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Showing posts with label Philippians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philippians. Show all posts

Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Sun Still Rises - Purity 851


The Sun Still Rises - Purity 851

Purity 851 10/01/2022 Purity 851 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s original artwork, which I am entitling “The Sun Still Rises”, is of the sun rising over the horizon shining on a solitary tree on a hill, illuminating the sky and landscape with all the colors of the rainbow, comes to us from “across the pond”  as this is the latest creation of the artist, the poet, and our friend in the UK, Philip Hand. Philip shared it with me just this morning along with a Bible verse to encourage and inspire me in my walk.  Philip shared:

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Think on these things, indeed.  In this world that often points to the things that are wrong, our brother Philip is reminding us of what the Apostle Paul told us, the Church, to do through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and good.  

When we encounter negative interactions with others or disappointing circumstances in the world the enemy would love for us to focus on the bad things in life and to forget about just how blessed we are, even in the midst of a disastrous situation like Hurricane Ian, that has now reportedly been responsible for the deaths of 23 persons in Florida, landed in South Carolina  yesterday as a Post Tropical Cyclone, category 1 storm, and will continue to affect the weather as it will continue to move north today through North Carolina and into Virginia by mid-day today and is even may result in significant rainfalls in my neck of the woods, New York today and tomorrow.

So today we pray for the lives lost and affected by the damages of this latest storm to rage up the east coast of our country, and we will be wise to consider its course as it weakens in regards to our activities this weekend, but we also continue to praise the Lord and think on the things  that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and good.  

The spirit of loving our neighbors is being seen in the relief efforts that are rushing in to restore power and order to the devastated areas hit by Hurricane Ian and in the concern that we have for our friends and loved ones that were in it’s path, as we rejoice over every new report from friends reporting that they are “safe” on social media.   The love of God is being manifest in us when we see people love and care for one another in storms like Ian.

I’m calling Philip’s latest piece, “The Sun Also Rises” because I am reminded of Solomon’s contemplations of the hard realities of life in the book of Ecclesiastes and even though he expressed how much of life was “vanity” or chasing after the wind, He came to the conclusion that while we were to fear God and obey His commandments because everything we do will be judged by Him, he also encouraged us to enjoy our lives recognizing that all we have is a gift from the Lord and that to follow the Lord’s ways for living was to demonstrate  an understanding of the highest wisdom.  

But Philip’s piece also reminds me of  Jerimiah’s passages in Lamentation, another “heavy” book in the Bible that acknowledges the reality of sufferings and afflictions in life.  After admitting to the suffering, Jerimiah speaks of the hope that comes from contemplating the Lord in our lives. 

Lamentations 3:21-24 (NKJV)
21  This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
22  Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
23  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24  "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"

 

So that’s the deal, when we think of “these things” that are listed in Philippians, if we keep thinking, whatever “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and good” things our minds can come up with we will discover that they all point to the ultimate “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and good” One, the Lord God all mighty!  And that our peace and our hope is found in Him because His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness!

In his comments to me this morning, my friend Philip said that he feels peaceful when he is drawing but when he sought to share the “product of his peace”, he also felt moved to share encouragement from the word of God by including Philippians 4:8 when he shared his artwork.  

I told Philip that his story (his artwork, his finding peace of mind from negative mind states through it and his faith in Jesus Christ) is an ongoing testimony of the goodness of God and how the gifts that we receive from Him can be used to touch the hearts of others.   

So wherever you find yourself in the world this weekend,  whether you are walking in victory or struggling to find peace in a storm, let me encourage you to think upon those things that the Lord directed us to think about and to find your hope in Him. When we walk and talk with the Lord, we will discover the peace in the storm, and we will praise Him for His goodness, mercy, grace, faithfulness, and love.

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

This morning’s meditation verse i:

Romans 7:4 (NLT2)
4  So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us that we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God because we have died to the power of the laws of sin and death when we died with, and was raised to life anew with Christ.   

As I have shared previously in other blog posts, when we consider Bible verses like today’s verse and

Romans 8:2 (NKJV) which says
2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

We should understand the word “law” as “authority”.  Instead of some lifeless legal code, we should understand the “authority” or power under which we once lived and how that has dramatically changed when we have put our faith in Jesus Christ and receive a new and eternal spiritual life.   

So by the “authority of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”, The Lord now declares you to be free from the “authority of sin and death”!

Death’s authority would render us dead in our trespasses and sins and make us subject to God’s wrath!  

But the authority of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus gives us peace with God and new life in God’s kingdom as His adopted children.  

The authority of sin would make us incapable of saying “NO!” to sin and powerless to change our sinful habits and lead us to despair and hopelessness.  

But the authority of The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from sin’s authority by giving us a new identity in Christ and giving us the power to say “No! to sin, not as an act of will, but as an act of faith as we align our thoughts and behaviors with our new identity in Christ and draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome of worldly ways for a new life in the Spirit of Christ Jesus.  

Well that’s great! So what happens next now that I have this freedom from the “law” since I have died, and been resurrected, with Christ?  

As today’s verse tells us, we discover our new purpose as a child of God, we produce a harvest of good deeds for God.  

In Christ we have been set free and given a new life.  We have received power over the “authority” of sin and death and we also receive our purpose: to do good deeds for the glory of God, because of who we are in Christ and because of our love for our Father. 

We receive everything in Christ: a new identity, power, freedom, victory, purpose here on earth and with God in His kingdom forever. 

It’s the first day of October 2022, so let’s go out there and reap a harvest of good deeds for the glory of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit who have given us freedom, power, and life everlasting.    

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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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

Chapter Five

Discipleship and the Individual

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Jesus’ call to discipleship makes the disciple into a single individual. Whether disciples want to or not, they have to make a decision; each has to decide alone. It is not their own choice to desire to be single individuals. Instead, Christ makes everyone he calls into an individual. Each is called alone. Each must follow alone. Out of fear of such aloneness, a human being seeks safety in the people and things around them. Individuals suddenly discover all their responsibilities and cling to them. Under their cover, they want to make their decision, but they do not want to stand up alone in front of Jesus, to have to decide with only Jesus in view. But at that moment neither father nor mother, neither spouse nor child, neither nation nor history cover a person being called. Christ intends to make the human being lonely. As individuals they should see nothing except him who called them.

Jesus’ call itself already breaks the ties with the naturally given surroundings in which a person lives. It is not the disciple who breaks them; Christ himself broke them as soon as he called. Christ has untied the person’s immediate connections with the world and bound the person immediately to himself. No one can follow Christ without recognizing and affirming that that break is already complete. Not the caprice of a self-willed life, but Christ himself leads the disciple to such a break.

Why must that be so? Why can there not be an unbroken growth, a series of slow sanctifying steps out of the natural orders into the community of Christ? What sort of annoying power comes here between human persons and the God-given orders of their natural lives? Is not such a break legalistic “methodism”? Is it not the same as that unhappy contempt for God’s good gifts, which has nothing in common with the “freedom of the Christian”?[5] It is true, there is something which comes between persons called by Christ and the given circumstances of their natural lives. But it is not someone unhappily contemptuous of life; it is not some law of piety. Instead, it is life and the gospel itself; it is Christ himself. In becoming human, he put himself between me and the given circumstances of the world. I cannot go back. He is in the middle. He has deprived those whom he has called of every immediate connection to those given realities. He wants to be the medium; everything should happen only through him. He stands not only between me and God, he also stands between me and the world, between me and other people and things. He is the mediator, not only between God and human persons, but also between person and person, and between person and reality. Because the whole world was created by him and for him (John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2), he is the sole mediator in the world. Since Christ there has been no more unmediated relationship for the human person, neither to God nor to the world. Christ intends to be the mediator. To be sure, there are plenty of other gods which offer immediate access and, in fact, the world tries by all means to relate to persons immediately. But herein lies precisely its hostility to Christ, the mediator. Other gods and the world want to tear away from Christ what he deprived them of, namely, the ability to relate immediately to human persons.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 92–94.

Friday, September 2, 2022

"Do What You Can!" Challenge Accepted. - Purity 826


Do What You Can!  Challenge Accepted. - Purity 826

Purity 826 09/02/2022  

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a “rocky sunset” on Lake Ontario comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography and from the depts of my phone’s photo archive as they must have originally shared this scene on or around June 6th 2021. To the best of my knowledge, I never highlighted it on the blog since and am glad that I have decided to look back to see what was left behind.  

Well it’s Friday again, so thank God, and as the sunsets on another work week it is my prayer that we all enjoy this Labor Day weekend to enjoy the last days before the new “back to school” season begins.  

The extended weekend could also give us the opportunity to either take care, or to take a rest, from  unfinished business from the previous months.  Seasonally it’s a good time to consider starting to pack up our summer accessories and to consider transitioning to Autumn.  Or we can use this weekend to make some summer memories that we were too busy to get to in the last few months.

I shared yesterday how I have recently been convicted to confront the one thing that remains that keeps me chained to my past: my former home. Although our divorce agreement states that my ex and I agreed to sell it “as soon as possible”, she refuses to sell it and lives there still.  I had previously decided to just let things lie but now that she is renting out a room to someone to help with costs, I see that my hopes that she would sell it eventually were na├»ve. 

So I have made the hard decision to pursue legal action to compel my ex to honor our divorce agreement and to sell the house but I decided yesterday to reach out to her and ask her about it instead of just having some attorney serve her papers without any warning.  And as you may have guess, that conversation didn’t go well but it did assure me of the need to pursue legal action to try to resolve this final tie that binds me to my ex.

My ex basically stated that she wasn’t selling the house and maliciously invited me to get an attorney and to “Do what you can!”  

So here we go and honestly, I don’t even know what can be done with this situation but I am going to find out and I will pursue what ever course I need to take to either sell the home or to get my name off of the mortgage. 

Sometimes people jokingly refer to their spouse as the “old ball and chain” and while I have severed the “old ball and chain” from my life, my name on the mortgage is sort of the manacle that is still attached to my ankle to remind me that I still have this one thing from our previous life that I need to get rid of to be completely free.   

Since 2019, I have run free and worked hard to get a new home for my children and I and have overcome massive debts and legal bills to get to enjoy my new life.  I have ignored my “anklet” and I guess I had hoped it would just fall off by itself some day but now I know that to be free of it I am going to have to get some help, there may be some suffering and pain involved in getting it off, and it may take some time before it is finally off.  

My ex seemed pretty confident that there is nothing I can do to make her sell. “Do what you can!”

I don’t know what I can do but I know that I won’t do nothing any longer. 

There is a quote that is attributed to Edmund Burke, but whose origins are disputed, that says: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

While I wouldn’t to call my ex evil, or myself good for that matter, I know this situation is wrong. It’s not just and it’s not fair. It’s a breach of contract. It’s contempt of court.  And I know that allowing this to continue isn’t right. 

James 4:17 (ESV) says
17  … whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Sin isn’t just doing what is wrong, it is also not doing what is right: to know what you should do but failing to do it.  

Out of fear of confrontation, out of fear of the costs of time, money, and effort, and out of fear of the possible negative opinion of others, I have allowed a situation that isn’t right to continue and according to the word of God and my spirit and heart’s conviction, I know that it is sin.  And I believe that the Lord has convicted my conscience to take this difficult road to take that “manacle” off my ankle and to be completely free of ties that bind me to my former life and to forsake this sin, to give my life completely to Him.  

This isn’t the first time the Lord has called me to take difficult road as He has encouraged me to follow Him out of the darkness of addictions, negative mind states and attitudes, and to sacrifice much for the freedom I have today and as much as the idea of having to do this causes me pain, I know that it is necessary to pursue it until this matter is resolved.   

When my ex challenges me to “Do what you can!”,  she doesn’t know who I know, and I’m not talking about some attorney.  You see, like in the story of Daniel”, I have been “cast into the fire” before and I wasn’t alone then and I am not alone now. 

As we walk through this life we will have trouble but when we walk with the Lord we can have peace as we walk through them.  

In John 16:33 (NKJV) Christ said:
33  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Because I have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ, I know something about overcoming adversity, I know something about walking into the dessert without knowing if or when the journey will end.  And even though some things can seem impossible for us. Christ said:

Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)
26  … with God all things are possible."

And I know that word of God is true and even though it may take time and effort, I know that it is the Lord’s will that I not sin anymore by letting this wrong thing to continue so I will “Do what I can” and pray for the Lord to what He can and I will continue until it is finished.  

I counsel people on this path of Christian discipleship all the time and I hear horrible stories of difficult situations that people are in but I share my stories of overcoming and I advise them that in order to solve our problems we have to “DO SOMETHING!”, we have to be responsible for our own messes and take steps to get out of them.  We can’t go back to undo the mistakes of the past but we can start today on the road to resolve them.   

When we have huge problems that have no end in sight we have to do what we can each day to get closer to the solution and because we are Christian, we know that God will work all things together for our good, we just don’t know His timing.  If we are faithful to follow the Lord, He will be faithful to help us.  

So we do our part and we for God to do His with the hope and assurance that one day our problems will be behind us and we can look back and know that we walked through the fire with the Lord God Almighty Himself to set us free.  

So keep walking and talking with God. “Do what you can!” and leave the rest up to God.


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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:

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT2)
6  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
7  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Today’s verses encourage us to not to worry about anything but to keep praying about everything, telling God what we need and thanking Him for all He has done with the assurance that if we do this we will have peace.  As we live in Christ Jesus, His peace will guard our hearts and minds.   

Enough said? I mean, wow, if you need a prescription for the path of Christian Discipleship, here it is!  This is walking in the Spirit! 

You want peace? Live in Christ Jesus.  Pray about everything. Tell God what you need. Thank Him for what He has done. 

What happens when you live your life this way?   His peace will guard your heart and mind.  

This is walking and talking with God.  This is life more abundantly. Live in Christ Jesus, everyday.

 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

Structural Evil: One First-Century Case Example

In many ways Paul’s demonology reflects the common early Jewish understanding of evil spirits. In particular Paul apparently believed that pagan religions have close ties with the work of demons (see especially 1 Cor 10:19–20). We concluded earlier that the various non-Christian religions represent a special manifestation of the powers of darkness to deceive people and turn their attention away from the one true God.

According to Luke, Paul spent more time in Ephesus than anywhere else during his missionary journeys, which is understandable since Ephesus held strategic importance for reaching Asia Minor with the gospel. Some of Paul’s correspondence was written either from Ephesus (1 Corinthians) to Ephesus (Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy) or to nearby cities (Colossians and Philemon).

In some ways it is surprising that Paul never explicitly referred to one of the principal opponents of Christianity in Ephesus—the cult of the Ephesian Artemis. Artemis was the patron deity of Ephesus, and her cult wielded significant influence over the social, religious, economic and political lives of people throughout Asia Minor. Artemis, however, was not the only deity worshiped at Ephesus; up to fifty other gods and goddesses are also known to have had their cults in Ephesus during Paul’s time.

It appears Paul had not completely by-passed an issue of major importance to first-century Christians in Ephesus, that is, how to respond to the cult and the opposition it presented. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul provided a framework for a Christian response to the root issue: how to respond to the invisible realm of principalities and powers that stand behind it. The principles would therefore apply not only to the cult of Artemis, but also to any other pagan cult.

In chapter eleven, we discussed Paul’s concept of spiritual warfare. Here we will consider the cult of the Ephesian Artemis itself. An understanding of this cult provides one example of the multiplicity of ways that the powers exercised their hostile influence on people in Asia Minor as opponents of Christianity. This examination, in turn, may provide a model of the variety of levels of influence the powers exert on us today.

1. Through the Occult: The magical substructure of the Artemis cult brought individuals into direct contact with what we would call the occult. (I have documented and illustrated this point elsewhere.) The powers of darkness appear to gain direct access into the lives of people through involvement in magic, witchcraft and sorcery. It is little wonder the roaming Jewish exorcist Sceva found plenty of business in Ephesus (Acts 19:13–17).

Evangelical ministers today are giving numerous accounts of counseling severely demonized people who have had a background of involvement in the occult. Such people need the wise help of mature Christians to lead them to freedom from the bondage they experienced at the hands of the powers of darkness.

2. Through Counterfeit Religion: The term counterfeit implies a standard. For the early Christians there was only one true God—the God of Israel who is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the biblical revelation of both the Old and the New Testament, all other so-called gods are called “false gods.”

In the Artemis cult much evidence points to the celebration of mystery rites. A common trait of many religions throughout the Hellenistic world, the mystery rite normally involved a ritual that culminated in symbolic union with the deity. Satan might very well have used the worship of Artemis to satisfy the spiritual yearnings of people and their longing for “salvation” through counterfeit experiences.

There is still only one God and one way of approaching him—through the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s writings give no precedent for a positive view of obtaining salvation through any of the non-Christian religions.

3. Through Political, Economic and Civic Structures: The Artemis cult controlled major economic and civic structures of western Asia Minor. The cult was the major savings and loan institution for the entire region. Athletic contests were held in her honor, and even one of the months of the year was named after her. Christians would have been forced to decide on such questions as whether they should refuse to borrow money from the cult and whether they should decline from participation in the “Artemisian games.” The eyes of Christians would certainly have seen the pervasiveness of her influence on their society.

The demonic is able to influence any existing human structure. The cult of Artemis is merely one example of a first-century structure that Satan used to delude people and lead them away from devotion to the one true God.

Through all of these means, which the principalities and powers inspire and maintain, the Christian gospel faced an all-pervasive and supernaturally powerful opponent. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul gave stressed that the principal opponent is not “blood and flesh”: it is not something material and tangible, perhaps like the cultic paraphernalia, the temple of the goddess, the banking structure or the Ar-. temisian games. The opponent is what stands behind the Artemis cult and all structures, institutions, traditions and values that keep people from responding to the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. The opponent is Satan and his powers of darkness.

We too need to develop the ability to discern the true nature of the opposition and respond accordingly. Satan and his powers are still alive and use many of the same methods to deceive, oppress, destroy and, ultimately, blind people to the redemptive message of the gospel.[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), 207–209.

Monday, August 1, 2022

So, We’re Doing This Now - Purity 798


So, We’re Doing This Now - Purity 798

Purity 798 08/01/2022 Purity 798 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sunset on Seneca Lake spied through a window of trees comes to us from my sister in law, Katt, who recently shared this pic on social media encouraging her friends to check out the facilities at Seneca Lake Resorts in Romulus NY. 

Well the sun has set on the month of July 2022 and there is no going back, but rather than lament about the July’s passing, I am here to encourage all my friends to rejoice over the possibility of new beginnings.  

As I have often said in the past, scripture repeatedly indicates that we are to be forward thinking when it comes to our faith walk through life. Although I am happy to report that I managed to go to four new spots for swimming in the month of July, I am looking forward to doing more with the month of August than just relaxing in the sun. 

The great thing about our lives is that when we realize that we have wandered off course a bit in our focus and direction with our goals, we can stop and start again.

The Holy Spirit lives in us and if we are sensitive to His leadings, He will lead us into all truth, but sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes the Holy Spirit reveals to us that we have ceased to move forward into what He has for us and because of our lack of attention or our self-indulgences we have sabotaged our progress by seeking comfort, purpose, or entertainment from things of this world rather than the things of God. 

We can go on in our own way and ignore His still quiet voice but the further we go the more we will tend to suffer the consequences until we realize that although we haven’t gone far off course, we stopped making progress with the things we were moving towards because we were distracted or because the going got a little tough and we decided to give ourselves a break. We may have even decided that we were happy with where we had made it to and decided it was “good enough” and we would just stay put where we were.  

Unfortunately, the world, the flesh, and the devil will come against us in subtle ways and as time goes on we start to slip, and we fail to maintain our position that was “good enough” and lose the progress that we have made. 

As Christians, we are in a battle. The Lord has a purpose for us and the world system, the spiritual forces of darkness, and our flesh all oppose it because the Lord’s purpose involves us humbling ourselves before God and serving Him and others rather than exclusively pleasing ourselves.

The world, the enemy, and our flesh work on us to consider the question: “What about me?” and encourages us to set aside the abundant life of meaning and purpose that the Lord has for us for a life of idleness and selfishness that the world system promotes.  The problem with the “What about Me?” answers to happiness is that they fail to satisfy us and go against the counsel of the Word of God.  

The insidious nature of the world, the flesh, and the devil is that they constantly tempt us to seek satisfaction independent of God with substances, relationships, or methods that have been proven to fail but they continue to push them anyway.  

Christ came to give us rest but He did state that His burden was light. The world, the flesh, and the devil say that even a light burden is too heavy and advocate for selfishness and no burdens, but the answers they push are bondage and are even more burdensome that the Lord’s, who simply asks us to abide in the peace that He has for us and to rely on His wisdom and ways to guide us.

So our Christian walk can tend to be a continual pattern of making progress and realizing the joy and peace of the Lord in the simplicity of being obedient to His ways but then the three headed monster tries to deceive us and tempt us to go back to the world’s ways that are easy and offer immediate gratification. 

In the beginning of our walk with God, this can be  a “sinning and confessing” cycle but if we are diligent in returning to the Lord and go to Him for strength and guidance, we can break that cycle and have victory over those besetting sins and experience our freedom in Christ.  

But even if we have experienced our freedom in Christ, that doesn’t mean that the enemy, the world system, or our flesh are done trying to prevent our realizing our purpose in Christ.  

With the Lord nothing is impossible, but the enemy will lie to us and tell us that there is a limit on what we can do, that “we are only human”, or that “others can do those things, but we can’t accomplish that” or “it’s just too hard.”   

The enemy, the flesh, and the world system which, can included our family and friends, will tell us that we have done enough, that we are too busy, or that we should rest.  These influences will actually lie to us and tell us that we are “doing well” or “looking good” when we are actually losing ground.

When we stop, or take a rest, at best we are no longer making progress, at worst we are going in the wrong direction.   

So what do you do?  

You stop and you make a new beginning.  And what better day to make a new start than the first day of a new month.  

I don’t know about you, but I want to leave August in a better place than where I start it.  I have decided to repent and to remember that the Lord’s ways are sufficient and that everything the world, the flesh, and the devil would choose for me to do would result in something less than what the Lord wants for me.    

The world’s entertainments leave you empty. The flesh is ignorant and satisfying its lusts leads to pain.  And the devil seeks to destroy us.  

So let’s begin again. Although we have been walking and talking with God, let’s walk in the direction that leads to progress and to new victories or to the goals that we were hoping for but somehow stopped actively pursuing somewhere along the way.   

Let’s do something new, let’s pick one thing or one area in our lives that we can accomplish or make progress in over the next 31 days and let’s go after it with intensity and purpose. Let’s pick one thing and either “get ‘er done” and bring us closer to getting ‘er done.”

God doesn’t want us to stagnate in life and say “that’s good enough”  God wants us to grow and progress personally and to show and share His love with others.

 The adage “nobody’s perfect” is often used to excuse our lack of progress but instead of wallowing in our imperfections, let’s rejoice over them because they provide us with lots of things that we can make progress in!  We will never be perfect like Jesus but let’s follow Him and lean on the Lord’s strength and guidance to leave where we are behind for better things.  

So pick something, anything, and make a plan that you can start working on today and let the Lord know that you need His help to accomplish it.  God is faithful and He will lead us into new things when we trust in Him.  Tell the world, the flesh, the devil that you are going to make a change in your life and that you have had enough of their lies.  

And declare with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:  So, We are Doing This NOW!

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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:

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Today’s verse is the truth for all Christians and only needs to be applied and pursued to be realized in our walk.  

In Christ we have been given victory over sin and death. We are new creations in Christ.  And so, as today’s verse confirms, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. 

Context is king when we look at the Bible of course so I want to keep it real and remind us all that the Apostle Paul referred to both enduring through suffering and accomplishing mighty things for the kingdom of God through Christ who strengthens us.  He kept it real.   He knew what it was like to be abased and what it was like to be abound.  

So this is good news, no matter what we are facing we can make it. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. 

That means remaining faithful to our cause and to living according the God’s wisdom and ways.  

In Christ, we can do all things and what that is exactly depends on your walk with the Lord and where he has put you.  So follow Him and see where this month takes you and see what you can accomplish when you walk with Him.

______________________________________________________________________

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 Connection of the False Teaching with the Powers

Apart from Ephesians, there are more references to the principalities and powers in Colossians than in any of Paul’s other letters. Paul used a wide variety of terms in referring to these powers: “thrones,” “dominions,” “principalities,” “authorities,” “elemental spirits” and “angels” (RSV). While a few scholars have tried to make a case for interpreting some of these powers as good angels, especially those referred to in Colossians 1:16, the broader context of the letter paints them in a rather dark light. The same “principalities” (archai) and “authorities” (exousiai) spoken of in Colossians 1:16 are pictured as defeated enemies in 2:15 over which Christ is the head (2:10). It is most likely that Paul intended all of his references to the spirit-powers in Colossians to be understood as the evil powers of darkness.

According to Paul’s analysis, the religious “philosophy” menacing the church at Colossae could ultimately be attributed to the inspiration of “elemental spirits” (stoicheia). In Colossians 2:8, Paul states: “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit [1] according to human tradition, [2] according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ” (RSV).

In the first part of the verse, Paul indicts the obvious human involvement that propagates this erroneous teaching, which human tradition imparts. In the second part of the verse, he points to the true origin of the teaching in a personal, spiritual sense; that is, the evil “elemental spirits” inspire this teaching. He thus connects this false teaching with demonic involvement in much the same way that he characterized pagan religions in general as demonic in 1 Corinthians 10:20–21. A similar situation is envisioned in 1 Timothy 4:1, where believers are warned against demon-instigated teaching: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Those purveying this teaching are described as “hypocritical liars,” implying that they claim to be Christians, but are actually Satan’s advocates.

The false teaching at Colossae is dangerous precisely because the supernatural opponents, whom Christ died to defeat, inspire it. For this reason Paul can later say, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?” (Col 2:20 RSV). Through union with Christ and by appropriating his resources, believers can resist the diverse evil influences of Satan and his powers. For the Colossians the perverse influence was especially felt through the rival teaching passed on by people within the context of the church.[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), 141–142.

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