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Showing posts with label Mark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark. Show all posts

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Who Will Love Me for Me? – The Path That Will Lead You There- Purity 603

Who Will Love Me for Me? – The Path That Will Lead You There-  Purity 603

Purity 603 12/16/2021   Purity 603 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the nose of a kayak heading towards the light underneath a canopy of trees comes to us from a friend’s October vacation to the Florida Keys.  

It’s Thursday, and as is my habit, I share photos of pathways, roads, or waterways to encourage my friends to take a step into the spiritual realm by pursuing the truth, meaning, and purpose that is to be found on the path of Christian Discipleship.  The difficulties of this life can surround us but when we start to seek the Lord and His ways for living we discover that just like in todays photo, we might not be out of the woods yet but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the beauty of the journey, even in the midst of our struggles, and that we can know that we are progressively moving towards the light of the good things that God is preparing for us as we steadily walk away from the darkness of the world’s ways.   

I may not be teaching until January 6th, but my lifestyle of Christian Discipleship doesn’t end just because class is not in session.  This evening I will be visiting with a brother in Christ who “just appeared” at the recovery ministry I was teaching at a few years ago.  They didn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol but were struggling with the sins of the flesh which according to statistics for both Christians and non-Christians is common among men. 

I had talked about how the Holy Spirit had progressively led me into sexual purity after I had victory over drugs and alcohol and this man approached me about being an accountability partner. Through the years, we have encouraged one another and have become good friends and we meet periodically to check in on each other’s lives.  Just as our journey of faith doesn’t end, good discipleship relationships endure through the years.   Discipleship/accountability relationships, when they are done right, allow the parties to be real with one another and foster spiritual growth.  

So seek the Lord and you will find company on the path of Christian Discipleship as people will “just appear” as the Lord sends people into your life with which you can grow.  

Another person the Lord sent into my life is my beloved fiancĂ©, TammyLyn.  She sought the Lord and found my discipleship classes on my podcast, felt compelled to come to my classes in person and the rest is Christian love story history: a story so awesome I can barely believe it but to doubt it would be to deny knowing about just how good our God is.   

Even though I am seeing my friend this evening, TammyLyn will be travelling down to River House to spend time with me afterward.  I told her that because of my appointment she didn’t have to bother as our quality time would be limited but she assures me that she doesn’t care about a few lost hours spent in the Lord’s service, she wants to spend time with me because she loves me, a concept that I admittedly struggle with accepting that someone could love me, for me.

My past, my former broken relationships, and my low self-esteem from before Christ still can affect the way I think about myself.  Sometimes I feel I have to earn love, or that people are just tolerating me and if I’m not careful they will leave, or that the love and happiness I experience in life will be good for a time but will be fleeting.  But TammyLyn assures me that she loves me for who I am and that we are getting married on January 1st because we are going to love one another for ever.  She’s the real deal and really loves me for me.  

As awesome as she is at assuring me of her love for me, I have to do the same thing for her. Only yesterday she thanked me for loving her at her best and worst, and even in the crazy situations that surround her. She thanked me for loving her even though she wasn’t “normal”.  

I assured her that I didn’t think any “normal” people existed and if they did they would not be interested in me and more than likely wouldn’t be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I wouldn’t be interested in them.  

In our relationship, TammyLyn and I have agreed to love each other regardless of the physical distance between us or any of the madness that surrounds us because of our pasts.   We have agreed to love and accept each other for who we are, warts and all.  I have decided to lover her for her, and she has decided to love me for me.  

And that reminds me of the simply heart wrenching song by JJ Heller that documents various scenes of people struggling through life where they wonder if there is anyone out there who will help them, if there is anyone out there who will love them for who they are, if there is anyone out there that who will love me for me. 

The song climaxes with a man on death repenting and asking the same question.  The song says:  

“He utters a cry from the depths of his soul

"Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home"

 

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside

And it said

"I know you've murdered and I know you've lied

I have watched you suffer all of your life

And now that you'll listen, I'll tell you that I..."

 

I will love you for you

Not for what you have done or what you will become

I will love you for you

I will give you the love

The love that you never knew” 

 

If you would like to be emotionally moved and possibly break down in tears as I did this morning, I am including the link to a video for JJ Hellers’ song on the blog. (https://youtu.be/VE3vxMqXMCo ). 

In this life, we may never find someone who will truly love us for us. But when you seek the Lord on the path of Christian Discipleship, you will find the One who knows all about you, and amazingly He will love you for you. 

So keep walking and talking with God, He loves you and He will lead you out of the darkness of this world and show you what love really means. He will give you the love you never knew.


Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

 Mark 10:14-15 (NLT2)

14  When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
15  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

 Today’s verses remind us that our understanding is limited and that it is through childlike faith that we enter the kingdom of God.  

 Hey, it had to be tough being an Apostle. You struggled to understand the teachings that Jesus gave, you were amazed by His miracles, and just when you thought you had an idea of what Christ was all about He would rebuke you.   

 Here, the Apostles, knowing how Jesus was the Messiah, thought that Jesus shouldn’t be bothered by some adoring children who wished to be in His presence, so they tried to bar access to Him.  Christ was a busy man and they had to keep the riff raff away as they were doing the Lord’s business, right? 

 Wrong. As well intentioned, or selfish?, the Apostles were, they were taught here that only Jesus would decide where he would go and to whom He would minister.  Jesus didn’t heal everyone at the pool of Siloam, and He didn’t come the first time to force His rule on the earth.  He came to show mankind that the ideas of “earning” our place in God’s kingdom by “doing everything” right was incorrect. 

Today’s verses indicate that it is only through faith alone, in Christ alone, that one can enter into the kingdom of God.  A child can’t perform like an adult. Their small frames are too weak to do the things adults can do. A child’s knowledge and experience are limited too.  Without the care of parents or other adults, children would suffer and possibly die.  

 So children trust their parents in everything.  The cares of shelter, food, or water are all assumed by children to be something that will be provided through their parents.  They don’t even think about what they need. They just trust that their parents will provide and care for them.  There trust is absolute. 

 It is this attribute of the children, that of trust, that of faith, that Christ points to, to teach his disciple’s what really matters. Their best efforts at doing what is “proper” or “doing everything right” won’t get them into the kingdom of God.  Only having faith in Christ, like a child’s absolute faith in their caregivers, will bring us into the kingdom of God.  

 So instead of trying to do things proper, or to do “everything right”, as your primary focus, make sure that you have a relationship with Jesus first.  It is only through faith in Him that we are saved from God’s wrath and instead of trying hard we should just put our trust in Him.    


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

 Today we continue sharing from A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven,  for Day 20 as this current resource series will lead us to Christmas Eve.

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

DAY 20

CHRISTMAS REFORMATION LONG OVERDUE

… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve …

MATTHEW 20:28

Christmas as it is celebrated today is badly in need of a radical reformation. What was at first a spontaneous expression of an innocent pleasure has been carried to inordinate excess. In one section of Chicago, for instance, the excited citizenry vie with each other each year for the biggest, gaudiest, and most vulgar Christmas tree, on the porch, on the lawn, along the street; and one gigantic, flashily dressed and cold but determinedly smiling Santa Claus drives a fully lighted herd of reindeer across the yard and over the house!

How far have we come in the corruption of our tastes from the reverence of the simple shepherds, the chant of the angels, and the beauty of the heavenly host! The star of Bethlehem could not lead a wise man to Christ today; it could not be distinguished amid the millions of artificial lights hung aloft on Main Street by the Merchants Association. No angels could sing loudly enough to make themselves heard above the raucous, ear-splitting rendition of “Silent Night” meant to draw customers to the neighborhood stores.

In our mad materialism we have turned beauty into ashes, prostituted every normal emotion, and made merchandise of the holiest gift the world ever knew. Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate His coming by making peace impossible for six weeks of each year. Not peace but tension, fatigue, and irritation rule the Christmas season. He came to free us of debt and many respond by going deep into debt each year to buy enervating luxuries for people who do not appreciate them. He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them. The simple token given out of love has been displaced by expensive presents given because we have been caught in a squeeze and don’t know how to back out of it. Not the beauty of the Lord our God is found in such a situation, but the ugliness and deformity of human sin.

Among the harmful abuses of the Christmas season in America is the substitution of Santa Claus for Christ as the chief object of popular interest, especially among the children.

The morality of Mother Goose stories and fairy tales has been questioned by serious-minded Christian parents, but my opinion is that these are relatively harmless because they are told as fiction and the child is fully aware that they are imaginary. With Santa Claus it is not so. The child is taught falsehood as sober truth and is thus grossly deceived during the most sensitive and formative period of his life.

What shall we do? Cultivate humility and frugality. Put the emphasis where the Bible puts it, on the Christ at the right hand of God, not on the babe in the manger. Return to the simplicity that is in Christ. Cleanse our churches of the unscriptural pageantry borrowed from Rome. Take the Scriptures as our guide and refuse to be pressured into conformity to paganism practiced in the name of Christ.

Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Did Jesus Ride in on Dominick the Donkey? - The Lord has Need of It - Purity 590

 


Did Jesus Ride in on Dominick the Donkey? - The Lord has Need of It - Purity 590

Purity 590 12/01/2021   Purity 590 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a snowy roadside forest comes today from yours truly as I was somewhat shocked to discover that winter is not only coming, it has already arrived for some as my work took me to Petersburgh NY where the residents have already had to shovel and plow a few inches of the white stuff off of their driveways and sidewalks.  

Yup, it’s December and even though winter doesn’t officially arrive until the 21st and I am blessed to be on the upper regions of New York’s Hudson Valley and have had no accumulation of snow thus far, I don’t care when the snow comes, for me when there is snow on the ground it’s winter.   

But not for me, not yet. Oh I hope I didn’t just jinx myself! Oh by the way, what I did just there, thinking that what I say will result in negative or positive affects on the created universe walks the fine line of superstition, faith, and magical thinking.   

Jinxes are one way that man tries to make sense of his created universe and the narratives we create can seem to make sense. I said x and y happened, but we have a tendency to only notice when those outcomes come or tend to craft the narrative with the benefit of hindsight.

 “Oh this thing happened? Why? Oh before x, I (the mighty and all powerful I) did or said y, thus causing x?”  

But that’s not really a causal relationship. ME causing things to happen is not necessarily true.  

So even if snow should fall on my beloved River House today, it is most likely not because God chose to humble me because of my words. Although, because God is sovereign, it could.  It’s all part of the mystery of our lives and trying to determine what is and is not God’s will, and what He is making happen and what He isn’t.     

Just because we can make up a compelling narrative about something doesn’t make it true. 

For instance, it’s December so Christmas music is being played and will be played on the airwaves, over the internet, and piped into stores from now until the 25th.  One of the “Christmas” songs that is beloved by some and hated by others is “Dominick the Donkey.”  

Now if you don’t know the lyrics of the song or the contents of the Bible, I might be able to convince you that Dominick was the name of the donkey that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the day that is celebrated as Palm Sunday.  

Right? It makes sense.  But wait that’s Easter…

Or I could say that Dominick was the Donkey that was original resident of the manger before Joseph and Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem forced him out of his stall but blessed him to be one of the animal witnesses of the birth of Jesus.  

No, No, No, or even better, I could say that  Dominick the Donkey was Joseph’s donkey from the start who carried the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem!  He then witnessed the Birth of Christ, AND then helped Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, escape from Herod’s men to Egypt! Dominick the Donkey helped Biblical prophecy’s come to pass!  

While my narrative is pretty cool and rather epic…. And I think could be the latest Christmas special, if it is not already, none of it holds up to the word of God.

According to Blueletterbible.com, the name Dominick appears 0 times in the Bible. 

And the names of Jesus, Christ, Mary, and Joseph appear nowhere in Lou Monte’s original lyrics for “Dominick the Donkey”. 

What I could suppose, almost logically, and sounds good doesn’t reflect reality.  So as much as we sometimes would like to “name it and claim it”, we need to be careful what stories we are telling ourselves and others when it comes to the interplay of our faith and the things that happen.  

The best way to do that is to align what we say and do with the truth that is found in the word of God. 

While God has done miraculous things for His people in scripture and is capable of doing anything, we have to be wise and discerning and realize that even in the time of the Apostles and the early church when miracles were happening to confirm the truth that Jesus is Lord, there was a good deal of suffering going on and the Apostles were not anointed supermen and very few people were raised from the dead. 

So as we call for revival and for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us, we should realize that our prayers will be answered, and the gifts of the Spirit will be given according to the Lord’s will.  God calls the shots and even if we craft our prayers to be spoken in scripture language and have met all the “right conditions”, He decides what will come to pass and He decides what gifts of the Sprit or otherwise will be given. 

As we walk into the Christmas season, let’s endeavor to know what the word of God says and to correct others, and ourselves about the things we might just be “supposing” are true.   Let’s try to not push our own narratives and instead decide to just proclaim the gospel.  Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  That’s what people need to hear.

Let’s make sure the season is full of joy but maybe a little less “magic” as we seek to speak the truth in love that will usher the curious away from Santa, the Grinch, and HE HAW HEE HAW, even the Italian Christmas Donkey and instead give them the hope that never dies and the life of peace and purpose that never ends:  a life lived to give glory to God that is saved through faith in Jesus Christ.  

So just as Christ sent His Apostles to “borrow” a donkey for His purposes, use whatever trappings of the holiday season to remind yourself and others for the reason of the season. And as we represent the kingdom of the God, try to believe in miracles but accept that even if our prayers for mighty moves of God are not met to our expectations, remember that Christ is enough, our created universe and our salvation through faith in Him are the miracles that we can know, enjoy, and experience on a continual basis.  

So keep walking and talking with God, believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and share it as much as you can as we step into December and take another step closer to Christmas Day and seeing our Lord face to face. 

 

Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is:


Mark 13:31 (NLT2)
31  Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

 

Today’s verse comes from the words of Jesus and assures us that His words will never disappear.

One of our biggest fears is death and an understanding of science tells us that even the universe will eventually run out of energy and die.  Our own observations and understanding of how things are paint a bleak picture of what lies ahead.  Everything seems like it is slowly disappearing before our eyes.  But Christ tells us a different story.

Today’s verse really challenges anyone claiming that Jesus was just some wise teacher. 

This “wise teacher” claimed to be the Son of God and God the Son. That’s quite a lesson.     

Here Jesus indicates that the current created universe will “disappear”, but His words will never disappear.  

So Christ came to the earth to assure us that there was more to life than what we could see.  He came to give us peace with God and to give us something that we could stand on: His word.  

Jesus assures us that He and His word transcend the created universe and that His wisdom and truth will endure forever.

Revelation proclaims that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and that God will share it with those who have put their faith in Jesus and receive everlasting life.  

We receive a new life when we place our faith in Christ, but in order to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit of peace, we have to trust in His word. 

It’s His word that tells us all we know about God and salvation, if we can’t trust His word to be true, we can’t have a true relationship with Him. 

When we come to faith in Christ, we essential say I” believe in what you say, Jesus”.

So take peace from today’s verse and remember that when you put your trust in Jesus that you can continually trust in His word and use it to ground you in His peace even as you walk through a world that seems to be falling apart.  

 

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

 

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s “Evil and Suffering… Why? Is God Fair?

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work.

G. How to Accept the Sovereignty of God

The word sovereignty means "supreme power" and "freedom from external control." These definitions describe God perfectly because no higher power exists, and He is certainly free from other controlling influences. The Bible says ...

"He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning." (Daniel 2:21)

SOVEREIGNTY

S—Seek God in prayer for discernment in your circumstances.

"Lord God, how I need Your wisdom, Your discernment, Your understanding."

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray." (James 5:13)

O—Open your heart to God with complete honesty about your feelings.

"I am so confused—my emotions go up one minute, down the next."

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." (Psalm 55:22)

V—Verify your belief in God's love for you.

"Thank You that You love me, no matter what."

"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." (Lamentations 3:32)

E—Expect God to change your life through the truth He reveals to you.

"Thank You that through this trial, You will teach me and change me."

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." (Psalm 119:71)

R—Realize that God is all-powerful and sovereign over your circumstances.

"I realize that all power is in Your hands."

Pilate said ...

"Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" (John 19:10)

Jesus answered ...

"You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." (John 19:11)

E—Expect God to work through all things to prove your faith and to bring Him praise, glory, and honor.

"I realize that You will use all situations, even bad ones, to strengthen my faith and to glorify Yourself."

"The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:10)

I—Invest time in studying Scripture and in prayer.

"I want to immerse myself in Your Word and in Your truths."

"I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." (Psalm 119:15-16)

G—Gain an eternal perspective of God's purposes for your present pain.

"I want to see beyond this situation to Your purpose for it."

"'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" (John 9:3) (Also read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.)

N—Never allow bitterness to grow in your heart.

"I refuse to be resentful, but choose to rejoice in my relationship with You."

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce not food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

T—Turn to the indwelling Christ, who provides you with His power for victory.

"Thank You that I can rely on Christ within me to live His life through me."

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

Y—Yield to God's sovereignty. You may never understand or have any answers for your suffering.

"I don't have to have all the answers, but I can know the God who does. I yield myself to Your sovereign control."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

No heartache is wasted when put in the Master's hand.
When we enter our home in heaven,
we will see how our sorrows gave us sympathy ...
how our tears gave us tenderness ...
and how our crises gave us compassion.

June Hunt


Biblical Counseling Keys: Evil and Suffering... Why?: Why God? Why?.

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Saturday, August 28, 2021

When the world has you feeling BLAH – The Power of Simple Faith - Purity 509


When the world has you feeling BLAH – The Power of Simple Faith                                                                              

Purity 509 08/28/2021 Purity 509 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a sunrise in Jacksonville Florida comes from a friend who enjoys rising early and watching their son ride the waves.  If you zoom in you I’m pretty sure you can see our friend’s son right under the rising sun.  Our friend shared this photo last week testifying to the fact that “when the world has you feeling BLAH! A good sunrise let’s you know today can be a better day.” In light of the chaos in certain parts of the world, they also prayed “God bless our troops.”

Surprisingly, three days later our friend announced that they have made the decision to pick up their stakes and pursue a career opportunity in Charleston, South Carolina. So while we will lament the fact that we may not get anymore sunrises shots from Jacksonville, we congratulate our friend on their new journey and look forward to what they may share in the future from Charleston.  

As we enjoy Saturday today and the weekend, I am glad for the contact that technology allows us to have with old friends and the way it allows us to make new friends who we would have never met otherwise.  

I’m not sure of the depths of my friend in Jacksonville’s faith but his comments and greetings to his friends reveal some biblical wisdom.  Their thoughts on how a sunrise can let you know that today can be a better day reminds me of one of my favorite passages in scripture. 

Lamentations 3:21-23 (NKJV)
21  This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
22  Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
23  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

 

The Lord’s mercies are new every morning and therefore we can have hope.  Because God is faithful, we can trust Him and call out to Him in times of need.  

Our friend’s simply prayer, God bless our troops, also shows that they recognize ,however simply, that God is above the things of this world and that He can offer protection and favor.  I thought of a few verses that could apply to our troops for protection, bravery, or the sacrifices that they make but couldn’t settle on one, so I am sharing a couple of links that I found on Guideposts, which is a Christian periodical that is big on simple devotions, that provide various verse for soldiers. (https://www.guideposts.org/how-we-help/military-outreach/10-bible-verses-to-encourage-a-military-loved-one) (https://www.guideposts.org/how-we-help/military-outreach-stories/8-bible-verses-for-soldiers).  

Little did my friend know that his simply thoughts of well-wishing from last week would inspire today’s post. We all don’t have to be Bible school graduates or to be in active ministry to encourage another or to point to the fact that there is a God above our lives who oversees the course of this world and who can be interacted with.   

I shared yesterday in the concluding comments on my podcast that someone who saw my blog on reddit reached out to thank me for my posts.  They confessed that they were struggling with suicidal ideation and that my posts were leading them to relying on the Lord to see them through.  

Our words of hope can impact other people and with today’s technology our words of encouragement can span the globe.  

So if “the world has you feeling BLAH”, look to the heavens, count the blessings you have, and know that there is a God cares about you and that “today can be a better day”.

Our lives are a journey. No matter what the new day brings or where we will go, we have the Lord, and each other, to help us to experience lives filled with peace, joy, and love,

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Mark 12:31 (NKJV)
31  And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."  

Today’s verse highlight’s what Christ calls the second commandment and His authority to change the game.

Some people pay lip service to Jesus Christ by saying He was a wise teacher but then either reveal their ignorance or blasphemy by ignoring His words or the implications of His words.  

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is rewriting the law by proclaiming that there are essentially two commandments: to love God and to love people. In a couple of sentences He simultaneously simplifies and complicates the expectations of those who wish to be right with God.  

One may think that Jesus’s commandments make things “simple” because there are only to commandments now, right?  

But the thing is that if we truly love God, and our neighbors as ourselves, our actions and attitudes would not only conform to the principles highlighted in the precepts of the Old Testament law, we would surpass those requirements that were put forth in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.   

If loving God wasn’t complicated enough with the expectation to be holy as He is holy, Jesus tells us that we are to love the difficult people in the world just as we would love ourselves. 

God may be in heaven, but He is good so while we may struggle with how we are to love Him we aren’t too thrown off with the idea of loving God because He is certainly worthy of our love. 

People on the other hand are right here in our face and while we may have more practical ideas of how we could express our love to them, we may have some serious doubts about why we should because they may not be so good, and we may decide that they are not worthy of our love. 

Christ’s second commandment presents the harsh reality that we are not to just opt out of society and go worship God in a cave somewhere. We are supposed to be in the world and share the love of God with the difficult people around us!

How can we do this impossible feat of loving our neighbors as ourselves?

We can only do the second commandment successfully if we practice the first one.  Through our seeking, following, and loving the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, we will be given the patience, joy, peace, love, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control that we will need to utilize to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

So we are to practice what we preach. We are to love God and love people. And there is a reason Christ put those two commandments in that order.  It is only through our relationship with God and the power of a life lived by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit that we will be able to experience the love of God.  

It is that love, the love of God, that we will use to love our neighbors as ourselves.  The earthly forms of romantic, friendly, or familial love just won’t transfer to our neighbors. It’s the love of God, that we are to share with them and in order to share it we first must receive it.   

So keep walking and talking with God. Seek His wisdom and love and when you receive it, obey Christ’s second commandment by sharing it with all the neighbors you encounter on your journey of life.  

 

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing  Chapter 13.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Designs for Discipleship

Paul refers to three levels of maturity in Col. 2:6-10:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.

According to Paul, believers are to be firmly rooted in Christ and then built up to walk, or to live, in Him. This defines three levels of maturity. Each level of maturity has specific conflicts that need to be resolved as illustrated in Figure 13-A. Figure 13-B illustrates the growth at the same three levels. Notice also the five dimensions of application for each level: spiritual, rational, emotional, volitional, and relational. Please understand that there are no clear boundaries separating the three levels of maturity or the five dimensions of application as the figures would seem to imply. We are not diced up into little squares.

Level I relates to being firmly rooted in Christ. These foundational issues are based on the fact that "in Him you have been made complete" (Col. 2:10).

Level II relates to being built up in Christ, which is how Paul describes our maturity in Christ (see Col. 2:7).

Level III relates to daily walking in Christ, which is based on our identity and maturity in Christ. Paul instructed, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Col. 2:6).

Each level of maturity is dependent on the previous level. Christians cannot have an effective walk (Level III) if they are not growing in Christ (Level II), and they cannot mature if they are not firmly rooted in Christ (Level I).

Level I: Rooted in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

The Level I spiritual conflict is the lack of salvation or the lack of assurance of salvation. God wants us to know that we "have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). To disciple people, we have to first lead them to Christ so the Holy Spirit can bear witness with their spirits that they "are children of God" (Romans 8:16).

The Level I rational conflict is intellectual pride. Prideful people are self-sufficient. They don't want anybody to tell them what to do or how to do it. Prideful people don't need God or anyone else. We have to come to the end of our resources to discover God's resources. We are ready to receive from God and others when our prideful spirits are broken.

The emotional conflicts at Level I are fear, guilt, and shame. Fear compels people to do what they should not do and inhibits them from doing what they should do. People who are motivated by fear are not experiencing their freedom in Christ. Fear of anyone or anything other than God is mutually exclusive to faith in God. Satan wants to be feared because he wants to be worshiped, but the fear of the Lord expels all other fears (see Psalm 34:4, 7). Guilt and shame also need to be overcome by the grace of God because, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

The Level I volitional conflict is rebellion. It is very difficult to disciple rebels because they won't submit to authority. Growth at this level involves understanding biblical submission to God and others.

The Level I relational conflict to overcome is rejection. The discipleship process is based on God's unconditional love and acceptance (see Titus 3:5). Building up one another does not start with authoritarian rule that demands accountability; it begins with acceptance and affirmation. When people know they are accepted and affirmed, they will voluntarily be accountable to authority. When authority figures demand accountability without acceptance and affirmation, however, they will never get it.

The first goal of discipleship is to help those you disciple become firmly rooted in Christ. This entails the following:

  • Leading individuals to Christ and to the assurance of salvation
  • Guiding them to a true knowledge of God and who they are in Christ, and starting them down the path of knowing God's ways
  • Changing their basic motivation from irrational fears to the fear of God and helping them overcome guilt and shame
  • Helping them see the ways they are still playing God or rebelling against God's authority
  • Breaking down their defenses against rejection by accepting and affirming them


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship