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Showing posts with label Recovery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recovery. Show all posts

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Enjoy the Silence – But Keep Walking - Purity 501


Enjoy the Silence – But Keep Walking  

Purity 501 08/19/2021   Purity 501 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of this boardwalk pathway to Good Harbor Beach, in Gloucester Massachusetts comes to us from a friend’s short vacation there at the end of July.  I just love the way this boardwalk divides the grass under a blue cloudless sky with the promise of the beach and the Atlantic in the distance. I also love the evidence of the unseen sun just out of frame to the left, but whose brilliance can’t be denied as a pair of sunbeams shine on in.  

It's Thursday, and although I am currently officially “on vacation” from teaching as I don’t begin the new discipleship class, Freedom in Christ, until September 9th, I still had the urge to share a photo of a pathway as an encouragement for all of us to begin or to continue the journey on the pathway of Christian Discipleship.   The Christian faith isn’t supposed to be a cold dead religion. The fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control don’t grow from one’s efforts at following rules.

The fruit of the Spirit grow and flourish when we are in a relationship with God, through faith in Christ, that is defined by love and trust. When we love the Lord, we will naturally seek His wisdom, ways, and presence in our lives.   When we say yes to Christ, we begin to say “no” to the dark and selfish ways that we lived by before we knew Him.  Or at least we could say “no”.   

Like I said, the Christian life is a journey, and our decisions play a big part in where we will go and at what pace we will progress.  Jesus Christ told people if they wanted to be His disciples they had to pick up their crosses and follow Him, but Jesus didn’t put a collar and a leash on anyone to drag them along in forced obedience.   

So we must choose to walk in His direction and begin to renew our minds according to God’s wisdom.  That’s when the inner revolution begins.  “The ways we have always done things” are usually exposed as outside of the will of God and if we want to be a “real Christian” we must choose to do not just obey because “God said so”.  

Sure, I guess that is the bottom line, that we should obey the Lord, but if we obey without understanding, we will develop resistance and animosity towards the Lord as we will just frustratedly carry on under the burden of our heavy crosses because that is our miserable lot in life as those cursed by the call of the Lord.  

On the contrary, while adapting to God’s ways can be an exercise that stretches our limits physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, when we seek to understand why God instructs us in the ways He tells us to go we can discover that every commandment and principle that defines Christian living comes from God’s great love for us.  God’s instructions protect us and drive us to be more like Him and when we step onto the narrow road that He calls us to walk on we discover how good and wonderful the new life He has for us truly is.  

Recently, I was invited to a men’s accountability group and at first I had a lot of resistance to joining.  I mean, I have been walking in victory and freedom in most areas of my life for years.  So I didn’t think I need it, thanks.   Also I teach discipleship and spiritual warfare and have a master’s degree Christian Counseling but they weren’t asking me to teach! Don’t you guys know what I do?  Don’t you guys know who I am? Do these guys think I need help?    

But even though I was challenged in my pride a little, I decided that this was a good thing. When we are offended or annoyed by something, I look at that as an area that the Lord wants us to work on. So I agreed to go and while I have some major misgivings and some disagreements with the emphasis and presentation of the “class material”, I thought I could learn something and encourage others in their attempts to follow the Lord.    

As I have attended for two weeks, the fellowship and community are in its infancy still and there hasn’t been a whole lot of opening up but the one thing that I have been impressed by is the way this group has highlighted the fact that the Lord has delivered me from the darkness that would drive men to seek accountability.    

The descriptions of the hardness of heart, bondage to sin, and the reactive emotions of guilt, shame, anger, and fear that plague those seeking help have almost become foreign concepts to me as I honestly had to really think back to remember what it was like experientially when I entered into recovery and took my first big steps on to the path of Christian Discipleship because of the wonderful work the Lord has done in my life.  

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still faced with temptations and negative mind states at times, but the Holy Spirit has trained me to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, as we say, and I have become adept at abandoning those streams of thought that would lead me astray. 

And its not because of my “skill” that I have had success. It is because of my love for the Lord, my great gratitude to Him for being with me through the darkest days of my life, and because of my heartfelt desire to do nothing that would disturb my harmony with Him, that has brought me to this place of peace.   It is a continual process of adjustments of course but since last night I have just been in awe of what the Lord has done in transforming my life.   

But the thing about our journey is that it doesn’t end.  So yeah, I am very psyched about the victories I have experienced and the freedom that I walk in, but brother, I’m still walking.  

I am truly grateful for the silence that I enjoy as the discursive thoughts and “voices” of temptation and frustration have been cut off through renunciation and dedicating my life to the Lord, but I am not done yet.   I am still going where the Lord wants me to go even though I sometimes wonder where that is. I guess I will let you know when I get there. 

The joy of the journey with God is fueled by the fact that our destination is a good one but is also magnificent because of what we have left behind.  If we are locked into our old worldly ways or even if we are just distracted by the world’s version of “news”, knowledge, and entertainment we are delaying the reception of God’s gifts to us. 

So don’t sit still. Keep going. The Lord has so much for us to see, to do, and to experience with our lives. You never regret doing the right thing so seek that which is best. Seek the Lord and you will be amazed by the new life you will find and by all of the troubles you will leave behind.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Timothy 2:24 (NKJV)
24  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,

Today’s verse speaks of some of the attributes that we are to have as Christians.   

Two of the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness, and patience, are highlighted in the Apostle’s Paul’s advice to Timothy that describes a servant of the Lord.  

We are not to be quarrelsome. There seems to be a brand of angsty Christianity that seems to be highly political and seeks to push personal freedoms with bravado. While I agree freedom is good I sometimes wonder if the agenda of Christ is being put forth more than someone’s selfish desires to “live in the good old days of my American youth”.   

Why would I wonder about the faith of good old Americans who are standing up for “One Nation Under God?  Well its probably because of their quarrelsome demeanors and the fact that their Christian faith seems to be a moral philosophy of life with which to beat up people more than it is a relationship that would drive them to usher others into the kingdom of God.  Right is right, right? But is your righteous indignation giving you peace? Is it drawing anyone into the kingdom? What is your ministry exactly? Jerk for Christ?   

That last line was edited.   

But seriously, there is a fine line in between standing for personal freedom, being obnoxious, and working for the kingdom of God. 

If we want to represent Christ we can’t emulate the worldly styles of confrontation that are reminiscent of shock jocks or talk show hosts that fan the flames of chaos and controversy.    We are to be gentle and patience and able to teach. 

The best teacher for us is the Holy Spirit and He wants us to study His word to be sanctified and to proclaim Jesus Christ. 

If we are quarrelsome, no one is going to hear of the goodness of God and the wonders of His love.  So let go of your selfish pride and your desire to tell people “What for” and instead adopt the attributes of a servant of the Lord to better represent Him and expand His kingdom.

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

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

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


When You Are Criticized or Rejected

The thoughts and feelings of rejection that often plague us can be major deterrents to our maturity in Christ. Apart from Christ, we all learned early in life to respond to rejection by taking one of three defensive postures (see Figure 12-A). Even as Christians we can be influenced to react defensively to rejection.

Rebel Against the System

Since the 1960s, this segment of society seems to be growing. These are the rebels and the dropouts who respond to rejection by saying, "I don't need you or your love." Deep inside they still crave acceptance, but they refuse to acknowledge their need. They will often underscore their defiance and rebellion by dressing and behaving in ways that are objectionable to the general population.

Rebels are marked by self-hatred and bitterness. They wish they had never been born. They are irresponsible and undisciplined. They see God as just another tyrant, someone else trying to squeeze them into a socially acceptable mold. They rebel against God just as they rebel against everyone else.

These people's rebellious attitudes and behaviors tend to alienate others and push them to defend the system they reject. Therefore rebels' responses to those who reject them just breed more rejection.

In the final analysis, nobody wins in the world's system, but everybody wins in the kingdom of God. God loves each of His children the same. We are not in competition with one another. Paul says, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (2 Cor. 10:12, NIV). We are loved and accepted unconditionally by God. There is a necessary place in the Body of Christ for each one of us. Helping another person succeed only results in our succeeding as well. The more we build up one another, the more we help ourselves.

Understanding Rejection




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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Friday, August 13, 2021

Poison – Taking Candy from Familiar Strangers - Purity 496

Poison – Taking Candy from Familiar Strangers

Purity 496 08/13/2021    Purity 496 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a sunset over Cape Cod Bay comes to us from a friend who vacationed at First Encounter Beach in Eastham Massachusetts last week.  While they reported not having the greatest weather while they were on the Cape they did manage to capture some beautiful moments like this one and described their trip as a “great escape”.  

Well, its Friday and while we still have to get through today every minute that passes brings us closer to the weekend and hopefully to an escape from any troubles you may be experiencing for a while.   I shared today’s photo because it is beautiful, and I absolutely love Cape Cod as I vacationed there with my family as a child and returned there as an adult with my own children.  So today’s photo reminds me of fond memories but to keep it real it also reminds me that a change of location doesn’t always solve our problems as I recall some not fond memories of arguing with my ex on those later trips to the Cape.   And to keep it super real, my proclivity for drunkenness and my lack of skills of communicating and relating with my ex were definitely contributing factors to our arguments. 

Ironically, it was only after I came to Christ and got free from my addictions to drugs and alcohol did we get divorced. Just because you change, doesn’t mean that the people in your life will change.  As I briefly discussed in last night’s Bondage Breaker course, sometimes the people we are with are very comfortable with us being “the bad one” in our relationships and they may actually prefer us to be in bondage because we are “easier to control.”   So for more of my shocking confessions, check out last night’s podcast.     

As we navigate through the weekend and we try to walk out our freedom and victory, we must be careful how we walk because some of the people that are closest to us may be distant from the Lord and unwittingly be used to pull us into temptation or failure. 

I have taken great strides to optimal health by watching what I eat and exercising but as I have lost weight I have gotten resistance from someone who loves me and honestly wants what’s best for me but because “optimal health” or just plain “health” is somewhat of a foreign concept to them, they have actually attempted to encourage me to stop my attempts to be healthy and have actively tried to give me foods that are processed and are outside of the parameters of what has helped me get me to where I am.    This same person has also mindlessly offered me, who is now 6 years clean and sober, alcoholic beverages on more than one occasion.   

Like the evil witch in Snow White, transforms herself into a kindly older woman with a poison apple, this person out of their ignorance, or through subtle demonic influence, actively seeks to lead me astray.  I literally must tell this person “No.” repeatedly. 

Unfortunately, as far as I have come in my walk, I am still subject to being “tricked” and fall into traps that I should have walked away from. This person recently insisted I take some sweet treats home with me to give to my children.  I foolishly agreed to it thinking that the treats weren’t for me so the kids would eat them and there would be no issue. 

But my kids are sometimes smarter than me or they like their own sweets more than what this person sent home; I don’t know.  Anyway, the cookies they sent have sat on my kitchen table all week, untouched. 

Last night after having a good class, and right on the heals of encouraging others to work toward optimal health, because I was up late and struggling to finish a bunch of paperwork for a new service opportunity in the future. I was tired and hungry and because “the poison apple” was sitting on my kitchen table for so long, I inexplicably finally mindlessly gave in to the temptation to “just get rid of them” and ate them.    

Ok, I didn’t die.  No enchanted princess has to kiss me out of a death like sleep state, that’s a relief because I might be there for a while.  But I report this loss to share two things.  When we suffer a failure in our walk, we have to report it.  Nobody likes a snitch, but we have to rat ourselves out because if we don’t we are no longer walking in the truth and that’s when we live a lie and separate ourselves from the harmony we have with the Lord.  

The other thing is that just because we are walking with the Lord in victory doesn’t mean the other people in our lives are even remotely on the same path as we are.  They don’t have the relationship that we do with the Lord and don’t see things they way we see them.   So we must be careful in our interactions with those who are not living a surrendered life of Christian discipleship. It’s a lonely road and the people we will meet on it that will try to lead us astray are not always strangers.  

I recently rejoiced over my freedom from alcohol yet again because I went to a few social gatherings where alcohol was served in abundance, but I was not tempted and was free and uninhibited to sing and dance and enjoy myself.

But even though I am free and am happy about it, I didn’t decide to keep going out to wineries and bars to keep celebrating my freedom.   Quite frankly as fun as those times out were, I didn’t want to keep exposing myself to those environments because I recognized that if I did I could possibly be led astray, like with these cookies.  And honestly, I feared slipping into other sins of the flesh more tempting than anything you can drink: Hello, ladies!

So anyway, it is my prayer that all my friends have a great weekend but I also pray that in your search for fun and relaxation that you stay true to yourself and to avoid the corrupting influences that may be near and dear to you, who mean well but unwittingly lead you into compromise, guilt, shame and seek to keep you in the box that they are more comfortable with you staying in.  

The good news is that God is with us, even when we fall down. We just need to keep walking and talking with Him, admit when we step off the path, and reach out and take His hand to pick us up and lead us further into the life He has for us.     

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 14:8 (NKJV)
8  For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

Today’s verse speaks about our motivation for life and the assurance of who we are.   

The Apostle Paul makes no bones about it, as Christians we are the Lord’s possession and that no matter what circumstances we face, even life and death circumstances, we are to live or die “to the Lord”. 

The phrase “to the Lord” points to our direction. Which way should we go? To the Lord. No matter what extreme circumstances we may face, as Christians, we are the Lord’s and therefore we should live according to His will for our lives.  

While I can’t tell you the Lord’s personal specific will for your life in every moment of everyday, I can tell you that 1 Thessalonians 4:3 tells all Christians that the Lord’s will for us is our sanctification, which means to conform to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), which is to live according to the life principles prescribed and described in the Bible.  

So whether we live or die, we need to examine our experience to determine if we are living “to the Lord” or not.  To come in harmony with the Lord we have to make an honest assessment of how we are living and thinking, and we must know what God’s word says so we can align ourselves to a way of life that is pleasing to the Lord.  

The benefits to a life that is lived “to the Lord” are peace, joy, love, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, patience, gentleness, and self-control, the fruit of the Spirit.  So I encourage you to keep taking steps “to the Lord”.

The more you give away from the world, the more riches you experience from the kingdom of God.  The more you turn from your “old man”, the more you will experience the abundant life of the new man. Whether we live or die, “to the Lord” is the best way to go, for when we are walking in His direction we discover more and more how we are truly His.  

 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 11.

 

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:

Forgive Those Who Have Hurt You in the Past

The second step in resolving past conflicts is to forgive those who have offended you. After encouraging Cindy to deal with the emotional trauma of her rape, I said, "Cindy, you also need to forgive the man who raped you."

Cindy's response was typical of many believers who have suffered physical, sexual or emotional pain at the hands of others: "Why should I forgive him? You don't seem to understand how bad he hurt me."

Perhaps you have asked the same question. Why should you forgive those who have hurt you in the past?

First, forgiveness is required by God. As soon as Jesus spoke the amen to His model prayer—which included a petition for God's forgiveness—He commented: "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:14, 15). We must base our relationships with others on the same criteria on which God bases His relationship with us: love, acceptance, and forgiveness (see Matthew 18:21-35).

Second, forgiveness is necessary to avoid entrapment by Satan. I have discovered from my counseling that unforgiveness is the number one avenue Satan uses to gain entrance to believers' lives. Paul encouraged us to forgive "in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes" (2 Cor. 2:11). I have had the privilege to help people around the world find their freedom in Christ. In every case, forgiveness was an issue and in many cases it was the issue that needed to be resolved.

Third, forgiveness is required of all believers who desire to be like Christ. Paul wrote: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Ephes. 4:31, 32).

What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiving is not forgetting. Forgetting may be a long-term by-product of forgiving, but it is never a means to forgiveness. When God says He will remember our sins no more (see Hebrews 10:17), He is not saying "I will forget them." God is omniscient; He cannot forget. Rather, He will never use the past against us. He will remove it as far from us as "the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12).

Forgiveness does not mean you must tolerate sin. A young wife and mother, attending one of my conferences, told me of her struggle to forgive her mother for continual manipulation and condemnation. She tearfully continued, "I suppose I can forgive her tonight, but what am I supposed to do when I see her next week? She will be no different. She will undoubtedly try to crowd between me and my family as she always does. Am I supposed to let her keep ruining my life?" No, forgiving someone doesn't mean you must be a doormat to the person's continual sin. I encouraged her to confront her mother lovingly but firmly and to tell her she would no longer tolerate destructive manipulation. It is okay to forgive another's past sins and, at the same time, take a stand against future sins.

Forgiveness does not seek revenge or demand repayment for offenses suffered. "You mean I'm just supposed to let them off the hook?" you may argue. Yes, you let them off your hook realizing that God does not let them off His hook. You may feel like exacting justice, but you are not an impartial judge. God is the just Judge who will make everything right in the end. "'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:19). "But where is the justice?" ask the victims. It is in the crucifixion of Christ. Christ died "once for all" (Romans 6:10). He died for his sins, her sins, your sins, my sins.

Forgiveness means resolving to live with the consequences of another person's sin. In reality, you will have to live with the consequences of the offender's sin whether you forgive that person or not. For example, imagine someone in your church says, "I have gossiped about you all over town. Will you forgive me?" You can't retract gossip any easier than you can put toothpaste back into the tube. You will have to live with the consequences of that person's gossip no matter how you respond. We are all living with the consequences of someone else's sin. We are all living with the consequences of Adam's sin. The only real choice is to live with those consequences in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness.


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

 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Our Constant Companion: Purity 452


 Our Constant Companion

Purity 452 06/23/2021  Purity 452 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the summer solstice sunset over the peaks that surround Lake Granby in Colorado comes to us from the vantage point of a friend’s sailboat.  My friend loves to regularly celebrate the joys of sailing and life with others on their boat, but this sunset was just for them and man’s best friend, a golden retriever whose orange life vest testified to the fact that this solstice cruise wasn’t their first. You can go to the blog to see our four-footed friend for yourself.


One of the aspects that brings quality to our lives is companionship, having someone else to share our experiences with.  Our needs for companionship don’t necessarily have to be met by a romantic soul mate or life partner. Our needs for companionship can be met by close family members or by our friends, both old and new, and both human and animal, as our pets seem to have the ability to qualify as both our friends and family in ways that humans seem to lack.  

But what happens when our companions leave us? What happens when they move away, die, or the relationship suddenly sours? What if your life has been met with betrayals and heartache of losses that are so bad that you can’t even bear the idea of establishing a new relationship because of a lack of trust and the potential for future pain?  

While I would encourage people to try to process their grief and would tell them to be wise and discerning in pursuing new relationships, I could unreservedly advise them to foster or purse a relationship with the One who will never leave them or forsake them: God.

God is the healer and the provider.  He can take away our pain and give us all that we need. 

He is omnipresent so He is our constant companion but just because He is there for us doesn’t mean we are there for Him.  Our relationship with God is established by placing our faith in Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins, for the imputation of His righteousness, and for instant adoption into God’s royal family.   When we say yes to Jesu Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to quickens our spirit and comes to dwell within us.   And let me tell you, The Holy Spirit is an ever-present help and comfort to us and will lead you into all truth.   

Our life of faith is often called “walking in the Spirit” for a reason. That phrase means that we begin to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance for our lives and act on it.  He leads us into all truth and sometimes the truth is hard.  The Holy Spirit showed me that things I wasn’t aware of, and He convicted me of the things that I was doing that were detrimental to my peace.  In the past several years I have tried to follow His leadings and have been liberated from painful situations and have a transformed life.    

When you make Christ your Savior, God doesn’t sit up in heaven wishing you well. His redemptive plan, that is revealed in the New Testament, makes a way for your forgiveness through Christ and for your empowerment through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.     

We receive a new abundant life when we believe, but in order to experience it we must follow our Constant Companion by listening to His still quiet voice and by surrendering the ways of the world for the wisdom of God.  

So if you’re looking for someone to share your life with, why not choose the One who gave it to you in the first place. With God, you will never be alone again. He is our Heavenly Father who call us to better things and life everlasting. You’ve got a friend in Jesus who paid the cost that we never could. And with the Holy Spirit, we have a Constant Companion who will lead us to grow into a life of love, peace, and joy.  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Ephesians 5:18 (NLT2)
18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,

Today’s verse encourages us to make good choices and to enter into the new life God has given us.  

As much as I advocate for total abstinence of alcohol because of my history, I must admit that the Bible doesn’t prohibit drinking alcoholic beverages, but it does have a lot to say about drunkenness and none of it is good. 

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t drink alcoholic beverages casually and would almost always drink myself into one of the various levels of drunkenness. The “drunken” verses of the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s conviction and guidance caused me to abandon what was a lifelong love hate relationship with alcohol.  

From the word of God, I got the deep conviction that my allegiance to alcohol and a lifestyle that included periodic, if not often, drunkenness could have deep spiritual and possibly eternal consequences.

Drunkenness causes disharmony to our relationship with God. 1 Cor 6:9-10 tells us that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God.  When I understood that my drunkenness  could cause damage to my fellowship with the Lord and could even be an indicator that I wasn’t really His and cause my eternal destruction, my blood ran cold at the realization that I could be one of the false believers that would be told that Christ never knew me, that while my lips confessed faith in God, my actions would testify to an idolatrous worship of the powers of darkness through my enslavement to alcohol.   

So I trusted the Lord to take away my addiction and while it seemed like it was going to be impossible at first, when I increasingly began to adopt and live by my identity in Christ the poison of addiction was taken out of me.  The Holy Spirit granted me repentance and now I can be around others drinking alcohol and have no temptation to drink and to put myself into a yoke of bondage again.   

But please understand me. Our freedom doesn’t come from just saying no to the sins that enslave us. We do have to say no and be proactive in our efforts to change our thoughts to hate what we proclaimed to love but what is truly important in our life of faith is saying “Yes” to the Holy Spirit.   

We are filled by the Holy Spirit by filling ourselves with the word of God, by reading the Bible and knowing its principles for living, but we are also filled by the Spirit by asking to be filled with His presence.   When we ask for strength to live the Christian life, we will receive it.  When we ask for the Lord’s wisdom and help, He will provide it.  But the key is that we must surrender our worldly ways and start living with the Holy Spirit by shaping our lives to live every day according to God’s wisdom and by talking to the Lord in prayer.  

So be filled with the Holy Spirit, or as I always say: keep walking and talking with God. Our faith is more than a set of beliefs. Our faith is an experiential reality of a relationship with the One who created all things and who is guiding the events of time and space and who wants us to join into His design for our lives.  So don’t choose the things that take away from your life, instead choose to live with the One who gives life everlasting.

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 4.

 

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:

A New Man

Parallel to the concept of being a new creation in Christ is the teaching that the believer has put on the "new self" (Col. 3:10), or more literally the new man. The new man at times refers both to the new individual (i.e., "self") in Christ as well as the new humankind, the new creation united in Christ, with Christ as its head. F. F. Bruce says, "the new man who is created is the new personality that each believer becomes when he is reborn as a member of the new creation whose source of life is Christ."

What does it mean to be a new man? Does it mean that every aspect of the believer is new in reality? We still look the same physically, and we still have many of the same thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Picture, for instance, the ornamental orange tree that has just had a tiny new stem grafted into it. Because so much appears to be the same, it is sometimes taught that our "newness" refers only to our position in Christ. The newness is only what we have seen in relation to our position of righteousness and holiness in justification and positional sanctification. There is no real change in us until we are finally transformed in glorification. That, however, would be like teaching justification without regeneration (we are forgiven, but there is no new life). If we are still ornamental orange trees, how can we be expected to bear navel oranges? We have to believe that our new identity is in the life of Christ and commit ourselves to grow accordingly.

If you are a new creation in Christ, have you ever wondered why you still think and feel at times the same way you did before? Because everything you learned before you knew Christ is still programmed into your memory. There is no mental delete button. That is why Paul says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2, NIV).

Let me illustrate. When I was in the Navy, we called the captain of our ship "the Old Man." My first Old Man was tough and crusty, and nobody liked him. He drank with the chiefs, belittled his junior officers and made life miserable for the rest of us. He was a lousy Old Man. If I planned to survive on board that ship, however, I had to do it under his authority relating to him as my Old Man. Then one day he got transferred to another ship. I no longer had any relationship with him and I was no longer under his authority.

Then we got a new skipper who was very much different from the Old Man who trained me. So how do you think I related to the new skipper? At first I responded to him just as I had been conditioned to respond to the first Old Man. As I got to know the new skipper, though, I realized he wasn't a crusty old tyrant like the Old Man who was once my authority. He wasn't out to harass his crew. He was a good guy, really concerned about us, but I had been programmed for two years to react a certain way when I saw a captain's braids. I didn't need to react that way any longer; but it took several months to recondition myself to the new skipper.

When you were dead in your trespasses and sins, you also served under a cruel self-serving skipper. The admiral of that fleet is Satan, the prince of darkness, the god and ruler of this world. By God's grace, you have been "delivered . . . from the domain of darkness, and transferred . . . to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13). You now have a new skipper; your new self is infused with the divine nature of Jesus Christ, your new admiral. As a child of God, you are no longer under the authority of Satan and dominated by sin and death. The old man is dead.

New Things Have Come

Despite the fact that all believers at times still live according to the old self, like Paul, they are new persons—new in relationship to God and new in themselves. The change that takes place in us when we come to Christ involves two dimensions.

First, we have a new master. As mortals we have no choice but to live under a spiritual power—either our heavenly Father or the god of this world. At salvation, the believer in Christ experiences a change in the power that dominates life.

Second, there is an actual change in the nature of believers so that the propensities of their lives or the deepest desires of their hearts are now oriented toward God rather than toward self and sin.

This becomes evident when believers choose to sin. They are being convicted. What they are doing is no longer consistent with who they really are in Christ. I have counseled hundreds of Christians who are questioning their salvation because of their struggle with sin. The fact that it even bothers them is the best argument for their salvation. It is the nature of a natural person to sin. On the other hand, I have talked to people who profess to be Christians, but seem to have little or no remorse for sin. I would have to question their salvation. If we are children of God, we are not going to live comfortably with sin.

Why do you need the nature of Christ within you? So you can be like Christ, not just act like Him. God has not given us the power to imitate Him. He has made us partakers of His nature so that we can actually be like Him. You don't become a Christian by acting like one. You are not on a performance basis with God. He doesn't say, "Here are My standards, now you measure up." He knows you can't solve the problem of an old sinful self by simply improving your behavior. He must change your nature, give you an entirely new self—the life of Christ in you—which is the grace you need to measure up to His standards.

That was the point of Christ's message in the Sermon on the Mount: "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). The scribes and Pharisees were the religious perfectionists of their day. They had external behavior down to a science, but their hearts were like the insides of a tomb: reeking of death. Jesus is interested only in creating new persons from the inside out by infusing in them a brand new nature and creating in them a new self. Only after He changes who you are and makes you a partaker of His divine nature will you be able to change your behavior.


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, 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