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Showing posts with label Romans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romans. Show all posts

Monday, January 17, 2022

Rejoice, Give Thanks, and Repent? Say What? - Purity 630


Rejoice, Give Thanks, and Repent?  Say What?  -  Purity 630

Purity 630 01/17/2022   Purity 630 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a boat cruising beneath a setting sun and waves rolling into one of Florida’s beaches comes to us from a friend who shared an abundance of photos of their recent 12 day holiday get away where they visited Dunedin, Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, St. Petersburg, and Tampa all for the first time.   That sun, those waves, that beach and that completely cloudless blue sky makes me want to take a walk along the beach with my shoes off!  

Well, it’s Monday again, and the weather in upstate New York doesn’t really bode well for barefoot walks along the coasts of nearby bodies of water. In fact even in the relatively safe confines of the Hudson Valley that tends to not get as buried as the areas to the east, west, and north, we have what seems to be 3 inches of snow on the ground at my riverfront homestead. 

When I saw the forecast on Friday I had the presence of mind and good fortune to be able to use a vacation day to take the day off from work today. So I won’t be rushing out the door for my regular commute, but I will have to spend some time today clearing our driveway.   My upstate neighbors to the north, east, and west will undoubtedly be dealing with a few more inches than me so I feel blessed even though I have a burden to bear.    

In my years of experience of dealing with situations unskillfully and being negatively affected by every passing circumstance, I was blessed by the Lord to discover His way for living that directs us to: 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)
16  Rejoice always,
17  pray without ceasing,
18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

So even after or during a snowstorm, we are able  to give thanks, rejoice, and keep communicating with God in prayer.  When we stay grounded in our identity in Christ and know the reality of being set free from sin and death, we can face each new day with joy and peace instead of worry, anxiety, fear, or anger.  

In Christ we have found the answers to the big questions in life and when we abide in Him, by communicating with the Lord in prayer and Bible study and by following His guidance from His word, we have the answers to the “small problems” that can seem so big.   

The problem in America and the world at large is that the cultural and societal  Christianity of denominational church systems created a paradigm where clergy are the only ones who studied the word of God and the laity would just attend worship services resulting in a system of spiritual materialism where the laity would try to “follow the rules” by trying to “be good” and “go to church” and felt no obligation to do anything more to build their knowledge of or relationship with God and the clergy was this exalted and isolated sect who felt forced to portray an image of piety making them more unrelatable and unapproachable to the people they were entrusted to serve.    

Within this system, sin and superstitious beliefs based on the traditions of men, grew like wildfire sometimes resulting in disillusionment, oppression, and abuse.  Eventually, there was a rebellion and the societal pressure to be a part of a church relaxed resulting in nearly empty churches across America today.  These systems didn’t work because they didn’t encourage the authentic faith of a Christian disciple who actively seeks to know God more and apply God’s teachings to their lives. Or those systems unwittingly catered to the sinfulness of men who refused to attempt to truly repent and who were content just sitting in a pew and suffering through a church service before getting back to the “real world” and their fulfilling their fleshly appetites.

Arthur and Suzanna Cincotti, my wife, and I did our weekly Bible Study podcast on repentance yesterday and one of the listeners asked about my comment that instructed that after we sin we are to repent.   

Their concern apparently was that I was saying that salvation was lost with every sin.  This belief is a product of church systems or pastors that teach a mixed gospel of works and grace when the Bible teaches that it is through faith in Christ alone that we are saved.  

I explained that if we have truly made Jesus our Lord and Savior we are forgiven of all our sins, past, present, and future, and we are saved, and nothing can separate us from the love of God.  

I was speaking on our relationship with God as His children and pointed out that God understands that we will be “saints who sin” who will need to be both forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness continually as we walk out our lives as Christians.   As

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) says
9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This verse points to repentance. We aren’t just to confess our sins and go on our merry way in a life of sin. We are to agree with God and turn to His way of living to be cleansed of all unrighteousness.  

Arthur Cincotti’s outline yesterday cited several scriptures where Christ preached repentance and the injunction to “go and sin no more.”   So there is an expectation for the Christian to grow in their faith and forsake their worldly ways.  

But this is not some oppressive system that wants to whip you into shape. This is your relationship with the God that loves you, forgives you continually, and encourages you to leave the darkness of sin behind and He does so for you good.  

The confession of sins for the disciple of Christ is not a means of regaining the salvation that they already have. The confession of sin for Christ’s disciples is to re-establish the harmony of your relationship with God and to restate the commitment to follow Him.  So yes, we should repent every time we are made aware that we sin to eliminate the sin that would condemn us and leave a foothold for Satan in our lives.  

The Christian faith isn’t supposed to be a theological system of weekly meetings that condemn you for your weaknesses. The Christian faith is supposed to be a personal dynamic interaction between us and God where we are drawn closer to Him because of His love for us that will motivate us to become more like Him.  

To experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we are not supposed to have some anointed clergy man say a prayer for us while we stay uninvolved in the building up of our own faith or be a matter where we expect to receive blessings because we sat in a pew for an hour each week.   

To experience the peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control from the Holy Spirit, we are supposed to take responsibility for our relationship with God and endeavor to grow in our faith.  To gain the fruit of the Spirit we have to walk in the Spirit. 

For those in Christ, our salvation is a settled matter. Let’s not fear losing what God has already given us. Instead let’s pursue the abundant life that Christ has already given us and that is merely waiting for us to discover.  

So keep walking and talking with God. If you have sin in your life, repent of it and turn to God’s ways for your life where you can rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything.


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 10:9 (NLT2)
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Today’s verse is one of the lynch pins that declare that we are saved by faith in Christ alone.  

We highlighted Romans 10:9 very recently to be used as a proclamation of our “saved” status.  I directed those who doubted their Christian standing to use Romans 10:9  to examine their experience compared to the truth of this verse by reading it and asking themselves if they met “God’s requirements” for salvation.  By asking:

Did I confess with my mouth that Jesus was my Lord?

Do I believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead? 

If the answer to those two questions is “Yes”, the conclusion is that “you will be saved”. 

The phrase “will be saved” obviously points to our ultimate entrance into God’s eternal kingdom at the hour of our physical deaths or when Christ returns, whatever happens first.   But don’t worry about that “will be” as some uncertain destiny for other scriptures declare that Christians “are saved” or “have been saved” to cover both the past, when you made Christ your Lord and Savior, and the present.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (NKJV)
1  Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2  by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.

These verses point to the past, present, and future tense of our salvation.  It is a done deal, a present reality, and will be ultimately fulfilled with our entrance into the eternal kingdom of God. 

But 1 Corinthians 15 points out that we are to hold fast to the gospel of grace because there is a spiritual reality of the possibility of “believing in vain” which points to false converts: those who say they believe in Christ but who fail to follow Him, reminding us of possibly the two scariest passages in the Bible. 

Luke 13:25-27 (NKJV)
25  When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' 26  then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.'
27  But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.'

Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)
21  "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22  Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
23  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

Here Christ’s words condemn false converts whose fruits are “lawlessness” and “iniquity”. These false converts tried to talk the talk of a Christian but didn’t have a heart for God and whose fruit was either absent as in Luke 13 or false or “in vain” as in Matthew 7.  

So stand on Romans 10:9 to assure yourself of your salvation but hold on to that gospel of grace and follow the Lord so you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ is your Lord and Savior, and you are a child of the most high God.    

 

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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we conclude sharing from Chapter 4.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

DEVELOP AN IDENTITY LIST

As you work through your list, it can be very helpful to make a “before and after” identity chart. Take a clean piece of paper and draw a line down the center of the page. At the top of the left column, write the words “Old Identity.” Under that column write down every negative thing you said about yourself or was said about you. At the top of the right column, write “New Identity in Christ.” Write down what is really true about yourself in Christ.

Recall the words that describe your beliefs about yourself as a result of abuse. In the left-hand column, record such words as “dirty,” “unloved,” “abandoned,” “not worth anything” and “can’t do anything right.” Especially record those words associated with the people of influence in your early years (mother, father, siblings, etc.). Such labels influenced your belief system and behavior patterns.

When you go to a store and buy a can or package of food off the shelf, it has a manufacturer’s label describing the contents. As you go through life—the bad experiences, the things done to you, the things said to you, the wrong things you were involved in—Satan is there with paper and pencil writing a label for your life. Now that you are alive in Christ, you are no longer a product of your past; you are a product of the work of Christ on the cross. All the old labels of the world don’t describe the contents of who you are anymore. Renounce the lies and choose the truth. Some examples are as follows:

For those who have been betrayed by a parent and transferred that mistrust to their heavenly Father: “Lord, I renounce the lies I’ve believed about You because of the way my earthly father treated me. I announce the truth that You are not like my earthly father. You are perfectly loving and faithful.”

For those who think they are responsible for holding their dysfunctional families together and for being a parent’s emotional support: “Lord, I renounce the lie that I am responsible for being a savior to the people around me or that I must always be responsible for others by being the strong one. Thank you, Lord, that it’s all right for me to be honest about my own need. Thank you that when I am weak, You are strong within me.” (See 2 Corinthians 12:9, TLB.)

For those who have been constantly put down by the authority figures in their lives: “Lord, I renounce the lie that I am unworthy and insignificant. I announce the truth that I am your special child and I am precious to You.” Or “Lord, I renounce the lie that I am a helpless victim as I felt when I was a child. I announce the truth that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (See Philippians 4:13.)

 

SEEKING FORGIVENESS FROM OTHERS

Some are reluctant to forgive others because they believe they have to go to those people. The prospect of facing their abusers is too traumatic to even consider. To forgive others, you only need to go to God. Don’t confuse the issue of forgiving others with the need to ask for forgiveness, which is called for in Matthew 5:23-26. The Lord requires us to go to others before we go to Him and seek reconciliation if we know that someone has something against us.

The important thing to remember is that if we have hurt someone else, we need to go to that person first before we go to church. But if we have been hurt by others, we need to forgive them by going first to God. Forgiveness must precede reconciliation. Paul wrote, “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men,”87 but it doesn’t always depend upon you. You cannot be reconciled with someone who doesn’t want to be reconciled. The goal is for you to be free from past abuses and abusers. Reconciliation may come, but only if the abusers will own up to their abusive ways and honestly seek forgiveness. The freedom of the abused is never contingent upon whether the abuser will own up to it. You must be willing to forgive from your heart regardless of what the abusers do. If you make your willingness to forgive others contingent upon them, then you will be controlled by abusers all your life. You may protest, but you don’t know how bad they hurt me. They are still hurting you. Forgiveness is how you stop the pain. Forgiving others from your heart is a draining experience, but a major conflict has been resolved between you and God. Satan has no right to torment you anymore. It is normal to feel exhausted, but a brief break, a good stretch, a glass of water, and you are ready to go on to the next Step. But before you do, finish this Step with the following prayer:87

Lord Jesus, I choose not to hold on to my resentment and bitterness. I relinquish my right to seek revenge, and I ask You to heal my damaged emotions. Thank You for setting me free from the bondage of bitterness and free from my past experiences. I now ask You to bless those who have hurt me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

CHAPTER FOUR: OVERCOMING

THE BONDAGE OF BITTERNESS


65. Romans 12:19

66. Proverbs 14:10

67. Colossians 2:18

68. 2 Corinthians. 10:5

69. Hebrews 12:15

70. Job 42:6

71. 2 Corinthians 5:21

72. Matthew 26:38

73. Luke 23:34

74. Romans 6:10

75. Ephesians 4:31, 32

76. 2 Corinthians 2:10,11

77. Ephesians 4:26, 27, 31, 32

78. Romans 6:23

79. Titus 3:4, 5

80. Ephesians 2:8

81. Luke 6:36

82. 2 Peter 1:4

83. 1 John 4:8

84. John 13:35

85. Romans 8:1

86. Hebrews 12:15

87. Romans 12:18

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

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Plan on It and Go – Doing All Things Through Christ - Purity 625

Plan on It and Go – Doing All Things Through Christ -  Purity 625

Purity 625 01/11/2022  Purity 625 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a palm tree lined beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida comes to us from a pastor that shared this photo yesterday wishing all his followers on FB to have a Happy Monday and encouraged us all to make it a great week.  After yesterday’s photo of ice covered shores of Lake Ontario, I decided to flip to a southern climate photo to point out that both of these scenes were captured within days of each other and if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder or just “hate the cold and the snow” where you live, you can change your situation and go where snow and icy temperatures aren’t likely to be a part of your winters.  

I know of several friends that resided in New York State and have headed west or south and now enjoy winters free of the white stuff that just happens to be in the forecast today in the form of flurries.  So instead of wallowing in misery of a seasonal depression year after year, make a plan and go.  

Now I know that is a huge step that most of us say will do “someday” but I would just like to point out two things: the brevity of life and the fact that the things we don’t plan for rarely happen.   If we don’t plan to make a change and actually do it, “someday” may never come.

As someone who has been set free of addictions, anxiety, and depression I know that to be healed I had to seek it for myself by seeking the Lord’s help and I “made a plan” to receive it by surrendering myself to God’s will for my life. 

When you know that you are not living right or have habits that cause a fair amount of pain in the aftermath of their pleasures and “know” that you should change your life but feel powerless to change, I would encourage you to go to the Highest power who is over and above all creation: God.  

It was only when I sought the Lord and surrendered to His ways that I was able to have victory over my addictions and to change the way I thought about life.  My thinking before coming to Christ told me that life was meaningless, that I wasn’t good or good enough, and that I lacked the things that would make me happy.   But after I started to accept what the Bible said about who I was in Christ I learned that God has a plan for the eternity, God has a purpose for my life, and I didn’t have to perform to be accepted and didn’t have to seek to manipulate my physical circumstances to have peace and joy.   

I have had several acquaintances through the years that I have walked beside to encourage out of lifestyles of addiction or negative mind states and in every instance where they failed to achieve freedom from their burdens there came a time where they walked away from the supportive environments that would encourage them to trust and follow Him the Lord and instead went back to the world and their old ways of doing things.  

This points out the fact that while it is important to make a plan to change your life, you have to preserve in it and that when we reject the Lord’s ways we end up right back where we were again, if not in a worse state.  

God gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ that means our relationship with God never ends and there is an expectation on his disciples to repent and become conformed to the image of Christ.   We as Christians are to meet that expectation and be transformed in the process.   God doesn’t want you to stay in the same condition that He found you in when you first got saved. He wants you to enjoy an abundant life that is filled with the fruit of the Spirit but in order to make those fruit grow in your life you have to continue to follow Him and grow. 

So as our Pastor friend encouraged us that we had the power “to make it a great week”, I would encourage you that God gives you the power to “make it a great life”! If you want it you have to plan for it and then do it. The way to get there is to get the power that comes through God to strengthen and guide you out of your current situation into where you always wanted to go but never thought you could. 

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

Whether it’s moving out of the snowy weather, or out of addictions and negative mind states, you change your situation but the way you do it is not through your own strength.  You can do a lot but to have long lasting victory and freedom you have to pursue your goals and freedom through Christ who strengthens you.  


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 8:34 (NLT2)
34  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Today’s verse tells us that Christ Himself is at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us and making us free from any condemnation.  

As we stated yesterday, the world, the flesh, and the devil will accuse us, and it works the same way with condemnation.  Low self esteem is the mental health pandemic that is an unseen killer.  Our nation is becoming more and more obese due to people seeking comfort in food rather than seeking the comfort that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

As someone who has had a small measure of victory in the “battle of the bulge” and is still in the process of transitioning to achieve my goal for optimal health, I can tell you that while some eating is mindless habit a lot of it is done to make us feel better because there is a mental dialog going on in our heads that tells us things are hopeless with our weight and that we “don’t care because we are all going to die anyway”.  

These thoughts are the product of low self esteem and are most likely demonically inspired as the enemy loves to condemn people with thoughts that they are “no good, useless, or never going to succeed”.  

But as today’s verse tells us, no one, including ourselves, can condemn us.  If we are in Christ, those condemning thoughts and negative mental dialogs we are running through are lies. We are accepted in Christ. 

And if we are feeding ourselves on condemning thoughts, we will receive negative consequences that affect our emotions and our bodies, just like when we over eat.   

Christ Himself advocates for us and brings us into the kingdom of God. When we get there we have to believe and receive the freedom he gave us by rejecting all accusations and condemnation that come against us and instead stand on the truth of who we are in Christ and live according to God’s ways.  

John 8:36 (NKJV)
36  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

You are free indeed and the best way to experience that freedom in your life is by rejecting all condemnation that may be a mental record you have always been playing in your head or could be the enemy’s repeated attacks.  So renew your mind to agree with who you are in Christ and experience the freedom that comes from a life without condemnation.  

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

RELEASING BITTERNESS TOWARD GOD

Bitterness toward God is far more common than most people would care to admit. But when they become honest about their anger toward God, another stronghold begins to crumble. They believe God has been unfair and let them down...by failing to answer an important prayer...by allowing them to suffer and not rescuing them...by not endowing them with certain blessings, looks, gifts, abilities, success or financial security.

Obviously, God doesn’t need to be forgiven, because He cannot commit any sin of commission or omission. But we need to destroy “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” and take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”68 Satan’s scheme is to turn us against God by raising up thoughts against Him. These deceptive thoughts often sound like God doesn’t love me. He isn’t going to do anything to help me. They cause us to rebel against His Lordship. Satan is defeated when we release God from our own false expectations and stop blaming Him for our own failures and the failure of the Church to adequately equip the saints so they can live a liberated life in Christ.

People don’t always forgive others because of what others did to them; people forgive others for what they think others have done to them. Bitterness isn’t always rooted in reality. It is rooted in their perceptions. Some people put their pastor’s name on their lists for silly reasons like not answering the phone when they called. But the pastor wasn’t home or he would’ve answered the phone! The pastor didn’t do anything wrong, but the person thought he did, so the person needed to forgive him. Roots of bitterness spring up and many are defiled69 because of misunderstandings.

THOUGHTS RAISED UP AGAINST GOD

That is why it is not blasphemous to “forgive” God— because the bitterness is not based in reality but in thoughts raised up against the knowledge of Him. God understands that concept much better than we do because He alone knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. The only way to overcome bitterness is to forgive.

When people have worked through their bitterness toward God, they immediately acknowledge the fact that God hasn’t done anything wrong. It won’t help you to overcome your bitterness toward God by defending Him. First of all, God doesn’t need to be defended. Second, forgiveness starts where people are at. Telling others they shouldn’t feel the way they do toward God or anyone else is futile. They can’t change the way they feel. We’ve participated in a subtle form of rejection when we won’t accept or acknowledge their frustration and pain. If you find “forgiving” God uncomfortable, or if you think it is absolutely wrong, then you might try praying, “Lord, I know You haven’t done anything wrong, but I want to repent of the anger I have against You for....” Angry feelings must be dealt with, or it won’t do much good to go on, because God is your only hope.

Most people won’t submit to God if they are bitter toward Him or think they can’t trust Him. I can only tell you from experience that working through the bitterness toward God brings tremendous healing and restoration. Job is a good example of a believer who repented of anger toward God: “Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”70 Forgiving others is not a self-righteous activity nor a blaming exercise. It is a humbling and healing experience that faces the hurt and the hate, and then chooses the way of the Cross.

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

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


Monday, January 10, 2022

Braving the Storm - Representing the Kingdom by Showing Up - Purity 624


Braving the Storm -  Representing the Kingdom by Showing Up -  Purity 624

Purity 624 01/10/2022   Purity 624 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the ice covered shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego NY underneath a light blue and pink sky of morning comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography as Rocco Saya is once again out and about and braving the chilly weather to capture scenes of God’s creation.    

It’s Monday again and the local forecast in my neck of the woods calls for below freezing temperatures for the next few days which may leave some of us with the desire to just stay inside and not go out there.  But as providers for ourselves and our families we will brave the cold and get out to do the work that provides for our needs and wants.    

Yesterday, in Easton NY, we awoke to a glazing coating of ice covering everything and sleety rain that made me question whether or not I should go to church or just catch our service online. But as someone who had on average a 45 minute commute 5 days a week for nearly 25 years I have experience in driving in northeast winters and know what to do: go slow and be careful.  So my wife, stepdaughter, and I headed out and quickly discovered the way we were headed hadn’t been properly salted yet as an oncoming driver warned us that just down the hill from where we were headed there was a car off the road whose driver was warning them to not come that way as the road was a sheet of ice.  

I have been reading through Proverbs lately and that wisdom and my experiences has taught me to heed a warning. So we turned around and went to the main highways to get to church and found the way to be less icy and made it to church in time to catch the last song of worship before the pastor’s message.   

The crowd was a little smaller than usual, but I was impressed by the number of people that “braved the storm” and brought themselves to the in-person service even though our church provides online viewing of services.  This fact demonstrated to me how we, as Christians, value community and how we wish to honor the Lord by showing up to his corporate gathering no matter what the weather is like.  

The Pastor reported that the first service had four new attendees and it reminded me of the importance of being faithful and showing up.  My wife reported that after our service she witness a child who must have been a new attendee to the 10:30 service, tell their parents that they “liked this church!” and wanted to come back again.  If the church was closed due to the weather those 4 new attendees from the first service and this child who delighted over what they found at our church would have left and may never have come back again.

The church was open because that’s just what Christians do: they are faithful to worship the Lord and show up to work for His glory.  

It all reminds me of Charles Spurgeon’s testimony of his salvation. Spurgeon got saved because of a snowstorm and the grace of God, of course.  As a 15 year old Spurgeon grew up in a Congregational church but believed he was lost to the fires of hell because of his sinful nature. One winter day his path to church was diverted by a snowstorm and seeking shelter from the storm he ended up attending a Methodist service where the regular pastor had been prevented from attending.  An unknown substitute lay preacher stepped into the pulpit and read his text—Isaiah 45:22—“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.”

“Spurgeon’s Autobiography records his reaction:

“He had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed—by me, at any rate except his text. Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, ‘That young man there looks very miserable’ … and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, ‘Look! Look, young man! Look now!’ … Then I had this vision—not a vision to my eyes, but to my heart. I saw what a Savior Christ was.… Now I can never tell you how it was, but I no sooner saw whom I was to believe than I also understood what it was to believe, and I did believe in one moment.”” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-29/spurgeons-conversion.html)

Spurgeon walked out of that service and back into the snow a Christian and he would go on, with the Holy Spirit’s anointing, to win countless souls for Christ and became known as “the Prince of Preacher’s”   And the Lord used a snowstorm and a substitute lay preacher to bring the word of salvation that made it all happen.  

Spurgeon knew he wasn’t right with God, but he hoped for heaven, so he went through the motions of going to his regular church where he was deaf to the gospel, but God knew his fear and used a snowstorm and a church that preached the message of salvation through faith in Christ alone to save him and many others.   

So brave the storm and keep seeking the Lord and keep showing up to represent His kingdom and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You never know when the Lord will direct your path in a way you didn’t expect or if He will ask you to step in to serve in someone’s place to be used by the Him to do a work that will bring someone out of the fires of hell or that will give God glory.

So bundle up if it’s cold out there and remember that wherever you go God is with you and wants you to get to know Him more and seek His purpose for your life.  So keep walking and talking with God because he can change things from “just going to the motions” to something wonderful when you least expect it.    

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 8:33 (NLT2)
33  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.

Today’s verse reminds us that God gives us right standing with Himself by Himself, meaning through grace and the work of Jesus Christ.  

That means we didn’t earn our salvation and we can’t earn our salvation. Our right standing with God only comes through our placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.     

That is great news because that means no one can accuse us of “not doing it right” or that we have failed to do something to be a Christian.  While there will be many things that we can and will do on the path of Christian Discipleship that will show ourselves and others that “I really am a Christian!” those Christian disciplines don’t make us a Christian, our faith in Jesus Christ does.  

“Does that mean I don’t have to do anything?!”  Yes, it does. 

But if you have been forgiven of all your sins and have been granted eternal life in God’s kingdom, you shouldn’t want to “do nothing”.  

If your heart towards the Lord would lead you to just keep on living your life for yourself without pursuing the faith that gave you salvation, you should question who it is you believe in.  Do you believe in Jesus, or do you believe in yourself? 

Christ never asked anyone to believe in Him. He called people to follow Him.  So if we are not following the Lord’s call on our lives to know His word and His will for our life we should wonder if we really are “in this thing” called Christianity.   

If you don’t produce any fruit, the enemy and the world will accuse you of not being a Christian.  

Now if you have put your faith in Christ, those accusations don’t change your standing with God but instead of making you fear your salvation they should motivate you to follow the Lord so that you can have the assurance of your salvation and find your purpose in His kingdom.  

Accusations are one of the enemy’s weapons to make us unfruitful Christians and to torment us. Our best defense against the accusations of the enemy is to endeavor to represent the Kingdom of God by learning what God’s word says and by applying it to our lives.  The more we walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and live a Christian Disciple’s life the more we will see how the enemy’s accusations are meaningless because we are covered by Christ’s atonement on the cross and we are actively following Him.   

So if someone accuses you of “not doing it right” or says your sinful ways prove you are not a Christian, tell them that it is only by Christ that you are saved and that although you may not be perfect you are a child of God because of your faith in Jesus and you are in the process of leaving the darkness of this world behind and are following Jesus to be more and more like Him. 

Our walk isn’t about perfection, it’ about progress, and its about putting your faith in and following the one who is perfect: Jesus Christ. 

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

BEGINNING STEP THREE

 

Let me encourage you to ask God who it is that you need to forgive and then I will explain what forgiveness is and how you can do it. In the following prayer, all you are asking for are the names of the people you need to forgive.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the riches of Your kindness, forbearance, and patience, knowing that Your kindness has led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). I confess that I have not extended that same patience and kindness toward those who have hurt or offended me. Instead I have held on to my anger, bitterness, and resentment toward them. Please bring to my mind all the people I need to forgive in order that I may do so. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

MAKING THE LIST

When you have finished praying, write down on a piece of paper every name that comes to your mind. About ninety percent of the time, mother and father are mentioned first. The first few names that come to your mind are usually the people who contributed to your greatest source of pain. Some may be tempted to think, “There isn’t anybody I need to forgive.”

That is highly unlikely since we have all suffered at the hands of someone else. Write down the names that are coming to your mind right now. The Lord wants you to live a liberated life in Him, but you can’t if you are bound to the past in bitterness. He has commanded you to forgive for your sake, so He will bring to mind both the people and the events that you are chained to in unforgiveness. When you forgive, you set the captive free, only to realize that you were the captive. Who are the relatives you need to forgive? Teachers? Employers? Friends? Co-workers? Church leaders?

DEALING WITH SELF AND GOD

The two most overlooked names are “yourself” and “God.” In many cases, anger toward self or God is greater than anger toward any other person. The devil capitalizes on our ignorance of God and His ways and on our irresponsibility by pummeling us with thoughts such as God isn’t going to help you. He doesn’t love you. How can you be a Christian and do the things you do? Look how weak and helpless you are. People who struggle with such thoughts are angry at themselves and/or God, and are disillusioned by the Christian life.

The concept of “letting go” of anger, guilt, and condemnation toward self is something many have never considered. Those feelings are rooted in our failure to understand God’s cleansing and forgiveness. Only God can forgive our sins, which separate us from Him, and He has. But we need to forgive ourselves for our failures, for letting God down, and for hurting others. Otherwise we believe the subtle deception that we must atone for our own sins.

Believers paralyzed by condemnation are being victimized by the accuser of the brethren (Satan), or by their own faulty consciences, rather than the truth of God’s grace. The latter is psychological guilt based on years of performance-based living and legalistic religious beliefs. These kinds of people live as though Christ’s death was not sufficient to cover their sins. You can hang on the cross if you want to, but it won’t do you any good. The Apostle Paul warned us when he said, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in selfabasement.”67

You are not being presumptuous by forgiving yourselves, because you are not accomplishing forgiveness from God. Only God can forgive our sins through His Son. Forgiving ourselves is actually receiving forgiveness from God. Forgiving ourselves is saying in effect, “Lord, I believe that You have forgiven me and cleansed me of my sins. Because of Your great love and grace—not because I deserve it—I choose to no longer condemn myself when You have forgiven me. I receive Your forgiveness and cleansing.”69

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

 

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. 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship