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Showing posts with label Psalm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Psalm. Show all posts

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Peace of No “Have To’s” and Psalm 139 - Purity 803

 


The Peace of No “Have To’s” and Psalm 139  - Purity 803

Purity 803 08/06/2022    Purity 803 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of sunrise over the Atlantic comes to a us from a friend who decided to spend a week of his time off from work this year to lead a group of high school students from his local church to Harvey Cedars Bible Conference Center in New Jersey for a weeklong Summer Camp. Not only did he spend a week encouraging his youth group’s faith, but he took advantage of the ocean side facilities at Harvey Cedars and seized the opportunity to show the kids the glory of God’s creation with a 5 am wake up call to see the sun rise.  

Well it’s Saturday and the while it is still dark out as I write this, I have a peaceful, easy feeling this morning because I am at my countryside home with my wife for the sunrise of the first weekend in August.

I don’t have much to report this morning and in a way that is sort of great. Although I don’t have any epic plans for the day, I don’t have any pressing problems or concerns either. I don’t have any “have to’s” that I can think of. While I can think of a couple of things I could do, nothing is urgent that has to be done “Now!” and I am free to choose where I decide to let the day take me.  

That’s a big switch from where I was a couple of years ago when I was working two jobs and trying to find a new house. In the summer of 2020, I worked Saturdays every week and had to be super intentional about finding fun when I could, so this morning I am remembering that and am just so thankful for where God has lead me since then.

Other than encouraging all my friends to have a great weekend and to remember to keep walking and talking with God, I don’t have much to say today other than “Thank You Lord!”  

Yesterday my Bible study included Psalm 139 and so I think I will share that because it highlights so many wonderful things about our relationship with God.  

Psalm 139:1-24 (NKJV)
1  O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
3  You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.
4  For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5  You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.
7  Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8  If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9  If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10  Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
11  If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me;
12  Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13  For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.
14  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
15  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
17  How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
18  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
19  Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20  For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21  Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22  I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.
23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
24  And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

  So many good things in that Psalm. God knows us, is with us, and leads us to be fiercely loyal to His truth and ways because He made us and through Christ forgave us and rescued us from sin and death.

So whether you have lots of “have to’s” to do today or whether you have epic plans to seize the day or just epic plans to relax, remember that the Lord loves you and when you have peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, there really is nothing to worry about anymore. He has always been with us and now we are with Him and we can rest and rejoice in the simple fact that no matter where today or the future takes us, the Lord’s love for us will never change and He will be with us every step of the way as we go from here to eternity. 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 4:7-8 (NLT2)
7  “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.
8  Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.”

Today’s verses remind us of the unending joy that we can have as Christians over the fact that, through Jesus, our sins are forgiven. 

The joy of our forgiveness should really never run dry because we are not perfect and will invariably “miss the mark” of God’s standards somewhere as we walk through life and we will need God’s forgiveness again somewhere down the line.  

That was one of the most amazing things that struck me in my soul and brought me to surrender my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ: the fact that all our sins would be forgiven if we put our faith in Him. All our sins! Our past sins, our current sins, and the sins we haven’t eve n done yet are covered, are forgiven, because of our faith in Jesus!  

Although, I had a big misunderstanding about grace and thought I could just freely continue in my sins unabated because of what Christ did for me, when I first came to Christ, something funny happened.   Although anything I did would be forgiven because of Jesus’s work on the cross, I increasingly felt convicted to change how I lived and repented of my sinful ways.  Even though there was nothing I could do that wouldn’t be covered by the blood of Jesus, I felt less and less drawn to my sin and felt more and more drawn to walk in the ways of the One who saved me.  

I am by no means perfect but I sure am not the sinful man I used to be as I have victory and freedom over many of my sinful habits that had kept me in bondage.  

And that victory and freedom was born out of the joy that God loved me enough to send Christ to die for my sins and to forgive me and to accept me into His kingdom. 

In God’s accounts, my slate has been wiped clean and instead of feeling guilty and condemned over the things I have done in the past, I have joy because I know I have been forgiven and given a new life to draw close to God and to be the righteous person I always wanted to be but never felt I could be.   And its all because of Jesus, through faith in Him we receive forgiveness for our sins and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to give us the power over sin.  

So rejoice, our sins have been forgiven and the Lord has set us free! That’s good news!

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

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

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

The Nature of Evil Influence

In Ephesians Paul was at pains to point out that people cannot respond to life’s decisions neutrally. They are deeply affected by a set of evil, determining influences. These influences led people on a path that is directed toward death—life apart from God. In Ephesians 2:2–3, Paul described these influences in terms of the environment (“the age of this world”), an inner inclination toward evil (“the flesh”) and a supernaturally powerful opponent (“the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit”).

By drawing attention to these three forces, Paul established the inescapability of death for non-Christians and their resultant need to experience God’s redemptive work. But an understanding of these three evil influences is also important for Christians as they seek to spread the gospel and live according to its ethical standards. These influences continue to make themselves felt even after someone is saved. A Christian is not automatically immune to temptation, the world’s influence or Satan’s direct assault.

Although these three influences continue to operate, there is a decisive difference for the Christian. The believer lives in union with the risen Christ and may draw on Christ’s power—his victory over temptation, his resistance to the world’s allurements and influences, and, above all, his victory and resultant authority over Satan and the powers of darkness. This passage thus forms the essential background to an appropriate understanding of why an orientation about the Christian life as warfare is essential.

The Christian Life As Warfare

The spiritual warfare passage represents the church as facing intense attack by the devil and his powers of evil. Paul used an extended metaphor of a soldier who puts on the appropriate pieces of armor to heighten this image. In this case the soldier puts on a belt, a breastplate, footgear, a shield and a helmet, and then takes up a sword. The main point of this imagery is that Christianity should be understood as warfare and believers should prepare for this warfare just as any soldier would prepare for battle. It is really unimportant to decide whether Paul has a Roman, Greek, Jewish or Persian soldier in mind. Most of the imagery comes straight from the book of Isaiah (see Is 11:5; 52:7; 59:17). Furthermore, one needs to exercise caution in reading too much into each of the material images, such as emphasizing that the helmet protects the brain and the breastplate the vital organs. Paul felt free to vary the spiritual truths he attached to military imagery. For example, whereas the breastplate represents righteousness in Ephesians 6:14, it represents faith and love in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

In verse 12, the use of the word struggle describes a scene of conflict. In the first century this word was commonly used, not in the context of warfare, but as the typical term for the sport of wrestling. It even occurs on inscriptions in western Asia Minor in reference to the wrestling event of the various games held in the regional cities. As such, Paul probably used it to heighten the closeness of the struggle with the powers of evil. The use of the words evil and darkness also indicate the character of spiritual warfare. The world rulers (kosmokratores) are depicted as ruling over “this darkness” and as being “evil.” The whole setting is cast “on the evil day,” which probably refers both to the fact that “the days are evil” (Eph 5:16) and that there will be intense times of demonic attack. Finally, the devil is depicted in extremely vivid terms as launching flaming arrows at the church (Eph 6:16). The whole tenor of the passage is designed to convey the feeling of extreme danger.

The danger posed to Christians by these organized powers of darkness can be overwhelming—left on our own. Christians, however, are not alone. They are united to the exalted Lord who defeated the forces of evil and now imparts his power and authority to the church. Throughout the letter the apostle has emphasized God’s power and its availability to believers. This emphasis now reaches a climax when Paul says “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph 6:10). He strung together three power-denoting terms (endynamō, kratos and ischys) that have a combined effect of bringing the almighty power of God into bold relief especially in contrast to the weaker powers of darkness.

Paul further defined and clarified God’s power by specifying various ways God bestows his power on the church and by relating the means through which God’s enabling might is imparted. Paul enumerated seven spiritual weapons. Five of these are objective endowments from God (truth, righteousness, the gospel, salvation and the Spirit/the word of God) and two stress our responsibility (faith and prayer). Our responsibility is also implicit in the five gifts from God (see also the chart at the end of the chapter). While this list of spiritual resources (“weapons”) does not exhaust all divine bestowments available to Christians, it represents the essence of all that is vital to waging successful warfare against the powers of darkness.

The nature of spiritual warfare, as Paul portrayed it here, is primarily concerned with Christian conduct and spreading the gospel—not with exorcism or eradicating structural evil. The heart of spiritual warfare could best be summarized as resistance and proclamation.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 152–154.


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Stuck in the Middle with You – Psalm 118 – Purity 758

Stuck in the Middle with You – Psalm 118 – Purity 758

Purity 758 06/15/2022  Purity 758 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo  an out cropping of rock and a natural water fall comes to us from a friend who recently decided to stretch their legs and remember a departed loved one by hiking the Catskill Mountains, as they brought a photo of their friend with them and took photos of it at various locations along the way, stating that the Catskills were the closest place to heaven in Greene County and that they were enjoying treasured memories of days gone by and sharing the magnificent views they encountered with thoughts of their friend every step of the way.

Well its Wednesday and I share this photo taken along the trail heading up a mountain to remind us all of the natural beauty that is out there waiting to be discovered and to remind us that we are headed up the “hump” of the midpoint of the work week.  

Speaking of work, I was out late last night at my second job as a Psychiatric Tech for the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team and am scrambling to “get er done this morning” as I am seeking to simultaneously encourage my friends on the path of Christian Discipleship and activate my new iphone, which is an early birthday present to myself as I hit the big “5-0” in 10 days.   This hurried multi-tasking might prove to be foolish especially considering the fact that  I didn’t get home until after midnight and have already altered my regular routine by “sleeping in” and forgoing my normal exercise regimen and will have to satisfy my craving for God’s word by revisiting some of the content of yesterday’s Bible study by sharing Psalm 118.  

As always the Lord knows our situations and as “coincidence has it” it turns out that Psalm 118 is completely appropriate for sharing on “hump day” because if you didn’t know it, Psalm 118:8 is the middle point in the Bible! That’s right if you take the content of the Bible and divide it in half you would see Psalm 118:8.  Don’t ask my what industrious Bible scholar determined that but I will take it on faith that this Bible fact is true.  

But is it meaningful? Is the middle verse in the Bible say something that would satisfy the curious or indicate that the Bible is not just some book but is the inspired word of God.  Well let’s look at it and you tell me what you think:

Psalm 118:8 (NKJV) says
8  It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.

I don’t know about you but that sort of gives me goose bumps. Imagine it. Someone decides to give the Bible a shot and opens it to the middle point of the scriptures and this is what they find! “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.”  I don’t know about you but that would cause me to keep reading.  

And that’s what happened to me when after 38 years of doing things my way in a life of ups, and downs, and error and confusion, I heard a gospel message that adequately explained to me., as if for the first time, the fact that it Christ died for my sins and it only required a simple act of faith, by making Jesus my Lord and Savior, to receive the free gift of God’s forgiveness, eternal life,  and entrance into His kingdom. 

After I said yes to Jesus, I was far from perfect but I had a perfect hunger to pursue the truth of who Christ was and how I should live after I had received such an awesome gift.   So I started reading the Bible to figure this thing out and to try to be an authentic Christian. 

And if you are new to the Bible, I would say that the midpoint in the Bible is a great place to start your journey to get to know God more as the use of some of the verses from Psalm 118 in the New Testament, make it the most quoted psalm in the New Testament.  Let’s read it and you will see why:  

Psalm 118:1-29 (NKJV)
1  Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
2  Let Israel now say, "His mercy endures forever."
3  Let the house of Aaron now say, "His mercy endures forever."
4  Let those who fear the LORD now say, "His mercy endures forever."
5  I called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
6  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
7  The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
8  It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.
9  It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in princes.
10  All nations surrounded me, But in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
11  They surrounded me, Yes, they surrounded me; But in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
12  They surrounded me like bees; They were quenched like a fire of thorns; For in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
13  You pushed me violently, that I might fall, But the LORD helped me.
14  The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
15  The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
16  The right hand of the LORD is exalted; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
17  I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the LORD.
18  The LORD has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death.
19  Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the LORD.
20  This is the gate of the LORD, Through which the righteous shall enter.
21  I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation.
22  The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.
23  This was the LORD'S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.
24  This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25  Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
26  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
27  God is the LORD, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28  You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You.
29  Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

There are some familiar verses in that psalm for sure and even though it is in the new Testament its content points us right to Jesus Christ as the Messiah.   

And although I am running and gunning this morning with a hectic pace, that’s all I want to do, point my friends to Jesus Christ: to not only admire Him as a good example but to trust, believe and obey Him as one of His many disciples.  

The entrance into the kingdom through a prayer or and act of faith that specifically claims Him as your Lord and Savior is only the beginning of our new and eternal life in Christ.  

And even thought the road as a Christian may be difficult at times,  when you are walking and talking with God and have made Christ the Lord of your life, you can somehow have peace in the midst of any storm, as God Himself through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, is stuck in the middle with you.   

So if you are in a hurry or not, keep going on your search to discover who God is, who you are, and what the purpose He has for you in this life.  As Psalm 118:says, if you can’t trust me, trust in the Lord because: “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 4:17 (NLT2)
17  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us that we can face the Lord with confidence on the day of judgement when we “live like Jesus in this world”  and that our love grows “more perfect” as we live in God.   

So much for “just believing”.  Phrases like “just believe” or “just have faith” will undoubtedly be good encouragements as we attempt to live out our Christian faith authentically but those phrases are not to be intended to be the one or final instruction.

As today’s verse indicates, we are to have a lifestyle and a mindset of Christian as we are directed to “live like Jesus here in this world.” We are supposed to follow Christ in the way we live.  

And not only will we benefit from making “good choices” as a natural result of cause and effect relationships, when we decide to follow Jesus and live “in God” (talk about an immersive experience) we will have confidence in our security when the day of judgement comes but our love will grow “more perfect”.  

God’s love is perfect and when experience it we know that to be true. God is the higher love that Steve Winwood was looking for. “Bring me a higher love!” Well, Steve if you live “in God” by following Christ’s example in the way that you live in this world, the higher love will be brought right to your doorstep every day you Abide in Him.  

So let’s be encourage to become “more perfect” in love by sharing the love that we have received from God in the way we live here on the earth.  We can have confidence that when we are in Christ we have nothing to fear and we have been given an incredible purpose to experience and to share the love of God.

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

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

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

The Burning of the Magical Books in Ephesus: Acts 19

Luke also gives us an incredible account about a situation involving magic during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19:13–20). It reinforces the impression that Ephesus was a center of magical practices during the first century. Luke tells us about some itinerant Jewish exorcists, who attempted to use the name of Jesus as part of their exorcism on a man troubled with an evil spirit. Tragically unsuccessful, they were physically assaulted by the demon-controlled man so that “they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” As a result, numerous people brought out their books of magical formulas and incantations and burned them. The combined value of the books was estimated by Luke to be worth as much as 50,000 days’ wages.

This account is very important for understanding the social and religious situation of the early Christian churches. Luke here gives the distinct impression that those who were burning their magical texts were already Christians. He observes, “Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly” (19:18–19a). It underlines the temptation faced by early believers to return to their former practices, in particular, magic.

Summary

Luke is concerned to show that the gospel of the Lord Jesus and the power of God are indeed mightier than any opposition. Luke also clearly ties magical practices and divination to the work of Satan and his powers. In all of these instances the work of the devil through these people hindered the progress of the gospel. The power of God working through his messengers needed to confront and overcome Satanic opposition.

Each of these accounts in the book of Acts also raises issues that are relevant to understanding better what the apostle Paul has to say about principalities and powers. It helps us clarify the felt needs of the readers Paul addressed in his letters. They would naturally be filled with questions as they sought to make sense of Christianity in light of the religious and magical environment in which they lived. They would ask questions such as: How should converts from a background in the occult and spiritism live in light of their newfound faith in the Lord Jesus? What should they believe about the powers they once thought served them and the powers they feared? Were some of them still to be considered good and others evil? Where does Christ stand in relation to these spirit beings and supernatural powers? Can one still be devoted to Christ and wear an amulet for protection? How should the church respond to non-Christians involved in spiritism?

Knowing the questions that would undoubtedly have been on the minds of new believers in the first century will help the New Testament come alive when we consider the things Paul has to say about principalities and powers.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 33–34.

 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

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

 

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

Purity 752 06/08/2022 Purity 752 Podcast

Good morning,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

through Jesus Christ, Amen.[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



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