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Showing posts with label Sanctification. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sanctification. Show all posts

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Pumpkin Ale, Fat Shaming, and Demons - Purity 869

Pumpkin Ale, Fat Shaming, and Demons - Purity 869

Purity 869 10/22/2022 Purity 869 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a stunning scene of a clear blue sky and early autumn colors reflected in the surface of what we suspect to be the fourth of the eight Fulton Chain Lakes comes to from a friend who captured this scene near their home in Inlet NY back on October 10th. They shared a few pictures that day on social media proclaiming that experiencing the autumn splendor was “food for the soul”.  

Well, It’s the Saturday before Halloween weekend, and while I encourage my friends to get out there this weekend and liberally take in all the flavors of the season, I have to recommend we use wisdom and moderation in our seasonal celebrations.  

As someone who, with the Lord’s help, has won a victory over addictive tendencies and who now attempts to continuously live by walking in the Spirit, I know the dangers of how the flesh will use seasonal celebrations to fuel its fire and cause us to be in bondage.   

For instance, the alcohol industry knows how to encourage consumption during all the seasons of the year, as the breweries and wineries will release and market various potent potables for the spring, summer, fall, and winter.  This month will tempt people to try Oktoberfest themed beers, Pumpkin Ales, and Hard and not so Hard Apple Cider beverages.  In my limited research this morning, I even saw a link that told me that there were “20 Scary Beers” from various micro and not so microbreweries that feature occult or horror themes that would be perfect for Halloween. And you might think that wine drinkers are too sophisticated for something like that but you would be wrong, there are lots of scary labelled wines available too.  I find it positively frightening because I remember how I was a slave to the booze and my addiction would use any pretense to keep the party going 24/7.  So for my friends who drink, be careful, a lifestyle of periodic or constant drunkenness is not only a risk to your physical and mental health, it also is indicated as something that can separate you from the Lord’s kingdom.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT2) tells us
9  Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10  or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
11  Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.    

Yeah, I know those two verses hit a whole lot of people below the belt and may cause some to doubt their salvation. If that’s you, I would encourage you to repent. 

Believe me  I was a big drunk AFTER I was born again and when I read all the verses on drunkenness, I was not happy!  But as I knew the Lord had saved me and I wanted to follow Him, I followed His leading into recovery and now rejoice over my freedom over drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality.  Yeah I took that verse literally. And now I can say I WAS like that but now I have been “cleansed; … made holy; … made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”      

I thought it would be impossible to change from my drunken ways after living most of my adult life, from 17 to 43 years old, in the bonds of alcoholism but God was with me and led me out of that darkness for good.  I don’t identify as an “alcoholic” or a “person in long term recovery” or a brother who “struggles with alcoholism”.  The struggle is over the war has been won. The Lord gave me victory and freedom and I identify as a child of God, an ambassador for God’s kingdom and a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have been healed. I have been made new. And I ain’t going back.  

But I am not perfect and still fall into temptation on occasion.

WHAT???

Relax, I can claim, because of the Lord, continuous victory in the areas of drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality still but I have also been fighting a war with the flesh when it comes to junk food or sugar.  

I have come to realize that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that Christians should be good stewards of their physical health. Obesity is not good for your physical, mental, or spiritual health as the same characteristics of addiction (the cravings, seeking comfort, lack of self-control, and binging) are present in lifestyles that are food focused.  

Just like we have to be wise stewards of our bodies by not filling them with alcohol and drugs, we have to be discerning in what we eat.  

Just like the alcohol industry releases and markets seasonal potent potables, the food industry is even worse in its creation of holiday and seasonal packaging and special limited time items that cause us to “try it while we can!” with all the gusto of a beer guzzling alcoholic.  

The world system, the flesh, and the devil are insidious in tempting us to FEED the FLESH rather than walk in the Spirit.   The world system, our fellow man, like a drug dealer, does it for profit.  The enemy does it to keep us from seeking our peace and comfort from a spiritual connection with God. 

I’ve come to realize that my addictive tendencies were present in the way I ate. After reading “The Daniel Plan” I learned that food industry engineers food to make us want to crave it and in essence become addicted to it. So they recommend non processed foods that don’t have the sugar and carbs that keep us coming back for more and keep us in the constant struggle of the battle of the bulge.   

I have made some significant gains, meaning losing some pounds, because of this realization and from my efforts to be more cognizant of what I eat.  I have eliminated a lot of the sugar and carb filled foods that I used to eat and now try to follow a keto friendly lifestyle to reduce my weight and to reduce the pains that come from being too heavy. 

My father was an athlete in his youth but over time due to liberal use of alcohol and unhealthy eating his weight increased and now that he is in his seventies he is hobbled with chronic back pain, and actually has another surgery scheduled in December to try to “fix the pain”.   

While I can’t claim to have learned from all my father’s mistakes in life, I am trying to learn from this one. I see that it is unwise to carry too much weight as we age. If you have back or other pains because of your weight now, they will only be compounded as you grow older. We have to stop the madness, seek the truth of nutrition, and lean on the Lord to help us overcome this struggle.  

It's not easy. Most of the world is blind to this and as we move forward in time it looks like it is getting worse.  

In the campaign to stop bullying and stop the opposite extreme eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia, the term “fat shaming” has come on the scene.  Rather than encouraging the obese to attempt to change their unhealthy lifestyles, society now demands that we leave people alone to suffer and die under the weight of their food addictions and the rise in their mortality rate because of their obesity. 

To encourage someone to repent of their unwise living or “repent of their sin” (See 1 Corinthians 6:10-11) is now unloving.  Our society has taken the stand of the antichrist by telling us to accept our neighbors and ourselves as we are, in our broken states, rather than do what God would encourage us to do: to repent and to do what is “right”? 

IN Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT2), God said to Cain:
6  “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?
7  You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”  

God doesn’t want us to be slaves to our flesh or any other sin that would control us.  And there are plenty of Bible verses that address the obesity thing (https://www.openbible.info/topics/obesity) to encourage a change in that area.  

So I have been fighting the good fight and avoiding sugar filled snacks, but last night as I was volunteering at a Halloween themed event for Operation Adopt a Soldier in Saratoga, as the night drew to a close, I ate some cookies and candy bars that were made available for the volunteers!

So I failed to be true to health goal.  I know its not the end of the world and that there is certainly enough grace to cover this “transgression” and may have the liberty to “treat ourselves” from time to time.  

Our failure to be perfect in our behaviors is why we need Christ. Even when we try to live a life walking in the Spirit, because the word of God is true, we will have some sin in our lives.  So when we fail, we could condemn ourselves but we shouldn’t. That’s why we needed Jesus to save us by faith and grace. We couldn’t do it on our own.  So if we stumble we should not beat ourselves up but thank God that He has accepted us even though we are far from perfect.   

But at the same token, we should realize that staying in our broken states is not where God wants us either.  While there is grace enough to cover all our sins, the Lord still calls us to be sanctified because He wants us to be more like Him and He knows that when we follow His wisdom and ways and walk in the Spirit, we will experience all the peace, joy, love, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control that He has for us.  He knows His way is the best way for us.  

Right after these fruit of the Spirit are listed in Galatians, God’s word says:  

Galatians 5:24-25 (NLT2)
24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
25  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

In listing the fruit, I have seldom heard (or maybe didn’t listen to) pastors focus on verse 24: to crucify the flesh, our passions and desires.  

These are instructions to the church. So while we may not be perfect like Christ, we should endeavor to lean on the Lord and do what is “right” by obeying the word of God and to follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives, rather than being pulled astray by the regular and seasonal pulls of the flesh.  

So be wise and discerning of how you live and be aware of the regular and seasonal temptations that will try to lead you astray.   If Keep walking and talking with God and you can make progress, because when we live in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.  And if you mess up, like I did last night, just don’t give up.  

Remind yourself just how much you need the Lord and just how good He is to love and accept us regardless of our performance, and then dust yourself off and start walking in  the Spirit again.   

Instead of an “NLT Bible Promise Book for Men verse of the day, because we are in the season of Halloween, I am deciding to share an excerpt from the Freedom in Christ Ministries blog,  by Dr, Jonathan Carl  that I saw yesterday ( https://blog.ficm.org/blog/halloween-silly-and-serious) that presents some frequently asked questions that we should consider during this rather macabre season. 

Dr. Carl writes:

Here are four “frequently asked questions we should consider…:

1.    Is demonic possession real? What can a demon do to me? Can the devil or a demon make me do something I don’t want to do?

Yes, demonic possession is real. Demons can tempt, attack, and live within humans. Satan already controls everyone who is not born again with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. While not every unbeliever is possessed by a demon, demonically-possessed humans sometimes evidence (manifest) the presence of demons in supernaturally scary ways.

2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers”

2.    Can a Christian be possessed by a demon? “Demonized”? “Have” a Demon?

No. If someone truly repents from sin, treasures Jesus more than anyone or anything, and trusts in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, then they are saved and in-dwelt by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16). A genuine believer cannot be possessed or controlled by a demon since Jesus is in them through the Holy Spirit. Believers can be tempted and deceived by demonic spirits and influences. Christians have personal responsibility for their actions, inactions, and beliefs and accordingly must “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

3.    Can a Christian be harassed by a demon? Oppressed? Attacked?

Yes. As one example, we know that the apostle Paul was attacked and harassed by a demon. We do not always know the specifics of why demons attack true believers. We do know that if we dependently seek God in these seasons of attack, He will strengthen and grow us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 John 4:4).

2 Corinthians 12:7 “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger [angel] of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”

 

4.    Can someone be a Christian and their life not demonstrate real change?

No. True believers always evidence a changed life through the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit (Matthew 13:19-23, Galatians 5:16-24, 1 John). Genuine Christians are not perfect but will manifest a decreasing pattern of sin and an increasing pattern of righteousness. May you be able to look backwards and see God’s progressive work on your life and look forward to how He will continue to mature you as you seek Him in spirit and truth.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Dr. Carl concludes the blog entry by writiing: “As you see scary or silly Halloween costumes, decorations, and advertisements, may you be reminded that this is not simply a pretend subject. Our spiritual state matters. Satan and his demons are on the prowl, seeking to deceive and destroy us. If you are not yet a Christian, why would you wait another day to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

If you are a Christian, have confidence that God is with you and in you. Do not fear. Put on the full armor of God daily and be like Paul, seeking to “boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel” everywhere you go. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

1 John 4:4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

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If you want a free resource about spiritual warfare in the early church? Summaries of some of Neil Anderson’s most important works? A Bible reading plan for 2023? Then please visit www.spiritualwarfare.blog/free-books for some of Dr. Carl’s free e-books and writings.

 

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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:

Psalm 51:17 (NLT2)
17  The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Today’s Bible versesdescribes our condition when we give up those myths and lies of the world and finally repent and surrender to the Lord. 

The spirit of broken man is the spirit of rebellion and self-sufficiency. We try to live independently from God and forge our own destinies, as if we could control anything in an ultimate sense.  Or we will try to please God with “good works” thinking if we just perform the right “sacrifice”, God will accept us.  

But today’s verse indicates the God desires us to submit to Him and repent. Our surrender to the Lordship of Christ not our sacrifice is the only thing that God wants or will accept.  

So remember what God desires and give Him wants by living a life that is repentant and surrendered to His will.   

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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 Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

Kindred

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny” [Matt. 5:21–26].

“But I say to you”—this is the way Jesus summarized everything he said about the law. After his previous words, it is obvious that Jesus is not to be understood here as a revolutionary. Nor should we assume an exchange of opinion versus opinion in the manner of rabbis.[82] Instead, Jesus expresses, continuing what he has said thus far, his unity with the law of the Mosaic covenant. But precisely in his true unity with the law of God he makes clear that he, the Son of God, is the Lord and Giver of the law. Only those who perceive the law to be the word of Christ can fulfill it. He rejected the sinful misunderstanding in which the Pharisees were caught. True knowledge of the law lies solely in knowing Christ to be the Lord and the fulfiller of the law. Christ has laid his hand on the law and claimed it. In doing so, he did what the law truly intended. But in this unity with the law he is considered an enemy by the false understanding of the law. By honoring the law, he gives himself up to the false zealots of the law.

The commandment to which Jesus first refers his disciples forbids murder and entrusts the disciples with the well-being of their brothers or sisters. The life of one’s brothers and sisters was granted by God and is in God’s hand. Only God has power over life and death. There is no place in the faith-community of God for a murderer. Murderers are liable to the judgment they themselves exercise. The protection of God’s command extends not only to brothers and sisters who belong to the church-community but beyond.[85] This is clearly shown by the fact that the actions of a follower of Jesus do not depend on the other person’s identity, but only on him whom the disciple follows in obedience. Jesus’ followers are forbidden to commit murder under penalty of divine judgment. The life of a brother or sister is a boundary for Jesus’ followers which may not be crossed. But anger already crosses that boundary. It is crossed even more by words bursting out of us in haste (Racha [insults]), and it is crossed finally when we intentionally deride someone else (you fool). Every anger attacks the life of the other person; it begrudges others their lives; it craves the other’s destruction. There is no distinction between so-called just anger and unjust anger. The disciples should not even know what anger is, because anger is an assault on God and the other person. The angry words bursting out of us, which we take so lightly, reveal that we do not respect the other person, that we view ourselves to be superior, and that we thus value our own lives more than the other’s. Such words are an injury to a sister or brother, a thrust to the heart. They are intended to strike, wound, and destroy. But intentional words of derision rob sisters and brothers of their dignity in public. They intend to make other people despise them, as well. They aim in hatred to destroy another’s internal and external existence. I pass judgment on another. That is murder. A murderer is handed over to judgment.[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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 120–122.

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Adopted to Walk in His Ways - Purity 775


Adopted to Walk in His Ways - Purity 775

Purity 775 7/5/2022 Purity 775 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Cliff Seguin standing beside the trailer for Operation Adopt a Soldier underneath blue skies comes to us from yours truly as I grabbed this candid photo of the nonprofit organization’s founder and chairman after we had finished marching in the village of Argyle’s Independence Day Parade yesterday.   Founded in 2003, Operation Adopt a Soldi (https://www.operationadoptasoldier.org/) provides support to U.S. Soldiers stationed worldwide through the generous assistance of volunteers from the Saratoga, Albany, Queensbury, and Clifton Park, NY areas. 

My purpose in of marching in yesterday’s parade was multifaceted as through this single act of service I was able to: 

·       Celebrate my individual freedom as a United States citizen

·       Participate in the Village of Argyle’s expression of their community’s love for freedom

·       Support those who serve the cause of upholding our freedom by serving in the military by representing an organization dedicated to giving them support

·       Support the good work that Operation Adopt a Soldier does

·       Honor my father-in-law’s individual efforts as the founder and Chairman of Operation Adopt a Soldier

·       Honor my father by carrying the flag for the U.S. Navy

·       Join my wife and step kids in honoring their father and grandfather through their participation in his community service.

Considering all that is involved here, how could I not agree to march in yesterdays’ Fourth of July Parade? 

Add to all these reasons the fact that this simple act of service qualifies as a “good work” that the Lord may have prepared for me to walk into and it really wasn’t a question of whether or not I would join my father-in-law because it would please him.  It is such a wonderful thing to consider how we can meet our purpose of pleasing God through our loving and serving others.  With all of these things in play, I believe my participation in the parade also may have pleased my Heavenly Father, and since living to serve Him is the primary purpose for the rest of my days on earth, I pleased myself as well! Talk about a win-win-win situation!

Not only did I get to serve my family and support those who serve to protect our freedom, but through the expression of my love for others I undoubtedly pleased the Lord, and that gives me joy!

Since coming to faith and Christ and surrendering to His will for my life, I have been guided to not only deal with walking away from my personal problems but have been guided into serving others in various ministries and charitable organizations. 

My journey shows me that the truth of the aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ that we are not only saved “from” God’s wrath through the forgiveness of our sins but we are “saved to”:

1.    Become more like Him through our personal sanctification in our developing our character to reflect His righteousness

2.    Show the love of God through acts of kindness and service to others and the community at large.  

3.    Let people know the reason for our hope, our changed lives, and our service by letting them know that our faith in Christ has given us a new life and  the power to overcome our personal demons and has motivated us to do good works in His name.

As adopted children of the king of all Creation, our purpose is to be transformed into what He wants us to be, to represent Him in the earth, and to welcome others to make peace with Him through faith in Christ and to join His family and kingdom.   

When you are adopted in His family, the love we have for being given a new life and from being set free from sin and death should drive us to further experience the reality of who we are in Christ through our actions.  

To echo the sentiments of John F Kennedy’s inaugural speech on becoming the 35th president of the United States, who said “ ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country…”, I would say as Christian’s we should not be overly concerned with asking how we can be blessed by God, but we should be more concerned by how we can serve God, by how we can share His love and be used by Him to bring more into His kingdom.   

In reviewing my walk with the Lord and by seeing others supposedly on the same path, I feel we may be asking the wrong questions when we come into the Lord’s royal family.   We shouldn’t be asking: “What’s in this for me?” or  “What do I have to do, now that I am a Christian?” Or perhaps worse, “What can’t I do, now that I am a Christian?!?”  , we should instead be seeking what we can do to know Him more, to be more like Him, and to show other’s His love?  

Our relationship with the Lord shouldn’t be viewed as prohibitions or requirements of what we can’t or what we must do, our relationship should an exploration of the One we love and a process of discovery of the possibilities and opportunities that our relationship with the Creator of all things presents to us. Our adoption into God’s family should result in our finding our identity and our purpose in our new life as His children.  

So keep walking and talking with God and follow where He leads. When we pursue the Lord as His child, we discover our faith isn’t a forced march of “obedience or else” but is a journey of meaning and purpose that results in peace, love, and joy.  

 

Today’s Bible verse does not come to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”, because that resource has been left behind at my countryside home in Easton NY, I believe so, I draw upon the verse of the Day from the devotional “Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary Wilder Tileston. In that resource, .

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Isaiah 27:8 (NLT2)
8  No, but he exiled Israel to call her to account. She was exiled from her land as though blown away in a storm from the east.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of the exile of the nation of Israel from their land as though by a “storm from the east”.  

A Cliff notes version of the Old Testament would undoubtedly point to the holiness of God and the consequences that His chosen people faced when they disobeyed His commands.  The Old Testament prophets repeatedly warn the nation of Israel of God’s righteousness and try to encourage the kings and people of Israel to repent and go His way but the people refused to listen and lost God’s favor and their autonomy and freedom because they were a “stiff necked”, stubborn, people.   

As today’s verse tells us God called Israel “to account” by exiling her to a foreign land where they would be treated as slaves and subject to foreign rules with limited freedoms to live and worship their Lord.   

The interplay of the course of human history and God’s sovereign control confounds us and when bad things happen to us we have a tendency to remove God from the equation.  If God, why evil? Is the question that atheists present, challenging us to explain why a good God would allow “bad things” to happen to “good people”?  

Those invaded by a foreign power and exiled from their land would probably blame their minister of defense or point to the tyrannical powers that defeated them as the reason why their freedoms were lost.  

But scripture tells us that as much as “God works all things together for good”, it also tells us that God is holy and will use afflictions of various sorts to punish the nations or to draw his people to repentance.   

It’s not just some “storm from the east” that may be causing us to suffer, our calamities may be consequences for our poor decisions or a “pruning” of sorts that the Lord is using to get our attention and to cause us to repent of our worldly ways, or to strengthen our trust in and reliance upon Him.    

With God, nothing happens in a vacuum. We are never removed from His presence. So when things go wrong, we should draw close to Him to seek His wisdom, guidance, strength, and love.     

He may be showing us the error of our ways and be directing us to follow Him by rejecting our sin and adopting His ways to live righteously.  

Or He may be teaching us about the lack of our self sufficiency and our weaknesses and be drawing us to rely on Him and walk with Him through a season where our efforts alone will not be enough to see us through.       

None of us can claim following the Lord perfectly, so whether we are enjoying a time of prosperity or find ourselves in a season of struggle or loss,  we can always seek to examine our thoughts and actions and what is happening to us to try to discern what the Lord is trying to teach us.    

Regardless the storms we face in life, we can be assured that the Lord is above them and that through our interactions with Him we can find peace in His presence.  So draw close to God and follow where His mighty rushing wind direct your steps.

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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.

The World Is Under the Authority of Satan

Satan is called a “strong man” because of his wide-ranging power and authority. He is the ruler (archōn) over an entire army of evil spirits (Mk 3:22), and he possesses a measure of authority over all the kingdoms of the world (Mt 4:8–9; Lk 4:6). The Johannine literature has much to say about Satan as a “ruler.” The Gospel of John refers to Satan as “the prince (archōn) of this world” three times (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). In his first epistle, John states the idea most forcefully: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19).

His world rule does not mean the whole world is involved in the occult or is engaged in grossly immoral conduct. It does mean the world stands apart from God; and therefore, the world has affiliation with the devil. In Jesus’ teaching (and subsequently in John’s teaching), there are only two masters—God and Satan. Those who have not professed Christ are still a part of Satan’s kingdom. John records Jesus’ comments to a group of Jewish religious leaders, who had rejected him: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.… You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire” (Jn 8:42, 44). A similar thought is conveyed in Jesus’ parable of the weeds, where the weeds represent “the sons of the evil one” (Mt 13:24–30, 36–43). The weeds, sown by the devil, grow alongside the wheat (“sons of the kingdom”) until the end of the age when there is a separation and the grain is harvested and the weeds are burned.

John’s Gospel contains no reflection on the meaning of Satan’s title, “prince of this world.” The term “prince,” or archōn, was used widely to denote the highest official in a city or a region in the Greco-Roman world. Even in the Greek Old Testament archōn was used for a national, local or tribal leader. This common political term was first applied to the hierarchical organization of the supernatural realm in the book of Daniel (10:13, 20–21 and 12:1), where it refers to the chief or leader among the angelic powers. In the synoptic Gospels the devil is described as the “chief ruler” (archōn) of the demons (Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15). In John’s Gospel this rulership is extended to the entire world. For John the “world” refers to human society in terms of its organized opposition to God. It appears that while Satan’s influence and control is primarily over people, it also extends to human institutions and organizations, the social and political order.

Victory on the Cross

As seen in the parable of the strong man recorded in all three synoptic Gospels, Christ’s death and resurrection marked the decisive defeat of Satan. The Gospel of John also looks to the paramount significance of the cross in terms of its implications for Satan. In John’s recounting of Jesus’ passion prediction, Jesus said, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out” (Jn 12:31). Later in the same Gospel, Jesus speaks of the Spirit convicting the world concerning judgment, “because the prince of this world now stands condemned” (Jn 16:11). In his epistle John summarizes Jesus’ mission, which culminated in the death and resurrection of Christ, by affirming that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn 3:8b).

In speaking of the devil being “driven out” as a result of the cross, John is not representing Jesus as a helpless romantic who cannot recognize existing evil in the world. Neither should the statement be interpreted as Satan’s expulsion from heaven (cf. Rev 12:7–9). Rather, Jesus is speaking of a definite loss of authority by Satan over the world. Christians face the unique tension of having conquered Satan by virtue of their identification with Christ’s work on the cross (cf. 1 Jn 2:13–14) and needing to continue the war with Satan while they still live in this world during the present evil age. New Testament scholars describe this paradox as an “eschatological tension”—the “now” but “not yet” of our Christian lives. The new age has dawned, the kingdom of God is present, but only partially. Satan continues his hostile activity, but he has no power, authority or control over those who appropriate their new identity in Christ. Thus Jesus exhorts his disciples to “remain in me” as a branch remains in a vine (Jn 15:1–8).

Now that Satan has been “cast out,” Christ can build his church. In John 12, Jesus continues by saying, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). Jesus now exercises a saving sovereignty over the world, but not a political sovereignty.

The cross also condemns Satan (Jn 16:11). There will be an ultimate future condemnation of Satan, but on the basis of the cross. Raymond Brown comments, “The very fact that Jesus stands justified before the Father means that Satan has been condemned and has lost his power over the world.” Jesus’ death may have seemed to be a major victory for his enemies, but it had a surprising outcome. Jesus was raised, redemption was procured, and Satan was condemned. Moreover, Jesus is still present after his death in the person of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:7).

Whereas, in the exorcisms Jesus liberated a few individuals from the power of the devil, by his death and resurrection he liberated the entire race. All who exercise faith in Christ, and “abide” in him, can share in his victory over Satan and the powers of darkness.[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), 80–82.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Lie of “Being Different” - Purity 713

The Lie of “Being Different” - Purity 713                      

Purity 713 04/23/2022 Purity 713 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a wild, and as of yet unidentified, flowering member of the plant kingdom, surrounded by desert sand and cacti, underneath clear blue skies comes to us from a friend who captured this unruly botanical beast while visiting Phoenix Arizona at the Desert Botanical Garden.  I chose today’s photo because it highlights something that is “different” from it’s surroundings.    

Well it’s Saturday and I pray that all my friends use this day to enjoy the life God has provided you with and to relax. Of course if you are like me, you may have a job that calls you to work on the weekends from time to time and although it is Saturday today, because I have to work it is a “different” type of Saturday.

Some say that variety is the spice of life and that the richness of diversity that we can experience in life is to be celebrated and enjoyed. I would agree with those sentiments but I had a discussion yesterday with someone which caused me to think about how the enemy can use our “uniqueness” and individual differences to divide and conquer us. 

In theological or philosophical discussions, I often hear the challenge that there is no “normal” and that life is determined by our individual interpretations and that moral judgements are all relative and are based on whatever we decide is right and wrong and is thus subject to change.    

Our society not only questions authority, we tend to echo Pontius Pilate’s question in

John 18:38 (NLT2) when he asked:
38  “What is truth?”

Ironically Pilate was speaking to the walking embodiment of Truth in the person of Jesus Christ at the time and was must have momentarily been influenced by His presence as Pilate’s next statement to the people of Jerusalem was true, when He said of Jesus: “He is not guilty of any crime.”   

But just Pilate knew the truth, didn’t mean that his behavior or his life would be permanently impacted by His exposure to it as he chose to surrender what he knew to be an innocent man to death on a cross, because it “worked”. It was pragmatic. It made the masses happy. Allowing an innocent man go to his death, “worked for Pilate”.  

There is some difference of opinion on what happened to Pilate after He allowed Christ to be crucified. Some Christian traditions claim that Pilate converted to Christianity and he is recognized as a martyr and saint.  However, other resources online state emphatically that there is no credible historical evidence supports that “story”. 

So did Pilate come to faith in Christ? Only God knows for sure and the truth is already known in heaven and will be revealed to those of us who put our faith in Christ and enter into His eternal kingdom.  

Anyway, my disposition on “being different” wasn’t supposed to be about Pilate. It was supposed to be about us.  Even though Pilate lived a different life from us, his question still applies to us: What is truth?

I recall that the Bible tells us two things about truth that establishes truth and thus what is to be considered “normal”.    The word says:

John 17:17 (NKJV) says
17  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. – The Word of God is truth.  

And

John 14:6 (NKJV)
6  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.   -  Jesus is the truth and the only way to God the Father.  

This is truth, the word of God and Jesus as Lord and Savior. God’s Word establishes the “normal standard” by which we are to live our lives. Anything we choose to believe or do that doesn’t agree with the wisdom of God’s word is “missing the mark” of that good standard and should be repented of and replaced by thoughts and actions that are consistent with its wisdom. 

However, the cats is out of the bag so to speak.  It’s too late to be made righteous by our behavior. No matter who you are, you have already “missed the mark”, you have already sinned.  Thus Christ came to pay for your sins and it is only through faith in Him that we can receive forgiveness and eternal life.  

But that new life in Christ, still call us to live a “normal” Christian life by turning from the ways of the world that “work for me” and instead renew our minds with God’s word and enter into the abundant life of obedience to God’s wisdom that manifests in peace, love, joy, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience and self-control.  

There is no peace without God.   

But unfortunately, the enemy comes in and convinces some of us that we are “different” or that we are “weird” and we are incapable of living a Christian lifestyle and so the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t apply to us. Our being “different” causes us to deny God, corrupt the gospel for our own purposes, or to choose a different philosophy of life or religion that “works for me.”  

But Pilate’s question has been answered. Christ, the living word of God, is the truth and unless we come to faith in Jesus and abide with Him, it won’t matter how “different” we were in life because we will all be the same when our lives end and we are judged by the Truth.  

There is no “different”.  All men and women are made in the image of God by God and when our lives on earth end or when Christ returns we will be judged by our Creator.  

All live on earth. All suffer. All sin. And All will die or will face Christ when returns.  

But not all will be forgiven. Not all will live with God forever.

As much as today’s pictured plant is different from the cacti around it, it will one day similarly die and turn to dust, proving that ultimately it was no different then the other plants around it.  

Although I declare today as a different Saturday, because I have to work, it is like all other Saturdays in that it will have 24 hours in it and work schedule or not, I am free to do with it what I choose. In this sense, it is no different from other Saturdays or any other day.   

So no matter what your sin is, what your current situation is, or what your personal characteristics and preferences are, all men and women are called to seek the Truth, find it and apply it to our lives.  

We move about our days choosing what we will and creating a life that “works for us” but make no mistake there is a “normal” and holy standard that the Creator has established and reveal to us in His word and there is a single pathway, a narrow road, through faith in Jesus Christ, that leads to forgiveness and eternal life.  

So keep walking and talking with God, when you do that you will realize that He loves you and that you are not so different that you can’t receive His love and the life that He has for you. Not matter how “uniquely different” we may feel we are, He calls each one of us to choose His Way and live.  

 _____________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

John 16:13 (NLT2)
13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

Today’s Bible verse speaks about the Holy Spirit and how he will guide us by showing us the truth and revealing to us what will come in the future.

If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit has guided you into that truth.  The Holy Spirit seeks to cause us to glorify Jesus Christ and to do the Father’s Will on earth.   So as we walk out our life in the Spirit, we should understand that any “leadings” or intuitions that we receive that prompt us to action should be evaluated first.

Will what we are being prompted to do result in something that will give God glory?

Does it agree with what God’s word says?  

If the “leadings or intuitions” we receive would drive us to do something selfishly or would be against the principles for living detailed in God’s word, we are being deceived by the flesh, the enemy, or worldly influence. 

The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, not sin, pride, or confusion.  The Holy Spirit promotes the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s will for our lives, which is our sanctification. The language of the Holy Spirit is the word of God. He wouldn’t cause us to pursue things that are contrary to it.  That’s what today’s verse means where it says: “He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.” He has heard the word of God and passes that along to guide us.  

As for the future? When you walk in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will guide you. 1 Corthians,  12:8 says that the Holy Spirit may give you a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom. And I can testify that at various times in my walk I have received the Holy Spirit’s guidance at times and He gave me promptings that were based on a things I didn’t know but I was given assurances that it was true and in every instance those leadings proved to be good as I myself or others were blessed through them.  So if we stay in the Lord’s presence our moment to moment futures can benefit from His wisdom.  

As for our  ultimate futures, the word of God provides prophecies of Christ’s return and the promise of a heavenly place to go to beyond this life that is provided and prepared for us before hand by God.

The Holy Spirit indwells us to guide us and to assure us that we are children of God. He lead us into all truth and gives us a life filled with His fruit when we follow His lead.  So read the word of God to become fluent in His language and so you will know His voice when you hear it.  

 

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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” .  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’  books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

Christ Bought Every Good Thing and Every Bad Thing That Turned for Good

Why is this the case? Because for redeemed sinners, every good thing—indeed every bad thing that God turns for good—was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore everything that you enjoy in Christ—as a Christian, as a person who trusts Christ—is owing to the death of Christ. And all your rejoicing in all things should therefore be a rejoicing in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

One of the reasons we are not as Christ-centered and cross-saturated as we should be is that we have not realized that everything—everything good, and everything bad that God turns for the good of his redeemed children—was purchased by the death of Christ for us. We simply take life and breath and health and friends and everything for granted. We think it is ours by right. But the fact is that it is not ours by right. We are doubly undeserving of it.

1) We are creatures, and our Creator is not bound or obligated to give us anything—not life or health or anything. He gives, he takes, and he does us no injustice (Job 1:21).

2) And besides being creatures with no claim on our Creator, we are sinners. We have fallen short of his glory (Romans 3:23). We have ignored him and disobeyed him and failed to love him and trust him. The wrath of his justice is kindled against us. All we deserve from him is judgment (Romans 3:19). Therefore every breath we take, every time our heart beats, every day that the sun rises, every moment we see with our eyes or hear with our ears or speak with our mouths or walk with our legs is, for now, a free and undeserved gift to sinners who deserve only judgment.

Welcomed Mercy or Mounting Wrath?

I say “for now” because if you refuse to see God in his gifts, they will turn out not to be gifts but High Court evidence of ingratitude. The Bible speaks of them first as “the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience” that point us to repentance (Romans 2:4). But when we presume upon them and do not cherish God’s grace in them, “Because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5).

But for those who see the merciful hand of God in every breath they take and give credit where it is due, Jesus Christ will be seen and savored as the great Purchaser of every undeserved breath. Every heartbeat will be received as a gift from his hand.

Deserving Nothing but Inheriting Everything—Why?

How then did he purchase them? Answer: by his blood. If I deserve nothing but condemnation because of my sin, but instead get life and breath in this age, and everlasting joy in the age to come, because Christ died for me, then everything good—and everything bad that God turns for good—must be the reward of his suffering (not my merit). This includes all that diversity that I wondered about at the beginning of this chapter. I asked, can work and leisure and relationships and eating and lovemaking and ministry all really flow from a single passion? Is there something deep enough and big enough and strong enough to hold all that together? Can sex and cars and work and war and changing diapers and doing taxes really have a God-exalting, soul-satisfying unity? Now we see that every experience in life is designed to magnify the cross of Christ. Or to say it another way, every good thing in life (or bad thing graciously turned for good) is meant to magnify Christ and him crucified.

Did Christ Buy My Totaled Dodge?

So, for example, we totaled our old Dodge Spirit a few years ago, but nobody was hurt. And in that safety I exult. I glory in that. But why was nobody hurt? That was a gift to me and my family that none of us deserves. And it won’t always be that way. But this time it was, and we didn’t deserve it. We are sinners and by nature children of wrath, apart from Christ. So how did we come to have such a gift for our good? Answer: Christ died for our sins on the cross and took away the wrath of God from us and secured for us, even though we don’t deserve it, God’s omnipotent grace that works everything together for our good. So when I exult in our safety, I am exulting in the cross of Christ.

Then the insurance paid us for the car, and my wife Noël took that money and went to Iowa and bought a Chevy Lumina that was one year newer and drove it home in the snow. And I exult in the amazing grace of so much bounty. Just like that. You wreck your car. You come out unhurt. Insurance pays up. You get another one. And you move on almost as if nothing had happened. And in thanks I bow my head and exult in the untold mercies even of these little material things. Where do all these mercies come from? If you are a saved sinner, a believer in Jesus, they come through the cross. Apart from the cross, there is only judgment—patience and mercy for a season, but then, if spurned, all that mercy only serves to intensify judgment. Therefore every good thing in life, and every bad thing that God turns for good, is a blood-bought gift. And all boasting—all exultation—should be boasting in the cross.

Woe to me if I exult in any blessing of any kind at any time, unless my exulting is an exulting in the cross of Christ.

Another way to say this is that the design of the cross is the glory of Christ. The aim of God in the cross is that Christ would be honored. When Paul says in Galatians 6:14, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he is saying that God’s will is that the cross always be magnified—that Christ crucified always be our boast and exultation and joy and praise—that Christ get glory and thanks and honor for every good thing in our lives and every bad thing that God turns for good.[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 51–54.