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Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts

Friday, October 1, 2021

Blue, do they have a prayer? – Checking the Clues 3 - Purity 538


 

Blue, do they have a prayer? – Checking the Clues 3   - Purity 538

Purity 538 09/30/2021  Purity 538 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of  a pink and orange sunrise sky comes to us from a friend who was up early and decided to share their view near their home in upstate New York on social media this past Monday.  If that all sounds a little vague, it is because although I thought I recalled the particular friend that shared this photo, this morning I find myself with somewhat of a mystery on my hands as I am not sure of the friend, or possibly ex-friend that shared this photo.    

Recently, I decided to “downsize” my FB friends list to “tighten my circle” to just include actual friends and acquaintances or people who I have had some interactions within the recent past.

Last night at my discipleship class, we discussed how the world can cause us to feel insignificant or offer ways to feel significant. 

The number of your FB friends is one barometer that we could use to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. Last week I had approximately 700 friends. While that number might seem high to some, I know others that have over a thousand friends, some with over two thousand.  So by that standard I could either feel pretty good about myself or feel like I wasn’t as good as others.  But honestly, did that number make me a better person or more loved?  No, it didn’t.

Because I recently have found the person who will be my significant other for the rest of my life and I was aware of the shallowness of “friendships” that made up those 700 friends,  I decided I wanted to feel a little more insignificant in the world’s eyes I guess and unfriended around 300 people or things since last week.  And you know what? I don’t feel like I am half the man I used to be by that almost 40% decrease in “friends” because my value is determined by God and who I am in Christ. 

God doesn’t care about the number of friends or followers you have He just cares that you make Jesus your friend, Lord, and Savior.  And when you do that He also cares that follow Him. 

So this morning as the namesake of the kid’s show, Blue’s Clues, has been tromping through my imagination, as we investigate the “clues” that would reveal that someone was a “real” or authentic Christian, I was joined by our blue and furry friend during my morning prayers.        

Blue’s murmuring indicated that  the topic of prayer would be the next “clue” that we look for and examine to determine if it could help us determine if someone who claimed to be a Christian actually was a Christian.   

As a reminder, this search for the “clues” of authentic Christian faith, was motivated by the desire of several friends to find a Christian life partner.  We are not to cast stones or disparage the practices or lack of spiritual practices in the other members of the body Christ.  Everyone’s relationship with God is highly personal and we have the liberty in Christ to choose to worship and relate to God in the ways we choose.  We are not creating a check list of necessary things that “make” someone a Christians. We are merely looking for ways to discern how someone’s profession of faith compares to their practices.  Are they for real?

Christ said that we would know His disciples by their fruit and so in our search for a life partner we want to be sure that the fruit growing in our potential partner’s lives are being watered by the word of God and not by the dry cisterns of the world.  

Discipled Christians, Christians who are “walking in the Spirit”. or believers living by a Christian worldview or lifestyle can have a wide variation in their prayer practices.  

     

So in our evaluation of our supposed “Christian” friend, we should observe and question the role of prayer in their lives.  Looking and not asking is probably the best tactic to get your initial impression of someone’s prayer life.   So what do you see?

Do they pray? Do they talk about prayer? Do they have a regular prayer practice? Do they pray at church? Do they pray over meals?   

The presence of unprompted or noncompulsory prayer or a verified prayer practice outside of corporate gatherings in someone’s life could be an indicator of authentic Christian faith.  While charlatans may go to great lengths to appear holy in front of the grandstands, they may reveal themselves by having little or no prayer in their lives when nobody is looking.      

Do they offer to pray for others?  And if they do offer, do you get the impression that they are actually praying for them?   

People who believe in the power of prayer will generally offer to pray for others and when they offer, they will add the person to their prayer list or pray for the other person immediately.  If people are not offering to pray for others, we could question whether they actually believe in prayer, or the God who answers them.   

Do they pray out loud? If they prayer out loud, what do their prayers indicate about what they know and believe about God?

Jesus warned us about people who pray out loud and in public because they may just be doing so to appear spiritual to others, feel good about themselves, or seek to manipulate people.  The content of the verbal prayers can reveal quite a bit about what the person believes theologically and can even give us insights into their personality, sincerity, and intelligence.  

Do they pray silently? 

Perhaps the hardest to draw any conclusions from are those who pray silently. Silent prayers could indicate an intense and devoted faith or could just be an outward expression of an empty practice.  If you see someone praying silently with their eyes closed and you catch them “peaking” and looking around and then closing their eyes again, you may have discovered a sign that the person isn’t as devout as you thought they were.    

So what do all these things say about someone’s faith? 

While we can gain some real insight into the possible levels of devotion and maturity of the person we are observing, only God can know their hearts.  Just because someone hasn’t developed a robust prayer life doesn’t mean they don’t have faith in Christ.  

So we shouldn’t judge someone too harshly because of the observations we glean from their prayer life, but we shouldn’t dismiss what we see either.  God gave us eyes to see and minds to make conclusions based on our observations and we would be wise to use what He has given us to make wise decisions when it comes to committed relationships.

After you have gathered some data on the person’s prayer life through your observations, the best way to know feel about prayer and their faith in general is to discuss it.  When you talk about prayer or any aspects of faith with someone, listen what they say, how they say it, and also consider what they are not saying. Our conversations with others can give us great “clues” as to who they are and what they believe. 

So prayer, or lack of prayer, in someone’s life could be a great “clue” to tell you whether someone is an authentic Christian but before making any quick judgements about someone’s faith and character look for other “clues” that will solve the mystery of whether this “Christian” who has come into your life is for real and the one who will walk with you toward the Lord for the rest of your days.      

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NKJV)
8  But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

Today’s verse encourages us to put on the armor of God and to be serious about our Christian walk.   

Ephesians is usually the scripture that is pointed to when we mention the armor of God but as we can see in today’s verse, Paul uses similar language in Thessalonians to encourage us to walk by faith.   

The breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation that is to be our helmet demonstrate that our hearts and minds are to be covered by the truth of who we are in Christ.  The faith we have in God’s love and His promise to save us are the means by which we can walk through this world with peace and confidence.  

God’s love for us and the promise of salvation makes us accepted, significant, and secure and the Apostle Paul is directing us to “clothe ourselves” with these aspects of our faith every day. 

The command to be sober indicates that we should take our faith seriously and really live it out.  For the application of our faith to our lives is how we can experience the fruit of the Spirit.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Remind yourself of his love for you and the fact that you have the hope of salvation ever since you placed your faith in Christ. So we have the hope of salvation for ourselves, but we can also share that hope with the world around us.   

 

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

Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s The Blended Family’s God’s Recipe for Success.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

II. Characteristics

The French, known for their exquisite breads and pastries, have a saying, "Mauvaise brioche, mauvaise maison." If the dough is not good, nothing else will be either. Making a good brioche is not difficult, but it requires patience and a basic understanding of the properties of the dough. Brioche dough is unusually heavy from the weight of so much butter and eggs. It takes longer to rise than ordinary bread, and the dough will be very sticky and hard to work with. Failures are inevitable when you're learning to make brioche, as well as when you are learning the properties of blended families and how to work with them. Relationships get sticky and hard to deal with. But as any chef will tell you, failure is the beginning of wisdom and understanding.

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established." (Proverbs 24:3)

Stages of Blended Family Adjustments

A. Fantasy Stage... Unrealistic Expectations

  • The dream of gaining happiness and wholeness through a new marriage
  • The dream that I won't make the same mistakes I made in my first marriage
  • The dream of marrying a model parent who will love my children
  • The dream that I will love my spouse's children as my own
  • The dream that our love is enough to conquer all problems

B. Factual Stage... Reality Sets in

  • The dream of a unified family life is not reality.
  • The guilt, jealousy and anger from former relationships are damaging to the new relationships.
  • The children are mourning their lost parent and are not accepting the stepparent.
  • The transition to a new family becomes more difficult than expected.
  • The problems seem too difficult, accompanied by a strong temptation to give up.

 

Argument:

"You're not my mother."

Answer:

"You are so right. However, I am the mother in this home."

 

Argument:

"You're not my dad. I don't have to do what you say."

Answer:

"Your mother and I have talked about this, and we have agreed that this decision is best for you."

C. Fruitful Stage... growth and Maturity

  • The realization that a blended family is not ideal; there will always be a unique set of family problems
  • The realization that mistakes will be made, but God uses mistakes to build character and strengthen the family unit
  • The realization that it is going to take the cooperation of both partners to overcome difficulties and make the marriage work
  • The realization that it takes time, and it may be years before there are any signs of unity or smooth functioning relationships
  • The realization that God will use this blended family as a source of spiritual growth, a means of healing the past and a demonstration of His unconditional love

Question: "I have two children by another marriage, and my husband has three. His thirteen-year-old son lives with us, and I have an eleven-year-old son and a fourteen-year-old daughter. This is the second marriage for both of us. We seem to constantly disagree on discipline issues. It seems that my children have to make the most adjustments. My husband rarely disciplines his son, yet he is very critical of my children and their behavior. This is causing a lot of anger between us, and I am not sure our relationship will survive. How can we overcome the serious differences that are dividing our family?"

Answer: It is common for each spouse to put his or her child's interests first. But when the children's interests are first, over that of the other spouse and his or her children, it becomes a recipe for dissension. Although blended families such as yours tend to be very difficult, there is hope. Both you and your husband must be willing to agree on appropriate behavior and discipline for all the children. Do absolutely nothing until you can apply the policy to which you both agree. Ultimately, you will begin to discipline by taking each other's feelings into account. As you learn to agree in other areas of conflict, you will begin learning how to act in the interests of all family members.

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4)


Biblical Counseling Keys: The Blended Family: God's Recipe for Success.

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, September 13, 2021

Falling Down and Walking Away – Prophecy of Pain and Loss – Purity 522

Falling Down and Walking Away – Prophecy of Pain and Loss  – Purity 522                                                     

Purity 522 09/13/2021 Purity 522 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of an August sunset over Lake Ontario that features the moon comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography.  I am a huge admirer of the work of photographer, Rocco Saya, and periodically share some of his “views”.   The last time I shared a photo of his was of a beautiful sunset on September 4th.  The “title” of my blog that day was “Falling Down and Finding Comfort in His Presence”, referring to a misstep that I had made in my plan for optimal health due to stress.   I had no idea that the association of my title and Rocco’s photo could later be said to have prophetic underpinnings.  

Unfortunately, four days later, on September 8th, while photographing waterfowl on the on the shores of Breitbeck Park, Rocco fell off one of the large boulders there and broke his fibula and had to be rescued by firemen and EMT’s. His injury is quite painful and will require surgery.  So I am asking for prayers for comfort and healing for Rocco during this difficult time.  He injured himself while doing what he loved, and we pray that his recovery is complete, and he is fully restored to return to capturing the beauty of God’s creatures and creation.  

We never know what the next day in our lives will bring and I often try to encourage people to be intentional in the steps they make from day to day and to express the love they have for their friends and family now because we are not promised tomorrow.  

Part of the process of my sharing daily encouragements began when I agreed to be an accountability partner with someone and started sending them daily texts. I eventually started sharing that daily text with a group of men, and later several other individuals.  Even to this day, the message that I put out on the blog 6 days a week, is still texted to  that group of men.  As time has passed, on occasion I will get a notice that someone in the group would like to be taken off the list.  The texts are obviously voluntary so even though I am little disappointed to see people leave the group text, I immediately honor the request and hold no hard feelings towards those who “walk away”.    

On Wednesday, last week I sent out the group text and received an indication from one of the men on the group text that he would like to be taken off the list.  I just gave a “thumbs up” to his comment and the next day didn’t include him the text anymore. 

I just found out this morning that this person is no longer on this earth. They passed away two days ago. They were only 42 years old. I don’t know the details of their death and don’t wish to speculate but I really wish they had reached out to me and taken me up on my invitations to walk through life on the path of Christian Discipleship together.  Christ came to give us a new life and through following Him I know that we are given the power to change who we are. 

God gives us free will to choose to go His way or to choose to walk away.  Many people that I talk to about living out their faith indicate that they would really like to do that “someday”.  Unfortunately, if we keep going our own way and choose to walk away from the love that God wants to freely give, “someday” may never come.   

So, I don’t mean to bum anyone out on a Monday morning, but I want to encourage you today that your current situation could be worse, you could have a broken leg, and for those who are suffering a worse fate than that, you could be dead.   So going to work today might not seem so bad if we think about what has happened to two men who were just going about their business when something unexpected happened to change their course.   

So I encourage you to take care as you walk out into the world today and to appreciate the life and the health that you have.  Look for some beauty in your experience as you spend another day on earth. Appreciate the people and the things you have in your life and enjoy them. 

But most importantly, I would say to draw close to your heavenly Father by confirming or establishing your faith in Jesus Christ. Eternity can be a heartbeat away and if we are not careful the “someday” that we intend to make peace with God, may never come.    

So keep walking and talking with God. Tell the people in your life that you love them and share with them the hope that is found in Christ alone, the hope that will take you from here to eternity and beyond.

 

Today’s meditation verse is drawn from” from the Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries provided resource:  “Freedom: Our Life in Christ” Memory Verse Cards set: 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Colossians 3:2 (NASB)
2  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Today’s verse commands us to put our attention on the big picture.  

Considering that people lose their lives every day, we should be greatly concerned with what will happen to us at the hour of our death.  Luckily, Jesus Christ came to earth to warn us of the dangers of being separated from God when we die.  If you read the four  gospel accounts that detail Christ’s earthly ministry in the New Testament, you will quickly realize that “meek and mild” Jesus really taught a lot about hell and the great value of gaining entrance into the kingdom of God.

I don’t mean to put an emphasis on salvation with this verse but let’s be real! Setting your mind on the things above is great but if you don’t secure your salvation by putting your faith in Jesus Christ it won’t matter how much you pondered the mysteries of theology or doctrine.

So first things first, make Christ you Lord and Savior. Okay?  -

Then, with your new and eternal life in Christ, we should really set our minds on things above, meaning that we should ponder how God would want us to live our lives.

Again, it won’t matter how much we think about the things of God, unless we do something with our knowledge about God and our speculations about how to do His will. We need to actually apply them to our lives.  

We’ve all heard the phrase about being so heavenly minded that someone was no earthly good. We don’t want to be that guy. God gives us the revelation of His truth and wisdom so we can put our faith into action.  

So secure your salvation with faith in Jesus Christ and then experience the peace and power of walking in the Spirit by changing your ways of living to God’s ways.  Although we are saved for all of eternity in an instant when we place our faith in Christ, our sanctification – the process of becoming more like Christ- is a progressive process that requires the renewing of our minds and the practice of living according to God’s instructions and principles that are drawn from His word.  

The things of this earth may seem compelling but most of them will pass away or lead us astray from the purpose God has for us. So set your mind on things above and live out your faith everyday by living in the presence of God and according to His wisdom.


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

 

Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s Boundaries: How to Set Them, How to Keep Them.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

D. What Characteristics Accompany Codependency?

Jeff Gillooly and Tonya Harding . . . their marriage is punctuated with violence, restraining orders, divorce filings, and enmeshment, which continues even after the marriage is over.

Who knows what motivates Jeff to conspire to injure his ex-wife's rival, but codependency seems to characterize his relationship with Tonya. The skater's former agent Michael Rosenberg says Jeff and Tonya are incompatible and others chime in that the couple fight frequently.

James Golden, Tonya's stepfather, observes: "If she looked at someone, he would get mad. He'd manipulate her real easy. He has such a possessive nature and is so jealous of her." In contrast, the Bible describes authentic love. . . .

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."

(1 Corinthians 13:4)

Having a "codependent relationship" is being dependent on another person to the point of being addicted to, controlled, and manipulated by that person. It is the natural by-product of having little or no boundaries because it is driven by the lack of personal wholeness and sufficiency.

After all, if we can't depend on ourselves to meet our deep emotional needs, then it seems only logical to look to others to meet those needs—to depend on others to fill our emotional emptiness and to give us a sense of significance and purpose in life.

To be needed by someone is certainly ego-boosting and to meet that person's needs can be exhilarating . . . but to fail can be crushing, and to be rejected can be nothing less than catastrophic!

The problem for codependents is not their dependency but rather the object of their desire. The fact is, we are all dependent creations, but our desire should be for our Creator . . . our only true Need-Meeter . . . and not another dependent creature. As the psalmist wrote...

"I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

(Psalm 73:23-26)

Codependency Is...

  • Marked by an insecure, dependent person spending an inordinate amount of time and energy meeting other people's needs and desires while neglecting personal needs and desires
  • Based on the belief that the subservient helper, the rescuer, the enabler has no inherent value or worth and can gain significance only by meeting the needs of other people
  • Rooted in the premise that one person not only determines the worth of another person but also has the ability to control that person's thoughts, feelings, actions, and the processes surrounding them
  • Identified as a relationship dominated by fear and control where power is exaggerated, misapplied, misdirected, and generally abused in an effort to get inner needs met
  • Established by boundary violators who seek to use a series of tactical maneuvers to get their own way without regard for anyone else's feelings or desires
  • Characterized by the skillful use of manipulation through deception and intimidation, goading guilt, heartrending stories, unsolicited and undesired advice, anger, and even threats

The Bible gives this description of those who are held captive to codependent relationships. . . .

" . . . they loved human praise more than praise from God."

(John 12:43)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Boundaries: How to See Them - How to Keep Them.

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Fool for Love – Things Hoped For - Purity 505


 Fool for Love – Things Hoped For                                                                                                                                        

Purity 505 08/24/2021   Purity 505 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a field of sunflowers stretching out as far as the eye can see comes to us from a friend who visited the Sand Flat Orchard in Fonda New York on Sunday.  I love how my friend also captured the brilliance of the sun that, although obscured by the clouds, cannot be denied, and comes shining through. Also if you notice, the vast majority of these sunflowers are in full bloom, but there is this one, just left of center, that wasn’t there yet but whose inverted petals are thick with the promise of bursting forth into glory.  We can hope that it will bloom!

Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  A group of friends have recently decided to exercise their faith and have joined one another to go to the Lord in prayer with each other’s hopes and petitions.  They recognize that the Lord is sovereign and gives good things to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.   So it is my prayer that all my friends, this particular prayer group and other friends that are hoping for things not seen, receive what the Lord has for them.     

If you notice, I didn’t say “what my friends want”.  As someone who has cried out to the Lord in prayer for all kinds of things since making Jesus my Lord and Savior, I have been through the ringer in my journey of faith, a path of Christian Discipleship that one could describe as a “trail of tears” as I have literally wept and “hoped and prayed with all my might.” over things I have wanted.

I have prayed for healing, finances, favor, opportunities, love, and death at various times in my walk with the Lord.  I have seen my prayers answered just like I wanted, and I have been bitterly disappointed when they weren’t.   I have also been greatly relieved in hindsight that the Lord didn’t answer some of my prayers.   

One of things that I have prayed for in the past that I would caution my friends to consider thinking about before praying for,  is love.  Believe me, I understand loneliness, obsession, and the desire to restore relationships and its not just because I studied these subjects in school.  In the past few years I have prayed for the restoration of my marriage and , after it became clear to me that my marriage covenant was dissolved by the conditions put forth in the Word of God and the laws of the state, I prayed for new love and a new wife. 

In my pain of my divorce, I really wanted comfort and thought that a Christian wife would be just the thing to make all things new and to heal my broken heart.   I even had dreams and hopes about a particular Christian woman who I thought the Lord was drawing me to.

So I prayed for love. Before I ever approached the person with my any indication of my feelings, believe me I prayed, repeatedly.  I was really hoping my prayers would just bring them to me. I didn’t want to have to approach them. I wanted God just to have them show up on my doorstep one day!

Ain’t no fool like an old fool, right?  And there probably isn’t any bigger fool that an “old fool” for love.  

Part of me was content to just sit back and pray for my dream lover to come to me, but after a while I realized that I wasn’t living the way God wanted me to. I was obsessed over some future outcome, some unseen hope that I had real mixed feelings about.  So instead of torturing myself, I decided I had to know the truth no matter where it would take me.

So I expressed my interest in a romantic relationship, without confessing my undying love or anything like that, and discovered that while they were flattered, they were not interested. Unfortunately that person wasn’t getting the same calls from God to be my spouse.  

While I could have hoped against hope and decided to just keep praying and wait for God to move, and to endure until the time is right, and this person “sees the light.”, I decided that if I really trusted the Lord I was going to have to accept what He had for me, or in this case, didn’t have for me.   

I was reading James 5 this morning and there are very encouraging verses about prayer and perseverance in that chapter but there is also a verse that tells us to not swear oaths and to let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No”, lest you fall into judgment.

So, although I didn’t realize it at the time, I sort of used this Biblical principle  to decide to let this person’s “No” be “No” and have gone on to use it to let others lack interest in me to also be a “No.” without having to suffer the embarrassment of asking for one.   

In my fumbling on this faith walk, I have come to realize that in matters of the heart God allows us free will.  He doesn’t make us love and follow Him. So I think He isn’t going to make the object of our desires to love and follow us, either.   

Also when we pray for love, I think that we are really blinded by the fact that God is love and that we may be failing to fully accept and experience the love He has for us.  

There are several verses in the Bible that indicate that a marriage relationship is not the thing that completes us.  The idea of a “soul mate” that completes isn’t really found in scripture. Colossians 2:10 says that Christ completes us.  So my question to the lovelorn would be: “Have you experienced the love of the Lord? Or “Do you feel complete in Christ?”

If the answer to those questions is “No.”, I would suggest that we might want to pray for that too.      

But don’t get me wrong, I’m a fool for love after all.  So prayer for the things you want, what ever they may be, but remember that just because the word indicates that we will receive the desires of our hearts doesn’t mean that our hearts are necessarily in the right place. 

In our ignorance and penchant for instant gratification, we may be blind to the fact that the things that we “want” are not what are best and could cause a great deal of suffering. 

So keep walking and talking with God. Seek His presence, wisdom, and ways. As you walk, ask Him what He wants for you instead of demanding what you want for Him.

If you listen, you may learn that He’s got a better plan and that His desires for you are better than your own.  Pray, be faithful, and follow where He leads. Allow Him to change your heart and to open your eyes to the new life He has for you.  

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NKJV)
2  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

Today’s verse calls us to remain faithful every day for things can change suddenly.  

In terms of the end times, there are no necessary signs that need to come for Christ to return. He could return today.  

Also in this world we are never promised tomorrow.

I just saw a story about the sudden loss of life that came in the wake of the latest tropical storm. Apparently a mother and son in Tennessee sought to escape flood waters by climbing to a roof of a building only to have the structure collapse.  The son was rescued but the mother died.  Last week before the storm came, there was no hint that this woman’s life would be taken.  

The eminent return of Christ and the possibility of death makes it clear that we need to have a full assurance of our salvation and right standing before God.   It also should drive us to share the gospel with those around us.

Our faith in Christ should be at the forefront of our minds and the message on our hearts. Our faith empowers us to live with joy and peace through all the troubles of this life and gives us a hope that we can stand on for all of eternity.

So seek the Lord and seek to make Him known.    

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 12.

 

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

When You Are Tempted to Criticize or Reject Others

Discipline Yes, Judgment No

Are there any occasions when Christians should confront each other on matters of behavior? Yes. We are required by God to confront and restore those who have clearly violated the boundaries of Scripture. Jesus instructed: "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed" (Matthew 18:15, 16).

Let me alert you to an important distinction: discipline is an issue of confronting observed behavior—that which you have personally witnessed (see Galatians 6:1); judgment is an issue of attacking character. We are instructed to confront others concerning sins we have observed, but we are not supposed to judge their character (see Matthew 7:1; Romans 14:13). Disciplining others is a part of our ministry; judging character is God's responsibility.

For example, imagine you just caught your child telling a lie. "You're a liar," you say to him. That is judgment, an attack on his character. However, if you say, "Son, you just told a lie," that is discipline. You are holding him accountable for an observed behavior.

Let's say a Christian friend admits to you that he cheated on his income tax return. If you call him a thief, you are judging his character. You can only confront him on the basis of what you see: "By cheating on your taxes you are stealing from the government, and that's wrong."

When you discipline others, it must be based on something you have seen or heard personally, not on something you suspect or have heard through the grapevine. If you confront their behavior and they do not respond to you, next time you are to bring two or three witnesses—other eyewitnesses of their sin. If you are the only eyewitness, you confront them alone and leave it at that. It is their word against your word, and that won't stand up in a court of law. If they won't own up to their sin and repent, do we just let them get away with it? Yes, but God isn't finished with them. Imagine the conviction every time they see you.

Much of what we call discipline is nothing less than character assassination. We say to our disobedient children: "You dumb kid"; "You're a bad boy"; "You're worthless." We say to falling Christian brothers and sisters: "You're not a good Christian"; "You're a thief"; "You're a lustful dirtbag." Such judgmental statements don't correct or edify. Your children are not liars; they are children of God who have told a lie. Your Christian friends are not thieves; they are children of God who have taken something that doesn't belong to them. Believers caught in moral failures are not perverts; they are children of God who compromised their purity. We must hold people accountable for their sinful behavior, but we are never allowed to denigrate their character.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, August 23, 2021

He Calls Me Out Upon the Waters – Finding Him in the Mystery - Purity 504


He Calls Me Out Upon the Waters – Finding Him in the Mystery                                                                                                                                                               

Purity 504 08/23/2021  Purity 504 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s epic shot of a solitary figure walking into the surf on one of the beaches of the Hamptons of Long Island under a blazing sun comes to us from a friend who spent the weekend there with friends and who has a history of bravely walking into the thick of things to help others. My friend’s bravery has been evidenced in their life history as they have not only served our country with military service but have also met the pain of loss to suicide by volunteering for , and leading, the cause of suicide prevention in their local community. So to see my friend enjoy the summer season and the company of friends fills my heart with joy.   

This scene reminds me of the Hillsong United song, “When Oceans Rise”, that begins:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown
Where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours
You are mine

As we are called into another work week and may have to clean up some damage done over the weekend, we really don’t know what challenges we will face in the “great unknown, where feet may fail”.

Last week, I visited with friends who were hosting some unexpected house guests, a couple who were old friends that were drawn to the capital district because one of their parent’s health deteriorated quickly and whose life was expiring.  While my friends and their guests are Christians and were meeting the inevitability of loss with their faith, the stress of the situation and the uncertainty were paying a toll on all the parties involved so our small group prayed for our friends to have strength, compassion, and guidance in the days ahead last week.

Little did we know at the time, but the night we prayed for the situation, the house guests’ beloved parent would be called into eternity. The house guests returned home, and my friends attended the funeral this past Friday.  

They stated that whole situation was hard, but they were glad that they had made their home available to their friends and were there to support them in their time of need. They also testified to the fact that everyone’s faith in Christ was a tremendous comfort and that our prayers for strength, compassion, and guidance were answered.  

Even though we may walk through tough times in life, when the oceans are deep, and waters of trials and tribulations rise, when we have a relationship with  God through faith in Jesus Christ, we will “find Him in the mystery” by calling on His name and keeping our eyes above the waves.  When our worlds are turned upside down by changing circumstances and loss, if we keep our eyes on the Lord, our faith will stand because He will never leave us or forsake us. He makes a way for us in this life and prepares a place for us beyond it.    

So keep your eyes above the waves and keep walking and talking with God. He calls us to walk towards Him through the waves of change in our lives, even on Mondays, and if we call upon His name. we will find Him in the mystery and feel the warmth and peace of His embrace, as we can confidently say to the Lord that: I am Yours, and You are mine.”


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Mark 12:30 (NKJV)
30  And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus who informs us that we are to have an all-consuming love for the Lord. 

Forgive my silliness but as I wrote this I began to think about how we are to love the Lord and what that should like and as I contemplated it the word “devoted” came to mind as a description of the depth of feeling that we should have for the God who made us, gave us everything we have, and who loved us enough to show us the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to forgive us our sins and to provide us with mercy, grace, and a new and eternal life.   The word devoted triggered a memory of the song “Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton John.   

That ballad from Grease, just spoke of the depth of feeling that a young woman had for her less than perfect beau who had temporarily “pushed her love aside” but was alas hopelessly devoted to him all the same.     

Unlike our human relationships, God is perfect and the depths of His goodness, wisdom, and love are limitless.  If we seek the Lord’s presence in our lives and seek to know Him more, all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength will become “hopelessly devoted” to Him. Our realization of His continual presence and His rule over the course of our lives will give us an idea of the great love He has for us even though we can be quite unlovable at times.  

While God is not pinning away for us like Olivia Newton John, He has been patient in waiting for us to accept His love and the new life He has for us.  

Some Christians come to God with great joy upon hearing the gospel, but as they still must walk through the troubles of this life and their prayers aren’t answered in the way that they wish, their hearts can grow cold toward God.  When that happens we lead a defeated life.

That’s why Christ reminds us that our first commandment is to love the Lord with such an intensity that we never forget what He has done for us, who He is, and the fact that He is actively working all things together for our good. 

That promise from Romans 8:28 is conditional. He works all things together for good only for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  As it turns out, today’s verse tells us that our purpose is to love Him.  

So remind yourself of the wonders of God’s love for you and endeavor to make a practice of reaching out to God with your heart. You don’t have to worry about Him “pushing your love aside”. Our devotion for God is not hopeless. Your love is never wasted on God. He can receive it and He loves to pour out His love for you in return.  So obey Christ’s first commandment and love God with all you heart, soul, mind, and strength.   


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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing in Chapter 12.

 

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

When You Are Tempted to Criticize or Reject Others


Focus on Responsibilities

Satan will also tempt us to focus on our rights instead of our responsibilities. For example, a husband may chip at his wife because he thinks he has a right to expect her to be submissive. A wife may nag her husband because she expects him to be the spiritual leader. Parents harass their children because they think it is their right to demand obedience. Members raise a stink in the local church when they think their rights have been violated by pastors, boards, or other church members.

Anytime a nation, a group of people, or even individuals focus on their rights at the exclusion of their responsibilities, they are going down. No culture can withstand that kind of self-centered orientation. Husbands, having a submissive wife is not your right; but being a loving, caring husband is your responsibility. Headship is not a right to be demanded but an awesome responsibility to be fulfilled.

Similarly, wives, having a spiritual husband is not your right; but being a submissive, supportive wife is your responsibility. Parents, expecting your children to obey you is not your right; but disciplining your children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord is your responsibility. Being a member of the Body of Christ and of a local church is an incredible privilege, not a right. This privilege comes with the awesome responsibility to behave as God's children and become a lover of God and people. When we stand before Christ, He will not ask us if we received everything we had coming to us. He will reward us for how well we fulfilled our responsibilities.

Don't Play the Role of Conscience

I grew up having a good, moral background and going to church, but I wasn't a Christian. In those days I really enjoyed beer, especially on a hot day after mowing the lawn. When I received Christ as a young man, I joined a church that preached total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. I didn't drink enough to be a drunk, so I decided to scratch that rule and have my occasional beer. Two years later the Lord brought a sense of conviction about my beer drinking. Along with the conviction came the power to obey, so I gave it up.

Sometimes we are tempted to play the role of the Holy Spirit or the conscience in someone else's life in areas where the Scriptures are not crystal clear: "Christians don't drink or smoke"; "You should spend at least 30 minutes a day in prayer and Bible study"; "Buying lottery tickets is not good stewardship."

I am convinced the Holy Spirit knows exactly when to bring conviction in matters of conscience. It is part of the process of sanctification that He superintends. When we attempt to play the role of the Holy Spirit in someone else's life, we misdirect their battle with God onto ourselves; and we are unqualified for the task. In doing so, we often do little more than convey criticism and rejection.


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


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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship