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Showing posts with label Revelation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Revelation. Show all posts

Friday, November 25, 2022

Some Disturbing but Hopeful Thoughts For Black Friday - Purity 898


 

Some Disturbing but Hopeful Thoughts For Black Friday - Purity 898    

Purity 898 11/25/2022  Purity 898 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the reflection of the sky in the waters on the shores of Kingscliff Beach in Adelaide South Australia comes to from Dave Baun Photography. Dave shared this photo with the news that it has been a week since his eye surgery and although the healing isn’t complete yet and recovery is hard because he can’t practice the craft that he loves so much, he still wanted to share this scene to point to some good news: that in the Land Down Under where things are sort of, well upside down from our perspective, the summer weather is returning.  While we are just beginning to deal with the fact that winter is not only coming but is here in full force in places like Buffalo, Dave is experiencing the hope of increasing recovery and warm summer days.  

Something as simple as a report from a friend on the other side of the world can really point out just how big the world is and when I look at today’s photo in Australia, I can’t help but to think of the television series “Lost” and the befuddled rock star Charlie’s question: “Guys, Where are we?”  

Where are we indeed?  This message is coming in late today because I have the day off I decided to “let the Lord wake” me and apparently He decided I could get some sleep as I woke up at the late hour of 5:30 am! So we start today with more rest than usual, and thoughts that are probably contrary to most in my reflections on yesterday’s Thanksgiving holiday.  

You have to forgive my somewhat morbid outlook that I have at times. As a child of the late seventies and early 80’s, graduating in 1990, I was raised in the heart of the cold war with entertainment that prophesied nuclear holocaust, took delight in the works of Stephen King, and was eventually into music artists that had disdain for the hypocrisy of polite society because of its tendencies to “keep people in their place” and that restricted or judge the “free life” that we wanted to live. 

The freedom a lot of my gen x contemporaries and I wanted was freedom from any restrictions or judgements of what we wanted to do, usually surround things like sex and drugs, but we also sought to make society repent of its former violent, racists, and materialistic ways.  The nineties were like a reboot of the sixties as the Berlin wall came down and we had grand ideals of peace and peaceful easy living.  But we also had that contrast of nihilism, because we had lived in the fear of nuclear holocaust for most of our lives and now that we discovered we might just have to live to see old age, some of us didn’t have a clue what we wanted to be when we grew up. I had spent so long living it up that I didn’t prepare for the future! When you live a good part of your life thinking “nothing really matters”, it can be quite a surprise when you realize they might. 

One of the things angsty teens and young adults, traditionally rebel against is the institution of family, and yesterday I suspect that there may have been several Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations that had pride in how their gatherings differed from the traditional family gathering.  

But you know what? For the most part, as much as we love our friends and as wild as  the days of our mad existences may have been in our youths, as we move through life that those ideals and friendships of youth generally fade away and you see that what was so important for a few years in our teens and 20’s turned out to be the things that “didn’t really matter”.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love all my friends from my youth but in terms of Thanksgiving plans for 2022, they didn’t play a part, and the thing that remained was “family”. 

However in the landscape that divorce chisels into our society and our immediate experiences, even that can cause things to be “:upside down” from what we were used to.  The Facebook photo of large “whole” family gatherings may be considered sweet or annoying from your perspective, but you have to admit that the brokenness of the traditional family has their appearances decreasing.    

Year after year the changes can be subtle, but as the kids grow up and family members are lost to divorce or death, sometimes they can be  quit jarring.  Yesterday my step kids, from my second marriage, met with their father for “Thanksgiving Breakfast” that turned out to be lunch and while I of all people certainly understand the difficulties for meeting all those familial obligations of honor, something about the idea of a “Thanksgiving Breakfast” just offended me. 

This wasn’t God’s plan for sure.  I am sure these things weren’t our plan either but there they are. “Nothing spells dysfunction like “Thanksgiving Breakfast”. The hilarity and the absurdity of it actually caused me to google – “What did the pilgrims have for breakfast?”  but as gleeful as I was to start typing out that malicious question, my heart sank as google started to complete the question as it often does when someone else out there asked the same question.  And I was saddened and somewhat ashamed because I imagined that the question I submitted as a joke was possibly submitted in full sincerity as someone out there was desperately trying to create something “traditional” around their nontraditional gathering.  “Guys, where are we?”   

Another tradition that I enjoy is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but even that staple of Thanksgiving tradition seems to increasingly be revealed for the materialistic ad campaign that it is and because it highlights current events and trends it reveals the moral slippage that our country has gone through since I was a child.  Without being specific, let’s just say that some things on display during yesterday’s parade would have never been deemed as suitable for public consumption. Again, I have nothing really grotesque to point to because the grotesque ain’t what it used to be as what some would call progress could very well be seen as corruption from a Biblical world view. 

And thus as I watched the parade yesterday the nihilism of old and the apocalyptic reality of Biblical end times prophecies came together and made me think of something rather macabre: What would happen if Jesus came back on Thanksgiving Day in the midst of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? 

And at first my thoughts were of a Rapture, where a small number, probably very small (perhaps unnoticeable?), of the people would simply vanish, causing parade staff to seek to fill empty spots as the parade would just keep marching on…

But then I thought of a post Rapture, Revelation 14 return of Jesus Christ on Thanksgiving Day where God’s wrath would be poured out where there would be few if any men left standing….

Revelation 14:14-20 (NLT2) says
14  Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15  Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.”
…..19  So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
20  The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.

 There is or was actually a joyous worship song on Christian radio this year proclaiming that “Jesus is coming back” but in light of the moral corruption that is prevalent in our society and evidenced in families broken by divorce, sexual immorality, substance abuse, and selfish materialism, I fear that the return of Jesus Christ will not be the good news that the masses are waiting to hear.  

Yesterday, I presented a short teaching based on a devotional from John MacArthur about Enoch, and one of the things that Macarthur drew from the few Bible verses on Enoch was that he “walked with God” and He through naming his son Methuselah he warned others about the certainty of God’s judgement on the people of his corrupt moral society.  MacArthur pointed out that even though Enoch knew he would never live to see the Flood that would come, he was still faithful to warn others about it.  

People really must have thought Enoch was crazy, or at least a judgmental jerk, undoubtedly lecturing people of their moral failures and encouraging them to repent and trust in the one true unseen Creator God.   But one day, because of His relationship with God, Enoch did not collect $200 and go directly to the grave,  instead He was the first to provide evidence of the possibility of being “raptured”.  We can imagine the theories that would have explained Enoch’s disappearance and I’m sure there were several quite reasonable and plausible ones. I can think of a bunch.  But God through His word, reveals to us the truth about Enoch and a whole lot more.  

God reveals to us what is right and wrong. Our society is lacking mightily in respecting His standard.  

God also has revealed to us the Way to be at peace with Him,  through faith in Jesus Christ. And our society, and even what some would consider the “church” doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on what that means either.  

And finally, God tells us in Revelation of how this world will end but few seem to have confidence in being ready for that.   

End times prophetic preachers vary in their predictions, but some will sell you disaster supply kits and most have been preaching for decades that Christ would come back at any minute.  Their attempts to predict and “draw parallels” between newspaper headlines and scripture haven’t always been spot on and may even cause some to doubt the word of God because of their messages!

Me?  I thought I had some prophetic giftings in the past, and sometimes I have instances of having the feeling that “God set me up” as I walk into good things or “God gave me a heads up” when I avoid bad things, but because of my “false prophecies”, ideas about what would of should happen in my life that didn’t come to pass, I am hesitant to prophesy anything specific about future events.  

Instead, I unknowingly have adopted the stance of Enoch.  I concern myself with my daily walk with God from day to day and moment to moment. But I also try to, as lovingly as I can, warn people to secure their eternal destiny by putting their faith in Jesus Christ, to live according to God’s standards for living, and to respect the word of God as true: to believe and to understand that Jesus is coming back.  But like Enoch, I may not live to see Christ’s return from the perspective of the earth.  I may be coming with Him!  

But I don’t know about that one way or the other.  But I do know that God loves us, and He wants us to make peace with Him and to enjoy our lives with Him.  So, I hope the end times imagining of Christ coming back at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Judgement doesn’t freak you out but encourages you to see that God is holy and encourages us to be on His side when the wrath of God should come.  

Ironically, all of this caused me to remember Green Days’ song, Macy’s Day Parade’s lyrics and feel that somehow they express the angst over the way the pageantry of the parade of life is inadequate to satisfy us but amazingly there is a hope for the future, that Billy Jo Armstrong may or may not know, lies in the person of Jesus Christ. The lyrics say: 

 

“Today's the Macy's Day Parade

The night of the living dead is on its way

With a credit report for duty call

It's a lifetime guarantee

Stuffed in a coffin, 10% more free

Red light special at the mausoleum

 

Give me something that I need

Satisfaction guaranteed to you

What's the consolation prize?

Economy sized dreams of hope

 

When I was a kid, I thought

I wanted all the things that I haven't got

Oh-oh, but I learned the hardest way

Then I realized what it took

To tell the difference between thieves and crooks

Lesson learned to me and you

 

Give me something that I need

Satisfaction guaranteed

 

'Cause I'm thinking 'bout a brand new hope

The one I've never known

'Cause now I know it's all that I wanted”

 

I think I might have shared this song before. If I did I apologize. But even though things continue to change, some things remain the same.  This world and our human relationships are inadequate, and were never intended, to satisfy us. 

But I am thinking about what wasn’t long ago a “brand new hope” for me, the hope that only comes through Christ alone.  Jesus gives us the hope of peace in our lives on earth and the hope for everlasting life from here to eternity. He is our only hope.   

And even though speaking on the moral standards and the reality of an end time judgement may be offensive,  I have to tell you about them with the hope that it will cause you to discover the hope that I have found in Jesus Christ.  

Everyday, I’m walking and talking with God and life is good. Every day, I’m think about a brand new hope, the one I never knew, cause now I know, after years of suffering and searching, I know it’s all that I wanted or could ever hope to have.  

God bless you and keep you on this Black Friday and as you go to work or prepare for Christmas, I pray that you know the hope of Jesus and seek to share it with others.    

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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 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 Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Harvest

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were ill-treated and helpless,[3] like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ ” (Matt. 9:35–38).

The gaze of the Savior falls in pity on his people, on God’s people. It could not be enough for him that only a few people heard his call and followed him. He could not consider isolating himself aristocratically with his disciples and transmitting to them in the manner of great founders of religions the doctrines of higher knowledge and more perfect way of life separated from the mass of the people. Jesus had come; he worked, and he suffered on behalf of his entire people. And though the disciples wanted to have him all to themselves, and tried to keep distant from him the nuisance of the children who were brought to him and of some poor beggars on the side of the road (Mark 10:48), they had to acknowledge that Jesus would not permit his ministry to be limited by them. His gospel of the kingdom of God and his power to save belonged to the poor and sick, wherever he found them among his people.

The view of the crowds, which perhaps prompted disgust, rage, or contempt in his disciples, filled Jesus’ heart with deep pity and grief. No reproaches, no accusations! God’s beloved people were lying ill-treated on the ground, and the guilt for this fell on those who were to serve them with God’s ministry. It was not the Romans who had brought this about, but the misuse of the word of God by those called to be ministers of the Word. There were no more shepherds there! Jesus found God’s people to be a flock which was not led to fresh water, whose thirst remained unquenched[6]—sheep, whom no shepherd protects from the wolf, battered and wounded, terrified and fearful under the hard staff of their shepherds, sheep lying on the ground. Questions, but no answer; need, but no help; consciences kept in fear, but no liberation; tears, but no consolation; sin, but no forgiveness! Where was the good shepherd this people needed? What did it help here that there were scribes, who drove the people into the synagogues by brute force? What did it matter that zealots of the law harshly condemned sinners without helping them? What did it matter that the most orthodox preachers and interpreters of the word of God were present, if they were not filled with all of the mercy and all of the grief over the abused and ill-treated people of God? What use are scholars of Scripture, pious followers of the law, preachers of the word, if the shepherds of the church-community themselves are missing?

¶ The flock needs good shepherds, “pastors.”[8] “Feed my lambs” is Jesus’ last command to Peter. Good shepherds[10] fight for their flock against the wolf and do not flee. Instead, they give their lives for the sheep. They know all their sheep by their names and love them. They know their needs and their weaknesses. They heal their wounds, giving drink to the thirsty and lifting up those who are in danger of falling. They feed them gently and not harshly. They lead them along the right path. They seek the single lost sheep and bring it back to the flock. The evil shepherds, however, rule by violence; they forget their flock and tend to their own affairs. Jesus is looking for good shepherds, and behold, there are none to be found.

That saddens his heart. His divine pity embraces this lost flock, the mass of people around him. From the human point of view, it is a hopeless picture. But it is not hopeless for Jesus. Here, where God’s people stand before him ill-treated, miserable, and poor, Jesus sees God’s field ripe for harvest. “The harvest is great!” It is ripe to be brought into the barns. The hour has come that these poor and miserable people are brought home into the kingdom of God. Jesus sees God’s promise dawning over the masses of people. The scribes and zealots of the law saw only a trampled, burned, battered field. Jesus sees the ripe, waving field of grain for the kingdom of God. The harvest is great! His mercy alone sees that!

Now there is no time to lose. Harvesting cannot be delayed. “But the laborers are few.” Is it a miracle, since this merciful gaze of Jesus is given to so few? Who could enter into this work, besides those who have won a place in Jesus’ heart, who have received from him eyes that can see?

Jesus is looking for help. He cannot do this work alone. Where are the workers to help him? God alone knows them and must give them to God’s Son. Who would dare to take the initiative to offer to be Jesus’ helper? Even the disciples do not dare to do so. They are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers at the right hour, for it is time.[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), 183–185.


Friday, August 12, 2022

FRIDAY NIGHT!!! Let’s Go Get IT! Let’s Pray! - Purity 808


FRIDAY NIGHT!!! Let’s Go Get IT! Let’s Pray! - Purity 808

Purity 808 08/12/2022  Purity 808 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the silhouette of pine trees at twilight time comes to us from a friend who has a much better camera than my I-phone and  who captured this magical scene at Harrier Hill Park in Hudson NY back on July 31st.  

Well it’s Friday again and while I always thank the Lord for the mercies of a new day and the end of the work week, this morning’s photo reminds me of the sense of freedom and exhilaration that I used to experience over the prospect of FRIDAY NIGHT!!!  

Back before I knew the peace and joy of the Lord, freedom was defined as “doing what ever I  want” and happiness was heavily dependent on the circumstances of the moment and because my happiness was subject to the situations I encountered the anticipation of a “good time” on Friday night was often better than the actual experiences on Friday night.  

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the times were “good”, when the elements of my friends, the laughter, the music, the thrill of the hunt for romance, and chemically induced euphoria would all come together and the happiness was such that we never wanted the party to stop and we wished for those wild nights would never end!

But you know what, they did end and for all those “good times” in my youth of high school and college where all seemed right with the world of my friends, booze, drugs, and the connections of ‘free love”, there was also a whole lot of trouble and for every “magical moment” there were plenty of times of loneliness, strife, and conflict that resulted in arrest, fights, anger, and broken relationships. 

Friendships and relationships that were centered around substances and common interests and geography were often exposed as the shallow things they were or were lost when people eventually decided that the trouble of those wild nights wasn;t as much fun as it used to be.

One of the guys I knew back when I did recovery ministry shared an insight about our youth that I thought was revealing. He said that in the beginning of our youth we would get together around some hobby: fishing, motocycles, sports, or whatever, some activity and then we would introduce alcohol or drugs while we did those things and he realized later that eventually that somewhere down the road, it no longer was about the activity anymore and often the activity would stop all together, as it increasingly became more and more about the booze or the drugs.  

That was really true for me. I started going out with my friends at night to parties because I wanted connection. I wanted the acceptance of my peers. I wanted friends.  I wanted romance. I wanted a girlfriend.  

I was a shy introvert and I discovered that alcohol took the edge off. I could relax and talk to people more freely than I ever did sober but ironically just like my friends insight about how it stopped being about the “thing” the activity that people did, for me it eventually stopped being about “making connections” as it became more and more about “feeling good” by getting drunk or high.  The feeling became more important than the people and they just became a means to an end or obstacles that got in the way of a good time.  

What started as a search for love connection turned into a selfish pursuit of satisfying my lusts and using and isolating myself from others.  That was my broken idea of freedom, “do what ever I want” and screw everybody else.    Getting what I want made gave me temporary satisfaction and fed the idea that I was the “captain of my ship” and was truly free.   

But it was a lie, I was in bondage to my selfish desires and all the circumstances, all the hoops I had to jump through, to satisfy them.  

But thankfully, after literally decades of “doing what I want!”, some very bad things happened to me and caused me to search for a meaning to this life that went beyond just satisfying my flesh. 

I wish I could say that all my searching led me to God and my faith in Jesus Christ, but just like my wild days, in my spiritual pursuits, I was looking for love in all the wrong places.   

I think my searching was an important part of my journey but I was saved a “chance” encounter with a gospel radio message that I intended to mock when I stopped to listen to it.  But instead, on FRIDAY! March 19th, 2010, I heard the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and said the prayer that made Him the Savior of my life. 

And since then I increasingly made Him the Lord of my life and He walked with me and pulled me out of the darkness of my former life and through many broken situations and relationships since them to the point that Christ has become not only My Lord and Savior, He has become my life itself.   

In contemplating all the roads we have walked together and all the trials and tribulations we have endured together, I have a deep fierce loyal love for the  Lord. 

What the word of God says is true. All of it. But biggest truth about God that means the most to me is that He will never leave or forsake us.   In those years since saying the prayer that gave me a new life, He has been loyal, true, caring, and present.

So the search for love and connection that started in my youth, has been fulfilled in Christ. I know the love of God and as far as I am concerned I have no choice, it’s the appropriate response, but to praise His name forever and ever and encourage others to trust in Him, put their faith in Him, and to follow Him.

Last night my Zoom Men’s Discipleship group finished the last lesson of “The Grace Course” and the only thing left to do is go through The Steps to Experiencing God’s Grace”, which like the Steps to Freedom in Christ is a process of repentance, a series of prayers, declarations, and renunciations that are designed to give us an encounter with the Lord where we can resolve our personal and spiritual conflicts to gain our Freedom in Christ, or in this case to experience God’s grace.   

So today, I have some of that FRIDAY NIGHT!!! excitement again.

But tonight I won’t be looking to “GO GET IT!”

I guess “IT” was a “good time” and as I have indicated, we didn’t always find “IT”.  

Neither will I be looking to “Rock n’ Roll!” I used to scream from time to time at parties. But the music always stopped.  

No, today, I am looking forward to Friday Night! because I am going to pray through the Steps to Experiencing God’s Grace”. I have never done them before and look forward to being “real” with God and have the joy of anticipation of knowing that the Lord will use the process and my prayers to give me rest, to give me another  experience of His grace as I lay my burdens down and surrender more of my life to Him.

So as you walk through Friday and into the night, keep walking and talking with God. Man’s sense of freedom is usually childish and short sighted but when you come to know the freedom from sin and death that comes from a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, you will experience a peace and a joy that goes far beyond even the best of times in your youth. Who knew freedom comes from surrender or that I would ever look forward to a prayer session on Friday night!   

But God makes all things new and if you follow where He leads He will give you a whole lot of new experiences to show you what living and freedom are all about. He will give your life the love, the meaning,  and purpose that you always were looking for.

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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:

Revelation 1:8 (NKJV)
8  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Today’s verse are the words of Christ, who reminds us that He is God. He has always been and always will be, and He will come again.   

Our Christian faith isn’t a philosophy of life or instructions for living. Our faith is a relationship with the self-existent God of all creation who paradoxically is One but exists in the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

If you let that sink in, you might spend a lot of times saying “WOW” or falling on your knees praising the Lord.  This is BIG guys.  It is almost too much to bear, to understand, just too much, O LORD. 

How can this be? That out of the vast multitudes of people through the world and through out the ages, you would choose me to be apart of your kingdom?

Christ is the beginning and the End and He is coming back.  Everything we know about life and our existence in this universe will be dramatically changed when He comes to reclaim the world that has been broken by sin and He makes a new heaven and a new earth. 

And we get to be in that “number, when the saints come marching in?”

Our simple faith is going somewhere that we can simply not even fathom. But while we struggle to contemplate the ultimate meaning of our lives in Christ, we can rest because we are His and He will work all things together for good as He takes us from here to eternity.

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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.

12 Christ’s Final Defeat of the Powers

Paul gave christians a reason for hope in the future. god is moving history to a climax that will result in the eternal and absolute reign of his glorious son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is “the blessed hope,” which believers await (Tit 2:13).

People living in the first century were gripped with great fear of the hostile supernatural powers that controlled the unfolding of history and their own personal destiny. Hans Dieter Betz gives a clear expression of the prevalent world view:

The common understanding was that man is hopelessly and helplessly engulfed and oppressed by these forces [i.e., powerful demonic entities]. They play capricious games with man from the time of his entering into the world until his departure. While working inside of man, they make up the body, yet they also encounter him from the outside, in that he has terrible and traumatic experiences of whatever “Fate” (Tyche) has in store. Under such conditions life is not life at all but a daily death.

In order to cope with day-to-day life, Betz observes that “in many ancient cults, cultic measures were developed in order to soothe and pacify the demonic forces. These included prayers, rituals, sacrifices, astrology, magic, and theurgy.” In part one of this book much of it has been discussed.

Standing in stark contrast to their non-Christian neighbors, the early Christians had no reason to fear the malignant powers. They were united to the one true Lord, who had defeated all of the hostile forces by his death and resurrection. They realized that their future was wrapped up in the one who is bringing this age, filled with every form of evil, to an end. All of the powers of darkness will be abolished. The early Christians could therefore be a joyous people, full of hope, thankful to God the Father who had chosen them to be his own people before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3).

Ongoing Hostility and One Final Rebellion

Throughout his letters, Paul strived to prepare his readers for a long period of conflict with Satan and the forces of darkness (especially in Eph 6:10–20). In the midst of all the struggles and battles Paul held out a significant promise: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom 16:20). Paul here has in mind God’s curse of the serpent given in Genesis 3:15: “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This passage was present in contemporary Jewish Messianic expectation as illustrated by the Testament of Levi 6:5–6: “The Lord God is the mighty one of Israel, appearing on earth as a man and saving Adam through him. Then all the spirits of deceit will be given to be trodden under foot and men will rule over the evil spirits.” For Paul it was the Lord Jesus Christ who would accomplish this task. Satan and all of his powers will be devastated at the Second Coming of Christ.

Paul made it clear that an intensification of satanic activity will precede Christ’s return (2 Thess 2:1–12). He spoke of a widespread rebellion against God, spearheaded by a major evil figure he called “the lawless one.” Satan himself will infuse this person with supernatural power, and he will be capable of performing all kinds of signs and wonders (1 Thess 2:9; see also Rev 13:2). The major thrust of his activity will be deception: He will claim to be superior to the one true God and every deity whom people worship in their various pagan religions. He will seek to have all people worship him, turning their attention from the true God. During this time, God will even permit evil spirits of deception to delude non-Christians and confirm them in their belief in the “lawless one’s” great deceit (2 Thess 2:11). This “antichrist’s” coming on the scene will in many ways intentionally parallel the manner of Christ’s coming, in order to make the deceit more alluring. This final onslaught of rebellion, however, will not occur until God allows the present “restraining force” to be removed.

In Paul’s estimation, this great human emissary of Satan will prove to be no obstacle to Christ when he returns. Paul proclaimed the triumphant note that “the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth” (2 Thess 2:8).

Paul’s teaching here underlines the darkness of the days just prior to Christ’s coming. How difficult it will be for those who do not know Christ in those days to turn to him! Believers need to be aware of the character of life in those days so they will not be deceived. This passage also gives further insight into the characteristic features of Satan’s method of operation: He works through people, he imitates the truth, and he seeks above all to deceive people, leading them away from the one true God.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 161–163.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Light Shines in the Darkness - I Will Trust in Him - Purity 517


 Light Shines in the Darkness - I Will Trust in Him - Purity 517    

Purity 517 09/07/2021   Purity 517 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of shooting star over Grant Island, near Brantingham NY comes to us from SK Photography and Design. Our friend just happened to be “taking a night shot” when they serendipitously captured this soaring beauty in the sky and its reflection in the waters of Brantingham Lake below. I also just love how the lights on the lake light up the scene below and how the other stars that are not racing across the universe light up the sky above. And check out that swimming float on the right and the reflections on the lake that just invite us to take a nighttime dip!

I don’t often share evening photos but this one makes me think of that Neil Diamond song that says, “I thank the Lord for the night time.” because the beauty of His creation only needs a little light to reveal it. Similarly, we just need a little bit of God’s light to help us to walk through even the darkest times in our lives.

That Neil Diamond song confesses that the singer is thanking God for the nighttime in part because of the difficulties of the “up-uptight time” of the day.  Labor Day is over and as most of us return to work today some of us will be challenged by the increase in activity that occurs after a three day weekend and others may have to deal with new routines as “things change now” for whatever seasonal or arbitrary reasons that may apply. I will be experiencing a change of job duties going forward as of today and have a strange mix of excitement and dread.  Anxiety is a common response to the unknown that most of us experience when things change.  

Thankfully, this isn’t my first rodeo and I have some experience at riding the bucking bronco of changing circumstances at work. I have learned that the best tactic for coming to a new situation is to completely surrender to the change and to go into it with an agreeable, open, and humble attitude.  “I’m here to serve and to do the best I can” is our mantra.  Repeat: “I’m here to serve and to do the best I can” Not: “I hate my life!”

I used that second one as a veritable anthem through many transitional periods in my life and I discovered that, while my negative emotional state thought it was an appropriate summation of my experience, it just wasn’t true.  I don’t hate my life. And I don’t hate my job either. Like most of us, I just am not a big fan of change. 

But luckily my years of trial and error of stumbling through life and running into walls has taught me to meet new challenges by embracing the truth. The big Truth is that  Jesus is the way, the truth, in the life of course.  And its by that foundational truth that I can walk through life a whole lot more skillfully than I have in the past.  

The changing circumstances of life can dish out a heaping helping of suffering with all kinds of things that can go wrong, up to and including a sudden death.  But when you make Christ your Lord and Savior, all the possible troubles and tribulations that we can suffer are put in their proper perspective.  

Take the work example for instance, one of the worst case scenarios is to make some mistake and get fired, right? Well, when you have faith you know that the Lord will provide if that happens. But if we really are following the Lord that is not too likely because we will be actively seeking to do what’s right and to perform to the best of our abilities on a daily basis, right?   

So I will play the part of a humble servant because that’s the role God would want me to play. And the funny thing is that when you do that, with a heart to please God and to give Him glory, things usually work out.  But again, if they don’t, I will have the assurance of knowing that I was honest and obedient and tried to do everything His way.  

You see our faith in Christ isn’t just for eternity. Our relationship with God gives us the meaning and purpose we are to live by, right now. So no matter what comes my way, I try to align my thoughts, words, and actions to reflect that I am secure and accepted by my heavenly Father, who just happens to be the Highest Power above and beyond the universe itself.

Beyond work, the bad things that happen in life like sickness, loss, and death, we should  likewise process according to our relationship with God. Easier said than done, I know, if you don’t have a daily spiritual practice of communicating with Him, but that’s why you develop one. “Praying without ceasing” is just walking and talking with God on a continual basis, and as I said above, it doesn’t take too much of His light to strengthen us and show us the beauty in the darkness.   

So as we drive into a new day, think about inviting God along for the ride. He’s omnipresent. That means He’s available and His presence, strength, and wisdom can help us navigate through all the turns and bumps in the road on our journey of life.         


This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Timothy 2:25 (NKJV)
25  in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

Today’s verse provides instruction on how to we are to handle opposition and reveals the divine source that fuels the transformed Christian life.  

We recently reviewed 2 Timothy 2:26 which highlighted the fact that those who are outside of the Christian faith, or those who oppose it, are captives doing the will of the devil and need to come to their “senses”.  In presenting that portion of scripture we had to present the context that preceded it and we mentioned that our stance for dealing with opposition was to attempt to correct others with humility. 

Obviously that context, is shown here in verse 25. If we think about why we would try to be humble when trying to correct someone, we can see that there are good practical reasons.

Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)
1  A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. 

So you see here, the word of God is consistent. If we are trying to correct someone we don’t want to stir up anger because angry people tend to be defensive and don’t want to consider a view that is different from their own.  So we should use a “soft answer” and a gentle demeanor that speaks the truth in love when we try to share the gospel or the Biblical principles for how to live. That proverb is also good advice to use if someone should bring accusations or criticism to our doorstep. 

So the principle to have a humble attitude can serve us well as we walk in the world to “win friends and influence people”, but I want to point out that when it comes to the gospel or calling the wayward towards repentance that we don’t just win a debate or convince someone to “do the right thing”.  

Someone putting their faith in Christ or turning from their sins requires the Holy Spirit to move in the person’s life.  God could use us for that purpose through our words and actions, but we must never forget that while the gospel and living a Christian life “just makes sense” to us, seeing the truth and accepting them is something that must be spiritually discerned.  The Holy Spirit is the one brings revelation and opens the eyes of the spiritually blind.   This fact should make acting in humility a little easier.  

Unfortunately, we can’t debate or argue someone into God’s kingdom. Christ’s first commandment is to love God and we can’t convince or force anyone to do that.   That’s why we need to act and speak in a way so we can have some assurance that at least those in opposition to us hear what we are saying and understand where we are coming from because if they have an “ear to hear” the Lord just may just take the opportunity to bring salvation or to “grant repentance”.

For the believer, who is mired sins of their pre-Christ worldly ways, this spiritual reality really comes to bear.  Why do some Christians struggle with sin continually while others seem to have a “moment of clarity” where they can walk away from their sin for good or who come to a point in their faith walk where their besetting sin falls away and its temptation loses its pull?  It is because the Lord grants repentance.   

So if you didn’t get that “instant repentance” it doesn’t mean that your case is hopeless.  God can still grant repentance to you if you chose to surrender to His will and ways for your life.  If you humble yourself and choose to follow the Lord and mature in your faith by putting His word in your mind and heart, you will be equipped to resist the devil, renew your mind, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  This method of walking with God to receive His repentance takes practice and patience.  

It involves discipline and intentionally, and repeatedly, redirecting our thoughts and actions to be in line with God’s ways but it is not just the Christian form of karate where you do all the work by the sweat of your brow.

Part of our daily spiritual practice needs to include prayer where you communicate to God your gratitude and your requests for His strength, wisdom, and love.  When we walk in the Spirit with a heart set on changing our ways for His and drawing closer to Him, we will come to a crossroads in our journey where we leave our besetting sin behind and realize that God, like a midnight surgeon, has “cut that out” of us.

Somewhere along our walk with the Lord, He will granted us repentance in that area and instead of being preoccupied with that fight, we can confidently claim our victory and turn to other areas in our lives to surrender to Him.  

So pray for those who oppose you and use a humble spirit when you try to correct them, realizing that it is only the Lord that will grant them repentance. 

And as you walk in the Lord’s direction try open your eyes, heart and mind to examine your experience and speak humbly to yourself to see what the Lord can help you to repent of. 

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: what do I have in my life that I have accepted as something that is “impossible to change” or that is something I “just don’t want to do (or can’t) do”? The places that “we don’t want to go to” or where we resist may be the areas that God alone can change, and He may be calling us to trust Him to do the impossible in our lives.  

So keep walking and talking with God, we’ve got places to go and people to see. And if we listen to the Lord’s call, he might just use us to bring a victory.

 

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

 

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

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

C. What Are Different Kinds of Personal Boundaries?

Lance Armstrong violates all kinds of personal boundaries when it comes to his association with Greg LeMond.

Among cyclists, Lance develops a reputation as a bully, and before his fall, people fear to cross him. At one point Greg says that Lance calls him and threatens to find ten people who will swear that he has doped. People associated with cycling even call Greg to intimidate him to not interfere with Lance.

Greg's wife, Kathy, says the darkest, most desperate attempt by Lance to shut up her husband was his offer of $300,000 to one of Greg's former teammates to vow he had seen Greg using drugs. The offer is declined, but Lance's bullying reputation is affirmed. "He crosses lines no others will cross," Kathy observes and experiences firsthand.

An Old Testament passage also provides an apt description that could apply to Lance. . . .

"Their feet rush into sin. . . . They pursue evil schemes (Isaiah 59:7)

Relational boundaries enable you to:

  • Stand up for yourself and speak your mind appropriately
  • Feel comfortable in giving honest feedback to others
  • Be firm with others in a loving and gentle way
  • Respect the rules of others and act in their best interest
  • Express the rules you have established for your relationships
  • Defend others and promote equality in relationships

God gives a model of how to do this in His Word. . . .

"Do to others as you would have them do to you."

(Luke 6:31)

Emotional and mental boundaries equip you to:

  • Evaluate the appropriateness of your emotions in light of God's Word and deal with them accordingly
  • Investigate truth for yourself and disengage from those who try to manipulate or hurt you and whose ideas and values are contrary to your own
  • Guard against letting emotions rule you by focusing your mind on God's thoughts and on His character
  • Keep your emotions governed by God's truths and His perspective on events in your life
  • Experience natural human emotions and agree or disagree with others without fear or shame
  • Respond emotionally to others and communicate your own thoughts and opinions in a Christlike way

God tells us to hold our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. . . .

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

(2 Corinthians 10:5)

Spiritual boundaries allow you to:

  • Experience a right relationship with God through trusting Christ
  • Live in a way that pleases and honors God
  • Distinguish God's will from the will of others that has been imposed on you
  • Commit to being controlled by Christ, not by people
  • Avoid spiritually abusive, manipulative, or divisive people
  • Lead a victorious Christian life

God has established spiritual boundaries through His Word. . . .

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

(Psalm 119:11)

Moral and ethical boundaries teach you to:

  • Know the difference between right and wrong
  • Appreciate the true value of people
  • Live a life of moral integrity
  • Be the same in public as you are in private
  • Discern the true character of a person
  • Evaluate the right way to think and act toward others

God calls us to do only what is right. . . .

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."

(Genesis 4:7)

Sexual boundaries authorize you to:

  • Determine whether or not you will allow a person to touch you sexually
  • Determine areas of appropriate sexual expression and activity
  • Determine how you will respond in the heat of passionate temptation
  • Determine personal purity that preserves sexual activity for a committed marriage relationship
  • Determine the parameters you will place on your thought life regarding sex
  • Determine what you will allow yourself to watch, listen to, and participate in that is of a sexual nature

God's Word clearly states these boundaries are not to be violated. . . .

"It is God's will that you should he sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable."

(1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

Physical boundaries help you to:

  • Guard against abusive behavior
  • Prevent physical injury to yourself and to others
  • Protect yourself against threat or risk
  • Shield yourself from danger or harm
  • Avoid the appearance of impropriety
  • Maintain a sense of being separate, having your own personal identity

God's Word reminds us that our bodies belong to God. . . .

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Healthy Boundaries

Question: "What role do boundaries play in relationships, and just how important is it to establish boundaries?"

Answer: People with healthy boundaries understand the reality of our unique individuality and our need for mutually beneficial separateness. They know that we come into this world alone and we will enter the next world alone.

They accept that we are separate from one another . . . and yet we live with one another. We are individually responsible before God . . . and yet God holds us responsible for how we treat one another.

Clearly, although we are separate individuals, God made us to be in relationship with each other. The means by which we succeed at being both separate and together is established through healthy boundaries. Healthy people have healthy relationships because...

  • They realize that healthy boundaries are...
    • —To be modeled in our families
    • —To be developed in our closest relationships
    • —To be rooted in God's perfect will for us
  • They understand that healthy boundaries provide...
    • —Safety, security, and confidence in who we are
    • —The ability to say no to others without guilt or fear
    • —"Fences" to protect us, not to keep us away from one another

Healthy people have healthy boundaries. With boundaries we are able to juggle the two opposites of separateness and togetherness by creating and maintaining balance in our relationships. We do that by keeping God in His proper place and people in their proper place.

God comes first and people come second. . . .

"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

(Matthew 22:37-39)


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

 

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship