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Showing posts with label New Year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Year. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Living with a New Name – Walking into Repentance - Purity 619


 

Living with a New Name – Walking into Repentance - Purity 619

Purity 619 01/04/2022   Purity 619 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a pink, blue, and golden sunset sky over the Hudson River somewhere along River Rd in Easton NY comes to us from the love of my life as she captured it on our return trip from a day of errands as man and wife that included TammyLyn Seguin legally declaring her new identity as TammyLyn Clark.  This beautiful sky gave us great joy as we knew I would be sharing one of the several shots TammyLyn captured on our first Monday as husband and wife and that it would be the first photo highlighting God’s creation in 2022 that was taken in 2022.  

Well it’s Tuesday and as the old Soul II Soul song says it’s “Back to life, Back to Reality” as both me and the Mrs. will bid adieu to what was the period of our lives that was a whirlwind romance, engagement, and wedding and now have to go back work pretty much like we were before this weekend but fundamentally changed in very significant ways as we reenter the working world as married people, one of us with a new name.  

Sometimes in life we form relationships that change who we are forever.  In the Bible, there are several scenes where God’s interactions result in people receiving a new name. Abram to Abraham, Jakob to Israel, Simon to Peter, and Saul to Paul are some examples of people who were called by God who got a new name.  But would the name fit? 

When I developed the blog and tried to think of a name for it, I thought that “Empty for Christ” would be a good way to express how we have to “empty” ourselves to be filled with the life that God has for us.  But then I thought of my name, Marc Thomas, and how my initials M.T. sort of sounded like “Empty”, and because the blog was going to be about my testimony and my decision to try to live a Christian life, I decided to make the name MT4Christ because it adequately expressed not only the idea of the need to surrender to the Lord in general but it also served as a proclamation of sorts that I, M.T., was indeed for Christ as I sought to surrender myself to His will for my life for the rest of my days.  

But just like the patriarchs of our faith and the Apostles, it took me sometime to grow into the new name.  Even though I started mt4christ.org back in 2015, I personally didn’t really decide to “go by” my initials until 2020 when I completed my master’s Thesis in Christian Counseling and decided to get trained for and to begin a Community Freedom Ministry. Although I boldly started the work in 2015, I didn’t have the boldness to adopt the “new name” until relatively recently.  A lot has changed.

It might surprise some that I never really spoke in public or shared writings publicly before coming to Christ.  All of this, my writings, my serving in the church, my teaching and ministry work, and now my podcast were all products of the transformation of Marc – “the fun loving but secretly troubled worldly dude” to M.T. – “encourager and promoter of the gospel of Jesus Christ”.

And guess what, just like the Apostle Peter would show his faithfulness one minute and put his foot in his mouth and show more “Simon” like characteristics the next, I haven’t arrived yet.  I am still a work in progress.  

Even though I made great strides in 2021 towards my goal of optimal health, perhaps because of stress or due to the surrounding seasonal celebrations of Autumn that begin with Halloween and lead to Christmas and New Year’s, somewhere along the line M.T.’s resolve to stay the course got engulfed in behaviors that were more like “Marc’s”.  And just like a Mr. Hyde induced hangover, Dr. Jekyll is left feeling the pain, so I M.T. am left to pick up the pieces and start again.   

So with the new year upon us, I am officially renewing my goal to reach and maintain a body weight and state of health that distances me from the classification of “obese” and brings me closer to normal, or healthy, according to the BMI scale and my personal standards.   

Also I am in the midst of doing a spiritual check up as I lead a new Online discipleship class Thursday and want to be able to encourage others to pursue their freedom in Christ and provide them with an example of someone who has had a measure of success but who is still human but who is committed to the path of Christian Discipleship because I know that our relationship with Christ and living according to God’s word reflects the Lord’s perfect will for our lives.   

So as is my habit, and my local church’s tradition, I have begun a period of fasting and prayer to both crucify the flesh and renew the mind as I surrender the time spent in eating and meal preparation to focus on God and my walk of faith.   

With one day fasting under my belt, I already feel the deep relief that comes from surrendering to the Lord and from giving my body a break from the season of feasting that I have been in.   

When we give ourselves to the Lord, I have learned that you never regret it.  So as we try to adjust our lives to be less like our old selves and to better fit into God’s mold and into our “new names”, let’s remember to keep going. Let’s keep walking and talking to God.

And now that we have 2021 behind us, let’s open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts, and open minds and listen to what the Lord wants us to hear. Let’s pray and ask Him for His love, guidance, and strength as we seek His repentance to turn from our old ways and seek to represent Him and give Him glory on the earth. 


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 6:23 (NLT2)
23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Today’s verse puts things pretty clearly.  Sin leads to death. Christ is the free gift from God that leads to eternal life.  

As the Bible and most of society will gleefully point out: nobody’s perfect, everybody sins.  But before we relax and rest in our sinful lives, and unknowingly just keep on trucking on the Highway to Hell, let’s remind ourselves and world at large that the wages of sin is death.   All sin and all die.

But these statements that seem so true, “all sin, all die, nobody’s perfect, and nothing lasts forever” are contradicted by the reality of an everlasting God and the person of Jesus Christ.  

Christ is perfect. Christ never sinned. And although, Christ did die, He was resurrected and lives forever.   And Faith in Him, gives us the answer to those wages of sin. Faith in Christ results in the forgiveness of all your sins and in eternal life with Him.     

Today’s verse, and Jesus’ said that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. 

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

This is THE CRITICAL QUESTION: Do you believe this? 

For those who do and put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, they receive a new and eternal life. 

For those who don’t, they receive their wages for sin: death.   

So don’t let people make those statements like “all sin, everybody dies, nobody’s perfect, and “nothing last forever” without challenging them and letting them know, quite frankly, that they are wrong.   

Christ is exception that gives us hope. He didn’t sin. He didn’t stay dead. And makes a way for us to live with Him forever.   

Sometimes these “common knowledge statements” that are so ingrained in our cultures and society are evidence of the lies of the enemy ruling the world when they are compared to the Truth of Jesus Christ.  So seek the Truth, seek Christ’s salvation, and Live. 

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 3.   

 

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

SATAN IS THE DECEIVER

Jesus described Satan as the father of lies. “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”61 He cannot speak from truth because there is no truth in him. He can distort the truth, and he will even quote Scripture as he did when he tempted Jesus.

Satan keeps people in bondage by deceiving them and by blinding the minds of the unbelieving.62 The power of Satan is in the lie, and the battle is for the mind. If he is able to deceive Christians into believing a lie, they will be spiritually impotent. He can’t do anything about our identity and position in Christ, but if he can get us to believe it is not true, we will live as though it isn’t. When the lies are exposed, Satan’s power over the believer is broken.

Asking the Lord to reveal the deception and declaring the truth in the Doctrinal Affirmation at the conclusion of this Step is a powerful experience for many who have been deceived for years. Some will become increasingly confident as they verbalize the truth. You may struggle just trying to read through the Doctrinal Affirmation, but when you have completed the Steps, come back and read it again, and you will see the difference.

Most Christians honestly desire to live righteous lives but have distorted concepts of God and are ignorant of their position and identity in Christ. As you make this 49

public declaration of faith, you are choosing God’s truth about His nature, character and redemptive plan for your life.

STANDING AGAINST THE DECEPTION

The battle is for the mind, and Satan will twist Scripture or tell half-truths in order to deceive us. So we must trust God to expose the deceit, remembering that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. In this Step, we use truth to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”63

During this Step a lady suddenly said, “Do you know what I’m hearing now? It’s just a thought! That’s all it is! I don’t have to believe that trash anymore.” She understood what the battle was, and it no longer had a hold over her. Another lady printed up a bunch of cards and was handing them out to anyone who wanted one. Each card contained the following questions, “Where did that thought come from? A loving God?”

If the voices, noises or laughter in your mind seems too overwhelming, stop and pray as you did at the beginning of these Steps on Page 33. You maintain control by exposing the lies and the battle for the mind, and by ignoring the distractions and continuing on with The Steps. Freedom doesn’t come from swatting flies (demons), it comes from taking out the garbage (sin). The way we overcome the father of lies is by choosing the truth. We are not called to dispel the darkness; we are called to turn on the light. The freedom progressively comes by resolving the conflicts. The noise in your head is just an attempt by the enemy to get you off the path that leads to freedom. If you seemingly can’t go on, then pray out loud: “I renounce this attack on me, and announce that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I choose to continue to seek my freedom.”

Marcy was a sincere Christian who was being mentally “beaten up” with lies and accusations. She had been deceived into thinking that God was not a good God, that she couldn’t trust Him, that she would never be free from her past. This fragile lady was slowly and gently guided through The Steps, renouncing all the lies as they surfaced. A few days later, she wrote:

God is different from what my concept of Him has been, and I choose to trust how God has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus. I am His child, and I choose to believe that He will relate to me as a good Father would. I am a new person. This day is new, and I eagerly await to experience it as a new creation, free from my past.

 ---------------------------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

Monday, January 3, 2022

Receiving a Vision for the Future – “Daniel Fast” Time - Purity 618



Receiving a Vision for the Future – “Daniel Fast” Time - Purity 618

Purity 618 01/03/2022  Purity 618 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a last year’s sunshiny morning on January 4th of 2021, comes to us from a friend who captured these lovely winter visions of morning presumably somewhere in upstate New York, and, if I recall correctly, somewhere close to their home in Greene County.   There were a few more photos from January 4th last year that I had on my phone that will be shared on mt4christ.org today that are worth checking out but I have decided to purge them from my I-phone’s memory to make room for more photos in 2022. 














And just to show you I haven’t lost track of time, I also sharing a photo of a January sunset sky from January 3rd of last year.   



 Yep today, is the third day of the New Year and it is the first Monday. While I normally would be working, and just sharing a single photo, my wife and I decided to enjoy another night last night in wedded bliss and to take the day off from work today to get to the town hall and hand in our wedding license and run a few other errands as man and wife.  We have a new collective identity as “The Clark’s” and we will be taking steps to make sure all the necessary documents are handed in to make our marriage legal and to complete TammyLyn’s name change.  

The new year is a time for new possibilities and for making resolutions to either make changes to our lives or to recommit ourselves to goals that we have strayed away from in the previous year.  And I am here to encourage you that even though it may be the third day of the year, it’s not too late to start a resolution to make a change in your life. The truth is that it is never too late to make a change.  

As a man who has gone through many changes in life, I can testify that the catalyst for the positive changes in my life was and is my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. After I saw the truth that I needed a Savior to atone for my sins and to give me everlasting life, I placed my faith in Jesus to save and change me by surrendering to live my life according to God’s ways detailed in the Bible rather than my own ways. 

Through faith in Christ, I have been set free from my addictions to alcohol, drugs, and sex. I have been transformed into someone who continuously seeks the Lord’s will for their life and who lives to encourage others to seek the Lord and to discover their freedom in Christ.  

As we draw into the new year, we each should approach the Lord to seek His will for us in the new year ahead.  God’s will for our lives is sanctification but with the festive holiday season behind us we may wake up in the new year with the realization that we have gone astray in the common trap of pursuing happiness in the things of this world and may be actively suffering because of our indulging our fleshly appetites or through our failed efforts to create circumstantial holiday joy.   

If that’s the case, as it is with me. Let’s just say the feasting has been substantial…. It’s time to repent and turn to the Lord, surrender to His will, and to ask God for a “vision” of what 2022 should be for our lives.  

One way we can have spiritual victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil and can possibly receive a vision from God is through fasting and prayer.   

Daniel 10:1-3 is often pointed out as scripture that illustrates that a prophetic vision for the future came from God after Daniel had “mourned” and fasted for three weeks.  

Daniel 10:2-3 (NLT2) says:
2  When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks.
3  All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.

So a “Daniel Fast” could be said to be one in which you only eat vegetables because of verse 3’s injunction to eat no rich food or meat.  Also the verse indicates that the duration of this fast would be three weeks.  Daniel’s period of “mourning” could also be described as a period of repentance as he was seeking to understand the things that he had seen and what the Lord would do with Israel.  At the end of Daniel’s fast, he received a vision from God for the nation of Israel’s future.   

Fasting is highlighted in the Book of Acts as well as a means in which the Apostles received spiritual direction for doing the Lord’s work.  

Acts 13:2 and Acts 14:23 document how Paul and Barnabas were selected for missionary work after the elders of the church spent a period of time in prayer and fasting.   

So if you are in a season where you are looking to make some new year’s resolutions and to recommit yourself to the Lord’s will for your life, you may consider setting aside some time for prayer and fasting to direct your path. 

Every year, the leadership at my local church announces a period of corporate fasting for three weeks after new year’s day has past  to “get a vision” for each new year.  While the fast is voluntary and the “rules” of the fast are up to each individual, the church is open for corporate prayer twice a day for the duration of the three weeks to encourage this period of repentance. 

In previous fasts, congregants have been strengthened in their faith, have claimed to received guidance for the year ahead, and, in a few instances, have received healing from physical ailments. 

While I can not guarantee miraculous or specific results from prayer and fasting, I have benefitted greatly from these spiritual practices.  I believe I have matured greatly as a Christian because of these periods of prayer and fasting because it demanded a “crucifying” of the flesh and a paradigm shift of the mind as I discovered that I could survive physically and thrive spiritually when I chose to abstain from food for a time and instead sought the Lord’s presence, guidance, and strength.

Although I can certainly stand to lose a few pounds, weight loss is not the goal of a fast.  While I do have a goal to experience optimal health though diet and exercise, fasting is not about that. Fasting is intended to be accompanied with prayer, a conversation with God, to better “walk and talk” with Him.  

So I invite you to embrace the change of the new year and to seek the Lord’s will and vision for your life through prayer and fasting, in whatever way you feel the Lord is calling you.  

In order to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we have to try not to be so full of ourselves. That’s why the blog and podcast are called M T 4 Christ. The name is a play on words – as in “empty for” Christ – we surrender ourselves to the Lord’s will for our lives and seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we seek out our purpose in God’s kingdom.       

So consider making this year the year that you decided to give more of yourself to God by turning to Him and seeking His plan for your life in prayer and fasting.  Prayer and fasting may just be the means that God uses to give you a breakthrough in your life but you will never know it unless you trust the Lord and put your faith into practice.  

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 6:22 (NLT2)
22  But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.

Today’s verse clearly states that we are free from the power of sin when we become slaves to God and indicates that doing so results in holiness and eternal life.  

There is so many big truths/promises in this verse for our spiritual walk as Christian disciples  that they may seem too good to be true. And unfortunately there is also a great deal of room for error in interpreting this verse.  

Let’s try to clarify things by doing the last things first.  Paul’s encouragement “Now do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life” could easily be misconstrued to mean that “doing things” to be holy leads to eternal life.   If that was the case, there would have been no need for Jesus to come.  

We don’t receive eternal life through our efforts at being holy. We aren’t saved by doing things.  As Ephesians 2:8-9 and many other verses in the Bible teach, we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ alone.   Faith in Jesus Christ gives us eternal life, not our “doing things”.

This letter is written to Christians, so the assumption is that the readers of this letter are saved by their covenant relationship with God through putting their faith in Christ.   However, as in every church building today, Paul was concerned about false converts in the midst of the congregation. So how do we know the “sheep” from the “goats”? We can have some idea of who a genuine Christian is by the way they live their lives. While only the Lord knows the hearts of men, men with their hearts set on doing God’s will and who have been given to Christ should endeavor to seek to be holy as God is holy.  

So Paul is encouraging Christians to live out their faith which will result in progressive holiness, sanctification, and the eternal life, they already have through their faith in Christ.  Paul is teaching here that our “Christian status” as forgiven and saved should be no reason to live in sin and he is encouraging Christians to “do the things” physically and mentally that would reflect who they already are spiritually, holy saints and children of God.  

And Now, first things first,  Paul is telling his audience of the power and position they already have because they are Christians.

He tells them “But now you are free from the power of sin”. They NOW, as in ALREADY, have freedom from the power of sin. They can say no to sin.  They already are free from sin’s power and simply have to “do the things” that lead to holiness which we could think of as the state of “saying no to sin” consistently.  

This is a powerful statement of faith that contradicts the lie of the enemy that “everybody sins” meaning that everyone is powerless to sin. The enemy wants us to think that we should just seek to ameliorate our tendency to sin rather that to exercise the power that all Christians possess to stop sinning.   

The enemy’s lies are compelling because the word of God seems to agree with his logic by telling us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that all have sinned and those who say they do not sin are liars.

But the Apostle is not speaking of sinless perfection here but power over sin.  We are not powerless. We have power over sin meaning although we may never be perfect on this side of eternity we can progressively exercise our power over sin to become more and more sanctified and gain victory in new areas of our lives, or for longer durations between sinning, than we have in the past.  

This path of exercising our power over sin is of “doing the things that lead to holiness”, so Paul is encouraging us to exercise that power and to get increasingly closer to holiness as we increasingly get closer to the eternal life that is already ours.   

And Finally, the means to this power over sin, and the pathway to holiness is revealed in our accepting our position as “slaves to God”. As I taught yesterday, slaves don’t have a choice. They do the will of their masters.  So as slaves of God, we are to eliminate our pondering of the sliding scales of sin and instead seek to do what it right, pure, and holy and to abstain from the sins that have so easily beset us.   

The power over sin is ours. Eternal life is ours. Holiness is ours.  Now. We have been bought by the shed blood of Jesus, so we are also slaves of God now.  

But Paul still tells us to “do the things” that a slave of God would do. We are to exercise our power over sin and become slaves of righteousness. 

So keep walking and talking with God. Know who you are in Christ and exercise the power that has been given to you to live a life of progressive holiness and know the peace that comes from being a slave to God.    

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we begin sharing from Chapter 3.   

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

CHAPTER THREE   OVERCOMING DECEPTION

Julie didn’t just ask for an appointment to go through the Steps, she pursued it! As the session began, it didn’t take long to find out why. With deep emotion, she told the story of her troubled life: a violent alcoholic father, sexual molestation, pornography, demonic experiences in her room, and exploitation by legalistic controllers at her church.

She earnestly worked through Step One on false guidance, which added to her composure as she went through Step Two. At the completion of this Step a wonderful thing happened. After reading through the Doctrinal Affirmation, she put her book down, and tears welled up in her eyes. Overwhelmed with the truth of who God is and who she is in Christ, she said, “Wow! That is soooo great!”

TRUTH LIBERATES

Our Lord had just partaken of His last supper with His disciples before He walked to the cross. He knew His destiny, and He was about to leave behind 11 of the chosen 12 apostles, who would have to face opposition from the god of this world and continue the work Christ had begun. Satan had already deceived Judas, one of the disciples, into betraying Christ.

Jesus turned to the Father and prayed, “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). His prayer revealed how this freedom can be accomplished. “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth” (v. 17).

Believing the truth about who Christ is, why He came, and who we are in Him is the basis for our freedom. Knowing the truth set forth in God’s Word is the mark of a true disciple. “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”56

Knowing the truth is our first line of defense against the father of lies.57 We acknowledge this truth in the inner self,58 because a genuine faith is more than just intellectual assent or the accumulation of knowledge. God’s truth must penetrate the heart, the very core of our beings. Only then will His truth bring freedom and lasting change in the inner person.

THE NEED FOR HONESTY

We have been called to speak the truth in love and walk in the light, which means that our lives should be transparent before God and others. Anything less and we are living a lie. David was living a lie when he covered up his sin with Bathsheba, and he suffered greatly. He finally found freedom by acknowledging the truth. He wrote, “How blessed is the man . . . in whose spirit there is no deceit!”59

People caught in the bondage of sin lie. Bulimics lie about their binging and purging. Alcoholics hide their addictions and secretly stash bottles around the house. Sex addicts can keep their sin hidden for years. The first step in recovery is to get out of denial and face the truth. The only thing a Christian must admit to is the truth. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”60

The primary reason Julie, the girl in the story, found so much resolution is that she held nothing back. She was ready to walk in the light and speak the truth. She found forgiveness, cleansing, and freedom. Truth is never the enemy; it is always a liberating friend. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of truth, the liberating light, the best friend a man or woman could ever have. In Him there is no darkness at all. Jesus is the truth, and He sets honest people free.

 ---------------------------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, January 1, 2022

Starting the New Year Off Right – Life in Context – Purity 617


 Starting the New Year Off Right – Life in Context – Purity 617

Purity 617 01/01/2022  Purity 617 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing sun over a snow covered field next to Waite Rd in Easton NY comes to us from yours truly on what proved to be the last day in 2021 that the sun made such a spectacular appearance. Some may know that this photo was captured on the day after Christmas. It was a Christmas that simply was like no other I had experienced previously because it was a veritable cocktail of the fruit of the Spirit as it had aspects of goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, self-control, peace, love, and joy as I spent the day alone with my fiancĂ©, but as unmarried Christians who wanted to honor the Lord, we decided to leave some gifts unopened.  

Well today we are getting married and after our covenant is official and blessed by the Lord we will rejoice and seek to enjoy our love without limits knowing that the Lord would approve as we followed His plan for marriage. Just like today’s photo shows us beyond the forest areas of Waite Road, we have made it out of the woods of our short engagement to discover the wide open places that God has waiting for us to experience in marriage.

So it’s sort of a great way to start the New Year.  We will be coming together in the presence of our family and friends to have our love legitimized and blessed by the Lord God Almighty as we only wish to do His will individually and as a couple from this day forward and for evermore.   

Ok, yesterday I did a year in review of sorts where I detailed some of my walk in 2021 and how blessed I was to find my bride and claimed that God had been with me.  

Someone who had obviously suffered some loss or trauma in 2021 replied to my post stating in essence that it was “good for me” because God had let a lot of other people down in 2021.  

Well, the problem I have with that statement and idea is not with the person who made it but the lack of understanding that it represents that is common among the populace in general and also in the body of Christ.   There are some presuppositions that are inherent in a claim that God “let us down” that are the product of ignorance and the deceptions enemy or an evil mix of both.  

Christianity and life in general have some hard truths to face.  What the enemy does is he takes the nice aspects of our world and tries to rip them to shreds by actively seeking to steal, kill and destroy us but then turns around and whispers in our ears that it is wrong when we lose those nice aspects of life through suffering.     

Some teachers in the body of Christ do us all a great disservice by emphasizing some of God’s qualities over others and make grand promises based on the word of God that are taken out of context or are not necessarily guaranteed for every Christian to experience in every season of their lives.  

The fact that God will help us, protect us, provide for us, and prosper us is true but our ideas of what we should have and when we should have it may not align with what the Lord has in mind.  Also the promises of God are intended for the people of God, those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, and those promises are often conditional. 

Yesterday’s verse of the day, Psalm 37:5, taught us that God will help us, but the first part of the verse demanded that you commit everything you do to the Lord and trust Him.  So have you committed everything you do to the Lord? Do you trust Him?  

If you are saying “Yes” through tears from the pain of loss and suffering, I commend you, but the Bible also tells us to “wait on the Lord.”  

I know, when we are suffering, nobody wants to hear that they have to wait.   

One of those harsh realities of life is that we will suffer, and we will have to wait.  Don’t believe me? Just go the emergency room at your local hospital today and watch as the suffering of the patients is judged and given a preferential order of importance.  Only if your life is hanging in the balance will you get moved to the front of the line and even that is not guaranteed as hospitals and doctors sometimes have to decide who will live and who will die because of depleted resources.   

Cheery thought for New Year’s Day, I know, but I think the only way we come to trust the Lord is to know the truth. 

The idea that God lets people down presupposes somethings that are unrealistic, selfish, or just uninformed.  

In order to trust the Lord, we have to know the Lord and we have to accept His kingship as sovereign God.  While we have a measure of free will to make choices in life, God, as the Creator of all things and the One who lives above and beyond time and space itself, determines where we go into eternity.   God makes everything for His purposes and is shaping human history to fulfill the prophecies in His word. God is in control.  

However as humans we have a pretty selfish and limited view of life and unfortunately we don’t know what role our lives play in God’s grand design.  And even worse, some people believe the lies of the enemy that seem to adhere to the ways of world but deny the reality of the unseen God.  

When we are selfish or hurting, we are very vulnerable to the lies of the enemy and unknowing side with him by pushing our own agenda rather than looking for God’s purpose for their life.   Here are some lies that surround trauma that the enemy seeds the earth with that grow relatively unabated:

·       Why did they have to die?  It’s a mystery   -  It’s not a mystery, since the fall of man, sin came into the world and is the unseen cause of death for everyman.  All men throughout history have died and all men will die until Christ returns to reclaim the earth.  

·       It wasn’t their time! – Wrong. There is nothing that God doesn’t know about beforehand. If someone dies, it was their time, obviously – they are dead. 

·       There is no God! – Wrong.  The universe and all life, His creation, speaks of the reality of a Creator. Our consciences that tell us right from wrong are the product of God’s law written on the hearts of men who are made in His image.  Also people whose lives are changed because of their interactions with God through miracles, providence or sanctification also bear witness that God is alive, real, and cares about mankind.  

·       It’s wrong that they had to die! Death is wrong! -  Death is part of life because of the fall of man and it is used to send the evil to eternal punishment and to send those who put their faith in Jesus Christ to God’s eternal kingdom. 

·       It’s wrong. They will never get a chance to experience the good things in life… - Nothing on this earth compares to the glory of God’s kingdom. If we think the things of this world are better to being in the presence of the Lord, we need to seek His presence to know how good He is.

·       No good God would allow this to happen! What’s the purpose in suffering!? – Wrong. Suffering is a product of the fall of man, sin. It can be used to judge people or draw them to seek peace with the Lord.   When bad things happen to evil people, few question if it was right.  The problem is that according to the word, all sin and fall short of the glory of God and that those who do not make peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ will be judged and lost in eternity so the suffering on this earth is purposeful and will be alleviated or increased depending on your eternal destination.  

·       You don’t know what it’s like! – God does. He knows all things.  Jesus lived as a man and suffered greatly before dying for our sins.  We can find comfort in the presence of the Lord here on earth and eventually in His eternal kingdom.       

·       God doesn’t care! – Wrong. He does.  He cared enough to send His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us. Those who put their faith in Him and follow Him as a disciple can experience the fruit of the Spirit here on earth and is guaranteed a good place in His eternal kingdom.  

·       You can’t know God! -  That’s a lie. The Bible was written by the inspiration of God so we can know all about Him and to teach us that a new eternal life is possible through faith in Jesus Christ.   Also the Lord’s presence can be experienced through the Christian disciplines of Bible Study, prayer, worship, praise, thanksgiving, and walking in the Spirit.   If you don’t know God, it is because you are not seeking Him or living in rebellion to His ways for living or both. 

·       It’s not fair!  - I’m not sure what your concept of fair is but because of our sin we deserve death. Everyday alive regardless of the circumstances are a gift and is to be used for God’s purposes. If we aren’t living out God’s purposes for our lives, we in affect are choosing to suffer through our own actions or inaction. 

In my walk through life, I have suffered losses and traumas and suffered because of the choices I made or through my own inaction.   I think I have said all the statements above at one time or another in my life.  

While I may have not suffered through all the pains that other people have suffered, I have lost a few automobiles due to accidents, mismanagement, and deer.  I have had experience with various broken relationships that could be classified as abusive. I have suffered the loss of a couple houses and personal property, one due to a fire, specifically arson, and another to divorce.  I have suffered various injuries and diseases, including a cancer scare with ongoing monitoring of that situation. I have lost a child to an early death and a suffered a persistent depressive period that followed loss.   

For a lot of that trail of tears, I didn’t have a relationship with God and when the bad times came I felt all alone thinking there was no God, or I was angry at God. Thankfully, the great sufferings I went through in life caused me to seek the meaning of life.  I didn’t know it, but I was seeking truth.  I didn’t know it, but I was seeking God.  

And even though I made some real wrong turns in life and looked for love in all the wrong places, my seeking was genuine and was eventually rewarded when God revealed the truth of gospel of Jesus Christ to me, of how Jesus was the means that God created to make peace with mankind.

Through Christ we are forgiven of our sins and become adopted children of God’s eternal kingdom.  

AFTER, AFTER, AFTER – we put our faith in Christ, we can know God and experience our presence in our lives.   We come into relationship with God and the implications of that relationship cause us to a make choice. 

What kind of relationship are we going to have?  Are we going to commit everything we do to the Lord by learning all about Him in His word and adjust our lives to live according to His ways?  Are we going to trust Him even in the bad times, even when we are suffering, and even when we have to wait?  

The alleviation of our suffering comes through knowing God and applying His wisdom to our lives.  If we understand how He is and what He says we are, we can choose to live within the context of His truth even though we are surround by a world that deny Him and accuse Him of wrong.   

How dare we question God’s goodness! He made all of this existence! Anything good we have known in our lives, comes from God. How dare we call evil what has given us all the good we’ve known!

After coming to Christ, I suffered quite a bit to free myself from addiction and a broken marriage but when I did God was with me. When my situation absolutely sucked and would be considered a raw deal by almost anyone, I had the Lord to lean on and guide me through the darkness. 

As someone who has suffered before and after coming to Christ, I can testify that suffering with God is a whole lot better than suffering without God.  God gives our lives meaning and purpose and when we know Him we know that everything happens for a reason and that He will ultimately lead us to good and the trials we face can either be used to drive us to despair or to drive us to Him and the maturation that results.   

So as everyone seems to be declaring 2021 to be the terrible, horrible, very bad, no good year, I welcome you to 2022 and ask you to consider you living this year in the context of God’s reality, by either placing your faith in Christ or rededicating yourself to Him and choosing to seek the Lord and follow Him.  If you want, you can call it “MT’s 365 day – Walking in the Spirit Challenge!” 

So turn away from the world’s lie sand doubts, turn away from the worldly way of doing things,  and decide to live 2022 by walking by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit by reading God’s word, praying to Him, and then living out your faith every day.  

A Christian life is not without suffering but brother and sister, when you stay connected with God 24/7 you somehow find light in the darkness, you find the calm in the storm, and you find a way where there was no way.  

So keep walking and talking to God for He is with you!

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 6:19 (NLT2)
19  Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

Today’s verse suggests the need for a change of lifestyle that Christians are to make their purpose for living.

As Christians, we are not supposed to stay in a lifestyle of sin by claiming Christ’s forgiveness. We are to be sanctified – to become holy.      

Here the Apostle describes the spiritual reality of sin’s hold on mankind with the analogy of slavery.  As much as we choose to think that our sins are a volitional choice, the fact that we are powerless to stop proves that our supposed freedom is in fact bondage.  

Ironically, to get free Christians need to make the choice to become slaves to righteousness.  God gives us the power over sin and death to every believer but to experience victory we have to shackle our choices in life to adhere to God’s standards for living described in the Bible.  

It is only through our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation, and faith in His work being sufficient to save and change us forever by which we can walk away from the besetting sins that kept us in bondage.  

We are set free indeed, but we have to choose to become slaves to righteousness.  Slaves don’t have a choice. They must do what their master tells them.  If we are slaves to righteousness, we will live righteously. We don’t have a choice; we just do what righteousness leads us to do.   

And for the Christian, our righteousness is Jesus Christ.  We are made righteous because of Christ so we are to become slaves of Christ. 

Some one has said deciding is easy when you don’t have choice.  When you decide to follow Christ, there is but one choice: do your best to represent Him in all that you do.  

So free yourself from one evil master of sin, and sell yourself to a master of righteousness, who is Christ the Lord, and you will discover what real freedom means.  

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 2.   

 

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

PRAYING FOR THE RIGHT GUIDANCE

The first step toward experiencing your freedom in Christ is to renounce (verbally reject) all involvement (past or present) with occult, cult, or false religious teachings or practices. Participation in any group that denies that Jesus Christ is Lord and/or elevates any teaching or book to the level of or a level above the Bible must be renounced. In addition, groups that require dark, secret initiations, ceremonies, vows, pacts, or covenants need to be renounced. God does not take lightly false guidance. “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists... I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among my people” (Leviticus 20:6). Since you don’t want the Lord to cut you off, ask Him to guide you as follows:

Dear heavenly Father, please bring to my mind anything and everything that I have done knowingly or unknowingly that involves occult, cult, or false religious teachings or practices. I want to experience Your freedom by renouncing any and all false guidance. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Lord may bring events to your mind that you had forgotten, even experiences you participated in as a game or thought was a joke. You might even have been passively or curiously watching others participate in counterfeit religious practices. The purpose is to renounce all counterfeit spiritual experiences and their beliefs.

To help bring these things to your mind, prayerfully consider the following Non-Christian Spiritual Checklist. Then pray the prayer following the checklist to renounce each activity or group the Lord brings to mind. He may also reveal to you ones that are not on the list. Be especially aware of your need to renounce non-Christian folk religious practices if you have grown up in another culture. It is important that you prayerfully renounce them out loud.

Non-Christian Spiritual Checklist

Check all those that you have participated in:

 


        Out of Body Experience

        Ouija Board

        Bloody Mary

        Occult Games

        Magic Eight Ball

        Spells or Curses

        Mental Telepathy/Control

        Automatic Writing

        Trance

        Spirit Guides

        Fortune Telling/Divination

        Tarot Cards

        Levitation

        Witchcraft/Wicca/Sorcery

        Satanism

        Palm Reading

        Astrology/Horoscopes

        Hypnosis

        Astral Projection

•Seances/Mediums/Channelers

        Black or White Magic

        Blood Pacts

        Fetishism/Crystals/Charms

        Sexual Spirits

        Martial Arts (Mysticism)

        Jehovah’s Witness

        New Age (Teachings, Medicine)

        Masons

        Christian Science/Mind     Science

        Unification Church (Moonies)

        The Forum

        Church of Scientology

        Unitarianism/Universalism

        Yoga (Religion, not the Exercise)

        Hare Krishna

        Baha’ism

        Native American Spirit Worship

        Islam

        Hinduism

        Buddhism (including Zen)

        Black Muslim

        Rosicrucianism

        False gods: money, sex, power, pleasure, certain people


        Other: non-Christian religions, cults, movies, music books, video games, comics, fantasy games that glorify Satan that precipitated nightmares or mental battles, and all other questionable spiritual experiences including spiritual visitations and nightmares

 

Additional questions to help you become aware of counterfeit religious experiences:

Do you now have, or have you ever had, an imaginary friend, spirit guide, or “angel” offering you guidance or companionship? If it has a name, renounce it by name.

Have you ever heard voices in your head or had repeating, nagging thoughts such as “I’m dumb,” “I’m ugly,” “Nobody loves me,” “I can’t do anything right”—as if there were a conversation going on inside your head? You should renounce paying attention to deceiving spirits.

Have you ever been hypnotized, attended a New Age seminar, or consulted a medium or spiritist? You should renounce each experience.

Have you ever made a secret vow or pact or inner vow? (i.e., “I will never . . .”) You should renounce such vows and pacts.

Have you ever been involved in a satanic ritual or attended a concert in which Satan was the focus? You should renounce such experiences.

 

Once you have completed your checklist and the questions, confess and renounce every false religious practice, belief, ceremony, vow or pact that you were involved in by praying the following prayer aloud:

Lord Jesus, I confess that I have participated in (specifically name every belief and involvement with all that you have checked on the spiritual checklist), and I renounce them all as counterfeits. I pray that You will fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may be guided by You. Thank You that in Christ I am forgiven. Amen.

If you have been involved in a false religion, you need to renounce specific beliefs and practices that you have participated in. For instance, if you came out of the Mormon religion, you may need to renounce the secret initiation you had and the ceremonies in baptisms and marriages for the dead in which you participated. If you are unsure whether a previous practice was false or not, but God is bringing it to your remembrance, you can be nearly certain it is something to renounce.

One area that sometimes needs explanation is sexual spirits. Demons may manifest themselves in vivid sexual dreams or fantasies or by a demonic presence in the room that aroused you sexually. Extreme cases will be vile in nature. If you stood against it at the time, there is nothing to renounce. It is no sin to be under attack. If you participated with the sexual spirits, then you need to renounce any involvement and every sexual use of your body as an instrument of unrighteousness.

The “Non-Christian Spiritual Checklist” is not exhaustive, so when you have finished checking off the items, ask the Lord if there is anything else you have participated in that you should renounce. Let the Holy Spirit bring those items to your mind. Any number of things might surface: books, photos, movies, music, or other materials, religious customs or traditions, praying to idols or angels by name, beliefs such as atheism, agnosticism, hedonism, or pharisaic control groups.

Some believe they don’t have a choice, but they do, and so do you. Consider the following illustration:

If I were to come to your house tonight and knock on your door, you would first come to the door to see who is there, and then you would have a choice to make. You could open the door to allow me to come in, or you could close the door to deny me access. In the same way, when the enemy tries to invade your mind with lies and accusations, you have a choice to make. You can choose to allow those thoughts to come in, or you can deny them access. To “open the door” to enemy lies, you simply remain passive. You let him set the agenda for your thoughts. To “close the door,” you take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. You can choose to believe the truth or you can choose to believe a lie. You can choose to think bad thoughts, or you can choose to think upon that which is lovely, pure, and right. It is your choice.

You must assume responsibility for your own thoughts. You may not realize how passive you have been about entertaining deceptive thoughts. Others have never even considered the possibility of not obeying what they are paying attention to. In some difficult cases, a person will continue to be bombarded with thoughts that sound like voices in the head. If this happens, consider the following illustration:

Suppose we’re trying to carry on a conversation in a room where there are speakers playing loud music or there is a talk show blaring on the television set. If we wanted to continue our conversation, we would have to simply ignore the speakers. In the same way, you can choose to ignore those voices or thoughts. You can choose to believe, “I’m a child of God, and I will continue to work through the issues and find my freedom in Christ.”

When you exercise your authority in Christ that way, the symptoms usually subside, but it probably won’t be completely over until the last Step. Remember, they are just distracting noises and thoughts.

To make this Step complete, you should discard any books, photos, materials, artifacts, music, or any other items or gifts you own that may be tied to anything on the list. These may be symbols of allegiance to other gods, and if so, they are counterproductive to walking in the Kingdom of light. Follow the example found in Acts 19:19, where believers got rid of anything associated with darkness. Recognizing that Satan could continue to use the tools of their former religious practices, they publicly destroyed about 50,000 days’ wages worth of books, which is a mind-boggling sum. These New Testament believers would make any sacrifice to be rid of Satan’s influence in their lives and prevent further influence in their families.

CHOOSE THE TRUTH

While going through the Steps, you may have discerned specific events that have had a dramatic effect on your life, or specific lies you have believed. Hopefully you directly renounced them. For example, a woman had nagging fears and anxieties about her experiences with her aunt who was heavily involved in witchcraft. She was helped to pray, “I renounce any way in which Satan is using my relationship with my aunt against me. I renounce anything she said or did to me, and anything she may have done on my behalf. And I thank You, Lord, that I am not a victim of those experiences. I am a child of God and free to be the person You created me to be.”

Another woman had been led into a life of prostitution by her mother. She remembered that at a very young age a fortune-teller said to her, “Honey, you have a beautiful face and body. That will help you make it through life.” She was led to renounce that false prophet and the lies that she should use her appearance and body to make it through life. Then she was encouraged to announce the truth that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that God would supply all her needs.55 Whenever you renounce a lie or any counterfeit experience, you should also affirm the truth and the Christian practices that enable you to live free in Christ.

CHAPTER TWO:

OVERCOMING FALSE GUIDANCE

44. Proverbs 28:13

45. Matthew 3:7, 8

46. Romans 12:2

47. 1 Timothy 4:1

48. Matthew 24:24

49. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

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

 

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship