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Showing posts with label Presence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Presence. Show all posts

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Falling Down and Finding Comfort in His Presence - Purity 515

Falling Down and Finding Comfort in His Presence -      

Purity 515 09/04/2021  Purity 515 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the first sunset of September on the shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego NY comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography. This photo just makes me have to say, “My Lord and My God.” as Rocco Saya was definitely in the right place, at the right time when he captured this magnificent scene with its stunningly beautiful contrast of colors that highlight the natural beauty of God’s creation.  Moments like the one captured here just takes your breath away and I know if I had been there I would have been seated on that park bench and would have just been overcome by the goodness of God and sat there basking in His transcendent beauty until the light dissipated and glory faded to black. Or until I got bored.  

Yeah, let’s face it we humans have a limited capacity for staying in the presence of God and quite frankly as much as we should seek the Lord’s presence, wisdom, and love, the linear nature of our existence in the space time continuum demands that we move on.  Our fleshly can move us along as well.

I am sure we all have experienced moments in life where our pleasure or joy was such that it made us wish that it would never end.  When we find moments of euphoria, love, or peace,  we want to hold on to them and we get the irrational desire to “stay in the moment” or “keep the party going” or “rest in the love” forever.  I am delighted to say that I have been there several times in my life.  Its good to have moments of pleasure, love, or peace but trying to hold on to or recreate those moments in and of themselves can be where we go astray. 

Getting drunk for the first time felt strange, new, relaxing, and liberating but deciding to pursue drunkenness as a means of happiness leads to diminishing returns, various negative consequences, and addiction.   The pleasures of sex, food, travel, and other experiences can also lead to cycles of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and dependency.   

It’s easy to point out the limitations of these physical or worldly pleasures and the dangers of going to extremes with them.  Often people state that the key to mastering the pleasure principle in these areas of life is to use moderation. 

Moderation works for some but more often or not “moderation” really just means maintenance until the next time we go overboard, and we have to deal with the extreme negative consequences of when we threw off the reigns of self-control because “moderation” wasn’t what our flesh or selfish desires wanted to do. These breaks from moderation can occur because of stress, the desire to bust loose, or on “special occasions” where we give ourselves license to let go.   

Personally, I have made great strides in conquering my addictive cycles but even in my current state I am still vulnerable to treating stress with a letting go of restraint in areas of the flesh. 

Yesterday, I found out that my work assignments are changing once again and while I am sure that I can handle the challenges that lie ahead, a big part of me wanted to “stay in the moment” of my former position.  Arbitrary changes happen sometimes, and we have to adapt to the new circumstances.  Just how we don’t want our ‘good times” or moments of pleasure to end, we don’t want our status quo to change.  

So although I accepted the news and assured myself that I have “been there and done that” the old anxious patterns of fear, loathing, and dissatisfaction where barking at the door and while I didn’t let them in, I found myself demanding comfort for “poor me”.  So on the way home, I picked up some food that was ready to eat and overindulged at dinner last night.

The food I chose to overindulge in wasn’t outside of my food plan really, so I will warn my friends, if you are going to fall down try to maintain some control and fall where it is relatively safe.  I am somewhat ashamed to admit that “I needed that” but these bumps in the road don’t need to derail our progress.  I can overcome one instance of eating more than I should. The key is to not stay there and deciding to continue going in the way I should go, with the new day.   

Our walk through life is going to have its challenges and we can learn from our mistakes.  In the past one of these “comfort food” binges would have been a no holds bar smorgasbord of extreme indulgence that would have had no limits in terms of the types, or the amounts of food consumed. Typically, the buying spree of treats would have exceeded what I could eat in one day, so the food binge would have continued for another day or two and possibly set into motion an extended period of neglect or an abandonment of any attempts to be healthy all together.

But those days are over, I only bought one overindulgent meal and now I am committed to get back on track today and feed my spirit rather than my flesh.  So today I will draw close to God and enjoy His presence.  I look forward to turning to Him and being built up in my spirit through focusing on who I am in Christ, how God is helping me to grow, and by reflecting on the wisdom of His word.  

It is my hope that the next time I encounter stress brought about by changes in my circumstances that I will choose to draw close to Him and have Him comfort me rather than me seeking solace from something in the world.  

So, as we have made it to Labor Day weekend, and I am sure that lots of my friends will be experiencing changing circumstances in the days and weeks ahead, let me encourage you to try to recognize the patterns you may be subject to and ask the Lord to help you come to Him rather than giving in to things that will give you guilt, shame, or regret.  

Life can be difficult, but we can learn and grow as we walk through it. If you fall, try to not fall down as far as you have in the past. And remember that God loves you no matter what you do, and He will always be there for you to help you to get back up and to walk into the life of peace, joy, and love that He has for you.  So keep walking and talking with God because no matter where we may go we can always find comfort in His presence.  

  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 2:10 (NKJV)
10  You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;

Today’s verse points to accountability and living an authentic Christian life. It points to being a “real Christian”.   

The Apostle Paul is reminding the church at Thessalonica that while he was with them in the past he “walked the walk” of being a devout, just, and blameless Christian.  

Since Paul had left the church at Thessalonica, false teachers had come into their midst and where causing trouble and leading some people astray.  Paul isn’t boasting about his conduct as an authentic Christian. He is attempting to correct the errors that have come into the church and uses his past conduct as evidence of his trustworthiness.

Therefore we need to “walk the walk” as well “talk the talk” of being a Christian.  It doesn’t matter if we tell everyone about the truth of Jesus Christ if our lifestyles don’t reflect an authentic Christian faith.  If our actions or attitudes aren’t in accord with the word of God, people will think that the Christian faith is no different from any other religion or worldly philosophy.  If we don’t live our faith, our attempts at sharing the gospel could do harm as people will think that Christians are just a bunch of  hypocrites.  

While we will never be perfect on this earth, our lives should reflect a change from who we were before Christ and who we are now that we have made Christ our Lord and Savior.   The Lord calls us to repentance not only for our own benefit.  Our transformed life in Christ  benefits us, but it also gives glory to God and can be used to show other’s the power of God.  Our transformed life can also be used as evidence to prove that we are true Christians that can be trusted.  

So keep following where the Lord leads you in terms of personal sanctification. He wants you to be devout, just, and blameless before Himself and before others.  The word says that God’s will for our lives is our sanctification, so pursue His will and prove to those around you that He is good, just, and can be trusted to save and make all things new.

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 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:

I. Definitions

In the world of professional cycling, Greg LeMond has clearly distinguished himself by earning a reputation for being "squeaky clean." Now that Lance Armstrong has been stripped of all seven of his consecutive Tour de France titles, Greg is the only American to have won the prestigious race—not once, not twice, but three times.

Greg is internationally known as a staunch anti-doping advocate and publicly criticized Lance for crossing ethics boundaries even before his first Tour de France "win." He also is all too aware that this is not an isolated problem with Lance; numerous cyclists are doping their way to try to secure victories. "I want to see cycling get to where I can say I can see a real winner," Greg says.

The psalmist's declaration is shared by Greg. . . .

"I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites."

(Psalm 26:4)

A. What Are Boundaries?

Lance Armstrong and Dr. Michele Ferrari—it is an association that raises giant red flags for Greg LeMond.

For years Ferrari is associated with sports fraud and has since been described as the "architect" behind the doping program for the U.S. Postal Service Team, which includes Lance and his teammates. In the sport of professional cycling, all kinds of boundaries are crossed . . . by doctors, by athletes, and even by cycling's governing body, known as the International Cycling Union (UCI), according to Greg.

The Bible gives warning concerning crossed boundaries. . . .

"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."

(Proverbs 11:3)

  • A boundary is an established limit—a line that should not be crossed.
    • —In some cases it is a line that cannot be crossed by humans, as with many of the boundaries God established at Creation.
    • —Some fixed boundaries are regarded as "laws."
  • Physical boundaries are territorial lines that divide one area from another.
    • —In the Bible, the first boundary given to a person was spoken directly by God to Adam . . . and the first boundary to be broken was broken by Adam with Eve.
    • —The one who owns the property has the right to control the property and the responsibility to set the rules for those on the property.
    • —You have both the right of personal control and the responsibility of setting rules for others regarding what is yours. God, the Creator, and "owner" of the Garden of Eden, had the right to set the rules for everything and everyone in the Garden. . . .

"The Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

(Genesis 2:16-17)

  • Moral boundaries are ethical lines that divide right from wrong.
    • —When a boundary is respected, the result is a reward.
    • —When a boundary is rejected, the result is a repercussion.

God set up moral boundaries for Adam and Eve—boundaries based on right and wrong. When this boundary line was crossed, sin entered the world—a repercussion that disqualified them from staying within the bounds of the garden.

When you have communicated a clear, rightful boundary—with a reward and a repercussion—yet someone violates that boundary, it is only right to enforce the repercussion. The violator not only chose to violate the boundary, but also chose the repercussion that goes with the violation.

The principle of rewards and repercussions was clearly demonstrated when God set a boundary with Adam and Eve. In choosing to violate the boundary established by the Lord, they also chose the repercussion attached to their sin. . . . They chose the repercussion God relegated to the violation. . . .

"To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, "You must not eat from it," Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

(Genesis 3:17)

  • Personal boundaries are individual lines that separate one person from another. Personal boundaries are the healthy by-product of realizing we are uniquely separate from one another and therefore are responsible for our own attitudes and actions.
    • —Eve was boundaryless—she allowed the serpent to have undue influence over her.
    • —Adam was boundaryless—he allowed Eve to have undue influence over him.

Boundaries are the basis of your individual identity (who you uniquely are), your individual responsibilities, your individual choices. You—not someone else—are responsible for your own thoughts and beliefs, decisions, and actions.

Adam and Eve needed to think separately about what God said and what the serpent said. For indeed, to not stay within God's boundary caused a repercussion that changed their lives . . . and ours. . . . forever.

After God asked them about eating the forbidden fruit, the man said...

"'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'"

(Genesis 3:12-13)

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

 

---------------------------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

 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Carpe Diem apud Deum – Seize the Day with God - Purity 502


Carpe Diem apud Deum – Seize the Day with God   

Purity 502 08/20/2021   Purity 502 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a setting sun blazing through the dissipating rain clouds over the parking lot of Walmart in Hudson NY comes to us from yours truly as I jumped out of my car to capture it on the way home last night.  I had initially wanted to crop this photo to just highlight the sky but realized that a part of its beauty comes from the sun’s reflection in the parking lot asphalt.  I like to think of the fact that even asphalt can reflect the beauty of the sun as a metaphor for how the power of God can be reflected in each one of us.  

Upon further review of this spur of the moment photo, I realized I also captured a seagull on top of parking lot lamp post, which could remind us of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence in our lives.  What we see, He sees and if we open our spiritual eyes He will lead us into all truth.   

The whole scene and the fact that I seized the moment to capture it is indicative of “walking in the Spirit”.  If I had been focused on “just getting home”, I could have missed this or decide just to move along.   But I knew that the scene was worthwhile, and I thought that I should enjoy what God was presenting to me and that I could also share its beauty with my friends.   

And that’s what “walking in the Spirit”  is all about: living our lives in the presence of the Lord and seizing opportunities to enjoy Him and to share Him with others.  

I have testified of my failures at being a “prophet” with the fact that I had dreams that I took to be prophetic only to learn that the dreams didn’t become reality, much to my embarrassment.  Although I have given up the idea of being the next Elijah, I still try to be sensitive to the intuitions I get and consider following them.   Although I have made mistakes and have jumped to conclusions in the past based on my desires, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t  want to lead us into His will and the good things that He has prepared for us.  

On Monday, I shared how I had overwhelming feelings to “seize the day” and arranged to enjoy the good weather at a friend’s swimming pool after work.  I really felt that summer might be slipping away, and I had to move to grab the opportunity to enjoy it. So I did. I felt a little foolish about it, but I really enjoyed it.   And considering, how the weather did a complete 180 in the following days, with miserable overcast and humid conditions,  I am entertaining the idea that my “intuition” to seize the day may have been heaven sent.  

Summer in upstate NY is a tenuous thing and history has shown me it can be here one day and gone the next, and just when we think the season it is gone it will come roaring back in September or October.   

I’m not a meteorologist and I don’t watch the news, so I don’t know what the future holds in terms of the weather, but I do know that on Monday I had a strong intuition to grab a hold of an opportunity to enjoy the season and I took it.   The whole time I was filled with joy and gratitude.  

So, keep your eyes open, look for the things that God wants you to see.  Listen to the still quiet voice or those strong intuitions to do something good or spontaneous.  One fruit of the Spirit is joy, and the only way we will experience it is if we “seize the day with God.”  

So thank God its Friday! And go get whatever it is that the Lord has for you today, this weekend, and every day, by walking and talking with God.         

  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Mark 12:24 (NKJV)
24  Jesus answered and said to them, "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

Today’s verse contains the words for Jesus, Himself, who tells us of the importance of knowing the Scriptures and the power of God.    

Jesus was addressing the Sadducees who were asking hypothetical spiritual questions that they thought were compelling but only revealed their ignorance.   We say there is no such thing as a dumb question because seeking knowledge is a good thing, but the word of God tells us to study to show ourselves approved by “rightly dividing the word of truth.” Scripture also tells us that if we want wisdom to ask God for it.   While we can receive words of knowledge and intuitions in our spirit from the Lord for wisdom and guidance on occasion, the best way to gain wisdom is by studying the word of God. 

The Holy Spirit loves to bring us revelations that will edify and enlighten us in our search to know God and to do His will and the “language” He speaks is the “word of God”.  So we should really answer the call to study the Bible and even pray for the Lord to give us a heart to study and to understand what His word says.  

The word of God is powerful and can transform our minds and open our eyes to ultimate reality, a reality in which we all live under a transcendent, powerful, and loving God who has made all of creation for His purposes and who invites us to know Him and to discover our part in His divine drama.

When we meditate on the word of God and the fantastic things that it tells us about the Lord and the ways that He has interacted with mankind, we get a small idea of the power of God. When we receive that revelation of God and come into relationship with Him by placing our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we come into harmony with Him and experience the blessings of a life filled with meaning, purpose, and the fruit of the Spirit.  

So endeavor to know the Lord by studying His word and by understanding the immense power and love that He has for us to experience.  


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:

Defensiveness Is Defenseless

No matter how well you live your life, somebody won't like it. How should we respond to those who can't or won't accept us? Should we be defensive? There are two reasons you never need to respond defensively to the world's critical, negative evaluation of you.

First, if you are in the wrong, you don't have a defense. If you are criticized for saying something out of order or doing something wrong and if the criticism is valid, any defensiveness on your part would be a rationalization at best and a lie at worst. You must simply respond, "You're right; I was wrong," and then take steps to improve your character and change your behavior.

Second, if you are right, you don't need a defense. Peter encouraged us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who, "while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:21-23). If you are in the right, you don't need to defend yourself. The Righteous Judge, who knows who you are and what you have done, will exonerate you.

In the beginning of my pastoral ministry I was responsible for several volunteers in the youth ministry of our church, including a woman named Alice. Alice was a fine Christian who had been placed in charge of a girls' program at the church. Unfortunately, although gifted in many areas, Alice didn't have the administrative skills to do the job. She struggled with her ministry, feeling frustrated and out of place. Because things weren't going well, Alice must have thought she needed a scapegoat, so she picked me. "I need to see you," she fumed at me one day. So we set up an appointment.

When we sat down together, she laid a sheet of paper on the table. "Neil, I have listed all your good points and all your bad points." I glanced at her paper and saw two columns. One point was listed in the good column, and the bad points went all the way to the bottom of the sheet and over to the other side. I invited her to read the good point first and then read every bad point on the list.

The part of me made of earth wanted to respond defensively to each of her accusations. The part of me made of the Spirit kept saying, "Keep your mouth shut, Anderson." So I just sat and listened attentively until she had emptied both barrels.

Finally I said, "Alice, it must have taken a lot of courage to come in and share that list with me. What do you suggest I do?"

My question took her completely off guard and she began to cry. "Oh, Neil, it's not you; it's me," she sobbed. Well, that wasn't completely right either. There was a kernel of truth in each of the criticisms she had leveled at me. If I had defended myself on any of those points, however, Alice would have been even more determined to convince me that I was not yet qualified to be a member of the Trinity. As it turned out, my openness to her criticism prepared the way for us to discuss her frustration with her ministry. Two weeks later she resigned from the girls' program, and now she is having a great time serving the Lord in a ministry that fits her gifts.

If you can learn not to be defensive when someone exposes your character defects or attacks your performance, you may have an opportunity to turn the situation around and minister to that person. Christians who put down others are hurting people. Mature Christians don't behave that way because they know believers are not supposed to do that.

You are not obligated to respond to rejection by beating the system, giving in to the system or rebelling against the system. The world's system for determining your value as a person is not what determines your value. Peter wrote, "And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 2:4). Your allegiance is to Christ your Lord, not to the world.

Paul said, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Col. 2:8). The world's system is very influential, but you don't need to respond to that system because you are not of this world. You are in the world, but you are not of the world (see John 17:14-16). You are in Christ. If you find yourself responding to rejection defensively, turn your attention to those things that will build you up and establish you in your faith.


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


Saturday, July 31, 2021

Life's a Beach but Definitely Go with God - Purity 485


 Life's a Beach but Definitely Go with God 

Purity 485 07/31/2021   Purity 485 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of some of the grounds of Lake Taghkanic State Park in Ancram NY comes to us from yours truly as I took advantage of the good weather on Tuesday, this week’s Saturday for me, to take a short walk and go swimming for about an hour before relaxing under a tree with a good book. The park’s swimming area was crowded so after my swim I set up far away from the mob near the back of the swimming area’s parking lot where I decided that, even though my spot was a bit reclusive and not a normal area where anyone would set up “camp”, my view was photo worthy.   The quiet stillness I found at the back of the grounds was the peaceful tranquility that I was looking for and if I decided not to set up in this unorthodox place, my visit would have been a lot shorter.  

Well, although I have to work on this Saturday, I am encouraging all my friends to do something to celebrate the last day of July.  It might seem silly to concern ourselves with the days of the calendar, but I must tell you that sometimes we have to break out of the normal routine of our lives and recognize where we are in the present and see that the days are moving forward because if we don’t we will miss the opportunities that only existed for a short time or season.  

I did one of these check ins with the reality of the season on Tuesday and recognizing the good weather and the fact that I could always enjoy the comforts of my home’s comforts and entertainments during season where you want to stay inside, I forced myself to “do something”.  So after I finished with an errand and finished a zoom meeting regarding future opportunities for development, I hit the road to Lake Taghkanic.   

And wouldn’t you know, 15 minutes down the road, I realized I forgot my wallet! So I cursed myself for my forgetfulness and headed back home.  I had somewhere to go in the late afternoon, so I only had a few hours to make this trip and I considered scrapping the whole thing when I realized I had to go back home.  But I reminded myself that I could always stay home on other days that were not in July, so I hit the road, again.  

And of course, with summer roadwork and mid-day traffic, the going was slow causing me to again curse myself, this time for the “need” to go “do something”.  I honestly believe this was part angsty me and part demonic spiritual attack, it’s hard to say sometimes!  Because I got thoughts like “What are you trying to prove?” “What’s a trip to the lake actually going to do for you?” “So another trip to Lake Taghkanic? Wow, does it bother you that you are in the same area after 49 years of life?  Shouldn’t you have gone somewhere in your life by now?” 

I defended myself from these condemning thoughts and just kept driving assuring myself that it was sort of one of those “now or never moments” at least as far as the month of July was concerned.  Realizing that I had to work the remaining days of the month, I reminded myself that this was it!

So then I get to the beach and see all the people! “OH great!”

I silenced that last negative thought and took a walk down the beach to the picnic area on the right side of the beach and took a few shots of the lake that didn’t include the mass of humanity on the beach and was glad I came.  After that I wormed my way through the crowds on the beach and enjoyed swimming for about an hour, doing laps at the back of the swimming area where only the tall and old dare to tread.   

On the way out of the water, I knew I wasn’t going back and was ready to jump in the car and leave the crowded beach behind for good when I saw the tree at the back of the parking lot and decided that since I paid $10 to get into the park, I should stay longer. Not caring what anyone would think I set up shop on the left side of the parking lot near my car, where I dried off and read a book for an hour.  

I hope this little glimpse of my afternoon on Tuesday encourages you to resist the voices that would tell you just to stay home and help you to “do something” today.   It may not have been some epic experience but when autumn and winter come later this year I will be glad that I took the opportunity that I had and spent a second day relaxing in the sun in July of 2021.   

Some may say “Wow, you went by yourself, I don’t know if I could do that.”  Well, the good thing about walking in the Spirit, is that no matter where you go the Lord goes with you and although you may be cruising solo, you never walk alone.  

In my little trip, the thing that gave me peace in the commute, in crowds and under that tree was the fact that I was in the presence of the Lord. I repeatedly thanked Him for my life and the day that He had made.  The book I read was about interacting with Him in prayer.  Although I was by myself and was even annoyed for parts of the trip, I never felt lonely. 

If you feel lonely at times, take my advice, and develop your relationship with God through placing your faith in Jesus Christ and following His wisdom and ways on a continual basis.   The results are peace and joy that are not subject to circumstances.  I extend the Lord’s invitation to the abundant life that He has for you.   So if you aren’t doing so already, start walking and talking with God.  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NKJV)
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;

Today’s verse spells out the Lord’s will for every Christian’s life and makes a direct suggestion for sexual purity.  

I have often heard this verse quoted in various messages from pastors over the years but usually only the first part of this verse is mentioned or alluded to saying

“God’s will for your life is your sanctification.”  

“Be holy, for I am holy.” From 1 Peter 1:16, usually gets thrown out right on the heals of this exhortation.

But the second part of the verse telling us to “abstain from sexual immorality” is not expounded upon.  Don’t get me wrong. I have heard one or two messages where the pastor has brought this up and would recommend those who were suffering from the evils of “porn” to find an accountability partner to get pure.  But not surprisingly, even after these messages, the testimonies of victory over sexual immorality never seemed to come forth.  This indicates that there were no victories to report or that the victors were too ashamed to announce them.  

Unfortunately, the grace and forgiveness that Christians enjoy can also lead to us to not seriously attempt to be pure.  

Some denominations of Christianity will approve of masturbation as a lesser evil than that of adulterous affairs or, God forbid, the suffering of not fulfilling our sexual needs.    So depending on your Christian tradition, you may or may not even consider masturbation as something to abstain from, it’s just something you have to be continually forgiven of, praise Jesus.   

I know hearing the word “masturbation” is unsettling and apparently taboo in Christian circles as this sexual sin is often referred to as “having a problem with porn”?  While viewing pornographic material is certainly a contributing cause, it is not a necessary component to sexual sin.  The sexual thoughts, obsessions, and actions of men and women are the problem and instead of prescribing masturbation as a lesser of two evils the word of God prohibits all forms of sexual immorality.     

So if we want to do the will of God for our lives, we need to consider that command and trust the Lord has our good in mind when He tells us to abstain.  

The mental, emotional, and spiritual bondage that sexual immorality causes in our lives is akin to the bondage of heroin addiction.  If you don’t think you have a sexual immorality problem and are not addicted, can you stop any time you like? As in stop, as in never?  

I know it’s a big challenge, but the Lord calls us to trust Him to take the challenge.  Of course, although accountability relationships can be a great support in our battles against all sorts of problems, the relationship that will empower us to over come is our relationship with the Lord.  

All things are possible with God. He calls us to be sanctified and our relationship with Him is the means by which we can walk in victory.    So submit your self to God, resist the devil’s, or your own, temptations, and you can leave the darkness of your sexual sin behind to discover that God has peace, love, and joy for those who endeavor to be in harmony with Him.  

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 9.

 

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:

Expose the Lie and You Win the Battle

Satan is a defeated foe; therefore, his power is limited, but he still has the ability to deceive "the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). Jesus said: "The devil . . . does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies" (John 8:44). Satan has no authority or power over you except what you yield to him when you are deceived into believing his lies.

How much deception is actually going on in Christians today I can only speculate. In my ministry I encounter false beliefs in nearly every counseling session. Many Christians are hearing voices in their minds, but they are afraid to tell anyone for fear others will think they are going crazy.

Most Christians I counsel are plagued by difficulties in their thoughts that negatively affect their personal lives and devotion to God. These mental distractions usually reflect their own flesh patterns, but they could also reveal a spiritual battle for the mind that Paul warned us about: "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1).

Because Satan's primary weapon is the lie, your defense against him is the truth. Dealing with Satan is not a power encounter; it is a truth encounter. When you expose Satan's lie with God's truth, his power is broken. That is why Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). That is why He prayed, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:15, 17, NIV). That is why the first piece of armor Paul mentions for standing against the schemes of the devil is "the belt of truth" (Ephes. 6:14, NIV).

Satan's lie cannot withstand the truth any more than the darkness of night can withstand the light of the rising sun. We are not called to dispel the darkness; we are called to turn on the light. Deceiving spirits are like cockroaches. They come out only at night, and when you turn on the light, they head for the shadows.


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

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Not Forgotten: The One Who Remembers You - Purity 467

Not Forgotten: The One Who Remembers You

Purity 467 07/10/2021   Purity 467 Podcast

Good morning  

Today’s photo of a dazzling sun in an ethereal sky over green hills and trees comes to us from a friend who knows to keep their eyes open to the beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis and caught this pic in their travels to destinations unknown.  The reason I phrase this description of my friend and this location this way is because of the simple fact that although I know that this photo was taken on or around the first of July, the source of the photo has simply slipped my mind. (Update- My friends at Dave Baun Photography have since reminded me it was their photo taken in transit on a bicycling excursion in South Australia!- Thanks Dave!)

Part of my process in my quasi-daily encouragements is to “borrow” pictures that friends share on social media as they come up in my experience of scrolling through posts. When I see something good, I will try to make a mental note of its source and I save it to my phone.   When I sit down to compose each day, I scroll through the images and use whatever one that speaks to me.   The thing is I have a lot of friends, thank you Lord, and they share a lot of photos.  Sometimes the locations and friends are easily remembered. I would say I remember the context of the photos almost 100% of the time but this morning this photo grabbed my attention and for the life of me I can’t remember where it came from or who shared it!

Instead of skipping it, I got the impression that the Lord wanted me to share this one if for no other reason to point to Him as creator and to Him as the one who has perfect knowledge of each and every one of us.   

So friends, if you posted this photo on or around the first of July, let us know, if you do, it will not only satisfy our curiosity but will also allow us to be grateful for your friendship and your willingness to share your life experiences with your friends who are less than perfect.       

Although I forgot who shared this photo, the good news is that there is someone who knows the photographer and deeply cares about their life.  I am speaking of course of God.  He not only created the subject matter in the photo, but he created the person who captured it.  

As individuals, we are all a little bit different from one another and at times we may feel that we are nobody special, but God doesn’t see us that way at all.   God knows who we are and all we have walked through in this life.  He knows all the special days in your personal history, and He shares in our joys and sufferings.  He knows our talents, failings, feelings, and thoughts and no matter what we think or do He still loves us.     

So my failure to specifically remember the friend who shared this photo shows us that our human relationships will be imperfect. We will disappoint, and possibly upset, one another. At times we won’t be available for our friends or family when they need us.   Sometimes we will just plain forget about them.   

But the Lord, of course, never will.  He will never forget about you, and He is the only One who will always be available for you.  The Lord is the only One who will never leave us or forsake us.  

So while you are traveling to your next destination, enjoy the world that the Lord has made for us and be sure to let Him know that you know that He is there and that He cares.    

Speaking of being on the road, I mentioned that yesterday’s photo of a sunset on the shores of Lake Ontario from the vantage point of Lighthouse Christian Camp in Barker NY filled me with “go fever”, an impulsive desire to “do something” and “go somewhere”.

So strong was this wanderlust that I actually contacted the camp about renting one of their cabins, imagining myself as taking a Kerouacian Big Sur trip to the Great Lake to rest and write.  I got the information, and the rates were cheap, and I was ready to book.  

But then I thought soberly about the details and realized I was just planning this impromptu trip to “have an experience for summer” and possibly to avoid the loneliness of another staycation.   Also my aim to combine ministry preparation work and being at leisure seemed to promise more stress to my life if I added a 5-hour drive and dealing with meager accommodations to the mix.  

Then I thought of my home “Down by the River”.  It has everything I need. It may be simple, but I love the place.  I also thought that there are attractions to see and things to enjoy that are a lot closer to home. So before the people called me back to confirm my reservations, I cancelled.  

Sometimes we are overcome by a sense of lack, that we need something to satisfy or fulfill us.  Some turn to drugs and alcohol. Some turn to relationships. Some turn to find a measure of peace in the great outdoors or by traveling.   

I realized that my relationship with God is what fulfills me more than anything else and that I didn’t necessarily need to run off and “do something” just to do it. God is with me. It’s not like I would have found Him waiting for me on the shores of Lake Ontario, although I’m sure we would have enjoyed ourselves there! 

I realized that the most important thing in my life was Him and that my desire to work on the teachings for a discipleship class I will be teaching in the fall was the thing I wanted to do the most next week.  I realized that with God I lack nothing, and I didn’t want to waste anytime on my vacation in transit when I could find rest at home and peace in His presence. 

So, my physical body may not go far from home next week, but I am sure that the Lord is going to show me some things that will be worthwhile. He always does.  He knows me better than I know myself. He never forgets about me, and He always leads me to something good.

(There is more content to help you walk out your journey of faith at MT4Christ dot org. You can also subscribe to the mt4christ247 podcast to hear this message, our discipleship classes, and our weekly Bible Study, on Apple, Google, and Amazon Podcasts, as well as Audible and Podbean).

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This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Today’s verse speaks about our purpose in life, to give God glory.  

The context that precedes today’s verse involves dealing with the “weaker’ brother.  Back in Paul’s time there was pagan worship of idols. One of the practices of pagans included the sacrifice, cooking, and feasting of animals in honor of their pagan God.  Sometimes the pagans would offer their pagan god a meal and leave out food for them to consume.  After pagan worship was over, some industrious pagans would take meat that was not used and sell it at market.  Many religious people of the Jews considered this meat to be defiled, unclean, and unusable. 

However, Christ himself taught that there is no unclean meat in the new covenant which He established, check out Acts 10 for the Lord’s interaction with Peter.  

Anyway, some Christians armed with the truth that Christ revealed realized that this meat was okay to eat.  Others, remembering the Old Testament provisions, didn’t think the meat was okay to eat and that it would be a sin to do so.  

Instead of Paul recommending that we berate those who didn’t grasp the truth that no meat is unclean, he stated that those with knowledge should treat their weaker brothers with compassion and change their behaviors for their sakes.  If eating pagan meat was going to be a problem for some in your company, you should abstain for their sake.  

This provision could also apply to alcoholic beverages. Drunkenness is to be avoided but it is not a sin to drink alcoholic beverages. However because of the damage that the abuse of alcohol can wage, some like myself, recommend and practice complete abstinence of alcohol.  

For some in recovery, they can’t be around alcohol for fear of relapse.  I have recently confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not one of these people. The Lord has delivered me from the temptation and given me freedom.  

But for the sake of those “weaker” brothers who either struggle with a history of alcoholism or for those who morally object to drinking alcohol, the mature Christian who enjoys the occasional potent potable should be compassionate and not partake in their company.  Their restraint would show their companions compassion and give glory to the Lord.

Anyway, Paul concludes with today’s verse, that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do we are to do it for the glory of the Lord.  

The principle is that our purpose is to always honor and glorify the Lord with all our actions, up to and including sacrificing our personal enjoyment for the sake of others.  

We have been freed from the law of sin and death, but we are not to use our freedom in a manner that would offend or to cause another brother to fall into temptation and sin.  

With the great freedom that Christ has given us, we have a great responsibility to love the Lord our God by loving our neighbors as ourselves.  We wouldn’t want others to do things that would potentially harm us, and we likewise are to demonstrate the love of the Lord by doing the same for them.    

I love this verse because it really speaks to the all-encompassing nature of our faith. That from the simple acts of eating and drinking, we can give glory to God. 

From this verse, we can understand that our entire lives are to be lived in a manner that gives God glory. Everything we do in our lives matters.   So let’s live our lives in the way that will give God the most glory by being aware of what we are doing, why we are doing it, and the potential consequences to ourselves and others.  

 

 

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 7.

 

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:

Feelings Are God's Red Flag of Warning

From birth, you have been developing in your mind a means for experiencing these eight values and reaching other goals in life. Consciously or subconsciously, you continue to formulate and adjust your plans for achieving these goals.

Sometimes, however, your well-intended plans and noble-sounding goals are not completely in harmony with God's plans and goals for you. How can I know if what I believe is right? you may be wondering. Must I wait until I am 45 years old or until I experience some kind of midlife crisis to discover that what I believed in these eight areas was wrong?

I don't think so. I believe God has designed you in such a way that you can know on a moment-by-moment basis if your belief system is properly aligned with God's truth. God has established a feedback system designed to grab your attention so you can examine the validity of your goals and beliefs. When an experience or relationship leaves you feeling angry, anxious or depressed, those emotional signposts are there to alert you that you may be cherishing a faulty goal based on a wrong belief.

Anger Signals a Blocked Goal

When your activity in a relationship or a project results in feelings of anger, it is usually because someone or something has blocked your goal, something or somebody is preventing you from accomplishing what you wanted. How do you feel in a traffic jam when it is preventing you from getting to an important meeting on time?

Suppose a wife and mother says, "My goal in life is to have a loving, harmonious, happy Christian family." Who can block that goal? Every person in her family can block that goal—not only can, they will! A homemaker clinging to the belief that her sense of worth is dependent on her family will crash and burn every time her husband or children fail to live up to her image of family harmony. She could become a very angry and controlling woman or a defeated victim of life's circumstances. Either option could drive family members even farther away from her and each other.

What if a pastor's goal is to reach his community for Christ? Good goal? It is a wonderful desire, but if his sense of worth and success as a pastor is dependent on that happening, he will experience tremendous emotional turmoil. Every person in the community can block his goal. Furthermore, two old board members may even try to block his goal. Pastors who believe their success is dependent on others will end up fighting with their boards, controlling members, praying their opposition out of the church or quitting.

"Whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23); therefore, an outburst of anger should prompt us to reexamine what we believe and the mental goals we have formulated to accomplish those beliefs.

My daughter, Heidi, helped me with this process one Sunday morning while I was trying to hustle my family out the door for church. I had been waiting in the car for several minutes before I stomped back into the house and shouted angrily, "We should have left for church 15 minutes ago!"

All was silent for a moment, then Heidi's soft voice floated around the corner from her bedroom: "What's the matter, Dad; am I blocking your goal?" That is the question you need to hear right before you preach!


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