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Showing posts with label Perseverance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Perseverance. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Breakthrough will Come - Purity 794


 Breakthrough will Come - Purity 794

Purity 07/27/2022   Purity 794 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun situated between two groups of clouds and framed more or less in the middle of this scene over the waters of the Hudson River comes to us from yours truly as I captured this “answer to prayer” on Monday while visiting Margaret and William See Riverview Park in Stuyvesant NY with my wife.

The weather was milder on Monday afternoon because thunderstorms had rolled through the area earlier in the day and because things had cleared up I decided to take my wife for a short drive down river with the hopes of finding a secluded spot where we could enjoy a view of the river and each other’s company. 

Our arrival at the Riverview park in Stuyvesant was perfectly timed as we were alone, but a thick stand of clouds kept the sun hidden from view causing me to say something like: “Okay God, we just need those clouds out of the way” and shortly there after the sun came blazing through to our delight. 

Now you might say my “answered prayer” was just a coincidence or merely a product of time and wind, but I know God is sovereign and He directs our steps to put us in the right place at the right time. So I won’t claim a miracle necessarily, but I won’t deny that Lord is active in the world and providing things for us either. 

God uses His providence to bring His will about on the earth and to bless those who follow Him. God’s grace is His divine favor and it is experienced throughout the lives of those He calls into His kingdom, thus we keep walking and talking with God and see Him working all things together for good, because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.   

“Now Come on MT! The sun was going to come out anyway, it was inevitable!” – you might say.

You’re right of course, I guess. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate it coming out shortly after speaking to the One who created it and who has set the course of the movements of time and space.  And just because something that eventually happens appears to have been inevitable doesn’t mean we knew it was coming or that we didn’t desperately need it.   

In the fall of 2019, the Church of the City’s song “God turn it Around” was released at seeming just the right time in my life. I am sharing a link to a lyric video of it on the blog if you want to hear it (https://youtu.be/-Gv8VDqc-os)

Featuring Jon Reddick, the song is a prayer for God’s help and a declaration of the certainty of His working, right now, on the earth.  

The lyrics say:  

“I'm praying, God come
And turn this thing around
God, turn it around
God, turn it around
God, turn it around

I'm calling on the name
That changes everything, yes
God, turn it around
God, turn it around
God, turn it around

All of my hope
Is in the name
The name of Jesus
Breakthrough will come
Come in the name
The name of Jesus” 

(https://genius.com/Church-of-the-city-god-turn-it-around-live-lyrics) 

  In 2019, I needed “God, to turn it around” in a major way.  Overcome by personal and financial difficulties, I was in a dry season of struggle and affliction and although I had a vague plan of what I could do to be delivered to a new life, I had absolutely no guarantees of if or when, I would be able to find a place to live for my children and I in the wake a messy divorce. 

Just like asking God to move those clouds the other day, from October 2019 to June 22nd, 2020 I would go daily before the Lord in prayer and worship, pleading to the Lord to “turn it around.” And through out those months, weeks, and days, I saw the Lord moving things together for good time and time again in such a manner that I know the Lord was directing my path.   That song goes on to say: 

“He is up to something
God is doing something right now

He is healing someone
He is saving someone
God is doing something, oh, right now
He is healing someone
He is saving someone
God is doing something right now (right now)

He is moving mountains
Making a way for someone
God is doing something right now, right now”

(https://genius.com/Church-of-the-city-god-turn-it-around-live-lyrics) 

And then, again, 

“All of my hope
Is in the name
The name of Jesus
Breakthrough will come
Come in the name
The name of Jesus”

(https://genius.com/Church-of-the-city-god-turn-it-around-live-lyrics) 

Somebody might ask me, Yeah? How do you know God was with you? 

How do I know? Because I wouldn’t leave Him alone!  And His word says, that He will never leave us or forsake us!  

Also because, He had been with me.  That particular dark period of my journey, was certainly not the beginning of our relationship together as I had been saved in 2010 and been progressively led to surrender to His will for my life ever since. 

I had trusted the Lord to help me before then and He was faithful to “turn things around” before in major ways, mind you, but that stretch from 2019 to 2020 was the “Master’s class” of overcoming, sort of a advanced degree program in patience, perseverance, hope, faith, and trust that really has led to a life of abundant joy and peace.   That is why when I sing that song, it’s not just good feelings. That song was an anthem of victory and a prophecy of things to come and I know that God is doing something still, right now,  

God is saving someone. God is healing someone, right now!

God is moving mountains, God is making a way for someone, right now.  

And I know that He’s not done with me, or you, either.  

God’s presence in my life has been the One Constant that I could stand on in the last 12 years and it is why I can say without blinking: All of my hope is in the name, the name of Jesus!  

When you are going through problems, through simple intellectual reasoning, we can surmise that “this too shall pass”, these things won’t last forever…. But if all you are hoping for is a change that will be merely the product of the changes that come through time and space, that is one lonely road to travel.   

As I prepare for tomorrow’s, Grace Course meeting in which the topic is overcoming fears, I am more and more convinced that I must seek to impress upon the group the fact of God’s grace, obviously, but also will endeavor to emphasize the Lord’s presence in their lives. 

We can logically conclude that somethings are inevitable, but when you are walking and talking with God through the days of your lives, we can walk through the valleys of darkness with hope, expectancy, and joy.  

When we are going with the Lord, we can be sure that “Breakthroughs will come, come in the name, the name of Jesus.”  

So if you haven’t already, develop your daily spiritual practice of prayer, Bible study, and applying the wisdom of God’s word to your life. But remember, these disciplines are not just ways to learn or “be a good Christian” – I don’t think I would claim to be good at anything – but they are simply the means to communicate with the Lord and to develop your love relationship with Him – that the goal.  The transformation in our lives comes from loving God and becoming more like Jesus because we love Him and want to be like Him, not because we “have to” or “ought to” or “should”.  

The Lord invites us to everlasting life and to walk in His ways out of His love for us. Our break throughs come when all of our hope is in Him and we decide to follow Him to where He leads us.  

Earlier summer, I went to the River Rock Music Festival in Maine, and frankly I was enthused to go at first, but shortly before committing to go, I was driving home and was worshipping the Lord in song and “got” the impression that I was “supposed to go.”  So my attitude changed about it. I was going… but I didn’t really know why.   

But the first day there, Jon Reddick came out on stage – just him and a keyboard really.  The crowd either didn’t know him or wasn’t really impressed by him, I guess.  But me? I went to the front of the stage, and was right there as he sang “God turn it around” and I was overcome by the Holy Spirit’s presence and my remembrance of all that the Lord has “turned around in my life” and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right where I was supposed to be, as I rejoiced and marveled at the absolute goodness and love of God. 

So, don’t just wait for the inevitable, go out and pursue it. But don’t do it alone, Be bold and courageous, because if you are walking and talking with God, he will go before you and he will go behind you. And he will be there every step of the way as you put all of your hope in Him.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 7:21 (NLT2)
21  “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

Today’s verse are Christ’s words of warning to be sure that we are in the faith by doing the Father’s will for our lives.   

Nominal Christians are “Christians” in name only.  That means that they say they are a Christian but don’t necessarily have any fruit in their lives to prove they are a disciple of Jesus Christ.  A nominal Christian lives their lives much like their unsaved neighbors and generally don’t pray, read the Bible, have regular church attendance, or do anything for the church or Christian causes.  That varies of course, even nominals know they have to show up at church occasionally, give to charity, or be self-righteous in some way if they want to be able to continue to claim that they are Christians.

If they worry about their faith at all, nominals are interested in “what the minimum requirements of faith are” or what they “have to do” to be a Christian.  Nominals are into appearances and rules but have no  idea what a “relationship with God is like”  

They look at this verse and say: “Okay, I have to do God’s will to enter heaven. Tell me exactly what I have to do to be right with God to go to heaven.” They get out their pen and they get ready to make a list.   

The rich young ruler asked the same question – to which Jesus said to sell everything He had and to follow Him.  

As enthusiastic as the young man may have seemed to be into “being right with God”, those instructions sent him running to the exit.  

Give God everything and Follow Him, or as today’s verse says – “actually do the will of the Father”.  

I hope it is clear that God isn’t looking to have us “do stuff” to be right with Him. That’s religion. That’s a works based salvation and that’s the opposite of being saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  

We are to “be” God’s children and seek to do His will. That’s about a relationship. We can’t buy our relationship. Through faith in Jesus, God gives it to us. 

So what God wants us to “do” is to “be” who we are, His children.  A child who loves his parents will do their “will” by representing the family’s values with the way they live their life.  That’s calls us to do. 

We learn from our brother, Jesus, how to be a Christian and out of the love we have for the Father, we seek to do His will by being a Christian in all our ways.  

So don’t be a stranger, or be a Christian in name only,  show the Lord that you know that you are His by surrendering to His will by living like Christ taught us.      

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

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

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

Slavery to the Elemental Spirits (Galatians)

The novel teaching threatening the church at Galatia struck at the heart of the gospel (Gal 1:6–9). Evidently some zealous persons from Judea were teaching the Galatian Christians that they must be circumcised in accordance with the Mosaic regulations (and perform other legal requirements) in order to be saved. In Paul’s eyes, this requirement compromised the true nature of the gospel message, which is that salvation is given without performing any works of the law, a salvation by grace alone.

Paul also spoke of the Galatians “observing special days and months and seasons and years” (Gal 4:10). While Paul had no problem with Christians having personal convictions on such matters (Rom 14:5), he objected to these observances (including circumcision) being viewed as religious obligations, as part of the necessary response to the gospel message. In Paul’s mind, to turn to circumcision and legal observances was tantamount to returning to slavery—a slavery to the principalities and powers (stoicheia; Gal 4:9)!

For Paul both Jews and Gentiles were in bondage to the powers of darkness prior to conversion. He explained that unredeemed Jews are slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe (Gal 4:3). These hostile forces apparently exploit the law and use it as a tool to hold unbelieving Judaism in captivity. God’s redemption through Christ brings freedom—freedom from the law and freedom from servitude to the powers (Gal 4:3–5).

Likewise, prior to their conversion, the Gentiles “were slaves to those who by nature are not gods” (Gal 4:8). At one time they thought they were worshiping real gods and goddesses in their pagan worship, but they were soon to find out that these were mere idols—tools of the devil and his powers of darkness. The Galatians had appeared to have turned their backs on their pagan gods, but they were now tempted to add Jewish legal requirements to the pure gospel of Christ, which Paul had taught them. In Paul’s mind this would be trading one form of slavery to the powers for another.

According to F. F. Bruce, Paul was making the point that, “the stoicheia … not only regulated the Jewish way of life under law; they also regulated the pagan way of life in the service of gods that were no gods.… For all the basic differences between Judaism and paganism, both involved subjection to the same elemental forces.” He adds, “for those who did not live in the good of Christian freedom the stoicheia [‘elementary spirits’] were ‘principalities and powers’, keeping the souls of men in bondage.” The gospel is truly a message of freedom. Any form of legalism as a principle of Christian life is contrary to the gospel.

Both pagan religion and the Jewish law surface here as two systems that Satan and his powers exploit to hold the unbeliever in captivity and re-enslave the believer. As such, they function as two aspects of the world, or “the present evil age,” and illustrate how the powers operate in conjunction with the world.

Surprisingly, even something that is inherently good—the law—can be perverted by Satan and used to accomplish his own purposes. This evil influence came to the Galatians in the form of a new teaching propagated by people who appeared to them as credible and credentialed. On the surface the new teaching probably looked true and appealing to the Galatians. We might generalize from this that the influence of the powers comes in subtle ways. Only spiritual discernment can detect it One lesson to be learned from the situation of the Galatians as well as the Corinthians is the importance for every believer to be rooted deeply in sound doctrine, especially Christology. Satan consistently seeks to have us believe a lie about Christ and his redemptive work.

In light of these instances of satanically inspired false teaching, it is not surprising that at the end of his life Paul warned Timothy, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Tim 4:1). He was increasingly aware of this subtle, yet effective, method of Satan for bringing about the demise of the church.

Paul described those who bring such false teachings as having fallen into “the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim 2:26). This statement gives helpful insight into the character of false teachers. They are, in essence, Satan’s instruments. Satan and his powers work through these human agencies to deceive the church and lead it astray. All is not bleak, however. There is hope even for those who are the emissaries of Satan. God may still “grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:25). This could happen if they listen with an open heart to the leadership of the church. Paul urged the leadership to have an attitude of gentleness as they work with such people, always with an eye toward their repentance.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 131–133.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

What about Results? Answering the Call - Purity 789


What about Results? Answering the Call  - Purity 789

Purity 789 7/21/2022 Purity 789 Podcast

Good morning, today’s photo a water pathway that runs through a city to distant mountains and a sky painted by the sun comes to us from a friend who has taken a year to travel through various parts of the world to share the gospel of Jesus Christ along the way.  Today’s photo documents this friend’s visit to the city of Prizren, which is “the second most populous city and municipality of Kosovo and is … located on the banks of the Prizren River between the foothills of the Sharr Mountains in southern Kosovo. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prizren).  I just love how my friend’s love for the Lord and willingness to follow His call has set them on a journey where they will spend an entire year of their lives seeing distant lands and cultures with the sole intention to represent God’s kingdom and share the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Not only has my friend chosen to leave all that was familiar to them behind for a year, but they also chose to trust the Lord by doing it alone. Now they are part of a team, but they didn’t insist that someone go with them to hold their hand. They also trusted the Lord to provide the funds for this traveling mission trip and the Lord was faithful and now what they dreamed about is coming true. They are living it.

Well, it’s Thursday again and I share this “water pathway to the mountains” to encourage my friends to either keep going, or to get on, the path of Christian Discipleship which is my poetic way saying to choose to live out your Christian faith every day.  Instead of “just believing” or agreeing with certain ideas about faith, the true value of our lives in Christ is realized when we live according to what God says about us, seek to know Him more, and to surrender to His will for our lives by pursuing our kingdom purpose.  

Our faith isn’t a list of dos and don’ts, a set of rules to follow.  Our faith is a mission to do the good works that God has prepared for us, to show and share His love and to make disciples.

So tonight, although I haven’t been called to a year long mission trip around the world, not yet anyway, I am answering the call the Lord was leading me to and will be hosting another session of Freedom in Christ Ministries’’ “The Grace Course” on Zoom. 

And how do we know we are doing the right thing? How do we know that what we are “called” to is “of God”?    How do we know we are fulfilling our purpose in Christ?

Unfortunately, unless the Lord shows up with signs and wonders or speaks from heaven there is no easy way to know that what you are preparing to do is “really what God wants you to do.”  

As I thought about this question, the first thing that came to mind is that we can know that whether or not what we do is God’s purpose for us, by the results that we get.  

It makes sense. Like with my friend who is on their extended mission, the mere fact that they were able to fund their trip could be seen as a huge indicator that this is the Lord’s will for their life.  We could reckon that the Lord is sovereign and that if He didn’t want my friend to go on this trip, the money wouldn’t have come or something else would have prevented it.  

Likewise, if you start a church or a ministry and a bunch of people show up, the large crowds could be seen as a huge indicator that you are fulfilling your purpose and the Lord is blessing your faithfulness.  Results thus could be a good indicator of how to gauge whether or not we are in the Lord’s will.   

Of course the problem is that you really have to act on faith because you won’t see the results until AFTER you act.   

Plus, the results that we are hoping for – big crowds, perhaps,(we do desire to reach the nations right ?), might not be what God has in mind.  And just because something isn’t successful in our eyes doesn’t mean that we were outside of God’s will.  

God can also use our failures or struggles to produce the fruit of developing our Christians character, our trust in Him alone, and our patience and perseverance.   

If everything we did was blessed by God we might take the Lord for granted and think that we are wise and we know the perfect will of God”, are making all the right moves, and don’t need to grow.

And because none of us is Jesus Christ, I know none of us are perfect and that we will go through seasons where our faith will be tested, and we will be called to repent and surrender more of ourselves to God’s ways instead of just doing things like we always have.  

I have a friend who was “called” to leave his home state of Arizona to come to Poughkeepsie to start a church and he was faithful to pursue it.   But despite his faithfulness and efforts to build a church there, he wasn’t successful.  He had small measures of success but ultimately the church didn’t take off.    So, I guess he was outside of God’s will right? 

But the thing is he was faithful to the call and although the church didn’t take off, because he had moved to New York, he was in the right place at the right time when a church in the nearby area needed an associate pastor.  He now is on staff as part of that church where he preaches and sometimes leads worship.  He went from being virtually all alone to being surrounded by a vibrant church community.   Good story, right?  True story, but the thing is that it took Years with a Capital Y for it come to pass.  

But this friend, remained faithful and I am sure that he would testify that the Lord had been with him every step of the way, in the lean years and now that he has “arrived”.  

This is the journey of our faith.  We go to where we believe the Lord calls us. We don’t worry about the results. We leave those up to Him. But we remain in constant contact with Him to lead us as we go, and we do the best we can to share His truth and His love and to remain faithful in seeking His purposes for us.  

So don’t worry about whether or not “you are doing it right”, just abide in the Lord’s presence through communicating with Him through prayer, Bible study, and asking Him for strength and guidance and you can be assured that He is with you regardless of the circumstances and regardless of the results.   

As long as our desire is to remain true to follow God’s word, glorify Jesus, and do good things in His name, out of love for Him, not out of obligation or in the hopes to gain something,  we can be certain that we won’t go too far off course because God will undoubtedly work all things together for good because we love Him and are answering the call to pursue His purpose for us.   

Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV) say
16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

For in it, the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. The righteousness of God is Jesus. He is revealed from faith to faith. That means we grow, we progress from “faith to faith” – we mature and know Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit more – in our hearts, in our minds, and in our experience. 

This is our call. Through our faith in Jesus, we have been justified. We are thus “just” – and we shall live by faith.  That describes the fact that we will live forever – we are saved – by our faith.  And it describes HOW we are to live, by faith, by believing what the word of God says and by trying to mold our lives to follow it. 

When we do this, we just happen to get to know God more, from faith to faith.  

This is the cycle of life in the Spirit. So keep walking and talking with God and keep growing as you go from faith to faith.

   

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Peter 1:3 (NKJV)
3  as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

In today’s verse, we are encouraged to discover that we have already been given all that pertains to life and godliness because we know Jesus who called us by glory and virtue.  

One thing I have come to understand our faith lies in the heart of today’s verse: we ALREADY got it!

When we put our faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, we received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who made us spiritually alive, giving us eternal life, and the power over sin.   God “has given” – past tense – we already have “it” – all things that pertain to life, as in we will never die or face God’s wrath in hell,  we will instead live with Him for all eternity.   

Most of us understand that part of the gospel, we will go to heaven someday… but we also receive all things that pertain to godliness – we can live a righteous life where we are no longer in a “master-slave” relationship with sin.  When we trust in who we are in Christ and ask the Lord for the guidance and strength to repent of our former ways of living, we can succeed because we have already been given a portion of God’s “divine power” that pertains to life and godliness!

So go to the Lord and thank Him for His salvation from sin and death, believe you received it, and walk with the Lord in faith to receive the guidance and strength for you to live out the righteous life that God has already provided you with.

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

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

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

Secure and Protected

Paul eloquently attested to the security of all who are “in Christ” in the face of every conceivable hostile power. More than security he portrayed believers as wrapped in the arms of a loving God, forever protected and forever cherished.

At the end of a section where he had described the nature of life in the Spirit, he closed by pointing his readers to the love and power of God in Christ. He remarks:

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38–39 RSV)

While throughout the book of Romans, Paul had been primarily concerned about the influences of sin, the law, the flesh and death on the believer, he turned his attention here to a more comprehensive list of forces that could separate us from God. His focus was primarily upon the hostile spirits and angelic forces against whom we struggle. This comes out particularly in his references to “angels,” “principalities,” “powers” and quite possibly in the expressions “height” and “depth.”

Principalities and powers surface throughout Paul’s letters as the spirit beings he saw as hostile to God’s people. In this context angels must be regarded as the rebellious evil angels who function in a way similar to the principalities and powers. Paul used the term angel in this sense (see 2 Cor 12:7 and Col 2:18), and it was widely used in Judaism to describe supernatural beings in league with Satan.

It appears that Paul may have used the terms height and depth as a comprehensive way of referring to all of the astral spirits who were commonly believed to control human destiny. In astronomical texts both terms appear technical. They were used to refer to the zenith and nadir of the stars, that is, the highest and lowest points reached by a heavenly body. It may be intentional that Paul’s very next expression is, literally, “nor any other creature.” Some commentators have thought this reference confirms that Paul had astral spirits in mind when he used height and depth. J. D. G. Dunn comments on these two terms, “Paul deliberately draws on current astronomical terms to denote the full sweep of the heavens visible and invisible to the human eye, and thus all astrological powers known and unknown which could be thought to determine and control the fate and destiny of human beings.”

In Christ nothing can sever us from God’s rich love showered upon us. However they are conceived, not even the powers of darkness have the ability to disunite God and his people. This does not mean that the principalities and powers will not try. Our conflict with them continues, but in Christ we have a superabundant supply of divine enabling power and love to sustain us.

In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul affirmed the promise of divine protection in a much simpler way. In a letter that warned believers about the coming of a satanically inspired “lawless one” (2 Thess 2:8–9), Paul’s assurance of divine protection would have proved exceptionally comforting. Paul told them, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess 3:3). The promise had already proved true in the experience of the Thessalonians as new believers. In his earlier letter Paul had remarked that he had sent Timothy to check on their progress in the faith because he was afraid that “in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless” (1 Thess 3:5). Quite the contrary to his fears Paul learned that the Thessalonians had been growing in their faith, in spite of persecution, and were actively propagating the message of the gospel. The Lord was truly faithful to them. He did indeed strengthen and protect them from the evil one.

Protection from evil spirits was something of great concern to people living in the first century. The word protect occurs over and over again in the magical papyri as part of recipes that are designed for bringing protection to those who use them, especially in the form of a magical amulet. This kind of magic is commonly referred to as “apotropaic” magic, which literally means “warding off.” It claims to protect people from evil spirits.

For Paul only the one true God gives “protection.” His protection for the believer extends as far as the rule of all the powers of darkness, including Satan himself.

Although God provides us with protection, becoming a Christian does not mean that one gains an automatic immunity to the demonic realm. Believers need to learn about their position in Christ. This is precisely why the study of Scripture and theology is so important for Christian living. Since Satan is a deceiver and an accuser, we need to know the truth about who we are in Christ. The actuality about our new identity needs to be grasped and appreciated in the depths of our consciousness so that we can live like free people, rescued from servitude to the powers of darkness.

These truths are difficult for people to comprehend and accept. Paul felt the need to pray and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to guide the Ephesian Christians in opening their hearts to it (Eph 1:17–18). Surely more than a few of Paul’s readers in Ephesus had heard many of the same truths being taught by their teachers when they gathered for worship and instruction. After all, Paul had spent nearly three years in the area, personally imparting his doctrine to the people who would become the leaders and teachers of the churches in the area. Many of the people still needed to be convinced. We also need to ask God for the Spirit’s illuminating help so that we too may understand the full significance of Christ’s work for us and our new identity in Christ.

Once the truth about our new identity in Christ has been grasped, we need to align our lives with this reality. We need to learn to draw on the resources available through our vital union with Jesus Christ. The Spirit’s fullness must be appropriated for living in the world on a day-to-day basis. And now is when we need to talk about “spiritual warfare.”[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 119–121.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Today! – The Forward Direction of Our Faith – Purity 738


 

Today! – The Forward Direction of Our Faith – Purity 738

Purity 738 05/23/2022 Purity 738 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo on a golden sunset sky shining through between two pine trees comes to us from a friend in Hudson NY who captured and share this view on social media this past Saturday.  They experienced and shared a similar view yesterday, also shared on the blog today,  and noted that they only cropped their photos “to take out the powerlines lines” that would have diminished the splendor of what God wanted us to see.       


Well, it’s Monday and my friend’s efforts at editing his photos for maximum effect has me thinking about the wisdom of shifting our focus to the things that are good in the here and now and looking ahead rather than getting bogged down by the frustrations that are present and the things that are in the past.   

The best example from scripture that I can think of that could teach us to keep moving forward ad not looking back is Lot’s wife.  

Genesis 19:26 (NKJV) says
26  But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

 

Okay, while that is unlikely to literally happen if we dwell on the things in our past. Jesus told us to remember Lot’s wife and also recommended a forward looking disposition as He called us to surrender ourselves to what the Lord would have us do.   In talking about the future “day of the Lord”, Jesus said.   

 

Luke 17:31-33 (NKJV)
31  In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
32  Remember Lot's wife.
33  Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

 

Here Jesus is putting the emphasis on our following where the Lord would lead us rather than being concerned over material possessions or our personal desires over the Lord’s will for our lives.  

 

Christ reiterated the focus of moving forward and following the Lord in

 

Luke 9:62 (NKJV) where He said to one who hesitated in following Him:
62  …, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

 

Similarly the Apostle Paul encourages the forwarding looking disposition in:

 

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)
13  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

This forward thinking is supposed to be the general disposition of the Christian’s walk.  We don’t dwell on the things we may have accomplished in the past but look forward to what we can do today, or in the days ahead,  for the kingdom of God. 

 

We also don’t dwell on the pain of the past.

 

The enemy would encourage us to look to the past to either condemn us for our past sinful lifestyles or to remind us of the injustices and sufferings we had to suffer through to foster feelings of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. 

 

But the Christian should realize that the Lord was faithful to bring us through the past sufferings and that we are not who we used to be. We are new creations in Christ and, as Christians, we forgive from the heart and release the bitterness of the pains we have suffered, trusting that God has forgiven us, healed, us and that He will deal with all the injustices of the world when Christ returns.  

 

And if we are going through some present sufferings, the Christian is to take care of what they can do for today, keep moving forward, and keeping trusting that the Lord will help us to endure until we overcome and walk out of this present darkness.   

 

This forward thinking disposition of the Christian should also be applied to avoid the tendency to be drawn into discontentment by falling into the error of dwelling on the mythic remembrance of the “good old days”.   

 

I just saw one of my contemporaries, share a post on social media where the source for this post was lamenting of how kids today would never know the joys of the 70’s and 80’s where kids used to  go everywhere unattended on bicycles.   You may have seen other posts like these where “hanging out down by the crick” or some other activity of baby boomers or gen x’ers” was romanticized and lamented over.  

There are two problems with these types of posts.  1.  They are not true. 2. They are pointless.    

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and I can tell you, honestly, that they weren’t what they are cracked up to be.  Frankly, they sucked. Technology was terrible. Bullying was common place. What we called entertainment and fashion was shallow and embarrassing. Materialism, Sexual harassment and hateful discrimination practices were the soup de jour.  The “good old days” of the 70’s or 80’s or any time period in the past is a myth. It’s selective memory. It’s a lie. 

And the lie of nostalgia is propagated by the enemy and mankind to breed discontentment and division.  When I moved into my new house the previous owner had a Ronald Regan campaign ad in the basement.  I am sharing a photo of a similar Regan ad on the blog, if you want to see it.


Do you know what it said?   That’s right, “Make America Great Again”  

So our yesteryear, wasn’t so hot for that people back in the 80’s.  They wanted to turn back the clock.  The point is we have to find happiness now, and looking back isn’t the direction that we are going in.   We have to do things today that will effect our tomorrows.  

That brings up my second, point – nostalgia is pointless because we can’t turn back the clock to “the good old days”.  Instead of lamenting about what we had and lost, we should be thankful for what we have now, and rejoice, and move into days ahead by looking forward and not being turned “salty” by looking back.  

So if you are facing challenges today, look at them accurately for what they are today and for how they will affect the future and while we should learn from the pain and mistakes of the past, we shouldn’t allow them to add to what is happening today to steal our present day peace.    

Likewise, instead of dwelling on the “good old days” of the past, we should look to the follow the Lord and thank Him for the good things we have in the here and now.

So keep moving forward! And keep walking and talking with God.  Thank Him for a new day in which to live and to rejoice that He has made you, has saved you, and has more in store you.  

We might be burdened with a lot on our plates this Monday but there is nothing we can can’t walk through when we are walking with the Lord and the things of the past usually trip us up, so step beyond the past by stepping forward into today and what lies ahead where the Lord is leading us. 

Time only goes one way, forward. So no matter where you are going geographically today, know that time will advance and the only thing we can be sure of regarding our futures is the fact that Lord will be there. So walk with Him today and everyday, to experience the peace of His presence and to benefit from the gifts of His wisdom and strength that we receive when we follow His lead.

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

James 5:16 (NLT2)
16  Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us to find healing through confession and to always pray.  

We confess to one another not to be forgiven.  When we put our faith in Christ we were forgiven of all our sins: past, present, and future.  

So why confess our sins to one another?  We confess to one another to receive support and assistance in our efforts to repent and stop sinning.  This verse is describing an accountability relationship where someone attempts to turn from a sinful habit by bringing their struggle out into the light, in front of their brothers and sisters in Christ to receive their love and support until they achieve victory over their besetting sin. 

When we stop our besetting sins, we are healed of them!  

And that is where the power and wonderful results come from: our prayers to be a righteous person. The wonderful results in this section of scripture is our sanctification!

So while these verses are often used by Christians who are seeking a miraculous healing, the context shows us that they are actually in reference to the “miracle of sanctification” that the Lord wants us to experience.  

We have been freedom from sin and death.  But to overcome our sinful habits of the past, we will need to pray and we very well may need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ.   Our healing as Christian encompasses far more than our physical bodies.  When we turn from our pasts to reflect the image of Christ in the way we live our lives, we show the truth of our healing as we demonstrate that we really have been made new creations in Christ.

 

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

Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

Partnership of Ox and People

Not everyone should be a missionary or a pastor. There is to be a partnership between goers and senders. Concerning pastors in the church Paul says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” (1 Timothy 5:18), meaning: pay your pastor. But that implies that some folks must be earning grain to put under the poor ox’s nose. This is also the pattern for missionaries in the New Testament. “Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing” (Titus 3:13). In other words, Not everybody should go to minister with Paul; some should stay behind, work, and supply the ones who go. Similarly Paul planned for the Roman church to be his supply base as he headed for Spain: “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while” (Romans 15:24).

He assumed they would be gainfully employed so they could give. That’s why he said to the Thessalonian believers, “Work with your hands … so that you may … be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12). In fact, Paul was so provoked by the idle busybodies in Thessalonica that he wrote in a second letter:

We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.… If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3:7–11)

Similarly, he said to the Ephesians, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28).

Stay in Your Job “with God”

The call to be a Christian was not a call to leave your secular vocation. That’s the clear point of 1 Corinthians 7:17–24. Paul sums up his teaching there with these words: “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (verse 24). Paul had a high view of the providence of God—that God had sovereignly “assigned” or “called” unbelievers to positions in life where their conversion would have significant impact for his glory. “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (verse 17). Paul does not mean that changing jobs is wrong in the Christian life—otherwise no one could become a vocational pastor or missionary except very young people (unlike Jesus who changed from carpentry to full-time ministry when he was thirty, Luke 3:23). What Paul does mean is that when we are converted we should not jump to the conclusion, my job must change. Rather our thought should be, God has put me here, and I should now display his worth in this job. As verse 24 says, “there let him remain with God.”

Therefore, the burning question for most Christians should be: How can my life count for the glory of God in my secular vocation? I am assuming from all that has been said in this book so far that the aim of life is the same, whether in a secular vocation or in a church or mission vocation. Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. The question is, How? The Bible points to at least six answers.

1. We can make much of God in our secular job through the fellowship that we enjoy with him throughout the day in all our work.

In other words, we enjoy God’s being there for us as we listen to his voice, and talk to him, and cast all our burdens on him, and experience his guidance and care. The biblical pointer to this truth is 1 Corinthians 7:24. When you are converted, stay in your job and enjoy God’s presence. “In whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” These last two words are important. Christians do not just go to work. They go to work “with God.” They do not just do a job. They do their job “with God.” God is with them.

A More Personal Promise

This is not the same as the general promises made to the church as a whole. God promises to the church corporately, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). The promise for you in your secular job is different. When the saints are at work in their secular employment, they are scattered. They are not together in church. So the command to “remain there with God” is a promise that you may know God’s fellowship personally and individually on the job.

Breathing out Continual Thanks to God for All Things

One way to enjoy God’s presence and fellowship is through thankful awareness that your ability to do any work at all, including this work, is owing to his grace. “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). All your faculties of sight and hearing and touch, all your motor skills with hands and legs, all your mental acts of observing and organizing and assessing, all your skills that make you good at this particular job—all these things are God’s gifts. To know this can fill you with a sense of continual thankfulness offered up to God in prayer. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever” (Psalm 86:12). Sometimes the wonder of who God is will rise up in us while we work, and we will whisper his praise: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great!” (Psalm 104:1).

When you add to this the awareness that you depend on God for every future minute of life and for all the help you need, your thankfulness flows over into faith for each upcoming moment and for the remainder of the day and week and month and year and decade. This is faith in future grace. It can be expressed in prayer to God with biblical words like, “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’ ” (Psalm 31:14). Or you can say, “Your steadfast love never ceases; your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning (and every afternoon!); great is your faithfulness!” (paraphrase of Lamentations 3:22–23).

Taking the Promises to Work

Supporting this thankfulness and praise and trust are the promises of God that you can take to work every day—written in your Bible or memorized in your head. This is the way God speaks to you through the day. He encourages you, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He reminds you that the challenges of the afternoon are not too hard for him to manage: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). He tells you not to be anxious, but to ask him for whatever you need (Philippians 4:6), and says, “Cast all your anxieties on me, for I care for you” (paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:7). And he promises to guide you through the day: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

In this way we fellowship with God, listening to him through his Word and thanking him and praising him and calling on him for all we need. It is an honor to God if you stay in your secular job “with God” in this way. This is not a wasted life. God delights in being trusted and enjoyed. It shows his value. And when we remind ourselves that none of these undeserved blessings could be ours apart from the death of Christ in our place, every heartbeat of joy in God becomes a boasting in the cross.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 134–138.