism have replaced the creation story of Genesis. As people relate the experiences of their own time to their understanding of their origins, the myth becomes the basis for explaining present experience. For instance, a Western physician may diagnose someone suffering a severe stomach illness as having a virus, whereas a Zande tribesman would suspect an evil spirit World view is thus closely tied to myth. Belief in evil spirits is necessarily linked to one’s understanding of the origins of existence.

The apostle Paul revealed his own indebtedness to the Old Testament account of creation. His conversion to Christ did not force a paradigm shift to an entirely new mythology, but caused him to rethink his Jewish heritage in terms of the person of Jesus Christ. Fundamental to Pauline theology is his description of Christ in terms of the “new Adam.” What is difficult for us to know is the extent to which Paul subscribed to the various Jewish interpretations of the Genesis account (for example, were demons the offspring of the cohabitation of angels and women?—see Gen 6:1–4). Paul is not enamored with such speculation. The fact of their existence and hostility to the church was what occupied his attention.

Those who hold to the modern understanding of myth do not want to demythologize the New Testament (as Bultmann advocated). Rather, they emphasize the importance of discerning the role and function of a given myth in its social setting.

From Projections to Collective Unconscious: Jung and Wink

In his scientific exploration of the unconscious, psychologist Sigmund Freud came to the conclusion that the devil was nothing more than the expression of individual repressions, that is, projections. His associate Carl Jung agreed with him but took the mythological element of religion more seriously than Freud. Jung did not come to the point of accepting the metaphysical reality of the powers, but he did see religious myths involving evil spirits as powerful psychological realities that should not be discarded. His concept of the “Shadow”—the negative side of personality—comes close to the idea of an evil power. The Shadow could also be understood collectively. A group or social order could manifest a collective personality characterized by evil, such as racism, exploitation and violence.10

In his recently published studies on the language of power in the New Testament, Walter Wink adopted this Jungian framework for interpreting the powers of darkness. He interprets demons and evil spirits as the psychic or spiritual power (“the inner essence”) of an individual, organization, society or government. (Because of the significance of his work, I will give a focused assessment of it in chapter fifteen.)

The Inadequacy of “Myth” to Explain Evil Spirits

Building on the modern understanding of myth, Wolfhart Pannenberg contends that one needs to make a necessary distinction between world view and myth. He argues that belief in demons by people in the New Testament era was part of their world view, but it should not be identified as specifically mythical. Arguing against Bultmann, Pannenberg contends that belief in demons (indeed, also, the understanding of the Christ event) is tied neither to Jewish apocalyptic nor to a Gnostic redeemer-myth. He rightly observes that scholarship subsequent to Bultmann has thoroughly discredited Bultmann’s idea of a Gnostic redeemer-myth influencing Christianity. He also argues that eschatological themes in the New Testament that correspond to Jewish apocalyptic must not necessarily be regarded as mythical. Pannenberg’s comments are made in the context of advancing a nonmythological understanding of the Christ event. The historical work of Jesus, according to Pannenberg, was not a tale derived from some other primitive myth, but an actual event that came to function as a “new myth” for the Christian church.

Pannenberg effectively opens the door to the possibility that the supernatural realm may directly reveal itself to people in some tangible way. He appropriately asks, “Can the other-worldly make its reality known in any other way than by manifesting itself within the world?” Endorsing Pannenberg’s approach, Anthony Thiselton argues similarly that “belief about supernatural interventions in the affairs of men … is not necessarily primitive or pre-scientific, as the Enlightenment view of myth would imply.”15 Pannenberg notices that every religious understanding of the world fundamentally accepts the idea of divine intervention in the course of events. Consequently, it is possible to hold to the real existence of evil spirits without necessitating recourse to interpreting them as part of a larger mythical drama (whether of the creation of the world or of the end of the world).

This seems to provide a very helpful perspective on the ancient (and contemporary) understanding of evil spirits. While Paul may have been working from a specific cosmogonical myth (a story of origins), the details of the myth were neither obvious in his writings nor did they appear to be important to Paul. He evinced concern only about the fact of hostile supernatural interventions in the daily affairs of Christians.

In a similar way it is difficult (if not impossible) to piece together any mythical drama standing behind the numerous Hellenistic magical texts. For those who used these texts, it was the common assumption that extradimensional beings existed and that they could be controlled. Magic was then concerned with learning how to manipulate these spirit-beings either for personal good or for someone else’s misfortune.

We are now back to the question of world view. Can we accept a world view that believes in the metaphysical reality of spirits, demons and angels?[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), 173–176.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Answer for Depression and Anxiety - Purity 801


The Answer for Depression and Anxiety - Purity 801

Purity 801 08/04/2022  Purity 801 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a path through the woods comes to us from a friend who “made a few wrong turns on the Blue Trail at Garnsey Park” in Rexford NY but got lost in its beauty and vows to absolutely go back again. And just like our friend, if we make a few wrong turns in life, we should remember the beauty we experienced in the Lord’s presence and vow to follow Him again.

Well it's Thursday again and I share a photo of a pathway as is my habit because Thursdays are the days that I encourage people to get on the path of Christian discipleship as I will be leading a men's group through Freedom in Christ Ministries’ “The Grace Course” on Zoom this evening.

As much as I experience the joy that comes from walking in the Spirit on the path of Christian discipleship, I have to admit that with the joy comes a considerable amount of pain in the terms of the compassion I have for the friends, family, and old acquaintances that I see as they struggle through life without the Lord.

A good deal of my morning this morning was spent sending a reply to a text that I had received from an old friend who was reporting that his son was depressed and feeling anxious. His son had reached out to me in the past and I had done my best to encourage him to seek the Lord and to the find the peace that comes from following the Lord, but the son failed to do what I suggested and never contacted me again.

Now months later, things have deteriorated to the point where the father is thinking about referring his son to a psychiatrist and putting him on medication. While there is certainly need for doctors and medications to help in certain situations, my familiarity with this case would lead me to state that the overwhelming problem here is that this young man does not know who he is in Christ and because of that  he does not know his self-worth or the purpose that the Lord has for his life.

Instead he isolated himself by doing things his way. He surrounded himself with the things of this world. Instead of going the way he should go, as according to the word of God, he has gone his own way and is suffering because of it.

As someone who was lost in the darkness for years and years and years, I can tell you that when you isolate and surround yourself with the things of this world, you will eventually have reasons to be depressed and to feel anxious.  The world doesn't offer any answers. It just offers temporary relief and when that relief is gone, you are left feeling empty.

They say the prophets’ curse is that you know the truth and no one listens to you.  Well I don't claim to be a prophet, but I think I have a small idea about their pain and  I can tell you I do know what happens when you decide to follow the Lord.  As much as I can encourage others, I also understand the need for a personal revelation of the Lord's goodness which only comes from seeking Him.

Our faith has to be more than just an intellectual belief or a theological understanding. Our faith has to be a deep trust in the Lord, meaning we turn to him, talk to Him, read His word, and try to align our lives with His wisdom.

When we fail to do that, we can easily doubt that God is even real. Reading the Bible, going to church, and praying can seem like cold and empty things unless we really believe that God is with us and we reach out to Him in faith to establish that connection, that personal relationship with God.

So my heart bleeds for this man, his son, and for other people who have left me or who I have left behind simply by walking forward on the path of Christian discipleship.

We say we want peace but some of us don’t want to pay the cost. 

If we want the peace of the Lord, we have to surrender to Him. That's what “Lord” means. He's the boss. We are bondservants- slaves – and God is our Good and Holy Master who loves us. We follow Him because he is powerful. We follow him because he is wise. We follow him because he knows what's best. So we have to exchange our control of our lives for His. 

Don’t get me wrong, We still have free will. We can do whatever we want. But when we decide to follow the Lord and do what He suggests in His word, which is contrary to everything we learn from the world, our families and society, we discover that God is real, that God is with us, and although it might not always be easy, we discover that His way is the only way, the best way, to live.

Our faith has to be more than theological understanding. Our faith needs to be a relationship. In a relationship we talk to the other person. We also listen. So in our relationship with God, we have to talk to Him, literally with our voices, but also through the study of His word and through the practices of the Christian faith such as going to church and praying.

We also need to make ourselves open to His suggestions to do good works. After we follow the Lord for a while we'll get intuitions to do good things. We'll get invitations to serve at church or serve in our communities or help with family and friends. These invitations to do good works are another part of our relationship with the Lord. When we answer the invitation, and actually help people which we wouldn't do on our own normally, we enter in deeper to our relationship with God.

Our relationship with the Lord is really shown in that the fact that we are shaping our lives to live the way He suggests. When we don’t do that, or step off His path, we suffer. Ask me how I know.

Even though I pray and read the Bible every day, I recently wasn't diligent in terms of what I put before my eyes and in terms of what I was putting in my mouth, in terms of food, and I suffered the consequences.

But the good news is that I saw what I was doing and I repented. Over the last several days, I have made a concerted effort to adjust my eating habits and to be discerning in terms of what I spend my time watching or focusing on. I decided to turn back to the Lord in a deeper way and I've benefited greatly already.

From last week to today, I've lost three pounds and I feel spiritually regenerated because I am being self-aware about my physical and spiritual health. My focus hasn't gone to the silly things that I was watching before. I've found my rest and my peace in the Lord instead of the things of the world and realize now my mistake and I shouldn't necessarily go back to the world when I want to “take a break and relax”. 

I get it though, life is hard but God is good!

So all I can do is encourage others to do the same as I've done. “Seek the Lord” is my one a piece of advice that will never change. But it's not my advice that will help you. The only One that will help you is the Lord and the only thing that will help you is your making the daily decision to follow Him.

So let me share Psalm 138, because if you get nothing else out of this blog or podcast today, at least I would have proven faithful  by sharing the word of God.

Psalm 138:1-8 (NKJV)
1  I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
2  I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
3  In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.
4  All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, When they hear the words of Your mouth.
5  Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.
6  Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.
7  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.
8  The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

So praise the Lord, worship Him, and He will answer you when you cry out and He will make you bold with His strength. 

Keep walking and talking with God and you can overcome all that ails you and regardless of the difficulties or troubles of this life, when you follow Him you will have the peace that goes beyond all understanding, the peace that only comes from God, when you have peace with God, through faith in Christ alone.

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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:

 

Luke 18:27 (NLT2)
27  He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus, who encourages us to trust the Lord for the impossible.  

In Neil Anderson and Timothy Warner’s book, “The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare”, the authors state that the biggest lie the enemy tells the Christian is that something is “impossible.”  As we can see from today’s verse, the belief that something is impossible goes directly against the words of Jesus.  

But let’s be clear here, Jesus does not say that “nothing is impossible”, He says that “What is impossible for people is possible with God”.  The key here is “with God”.  So if you are not walking with God, you will discover that there are many things that are impossible.  

But let’s keep it real here too. Even if you do walk with the Lord, and we know that the Lord can do the impossible, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Lord will grant all your impossible wishes.  

Remember, Lord means that God is the boss, and He has infinitely more knowledge and wisdom than we have, and that He has His own purposes too.  

One of the most faithful Christians was the Apostle Paul, and he confesses in one of His epistles to an affliction that he associated with the devil, a thorn in the flesh, and he prayed to have it taken away, but the Lord let it stay and advised Paul that His grace was sufficient, saying. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)
9  …, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

To which Paul responds by saying:

“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Although he didn’t get what he was hoping for, Paul did pray for the “impossible healing” so we should pray and work to overcome “the impossible things” in our lives too. 

The Lord may choose to do the impossible in our lives or He will give you the strength to endure impossible situations and be strengthened through them.   But either way we can rejoice that the Lord is with us and the power of Christ rests upon us. 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

11 - Spiritual Warfare

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12 is one of the best-known verses of the entire Bible, yet one of the most misunderstood, misconstrued and practically neglected texts of the Scripture. Immersed in a culture that says evil spirits do not exist, Western Christians struggle even to begin the task of spiritual warfare. We spend more time wondering if we really should believe in demons than grappling with how we should respond to them.

On this topic some of us suffer double-mindedness. Although mental assent is given to the likelihood that evil spirits exists since it is affirmed in the Bible, in reality it makes no practical difference in the way we live our day-to-day lives. When dealing with a personal problem such as illness or depression, medical and psychological services are the only considered alternatives. Little thought is given to the spiritual side. Even in Christian ministry the spiritual dimension is often ignored. Ineffective evangelism, for example, is often attributed to a lack of training or persuasive skill rather than powerful demonic hindrance.

Some segments of Christianity do take seriously demonic existence. They attempt to confront the spiritual dimension. Unfortunately the excesses of a few of these groups sometimes overshadows the healthy aspects of the teaching and practice of others. Ephesians 6:10–20 wrongly becomes a manifesto on exorcism. Or demons are seen behind virtually every problem. The rest of Christianity lamentably writes off the helpful perspective of these groups on the demonic because they appear to be extreme.

We need, more than ever, to gain a revitalized perspective on spiritual warfare. If we are not aware of the subtle and powerful work of our enemy, he will defeat us. Perhaps he already has certain areas of life strongly in his grip, where we have not been aware of his devious work.

Many thinkers believe Western society is on the verge of a major world view shift. Scholars such as Hans K√ľng are anticipating an epochal move from the “Modern Era” to a “Post-Modern Era,” a major paradigm change in the way Westerners view reality. There is no doubt that the rising influence of Eastern thought and the burgeoning impact of the New Age movement will have influence on how Western culture perceives the supernatural. The church needs to be prepared for this new challenge. Few would give the church a strong mark on its preparedness to handle effectively the special problems that arise in ministering to people who have been involved in the “occult.” The best way to determine what spiritual warfare means for us now is to discern what it meant for Paul and his readers back then. First of all, spiritual warfare needs to be understood in terms of what it meant to people living in Ephesus and western Asia Minor where occult beliefs flourished and the reality of the influence of the spirit realm was unquestioned. Second, it needs to be understood in the larger context of the entire book of Ephesians.[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), 148–149.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Is it Safe? His Truth, Your Shield – Psalm 91– Purity 730

 

Is it Safe? His Truth, Your Shield – Psalm 91– Purity 730

Purity 730 05/13/2022 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sunrise just beneath some clouds over the Atlantic Ocean comes to us from a friend in Jacksonville who shared this photo to wish all of his friends a good morning  back on the first day of the month. He also shared his hopes for his favorite sports team’s success with a simple “Go Yankees. Go Jets.”  We can understand the Go Yankees. As they had a game against the Kansas City Royals that day, in which they won 6 to 4, but the Jets? 

Well my friend is a loyal and suffering Jets fan and as it was the first day of the new month, so we could consider that day as “May Day”. So why not speak, his allegiance to the Jets on “May Day”, because as their recent history reveals, the Jets could use all the help they could get! 

And in this world with its penchant for calling what is evil good, and calling what is good evil, and current economic inflation, we could use all the help we can get too!   

Well, it’s Friday again, and as some will undoubtedly correctly call us to give thanks to the Lord for the day, we should realize that we can always give thanks to God regardless of the day because although it may not always seem like it, He is always helping. As Psalm 121 reminds us, our help comes from the Lord.    

Psalm 121:1-2 (NKJV)
1  I will lift up my eyes to the hills-- From whence comes my help?
2  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

 

Of course, to make a legitimate claim to the Lord’s help, we should have a personal relationship with Him through faith in His Son, Jesus.  Although God’s common grace is poured out on everyone, as the sun will shine on the unjust just as much as it will shine on the just, those who put their faith in Christ are forgiven of their transgressions, adopted into God’s family, and given the role of ambassadors to His kingdom.  

 

The promises of God apply to those who trust in Him but the enjoyment of those promises really comes from being in a close personal relationship with the Lord and from knowing what those promises are by studying God’s word.  

 

At last night’s Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course Zoom meeting, one of the participants shared how he has greatly benefited from the content of the course thus far stating that he never knew that his faith in Christ could fundamentally change the way he not only viewed himself and world but it could change how he lived his life. He stated that he never knew how there was great hope and peace to be found in his identity in Christ and how living according to the Lord’s ways could help him to solve his problems and could give him strength to persevere when he was in the midst of them. He never knew what was possible until He listened to what God’s word had to say about Him.   

 

This morning my ongoing relationship with the Lord brought me to the study of Psalm 91 and I just have to share it because of the mighty promises of God that it contains.   Some of these verses or their themes may sound familiar because they have been shared by others to encourage us in our faith and in what the Lord can do.

 

Psalm 91:1-16 (NKJV)
1  He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2  I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
3  Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.
4  He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5  You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6  Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7  A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.
8  Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.
9  Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10  No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling

11  For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.

12  In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13  You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

And Here God speaks, Saying


14  "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15  He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
16  With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation."

Psalm 91 speaks about the promises of protection that Lord provides to those who make Him their refuge and fortress.  There are testimonies throughout the history of Christendom of amazing moments of deliverance and protection.  There are lots of “near misses” in our lives that some people could ascribe to luck but as God is sovereign we know that nothing happens that is not controlled or allowed by Him.

 We can glory in that when things go well but boy are we challenged when bad things happen. Looking at Psalm 91, the enemy and skeptics would say where was God when “the plague” of Covid-19 came or when lives of civilians were lost in the Ukraine, and everywhere else?  

This world is broken by sin and the evil that men do to one another. The enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy but God also uses calamity to judge and chastise the people of the earth. 

Those are some hard truths. The problem of pain is big problem.  But the pain has a purpose. The suffering in this world will cause us to seek help.  The pain is supposed to cause us to seek help from the Lord.  Only He can save us.   

While we are all destined to die because of the effects of Adam’s fall, for through his disobedience sin came into the world and with it, death,  the Lord calls us to forgiveness and everlasting life through His Son.  

While we are on the earth and walking and talking with God we will enjoy providential moves of God to protect us that simply amaze us. But one day our number will be called, and at that time, when our final breath is expelled, we will truly know just amazing God’s grace is as we transition from life here and go into God’s eternal kingdom.  

So is it safe here on earth?  Not really. I mean look around. We should wear our seatbelts and be wise and cautious to avoid dangers because let’s face it we can use all the help we can get.    

And while we could twist the words of Psalm 91 by being reckless, like Satan did when He tempted Christ in the desert by saying to Him:

Matthew 4:5-6 (NKJV)
6…, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' "

We still need to be wise like Jesus and not take Satan’s bait to test the Lord. We should not twist the word to try to declare our right to safety, good health, a long life or to be blessed with prosperity even though those things are possible results of living by faith. 

We have to be balanced and responsible with the great and precious promises that the Lord makes because as Christ said to Satan:  

Matthew 4:7 (NKJV)
7  "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' "

We don’t tempt God, we trust Him. We don’t demand safety and prosperity.  We humbly ask for it and accept whatever He gives us on this earth because we know that it’s not all about us and it’s not all about what happens here on earth for we know that there is an unseen kingdom that will come where our faithfulness to follow and trust in the Lord will be abundantly rewarded.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Get to know just what is possible in a life of faith in Jesus Christ, by getting to know the Lord’s will for our lives that is revealed in His word and by abiding in His presence as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. But we need not fear for the Lord is our shield, our fortress, and our refuge and in Christ we are safe.  For He said:

John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
25   "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
26  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

So let’s believe this. Let’s thank God it’s Friday and let’s thank Him for the safety and help we have through our faith in Jesus Christ.  He will protect us here on earth and gives us the ultimate protection of eternal life when its time to call us home, because there is nothing that can separate us from His love.   

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 16:10 (NKJV)
10  He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

Today’s Bible verse is points to a basic truth that if we can’t trust someone with small responsibilities, we won’t be able to trust them with large responsibilities.  

Jesus Christ’s teaching is pointing to a man’s character and how we can discern whether or not someone is trust worthy. 

This verse comes from Christ’s teaching about the “Parable of the Shrewd Manager” who makes some “side deals” with people who are indebted to their master by accepting partial payments as full, to gain their favor for the inevitable days that will come when he loses his job!  The shrewd manager’s boss actually admires his servants pragmatism at his expense!   The NLT makes this point of this challenging parable a little clearer by

Luke 16:8-9 (NLT2)
8  “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.
9  Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

So, okay, Christ is not condoning the “ends justify the means here” He really isn’t.   The emphasis is on using “your worldly resources” for good and not relying on them to “welcome you into an eternal home”. He is encouraging good stewardship not necessarily the shrewdness of “the dishonest rascal”.  

And today’s verse could actually serve as a word of warning in dealing with dishonest rascals, because it tells us that those who aren’t faithful with little, won’t be faithful with much. 

So be a good steward of what the Lord has given you to bless others. Be faithful in the small things and it whole possible that the Lord will make opportunities for us to faithful in much more.

 

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.

The Credibility of Christ Hangs on How We Use Our Money

The issue of money and lifestyle is not a side issue in the Bible. The credibility of Christ in the world hangs on it. “Fifteen percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic—more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined.” Listen to this refrain that runs all through his teachings:

• “You lack one thing: go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).

• “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.… But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Luke 6:20, 24).

• “Any of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

• “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25).

• “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

• “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

• “Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags … in the heavens” (Luke 12:33).

• “Zacchaeus … said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.…’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house’ ” (Luke 19:8–9).

• “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

• “[Jesus] saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them’ ” (Luke 21:2–3).

• “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21).

• “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.… Follow me” (Luke 9:58–59).

Hazardous Liberality

Over and over Jesus is relentless in his radical call to a wartime lifestyle and a hazardous liberality. I say “hazardous” because of that story about the widow. She gave her last penny to the temple ministry. Most of us would call her foolish or, more delicately, imprudent. But there is not a word of criticism from Jesus:

And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:42–44, emphasis added)

The point here is not that everyone should give everything away. The point is: Jesus loves faith-filled risk for the glory of God. I don’t have laws to give you concerning the particulars of how to spend your money, any more than Jesus did. I simply want to point to Jesus and let his word have its shocking and saving effect on us.

Use Money to Show That God, Not Possessions, Is Our Treasure

Jesus’ emphasis on money and possessions is picked up throughout the New Testament. There are the stories in the book of Acts (“They were selling their possessions … and distributing the proceeds … as any had need,” Acts 2:45). There are the words of the apostle Paul (“In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity.… God loves a cheerful giver,” 2 Corinthians 8:2; 9:7). There are the words of James, the brother of Jesus (“Its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits,” James 1:11).

The issue is pervasive because it is crucial for the witness of the church. If we want to make people glad in God, our lives must look as if God, not possessions, is our joy. Our lives must look as if we use our possessions to make people glad in God—especially the most needy.[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 109–111.