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

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Bible Study with the Cincotti's - Lord, Open Our Understanding! - 01/15/2023

Today's Bible Study, Authored by Arthur Cincotti. 01/15/2023

Listen to our Bible Study Discussion at: Lord, Open Our Understanding! Podcast

Or watch the Video Zoom Session of our Study on YouTube: 



 



Lord, Open Our Understanding!

 

“And He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures.Lk. 24:45

 

How often have you used the phrase, “I believe that we have a misunderstanding”?

Understanding can be pared into two types:

         Understanding the way things are; how things work.

         Understanding people, and their intent.

 

In both cases God is the Author of true, accurate, and appropriate understanding.

Regarding the way things are, Ex. 31:1-6 tells the account of how God called Bezalel, and “filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” vs. 3

They may have acquired some skills up to that point, but we must never forget Heb. 3:4, “For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.”

 

Prov. 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing;

                           Therefore get wisdom.

                           And in all your getting, get understanding.

 

When faced with situations, tasks or problems that seem to defy solution, this is the time to turn and ask the One who created all things.    See Js. 1:5

I marvel at the ingenuity of man. I sometimes marvel at my own abilities, but so much more over the talents and abilities of others concerning that which I could never figure out apart from the grace of God.

This ingenuity is an act of, what is called, “common grace” weather the possessor of such admits it or not. It comes from somewhere, and we know that the source of all good is God.

See Js. 1:17

More tedious, at times, is the capacity to know, or understand. another person. This relies upon a confluence of factors including language, cultural framework, past encounters, and depth of relationship.

It is often life’s greatest joy to truly understand another person in all their complexity. We are truly, fearfully and wonderfully made.”

 

Imagine trying to figure out God. This is the effort of every false religion. Paul says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” Rom. 11:33

 

Apart from revelation, we fail terribly.

 

The Scriptures may lead the natural man into some practical wisdom in order to navigate life. This was the intent of the Law.

 

On the road to the village of Emmaus, two men, who knew the Scriptures, were walking, and talking, and trying to figure out what had just happened, when Jesus came along side and walked with them. In this encounter they heard some of the greatest preaching ever heard, but yet did not understand. They say, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Lk. 24:32

 

Pr. James Finn observes this pattern from this text:

         “He took...He blessed...He broke…and He gave”

         “Then their eyes were open and they knew Him” Lk. 24:30,31

 

Remember, the call to eternal life, from Jn. 17:3 is to, “know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

 

In all our interaction with God we should pray for revelation. Otherwise, we will be swept away by winds of false doctrine.

Jn. 16:13 says, “The Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.”

Wait for the taking, the blessing, the breaking, before giving!

-----Join us for another Bible Study Next Week -------

or

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, or Arthur Cincotti, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the authors may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



Monday, December 26, 2022

Boxing Day – Christmas is Over But the New Life Continues - Purity 924

Boxing Day – Christmas is Over But the New Life Continues -   Purity 924

Purity 924 12/26/2022  Purity 924 Podcast

Purity 924 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of blue and cloud filled skies over my neighbor’s old barn and a snow bordered Waite Rd comes to us from yours truly as I thought to bring my phone with me yesterday as I took the dog for a walk and decided to capture some sights from the journey along the way.    

Well, It’s Christmas – Observed Holiday - Monday – and while a good deal of us will have the grace and mercy of a three day weekend because Christmas fell on a Sunday, that won’t be the case for all of us. I offer the following to employers who have the unenviable task of having to call their workers back to reality today, you can text or send the following:

“Christmas Day is Christmas Day,

but if it’s not the 25th,

you’re expected to work today!”

While I had a positively blissful Christmas Day, as TammyLyn and I spent our first Christmas together as man and wife in relative solitude and peace, and will be enjoying the day off today because of the “legal holiday observance” today, a part of me is just as happy that Christmas is over! 

While some have told me in the last 24 hours that “Christmas lasts until New Year’”s and I don’t want to start a fight, I have to keep it real and tell you that no matter what time off you have or what Christmas themed activities you may persist in for the next week, “It’s over Johnny… Christmas is OVER!

Today is “Boxing Day”, DING-DING, so rejoice over your cherished memories of holiday bliss or pack up your disappointments and bind them in your “bitterness box” or exchange them for store credit at your local or online retailer but either way don’t deceive yourself by living in some temporary state of denial by being oppressed by a false spirit of Christmas cheer.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to rain on your parade of peace or try to discourage you from enjoying today or any other time off you may have off this week.  Trust me, I have been blessed with being able to arrange from a Christmas to New Years Staycation and will be utilizing every bit of the time to rest, relax, and reflect on the year that was 2022 and to look ahead to what the new year will bring.  I just don’t want to encourage anyone to deny reality in the name of the “holiday spirit” that will cause us to lose focus on what’s important to us and to overindulge the flesh. 

Remember the definition of a “sin” is to “miss the mark” – to veer of course of what God would have us do, to do things that directly go against God’s word, create idols out of other things, or to leave undone the good works that God has prepared for us.  While it is fully acceptable to enjoy a holiday feast and some childish antics, on Christmas Day, it is not necessarily wise to “treat every day like Christmas” if that means we persist in walking in the flesh or leaving responsibilities undone.  

I feasted and admittedly made some Jolly borderline jokes over the course of the last 48 hours that were acceptable for the holiday celebration but if I persisted in acting like I did on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I would soon feel that I have deceived myself and have sabotaged my efforts to establish and progress in a lifestyle that promotes good physical, mental, and spiritual health.  

God’s ways are higher than are ways and even though the ways of the world and the tendency to “do what ever I want, when I want” may not always seem sinister if we fail to follow the Lord faithfully, we will experience the negative consequences of going astray.  Extra pounds, physical and mental pain, possible depression, guilt, and spiritual dryness are all waiting for those who walk in the flesh for too long and I’m telling myself and all my friends to forget the holly and the folly of the traps that “secular Christmas” has sprung on us and to get back on track by walking and talking with God by being aware of what we are doing and agreeing to walk in the Spirit from this day forward. 

Unfortunately, the spirit of peace that we establish in dealing with our secular friends and family can easily lead us to compromise our convictions and give people the impression that we aren’t any different, and thus our faith is merely one option of many ways to live, and that choosing a lifestyle of saintliness over sin is no better, and thus extremely puzzling.   In the name of Christmas, I tried to be friendly and accepting and fear that my efforts could easily lead some to feel that I have no objection to the way they live and maybe that “my faith” is as much a curse as a blessing as it “prevents” me from “being free” like them.  

I won’t name names but I have friends and family that are living far from God and whose lifestyles go directly against what God’s word says and when I reflect upon the fact they would enthusiastically celebrate “Christmas” but would fail to follow the ways of the reason for the season it causes me great pain to contemplate their spiritual blindness and their final destination.  

I can easily imagine Christ telling many “Christmas” enthusiasts that He never knew them. Jesus warned those who enjoyed feasts with Him and who heard His words but never obeyed them about the dangers of hell. 

Luke 13:26-28 (NLT2)
26  Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
28  “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.

Bible verses like these and the scores of others that indicate that our saving relationship with the Lord includes the fruit of obedience to His commands caused me to see that I needed to repent and to forsake my “walking in the flesh”.

I can’t think of anything more tragic than people who had enthusiastically celebrated “Christmas” each year of their lives coming to the shocking realization that their participation in religious traditions and holiday celebrations didn’t establish their peace and new life with God. Those “going through the motions” of faith at Christmas or Easter time to satisfy a familial or religious obligation will discover that the what they always suspected was true. They really weren’t a Christian. They worshipped other things, philosophies, or themselves but they never put their faith in Christ in any real way and the lack of the fruit of the Spirit or good works that would give glory to God and specifically point to Jesus in their lives will testify against them.  

Faith in Christ is a matter of life and death.

So with Christmas being over today.  Let’s remember to keep on walking and talking with God.

If Christmas caused you to stray from your faith a little bit by indulging in flesh or by making peace with people who live in darkness in the spirit of the holiday, show the authenticity of your faith by recommitting yourself to walk in the Spirit and to seek the Lord’s presence and purpose for you in the last days of this year and the year ahead.  

If Christmas caused you to draw closer to God, even if it was just for a moment in church or through reflecting on the mystery of our faith,  consider that to be the Lord’s call on your life to worship Him in spirit and in truth, to make Christ you Lord and Savior and to follow Him with the way you live your life.   

Or if you just went through the motions and didn’t really get anything out of Christmas and have some real doubts of whether you believe at all, or know that you don’t believe, if you’ve read this far, I have to believe that a part of you wants to believe, that you want to live. To you I would ask you to pray to God to reveal Himself to you and would invite you to diligently pursue the truth about Christianity and to follow wherever the evidence leads you.  

The word tells us the if we seek the Lord we will find Him and if we follow the Lord we will live and experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  

While it may be harsh to declare that Christmas is over, I want to be clear that “The Day” may be over but our lives in Christ never end and the peace, love, and joy of the Spirit will be with us all the days of our lives when we follow Him.  

Somebody told me that the Christmas songs on a pop station that we have been listening to would continue until New Years.  Because Christmas is over and because it’s back to “life and back to reality” for me as I will resume the disciplines of a Christian Discipleship as per usual on a Monday morning, I was up early and discovered that this “fact” about the pop station was false. 

Although this station was playing a steady stream of “holiday songs” since before Thanksgiving, I’m not the only one declaring the Christmas party to be over, as I was greeted by Wilson Philip’s “Hold On” this morning.  While the lyrics are partly right that “there is pain” and that we do play a part in changing our lives, it really depends on what we are “holding on to” that will make the difference in whether we will live. 

If we are holding on to pleasant circumstances or the way of the world, we will see eventually that we were holding on to nothing of value.  

But if we hold onto our faith in Christ and to our commitment to follow Him where ever He leads us, we will discover our life and purpose with Him goes on forever.   

So let go of that which is fading away and hold on to what matters, The Day is over and while we can play and enjoy Christmas like a child, the Lord never called us to stay that way.    

I’m taking a vacation from sharing the “Bible Verse of the Day from the “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”, again. But I would invite you to read  the “20 Christmas Bible Verses” that was compiled by Concordia University’s Adriana Thompson last year, by clicking on the link you will find on today’s blog.  (https://www.concordia.edu/blog/20-christmas-bible-verses.html).  I share it this one last time, because I am on vacation, and because some of us really need to know that Christmas isn’t about the things of this world and it is my hope that the Holy Spirit will use His word to light a spark of faith in someone who seeks God here.

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

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

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

The Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

Chapter Twelve

The Saints, concludes

 

The sanctification of the church-community thus proves itself by a conduct which is worthy of the gospel. The church-community produces the fruit of the Spirit and is subject to the discipline of the scriptural word. In all that, it remains the church-community of those whose sanctification is Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:30) and who journey toward the day of his coming.

This brings us to the third hallmark of true sanctification. All sanctification is directed toward being able to stand firm on the day of Jesus Christ. “Pursue … holiness[,] without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Sanctification always relates to the end of time. Its goal is not to pass the test when judged by the world or even by the person being sanctified, but to pass the test before the Lord. In their own eyes and in the eyes of the world the holiness of the saints may appear as sin, their faith as unbelief, their love as cruelty, and their discipline as weakness. Their true holiness remains hidden. But Jesus Christ himself is preparing his church-community so that it will be able to stand before him. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25–27; Col. 1:22; Eph. 1:4). Only the sanctified church-community is able to stand before Jesus Christ. He who reconciled God’s enemies and laid down his life for the godless did this in order that his church-community remain holy unto the day of his second coming. This happens by the church being sealed with the Holy Spirit. The saints are being sealed within the church-community’s realm of holiness and preserved unto the day of Jesus Christ. On that day they are not to be found defiled and full of shame, but they will appear before him holy and blameless in spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23). “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9–11). Therefore, do not count on God’s grace if you intend to persist in sin! On the day of Jesus Christ only the sanctified church-community will escape the wrath of God. For the Lord will judge us each according to our works without partiality.[88] For each person’s works will become apparent, and to each the Lord will give “recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:6ff.; Matt. 16:27). Whatever has not already received its judgment here on earth will not remain hidden on judgment day, but must come to light. Who will then stand firm? Those whose works are found to be good. Not the hearers but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rom. 2:13). According to the Lord’s own saying, only those who do the will of his heavenly Father shall enter the kingdom of heaven.

Since we shall be judged according to our works, we stand under the command to do the ‘good work’. The fears we have about doing good works as a pretext to justify our evil works[91] is a notion which certainly is foreign to scripture. Scripture never sets faith over against the good work which hinders and destroys faith. Grace and deeds belong together. There is no faith without the good work, just as there is no good work without faith. [92] Christians need to do good works for the sake of their salvation. For whoever is found doing evil works shall not see the kingdom of God. Thus the good work is the goal of being a Christian. In this life, there is only one thing of real importance, namely, how we can give a good account of ourselves in the last judgment. And because all persons will be judged according to their works, it is of utmost importance that Christians be prepared to do good works. Thus our becoming a new creation in Christ also has as its goal the doing of good works. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are God’s work, created in Christ Jesus for good works, for which God has prepared us beforehand to be our way of life” (Eph. 2:8–10; cf. 2 Tim. 2:21; 3:17; Titus 1:16; 3:1, 8, 14). On this point everything is crystal clear. Our goal is to do the good work which God demands. God’s law remains in effect and must be fulfilled (Rom. 3:31). This is being accomplished through the good work. However, there is but one work which deserves that designation, namely, God’s work in Christ Jesus. We have been saved through God’s own work in Christ, rather than through our own works. Thus we never derive any glory from our own works, for we ourselves are God’s work. But this is why we have become a new creation in Christ: to attain good works in him.

All our good works are nothing but God’s own good works for which God has already prepared us. Thus good works are, on the one hand, demanded of us for the sake of our salvation; and they are, on the other hand, always only the works which God is doing in us. They are God’s gift. It is indeed we who are required to persist in carrying out good works; it is we who are called to good works at any moment. And yet we know that with our good works we could never stand fast before God’s judgment, but that it is Christ alone and his work to which we cling in faith. Thus to those who are in Christ Jesus, God promises good works with which they will be able to stand fast on that day; God promises to preserve them in the state of sanctification unto the day of Jesus. All we can do is to trust in this promise of God because it is God’s word, and then go and persist in carrying out the good works for which God has prepared us.

Our good work is thus completely hidden from our eyes. Our sanctification remains hidden from us until the day when everything will be revealed. Those who attempt to see something here, who want to see their own identity revealed rather than wait in patience, will already have had their reward. In the very midst of the presumably visible progress in our sanctification in which we would like to rejoice, we are most of all called to repent and to recognize our works as thoroughly sinful. However, we are called to rejoice ever more in our Lord. God alone knows our good works, while we know only God’s good work and listen to God’s command. We journey under God’s grace, we walk in God’s commandments, and we sin. There is indeed no denying the fact that the new righteousness, the sanctification, the light which ought to shine remains completely hidden from us. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. But we have faith and trust that “the one who began the good work in us will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). On that day, Jesus Christ himself will reveal to us the good works of which we had been unaware. Without knowing it, we have fed him, provided him with drink, given him clothes, and visited him; and without knowing it, we have turned him away. On that day, we will be greatly astonished, and we will recognize that it is not our works which endure here but only the work which God, in God’s own time, accomplished through us without our intention and effort (Matt. 25:31ff.). Once again, the only thing left for us is to look away from ourselves and to look to the one who has already accomplished everything for us, and to follow this one.

Those who have faith are being justified; those who are justified are being sanctified; those who are sanctified are being saved on judgment day. This is not because our faith, our righteousness, and our sanctification, to the extent that they are ours, would be anything other than sin. Rather, it is because Jesus Christ has been made our “righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that those who boast, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:30).[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

 Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 275–280. 

 

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.