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Showing posts with label Praise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Praise. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Because of You - Purity 781


Because of You - Purity 781

Purity 781 7/12/2022 Purity 781 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the setting sun peering over the top of a tree, the Schodack Creek, and State Route 9J comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene from the driveway of my “River House” back on April 5th.      

I split my time between my place “down by The River” and my countryside home where my wife and step kids reside.  When you split your time between homes, you have to be absolutely intentional about being a good steward to what the Lord has given you.  Instead of doing the things to maintain your home and property “whenever you feel like it”, you really have to keep the tasks of keeping your home in order at the forefront of your mind otherwise what can be a simple task can become a grueling chore because you failed to take advantage of your opportunities when you had them because not only is your time and having the right supplies a factor in “getting things done” but weather can also come into play.  You can’t mow the lawn if its raining and if it does rain you know that the grass and unwanted weeds on your property will respond enthusiastically to being given the “water of life”.   So I have learned to keep an eye on the skies and the grass beneath my feet because I want my chores to be less of a struggle.   

So yesterday even though it was a hot Monday, I immediately took to the task of mowing the grass around my house “down by The River”.  When I mow, I listen to music and even though I initially chose a playlist that was a mix of contemporary music from 2021, I quickly decided against it and decided to make my chore a labor of love by changing my music selection to my “worship 5 playlist”  which is a collection of Christian worship music that contains some of the “heart songs” from my walk with the Lord, those songs that were anthems during my journey of faith when I was walking through the darkness of my past and needed the Lord’s presence and strength to lean on and to motivate me to keep fighting the good fight of faith when my circumstances were bleak.  

But we made it!!!! Brothers and Sisters!! We made it! And We are still going where ever the Lord leads us.   

So while I sweated under yesterday’s afternoon sun and reduced the grass and weeds on my property to a reasonable height, I was again reminded of the journey that the Lord had led me through and the victory that is still implicit in the mere fact of the ground that I stand on at my hard fought for home that just so happens to have an inspiring view of the Schodack Creek and the Hudson River that it springs from directly across from my front door. This house is the gift that keeps on giving because all I have to do to be transported back to the joy of the Lord is to remember my exodus from my former life of bondage to this promised land.   

If you didn’t know it – the first commandment from Christ was to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all you mind.  And you might wonder how it is you do that.

For me, I get a small idea of what that is like when I contemplate all that I have walked through and the fact that through it all the Lord was with me in some very real and significant ways.   While the cast of characters of my faith walk has gone through a lot of changes through the years, the One Constant that has been with me through all the various phases of my journey has been God, in the persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.   

And as I marveled over all that the Lord has done in my life, I was in an emotional state of joy and sadness and love that was caused by the grief of the things lost, the sense of exhilaration over the victories won, and the deep sense of love and gratitude I have for God.  

Phrases like: “You don’t know Who I know!”  and  “Because of You, LORD!” in my mind punctuated the praise in my heart and my mind, resulting in a fierce love of the Lord that continues to make me resolute in my abject loyalty to follow wherever the Lord leads me, regardless of the circumstances. 

My faith isn’t a set of ideological beliefs or principles of living that seemed like a nice thing to do or seemed right.   My faith is a relationship with the Lord in the most real sense of the word. The Lord has been my Father, my Brother, and my Friend. We have walked through the fire together. When there was no one else He was there. He took me through the struggles and brought me to not only a “good place” but to a new life. Through my relationship with God I have been transformed, set free, and have prospered.

I follow the Lord because He has been faithful when I didn’t know what I was doing. He showed me the truth about life in general and the circumstances in my life in particular time and time again. He leads me in the way of peace and love.  He leads me to want to do good and to be more like Jesus. 

I’m am not just following orders… I desire to follow the One who gave me life originally and the one who opened my eyes to His goodness and holiness.  So everyday I try to remember just how good God is and try to be faithful in encouraging others to get to know Him by reaching out to Him and by seeking Him.  

The Lord is omnipresent, He is everywhere at once, but if we are consumed with this world or our selfish desires we are blind to the fact that He is there. 

Just like maintaining our houses, we have to maintain our relationship with the Lord by being intentional in seeking His presence, wisdom, strength, and love.  God gives good gifts to those who ask but the best gift we can receive from the Lord is the continual presence we can enjoy when we seek Him.  

Before you start asking for special spiritual gifts of signs and wonders, make sure you are enjoying the wonderful present of His presence  and make sure you take the Lord with you wherever you go by checking in with Him in prayer and conversation and by living according to what He would have us do. 

Throughout my day, I will catch myself thinking about cutting corners to do things quicker but in each instance I will stop myself and be convicted that “we do things by the book – we do what is right, even if takes more time or if it isn’t easy”.  By considering the Lord’s ways, and agreeing with them, my path is one that has no regrets and usually leads to my safety and good things.  Who knew?!  God did, of course!

Because of You, Lord… my life is good.

Because of You, Lord… I am safe.

Because of You, Lord… I have peace.

Because of You Lord, I have victory. 

Because of You Lord, I have freedom. 

Because of You Lord, I can love.   

This is all Because of You, Lord!

So keep walking and talking with God my friends.  The further you go with God, the more you will know that there really is no other way to go but His. The life He has for you may have its challenges, but it is THE BEST LIFE we can hope for because He directs us to be the person we always wanted to be and He leads us into a life with a good purpose of knowing and sharing His love and wisdom.   

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Deuteronomy 8:18 (NLT2)
18  Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.

 

Today’s Bible verse speaks of the power that the Lord gives His people to fulfill their purpose.   

In our own strength and reasoning, we are limited but God is all powerful and all knowing.  When we “Remember the Lord”, we receive the power to be successful in life because He has made a covenant with those He calls that includes unconditional promises of blessings and life everlasting.  

We don’t earn our place in God’s kingdom because we are mighty or smart, it is because of His grace that we inherit a place in His kingdom and as adopted children of God we receive a portion of His power and authority that is based on our identity in Him.  We are ambassadors of God’s kingdom, and we can accomplish much for God’s kingdom when we “Remember the Lord”.   

In Christ, we are given a new and eternal life. That’s instant success! And no matter what circumstances we may face in this world, that success can not be taken away from us.  

But the Lord also gives us power, when we Remember the Lord and walk in His ways, to accomplish  personal sanctification and other good works to impact others for His glory.  

So Remember the Lord and live though His power.

______________________________________________________________________

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.

7 The Defeat of the Powers at the Cross

The cross of Christ is the pivotal point of salvation history. this is true, not only in the sense that Christ made satisfaction for sin through his blood, but also in the fact that Christ won a decisive victory over the evil powers.

The Ultimate Sovereignty of the Creator

While Christ and the church are represented throughout the New Testament as being in conflict with the powers, never were these opposing forces free and independent of God’s absolute sovereignty. God is sovereign because he is the Creator. When Paul prayed, he addressed God as the Father “from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Eph 3:15). Every member of each division in the angelic hierarchy “derives a name” from God in the sense that its identity and authority comes from him. Every grouping in the hierarchy of angelic beings, both good and evil, receives its life and being from God the Father. He is truly the Father in that he is the source of all life.

Nowhere in Paul’s writings is the sovereignty of the Creator with respect to the powers brought out more clearly and forcefully than in Colossians 1:15–20. In this passage all of the Creator’s functions are attributed to Christ upon whom “God was pleased to have all of his fullness dwell.” Christ is praised for creating the universe and sustaining it as well as moving it toward a time of consummation that will be characterized by universal reconciliation. Paul can legitimately extol Christ’s sovereignty over the powers because Christ created them all.

Paul never envisioned a time when the Creator would lose control over his creation. Nor did he reflect upon a time when the forces of darkness would threaten to overwhelm God’s providence and authority. God has always retained control, and he remains in control while continuing to unfold his purpose in history. For Paul he is the God “who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph 1:11). Neither the stars nor the astral spirits—commonly believed to control human destiny—can countermand God’s plans. Only the electing and redeeming God, who chose a people to be his own before the creation of the world, has control over history and human destiny.[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), 100–101.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Surrendered to the Moment - Here I am to Worship - Purity 773

 

Surrendered to the Moment - Here I am to Worship - Purity 773

Purity 773 7/2/2022 Purity 773 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of twilight over the crowd gather at the River Rock Christian Music Festival at the Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry Maine comes to us from yours truly as I paused for a moment to capture the beauty of God’s creation as I made my way back to my spot amongst “my people”, to the right of the sound tent pictured here.  

Jean Paul Satre, in His play No Exit, is famous for the line “Hell is Other People” and when we first set up our lawn chairs on the grounds of Sunday River, my mild social anxiety had the fear that Satre’s quote would have some real life application as I am not crazy about crowds and the people there seemed a little bit different from me.  There are some vendors at the event selling quasi patriotic and political wears in various shades of camouflage and I started to fear that I had found myself at a “Make America Great Again Rally”. That coupled with seeing that several members of the crowd were tattooed, and adorned with camouflage or “biker gear” had me a little concerned that I wouldn’t “fit in” as I don’t think of myself as an extremest politically and don’t have any affinity for camo, leather, hunting, fishing, or motorcycles per se, not that there’s anything wrong with that….

But as I sat awaiting the worship to start it didn’t take me long to realize that the event I was at was unlike any event I have ever been to before.  As I took a closer look at the crowd I realized two things: 1. This crowd was old and 2. No matter what style of dress they had or what political stances they held as I far as I could tell all these people were my family as we all had the same adoptive Heavenly Father and had been brought together in His family and at this Christian worship event by His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

As different as the others members of my “family” seemed to me at first, I realized that the vast majority of the people at this event had a real heart for God and a deep love of Jesus, and they weren’t shy about it as a good deal openly proclaimed Jesus as Lord with their words, with their actions, and with their praises as well as with the clothes they wore that reflected their allegiance to King Jesus.   

As my apprehensions were fading but still present in those early moments of the festival, they completely dissolved when the first musicians began to lead the crowd in worship.  Ntumba Mutumbo, a worship leader from a church in Washington State that originally hails from the Congo began the festivities and my spirit immediately went into worship mode.  

So, can you “really” worship the Lord at one of these big events?  

Well if you have been walking with the Lord like I have you know that you can worship the Lord literally anywhere and in several different ways. Whether it is seated, standing laying down, shouting at the top of your lungs, singing, or silently because we are connected to God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit our worship to the Lord isn’t really a matter of what you do it is really dependent on where your heart is and what His Spirit is doing in you.   

When the worship start, my spirit or the Holy Spirit, even after all these years I’m not completely sure how it works but it is definitely a cooperative effort of sorts, - Our spirit told me that this was the real deal – as always – God was here.  When I felt that in my spirit, I remembered Moses at the burning bush in scripture, and took my socks and shoes off because I was on holy ground.  

Through out the day, I found myself alternating between worshiping from my seat, standing with my arms raised high in song, and sitting on our blanket on the ground our in a meditative posture or in my chair silently praising the Lord in prayer. 

Although I was there with my wife and stepkids, I was completely surrendered to the day of worship and was enjoying the Lord’s presence on this mountainside location where His people had gathered to give Him thanks and praise. 

While all the musicians were excellent yesterday, Highlights for day one for me included:

·       Dave Pettigrew (https://www.davepettigrew.net/) whose performance and testimony caused me “the non-materialist” to go to his “merch” table and purchase a couple of his T-shirts and follow Him on Amazon Music,

·       Bigg Daddy Weave, who closed the show and whose song’s “Redeemed” and “My Story” are near and dear to me because I performed them back in my Celebrate Freedom Recovery ministry days, and  

·       Jon Reddick – who presence of praise – brought me to run to the front stage as His soulful performance of his Christian hit, “God, Turn It Around” and some old gospel hymns brought me to the heights of praise and worship as the Holy Spirit came over me. I’m not sure why there was only a handful of people moved to go up front when he performed, but Jon Reddick “took me to church” and although I simply loved his hit song, I am a colossal fan of Mr. Reddick now.

So I had my worries and trepidations about whether or not I could “do” a Christian Music Festival and really wondered about my wife’s insistence that we go, and who is already lobbying for a return visit next year,  but now I see that these events present us with an uncommon opportunity to enjoy the presence of the Lord in a way that simply isn’t available to us in our 9-5 – status quo routines.  With this Christian Festival that goes from 12 noon to 10pm at night, for two days, there is the opportunity to show the Lord that we love Him and to hear other Christians share what He has done in their lives and we loudly or silently give Him thanks and praise for what He has done in ours: 

IF you are interested, tickets are still available for Day 2 of the River Rock Music Festival and the schedule of events includes:   


  So if you are even within a 3 hours radius of Newry Maine, I invite you get motivated and jump in the car and come on out and worship with us at the River Rock Music Festival at Sunday River Resort in Newry Maine.  (https://riverrockfestival.com/)  

If not, I really encourage you to attend a Christian music event like this. When we seek the Lord on a continuous basis we can find Him everywhere we go, but when we joing together in unity with other Christians to sing and testify of the wonders of His love, we get to demonstrate to the Lord that we love Him and He is worthy to be praised.    

But no matter where you are or what you choose to do today, I encourage you to keep walking and talking with God because He is with you and when you turn to Him and lean on Him, heaven invades the earth and you can know beyond all doubt that God is alive and well and walking with you.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 8:5 (NLT2)
5  Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

Today’s Bible verse speaks about the battleground of our thought lives and how those who are “dominated by the sinful nature” (the flesh) think about sinful things, but those who are “controlled by the Holy Spirit” only think about things that please the Spirit.  

Hey guys I love the simplicity of the NLT to help Christians read the Bible with a user friendly translation that is good for our youth, but I am not a fan of this rendering of Romans 8:5 which says in the NKJV: 

Romans 8:5 (NKJV)
5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

I think the NLT tries to make this “spiritual verse” easier to understand but in their attempt they simultaneously present the truth of the verse but do it in a way that can easily be misconstrued and develop an error in our thinking theologically.  

Their use of “controlled by the Holy Spirit” is the easiest place to start to explain what I mean.  I wish I was controlled by the Spirit! Then I would just do what God says without question and be free of the choice to sin.  

Also I have an even larger problem with the use of “dominated by the sinful nature” to describe people who “live according to the flesh”.  

Being “dominated by the sinful nature” and “being controlled by the Holy Spirit” sound like “possession” terms that we have no “control” over.  While we do either “belong” to God’s kingdom because of our faith in Jesus Christ, or are lost and are in the company of Satan, demons, and other unrepentant men and women,  we paradoxically still have the right to choose how we live. 

A life that is lived to demonstrate that we are “controlled by the Holy Spirit” is better described as living according to the Spirit, because in that life, we choose to live according to the wisdom of God’s word and by the leadings of the Holy Spirit.  But we do have a choice.   

And as for the “sinful nature”, as children of God through faith in Jesus Christ – our sinful nature was crucified on the cross the moment we said “Yes” to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. “It is finished” but we paradoxically can still choose to live a sinful life.   But unlike those who don’;t place their faith in Christ, the Christian has the power to say no and overcome their sins when they trust what the Lord has said about their new life in Christ and live according to it.  

“I am free in Christ, thus I live free. I don’t sin like I used to do. Instead I turn from my old ways, and start living according to God’s ways and according to my new nature, as a child of God.  

We don’t have two natures. We are either a born again saint through faith in Christ or we are dead in our trespasses and sins.   A sinner’s nature belongs to those who don’t come to Christ. A saints nature is given to those who come to Christ.  The difference is between life and death.  

But as for our choice of action, we are still free to choose our daily path.

Even the unredeemed, sinners who without Christ will go to Hell, can choose to do good things from time to time or even make a lifestyle of doing good, but when they refuse Christ they seal their doom.  

Likewise, a saint – a follower of Christ – can still choose to sin but, if my experience is common, I can tell you the enjoyment of sin will not be the same anymore as it will be against our “new nature” and disrupt the harmony of our relationship with God.   

Who said faith was simple?  

So, we don’t have two natures, we have a new life – a new life in Christ – but we can choose among various ways of living according the flesh or choose to live according to the Spirit.   

The way we choose to live will be indicated by what we think about.  If you are scheming and plotting on how to satisfy the desires of the flesh or are preoccupied with the things of this world you are living according the flesh, our your old and dead sinful nature.  If you are thinking about how to live out your faith and are interested in the things of God you are living according to the Spirit.  

So keep an eye on your thoughts and change the way you think to be in line with God’s word and you will experience that when you do the peace, love, and joy that you always wanted grows in your life when you walk in the Spirit.

______________________________________________________________________

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.

5

The Teaching of Jesus

Traveling on a long, dusty road to damascus, syria, paul of tarsus met a person who forever changed the course of his life—he encountered the resurrected Lord of the Christians whom he was persecuting. Jesus Christ appeared to Paul and called him to proclaim his death and resurrection to the Gentiles. The person and teaching of Jesus was to become the single most influential factor in the thinking and writing of Paul.

Jesus was by no means silent about the realm of evil spirits. In fact, Jesus’ conflict with the powers of darkness is a major theme in all of the Gospel accounts of his ministry. After the ruler of demons had tempted him, he went on the attack engaging many of the forces of evil. He also reflected on the meaning of his mission and passion in relationship to the devil and the powers of darkness. Jesus’ teaching about evil powers had great influence on the apostle Paul, and therefore, it is very important for us to consider.

Jesus Is Attacked—The Temptation

Satan made his first appearance in all three synoptic Gospels as the supernatural tempter of Jesus (Mt 4:1–11; Mk 1:12–13; Lk 4:1–13). Recognizing Jesus as the Son of God, the devil came and made a bold attempt to divert Jesus from his divinely intended redemptive mission.

The attacks apparently did not take Jesus by surprise nor were they outside the design of God’s sovereign leading. Each Gospel tells us it was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. There, as Jesus fasted for an extremely long period of time, the devil tried to take advantage of his weak physical condition to entice him to behave in a way contrary to God’s plan. He tested Jesus’ devotion to his Messianic call.

First, the devil tempted Jesus where he was extremely vulnerable—hunger. He wanted Jesus to use his divine powers to satisfy his hunger; he did not want Jesus to wait until after his fast to obtain food through normal means. Jesus repulsed the attack by citing a passage from the Old Testament, which reflected his devotion to life’s more important matters: “Man does not live on bread alone” (Deut 8:3). In his experience of hunger, Jesus realized that God was teaching him this important lesson.

Second, the devil tested Jesus on whether or not he was susceptible to pride and had a potential thirst for power—ultimately, testing his loyalty to the Father. Showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, the devil offered them to Jesus in return for his obeisance and worship. Again and again the nation of Israel had succumbed to this temptation, forsaking God and worshiping foreign gods. Jesus, in contrast, resisted the devil’s temptation. He revealed to Satan his intense devotion to God alone by citing a portion from the Law: “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only” (Deut 6:13).

Finally, the tempter tried to compel Jesus to test God’s devotion to him, perhaps to silence any lingering doubts, by challenging Jesus to jump from a high elevation and thus force God to rescue him. As part of his strategy, the devil even reminded Jesus of a divine promise that he would never be harmed. Jesus, so in tune with God’s written revelation of his will, resisted (now for the last time) by expressing his desire not to put God to the test. Jesus verbalized the content of God’s command, recorded in Deuteronomy 6:16: “Do not test the Lord your God.” As Richard France observes, “the Son of God can only live in a relationship of trust which needs no test”3

Failing both to influence Jesus at this time and thwart God’s purpose through him, the devil leaves Jesus. Jesus is victorious over the devil. This is one of the reasons Jesus could later tell his disciples that “the prince of this world … has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (Jn 14:30).

The use of Scripture was the vital part of Jesus’ successful resistance of the devil’s enticements. In fact, Jesus’ only words recorded by the Gospel writers in their recounting of the temptation scenes are Jesus’ quotation of the three passages from Deuteronomy. As we will see later, Paul also counseled Christians about the significant role of God’s Word (“the sword of the Spirit”) in resisting the devil (Eph 6:17). It is important, however, to recognize that Jesus was not using the Scripture in some magical sense, like holding up a crucifix, to ward off the evil one. The Scripture Jesus chose was not only appropriate to the nature of the temptation, but each passage also accurately reflected the Son’s devotion to the Father. The texts convey the unity of purpose that the Son shared with the Father.

A second aspect of Jesus’ victory in facing supernatural temptation can be attributed to the Spirit’s work in his life. Luke emphasizes that when Jesus went out to the desert, he was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Lk 4:1). The temptation scenes also follow Jesus’ baptism by John, at which time the Spirit descended on him in a visible form like a dove (Mk 1:9–11; Mt 3:13–17; Lk 3:21–22; Jn 1:29–34). Paul also reaffirms the experience of being filled with the Spirit as prerequisite to resisting the onslaught of evil forces (Eph 5:18; 6:10–20).

The temptation of Jesus by the devil was intensely personal. No other person stood by his side as he experienced the wooing of the evil one in the Judean desert. Were it not for Jesus relating his experience with the devil to his disciples, we would have no knowledge of it. Fortunately Jesus has provided us with an account of his struggle, an account that influenced the apostle Paul’s words on spiritual warfare and serves as a relevant model for the church today.

Unlike the people of Israel, who were put to the test in the desert after the exodus and failed, Jesus succeeded. Unlike Adam, who gave in to the devil’s enticement in the garden, Jesus resisted. He continued to resist to the point of his death—a death that secured our atonement and reconciliation with the Father.[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), 75–77.


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Praising from the Mountain of Love – The Gift that Keeps on Giving – Purity 752

 

Praising from the Mountain of Love – The Gift the Keeps on Giving – Purity 752

Purity 752 06/08/2022 Purity 752 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun shining through the trees over a campsite comes from my cousin’s recent excursion to the top of Keller Peak in Running Springs, California.  He was recently laid up with a foot and ankle injury a couple of months ago but now is back at it stating on his social media post that he was doing some “soulcleansing” by “putting in some work” while “resetting the batteries outdoors”.  

Well it’s Wednesday, and I thought this photo of a summit campsite and his sentiments to cleanse the soul where perfect to represent “hump day” and our continual focus to find peace in our souls by walking and talking with God.  

Like my cousin, I have found that the exercise of the body does have some ability to cleanse the soul as our bodies, and the life that God breathed into them, were the first gift that we received from God, and when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, they became temples of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  So it is good to keep our temples in order by keeping our bodies healthy and that requires proper nutrition, rest, and “putting in some work” from time to time with regular exercise.  

After taking an uncharacteristic rest yesterday, I was raring to “get back at it” with my normal light exercise routine, and as my cousin testifies, I can confirm that there really is something to be said for the ability of simple exercise to “cleanse our souls as we can sweat out frustrations or just experience the simple contentment of knowing that we are being good stewards to the bodies that God has given us.         

But as good as sweating out frustrations and stress, the assurance of being a good steward to our bodies, and feeling the euphoric rush of endorphins firing, may be able to give us a measure of happiness in our souls, as Christians we can raise our experience to the heights of joy by bringing our praises and thanks to the Lord as our spirits are in direct communication with our heavenly Father at all times.  

Not for nothing, but while you can think through problems or set your focus on the things that lie ahead of you while you exercise, I can get a little frustrated, anxious, angry or depressed if the content of my thoughts is “just me” focused.  When we try to do everything through our own strength and cunning, we can really begin to feel overwhelmed, worried, or burdened with our lives.  

So while I work out, I may think of “what I can do” with the day ahead and with the situations that I have to face, but after a while I will get “sick of me” and will turn to the Lord and say something like: “And that’s why I am SO GLAD, that You are in my life, O Lord.” And than proceed to remember that I am not alone and will recall all that the Lord and I have walked through together to bring me to this “current day and present moment” and I will thank Him and praise Him for never leaving me or forsaking me and always being with me.  

The weight of the world seems to not be so heavy when we have the Creator of the Universe on our side. As the word says, if God is for us, who can be against us!

Well, frankly, everyone can be against us! But with God, it just doesn’t matter, because when we walk with Him we never walk alone and when we continue to seek His presence and follow His wisdom for living we can have peace and joy regardless of the circumstances that surround us because He has “cleansed” and saved our souls the minute we placed our faith in Christ.  His love pours into us with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, when we first believed, and it abounds in us when we abide in Him.  

So there, I am “putting some work in” by exercising, contemplating the current events of my life, and rejoicing because I know that “There ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t not valley low enough, and there ain’t not river wide enough” to keep the Lord from getting to us!

The Lord has a mountain of love to pour out on us if we would just seek to receive it by keeping our relationship with Him a healthy one, where we care for our bodies, live according to His wisdom, continually reflect on His thoughts, His words, and Our story together, as an continuous expression of our faith.  

This gift of our lives, our bodies, our relationship with God, His love, His forgiveness, His hope, His strength, and how it all goes together is the gift that keeps on giving. So live your life as a continual exercise of praise and worship to the Lord who gave us life and set us free to live with Him forever when He showed us the truth of Jesus Christ and we accepted the gift of His mercy, grace, 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 is:

Psalm 112:1-3 (NLT2)
1  Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands.
2  Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.
3  They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.

Today’s Bible verses encourage us to praise the Lord and they indicate that when we fear and obey Him not only will we benefit but the potential exists to influence generations through our faithfulness.   

When you are brought up in a “religious tradition of Christianity” where no one seems to know the joy of their salvation and everyone seems to be under a burden of obligation to go to “mass”, you view the “fear of the Lord” as the fear of judgement and going to Hell and you view His commands as a list of requirements to meet with the silent warning of “or else” implied.  

The houses of worship where “God is in the box”, require people to enter reverently, almost fearfully, because the doctrine of transubstantiation, teaches that He literally is in the communion elements, so God is in the house and you best come correctly into His presence, or you will face the wrath or condemnation of the priest, your parents, or the other congregants that bow low under their religious tradition but who may not be good examples of the joy or love of the Lord.  

But here in today’s verses, the Bible speaks of people who are joyful who fear the Lord and obey His commands. Joyful?   How can you be joyful in the presence of a God who is just waiting to send you to Hell?  Or in an environment where His “believers” almost cower in His presence and will chastise and threaten anyone who doesn’t put on a show of reverence while they are “in the building”. 

Well, the Bible is true and the fact that people can be joyful when they fear the Lord and obey His commands must point to something that is “other” than what we see in some liturgical churches.  

It must point to a relationship with God that is His based on His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love rather than the traditions of men that corrupt the gospel of Jesus Christ by making us think that our salvation depends on our perfect obedience and can be something that we can lose.   

While our God is awesome to be hold and should be feared by anyone who hasn’t been reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ, the fear of the Lord that the Christian has should be one that is born from the knowledge of His love and is reflected by our respect for His word and our joy at following the One who gave us life and set us free. 

Only when we are assured of our salvation and the love of God for us, can we be joyful in obeying His commands. When we know the love of God and are assured that He isn’t going to condemn us to Hell at the drop of a hat, our obedience to His commands is an expression for our deep respect, fear, and love that we have for Him.  

Unlike religious traditions that are fueled by fear and guilt, and seem to be fading away in our post Christian society, this joyful relationship with God is something that future generations could be influenced by to pursue and emulate as they can learn of the tremendous blessings that can flow from an authentic faith and love relationship with our God.  

We can’t force anyone, including our kids, to follow the Lord but we can show them the joy that we have from knowing His love, from fearing His word, and obeying His commands and how a life dedicated to following Him is a blessing, not a curse or an obligation.    

 

 

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

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

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

10  -My Prayer—Let None Say in the End, “I’ve Wasted It”

Your steadfast love, O Lord, is better than life. You have told us this in many ways. With these very words you have said it through the mouth of your servant David: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” You have said it in the words of your apostle Paul, when he cried out in prison, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” O Lord, how much better you are than life! Does your apostle Paul not use strong language! Not just “better,” but “far better.” You are so much better than life that your apostle says death is gain. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” To lose everything this world can offer and be left with you alone is gain.

Why, O Lord, is your love better than life? Surely David gives us the answer in the way he speaks. He does not say, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise your love.” What does he say? He says that he will praise you, not your love. “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Is this not because the most loving thing about your love is that it brings us home to you—with eyes and hearts and minds able to see the riches of your glory? With all your wrath removed, and all our sin forgiven, lest anything prevent the pleasure of your presence. Is this not what divine love is—the will and work of God, to give us undeserving sinners everlasting joy in God? What else could love be, if it would be infinite! What greater prize might we be given than yourself, if we are loved!

O God, you know I tremble now for fear that many of the ones who call you Lord have made themselves the prize and glory of your grace. How many, Lord, have made your love a witness to their worth! Is then their joy a resting in your worth or in their own? So many decades have gone by in which the constant message from the world, and even from some ministers, is this: that love means making much of man. And so when men, with this assurance, ponder what your love might mean, they say the same: God’s love means making much of man. For proof they ask: Don’t you feel loved when someone calls attention to your worth?

I answer: Once I did. When life was better than the Lord, and not the other way around. There was a time love felt like this—when I could not conceive of any joy greater than the honor of my name. When I was so absorbed in me that it was inconceivable for joy to rise by my admiring rather than my being admired. Oh, yes, I’ve known what it is like to call the praise of men an act of love and justify this craving with the readiness to give the same. How satisfying it does seem—this love among ourselves of mutual admiration!

But now (thanks to your mighty grace!) I see it is an imitation. It has its roots in Eden long ago. The great destroyer of our love and joy said to our mother, Eve, “God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” Like God! She should have said, “I am like God already.” She should have seen the trick. But she did not, and oh, how many do not see it yet today! She was indeed like God! You made her so—your very image-bearer. Her calling and her high design was this: to image forth her Maker’s majesty, and with her joy and trust, make much of you. But then the evil thought was sown: “I could be like him in another way. I could be one whose majesty is seen, and love might be defined as making much of me.”

And so it came into the world, this great inversion we call sin. And love was made to stand now on its head. I grieve, Lord, just to put it into words, but here it is with shame: Your love no longer means that you do what you must do to make yourself our joy. It has come to mean that you do what you must do so we can feel our worth. It was a sad exchange. And doubly so: Not only did it rob our souls of that one joy that you designed to satisfy us for eternity, but worse, it robbed you of your honored place as Treasure of our lives.

And everything you’ve done since that dark day in Eden is designed to set things right. Oh, what a history of deeds and revelations you have wrought to make yourself the center of our joy and take back for yourself the place of honor in the world—to be the One your people treasure more than life. How many ways you said and showed, “I made you for my glory. I made you for my praise. I made you for my honor and my name.” And, lest we miss the point, you added: “In my presence there is fullness of joy; at my right hand are pleasures forevermore. Delight yourself in me! Be glad in me and leap for joy; I am your sure and great Reward! Come taste, and even now rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Oh, what a grand design! To make our joy the echo of your excellence. To make our pleasure proof that you now hold the place of Treasure in our lives. To make the gladness of our souls the essence of our worship, and the mirror of your worth. To make yourself most glorified in us, O God, when we are satisfied in you. How could I, Lord, have ever been so blind to think that being loved by you means making much of me and not yourself? How could I put my eye to some great telescope, designed to make me glad with visions of the galaxies, and notice in the glass a dim reflection of my face and say, “Now I am happy, I am loved”? How could I stand before the setting sun, between the mountain range and the vastness of the sea, and think that everlasting joy should come from making much of me?

No, Father, love is this: At great expense you made yourself my glory and my boast. The cost was infinite by which you made yourself the Treasure of my life. You sent your Son, the blazing center of your beauty and your love. You gave him up to mockery, betrayal, thorns, the whip, the rod, the fists, the nails, the shame, and death. For what? To swallow up your wrath, and satisfy your righteousness, and bury all my sins as far as east is from the west and in the deepest sea, so that I might come home and see the galaxy. This is your love, O God, not to make much of me, but do whatever must be done so that I waken to the joy of making much of you through all eternity.

How then shall Christ not be my only boast! Not only that he bought yourself for me, O God, but is himself your perfect image and the blazing center of your radiance. What do I have that does not come from him? What gift of life or breath? What promise ever made did not receive its Yes in him? What one sweet thing—or hard thing you will soon make sweet—did I receive except that it was purchased by his blood? Not one thing I deserve, but hell. Yet everything is mine in him, and by his sacrifice alone. O God, forbid that I should ever boast save in the cross of Christ, my Lord.

And now shall we who treasure Christ and know your love is better far than life lay up, like all the world, our treasures on this earth? Would not we hear you say, as you once said, “Fool, will not this same night your soul be taken back? And then whose will these barns of bounty be?” Forbid, O Lord, that while the world is filled with need we would sit down and say, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” A terrible reversal awaits such lovelessness. “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” We tremble at the words you spoke once to the heartless rich: “Remember in your lifetime you received good things, and that poor man, beside your door, received the pain; but now the great reversal comes, and he has comfort here, while you lie there in anguish.”

O God, such riches are a wasted life. Protect us, Lord. Grant us to hear and heed another call: “Lay up your treasure not on earth, but in the place where moth and thief will never come. Make treasures for yourself that cannot fail.” But then we ask, “What treasures, Lord?” We see you smile. “I am your Treasure and your great Reward. I am your food, your drink, your festal garments and your everlasting gain. I am your life and your all-satisfying Joy.”

Yes, Lord. That is enough. But we would ask, How shall we lay this treasure up? Is it not laid there by your grace alone and bought now once for all by Jesus’ blood? How shall we make this life—this brief and only life that we now live—a laying up of treasure there in heaven? To answer this, you know, O God, that I have written this small book. And I have looked not to myself or listened to some voice. But I have tried to probe your written Word and say what you have said. That is my only claim to truth—that I have echoed what you wrote.

The answer is that in this life we may begin to treasure Christ, and here gain, as it were, an aptitude for joy in him. A greater weight of glory waits to be enjoyed for those who grow in love to Christ. And what is love to Christ? It is the cherishing of all you are for us in him. It is the treasuring of his perfection over all the treasures of the world. It is delighting in his fellowship beyond all family and friends. It is embracing all his promises that there will be more pleasure in his presence than from all the lying promises of sin. It is a gladness in the present taste of glory and the hope of future fullness when we see him face to face. It is a quiet peace along the path he chooses for us with its pain. It is a being satisfied that nothing comes to us in vain.

There is a quiet kind of joy, O Lord, that Jesus did both save us from our sin and show us how to love. His life, as you have said, was both a purchase and a path. He died for us, and now calls us to die with him. He took our poverty upon himself that we, in him, might have the riches of his heaven, and he calls us now to use our riches for the poor. He did not count equality with you a thing to grasp, but made himself of no account and crossed an endless chasm between heaven and earth, so we might see what frontier missions means and join him in the final task. Is not this, then, the way we lay up treasure in your house—to give our money and ourselves to make as many rich with God forever as we can?

A quiet kind of joy, I say, because of so much suffering. I cannot rise above the great apostle Paul who called his life a daily death and put it in a paradox: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything.” O Father, grant your church to love your glory more than gold—to cease her love affair with comfort and security. Grant that we seek the kingdom first and let the other things come as you will. Grant that we move toward need and not toward ease. Grant that the firm finality of our security in Christ free us to risk our homes and health and money on the earth. Help us to see that if we try to guard our wealth, instead of using it to show it’s not our god, then we will waste our lives, however we succeed.

Dear Lord, I tremble now to pray for readers what I barely feel myself. But I have tasted what our life might be if I, and they, could walk along the ever-present edge of death, and smile with utter confidence that if we fell, or possibly were pushed, it would be gain. Oh, what abandon, what great liberty, what invincible resolve to love would be our portion if we walked this way! What readiness to suffer for the glory of Christ! What eagerness to show the poor that we would gladly spend and be spent to make them glad in God for all eternity! What lowliness and meekness and freedom from the need for praise and pay! All things are ours in Christ—the world, life, death, the present, the future. All are ours, and we are Christ’s. And none of it deserved.

And so, dear Lord, I dare to pray that everything I’ve written in this book, if it be true, explode with fear-defeating joy in Jesus Christ. Let every wavering heart remember this: You promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So may we say with death-defying confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Forbid that any, Lord, who read these words would have to say someday, “I’ve wasted it.” But grant, by your almighty Spirit and your piercing Word, that we who name Christ as the Lord would treasure him above our lives, and feel, deep in our souls, that Christ is life and death is gain. And so may we display his worth for all to see. And by our prizing him may he be praised in all the world. May he be magnified in life and death. May every neighborhood and nation see how joy in Jesus frees his people from the power of greed and fear.

Let love flow from your saints, and may it, Lord, be this: that even if it costs our lives, the people will be glad in God. “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” Take your honored place, O Christ, as the all-satisfying Treasure of the world. With trembling hands before the throne of God, and utterly dependent on your grace, we lift our voice and make this solemn vow: As God lives, and is all I ever need, I will not waste my life …

through Jesus Christ, Amen.[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 183–189.