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Showing posts with label Repentance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Repentance. Show all posts

Friday, November 4, 2022

Don’t Fear the Reaper - A Harvest of Repentance - Purity 880

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper - A Harvest of Repentance  Purity 880

Purity 880 11/04/2022 Purity 880 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s rather dark photo of a recently harvest cornfield set against the contrast of the thriving green of what I believe to be “winter wheat” comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene while out for walk along Waite Rd in Easton yesterday as the sun was dipping into the horizon.   

Well, it is Friday, so Thanks God, and rejoice over the last day of the normal work week, if that applies to you, and for all that the Lord has done to make your lives new. While today’s photo isn’t particularly spectalur I thought it was a good visual representation of us transitioning into the “life of the weekend” and because I will be leading another man through the Steps to Freedom in Christ today and I hope to see the Holy Spirit reap a harvest of repentance as we meet later this morning in prayer.   

For those who follow the blog, you may remember I already shared a photo of this field and the contrast of corn ready for harvest and the humble beginnings of the sprouting winter wheat.  But yesterday I saw that the farmers had completely cleared the corn field of its harvest and I am sharing this photo today because it reminds me of what the Lord can do with the unruling overgrown messes of our pasts.   

Just like that cornfield, our pasts can be a substantial unruly mess and the sheer volume of it and all its accumulated trauma, sin, and bitterness can seem like its just too much to deal with and it is something that we should just ignore and keep walking past.   But just like that cornfield, if we don’t clear the land of our pasts and use the things in it to nourish us, its just a waste.  And we can’t just pick and choose the good things of our pasts to be able to walk free of it. Just like the reaper took the ears of corn and all the stalks, leaves, and ripped out the roots, in order to adequately be free of the pain of our pasts and to be able to grow anew, we have to take all of our pasts and give them to the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to process it all to make us grow.  

With the Lord’s help we can acknowledge it all. All of that did happen to me. Some of it was good. But some of it was bad. Some of it just wasn’t right.  The things I did weren’t right! The things others did to me weren’t right. And some things that happened to my friends and family, or by my friends and family weren’t right!   

While the world would suggest either to move on from your past by just forgetting about it or by settling scores by getting even, The Lord wants you to processour past, your old life, by living the new one He has for you.  

And the new life that the Lord has for you commands that you enact the Lord’s solution for your problems, past and present.  His solution is forgiveness and repentance and the Holy Spirit in every Christian, is the One who can help us reap all of our spiritual and personal conflicts according to God’s wisdom and love, to clear the land and allow you to sow the seeds of a new life that won’t be choked out by the weeds of your past.  

Going to the Lord and confessing your sins and then making the decision to live for Him and according to His way, to learn who you are in Christ and to follow the example of Jesus, is the way to the new life.  It is a process of prayer, faith , and action. 

We can’t just reap our own harvest. Repentance is granted by the Holy Spirit alone and it is with and through Him that we can be healed of our hurts and give the power to transform our lives.  

So for those who have already had the Lord clear the fields of your pasts, rejoice! Your victory and freedom need never end, as long as you keep on walking and talking with God.  

As for those whose pasts still have a tendency to loom over you,  I suggest you go to the Lord and ask Him to help you to clear your field. The Steps to Freedom in Christ is one way you can do it.  The Steps guide people to pray to the Lord and to ask Him to help them repent and deal with the hurts of the past.  The steps are just a road map but you invite the Lord to walk through them together, in faith, the Lord has been known to use them to set people free.  I have seen it happen to others and I have seen the Lord do it for me.  

But hey, I’m just suggesting one path of many right? I guess that’s true but just like our pasts are filled with choices to many paths we wish we never took, sometimes we know there really is only one RIGHT thing we should do and I pray that the Lord reveals the truth of THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE, of Jesus, to you. 

The Lord is patient and loving and He won’t force us to do anything but, man, if you accept Jesus’ invitation to Follow Him, you will discover just how good walking and talking with God can be.

 

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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 12:20 (NLT2)
20  Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Today's Bible verse encourages us to show love to those who would despitefully use us, to put into practice Christ’s command to love our enemies with the expectation that love can conquer hate.  

I have to thank God for the godly men that He has put on my path of Christian growth.  While some “Christians” are known to quote Bible verses, chapter and verse, some of these zealots give Christianity a bad name because while they can accurately state the word of God and obviously have it in their heads, there unfortunately seems to be a disconnect with the hearts as they use the word of God to chastise, criticize, manipulate, and control others, they haven’t allowed it to produce the spiritual fruit of love in their lives.   And in some cases, the knowledge of the word is only a sheep’s covering that is used to conceal secret sins and a hidden agenda.  

But then there are those Christians who not only know the word of God but seek to understand it and apply it to their lives and how they interact with others.  

Today’s verse reminds me of my mentor Pastor Bob Costello and our days serving together in Celebrate Freedom, the now disbanded recovery ministry at my former church.  In the early days of that ministry, a homeless veteran of the Gulf War with physical, mental, and spiritual problems came to our church’s attention and Pastor Bob was given the task of trying to help this troubled man. Although this man served our country and professed to be a Christian, he also served his flesh and didn’t always express gratitude for Bob’s companionship and efforts to help.  The veteran had addiction issues, physical disabilities, and a history of prison time so like a wounded dog, he would often bite the hand that literally fed him and would periodically run free and make a mess of things.  

I know Pastor Bob to be a man of great patience but this man’s ungrateful attitude and unrighteous antics test his limits, so much so that he took his concerns to the senior pastor who suggested that Bob apply Romans 12:20 to the situation.  

As much as Bob wanted to complain about this man and wanted to just shake the dust off his feet and walk away from the whole situation, the word of God convicted Bob to forgive much because he himself had been “trouble” in his youthful days back in the Bronx and had been forgiven much by the Lord and other Christians.  

And the word of God, really did a work on Bob. He didn’t just begrudgingly keep on trucking along out of some sense that was what He was supposed to, He applied that verse to His heart and it changed everything.  Instead of seeing this troubled vet as a big problem, Bob started to see Him as one of God’s children that needed love. 

So Bob just kept serving him and showing him compassion until something amazing happened, things got better.  The Vet entered into our recovery ministry and resisted the real and present danger to relapse.  Bob and the church eventually connected him to resources and provided him with financial assistance to get him his own apartment. After a while this vet was actually walking in sobriety and was so grateful that he decided to lead worship at our recovery ministry with a soulful rendition of Christ Tomlin: “You’re a good, good father.”   The heaping coals of kindness on this man’s head had worked.  The love that Bob and those at the church had given this man had “shamed” the evil in him and caused him to repent and start walking in the way the Father would have him go.  

This man had been a hostile combatant against the world for the pain he had suffered but the love he received caused him to literally sing the Lord’s praises.  

So feed your enemies, if they are thirsty given them something to drink, because love is great than hate, good is better than evil, and the light of God’s love that we allow to shine through us will dispel the darkness. 

___________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’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 Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

Hidden Righteousness concludes

Second, we ask: what in the content of the act of following Christ constitutes the union of the visible and the hidden? How can the same thing be simultaneously visible and hidden? To answer we need only to turn back to the result of chapter 5. What is extraordinary and visible is the cross of Christ, beneath which the disciples stand. The cross is at once what is necessary and hidden, and what is visible and extraordinary.

Third, we ask: how can the paradox between the fifth and sixth chapters be resolved? The concept of discipleship itself provides the resolution. It is exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. Disciples always look only to their Lord and follow him. If they were to see the extraordinariness itself, then they would no longer stand in discipleship. In simple obedience disciples do the will of the Lord who bids them do something extraordinary, and they know in everything only that they can do nothing else, that they are, therefore, doing what is simply a matter of course.

The only required reflection for disciples is to be completely oblivious, completely unreflective in obedience, in discipleship, in love. If you do good, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. You should not know your own goodness.[170] Otherwise it will really be your goodness, and not the goodness of Christ. The goodness of Christ, the goodness of discipleship takes place without awareness. The genuine deed of love is always a deed hidden to myself. Pay heed that you do not know it. Only in this way is it the goodness of God. If I want to know my own goodness and my own love, then it is no longer love. Even the extraordinary love of enemies remains hidden to disciples. When they love their enemies, then they no longer view them as enemies. This blindness of the disciples, or rather this vision enlightened by Christ, is what makes them certain. The hiddenness of their lives from themselves is their promise.

The other side of hiddenness is its being in the open. There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed. That is how God made things to be, before whom everything hidden is already revealed. God wants to show us what is hidden. God will make it visible. Being revealed in public is the reward ordained by God for hiddenness. The question is only where and from whom people receive this reward of public recognition. If they long for it to be in sight of other people, then they will have had their reward as soon as they get such publicity. There is no difference whether they seek it in the cruder form, in the presence of others, or in the more subtle form, in the presence of themselves. Whenever the left hand knows what the right is doing, whenever I myself become aware of my own hidden goodness, whenever I want to know about my own goodness, then I have already prepared for myself the public reward which God intended to store up for me. I am the one who revealed my own hiddenness to myself. I do not wait for God to show it to me. So I have gotten my reward. But those who remain hidden even from themselves until the end[173] will receive from God the reward of being revealed. But who can live in such a way as to do the extraordinary in secret? Who can prevent the left hand from knowing what the right hand is doing? What sort of love is that which does not know of itself, but can remain hidden from itself until the last day? It is clear that because it is hidden love, it cannot be a visible virtue, a human habitus [attitude]. Beware—it says—that you do not mistake genuine love for the virtue of kindness or for a human “quality”! It is self-forgetting love in the most genuine sense of the word. In this self-forgetting love, however, the old self must die with all its virtues and qualities. The old Adam dies in the disciples’ love, which is oblivious of the self and bound solely to Christ. The death of the old Adam is proclaimed in the sentence: “Let not your left hand know what your right is doing.” Once again, who can live so that chapters 5 and 6 are one? None except those whose old self has died in Christ and who have found a new life in Christ’s community of discipleship. Love as the deed of simple obedience is death to the old self and the self’s discovery to exist now in the righteousness of Christ and in one’s brothers and sisters. Then the old self is no longer alive, but Christ is alive in the person. The love of Christ the Crucified, who leads the old self in us to death, is what lives in Christ’s follower. Disciples find themselves only in Christ and in their brothers and sisters.[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/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her 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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 150–152.


Thursday, October 6, 2022

The Path to the Light of Life - Purity 855

 



 

The Path to the Light of Life - Purity 855

Purity 855 10/06/2022 Purity 855 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the setting sun fading into the horizon resulting in Waite Road fading into darkness comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene during a late afternoon walk back on September 24th.  

Well, It’s Thursday again and even though I have shifted the night of the Freedom in Christ Course that I facilitate for Freedom in Christ Ministries to Tuesday nights, some traditions die hard and I still like the idea of sharing pictures of pathways on Thursdays to encourage my friends to be intentional about following the Lord with the way they live their lives because I know it is the best advice I can give them and because Thursdays were the night I had taught and led the Christian Recovery Ministry, Celebrate Freedom a couple of years ago, yeah 2020!, at Rock Solid Church in Hudson, NY.  

Time flies sure does fly as we live our lives and I can recall from my distant past of my undergraduate college days that Thursdays were also considered the beginning of the weekend, as Friday classes were avoided in general and if I did register for one they suffered sporadic attendance as my lifestyle of debauchery in college day led me to pursue things other than higher education.   So I guess it was having recovery ministry on Thursdays was a good choice as a substitute activity to purge those tendencies to kick back and lose myself in my addictions.  

The process of recovery definitely was a hard road to walk at first but the more I sought the Lord and believed the truth about who I am in Christ, the road to recovery and repentance was a lot easier as I learned the threefold keys to victory and overcoming. 

The three things we need to know intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and experientially to overcome, to experience victory, and our freedom in Christ are: 

1.    My sinful choices are not right or good for me.  Our sinful choices violate God’s moral law and the laws of common sense as our sins do us damage in our mind, body, soul, and spirit.  – Most of us know this but unfortunately somehow the negative consequences of sin never seemed to be enough to stop us from sinning for good. 

2.    My new identity in Christ is not compatible with my old sinful, selfish, and fleshly ways from my pre-Christ life where I was dead in trespasses and sins.  Also my new identity, my new life in Christ, has actually given me the power to say no to my sinful ways for good. The narrative that needs to happen when we consider falling into sin is: “That’s not who I am anymore. I am a Christian. I follow Jesus and I don’t do those things anymore. I walk in the light, not in the darkness anymore.” Here we not only stand in our identity in Christ by affirming our belief of what God has done for us, we also act on it, by shunning sin, and thus verifying the truth, that we are indeed alive to God, dead to sin, and new creations in Christ.  

3.    My sin disrupts the harmony of my relationship with God and because of what He has done for me, and who I am now in Christ, I don’t want to do anything to get in the way of the peace and joy that I have with God. My relationship with God is too precious to mess it up even for a second. While I know I have been forgiven of all my sins, I have sinned enough in my past and choose to obey the Lord to keep my communion with Him unsullied. I love Him and I want to do what pleases Him.  This obviously seeks to foster our love for God and reflects the truth that sometimes we will do things for our loved ones that we would never do for ourselves.   

You might not find this three step recipe for overcoming anywhere else. The Lord knows that it took me a long time of seeking Him and His righteousness to see the different aspects of my victory.  And it is my prayer that you see that the three steps are more steps of faith than works of our will.

I seek to encourage people to keep walking and talking with God because I know that if someone seeks God’s will for their life by studying His word and by applying its wisdom in life, the Lord will empower them to repent and to not be complacent about the sin in their lives. 

Unfortunately, many churches are so graceful and compassionate that they will console their congregations about their sins rather than challenge them to overcome them. The “just a sinner saved by grace” mentality keeps Christians in bondage to their sins and in the negative mind states that result from the guilt and shame of their moral failures and the demonic influences that gain a foothold in their lives because of their failure to repent. 

So pervasive is this “compassionate care of failure and forgiveness” that many Christians don’t take seriously the word of God that tells them that they have been freed from sin.  They disbelieve the word of God. And while they will proclaim that Christ is the Lamb who overcomes the sin of the world, somehow He has failed to overcome “their personal sins”.  That the Christian faith  may work for some, but it doesn’t work for them.   If they don’t think that victory over the sins that besets them is possible why would they even try, besides they have been forgiven… like the woman caught in adultery, Christ won’t condemn them.  

You will actually hear that rationale from some Christians.  But I always encourage them to read through to the end to see that while the woman caught in adultery was given mercy that was not all she received.

 

John 8:10-12 (NKJV)
10  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"
11  She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
12  Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Go and sin no more?! What?

When we put our faith in Christ, God forgives us everything we ever did or will ever do but He calls us to follow Christ and to repent, to sin no more.  

Now granted  we are all sinners to some degree because James 4:7 tells us to do what is right and not to do it is sin, and none of us does every good thing that we know we should do because none of us is perfect.  

However, there is a big difference of being guilty of the failure to do good and the rebellious violation of God’s moral standards, or blatant sin.  To rest in  blatant sin is lie down in darkness and to deny God’s power to give us new life.   To remain hard hearted towards God’s commands to repent could reveal that we don’t worship Him, that we worship ourselves or our sin and the love of God is not in us.   If we claim to be Christians and remain unchanged, by continually falling into the same old sins of our pasts, we may discover that our faith was false. We may hear Christ repeat those words spoken in

Matthew 7:23 (NKJV) where he says, to the false converts of Christianity,
23  … 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

 This verse and verses like them put the fear of God in me and caused me to seek the Lord to assure myself that I was His.  They caused me to pray and seek repentance and the Lord was gracious to answer my prayer and to give me the strength and wisdom to agree with His word and to leave my darkness behind.  

I am not special. I tend to learn from trial and error and have made lots of mistakes in my life and on the path of Christian Discipleship.  But the word of God is true and the Holy Spirit lives in us to help us, to comfort us, and to guide us in the way we should go.  It only takes a little bit of faith to believe we can overcome. The word of God teaches a gospel of repentance and transformation.  We simply need to believe it and follow the Lord to find it.  

So keep walking and talking with God. He may have found you in the darkness but He doesn’t want you to stay there. He was you to know Him and the peace, love and joy, that comes from walking out of the darkness and into His light of life.

 

 

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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 14:12 (NKJV)
12  So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Today’s Bible verses reminds us that each one of us will give account to God for how we lived our lives.  

Today’s verse should convict us and cause us to examine how we live our lives and choose to make the decision to repent and follow the Lord’s ways for what is left of our lives.  

Some brash not too bright people say things like: “Wait until I get to heaven, I am going to give God a piece of my mind!”  but the truth is they will be humbled and not hurl accusations or condemnations toward our Heavenly Father but will have to answer to Him with how they lived their lives and failed to worship Him or failed read His word or obey His commands.   And if they failed to put their faith in Christ there will be hell to pay.  

But the good news is the Christian doesn’t go to hell and their account of their lives will be used to determine their rewards rather than to determine their punishment. 

So put your faith in Christ to be saved from God’s wrath and start the good works that God created you for to store up for yourself treasures in heaven.

 

____________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

Chapter Five

Discipleship and the Individual – Concludes

 

It is not in our power to choose one or the other possibility. According to the will of Jesus, we are called one way or the other out of immediate relationships, and we must become single individuals, visibly or secretly.

But it is precisely this same mediator who makes us into individuals, who becomes the basis for entirely new community. He stands in the center between the other person and me. He separates, but he also unites. He cuts off every direct path to someone else, but he guides everyone following him to the new and sole true way to the other person via the mediator.

“Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or spouse or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first’ ” (Mark 10:28–31).

Jesus is speaking here to people who became single individuals for his sake, who left everything when he called, who can say of themselves: behold, we left everything and followed you. The promise of new community is given to them. Jesus says that already in this life they are to receive a hundredfold of what they left behind. Jesus is speaking here of his faith-community, those who have come together in him. Those who left their fathers for Jesus’ sake will surely find new fathers in the community, they will find brothers and sisters; there are even fields and houses prepared for them. Everyone enters discipleship alone, but no one remains alone in discipleship. Those who dare to become single individuals trusting in the word are given the gift of church-community. They find themselves again in a visible community of faith, which replaces a hundredfold what they lost. A hundredfold? Yes, in the mere fact that they now have everything solely through Jesus, that they have it through the mediator. Of course, that includes “persecutions.” “A hundredfold”—“with persecutions”: that is the grace of the community which follows its Lord under the cross. The promise for those who follow Christ is that they will become members of the community of the cross, they will be people of the mediator, people under the cross.

“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him” (Mark 10:32). As if to confirm the seriousness of his call to discipleship, and at the same time the impossibility of discipleship based on human strength, and to confirm the promise of belonging to him in times of persecution, Jesus then goes ahead to Jerusalem to the cross, and those following him are overcome with amazement and fear at the way to which he has called them.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 98–99.


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The “R” Word and Living in the State of Grace- Purity 806

The “R” Word and Living in the State of Grace- Purity 806

Purity 806 08/10/2022  Purity 806 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a clear blue sky and blazing sun over the “hump of a tree” and the “peak” of my neighbor’s house comes to us today from yours truly as I captured this spontaneous shot back on July 9th when leaving my countryside home to walk the dog. 

Well, it’s Wednesday again and today’s pictural offering may be lacking the mountain’s majesty that I usually share to represent the midweek hump but I think it can serve as a simple reminder to see the beauty that is right outside your front door and to appreciate the simple things in life. 

Also, I had some technical difficulties in this photo being delivered to my laptop and while I was waiting I was a little bit overwhelmed by the lag and the fact that I had other photo’s I could share but had no idea of their origin as I will just grab lots of photos off of social media to possibly use and with time, I forget where they came from! I have confessed that weakness before and unfortunately I haven’t instituted any measures to change it!

And thus we have stumbled upon today’s topic I guess: breaking the sin-confess cycle.  

Have you ever heard some one say, perhaps to you: “You say you are sorry, but if you were really sorry, you wouldn’t do that anymore!”  

Duck! Because if you are anything like me, those are shots fired in your direction and those slugs hurt!

If anyone ever tells you that the Christian faith is simple, they are failing to tell you about  the “R” word: repentance.  Just so you can see I am not legalistically making the need to change up out of thin air, I share the following verses from the New Testament:

From the Apostle Peter:

Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
19  Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)
9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

From the Apostle Paul,

Acts 17:30 (NKJV)
30  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

From Jesus:

Matthew 4:17 (NKJV)
17  … Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Mark 1:15 (NKJV)
15  … "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Luke 13:3 (NKJV)
3  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Revelation 3:19 (NKJV)
19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

Okay, I hope that is sufficient to demonstrate that “repentance” is a fundamental part of our faith.  Christians are called to believe in Christ, to put their faith in Him as Lord and Savior, and to repent: to change our minds and to decide to exchange our ways of thinking and living for God’s wisdom and ways. 

I’m pretty sure most of us know that and it is perhaps the number one reason why people resist becoming a Christian. Change is hard and they don’t want to change. 

Even those of us who do want to change, know what a difficult thing that can be.  And that’s we needed and will continually need God’s grace: His divine favor.  

God’s grace shined upon us of course when we first came to Christ. It was God’s grace that revealed to us the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and caused us to put our faith in Him.  

But God’s grace, His divine favor, doesn’t leave us at salvation.  Some Christians refer to a “state of Grace”, and although the systems that usually use that particular phrase indicate that this “state” is something we can move in and out of based on our behavior, the word indicates that nothing can separate us from the love of God, so I would encourage you to know that grace is a state that you have taken up permanent residency in the moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ and nothing can change that.  

However, our attitudes and behaviors are subject to change. That’s good news and bad news. 

The bad news is that we can be walking well in our new found faith but then through temptation and deception, we can decide to forget who we are in Christ and make poor sinful choices.  We have formed selfish fleshly habits of living and they are difficult to change over night.   However, because of who we are in Christ, no matter what we do we are forgiven – when we came to Christ all our sins, past, present, and future sins, have been forgiven.

That’s grace and that’s why it is called “Amazing grace” because we simply can’t believe it is true!  And because we have been raised in a world system that has taught us that WE HAVE TO WORK to be approved, many will reject God’s grace because they believe it is too good to be true, but it is.  

Anyway, the good news about our attitudes and behaviors being subject to change is that we can change them! Thus repentance.  In fact, the best evidence for the truth of Christianity are people who have come to Christ and changed the way they lived.  

So, those new in Christ will try to “be good” now that they have “said the prayer” but unless they develop their love for God, repentance will just be a process of frustrating work that will be marked by failures and confessions.   We will say we are sorry but will feel powerless to change. 

So why is that? I’m trying hard here! What’s the deal!?! 

Well the deal is that you are trying to establish your freedom and victory over your besetting sins in your own strength according to the world’s ways rather than “turning” to God’s strength, wisdom, and ways. Also you are probably, subtly separating yourself from God by feeling condemned and by trying to “do it yourself”.  

Our Christian faith is a relationship with God and that’s not how it’s supposed to be.  We have to love God, get to know God, and dedicate ourselves to our relationship with Him and know the peace that comes from living in the “state of grace”.   We have to know that even if we fail, God still loves us. 

That realization should be liberating. As His adopted children through faith in Jesus, God will never leave us or forsake us and will pour His grace upon us throughout our lives. His divine favor is ours and it can be the catalyst for change.   When we live in God’s grace, we live in the peace of knowing that we can do no wrong in God’s eyes. 

Now don’t get it twisted, just because we haceGod’s grace doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer from acting like a fool but it does mean that when we humble ourselves and decide to live according to God’s ways He will give us the power to overcome.  

Some people in your past may have said: “If you loved me, you would change.” But they were only human, may have had a selfish agenda, and certainly didn’t have the power of God’s grace to help you. 

People try to change one another through manipulation, through positive or negative reinforcement. While these methods can be effective in changing outside behaviors, they generally don’t effect the heart.  We can do what you say, whether we “like it or not” but it doesn’t mean that we are convinced. It doesn’t mean we are changed.  

However, love can sometimes motivate us to change. Love will cause us to do all kinds of things that we didn’t think we are capable of.  Many a human relationship has been saved because the consequence of the loss of love was hanging in the balance, and in some instances, those changes were “taken to heart”.  

With God on our side, our ability to change has been greatly increased because in reality He has made us new. He doesn’t have to change our heart because He will give us a new one.

The prophet Ezekiel prophesied about the thing that God would do through Christ:

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV) 26  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

When we received Christ as Lord and Savior, we received the Holy Spirit and the process to change our hearts of stone to a heart of flesh has happened.  Ever wonder why your emotions are all over the place since coming to Christ, you have a new heart!

So let that new heart beat with the love for the God who saved you and made you new. Use your love for God as your motivation to know Him more and to repent, to “take to heart” His truth found in the word of God and to apply it to your life.  

The good news is that we don’t have to be perfect in this process of change.   We just have to keep following the Lord.  His grace will work in our lives the more we seek Him and follow His lead. 

So keep walking and talking with God.  You tried to change and failed, your failure probably caused you to stop talking to Him and made you want to run away.  But stop running, there is nothing to be ashamed of or afraid of any more. God is with you, no matter what.  So don’t run and hide, instead stay with Him, ask Him for His strength and you will receive it, renew your mind with His word and you will receive His wisdom and if you apply it, it will transform your life.  

But above all remember that repentance is the process of becoming who you were made to be and the God of all creation is encouraging you every step of the way. Like a Father teaching His children to walk, He will cheer you on, He will steady you as you go, and He will pick you up when you fall.  So reach out to Him, take His hand and go with Him to the new life of freedom and victory that is yours for the taking.

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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 Peter 5:7 (NLT2)
7  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Today’s verse encourages us that we can give all of our worries and cares to God because of the simple fact of His love for us. He cares for us.  

He cares!

Have you ever met someone new and come to the realization that they liked you?  Have you ever had someone express their fondness for you by helping you out in some way?  

If you have, you probably have had a moment where inside your mind or heart you said to yourself: He cares! or She cares!  And on earth, there isn’t really many feelings that beat that feeling.  To feel loved, to feel cared for.   And God loves us. God cares about us.  

Now sometimes in human relationships we can discover that some people’s care for us was conditional. There are heartbreaking true stories of people leaving others in relationships when “the going got tough”.  “Fair weather friends” are perhaps the mildest form of this but even the deepest bonds or relationships like marriage or family can suffer or be broken because people are limited and can seek escape from “your problems”.  

But God’s not like that.  Today’s verse tells us of the truth of God’s tenacious and loyal love for us. It tells us that we can give all of our worries and carries to Him.  

So no matter what you are facing, or no matter how many people decide to cut and run or just don’t want to hear about your problems anymore, remember that God care for you and will not only listen to your worries and cares, but will also give you the strength, wisdom, and guidance to endure them and overcome them.  

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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.

Prayer As the Primary Weapon

If Paul were to summarize the primary way of gaining access to the power of God for waging successful spiritual warfare, he would unwaveringly affirm that it is through prayer. Prayer is given much greater prominence in the spiritual warfare passage than any of the other implements. Prayer is also the only spiritual piece of armor that is not given a corresponding physical weapon (like a breastplate or a shield).

When Paul spoke of prayer, it was closely related to his concept of faith. He also mentioned faith for its role in engaging in spiritual warfare. He associated it with the shield. It is mentioned explicitly as the means of overcoming intense diabolic attack: “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph 6:16). Prayer became for Paul the practical manifestation of faith. By these means, Satan is effectively resisted.

Throughout Ephesians, Paul stressed the role of faith in appropriating the power of God. The faith he called for is based on the objective fact of Christ’s resurrection and exaltation over the supernatural powers. God’s power is not imparted to Christians by wearing a magical amulet or even a crucifix. Neither does one gain access to it by performing a rite or by chanting certain words. God’s power is given through simple trust in him.

This trust finds expression most commonly in the act of prayer. Paul consequently summoned believers to pray “at all times” and “for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). Paul himself modeled this to the readers in this letter, telling them the essence of what he has prayed for them—their increased awareness of God’s power and for God to strengthen them with his power (Eph 1:15–23; 3:14–19).

The spiritual warfare passage is often viewed in individual terms; that is, each individual Christian should pray and ask God for strength to do battle. Paul actually depicted the arming in corporate terms. The whole church is involved in the process of arming. In fact, each believer is responsible for arming other believers. All of Paul’s admonitions in this passage are in the plural. More important, however, is the fact that Paul urged believers to pray “for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). Since this exhortation is part of Paul’s explanation of prayer as the final piece of armor, it is most natural to understand it as his recommendation as to the prerequisite and means of acquiring divine enablement. This fact is supported when he requested prayer for himself in the verses immediately following. In essence, he is asking his readers to arm him for spiritual warfare, particularly in his offensive act of proclaiming the gospel. Certainly the two prayers of Ephesians 1 and 3 model this fact. Through those two prayers, Paul deployed God’s armor for the protection and use of his readers. By leaving aside the metaphorical language of spiritual warfare and putting it into the simplest terms, one could say Paul prayed that God would endow them with his power so they could successfully resist Satan’s temptations and be divinely enabled to proclaim the gospel fearlessly in spite of demonic hindrance and hostility.

Spiritual warfare, therefore, is more proactive than reactive. It is the preparation before the storm. In practical terms it involves praying for “the healthy” in addition to praying for “the sick”; that is, praying specifically for individuals to resist temptation in their personal areas of vulnerability. It involves praying for the progress of the gospel in light of localized and intense demonic hostility to the ongoing mission of the church. This concept has the potential of rejuvenating prayer groups and prayer meetings in the church today.

Today’s church needs a stronger sense of the mutuality of the body of Christ. The Western church, in particular, is guilty of an “individualistic Christianity.” Instead of condemning the brother or sister who falls into sin, we need to look first to ourselves. Did we pray for God’s grace to enable that person to resist Satan’s solicitations to evil? Spiritual warfare is a call to corporate prayer.[1]

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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

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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), 158–159.