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Showing posts with label Romans. Show all posts

Friday, August 13, 2021

Poison – Taking Candy from Familiar Strangers - Purity 496

Poison – Taking Candy from Familiar Strangers

Purity 496 08/13/2021    Purity 496 Podcast

Good morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing in Chapter 11.

 

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

Forgive Those Who Have Hurt You in the Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is Forgiveness?

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Monday, August 2, 2021

August Days – Majestic Moves of God - Purity 486

August Days – Majestic Moves of God        

Purity 486 08/02/2021    Purity 486 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the first sunrise of August comes to us from a friend who took a short vacation in Gloucester Massachusetts capturing this scene at Good Harbor Beach.  I loved the way they captured the flowers in the foreground, the pier to the right, the sunrise’s reflection in the water, and that solitary lifeguard’s chair in the distance testifying to the still tranquility of the dawning of a new day and a new month.   

One may not realize but the word “august” is also an adjective that means “respected”, “impressive”, or “marked by majestic dignity or grandeur”.   So it is only fitting to say that our friend captured an august photo of the first morning of August.  

As we enter the first work week of the new month, I know that this month will have some impressive transitions that will go beyond the dwindling dog days of summer.  Personally, my discipleship class only has two sessions remaining and I will have to determine how to proceed with my call to ministry in the coming weeks and will have to decide by the end of the month what I commit myself to for the Autumn season. The months ahead are not as clear as they have been in the past as I have potential opportunities for service and development that could take me in new directions before August’s end.  So there is potential for new beginnings.

Also things are drawing to an end. My divorce support group is drawing to natural conclusion tomorrow and while there are plans to continue to meet in the future, I’m not sure if the possible changes in my life while change my availability to continue to meet with my new friends.  

Also today, my employer has called all technicians back to reporting to the local garage, ending what was a wonderful year of being able to garage at home.  

In my family, my son, Brennan will be beginning college locally, as indecisiveness and  Covid-19 resulted in him taking a year off and with my patience as a parent to be tested as I had to walk the line between encouragement and surrender as I knew that the independence that I wish to direct both of my children into will require that they make decisions for themselves, that I may not agree with, and choose their own path for life. 

So, we are only on day two of August and I am sure that several of my friends will be facing similar transitions over the next four weeks as things will be rapidly changing as we draw towards the months end and an early Labor Day on September 6th.  

My advice, and I’m speaking to myself too here, is to take this month one day at a time, to enjoy each day for what it brings, to boldly approach the new opportunities that arise, to love those people in your life that may have a smaller role or less presence in your life in the days ahead, and to trust in the Lord to be with you and to see you through to the other side.  

When we stay in a continual conversation with the Lord, He will show us things we wouldn’t normally see, make us appreciate what we have, strengthen us, and direct our paths.   So roll with the punches of transitional losses, rejoice in the glory of the present moment, and look forward to the days ahead with confidence and expectancy.  The Lord has new things for us to experience and to discover. So put one foot in front of the other and go with God.

                                                                  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 14:17 (NKJV)
17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Today’s verse directs us to focus on our sanctification and development of the fruit on the Spirit in our lives.     

“Eat, drink, and be merry” may be the world’s advice, particularly when you have an atheistic world view that tells you that ultimately life has no meaning and thus we must enjoy our earthly experience because our existence just fades to black after we die. But Jesus himself called this fleshly disposition toward life to be foolish in Luke 12:16-34, where he advised that seeking the kingdom of God should be our biggest concern.  

The subjects of food and drink, and the indulgence of alcoholic beverages, can play a large role in our lives here on earth as some people identify themselves as “foodies”, connoisseurs of certain beverages, or by what they will and will not eat or drink.  

I have friends who are BBQ and “Smoking” enthusiasts who can plan their lives around and speak at length about the things they will eat and how they will prepare them, spending significant time and money in their culinary hobby’s.  Other friends frequent restaurants, brew their own beer, collect fine wines, and are constantly upgrading appliances or remodeling their kitchens.  

While there is nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, the thing that frightens me about their enthusiasm for the things pertaining to the comfort and satisfaction of their stomachs is that the utter lack of concern regarding their spiritual health.

Today’s verse points out that the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, so we shouldn’t be overly concerned about what we should and shouldn’t eat. The New Testament covenant established by Christ declared that all foods are clean and there are no foods that are prohibited, so we can eat what we like. 

But while we should rejoice over this freedom, we should not make our bellies our god (Phil 3:19), for a life that is consumed by concerns over meeting our nutritional needs and culinary desires will be a life that is not only shackled by the bondage of our changing appetites but could be one on a course for eternal destruction. 

So enjoy your food and drink, but when you do thank the Lord for the food He has provided but also be sure to establish and maintain your relationship with Him though faith in Jesus Christ.

God wants you to see the big picture of why He gave you life. He doesn’t want you so focused on the material delights that He has provided to the point that you will fail to see His presence or your purpose for living.  

When you draw close to the Lord, He becomes your comfort. When you follow Him, He will continually feed your spirit and provide you with the living waters that will never run dry, and you will only hunger to live a righteous life for Him.   The abundance of His love satisfies more than any food and the fruit that He gives is righteousness, peace, joy, and love.

 

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, concluding Chapter 9.

 

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

Winning the Battle for Our Minds

First, you must "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). How do you renew your mind? By filling it with God's Word. To win the battle for your mind you must "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts" (Col. 3:15) and "let the word of Christ richly dwell within you" (Col. 3:16). As you continue to stockpile your mind with God's truth, you will equip yourself to recognize the lie and take it captive.

Think of your mind as a pot full of coffee. Because of what you have put into it, the coffeepot is dark and smelly. You desire your mind to be like clear water again, the way it was before you put the coffee into the pot. There is no way you can filter out the coffee once it has been put inside (no delete button).

Now imagine a bowl of crystal-clear ice, alongside the coffeepot, that says on it "The Word of God." There is no way you can dump the whole bowl in at once, but you can put in a cube every day. If you did that long enough, you wouldn't be able to taste, smell or even see the coffee you had originally put inside, even though it is still there. That will work as long as you don't put in a teaspoon of lies and filth along with the cube of ice.

Second, Peter directs us to prepare our "minds for action" (1 Peter 1:13). Do away with fruitless fantasy. To imagine yourself doing something without ever doing it is dangerous. You will lose touch with reality. The mind cannot distinguish over a long time period something that has been vividly imagined and something that really happened. If you tell a lie long enough, you may start to think it is true. Scripture always tells us to use our minds actively, never passively, and to direct our thoughts externally, never internally. The devil will seek to bypass your mind, but God works through it.

Third, take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Practice threshold, first-frame thinking. Evaluate every thought by the truth and don't even consider tempting, accusing or lying thoughts. Should you rebuke every negative thought? No! That is like being in the middle of a pond with 12 corks floating around you, and your entire life's purpose is to tread water and keep the corks submerged. Ignore the stupid corks and swim to shore. Choose the truth and keep choosing it until it becomes the normal pattern of your life.

Fourth, turn to God when you are having anxious thoughts. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6). When your commitment to Plan A is being challenged by Plan B thoughts from the world, the flesh or the devil, bring it to God in prayer. By doing so, you are acknowledging God and exposing your thoughts to His truth. Your double mindedness will dissolve "and the peace of God . . . shall guard your hearts and your minds [noema] in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).

Fifth, assume your responsibility to choose the truth and commit yourself to live accordingly.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you (Phil. 4:8, 9).

The following story is a wonderful example of what can happen to a Christian when the strongholds of the mind are overthrown by God's truth.

Jeannie is a beautiful and talented woman in her mid-30s. An active Christian for 23 years, she sings in a professional singing group, writes music, leads worship at her church and oversees a discipleship group.

Jeannie attended one of my conferences. She was struggling with bulimia, having been in bondage to the strongholds of food and fear for 11 years. When she was home alone she was held captive by Satan's lies about food, her appearance and sense of worth for hours at a time. She was so fearful that when her husband was gone for a night, she slept on the couch and kept on all the house lights. She had submitted to counseling without success. All the while she believed that the thoughts prompting her to induce vomiting were her own, based on a traumatic experience from her childhood. I happened to be looking at Jeannie—quite unintentionally—when I said, "Every person I know with an eating disorder has been the victim of a stronghold based on the lies of Satan."

"You have no idea how that statement impacted my life," she told me the next morning. "I have been battling myself all these years, and I suddenly understood that my enemy was not me but Satan. That was the most profound truth I have ever heard. It was like I had been blind for 11 years and could suddenly see. I cried all the way home. When the old thoughts came back last night, I simply rejected them for the truth. For the first night in years I was able to go to sleep without vomiting."

Two weeks later, Jeannie sent me the following note:

Dear Dr. Anderson,

I can't tell you all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me through the truth you shared at your conference. My relationship with the Lord is so different. Now that I'm aware of the enemy and my victory over him in Christ, my gratitude for our powerful and gracious Savior is real. I can't listen to songs about Him without weeping. I can barely lead others in songs of worship without weeping for joy. The truth has set me free in my walk with Christ.

Scripture now leaps off the page, whereas it was so scrambled for me before. I can sleep at night without fear, even when my husband is gone. I can be at home all day with a kitchen full of food and be in peace. When a temptation or lie pops up, I can fend it off quickly with truth. You may not realize the freedom this brings . . . I used to be in bondage to those lies for hours and hours and hours of my precious time and life, always fearing food.

And here is an incredible change, for the first time in my life I feel like I own my relationship with the Lord. It is no longer the product of my pastor's words or an attempt to reproduce another Christian's walk . . . it's mine! I'm beginning to understand how very powerful the Holy Spirit is, and how useless I am without prayer. I can't get enough.

Sincerely in Christ,

Jeannie

 


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Gold must Grow: The Beauty of a Faith that is Tested and Tried - Purity 469


Gold must Grow: The Beauty of a Faith that is Tested and Tried

Purity 469 07/13/2021 Purity 469 Podcast

Good morning  

Today’s photo of golden fields of wheat with a top of a green tree just cresting over the horizon comes to us to from a friend who loves to enjoy God’s creation and goodness and loves to share what they have learned about God with others. 

Although we are months from harvest time, my friend’s photo caused me to ponder the finished product of the harvest and what transpires to bring a crop to the point that it is fully grown and ready to be collected and used.  

Harvested crops really are the product of hope and endurance.   A farmer prepares the ground by clearing any remnants of the previous year, fertilizing the land, and then plowing it, and planting the seeds.  Farmers continue to tend to the crops and monitor their progress and do their best to make sure they are provided for and free from pests or other hindrances to their growth.  They may be able to irrigate the land to make sure the crops are watered but that is all they can do.  The crops rely on sunshine and the miracle of growth that is put inside the plants by God.  God and man set the conditions for the crops, but the crops are left in the field to wither and die or to grow and flourish.       

Lately in upstate NY, we have had a mix of days with blistering heat and sunshine and other days with a series of thunderstorms, high winds, and rain that have torn up parts of the countryside causing trees to be broken, with some being ripped out of the earth by their roots.

In the fields, crops are left exposed to the elements and have had to endure hot weeks without rain where those without enough water begin to wither and fade.  During the rain and storms the winds rip through the rows of the crops, blowing past and around some plants, causing others to break.   The changing conditions can cause some of the crop to become weak and die or the adversity of the extreme weather conditions can cause the crops to become firmly rooted and to be stronger from their experiences.  The crops who endure will produce fruit and will grow golden at the end of their cycle and eventually be harvested by the farmers who placed their hopes in them.    The golden harvest doesn’t come over night and it doesn’t come easy.  The gold must grow.  

Sometimes on our walk on the path of Christian Discipleship, certain themes come up from multiple sources and you get an idea that the Lord is seeking to encourage or comfort us. One theme that has come up lately, and that is appropriate for all times and seasons, is that of suffering trials and going through them by walking by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.   

I’m currently in 2 Thessalonians in my morning Bible study and consult Warren’s Wiersbe’s commentary for further insights and understanding and today’s study was full of nuggets of truth regarding dealing with the adverse conditions of life and how our faith is an anchor that can ground us to endure the blowing winds of adversity and that can grow and become mature through the process of trials.  

The following are some “highlights” from Wiersbe’s commentary. The list I present may seem simple or random, but I assure you that there is profound truth in these insights that have the fruit of experience and God’s wisdom behind them.:

“Not only does prayer change people and situations, but so does praise…. One of the best weapons for fighting Satan is praise.”   - We are to pray through our trials and thank God for what He has provided and for His presence.  “Praise works!”

“A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. New believers must expect their faith to be tried, because this is the way God proves whether or not their decision is genuine. Faith, like a muscle, must be exercised to grow stronger. Tribulation and persecution are God’s ways to strengthen our faith.[1] 

The Christian life is not always easy. Christ told His followers that the world would hate them like it hated Him.  The suffering and persecution that we go through will cause our faith to be exposed as false or it will cause us to depend on God more, which will cause it to grow.  

“…God never wastes suffering. Trials work for us, not against us (2 Cor. 4:15–18; James 1:1–5). If we trust God and yield to Him, then trials will produce patience and maturity in our lives. If we rebel and fight our circumstances, then we will remain immature and impatient. God permits trials that He might build character into our lives.[2]  

“When a person in difficulty forsakes the Lord and the church, he shows that either he has never been born again, or that his spiritual life is very weak. A true Christian who is growing will be faithful, come what may.[3]  

Our Christian faith and the path of Christian Discipleship is fueled by our decision to be faithful. We are to trust the Lord and practice our faith through prayer, praise, Bible study, good works, and service to God come what may.  

There was more wisdom presented then I have space to share today but I will conclude with Wiersbe asking and answering one of those tough questions regarding our faith.  

“Why live a godly life if your only experience is that of suffering?

As Christians, we must live for eternity and not just for the present. In fact, living “with eternity’s values in view” is what makes our Christian life meaningful today. We walk by faith, and not by sight.[4]

 

Our lives are not only defined by our existence here on earth.  We have the hope of the return of Christ, our eternal destiny of living in His kingdom, and the promise of a new heaven and a new earth.   

With this in mind, we can endure the trials of this life and when we stay in communion with the Lord by living by faith, He gives us the strength, wisdom, and love to not only persevere but to serve as an example of His goodness and grace. 

With Him, we can make it through and even while we are in the midst of uncertain times or the deep pain of trauma, we can stand in His love to find comfort and offer that love and comfort to others.  

Those trials in life that we face will cause our faith to grow.  The blistering heat of persecution or the storms of adversity that we suffer through will help us to be strong in our faith and will result in a life in Christ that shines forth like gold and cause us to be harvested for use in God’s eternal kingdom.   


This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 2:4 (ETRV)
4 God has been kind to you. He has been very patient, waiting for you to change. But you think nothing of his kindness. Maybe you don't understand that God is kind to you so that you will decide to change your lives.

Today’s verse makes no bones about it.  God has been kind to us and given us new life through faith in Christ to help us to change our lives.     

God has been very kind to all of us.  Through Christ, He has forgiven us of all our transgressions and adopted us into His royal family.   His kindness, mercy, and grace has taken us from the kingdom of darkness and our fate to suffer God’s wrath to grant us reconciliation and peace with God and given us entrance into His kingdom where we no longer need to fear death.   

God also has been patient with us, allowing us to live our lives without Him to see just how foolish, hopeless, and futile the ways of the world are.  He allowed us to live our lives independent of him and to suffer the consequences of our own poor choices. When the time was right, and I’m sure we all wish it had been sooner, the Lord saved us from ourselves.  

But today’s verse tells us that it wasn’t just for our salvation that the Lord called us into relationship with Him.  He calls for us to be conformed to the image of His Son. He wants us to be holy for He is holy.  If we are sons and daughters of God, we should endeavor to change our ways to God’s ways to start showing that family resemblance.    

When we come to Christ, no matter who you are, there is a lot to work on.  Before Christ we were trained and programmed to live according to the world’s ways.  Unfortunately, Satan influences the world system to perpetuate some really ungodly philosophies and attitudes. Satan’s influences can be seen by obvious immorality but also are revealed by subtle things like pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, and independence of God.    

So when we come to Christ, God draws us and encourages us to change.  For some, what needs to be changed is obvious as some besetting sins have plagued them all their lives. For others, offenses of the heart need to be addressed as God calls us to be kind, forgiving, and loving.  

Often believers go about changing the wrong way. They try to do it in their own strength by whipping themselves into submission by the power of their own wills. But while that may work for some, that’s not the way that God wants us to do it.  

We were saved by faith and that is the way that God provides for us to change too! While changing our behaviors and thoughts will require some exercise of our wills, the way that God wants us to overcome is by activating our faith, by believing that God has already given us the victory over our struggles and by believing that all the power and strength that will need to overcome has already been given to us.   

So don’t think nothing of the kindness that the Lord has shown you, instead understand that God’s kindness and love was purposeful.  God wants you to enjoy an abundant life that is free of all the mistakes and troubling thoughts and emotions that you have suffered from before coming to Him. He loves you enough to not only want you to change but He also gives you all that you need to change.  

So take a look at yourself, choose one thing to give to God, believe that He will help you to surrender it to Him and follow where the Lord leads you to go.  If you continue to have faith in your victory that is given to you by God and continue to walk with Him, somewhere down the road you will discover that your besetting sin has been set aside. You will rejoice of course but show the Lord that you understand His kindness by giving Him even more of you to change.  

Our relationship with the Lord never ends. So why not use what He given us to experience all He wants us to have.  

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 7.

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

Wrong Responses to Those Who Frustrate Goals

If our goals can be blocked or uncertain, how do we respond to someone or something that threatens our success? We may attempt to control or manipulate people or circumstances who stand between us and the achievement of our goals.

For example, a pastor's goal is to have the finest youth ministry in the community. However, one of his board members attempts to block his goal by insisting that a music ministry is more important. Every attempt by the pastor to hire a youth pastor is vetoed by the influential board member who wants to hire a music director first. The pastor's sense of worth and success in ministry is on the line. So he shifts into a power mode to push the stumbling block out of the way. He lobbies his cause with other board members. He solicits support from denominational leaders. He preaches about the importance of youth ministry to gain congregational support. He looks for a way to change the opposition's mind, or remove him from the board, because he believes his success in ministry is dependent on reaching his goal of having a great youth ministry.

Suppose a mother believes that her sense of worth depends on how well her children turn out. Her goal is to raise perfect little Christians who will become doctors and lawyers. As her children reach their teen years and begin to express their independence, however, their behavior doesn't always match her ideal. She is heading for a collision course because her children want their freedom and she wants to control them. She must control their behavior because she believes her success as a mother depends on it. If they don't attend the functions she wants them to attend, they can't go anywhere. If they don't listen to the music she expects them to listen to, they lose their radio and TV privileges. Somehow she never heard that parenting is an 18-year process of letting go, and the fruit of the spirit is self-control, not child control.

It is not hard to understand why people try to control others. They believe their sense of worth is dependent on other people and circumstances. This is a false belief, as evidenced by the fact that the most insecure people you will ever meet are manipulators and controllers.

People who cannot control those who frustrate their goals will probably respond by getting bitter, angry or resentful. Or they may simply resort to a martyr complex, which I perceived in the woman whose husband wouldn't come to Christ. She had been unsuccessful at getting him into the Kingdom and her faith and hope had shriveled to depression. So she resigned herself to bear her cross of a hopeless goal and hang on until the rapture. Unless she adjusts her goals, she will live the rest of her life in bitter defeat.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 192). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 193). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 193). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 194). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.