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

Saturday, August 14, 2021

I’ll Be There - Showing Up – Accepting God’s Invitations - Purity 497


 
I’ll Be There - Showing Up – Accepting God’s Invitations

Purity 497 08/14/2021 Purity 497 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a simple pine tree under the blue skies of June comes to us from a friend in Cairo NY who was looking for someone to cut down said tree a couple of months ago.  I don’t know if this tree still stands or if it was taken out, but I remember thinking that it didn’t seem like a “bad tree” to me, and that this was a nice photo of early June. 

I share it because I have trees on my mind as I inexplicably have offered my help a friend to cut up a damaged tree on their property as they look to make their land as presentable as possible as they want to sell their home to launch a new life.  Unfortunately, the tree isn’t the only thing damaged in this situation and I can only explain my willingness to help to be a prompting of the Holy Spirit as I don’t like yard work, at all.  

If you would like to question that statement, I would invite you to come view the Hudson River natural terrarium of wild growth that has sprung to life along the fence line of my property “Down by The River”. What the lawn mower couldn’t reach because of the previous owner’s penchant for building a border of buried bricks along the right side of my property has been allowed to grow wild , creating two and a half feet of “river forest” with 5 foot tall weeds and even a couple of trees that don’t realize that their protected habitat will most likely be destroyed in the cooler months of autumn when I finally dig up the jagged brick barrier and lay to waste most of what is thriving there today, or I won’t. 

Any way we have made it to the weekend, and I hope that most of my friends will use it to rest and relax, but I am sure that there are others like me that will be using today and tomorrow to be “stewards of what God has given us” by performing yard work or by helping friends or neighbors with other projects.  The Lord has commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves and one of the ways we show that love is by helping our neighbors or friends in need.          

Before coming to Christ, I always had a steadfast belief that I was on my own.  I couldn’t ask anyone for help.  If I ever needed help, I might call my father for some advice but for the most part I would either “do it myself” or I would pay for someone to do it for me.  

But then I met my pastor, Jaron Halsted. One of the things that I learned from Jaron was this. He once told me that all of us would be remembered as one of two things. We would be remembered as someone who “had problems” or as someone who “fixed problems”.   And Jaron has proven that he is a sterling example of the second kind of person as He is a faithful friend and servant leader of His church, doing all types of things to solve the problems of his flock and the community at large.   

When you see faith in action, like you see it in Jaron Halsted, you realize that we really are God’s hands and feet and that we are created for the good works that God has prepared for us to walk into.  

As Christians, the basic good work that we all can easily perform regardless of our personal gifts is “showing up”.  Regular attendance at weekly church services should be a “work” that we perform without question, as our simple presence at church both edifies ourselves and encourages the other believers there. 

“I’ll be there.” is God’s first promise to us as we can stand in the assurance of His presence because He will never leave us or forsake us.  So as Christ followers, we should “be there” for the people that God has put in our lives.  

As we walk in faith, God will lead us into good works by putting people in need in our path. God never forces us to help others but if we are in a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit will invariably give us “intuitions” to do good deeds that go against our selfish natures.  I consider these “intuitions” or “impressions” to be God’s invitations.  

While we can say “Thanks but no thanks” to these leadings, I have discovered that when we step out in faith to help or pray for others we receive more than we give because the Lord will use our service to mature us in our faith.   Not only do we bless the people we choose to help, but the Lord also uses our willingness to bless us.  

I will keep it real by saying that some of the Lord’s invitations to service have been a whole lot of hard work and may have caused a fair share of frustration and annoyance but no matter how tired or bent out of shape I may have been mentally or emotionally during those assignments, I never regretted them because the work was a good thing to do and the motivation behind it was pure.  The work I have been “called” to do wasn’t to please some human agent it was to be faithful to do what God put before me.   

We exercise our faith by “showing up”. While many may say they would like to help, will pray for you, or may even promise to “be there.”, our faith is shown by actually showing up and doing what we are called to do.  Our doing the will of God is the test. 

At various times in life,  I have  entered into periods of testing in groups where others have spoken out with much bravado of their intentions to stay the course and to accomplish the goal. While some will pound their chests and boldly proclaim that they will do it, I tend to remain silent and just make a mental determination to persevere.  

The thing I have noticed over the years in these various periods of testing is that often the ones who boldly speak of how they “will do it” or how they “will definitely be there” are the ones who never show up, disappear before the job is done, or who end up quitting. 

Not me, if I have any power it is tenacity and “suffering through”. I am just either too dumb, loyal, or stubborn to walk away but I am also very hesitant to make any promises that I might not be able to keep. I try not to make any claims that I will do a “great job” or “everything will be perfect”. When I am called by the Lord to do something, I just try to be faithful at “showing up” and doing what I can.    

And that’s the great thing about God. He doesn’t expect you to do “everything right”. He’s got perfect knowledge so He already knows that you can’t.   He is not asking us for perfection. He is just asking us to be faithful to hear His voice, answer when He calls, and to follow where He leads. 

So as we walk through this weekend if you get one of God’s “invitations” don’t worry about the results. God will take care of those.  

Just know that if you answer the call, God will delight over you for “showing up”, and that your efforts will not only bless the ones in need that you are called to assist, but they will also cause you to grow in your faith and in your relationship with the One who works all things together for your good.  

As you put your faith into action, you will discover that some of those things that work together for your good, are the very invitations that the Lord allows you to freely choose to accept.  You never know how the Lord will bless you, but you can be sure that we never benefit from the opportunities that we say no to.  

You may faithfully serve 9 times out of ten with no benefits or revelations and you may wonder why you even have faith. But brother or sister, can I tell you, on that 10th time the floodgates of heaven just may open up and launch you into dimensions of faith and maturity that can carry you through the rest of your life.  

But if you don’t go, if you don’t answer, if you aren’t faithful, you will never know what God has for you.  

So say yes to God, and say yes again, and again.   Let Him know that you appreciate how He is always there for you and that you are willing to humbly walk into the unknown future He has for you without fear. Let Him know that you will show up.  Say to Him with confidence: “Father when you call me… I’ll be there.”   

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)
4  But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

Today’s verse speaks of the tremendous gift that we have been entrusted with and that if we are God’s children our words will glorify and be pleasing to Him.  

Our faith is nothing to sneeze at. If you look at the brokenness of the world and how utterly sad and hopeless the people are that don’t have faith, you should realize how very valuable the gospel is and how we have been amazingly blessed to receive it.  

The gospel of Jesus Christ answers all the questions of life and death.   The gospel provides meaning and purpose. It explains the past and gives hope for the future. The gospel tells the story of a loving Creator who gave those He made in His image the choice to love Him or not and how He provides a way to make peace with Him through Jesus Christ.   

 The gospel shows us that the most important thing in our lives is our relationship with God and puts the rest of our earthly concerns in their proper context.   No matter what may befall us on earth or how we may be abused by our fellow man, we know that our relationship with God is more important. 

 So because we have been given the gift of truth and eternal life through the God given revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, our purpose is to share it by speaking to others about God’s love and His redemptive plan for them.  

 Recently, we have reviewed other verses that have shown us that our priority and purpose in life as Christians is to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, and it is only appropriate that we use the breath that God has given us to speak of the wonders of His love.  


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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing in Chapter 11.

 

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

Twelve Steps to Forgiveness

The victim may say, "I can't forgive these people. You don't know how bad they hurt me." The problem is, they are still hurting you. How do you stop the pain? Forgiveness is what sets us free from the past. What is to be gained in forgiving is freedom. You don't heal in order to forgive. You forgive in order to heal. Forgiveness is to set a captive free and then to realize you were the captive. You don't forgive others for their sake; you do it for your sake. Those you need to forgive may never be aware of your choice to let them off your hook. Forgiveness is the fragrance that is left on the heel that crushed the violet.

Following are 12 steps you can use to walk through the process of forgiving others from your heart. Following these steps will help you unchain yourself from the past and get on with your life:

1. Ask the Lord to reveal to your mind the people you need to forgive. Then write on a sheet of paper the names of those who offended you. Of the hundreds of people who have completed this list in my counseling office, 95 percent put father and mother as numbers one and two. Three out of the first four names on most lists are close relatives. When making a list, the two most overlooked people are God and yourself. Concerning your relationship with God, only He can forgive your sins, and He has never sinned. We haven't always appropriated that forgiveness, and sometimes we are bitter toward God because we hold false expectations of Him. We need to release God from those false expectations and appropriate God's forgiveness.

2. Acknowledge the hurt and the hate. As you work through the list of people you need to forgive, state specifically for what you are forgiving them (e.g., rejection; deprivation of love; injustice; unfairness; physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse; betrayal; neglect and so on). Also state how their offenses made you feel. Remember: It is not a sin to acknowledge the reality of your emotions. God knows exactly how you feel, whether you admit it or not. If you bury your feelings, you will bypass the possibility of forgiveness. You must forgive from your heart.

3. Understand the significance of the Cross. The cross of Christ makes forgiveness legally and morally right. Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world—including yours and those of the persons who have offended you—and He died "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). The heart cries, "It isn't fair! Where's the justice?" It is in the Cross.

4. Decide you will bear the burden of each person's sin (see Galatians 6:1, 2). This means you will not retaliate in the future by using the information about their sin against them (see Proverbs 17:9; Luke 6:27-34). All true forgiveness is substitutionary, as was Christ's forgiveness of us. That doesn't mean you tolerate sin or refuse to testify in a court of law. You may have to do that for justice to prevail. Just make sure you have forgiven that person from your heart first.

5. Decide to forgive. Forgiveness is a crisis of the will, a conscious choice to let the other person off the hook and to free yourself from the past. You may not feel like doing it, but it is necessary for your sake. If God tells you to forgive from your heart, be assured He will enable you to do it. The other person may truly be in the wrong and subject to church discipline or legal action. That is not your primary concern. Your first concern is to receive freedom from your past and stop the pain. Make that decision now; your feelings of forgiveness will follow in time.

6. Take your list to God and pray the following: "I forgive (name) for (list all the offenses and how they made you feel)." Stay with each person on the list until every remembered pain has been specifically addressed. That includes every sin of commission as well as omission. If you have felt bitter toward this person for some time, you may want to find a Christian counselor or trusted friend to assist you in the process. Don't say, "I want to forgive so and so," or "Lord, help me to forgive so and so." That is bypassing your responsibility and choice to forgive.

7. Destroy the list. You are now free. Do not tell the offenders what you have done. Your need to forgive others is between you and God only! The person you may need to forgive could be dead. Forgiveness may lead you to be reconciled to others, but whether or not that happens is not totally dependent upon you. Your freedom in Christ cannot be dependent upon others whom you have no right or ability to control.

8. Do not expect that your decision to forgive will result in major changes in the other persons. Instead, pray for them (see Matthew 5:44) so they, too, may find the freedom of forgiveness (see 2 Cor. 2:7).

9. Try to understand the people you have forgiven, but don't rationalize their behavior. It could lead to incomplete forgiveness. For instance, don't say, "I forgive my father because I know he really didn't mean it." That would be excusing him and bypassing your pain and the need to forgive from the heart.

10. Expect positive results of forgiveness in you. In time you will be able to think about the people without triggering primary emotions. That doesn't mean you will like those who are abusive. It means you are free from them. Old feelings may try to recycle themselves. When that happens, stop and thank God for His provision and don't pick up those old offenses again. You dealt with it; now let it go.

11. Thank God for the lessons you have learned and the maturity you have gained as a result of the offenses and your decision to forgive the offenders (see Romans 8:28, 29).

12. Be sure to accept your part of the blame for the offenses you suffered. Confess your failure to God (see 1 John 1:9) and to others (see James 5:16) and realize that if someone has something against you, you must go to that person and be reconciled (see Matthew 5:23-26).


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, August 9, 2021

Faith and Free Will – Choose God’s Power for You - Purity 492


 
Faith and Free Will – Choose God’s Power for You

Purity 492 08/09/2021  Purity 492 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the first sunrise of August in Jacksonville Florida comes to us from a friend with the simple encouragement to “Make it a great day.” Not only is this a lovely photo of the sun and its reflection in the Atlantic but I love the way that the presence of others gives it a sense of community and symmetry as the two figures on the beach seem to be almost perfectly placed on either side of the sun and the boat in the water, with some one standing on the bow, gives you sense of movement and adventure.   

It's Monday again, and it is my hope that my friends enjoyed their weekend. It looks like we are headed in the “dog days of summer” this week in upstate NY, as temperatures are forecasted to be swinging into the 90’s this week.   I pity the fools that have to work outside.  Oh wait, that me.   But that’s okay, this isn’t my first summer outside and even though its Monday and the heat may challenge us all to keep our peace, I for one will be trying to take my friend’s advice to “make it a great day.”  

The power to shape our days is possible by choosing to direct our thoughts to set the context on how we live our lives.  Anyone can do this. The power of positive thinking is a thing, but I have to be honest, unless our thoughts are supported by truth we could just be living in denial.   “Every thing is going to be okay.” can be a powerful mantra to help us persevere through life but unless you actually know everything is going to be okay you may be just whistling through the graveyard.  

The reality of suffering and death can challenge any Pollyanna who “believes in themselves”.   A sunny disposition empowered by generic encouragements to “just believe” or “have faith” in “good things” or “the universe” is shaky ground to walk through life on.  

Christ taught about the difference between shifting sands and solid rock on which we can “build our houses”. The solid rock that Jesus was encouraging people to build on was hearing His words of instruction and following them.  The only assurance that “everything is going to be okay”  comes from faith in Jesus Christ.   We should not only “just believe” or “have faith” in general, we must believe in Jesus Christ specifically and place our faith in Him.  

After we do that, we are assured of our significance, acceptance, and security as we are given a new and eternal life as God’s free gift, forgiving us of all our sins and declaring us righteous because of Christ’s work on the Cross.

When we choose to live by faith, we can face Mondays and we can even face the dog days of summer, this year and every year until the Lord calls us home.   

When we  choose to live by faith, we surpass the power of positive thinking because our choice to make Christ our Savior begins our personal relationship with the Almighty God and Creator of all things.   Our faith goes beyond the choice to shift our perspective. Our faith and our choice to walk in it brings us into harmony with the One who determines the course of things to come.

While things may not always go the way that we would like, when we place our lives in God’s hands we are assured that we are always on solid ground, and we can remind ourselves that our relationship with Him makes every day a great one. For this is the day that the Lord has made, and we should rejoice and be glad in it.


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 5:6 (NKJV)
6  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

Today’s verse encourages us to be diligent in recognizing the signs of the times and to  remain faithful.  

This section of scripture in Thessalonians addresses the coming “Day of the Lord” in which Christ will come to judge and reclaim the earth and the attitudes of the world to ‘eat, drink, and be merry.”  

Different theological systems of doctrine all based on scripture posit different ideas about our salvation, our security as believers, and how we are to live our lives. Among the various Christian schools of thought, doctrinal slogans can differ greatly. “Once saved always saved’, “no fruit, no salvation”, “you need works and faith to be saved”, or “If you sin, you can lose your salvation” are just a few of the conflicting ideas that come from various Christian denominational doctrines.    

While these doctrinal system slogans are concise statements that can describe one’s belief, the truth is that the whole counsel of God in His Word isn’t so simple. This section in Thessalonians points to the Christian’s duty to remain faithful and diligent to their attempts to be conformed to the image of Christ regardless of the times or the seasons.

So whether you believe in once saved, always saved or in something else, the overwhelming instruction from scripture encourages us to walk towards holiness and to remain faithful in going in that direction. .      

The state of the world can be troubling, and it may seem like Christ will never return in our lifetime but regardless of perilous times Paul doesn’t recommend a lifestyle of complacency or moral compromise. 

Instead, today’s verse tells Christians to “stay awake” and to be watchful and “sober”.  Not only are we to not fall into drunkenness, but we are also to have an expectant attitude of the possibility of Christ’s immediate return with the intention that if He should come back today, He would find us living according to our faith and not according to the world’s ways. 

Living righteously has its own rewards of confirming who we are in Christ and having the assurance that we are not living in a manner that will set up negative consequences because of our actions.  This choice to live by faith has good personal benefits for daily living but when we keep the big picture of Christ’s return in view, our intention to live our daily lives by faith becomes part of overall purpose as representatives of the kingdom of God.

The faithful attitudes and actions of Christians who stay the course glorify God and perform the good works that He has prepared for us.   Not only does our faithfulness benefit ourselves, our families, and our friends, it can also be used by God to expand His kingdom as others are drawn to Him because of the love that we share.  

So do not fall asleep in your faith. Be watchful and sober and as you are walking and talking with God, offer a helping hand and the hope that lies in Christ alone to those you meet along the way.

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 11.

 

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

Chapter 11

Healing Emotional Wounds from Your Past

Dan and Cindy were a fine, young Christian couple preparing for ministry on the mission field. Then tragedy struck. Cindy was raped by an ugly stranger in the parking lot at night after work. The police were unable to find the rapist, and Cindy had a hard time bringing any closure to the nightmare experience. The trauma was so severe that they moved away from the community where it happened. As hard as she tried to get back to normal life, Cindy couldn't shake the horrible memories and feelings from her experience.

Six months after the rape Dan and Cindy attended a church conference where I was speaking. During the conference, Cindy was in tears as she called me. "Neil, I just can't get over this thing. I know 'God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God' (Romans 8:28), but how is He going to make rape a good thing? Every time I think about what happened I start to cry."

"Cindy, I think you are misunderstanding the verse," I said. "God will work this out for your good, but He doesn't do it by making a bad thing good. What happened to you was sick and evil. God will enable you to come through this crisis a better person."

"But I just can't separate myself from my experience and let it go," she sobbed. "I've been raped, Neil, and I'll be a victim of that all my life."

"Cindy, the rape was a terrible tragedy, and it has temporarily altered your plans, but it hasn't changed who you are, nor does it have to control your life. But if you only see yourself as a rape victim for the rest of your life, you will never get over your tragedy. You're a child of God. No event or person, good or bad, can rob you of that.

"Cindy, let me share an illustration. Suppose you were sitting in your home when someone drove by and threw something at your house. It did some damage to the siding of the house, and you could never find out who did it. How long would you let that incident bother you?" I asked.

"Well, not very long," Cindy responded.

"Suppose the object went through the window and damaged some good furniture, and you couldn't find out who did it. How long would you let that bother you?" I asked.

"Probably not very long."

"Suppose the object also hit you and broke your arm. How long would you let that bother you?"

If I kept making the tragedy a little worse each time, is there a point when one can say, "That did it! That stepped over the line and that will bother me the rest of my life?" I don't think there is such a point from God's perspective. I don't believe God wants anything in our past to have that kind of control over His children. God doesn't fix our past, but He does set us free from it.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Gold must Grow: The Beauty of a Faith that is Tested and Tried - Purity 469


Gold must Grow: The Beauty of a Faith that is Tested and Tried

Purity 469 07/13/2021 Purity 469 Podcast

Good morning  

Today’s photo of golden fields of wheat with a top of a green tree just cresting over the horizon comes to us to from a friend who loves to enjoy God’s creation and goodness and loves to share what they have learned about God with others. 

Although we are months from harvest time, my friend’s photo caused me to ponder the finished product of the harvest and what transpires to bring a crop to the point that it is fully grown and ready to be collected and used.  

Harvested crops really are the product of hope and endurance.   A farmer prepares the ground by clearing any remnants of the previous year, fertilizing the land, and then plowing it, and planting the seeds.  Farmers continue to tend to the crops and monitor their progress and do their best to make sure they are provided for and free from pests or other hindrances to their growth.  They may be able to irrigate the land to make sure the crops are watered but that is all they can do.  The crops rely on sunshine and the miracle of growth that is put inside the plants by God.  God and man set the conditions for the crops, but the crops are left in the field to wither and die or to grow and flourish.       

Lately in upstate NY, we have had a mix of days with blistering heat and sunshine and other days with a series of thunderstorms, high winds, and rain that have torn up parts of the countryside causing trees to be broken, with some being ripped out of the earth by their roots.

In the fields, crops are left exposed to the elements and have had to endure hot weeks without rain where those without enough water begin to wither and fade.  During the rain and storms the winds rip through the rows of the crops, blowing past and around some plants, causing others to break.   The changing conditions can cause some of the crop to become weak and die or the adversity of the extreme weather conditions can cause the crops to become firmly rooted and to be stronger from their experiences.  The crops who endure will produce fruit and will grow golden at the end of their cycle and eventually be harvested by the farmers who placed their hopes in them.    The golden harvest doesn’t come over night and it doesn’t come easy.  The gold must grow.  

Sometimes on our walk on the path of Christian Discipleship, certain themes come up from multiple sources and you get an idea that the Lord is seeking to encourage or comfort us. One theme that has come up lately, and that is appropriate for all times and seasons, is that of suffering trials and going through them by walking by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.   

I’m currently in 2 Thessalonians in my morning Bible study and consult Warren’s Wiersbe’s commentary for further insights and understanding and today’s study was full of nuggets of truth regarding dealing with the adverse conditions of life and how our faith is an anchor that can ground us to endure the blowing winds of adversity and that can grow and become mature through the process of trials.  

The following are some “highlights” from Wiersbe’s commentary. The list I present may seem simple or random, but I assure you that there is profound truth in these insights that have the fruit of experience and God’s wisdom behind them.:

“Not only does prayer change people and situations, but so does praise…. One of the best weapons for fighting Satan is praise.”   - We are to pray through our trials and thank God for what He has provided and for His presence.  “Praise works!”

“A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. New believers must expect their faith to be tried, because this is the way God proves whether or not their decision is genuine. Faith, like a muscle, must be exercised to grow stronger. Tribulation and persecution are God’s ways to strengthen our faith.[1] 

The Christian life is not always easy. Christ told His followers that the world would hate them like it hated Him.  The suffering and persecution that we go through will cause our faith to be exposed as false or it will cause us to depend on God more, which will cause it to grow.  

“…God never wastes suffering. Trials work for us, not against us (2 Cor. 4:15–18; James 1:1–5). If we trust God and yield to Him, then trials will produce patience and maturity in our lives. If we rebel and fight our circumstances, then we will remain immature and impatient. God permits trials that He might build character into our lives.[2]  

“When a person in difficulty forsakes the Lord and the church, he shows that either he has never been born again, or that his spiritual life is very weak. A true Christian who is growing will be faithful, come what may.[3]  

Our Christian faith and the path of Christian Discipleship is fueled by our decision to be faithful. We are to trust the Lord and practice our faith through prayer, praise, Bible study, good works, and service to God come what may.  

There was more wisdom presented then I have space to share today but I will conclude with Wiersbe asking and answering one of those tough questions regarding our faith.  

“Why live a godly life if your only experience is that of suffering?

As Christians, we must live for eternity and not just for the present. In fact, living “with eternity’s values in view” is what makes our Christian life meaningful today. We walk by faith, and not by sight.[4]

 

Our lives are not only defined by our existence here on earth.  We have the hope of the return of Christ, our eternal destiny of living in His kingdom, and the promise of a new heaven and a new earth.   

With this in mind, we can endure the trials of this life and when we stay in communion with the Lord by living by faith, He gives us the strength, wisdom, and love to not only persevere but to serve as an example of His goodness and grace. 

With Him, we can make it through and even while we are in the midst of uncertain times or the deep pain of trauma, we can stand in His love to find comfort and offer that love and comfort to others.  

Those trials in life that we face will cause our faith to grow.  The blistering heat of persecution or the storms of adversity that we suffer through will help us to be strong in our faith and will result in a life in Christ that shines forth like gold and cause us to be harvested for use in God’s eternal kingdom.   


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 2:4 (ETRV)
4 God has been kind to you. He has been very patient, waiting for you to change. But you think nothing of his kindness. Maybe you don't understand that God is kind to you so that you will decide to change your lives.

Today’s verse makes no bones about it.  God has been kind to us and given us new life through faith in Christ to help us to change our lives.     

God has been very kind to all of us.  Through Christ, He has forgiven us of all our transgressions and adopted us into His royal family.   His kindness, mercy, and grace has taken us from the kingdom of darkness and our fate to suffer God’s wrath to grant us reconciliation and peace with God and given us entrance into His kingdom where we no longer need to fear death.   

God also has been patient with us, allowing us to live our lives without Him to see just how foolish, hopeless, and futile the ways of the world are.  He allowed us to live our lives independent of him and to suffer the consequences of our own poor choices. When the time was right, and I’m sure we all wish it had been sooner, the Lord saved us from ourselves.  

But today’s verse tells us that it wasn’t just for our salvation that the Lord called us into relationship with Him.  He calls for us to be conformed to the image of His Son. He wants us to be holy for He is holy.  If we are sons and daughters of God, we should endeavor to change our ways to God’s ways to start showing that family resemblance.    

When we come to Christ, no matter who you are, there is a lot to work on.  Before Christ we were trained and programmed to live according to the world’s ways.  Unfortunately, Satan influences the world system to perpetuate some really ungodly philosophies and attitudes. Satan’s influences can be seen by obvious immorality but also are revealed by subtle things like pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, and independence of God.    

So when we come to Christ, God draws us and encourages us to change.  For some, what needs to be changed is obvious as some besetting sins have plagued them all their lives. For others, offenses of the heart need to be addressed as God calls us to be kind, forgiving, and loving.  

Often believers go about changing the wrong way. They try to do it in their own strength by whipping themselves into submission by the power of their own wills. But while that may work for some, that’s not the way that God wants us to do it.  

We were saved by faith and that is the way that God provides for us to change too! While changing our behaviors and thoughts will require some exercise of our wills, the way that God wants us to overcome is by activating our faith, by believing that God has already given us the victory over our struggles and by believing that all the power and strength that will need to overcome has already been given to us.   

So don’t think nothing of the kindness that the Lord has shown you, instead understand that God’s kindness and love was purposeful.  God wants you to enjoy an abundant life that is free of all the mistakes and troubling thoughts and emotions that you have suffered from before coming to Him. He loves you enough to not only want you to change but He also gives you all that you need to change.  

So take a look at yourself, choose one thing to give to God, believe that He will help you to surrender it to Him and follow where the Lord leads you to go.  If you continue to have faith in your victory that is given to you by God and continue to walk with Him, somewhere down the road you will discover that your besetting sin has been set aside. You will rejoice of course but show the Lord that you understand His kindness by giving Him even more of you to change.  

Our relationship with the Lord never ends. So why not use what He given us to experience all He wants us to have.  

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 7.

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

Wrong Responses to Those Who Frustrate Goals

If our goals can be blocked or uncertain, how do we respond to someone or something that threatens our success? We may attempt to control or manipulate people or circumstances who stand between us and the achievement of our goals.

For example, a pastor's goal is to have the finest youth ministry in the community. However, one of his board members attempts to block his goal by insisting that a music ministry is more important. Every attempt by the pastor to hire a youth pastor is vetoed by the influential board member who wants to hire a music director first. The pastor's sense of worth and success in ministry is on the line. So he shifts into a power mode to push the stumbling block out of the way. He lobbies his cause with other board members. He solicits support from denominational leaders. He preaches about the importance of youth ministry to gain congregational support. He looks for a way to change the opposition's mind, or remove him from the board, because he believes his success in ministry is dependent on reaching his goal of having a great youth ministry.

Suppose a mother believes that her sense of worth depends on how well her children turn out. Her goal is to raise perfect little Christians who will become doctors and lawyers. As her children reach their teen years and begin to express their independence, however, their behavior doesn't always match her ideal. She is heading for a collision course because her children want their freedom and she wants to control them. She must control their behavior because she believes her success as a mother depends on it. If they don't attend the functions she wants them to attend, they can't go anywhere. If they don't listen to the music she expects them to listen to, they lose their radio and TV privileges. Somehow she never heard that parenting is an 18-year process of letting go, and the fruit of the spirit is self-control, not child control.

It is not hard to understand why people try to control others. They believe their sense of worth is dependent on other people and circumstances. This is a false belief, as evidenced by the fact that the most insecure people you will ever meet are manipulators and controllers.

People who cannot control those who frustrate their goals will probably respond by getting bitter, angry or resentful. Or they may simply resort to a martyr complex, which I perceived in the woman whose husband wouldn't come to Christ. She had been unsuccessful at getting him into the Kingdom and her faith and hope had shriveled to depression. So she resigned herself to bear her cross of a hopeless goal and hang on until the rapture. Unless she adjusts her goals, she will live the rest of her life in bitter defeat.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 192). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 193). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 193). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 194). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.