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Showing posts with label Philippians. Show all posts
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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Jesus Trusts in Us? The Key to Discipleship - Purity 633


 Jesus Trusts in Us?  The Key to Discipleship  - Purity 633

Purity 633 01/20/2022  

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blue cumulus cloud filled sky over County Route 26A in Stuyvesant NY comes to us from September 10th, 2021 and yours truly as I was moved to pull over to capture this simple but beautiful scene of a roadway disappearing around a bend.    

Well, It’s Thursday and I take photos like this one, of pathways, to encourage others to step onto the path of Christian Discipleship as I will be facilitating a Men’s Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course Discussion on Zoom this evening.  Christian Discipleship is always on my mind because I live it and on Thursdays I encourage others to discover the abundant life that is the result of living it. Discipleship is a lifestyle of learning, application, and purpose.

Dictionary.com defines discipleship as the condition or situation of being a disciple, a follower, or a student of some philosophy, especially a follower of Jesus Christ. 

I love the fact that this site acknowledges that one of the best examples of what defines discipleship is the follower of Jesus Christ.   In this age of post Christian society and cultural diversity that is moving us toward the end times, instances of Christ being mentioned or respected will become less and less so its nice to see that His example hasn’t been erased just yet. (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discipleship)

The second definition that the website lists is “the group of followers of Christ in His lifetime”.   I put that one in quotes. His lifetime, capital H! The use of a capital H in the personal pronouns of He, Him, Himself or a capital Y in You or Your when referring to Jesus Christ is done to admit and acknowledge His exalted status as God.   So Dictionary.com not only glorifies Jesus Christ as the example of discipleship but it also unwittingly testifies to His deity.   

Again in this post Christian world that’s nice to see. So let the countdown begin, for someone to complain and demand these references to Jesus be removed.   Hey if they can ban nativity displays in the public square and remove the Ten Commandments from courthouses, they can certainly edit a few lines on a dictionary website.

Amazingly, my surprise and joy didn’t end there.  For the second definition, dictionary.com provided an example of its use which said:

“The key to Jesus’ discipleship was his personal trust in his disciples.”  Okay small h’s but I’ll take it. 

While the natural born skeptic in me could point to how one of Jesus’ disciples betrayed Him and how the other Apostles, in fear of their lives, abandoned Christ, so much for trusting those disciples, I would agree with this example of what the key to discipleship is: trust.  

Discipleship is not only a condition or a situation. Discipleship is a relationship and like all beneficial relationships it is built on trust.   The disciple has to trust that the discipler is teaching something worthwhile and that the lessons they learn will have a benefit to their lives. 

Also, as dictionary.com’s example for usage points out, the discipler has to trust the disciple too.  The discipler has to trust that the disciples will absorb what they are taught and will be faithful to apply the teachings to their lives to represent what they have learned.  

Jesus Christ trusted His disciples to be true their calling and He did so with the knowledge that one of them would betray Him.  And despite the other Apostle’s failures when Christ was arrested, they showed themselves to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ by establishing the early church with all but one of them going to early deaths as martyrs for the cause of Christ.   

A discipler can’t make their disciples learn or follow the teachings they impart. The responsibility for the absorption and application of the wisdom taught is the sole responsibility of the disciple.

As Christians, we are not just supposed to be believers in Jesus. We are supposed to be Christ’s disciples. We are supposed to learn about Him and His teachings and apply them to our lives in a way that would represent Him.   

When we do less than that, those outside of the faith are right to point out our hypocrisy.

As someone who came to faith in Jesus Christ relatively late in life, I decided that I would do my best to learn and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ because I knew of the tremendous gift that I had been given in my salvation and I didn’t want to be someone who could be accused of being a hypocrite.  I wanted to be a real authentic Christian and God has worked in my life to slowly progress towards that goal.   

One term that is used in the Bible that is used to describe living a Christian Disciple’s life is “walking in the Spirit”.  When we walk in the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit of peace, love, joy, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience and self-control begin to grow in our lives but it is our responsibility to walk into them.   

As Christians, we are disciples of Christ and, just like Jesus trusted the original Apostles, He is trusting us to answer His call and follow Him.  

So be true to the calling that the Lord has put on your life. His words and example are trustworthy and will lead you into a life of victory, freedom, and purpose that leads to an abundant life of experiencing the fruit of the Spirit here on earth and will eventually take you to the ultimate good of being welcomed into His eternal kingdom.   Trust in Christ and represent Him as His disciple and experience the peace that comes from knowing that you are in a harmonious and trusting relationship with God.


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 4:13 (NLT2)
13  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Today’s verse is one of those verses that can empower your faith walk and inspire you to accomplish things you never dreamed of and to shift the paradigms that the world has programmed you with.  

Many Bible scholars temper this verse by encouraging Christians to look at the context of this epistle to point out that the Apostle Paul was describing both living abundantly and going through quite a bit of suffering and that if the context is properly understood we might not use this verse as a magical incantation that will guarantee us of our success. 

This verse isn’t supposed to echo the America song “You Can Do Magic”  that says “You can do magic, You can have anything that you desire.”  That song was talking about the magic of seduction.. so anyway.  

Okay, so no we shouldn’t necessarily think that saying this verse will give us anything we want.  However,  I don’t think an understanding of the context of this verse necessarily negates the ability for our faith in God to overcome and achieve great things.  

The biggest lie that the enemy tells us to discourage our victory and our pursuing our purpose in Christ is that something is impossible.   I’ll say it again. The biggest lie that the enemy tells us is that something is impossible.   

If we temper the power of our faith and try to discourage our brothers and sisters in Christ from pursuing what they feel the Lord is calling them to we could be supporting the enemy’s agenda.   

If we don’t try, we may never discover what we can do. If we don’t preserve, we may never discover what the Lord has for us on the other side of our trials.  

While today’s verse won’t give you all the material blessings you may want in life, it can empower you to become more like Christ and the context of this verse does not temper that promise.  We need to know that we can do everything through Christ when we are suffering.  This word from God can be applied at all times and in every season of life.  

Rather than a Christian “abracadabra”, it is a word from the Lord to encourage us to follow Him regardless of the circumstance and to live our lives according to His wisdom and ways.       

 

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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 5.   

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

RELATING TO AUTHORITY

Daniel is a powerful example of submission. It could be argued that King Nebuchadnezzar overstepped his authority by requiring Daniel and his people to do something that went against their faith. Notice how Daniel responded. He showed respect to the king and those who carried out the king’s commands. Nebuchadnezzar wanted those who were in his service to eat the food he chose. Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s food, so he sought permission from his immediate superior to eat as God required, as long as he remained healthy enough to be a servant of the King, which is all the King really wanted. Because he was not defiant, nor disrespectful, “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.”94 Daniel offered a creative alternative that allowed the commander to save face in the sight of the king and to also fulfill the wishes of the king to have wise and healthy servants.

The Lord’s Prayer95 is a model for how we are to appeal to those who are in authority over us. First, we must have a right standing, which is reflected in the phrase, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” In most judicial systems, we must approach the judge in a court of law with respect. It would be considered contempt of court if we didn’t. We respectfully address the judge as “Your honor.”

If there are any unresolved personal issues between yourself and the one you wish to make an appeal to, you better get them resolved first. That is true for our God as well as judges in courts of law or supervisors at work. We couldn’t approach God until He found a way to forgive us, and any judge who is personally biased toward or against the accused must remove himself from the case. If a teenager has been disrespectful and disobedient to his father, he should get that straightened out before he asks for the keys to the car.

Second, we should be committed to the success of those who are in authority and willing to do their will as long as it doesn’t violate who we are in Christ. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10). We must do nothing that would hinder them from carrying out their God-given responsibilities. People in leadership cannot accomplish much without the loyal support of those who are under them. Those who are in a submissive role will not prosper in their rebellion. Scripture says, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.

Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”96

One of Satan’s more potent strategies is to discredit spiritual leaders. Your loyalty to those who are in authority over you will be tested. This fact is especially true in Christian ministries and in the home. Everybody will be tempted with subtle thoughts such as: I don’t like the way he did that; I could do it better than that; This is what I would do if I were in that position; or I’m the one who should be running the show around here. It doesn’t make any difference if those thoughts come from the pit, from other disloyal members or from your own flesh; they are wrong according to James 3:13-18:

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Most leaders will listen to our appeals if they know we are concerned for their responsibilities and their reputations. The Lord withheld judgment upon the Israelites when Moses petitioned Him. He based his appeal on the reputation of God.97 God can only bless us if we are submissive, 98 and in doing so, we find favor with Him.99 Life will be more difficult for us if the ones we are serving are failing in their responsibilities. Every passage that commands us to be submissive ends in a promise for the ones who are—and condemnation for those who aren’t.

Third, our appeals must be based on legitimate needs. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread.”100 Every leader is subject to the needs of those he serves, and the Lord will bring conviction upon those who do not hear the legitimate cries of their people. However, requests for selfish desires may justifiably go unanswered. Few things can turn off a parent more than an ungrateful child who demands more than what is needed.

Fourth, our appeals must come from hearts that are free from bitterness. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”101 Anyone who has allowed a root of bitterness to spring up and defile others should not expect favor from those who are in authority. When Simon requested authority from the apostles, Peter refused saying, “You are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”102

Fifth, our appeals should be for proper direction in life, which is reflected in the phrase, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”103 Every

human institution has been given its authority by God “for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”104

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Way I Am versus What He says I am – Purity 615

 The Way I Am versus What He says I am – Purity 615

Purity 615 12/30/2021  Purity 615 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of “a brother and a friend” facing the setting sun on one of the beaches in Sandy Hook NJ comes to us as they recently made this epic photo their profile pic earlier this week.  His identity is obscured as he was looking in the opposite direction of the camera and his name is being withheld because even though we are brothers, from our college days, and friends, he may or may not be in agreement with everything I have to say. I would like to think we can be friends even when we don’t agree on everything.  

I hope he won’t take offense at my using his photo, like some ex-friends, to highlight the natural beauty of God’s creation that is all around him and the fact that our identities are likewise a part of God’s all surrounding kingdom.   To my friend, if you do take offense, I ask for your forgiveness, sir.  Like the Blues Brothers, I am on a mission from God and I got the indication that the Lord had need of it. 

In perhaps what is one of his signature songs, “The Way I Am”, the rapper Eminem, instead of defending himself or trying to deny the media reports about him, decided to embrace the chaos, proclaiming: 

I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn't, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am, huh
I don't know, it's just the way I am

Eminem wasn’t really agree with the media reports of course and was making his own report of how the media tried to classify him in a certain light, how people were out to profit from him, and how he had no privacy because he realized his dream of fame and fortune but had to suffer the insults of the mainstream music industry who didn’t embrace him at the time as  he states that “Radio won’t even play my jam”.

When I listened to Eminem back in the day, I used to pump that song to the max and angrily sing along with Marshal Mathers because after the loss of my infant son I had become disillusioned with the American Dream and life in general and idolized the Detroit rapper and the way he angrily proclaimed how he didn’t care what anyone thought about him, he was who he was and that was just the way he was.    

As we go through life, we grow from children to adults having to decide who we will be in life through our choices. The things we like, the things we do, our tastes, our talents, our personality, and our relationships all come together to paint a picture of who we are, and our thoughts and actions are directed by who we perceive ourselves to be. 

If the world tells you are an angry person, and you agree with it, you will behave in a way that is consistent with that perception. When offended, you will lash out because that’s “just the way I am.”  

In Hamlet, Polonius advises his son Laertes: “to thine own self be true”, but as we can see who that “own self” is can be shaped by the world around us and what we decide to be.     

The world will judge you on your performance. If you don’t have riches, beauty, or accomplishments you won’t be much in the world’s eyes.  

Satan and his demonic minions will encourage a spirit of rebellion in you and will insist that you are your own boss and like to do things your way and that no one is going to tell you what you can and can’t do. 

You may unwittingly have sympathy for the devil and agree with him, as our American culture stresses individual freedom and has increasingly redefined the standards of morality to accept things that were once considered perverse, shameful, or illegal as normal.  

Who we are is influenced by what we believe and how we choose to live according to those beliefs.

So as much as some of us like to think of ourselves as “self-made men”, we should recognize that we are influenced by the world, but we should also consider the Creator of the world, God.  

There are no “self-made men as God created the heavens and the earth and all the living beings that inhabit it.  

Part of our conflicts in choosing “who I am” comes from the fact that God made us in His image and gave us all a conscience, writing His law on our hearts.

Even though we may know in our hearts when we do wrong as children, we can harden our hearts and change our minds to accept our sins as normal and acceptable as we grow into adults.  

And for most of us, who aren’t completely hardened in our own concepts of morality by sin, if we are honest, we know we are doing wrong and we are not right with God but feel utterly hopeless to change it because it’s “just the way I am”, right?  

Well, the word of God tells us you can have a new and eternal life when you put your faith in Christ. So although you may feel set in your ways, God makes a new way when you come into relationship with Him.   

No matter what you define your self as or what you have “made” yourself into, you don’t have any power to forge your own path into eternity. Those who don’t put their faith in Christ will have to face Him one day to be judged and suffer eternal separation from God in a place described as outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Not a pleasant thought, I know, but I have to share it because Jesus warned of it, and I have come to know that God is real, and people are only saved from His wrath by making peace with Him by putting your faith in Christ. 

Just as our friend’s photo would be pretty lame, without the beauty of God’s creation surrounding Him,  we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in the world and will be subject to the Creator of it.  We have to come into harmony with that Creator as our purpose in life and the only way we do that is by aligning ourselves with Him by accepting His plan for our redemption and making Christ our Lord and Savior.  

The world is a maelstrom of changing ideas, fashions, and philosophies but God’s word stands forever and what it says about us should be considered.  

Without Christ, we are sinners waiting for judgement. 

With Christ, we are saints that have been forgiven and provided with life eternal and power over sin.      

So consider the big picture and the fact that you are living in the context of God.   Instead of embracing the lies of the world that pass away, choose to believe the word of God that will stand forever.  

Instead of being “just the way I am”, listen to the Great I AM and inherit all of the promises of God and a new identity based on what He says about you by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.   

Our struggles to find an identity in this world come from the fact that we choose to ignore the big picture and deny the fact that the Creator made us and has a plan for our lives.  

The struggles with our identity stop and peace, love, and joy come when we stop worrying about “whatever they say I am”,  and we choose to agree with and own our identity of who we are in Christ. In Christ, we are accepted, secure, and significant.  

Hey, we all make our own choices of who we will be in life, but I just want to encourage you to consider who you will be when this life ends and the possibility for living out a new life in Christ where you can know and experience progressive goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, self-control, peace, love and joy.  

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 2:13 (NLT2)
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Today’s verse teaches us that the power in our Christian walk of faith comes through God working in us.   

Every person who puts their faith in Christ receives the Holy Spirit. After salvation, the Spirit of God encourages us to live according to God’s ways by making us more sensitive to the “wrongness” of our sins and by drawing us to pursue the things of God and to turn from our old ways of doing things.  

As stated above, we, even people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, can harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and continue in our lifestyles of sin.  

But as today’s verse indicates, when we choose to follow the Lord’s will for our lives to be sanctified and listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we receive “the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”  

So if you are wondering why you haven’t changed much from when you said “Yes” to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is because you are not choosing to follow Him consistently and you are not letting God work within you because of your choosing your ways rather than His.  

So let go and let God work within you to give you the desire and power to do what pleases Him by simply praying to God that His will be done on earth, and in your life, as it is in heaven. 

Keep walking and talking with God and you will be amazed as your desires change and you see Him working in your life.  

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

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

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

Chapter 2

OVERCOMING FALSE GUIDANCE

If you really want to experience your freedom in Christ, the first step is to renounce previous or current involvement with any activity or group that denies Jesus Christ, offers guidance through sources contrary to the Word of God, or requires secret ceremonies or covenants. The Bible teaches that “he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” 44 Renounce means to forsake or say no to something or someone. Renounce is the first step toward repentance, which means to turn away from something and towards something else. Repentance literally means a change of mind, but it is much more comprehensive in its application.

When the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to be baptized by John, “He said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.’”45 Jesus knew their repentance was incomplete. They wanted the blessing of God but didn’t want to give up their traditions, practices, and religious positions.

THE NEED TO RENOUNCE

The public declaration: “I renounce you Satan and all your works and all your ways” has historically been a part of the Church’s profession of faith since its earliest days. To this day members of most liturgical churches are encouraged to make that public profession at salvation or confirmation. In the Early Church, believers would literally face west and make that declaration. Then they would face east and declare their belief in God. The statement is only generic, however. Every work of Satan and every way of Satan had to be renounced in order for repentance to be complete.

To be free from the past, it is necessary to specifically renounce every false religion, false teacher, false practice, and every means of false guidance you have participated in. Many people come to Christ and make a profession of faith, but continue in their old ways of seeking guidance and participation in false religious practices. That is not complete repentance. If we declare something as true, then it is just as important to declare the counterfeit as false. You cannot believe the truth and believe a lie at the same time and experience your freedom in Christ.

The Cross dealt with the forgiveness of our sins. The Resurrection provided us with new life in Christ, and the Ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father assured us of the authority and power to live a victorious life in Christ. But the moment we are born again, our minds are not totally renewed. That is why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”46 The Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension make all that possible. Now we can repent and renew our minds. We can renounce the lies, the false guidance, and the false teachers. And we can choose the truth as led by the Holy Spirit.

DEMONIC FORCES AT WORK

The Apostle Paul warned us what we can expect in this world: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”47 Concerning the last days, Jesus said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”48 These deceptive belief systems and false teachings are counterfeits. They may appear to mimic the truth, but they are in fact satanically inspired lies. They are taught by false teachers who often represent themselves as followers of Christ.49

When assessing counterfeits of Christianity, no criterion is more important than the doctrine of Jesus Christ. If any person or group will not or cannot say that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the King of kings, and the great I AM, then they should be considered suspect.50 Many people under the influence of Satan can say that Jesus is Lord, but when asked to say Jesus is their Lord, they simply repeat, “Jesus is Lord.” The Devil knows that Jesus is the Lord of the universe, but will not profess Jesus as his Lord, nor will his followers.

A second identifiable trait of false religions and the occult is an offer of salvation or enlightenment through something other than faith in the finished work of Christ. Satan blinds the minds of people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.51 New Age proponents teach that we are not separated from God by our sin and therefore have no need to repent. They say we are God and only need to be enlightened. What a lie!

Third, psychics, gurus, shamans, and false prophets offer a special quality of life, esoteric knowledge, or special power that is available by connecting with cosmic energy sources, secret rituals, ceremonies, or covenants. Occult means hidden, concealed or secret, which is in total contrast to the nature of God, who does everything in the light. What is really hidden from view, however, is Satan, the puppet master. His goal is to keep humanity in bondage by drawing us away from the truth that would set us free. Genuine repentance is the means by which we experience our freedom, as we renounce the lies and choose the truth.

TAKING A VERBAL STAND

The believer has a responsibility to submit to God and resist the devil.52 In doing so they are recognizing God’s authority over their lives and His authority over the demonic realm.53 They are taking their rightful position at Christ’s right hand and standing against the devil, using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. They are exercising dependence upon God and the authority they have in Christ.

The Bible relates the story of unregenerate men who tried to exert authority over the demonic realm by using rituals and incantations. Such futility will bring disastrous results. The seven sons of Sceva were unbelievers trying to cast out demons in Jesus’ name without an authentic relationship with Him.54 They were stripped of their clothes, beaten up, and kicked out. Their efforts were similar to occultic practices that try to manipulate the spirit world to do their will, but not God’s will.

The biblical example of breaking counterfeit religious ties with the past is found in Acts 19:18-20. Many of the new Christians in Ephesus had been deeply involved in false religions and the occult through worship at the Temple of Artemis. Luke writes in verse 18, “Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.” The open disclosure of occult practices was followed by the positive action of ridding themselves of anything associated with that darkness. “And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Hello, Darkness My Old Friend – A New Day, A New Life - Purity 576


Hello, Darkness My Old Friend – A New Day, A New Life - Purity 576

 Purity 576 Podcast

Purity 576 11/15/2021

Good morning

Today’s photo of a raccoon peaking over the horizon of the tree line at the rear of a property in Picayune, Mississippi comes to us from friend who referred to this visitor as their “backyard friend”.  As cute as they may be raccoons are also known as “trash pandas” in some circles because of their penchant for knocking over trash cans  and making a mess as they seek to satisfy their appetites for table scraps.  This little “backyard friend”  may not be a welcome site to those who have experienced the results of their nocturnal adventures and have decided that their cute looks don’t outweigh the trouble they cause.  

In recovery circles, those who have overcome undoubtedly have some “friends in low places” that they had to leave behind because no matter how cute and friendly they were their friendship wasn’t worth the trouble they caused.   Likewise abusive relationships, which began in love, have to be abandoned when it is clear that the abuser refuses to change and to come under the authority of an accountability system that will end their abusive ways.  

People locked in addictive cycles or patterns of abuse may refuse help or attempts to change, and that is their decision, but those who have suffered because of their associations with them can also decide that their relationship with their abuser or fellow addict will end and that their new lives without them will be free of the “trash” that their old addicted or abusing friends continually brought into their lives.

It's Monday, so it’s the beginning to another work week and quite possibly the beginning of a new life for each of us as we may have grown sick and tired of being sick and tired.  When we go around the merry go round of this world long enough, we may begin to see that the things the world promises to make us happy or to ease our pains are a lie.

When we have suffered long enough with addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, or food, we see that these things were never intended to fulfill us and that something is missing in our lives. 

Likewise, no matter how healthy or unhealthy as our interpersonal relationships are, we may come to a point where we see that our relationships also fail to completely fulfill us. 

When the things and people of this earth fail to satisfy us, we should realize that the thing that is missing in our lives is God.  

God has given us life and made us in His image to enjoy the gift He has given us and to represent Him.  When we ignore God and do things according to our ways and desires, we will eventually suffer loss and pain and question why things have to be this way.  

Instead of seeking for meaning and truth with our lives, we only sought to avoid pain and seek pleasure not realizing that our temporary nature would never allow us to find lasting satisfaction. 

Our plans to avoid pain and suffering and only have pleasure through our best efforts were short sighted because they ignored our fundamental nature and the higher meaning behind our existence. In our attempts to “build ourselves up” or have a “good life” or a “good time”, we failed to consider the Creator’s plans and intentions for us.    

Of course we are often not alone in our search for happiness and will surround ourselves with people who agree with our philosophies of life but just because we get someone to agree with us doesn’t mean that our ways are the right way. 

At one point in a previous relationship, I realized that I had made some very wrong assumptions about life and felt like I had led myself and the people I was with into a dead end. Like a group of survivalists in a zombie apocalypse movie, we had decided to ignore the signs of danger or got caught up in meeting our desires and foolishly had chosen a path that would lead to our death and destruction.   

Having seen the light and a way out, I had turned to tell the others in my party that I had found a way out but discovered that they were either unwilling or incapable of going with me.

At that point, I had a decision to make. I could stay with my friends in the darkness and continue to ignore the danger we were in and enjoy meeting our desires until our eventual demise or I could choose the hard path of escape where I would have to not only leave my friends behind but also choose to leave behind some things that I considered to be a part of me as a person: some tangible personal possessions and some intangible things, like the ways I thought about life, about myself, and about the roles I had within relationships that would have to end.  

The One who showed me the light was God and I could choose to go with Him and live or choose to stay where I was and eventually die.  He assured me that His was the way that was right and that lead to life more abundantly, but I was still free to choose which way I would go.  

I chose to put my trust in Jesus Christ and have followed Him ever since.  The going hasn’t always been easy, and I have had to suffer many loses on the path to a new life, but He has never left me in my struggles, and He has brought me continually out of the darkness that I was in.  

My old friends who live in the shadows beckon me to come back sometimes and I may find myself occasionally listening to their siren song and may even slip up and make a misstep or two as I walk but God has won my soul and my love and when I fall down, I get back up and keep walking in His direction.  

The meaning of life is to make peace with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and then endeavoring to discover what God’s will and purpose for our life is.

His will is clear in scripture: our sanctification: to be more like Him, to walk in His ways for living. 

His purpose for us is also clear: to love Him and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Scripture also states that He has prepared good works for us to walk into. 

So although the specifics of our lives here on earth aren’t spelled out for us, we have the freedom to grow in the things that are clear in scripture and to discover what God has for us on the journey of our lives. 

Our current physical location should clue us in because we can only do and walk into the path that is before us.  So walk in the Lord’s way for your life where you are and if you feel that you aren’t where you should be, ask the Lord to guide you in the way you should go and get moving in that direction.  

It’s a new week, it’s a new day, and when you keep walking and talking to God it can be a whole new life.  So take the steps today to draw closer to Him into the life He has for you.

You may have to leave your personal darkness and your friends in the shadows behind but the only life you will have in the future will be in the Lord’s presence.

So choose to live and start walking towards that One that works everything for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.


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

This morning’s meditation verse is :

Psalm 119:50 (NLT2)
50  Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.

Today’s verse reminds us that God’s promise can revive us and give us comfort.  

There are many conditional promises in the word of God, like:

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)
19  And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

And

John 3:16 (NKJV)
16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Well there are two good ones: That God will supply all you need and that you will not perish and have everlasting life.  

If you notice these promises are conditional on having a relationship with Jesus Christ.  So you have to believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior and put your faith in Him but when you do you are forgiven of all your sins, made spiritually alive, and adopted into God’s royal family. In Christ, we receive everlasting life, and all our needs are met.   

So as today’s verse tells us, God’s promise can revive us and give us comfort in all our troubles.

 

The assurance of our salvation, eternal life, and our unbreakable relationship with God should give us joy and hope to fuel our life’s journey.  If we remember God’s promises, and there are lots more to discover in His word,  we can be revived daily and be comforted if trouble comes our way.   

God is with us. He loves us. He will never leave us or forsake us. So be revived by these truths and by His presence and keep walking and talking with the One who will comfort you all the days of your life.

 

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

 

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

 

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

G. What Is the Problem of Good?

The Bible says, "Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil" (Romans 14:16). If the problem of evil is an argument for atheism, then the problem of good is an argument for theism. Simply stated, the problem of good is that God must exist in order for ideas such as goodness, fairness, love, and equality to have any meaning. The problem has 5 parts:

1. If there is no God, then nature is supreme.

God is by definition the "supernatural creator of the universe." If there is no supernatural creator of the universe, then nothing is left except nature. Thus the laws of nature are supreme.

2. If there is no God, then nature operates by the principle of "survival of the fittest."

Nature is therefore, cold, harsh, and indifferent. The "fit" creatures that adapt to their environment survive. Those that don't adapt, perish. Thus, that which is smarter, stronger, prettier, quicker, or in any other way more fit to survive are more valuable.

3. If there is no God, self-preservation is the only ethic in "survival of the fittest."

In "survival of the fittest," self-preservation is the law of the land. If one can flourish by deception, then deception makes him "fitter" than others. If one flourishes by violence and brute strength, then strength makes him "fitter" than others. If murder, rape, theft, genocide, betrayal, or hatred contribute to survival and prosperity, then the act becomes "good."

4. If there is no God, concepts such as goodness, fairness, love, and equality are irrelevant to self-preservation.

Self-sacrifice toward others plays no part in self-preservation. Under this model, self sacrifice—or being "nice" to others—is not "good" since it will not benefit oneself. Because all acts of self-preservation are "good," there is no such thing as a crime. Love is an illusion, unless it is the kind of love that is self-seeking. Equality is meaningless unless it refers to making oneself equal to those who otherwise would be "fitter" than oneself.

5. Conclusion: If there is no God, then concepts such as goodness, fairness, love, and equality are illusions.

People search in vain for any basis for goodness, fairness, love, and equality apart from God. "Survival of the fittest" has been used to justify everything from slavery to genocide. Naturally, these practices are abhorrent to most people. This innate sense of goodness, fairness, and love is a powerful argument for the existence of God. Because we personally desire the virtue of goodness and because it is desired around the world, such goodness reflects the image of God.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)

 

Argument: "A God of love cannot be at the same time a God of wrath. These 2 attributes are incompatible."

Answer: Love and wrath are not incompatible and can certainly exist at the same time within the same person.

  • A mother who intensely loves her baby will, at the same time, have wrath against a child molester who intends to harm her baby.
    —She might even have wrath against her own beloved child for being disobedient and for being disrespectful to her.
  • When you read that "God is love," the Greek word for "love" used here is agape, which means an unconditional commitment to seek another's highest good.
    —God is never without His love for you.
  • God's wrath is in response to sin and is expressed against anything that seeks to harm you or any other object of His love.
    —This truth was illustrated in the Lord's defeat of the Egyptian army as they pursued the Israelites in order to destroy them.

Recorded in Exodus ...

"The enemy boasted, 'I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.' But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.... In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." (Exodus 15:9-10, 13)

 

Question: "Did God know that Adam and Eve would sin?"

Answer: Because God is all-knowing and all-present, He is not bound by time. He knew that Adam and Eve would disobey Him. Yet He chose to create them and to give them free will so that they too could make choices. They would not be His pre-programmed robots. Scripture is clear that God's plan for the salvation of mankind was in His mind even before the creation of the world. (Robots would not need salvation.) The Bible says ...

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:12)

 

Question: "Couldn't God have made a world without evil?"

Answer: Yes... however, He also knew that a world of limited moral freedom would actually be an inferior world because virtues are defined by their opposites.

For example, a person can be selfless only if selfishness stands in opposition to it.

  • —Being selfless implies the possibility of being selfish.
  • —It is in overcoming self-centeredness that character is developed and virtue attained.

Although creating a world that became corrupted by evil required God's sacrificing His Son in order to defeat that evil, in His omniscience God knew that such a world would be the best world in which to prepare people for the best of all worlds—heaven itself ...

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.... And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'" (Revelation 21:1, 3)


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

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

 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship