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

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Put on the Whole Armor of God and Pray Always - Purity 1232

Put on the Whole Armor of God and Pray Always - Purity 1232

Purity 1232 12/27/2023 Purity 1232 POdcast

Purity 1232 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of an extreme close-up of a gold coin inscribed with a knight and the command to “Pray Always” and to “Put on the Whole Armor of God” comes to us from yours truly as I decided to take a closer look at one of the more special Christmas gifts I had received from my wife on Christmas Day, Monday Morning.   

Well, It’s Wednesday and although I have been blessed with a Christmas vacation from my day job, I walk into the midpoint of the shortened work week with business to do just the same as I have some unfinished business that’s finally about to be completed, in Jesus’ name, I declare it,  and I have the labor of love of leading the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group at Starpoint Church later this evening.  So in some ways this day is finished before it begins as my schedule will have me traveling up and down and around the capital district today, as I, prayerfully, will be signing the papers on the sale of my previous home at my attorney’s office in Hudson, NY, as far as I know, in the mid-afternoon and rolling back north for dinner with TammyLyn at our countryside home before going down to Starpoint for the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group meeting at 6:30 pm but before any of those activities I will take my new Christmas gift’s advice – “to put on the whole armor of God” and to “pray always” to heart as not only know that these things are commanded in God’s word but know from experience how necessary and beneficial they are to my protection and success in life and ministry.  

When you put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior and decide to follow Him with the way you live your life, you become a target. Jesus not only warned his disciples that the world would hate them like it hated him and they would be persecuted by man, but he also warned of the real and present dangers of the spiritual forces of darkness who would seek to steal, kill and destroy them.  While I may have taken a long time to learn what I have about faith, I know now that we are to take Our Teacher’s lessons seriously and not only try to understand what Jesus was saying but we are to also put his wisdom to work in our lives by practicing what He preached.  More than just a good teacher Jesus was and is God and the Bible is God’s word, so it’s not only a good idea to know what the Word made flesh and the Living Word of God say, but it is imperative to obey their commandments for our safety and for God’s glory.   

As we come to faith in Jesus, study God’s word, and come to understand God’s sovereignty, and realize the spiritual battleground that we are living in, we realize that not only does our prayer life keep us in harmony and communication with God, it also is our best defense and weapon to overcome the trials and tribulations that man, the circumstances of living in a world broken by sin, and the enemy can throw against us.   

One of the first things I learned when I made the decision to not only to believe, but to follow Jesus, was that “Christians” pray and read the Bible, and one of the things that was recommended was to obey Paul’s advice in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor of God.  

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT2)
10  A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
12  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
14  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
15  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
16  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
17  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

 While entire books on spiritual warfare and the whole armor of God have been written highlighting the verses in this passage of scripture, I will just point to three things that we should glean from this for our daily walk.  

1.    The devil, enemy, is a real literal enemy and they can and will attack and affect Christians.  

This letter is written to the church at Ephesus and Paul’s final word is to warn Christians about the devil’s strategies and evil opponents in the unseen realm – that’s demons and the reason we have to defend against them is that they can do damage to us, through lies, temptation, accusations, and condemnation – which all point to a battle for our hearts and minds.  So the enemy is real. 

2.    The Lord gives us a means to protect ourselves, but we must use it.  

While some will pray through this passage of scripture and imagine putting on literal spiritual armor – unseen armor for an unseen opponent, I guess, and feel empowered by the idea or process of being equipped like some Christian Lancelot, I believe Paul was making an analogy for our faith in Jesus specifically and how our relationship with Him protects us and our most vulnerable areas.  Beyond the warlike imagery, Jesus is our Truth, Righteousness, Good News, Faith, Salvation, and Word to fight the enemy with. Just cry out Jesus and stand firm with Him to cover and establish every area of your life.   Our living in the truth, righteousness, good news, faith, salvation, and word of Jesus protects us and gives us the victory!

3.    Prayer has power.  

While any Christian will tell you that our prayer life is not a matter of “calling the shots” or a one-to-one cause-and-effect relationship, there is SOMETHING about prayer that should cause us to persist in it.  Entire books have been written about prayer too. But even though I can’t assure you that prayer will move the particular mountains in your life at particular moments or that it will protect you from all forms of suffering,  I have seen way too many prayers answered to tell you to do anything other than “pray always”.  Pray to talk to God. Pray to ask Him for help. Pray to ask for help for others. Pray for strength. Pray for people to get saved. Pray for healing. Pray to bind and cast out the enemy. Pray for good outcomes.   And do that, all of the above,  all the time!

I prayed for the sale of my former house since the ink was dry on the purchase of my new house down by the River in 2020 and three years I am seeing just how good God can be at moving all things together for the good of those that love Him and who are called according to His purpose.  It would take far too long to explain just how awesome God has been in moving things to this moment in time but the Lord knows that I know what He has done and that I will thank and love Him forever for how He has blessed me, not only in this financial transaction, but with my salvation, in my new life in Christ, and honestly, all the days of my life, that have brought me here today.  

So put your trust in Jesus and put on the “whole armor of God” everyday – by praying always – and by standing firm in your relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, every moment of every day, by following, and walking and talking with God.  

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

Psalm 92:1-2 (NASB)
1  It is good to give thanks to the LORD And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2  To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night,

Today’s verses fall under the fourth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

4. God always shelters those who put their trust in him.

Today’s verses tell us that it is GOOD to GIVE THANKS to the Lord and Sing Praises to His name and to declare his goodness, faithfulness, and love both day and night!

Hey, I love how the Lord sovereignly puts these messages, and my life, together – all things! – because as I am riding the wave of expectant joy and extreme gratitude of the closing of the same of my former home today, today’s Bible verse reminds me of just how GOOD it is to Praise and Thank the Lord and to declare His goodness at all time.  

And tonight, at Celebrate Freedom we will be going over the Worship lesson of the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course which just happens to highlight how our praising the Lord in song is to be an integral part of our daily lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.  As disciples, we practice what the word of God tells us to do and there are lots of verses that tell us to sing to the Lord because God knows how the act of praise can encourage, strengthen, empower, and change us.  

And while today’s verse says nothing about “sheltering us” – that’s the conclusion that our resource’s author made in regard to praise, thanksgiving, and meditating on God’s goodness – it shelters us – because it does.  Call it part of the armor of God or call it a shelter, a shield, or a fortress, our relationship with God and all of the ways that it is expressed give us protection in many ways, and just knowing the goodness of God and expressing it and think about it is one of those ways.   So give thanks, sing, and think about God’s goodness, and feel the shelter of living in His love.

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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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

DECEMBER 27

On the Weak Shoulders of a Child

Authority rests upon his shoulders” (Isa. 9:6). Authority over the world is supposed to lie on the weak shoulders of this newborn child! One thing we know: these shoulders will come to carry the entire burden of the world. With the cross, all the sin and distress of this world will be loaded on these shoulders. But authority consists in the fact that the bearer does not collapse under the burden but carries it to the end. The authority that lies on the shoulders of the child in the manger consists in the patient bearing of people and their guilt. This bearing, however, begins in the manger; it begins where the eternal word of God assumes and bears human flesh. The authority over all the world has its beginning in the very lowliness and weakness of the child.… He accepts and carries the humble, the lowly, and sinners, but he rejects and brings to nothing the proud, the haughty, and the righteous (Luke 1:51–52).

From the Christian point of view there is no special problem about Christmas in a prison cell. For many people in this building it will probably be a more sincere and genuine occasion than in places where nothing but the name is kept. The misery, suffering, poverty, loneliness, helplessness, and guilt mean something quite different in the eyes of God from what they mean in the judgment of man, that God will approach where men turn away, that Christ was born in a stable because there was no room for him in the inn—these are things that a prisoner can understand better than other people; for him they really are glad tidings.

Bonhoeffer’s letter to his parents from

Tegel prison, December 17, 1943

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5–11[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 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 70–71.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Ghosted in Christmas Present – Merry Christmas! - Purity 1230


Ghosted in Christmas Present – Merry Christmas! - Purity 1230

Purity 1230 12/25/2023 Puity 1230 Podcast

Purity 1230 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of my canine friend, Harley, with eyes fixed on something in the distance, or pretending he never knew me, as the sun lights up the sky and tries to hide behind a power tower comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene at the place were “Freedom” and Waite Road meet while out walking Friday afternoon.  

Well, Its This is Christmas, and if you had a similar experience to the one I had yesterday you may be wondering “What have I done?” as another year (almost) over and a new one’s (almost begun).  SO

 Okay that was an attempt to harness John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas” cadence as a I try to make light of something that happened at the Christmas Eve service at my local church yesterday.   Oh, by the way – to keep the John and Yoko classic rolling – have a

Very Merry Christmas, And a happy New Year

Let’s Hope it’s a good one.

Without any fear….. 

Fear? What’s there to be afraid of at Christmas Time?  Well, Ebenezer Scrooge would tell you that there are Ghosts to be aware of. And I would tell you that if you’re in recovery, there are demons and “spirits” of the past – that will attempt to pull you into relapse – that you may have to ward off.  Full confession – I took a two day “break” from sanity and my food plan – and will celebrate Christmas today – making wise food choices and drinking lots of water to flush out all the sugar I put into my body over the last 48 hours. But as frightening as a relapse can be, if it doesn’t kill you (not a joke), there is always a new day to ask the Lord for forgiveness and strength and to start again.  

With the food addiction, my body will be back “in the zone” in a few days and as long as I don’t get trapped in a vicious cycle of temptation and “giving in”, I will be back on the road to increased health and physical fitness in no time, and I will be armed with another reminder of just how unsatisfying giving into the things that tempt you can be.  

With recovery from substance abuse (drugs, drinking, or food) and/or sex addiction, one often arrives to a moment of clarity where the addict clearly sees the “emptiness” of the object of their obsession where you can see that there is nothing in and of the object of your addiction itself that has anything of substance or lasting satisfaction – where you realize that the thing that has kept you in chains is almost ethereal, or ghost like  in how it's effects can give you pleasure and then just fade away – where you realize there is “nothing to it”.   That moment of clarity is a good moment to have because can gain an insight to the mirage like quality of how you have been deceived and believed the lie that there was something inherently “good” about the object of your addiction and now you can renounce the lies that you believed and hopefully, not forget and get lured into them again.   Over the last two days, I was reminded of how sugar and carb laden foods really aren’t “good food” – they really aren’t and now will choose to put that insight into practice and feel my body slowly recover from the “heaviness” those foods put on me.  

Okay, with all that said about relapse and recovery, one may think that I may have been tempted to relapse at my church with sweet treats or something, and even though that has happened before, it wasn’t the disturbing thing that happened to me yesterday that has me reminded me of the big stigma you get when you walk through life with the “recovery” label.  

While I have seen the fear and awkwardness in the eyes of some of my Christian brothers and sisters, when they come to realize that I’m “one of those” Christians – a prodigal or a former “carnal” Christian or a “man with a past” or “brokenness”, I am still somewhat taken aback when I encounter someone whose demeanor towards me changes when they realize I am in recovery but I was really quite shocked yesterday, when I was “ghosted in Christmas present” by someone who I have been encouraging to come out of the darkness of addiction themselves.  

While waiting to go into the Christmas Eve service yesterday, I saw someone I knew from one of “the rooms” as people in AA say,  and gave a quick “Hey _______.” to which they didn’t respond – as they averted their eyes, looked off into the distance and said something like “ Hey what’s over here?” to the person they were walking with as they walked off without responding to my nonchalant greeting.   

Ghosted on Christmas Eve by someone who I have tried to help? It couldn’t be. Could it?  As awkward as these little interactions can be – whether you’ve been blown off or are the one blowing someone off – trying to avoid them, you know that often you get a “second pass” – that somehow you end up encountering the person again!  And sure enough, as I stood waiting to be let in the church service, because of the bustling crowd, the person who had “walked on by” ended up being pushed in my direction once again, and while I didn’t try to greet them the second time, the second pass made it painfully obvious to me, that they were indeed avoiding me! “Ghosted” again!

Anyway no big deal, there is a stigma to recovery and the person may have been under the impression that I am known for running the recovery ministry group – which I am probably kidding myself but… I don’t think I am – not in our big church, right? – and they didn’t want to be associated with me to keep their addiction a secret… or perhaps more likely, because I haven’t seen them in a few weeks, they may be in the midst of a holiday recovery hiatus that is a little more illicit that eggnog, candy, and cookies.  They may have “walked on by” because they have fallen into their addiction again and were convicted by my mere presence.    I have seen it before and if I was a gambling man, like I used to be, I would put some money down and make a wager that more than social embarrassment, my “friend” avoided me because they are back to hiding in the shadows.  

Everything’s fine, nothing to see here.  I don’t need recovery. Thanks, move along please, move along. 

Well, he moved along, and I will too and will wonder if I will see them in the rooms again after the holiday hoopla is gone and the new year begins.   I hope they do come back because I know about those shadows and life is so much better living in the light.  

So as we enjoy the BIG holiday today, it is my prayer that all my friends have a safe, sensible, and self-controlled Christmas and that you thank God for all the gifts you have received and find some peace and rest knowing that Christ has given you a new and eternal life that gets better the close you get to Him.  

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

Deuteronomy 32:10-12 (NKJV)
10  "He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.
11  As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings,
12  So the LORD alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him.

Today’s verses fall under the second point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

2. As an eagle stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, so God cares for his own.

Today’s verses come from the Song of Moses, where he reflects in song all about how the Lord swooped in and rescued the nation of Israel and literally walked them through the desert to the promised land.  Where the “the Lord alone led” them from slavery to freedom.

The themes of rescue and provision should be very familiar to the Christian – because we were once lost and are now found. We were dead and brought to life. We were in darkness and saw the light.   I could sing a song of praise to the Lord for all He has done for me, and I have.

 In fact last night, as I was driving back to my countryside home from my parent’s place in Hudson, I was a little tired and realized I had to be diligent to stay awake so I turned off the audio book I was listening to and put on a playlist of worship music from my Celebrate Freedom days in Hudson and it didn’t take long before I was WIDE AWAKE and singing and shouting out praises to the Lord as I drove north.  As I was reminded of how the Lord has rescued me and blessed my path, I was lifted to heights of joy as I sang and shouted out my thanks and praises. And the fact that I was doing it on Christmas Eve, took my worship session up a few notches higher as I realized that I was doing what all Christians should be doing on Christmas Eve – thanking God, praising Him, and proclaiming our undying allegiance to following Him. 

So on this Christmas day – let’s remember the rescue and the new life we have and rejoice over the best gift we have ever received – our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ.

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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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

CHRISTMAS DAY (DECEMBER 25)

Living by God’s Mercy

We cannot approach the manger of the Christ child in the same way we approach the cradle of another child. Rather, when we go to his manger, something happens, and we cannot leave it again unless we have been judged or redeemed. Here we must either collapse or know the mercy of God directed toward us.

What does that mean? Isn’t all of this just a way of speaking? Isn’t it just pastoral exaggeration of a pretty and pious legend? What does it mean that such things are said about the Christ child? Those who want to take it as a way of speaking will do so and continue to celebrate Advent and Christmas as before, with pagan indifference. For us it is not just a way of speaking. For that’s just it: it is God himself, the Lord and Creator of all things, who is so small here, who is hidden here in the corner, who enters into the plainness of the world, who meets us in the helplessness and defenselessness of a child, and wants to be with us. And he does this not out of playfulness or sport, because we find that so touching, but in order to show us where he is and who he is, and in order from this place to judge and devalue and dethrone all human ambition.

The throne of God in the world is not on human thrones, but in human depths, in the manger. Standing around his throne there are no flattering vassals but dark, unknown, questionable figures who cannot get their fill of this miracle and want to live entirely by the mercy of God.

“Joy to the world!” Anyone for whom this sound is foreign, or who hears in it nothing but weak enthusiasm, has not yet really heard the gospel. For the sake of humankind, Jesus Christ became a human being in a stable in Bethlehem: Rejoice, O Christendom! For sinners, Jesus Christ became a companion of tax collectors and prostitutes: Rejoice, O Christendom! For the condemned, Jesus Christ was condemned to the cross on Golgotha: Rejoice, O Christendom! For all of us, Jesus Christ was resurrected to life: Rejoice, O Christendom!… All over the world today people are asking: Where is the path to joy? The church of Christ answers loudly: Jesus is our joy! (1 Pet. 1:7–9). Joy to the world!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6–9[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 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 65–67.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course - Lesson 6 - Worship

Due to the fact that my household would be a bit too busy with Christmas Eve preparations, we made the decision to postpone our normal Bible Study with the Cincotti's until next week.  

But because I try to provide some form of encouragement for the path of Christian Discipleship "24/7", I have decided to launch the next lesson of the Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course.  

As I stated previously:  "I developed the Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course in 2020 as part of my master’s thesis in Christian Counseling to “fill in the gaps” of the Christian Twelve Step/Celebrate Recovery – Teaching Curriculums by introducing concepts of Christian Discipleship that I found important in my walk of faith and in my recovery over alcohol, drugs, sex addiction, and food addiction."

We hope it encourages you to follow Jesus and to overcome any hurts, habits, and hang-ups that still persist in your lives. 

God Bless You All,

M.T. Clark

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Listen to the podcast: Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course - Lesson 6 -Worship - Podcast

Or Watch it on YouTube: 


Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course 

Lesson 6: Worship

Discipleship Principle 6 – Our lives are to be an expression of our love for the Lord, a continuous act of worship. Our hearts of stone must be turned to flesh and beat to know and love the Lord more and more.  

In John 4:23-24 Jesus says But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

A major problem with the body of Christ is the twofold problem of ignorance and or a lack of application of the disciple’s call to worship.  The life-transforming power of worship cannot be understated as it can break down the barriers between knowing God intellectually and knowing and loving God experientially.  A life of worship is living in the context of our faith, where we rejoice over being rescued and given a new and eternal life that we get to experience here and now.

This lesson’s purpose is to encourage followers of Jesus Christ to use their lives as an act of worship and a continuous expression of our love for the Lord.

In Matthew 22:37 tells us, Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment.

Community Worship – The Local Church

Hebrews 10:24-25 says “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

The most obvious act of worship is to attend the worship services at a local church.  Church services contain elements of prayer, praise, and scripture reading as the purpose of Christians gathering together is to give worship and glory to God and to instruct, encourage, and motivate the body of Christ to follow Christ’s example.

The church teaches Christians how to offer continuous worship to the Lord with their lives by teaching its members how to approach God, know Him, praise Him, and communicate with Him. Prayer, praise, and Bible study are disciplines that Christians can take outside of the four walls of the church building into their private lives and the community at large.  Our community gathering is to serve the purpose to worship the Lord and to encourage one another in doing so.  Regular attendance and support of the local church are necessary components in our lives of worship. While we tend to focus on our individual journey and relationship with God, in no way should membership to a local church body be forsaken. Engagement in the local church is the primary way to learn, grow, and mature in our Christian faith.

Individual Worship - Our Daily Practice – Disciplines and Demeanors.

Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

While church services may be once or twice a week, we are to worship the Lord continuously with our very lives. A daily practice of worship and communion with God is our reasonable service and is the foundation for a deep personal relationship with the Lord. If our attention and hearts are directed to God, we are blessed by His presence, guidance, strength, and love.  Our daily practice of worship will go beyond traditional Christian disciplines as we mature in the love of the Lord.

Psalm 95:6 says:  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Colossians 4:2 tells us to “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

Prayer – From silent prayers to simple conversations with God, our first act of worship is to communicate with God. Our faith in God is demonstrated through our regular communication through prayer: making our needs and thoughts known, offering our observations, and petitioning the Lord on behalf of others. The more we pray to the Lord the deeper our relationship with Him becomes as we place ourselves humbly before His presence in reverence and love.

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In John 6:63, Jesus tells us: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

Bible Study – Whether integrated into prayer or studied separately, a time to read and reflect on the word of God is one of the most effective ways to know the heart of God and to hear His voice as He reveals Himself through His word. Our lives are transformed by integrating His wisdom into our lives. To read, to understand, and to be changed by His word is the full intention of Bible study.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Walk – As we go about our day and walk through this life, we worship God and express our love for Him through our demonstration of our Identity in Christ through the way we live.

·       We Give Thanks.  Our worship of God begins and continues each day with a regular practice of gratitude where we give thanks to the Lord for the blessings in our life and the things we encounter, remembering His provision and His protection. 

·       We Meditate – We remind ourselves of our salvation and freedom in Christ and renew our mind with God’s word as we shape our thoughts, attitudes, and actions to be consistent with our new life and thus join in harmony with God’s will and ways for our lives.

·       We Repent – We worship God by speaking the truth and progressively turning from our old ways. We consider our old ways to no longer be a part of who we are. We recognize that we have been given the power to overcome and need only utilize it by living according to our new life in Christ. Our old habits are surrendered for a higher call and a higher purpose. We admit to the harmful effects our habits inflicted on our minds, bodies, and our relationship with God and others. Instead of fondly remembering our old habits, we examine them with the light of truth and expose the darkness, desperation, and futile nature of how we were seeking happiness and fulfillment without God.

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·       We Love - Our successful adaptation of our identity in Christ cannot be simply the product of mental ascent or a work of cognitive therapy alone.  We must love the Lord for who He is and for What He has done for us. If our actions are motivated by love and a desire to express our love for God, we will grow because we are acting and thinking in a way that is approved by Him. While we will never be able to earn God’s love, we will accept the fact that we are worthy of His love because He said we are.  If we are worthy, the Lord has given us the power to express our worthiness through thought and action. We can change because of the love we have received.  As we grow, we share the love of God we have received with others by sharing our hope and through performing good works motivated by love. As we progress and have the revelation of our ability to love Him, we begin to proclaim our love mentally or verbally to God continuously.

·       We Forgive.  Having been forgiven of everything we have ever done; we obey the word of God and forgive others as an act of worship. We let go of our hurt and offense. Our default response becomes forgiveness. While we can protect ourselves and advocate for what is right, we will forgive because we have been forgiven. We forgive others the worst because we are not the judge, God is.  He will repay. We instead forgive and pray for the transgressor to come to know God’s love and forgiveness and to repent.  Forgiveness is a spiritual discipline that requires practice. As we learn to forgive the small things that pop up in our daily experience moment to moment, we will gain the skill of forgiveness. 

While we are not saying we must forgive everything done against us in the past immediately, we are setting ourselves on a course to realize that goal. The goal of peace can be reached through forgiveness.

Work  

1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us….  whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Our work is another place where we can worship the Lord and give Him glory. Wherever we are in our professional lives, we are to worship the Lord by representing the kingdom of God to the best of our abilities through our work performance. While there may be limits to outright evangelism at work, everyone at your place of work should know that we are Christian. While we are there to work, moments of personal conversation should be utilized to give our testimony of God’s goodness, the truth of Jesus Christ, and to encourage others to follow Him.  When co-workers encounter loss or disease, we need to offer our prayers and hope. Our conduct should represent that of a servant: performing our duties morally, faithfully, and to the best of our abilities.

The Garment of Praise – Bridging the Mind and Heart 

Isaiah 61:3 tells is “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."

The remedy for the”spirit of heaviness” or lack of affection for God is to worship the Lord through praise.  Those whose faith is in their head can use the key of praise to experience the truth of God’s love in their hearts and to transform their relationship with God.

Ephesians 5:18-20  tells us “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,  giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

This verse reveals the spiritual reality that our worship of God with praise and thanksgiving is directly related to the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God.

Earnestly seeking the Lord through praise can open up a whole new dimension to one’s faith as the Holy Spirit will bring joy and revelations of Biblical truth in the midst of genuine enthusiastic praise.  Praise takes the power of the spoken word of God and brings it up a notch as the word is lifted in exaltation to the Lord. During praise, the Holy Spirit will bring into remembrance moments from your journey in Christ and will encourage and exhort you to keep going and to take steps in new directions.   

Psalm 9:1-2  I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. Sing to the Lord

Scripture repeatedly commands us to praise the Lord with song indicating a loud and lively expression of our praises. These verses indicate that praise can and should be done as a private individual practice.  If we are timid or concerned with what others will think of us when we worship, we can eliminate those concerns by praising the Lord in the privacy of our homes where we can prepare our favorite songs and praise the Lord completely uninhibited. We can even take our individual praise on the road with us and sing to the Lord in the car as we commute throughout our day. God is always with us, so it is appropriate to sing His praises whenever the opportunity arises.  Our lives should be a continuous soundtrack of praise to the Lord.

Praise as an individual practice draws you into a deep relationship with the Lord as you are continuously bringing the presence of the Lord into your environment as you bring honor and glory to Him.  Praise also lifts our spirits by keeping our spiritual eyes on the Lord and it renews our mind as we are proclaiming our identity in Christ with a musical demonstration of our faith. With every song of Praise we are binding ourselves to the Lord and reminding ourselves that we are experiencing our new life in Christ and that our membership in the kingdom of God is an undeniable fact as our fruit of praise shows that the Lord has our heart.

Psalm 149:3 says “Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.”  

As we praise privately, we can even incorporate the joy of dancing for the Lord into our practice.  Dancing, raising hands, clapping, and stomping feet to music engage one’s entire body as an act of worship, exercising the body as well as the spirit.  For those too timid to ever dance in public, a private practice of praise allows us to pour out devotion to the Lord without limits. 

Psalm 34:3 says  Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.”

Our private practice of praise prepares us for corporate praise. As we praise privately, we become more confident to join and to contribute to the enthusiastic praise at corporate gatherings. As we learn to unashamedly praise the Lord publicly, we become an encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ to do likewise.  While our praises are directed to the Lord, they become an object lesson to others that loud enthusiastic praise is an appropriate expression of our faith and we can rejoice in it together.  Our corporate praise edifies one another and brings us together as a community joined together by the love of God.

The Heart of the Matter

All the various ways to worship the Lord that we have presented are to be done with the “heart of worship” – with genuine heartfelt devotion and love for God, as a part of our daily Christian lifestyle.

Our faith is not a political ideology or a philosophy of living with its principles and precepts. Our faith is a relationship. It’s a love relationship and so the power of worship to transform us must be fueled by a love for God.

The defining characteristic of a Christian is the love we have for God and the love that overflows from that relationship to others. 

Wrap Up

As disciples of Jesus Christ, our worship goes beyond a weekly observance. Our lives become a continuous expression of our love for the Lord as we incorporate various Christian practices to maintain and mature our relationship with Him.  More than intellectual study or following a moral code of ethics, our lives of worship are a spiritual practice that seeks the infinite wisdom of the Lord not to know facts or to show ourselves approved but to familiarize ourselves with the One who first loved us. Our obedience to biblical principles isn’t done out of a fear of punishment or out of doing one’s duty as much as it is our heartfelt response to demonstrate our love and understanding of God.

The importance of a heart connection to our faith is what makes Christ’s burden a light burden as we can endure anything for the One we love. Praise as a private spiritual practice is recommended to bridge the mind and heart of faith together and to develop a deeper experiential bond to the Lord.  Regardless of which spiritual discipline we practice, His presence is experienced the more we seek Him with our hearts and minds, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.  

 

Review and Examine.

1.    How can worship help us in our recovery or our Christian walk? 

3.    In what ways do we worship the Lord in a church service?

4.    In what ways can we worship the Lord in our daily lives?

5.    Why is praise an important spiritual discipline? In what ways can we praise the Lord?

6.    How can our work be used to worship the Lord?

7.    What is the most important part of your worship practice? Why?


 ------Join us next week for the next Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course Lesson----

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My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship