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

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Bridge Over Troubled Waters – A Path from mother to Our Father - Purity 819


 Bridge Over Troubled Waters – A Path from mother to Our Father - Purity 819

Purity 819 08/25/2022  Purity 819 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s artistic offering comes to us from our friend in the Manchester, England, Philip Hand, who shared this “bridge over troubled waters” back in March with a poem of fond remembrance of his departed mother that I have no other choice but to share.  Philip wrote:

Beautiful Mother

Beautiful Mother of the morning

From loves first breath, life’s dawning

Love embracing innocence,

Face to face in perfect unity

 

the way mother and child are meant to be.

 

Thank You for having me

I’d be nothing without you

 

Even though you are not here,

My love will reach the stars.

Sweet memories I cherish

Forever deep within my heart.”

-Philip Hand

I just love this process of writing that the Lord has put me on with this blog because I literally don’t know where the Lord will take me and what will have to be said from day to day. 

It’s Thursday so this morning I was looking for a photo a pathway on my phone that I could use to represent the “pathway of Christian Discipleship” to encourage my friends to walk in the Spirit, as I do on the fourth work day of week because I traditionally would lead or teach on Thursday nights, that my habit that’s what I do: share pathways on Thursdays to encourage people seek the Lord and to follow Him with their lives.  

But I am on vacation this week, so I didn’t feel pressed for time and went back a little further in my photo archive to try to find something when I came a across Philip’s drawing.  I liked it and since it had a bridge in it I decided that was enough of a pathway to satisfy my Thursday criteria.  And as I examined his work, I tried to make sense of it. I knew it was a bridge, and most likely a stream, but shape of the water resembled a brooding mountainous “Jabba the Hut” like face, and I thought “Bridge over Troubled Water”, perfect. So I figured I had enough and should go to Philip’s page to see the origin to discover, his beautiful poem reflecting a troubled but loving heart paying tribute to his departed mother.

And then I decided to look at the lyrics to Paul Simon’s song, and discovered that the phrase “Bridge Over Trouble Waters” was inspired by Simon listening to the southern gospel group Swan Silvertones’ 1959 song “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep,” in which one particular line rang out to Simon,— I’ll be your bridge over deep water / If you trust in my name—which helped Simon finish “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and its more gospel elements. (https://americansongwriter.com/the-meaning-behind-bridge-over-troubled-water-by-simon-garfunkel/).   

Although rather vague, Our heavenly Father’s care and concern for us and the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, can be easily imagined in Simon’s lyrics:     

“When you're weary

Feeling small

When tears are in your eyes

I'll dry them all

I'm on your side

Oh, when times get rough

And friends just can't be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

When you're down and out

When you're on the street

When evening falls so hard

I will comfort you

I'll take your part

Oh, when darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down”

(https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/simongarfunkel/bridgeovertroubledwater.html)

If you didn’t know it Simon’s song was written in 1969 when “America was in a state. Vietnam was in motion, Richard Nixon was president, and the country was still coping with the loss of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, who were both assassinated in 1968. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” spoke to the turmoil of the times and continues to adapt to more recent times, used as an uplifting anthem around more tragic events.”  (https://americansongwriter.com/the-meaning-behind-bridge-over-troubled-water-by-simon-garfunkel/).   

So what do I do with all of this? I think our times continue to be pretty troubled. I don’t think the reality of continuous tragedies or the media’s penchant for highlighting will allow us to imagine our times as anything but troubled. Whether it’s the perceived trouble in our country or very personal pain, trials, and tribulations in our present, or in our past, we could easily admit to some troubled waters in our lives.

So I guess the question is: Will you take that “Bridge” over the troubled waters?

Will you accept the comfort and presence of the Lord in your life when “times get rough, when friends can’t be found, when darkness comes, and pain is all around?”   

Will you move on from the apron strings of your earthly mother and take the path that was laid down for you by Jesus that leads to your Heavenly Father?  

I can only assume that all of this is coming to me this morning because God wants us to know that He knows our heartaches and He knows the trouble in our lives and He wants us to know that He will never leave us or forsake us and He is inviting us to walk with Him and that He will carry us over the troubled waters in our lives.  

So brother and sister, let’s go man. Let’s take that bridge. And let’s keep walking and talking with God until we discover the meaning, purpose, and peace that He has for us.    

 

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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:

Psalm 93:4 (NLT2)
4  But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the LORD above is mightier than these!

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord above is mightier than the violent raging seas and the breakers on the shore. 

Okay, I can’t make this stuff up.  Is it any wonder why I continually encourage others to “walk in the Spirit”?

So I just happen to write about “troubled waters” and this is the verse of the day? 

“Violent raging of the seas”, I’d say that qualifies as troubled waters!

But what does this verse tell us? It’s tells us “the Lord above is mightier than these”!

We should never forget that when we put our faith in Christ, our lives are saved and we have a the mightiest ally imaginable to help us move through this life and to overcome or to endure whatever waves or storms that this world broken by sin has to offer.  

So be encouraged. The Lord is WITH US and He is more than mighty enough to see us through. 

______________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

The Issue of Responsibility

If we are duped, exploited or driven to do something by a powerful supernatural opponent—“the devil made me do it”—does that not lessen the level of our personal responsibility? Some theologians fear that this is the case. They are concerned that the belief in a literal devil and evil spirits may lead people to remove responsibility from themselves and locate it somewhere outside of themselves.

When three high-school boys in Carl Junction, Missouri, claimed that the voice of the devil prompted them to kill one of their companions as a sacrifice to Satan in 1987, the courts held the boys responsible and sentenced them to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Is there a possibility that such a ruling was unjust? If a power much greater than themselves compelled them to bludgeon the victim, how could they be held responsible?

It is important to reaffirm that Paul, and the entire testimony of Scripture for that matter, always held people accountable for their decisions and actions. Although Satan can tempt and deceive, God will judge people on the basis of their actions: At “the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” he “will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom 2:5–6 NASB; see also Ps 62:12 and Prov 24:12).

Nevertheless, there is another sense in which the powers determine the lives of people, indeed all people. Paul envisioned humanity as being enslaved by the evil one and in need of redemption. Held in tension with this concept is that every person has the opportunity to respond to the liberating message of the gospel. When a person believes in Christ, he or she is divinely rescued from the captivity of Satan and made a child of God. In a sense, Paul presented life as a choice between lordships. One can serve Satan and the powers, or one can serve God. This fundamental choice is all-important at the final judgment. Paul explained that Christ will “punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power” (2 Thess 1:8–9).

Christians have the ability to resist Satan’s temptations to do evil. The ability to resist is mediated to them through their dependence on an all-powerful Lord who strengthens their innermost beings through the presence of his Spirit. For this reason Paul can enjoin his Christian readers to resist the devil (“do not be deceived”) and to desist from all kinds of evil practices.

In Paul’s view non-Christians do not have the ability to withstand the appeals of the devil. This does not mean that every person consistently engages in the grossest forms of moral evil; each individual still bears God’s image (albeit ever so tarnished) and is capable of high standards of morality. Nevertheless, Paul ardently believed every person has violated the ultimate standard of morality, God’s law as revealed in the Old Testament.

Furthermore, in spite of Satan’s compelling solicitations, Paul argued that each person is accountable to God on the basis of their behavior (Rom 2:1–11). He warned of God’s impending judgment: “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil” (Rom 2:9). There is a sense then in which a person can legitimately appeal to the argument “the devil made me do it.” God, however, still holds people responsible for their actions. And people have a choice to obey God’s law based on their nature as people created in his image; or better, they can respond to Christ’s offer of redemption and then base their lives on Christ’s ethical demands and appropriate his power to fulfill them.[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), 189–191.

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.      

______________________________________________________________________

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]

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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.