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Showing posts with label Sex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sex. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

“I Never Touched Her!” – Getting Concrete about “Abstract Sin” - Purity 1267

 

“I Never Touched Her!” – Getting Concrete about “Abstract Sin” - Purity 1267

Purity 1267 02/06/2024 Purity 1267 Podcast

Purity 1267 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the painting the “Assumption of the Virgin” (1708-1712) by Sebastiano Ricci comes to us from yours truly as I capture this work of art on my iPhone back on December 9th, 2023, during my visit to the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield Massachusetts.  

Well, It’s Tuesday and I am not touching the “Assumption of the Virgin” with a ten-foot pole because despite my Roman – Irish – Polish – Catholic upbringing I am simultaneously proud and ashamed to say I really don’t know much about it and I think that might be a good thing. Mariology is the theological study of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the Catholic tradition has some beliefs about the blessed mother that, I’ll say it as kindly as I can, are not necessarily clearly drawn from the Bible and may be a tad bit idolatrous…  

Anyway, I didn’t intend to bring up Mary at all and we will leave her alone.  The topic of today’s message surrounds sexual immorality and the fact that some men, and women I sure, consider the expression of their sexuality – regardless of how they express it – to not be a sin.  

As we rely on God’s word for wisdom and moral standards, we stand on the fact that sexual immorality is any sexual activity that is not between one man and woman who are bound by a marriage covenant.  So be it solo, homo, or heterosexual sex, outside of what happens between a husband and a wife in their marriage –  is sexual immorality and the Bible calls us to repent of it – that is we are to be sexually pure – to turn from our masturbation or fornication and to not do it again.  If you can’t, believe it or not you can rightfully consider yourself to be in bondage to sexual sin – and perhaps even consider yourself a sexual addict.    

Of course, the world and even the body of Christ can excuse their sexual immorality as “normal” and they may only agree in the “abstract that it is a sin” – that can’t reasonably be overcome.   The attitude toward sexual immorality is permissive in culture, for sure – and then some, but is even present in the church to the point that pastors won’t preach too much on it because they may offend the multitudes in the body of Christ who are not married, or who are open about their “alternative lifestyle” or who are secretly in bondage to “porn” – the seemingly Christian or polite code word for masturbation.  

The permissive attitudes toward sexual sin is on sliding scale in some circles. Homosexuality is to be rightfully condemned as sin but so is sex outside of marriage and masturbation. Sin is sin and rather than developing some hierarchy of sexual sin we should rightfully encourage repentance of them all.

And I hate to say it, Jesus rose the bar even higher in terms of sexual purity.   He said in:

Matthew 5:27-30 (NKJV)
27  "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'
28  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
30  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

I bring all this up because of the permissive attitudes toward sexual sin and the damage it can do to our souls.  Our hearts become hardened when we fail to crucify the flesh and resist sexual temptation.  

Recently, I counseled a brother who is going through a divorce. In our discussions it was revealed that he had an “emotional affair” – a friendship with a woman who was not his wife that was physically pure but was emotionally bonding and even though this man and woman supposedly never had sex – I didn’t press for details about hugs, or kisses, - this man’s heart and thoughts were with this woman intimately. When questioned about whether he ever masturbated to the thoughts or images of this other woman, he admitted he did.   So was this man guilty of adultery?  

He never touched her. But his heart and his mind did and he touched himself to completion towards her.   While he could claim that he never “committed adultery”,  Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:27-30 would expose as a liar.  He did commit adultery in his heart and that’s what matters to the Lord otherwise Jesus would have never said it.  

So yeah, what we do matters, but what we think matters too. What our hearts burn for matters and if our hearts and minds lead us beyond temptation into the contemplation or completion of sexual sin, we need to repent and pursue purity. 

Even though my friend “never touched her” – his emotional affair was discovered and the betrayal and the doubt that his wife experienced was real. He broke his marriage vows. He sinned against himself, his wife, and the Lord – it’s something he shouldn’t take lightly. Its something he should be ashamed of and something that should drive him to examine his life and how he has given himself over to sin.  

The good news is that through faith in Christ our sexual sins can be forgiven but when we fail to repent of our sins we will suffer from guilt, shame or hardened heart as we disrupt the relationship we have with the Lord through our wanton sin or in the worst case scenario we may eventually be exposed as someone who never gave his heart to the Lord because we wouldn’t surrender it from the lust of the flesh.   

Jesus didn’t tell us to pluck out our his or to cut off our hands to keep us from sinning for nothing.  Our sins can separate us from the Lord and Jesus was telling us to cut it out of our lives completely.  

Remember, Jesus gave mercy to the woman caught in adultery but before she left his presence he said:

John 8:11 (NKJV)
11 "… go and sin no more."

So seek to surrender your bodies a living sacrifice and to treat them like the temples of the Holy Spirit by taking sexual sin seriously and seeking the life of goodness and purity that only Jesus can make possible. Jesus was tempted in every way as we are but without sin – including sexual sin – so follow Him.

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

Psalm 34:11-14 (NLT2)
11  Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD.
12  Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?
13  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!
14  Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Today’s verse is the second of two passages of scripture that fall under the eighth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

8.     The Lord detests lying.

Today’s verses tell us to fear the Lord to turn away from evil and to do good.  They also tell us to not speak evil or to tell lies. 

In my friend’s case, stating “I never touched her.” may have been true in the flesh, but it was a big lie in the heart and mind. In the spirit, it was evil.  

So look at your sin honestly, tell the truth, repent of the evil, and do good.    

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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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

MORNING READING: MATTHEW 27

“Truly this was the Son of God!” – Matthew 27:54

The rest of the verse qualifies this great statement: “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (v. 54).

They watched Jesus. They saw His wonderful behavior from Gabbatha to Golgotha. They saw the “sorrow and love flow mingled down.”3 They heard His words.

They “saw the earthquake and the things that had happened.” The veil rent in twain – two or three miles away. This was in fulfillment of His own Word. The earth did quake – the very universe trembled in His presence. The dead arose. He was Resurrection and Life.

“They feared greatly.” Here was reverence, awe, and trepidation – for they were in the presence of the Son of God.

Your presence always brings reverence and awe.
Truly, You are the Son of God![1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Saturday, September 18, 2021

M.M. & Jesus Forever – Clear Communication: Christian Love & Friendship- Purity 527


 

M.M. & Jesus Forever – Clear Communication: Christian Love & Friendship- Purity 527

Purity 527 09/18/2021 Purity 527 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a cumulus and cirrus cloud filled blue sky comes to us from a friend who was out tending to their property back in August and who took a moment to take a few shots of the heavens as they were taking care of business on the earth.  There are two other photos on the blog today that feature these skies and a few more red barns if you want to check them out go to the “restricted” blog mt4christ dot org.  

I had to look up the names of the different types of the clouds in this photo, as my meteorology 101 knowledge from a class back in my undergrad days in the 1990’s has faded over the years and was hazy to begin with as my collegiate days were a little “dazed and confused”.  



What I discovered or relearned was the cirrus clouds, featured at the tops of these photos, are the short, detached, hair-like clouds found at high altitudes. These delicate clouds are wispy, with a silky sheen, or look like tufts of hair. In the daytime, they are whiter than any other cloud in the sky. While the sun is setting or rising, they may take on the colors of the sunset.



And the cumulus clouds, featured on the bottom of the sky in these photos, are  detached, individual, cauliflower-shaped clouds that look like big balls of cotton in the sky and are usually spotted in fair weather conditions. The tops of these clouds are mostly brilliant white tufts when lit by the sun, although their base is usually relatively dark.

I was moved to know the names of the clouds by curiosity and my desire to be clear in my descriptions of them, so now you know what these two types of clouds are called, and you can impress your friends with your new limited cloud knowledge!  

Speaking of friends and the desire to be clear in our communications, it’s the weekend and today I will be getting together with my friend at the property featured in today’s photos to enjoy each other’s company and to discuss various aspects of Christian discipleship. 

Part of our dialog, as two single Christians, has been our common desire to follow the Lord’s will for our lives in terms of relationships.  The biblical principle for sexual ethics is clear and simple but is in stark contrast with the loose attitudes regarding sex that is common in society at large and even within the church.  The Bible’s guidelines for approved use for sexual conduct is within the confines of a marriage between a husband and wife, a man and a woman.  

So, that means if your desire is to be within the Lord’s guidelines for sex, there is to be no sexual activity outside of marriage.  Any sexual coupling or individual sex acts are “missing the mark” of  God’s design for the use of sex for pleasure and the healthy expression of love in a marriage.

So as two people who have had their fair share of sexual experiences that “missed the mark” in the past and have suffered guilt, shame, and broken relationships as a consequence of them, my friend and I support one another in our mutual intention to with hold ourselves until we are able to find a Christian spouse.  We have both confided to one another that our desires for love and affection and the temptation to compromise are a struggle that is real but is one we can endure because of our love for God, our desire to do His will, and the fact that we have a wealth of experience from our pasts that testify to negative consequences of giving in and “sinning against our own bodies”, as the new testament describes the negative effects of fornication in the unseen spiritual realities. 

While fornication can have negative physical and emotional effects, the Bible informs us there are also unseen spiritual consequences to consider.  The sexual union is said to make two become one flesh. This verbiage points to a “spiritual bonding” that takes place that is commonly called “soul ties”. 

Ever wonder why you can’t stop thinking about “old what’s her name” or “old what’s his name” from your past sexual history?  It’s because you formed “soul ties” with them!  The good news is that you can renounce and break those through repentance and prayer.  The Steps to Freedom in Christ, Dr. Neil Anderson’s discipleship counseling tool, includes a step that can resolve the issues of our sexual pasts.   

Because my friend and I understand these problems that sexual relationships can cause, we are walking in faith to keep ourselves free from the bondage of sexual sin and are resolved to remain free by remaining single or by waiting until a suitable Christian spouse is found.  Talk about crucifying the flesh!

But not only is this a spiritual war with our own desires, we also must be on guard about others who may cause us to go astray.   

I had one friend who met a man on Christian mingle and they decided to be friends.  So they got to know one another and spend time together. Although my friend tried to make it clear that she was only considered this man as a friend, he grew emotionally attached and ended up confessing his love for her. When she didn’t immediately reciprocate his feelings, he became angry, and their friendship has taken a break as he “figures himself out”.  Although it was a “Christian site” that brought the two together, his faith has seemed to also suffer, or has been exposed as immature or false , as he has appeared to walk away from the church he was attending.  

I had another friend who met another man on a “Christian dating site” who suddenly showed up at her church.  They have decided to be friends and she is being clear in communicating her intention to not compromise and is looking for a committed relationship that would be consummated in marriage.  The jury is still out on this situation, but I have advised my friend to be observant to see if this man’s “Christianity” is genuine, to see how long he will walk the walk as well as talk the talk.     

Last night, I had dinner with a friend of the opposite sex who attends my discipleship class. We have been clear in our intentions to be friends, but my accountability partner advised me of the potential for trouble and of the possibility of how our meetings could be perceived as an unwholesome relationship and or a conflict of interest.   

My accountability partner’s comments convicted me and afterwards I have restated my intentions for our friendship to be only that and that I will endeavor to be more conscious in my communications to not be “too familiar”.  The other person thought I was over analyzing and assured me that I had been clear about our relationship but as someone who has a history of relationship dysfunction, I want to make sure that I’m sure!  

Texting is an imperfect form of communication and can easily lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Although “heart emoji’s” are a simple way to relate that we “love” what someone is saying, or “love that”,  we must be aware that they can easily be misinterpreted by oneself, or by the other person, to mean “I love you”. 

As friends share, we can become attached, and lines can easily get blurred, so we must remain consistent and keep our communications and interactions within boundaries that are within the confines of Christian morality.  As a person who tries to encourage people to live a life of Christian discipleship, I don’t want my communications to be misconstrued or for any of my conduct to be considered untoward.  

As I contemplate all this and try to stay true to remain pure until marriage or until Jesus calls me home, I can only imagine what people must have said about Jesus and all the women disciples that He had.  

Dan Brown’s, the author of the Davinci Code, speculations fictionally hypothesized that Christ and Mary Magdalene had children and the blood line of Christ had continued into the future.  

Scripture in Luke 7: 36-50, gives the account of Christ having his feet washed with the tears and hair of a sinful woman and how it shocked the Pharisee that was hosting the dinner where the incident took place. 

Jesus was a friend of sinners and loved His disciples to the end.  For those on the outside looking in it may have looked like something funny was going on. 

But scripture documents that although Christ was tempted in all ways, He did not sin.  

As His disciples we have overcome the power of sin and death when we put our faith in Christ.  We have been given the power to say no to sexual sin and can develop the fruit of the Spirit of self-control to establish and maintain victory in that area. We don’t have to give in to temptation and we can keep our relationships pure. 

But we must recognize that we must be wise and clear in our communications and be above board in our conduct. We want to bear witness of the power of God in our life and we don’t want to hurt our testimony for Christ by falling into sin our by appearing to have questionable relationships.   

So stay grounded in the truth of who you are in Christ by walking the walk as well as talking the talk of a Christian.  Be careful of what you say, how you say it, and about the relationships you have. We don’t want the world to be concerned with “what’s going on with those two” unless they are talking about us and Jesus. So keep walking and talking with God and shine a light of pure righteousness with your words and actions to bring Him glory.

   


Today’s meditation verse is drawn from” from the Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries provided resource:  “Freedom: Our Life in Christ” Memory Verse Cards set: 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 1:7 (NASB)
7  but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  

Today’s verse encourages Christians to live according to the ways of Christ that show we have been cleansed from all sin and to fellowship with one another.   

There is safety in numbers. Today’s verse gives us instruction to live our lives like Jesus would, “to walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light,  but it also tells us to be in fellowship with one another.   Why? 

We are never meant to do the Christian life on our own. Christ directed His disciples to go out in pairs and to later gather as a corporate body so we could support one another in our Christian walk and to help each other to be built up in our Christian faith.

As fallible humans, we are not perfect. We need to remind ourselves and one another about the right way to live our lives according to the word of God and we also need one another to recognize when we are being deceived and begin to go astray.

The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin the moment we place our faith in Christ but as the example of Christ’s washing the feet of the Apostles in the Upper Room teaches us, sometimes we need to wash the dirt of the world off us: to be cleansed and set free from incidental sins.   

We are saints that sin, but scripture teaches us that our harmony with God can be restored even if we sin by confessing our sin to God, as

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

Scripture also teaches us, in James 5:16 that we can be “healed” of our sinful afflictions when we confess to one another.  That points to accountability and fellowship.  

So walk in the Light as He is in the Light, but if you sin confess it to God to have your harmony with Him reestablished and confess it to your brothers and sisters in Christ so you can be accountable and to begin the process of being healed of it. 

In recovery circles, they say we are only as sick as our secrets, so tell the truth, walk in the light, spill the beans and tell your secret, confess your sin to God and other Christians that you trust.

When you do that the darkness will flee as the light of God comes into your life, and your “sickness” will be healed, as your faith will make you well!  

 

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

 

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

D. What Is the Root Cause of Bad Boundaries?

Inside the handle of Boris Onishchenko's epee is a layer of leather that conceals a complex wiring system.

When a pressure pad is pressed, it automatically triggers the scoreboard sensors that a "hit" has been made. The root cause of bad boundaries for Boris is the desire to win at all costs, to expand his Olympic medal collection even if it means meddling with his epee.

The British fencing team manager, Mike Proudfoot, says Boris' method for cheating is "a real engineering job. Not just a ham amateur's effort. They had to dismantle the weapon to discover it." Not only is Boris disqualified from further Olympic competition, the entire Soviet pentathlon team is forced to withdraw. Jim Fox respects boundaries by playing by the rules and helps lead his teammates to Olympic Gold!

Scripture strongly conveys...

"If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!"

(Proverbs 11:31)

God is love, and He made us for loving relationships. His love is the basis for our boundaries and the glue that holds our relationships together. His plan includes time for infants to receive this love as they bond with their parents to form attachments that lay the foundation for future boundaries.

When you love others, bond with them, express your own boundaries, and help them to achieve healthy boundaries, you exhibit God's love in action. Relationships are vitally important for people to survive and thrive.

The Bible abounds with Scriptures about love because God is love. . . .

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. . . . Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

(1 John 4:16, 7-8)

3 God-Given Inner Needs

In reality, we have all been created with three God-given inner needs: the needs for love, significance, and security.

  • Love—to know that someone is unconditionally committed to our best interest
    "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
  • Significance—to know that our lives have meaning and purpose
  • "I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me" (Psalm 57:2 ESV).
  • Security—to feel accepted and a sense of belonging
    "Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge" (Proverbs 14:26).

The Ultimate Need-Meeter

Why did God give us these deep inner needs, knowing that people and self-effort fail us?

God gave us these inner needs so that we would come to know Him as our Need-Meeter. Our needs are designed by God to draw us into a deeper dependence on Christ. God did not create any person or position or any amount of power or possessions to meet the deepest needs in our lives.

If a person or thing could meet all our needs, we wouldn't need God! The Lord will use circumstances and bring positive people into our lives as an extension of His care and compassion, but ultimately only God can satisfy all the needs of our hearts. The Bible says...

"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

(Isaiah 58:11)

The apostle Paul revealed this truth by first asking, "What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" He then answers his own question by saying he is saved by " . . . Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25).

All along, the Lord planned to meet our deepest needs for...

• Love

"I [the Lord] have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).

• Significance

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).

• Security

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 31:8).

The truth is that our God-given needs for love, significance, and security . . . can be legitimately met . . . in Christ Jesus! Philippians 4:19 makes it plain. . . .

"My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

Since actions are based on beliefs, boundaries reflect what we believe. If our beliefs are wrong, our subsequent thoughts and behaviors will be wrong, and our boundaries will also be wrong. In other words, bad boundaries result from bad thoughts that come from bad beliefs. It is always wise to give thought to the basis for your boundaries because what you think in your heart reveals what sort of person you are. . . .

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."

(Proverbs 23:7 NKJV)

Wrong Belief:

"If I set boundaries I will push people away and I will never get the approval and acceptance I need in order to feel good about myself, nor will I receive the love, significance, and security I need."

Right Belief:

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).


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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Miracles – God Breaks Through to You - Purity 493

 

Miracles – God Breaks Through to You

Purity 493 08/10/2021 - Purity 493 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo comes to us from yours truly as I took a moment yesterday to look up and appreciate the day that God had made.  I honestly think I got a tap on the shoulder from the Holy Spirit because I was somewhat consumed with finishing the task at hand and although I had taken a short break to hydrate and cool off I wasn’t really looking to “rest in the Lord”.  

But as I was seated in the passenger seat of my van I got an impression to “look up” so I did and I took in the scene before me. It was just some undeveloped land on Capricorn Lane in Delmar, NY  but the skies were blue, there was a slight breeze in the air and there was that one cloud, in the center here, that just seemed to remind me that God was with me.  It reminded me of the “cloud by day” that the Israelites followed through the wilderness, and it reminded me of the fact that we are to seek God’s presence and follow His guidance. 

I worked hard yesterday but it was a “great day” as I my day was full of purpose and peace. The purpose was the simple work at hand. The peace was provided by my being absorbed by it and being reminded of God’s presence in my life and in others as I finished listening to Eric Metaxas’ audiobook “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” while I worked.    

The way we build our faith is to never leave it. I encourage people to continually seek the Lord because He is always there for us and there simply is no end to depths in which we can learn about Him and deepen our relationship with Him.  And yesterday as I listened to the amazing testimonies of God’s interactions with others, I realized that my listening to this audiobook was a purposeful leading from the Lord. He wanted me to be reminded of how He can touch our lives.   So as I have listened to this amazing book since last week, I have not only rejoiced over the miracles that He has worked in other people’s lives, but I was also reminded of how He has worked in my life and continues to be with me.    

When we walk in the Spirit, the Lord leads us beyond doctrinal stances and a set of beliefs.  He shows us that He is real, alive, and present in our lives.  Our walk of faith becomes an epic journey that is akin to an ongoing drama that has “new episodes” every day. “New characters” and “storylines” are introduced all the time. “The show” of our lives of faith is so good, and frustrating at times, because the drama is continuous and compelling, but you don’t know really where the “show” is going. 

Some characters come in and you think that they are going to be “on the program” and play a major part in future events and then they “exit stage left”.  News about characters from the past, that have been “off screen” come in sometimes announcing blessings and other times announcing death.  

And through it all, a life of faith has the most compelling character of all: God, who can do amazing things but who is confident enough in Himself to allow us to be our own writers and directors of our actions and dialog and just when we think that we are running our shows “solo” we are reminded that our little program is only a part of the epic “entertainment universe” that the Lord is continually producing and directing with His divine care and vision.  

So direct your life as you see fit, but I encourage you to build your relationship with the Creative Genius who “runs the studio”.  He not only can inspire you to make your life the best show it can be, but He also knows where “all this” is going and on occasion He will provide “special effects” like no one else, filling your heart with wonder, awe, and joy.  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 4:6 (NLT2)
6  Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before.

Today’s verse gives us direct guidelines for our conduct and warns of the consequences for stepping out of bounds.      

I committed the NLT version of this verse to an index card because I love how the NLT made the sentiments expressed in this section of scripture very clear.  The previous verses in this text specifically state that the will of God is “your sanctification” and tells us to abstain for sexual immorality (verse 3) .  The Apostle Paul then waxes poetically a little bit, talking about possessing his “own vessel in sanctification and honor” and not to “defraud his brother in this matter” in the NKJV version of this verse .   Today’s verse in the NKJV says:

1 Thessalonians 4:6 (NKJV)
6  that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.

As amazing as it may seem I have seen commentators say “defraud” refers to business dealings.  While we should be honest with all people in any of our business dealings, verse 3 and verse 6 are part of the same sentence and the “business” that Paul is talking about is sexual immorality.   So the NLT makes it clear that the “vessel” we are to keep in honor is our “bodies”.  Don’t be putting your vessel next to someone else’s vessel.  This is a simple instruction to be pure sexually and not to commit adultery.  

What is also important here is that Paul, who understands that our sins can not take away our salvation or separate us from the love of God, still warns of the negative consequence of sin, saying that God will avenge it. 

Just because we are forgiven of our sins, doesn’t mean we are free from suffering the consequences of it. Broken families, broken relationships, shame, financial loss, loss of employment, illness, freak accidents, injury, and death are all possible consequences that we face under the rule of a sovereign God. These calamities of experience are possible for all of us regardless of our activities.  The question is do you want to possibly invite God’s chastisement and vengeance upon your life by violating yourself and someone else in sexual sin? 

Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Obviously this verse is used to draw people to put their faith in Christ, but I feel it should also warn us of the severity of sin as bringing “little deaths” into our lives such as disrupting our harmony with God and all those possibilities of chastisement.  

Sexual ethics are at the fore front of our Christian faith. That is why Christian groups separate men and women and only encourage accountability relationships and close friendships to be between Christians of the same sex.  

The 80’s movie “When Harry Met Sally” discussed the impossibility of men and women being friends with no sexual interest.  The movies premise was proven as Harry and Sally eventually had sex and became a couple.    

As Christians, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, but we should take great care in keeping other Christians of the opposite sex at arm’s length as men and women will be tempted to emotional and sexual intimacy.   Close friendships should be with same sex brothers or sisters in Christ.  Married Christians should keep a hedge of protection around their spouses and be accountable to one another and be aware of each other’s relationships.   

I have had several friends fall into sin when they made “friendships” with members of the opposite sex.  I have seen friendships broken when one party falls in love with the other. I have even seen lives torn apart when single “Christians” pair up and are so caught up in each other that they walk away from God causing an epic disaster of their relationship and their faith. 

I have seen married Christians show a lack of judgement by pouring affection and attention into single or other married Christian of the opposite sex, blind to the disruption it is causing in their marriage and how it appears to other people. I have seen Christian displays of affection last a little too long.  I have seen “massages” that are simply inappropriate and that are sending a wrong message.     

So love your neighbor but keep your distance from neighbors of the opposite sex and keep your hands to yourself.  Seek friendships with members of the same sex and make your brothers and sisters in Christ accountable by giving them a “heads up”  when their behaviors or relationships seem to be taking a fleshly or intimate turn into a direction they shouldn’t be going. 

We have hearts to love one another but we are only human and if we don’t embrace the Lord’s call to be sanctified and abstain from sexual immorality we could slowly be pulled into temptation, sin, and the negative consequences that result from being foolish.

 

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, beginning 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:

Bad Things Do Happen to Good People

Your story may not be as severe as Cindy's, but all of us have some hurtful, traumatic experiences in our past that have scarred us emotionally. You may have grown up with a physically, emotionally or sexually abusive parent. You may have been severely frightened as a child. You may have suffered through a painful relationship in the past: a broken friendship, the untimely death of a loved one, a divorce. Any number of traumatic events in your past can leave you holding a lot of emotional baggage. Those experiences are buried in our memories and available for instant recall.

For example, you reacted emotionally to the topic of rape when you read Cindy's story at the start of this chapter. If you or a close loved one have been recently raped, just reading the story sent you soaring to an eight or nine on an emotional scale of ten. You immediately felt a surge of anger, hatred, fear or righteous indignation. However, if you have only read about rape victims but have never been one, met one or counseled one, your response was be more like a two or three on the emotional scale.

Something as simple as a name can prompt an emotional response. If your kind, loving grandfather was named Bill, you probably have a favorable emotional reaction to other people named Bill. However, if you had a teacher named Bill who was a tyrant or if the school bully was named Bill, your initial reaction to the Bills in your life is probably negative. If your spouse suggests, "Let's name our first child Bill," you might react, "Over my dead body!"

I call the residual effect of past traumas primary emotions. The intensity of your primary emotions is determined by your previous life history. The more traumatic your experience, the more intense will be your primary emotion. Notice the sequence of events:

Previous Life History

(Determines the intensity of primary emotions)

Present Event

(Triggers the primary emotion)

Primary Emotion

Mental Evaluation

(The management stage)

Secondary Emotion

(The result of your thought process and primary emotion)

Many of these primary emotions will lie dormant within you and have little effect on your life until something triggers them. Have you ever started a topic of conversation that upset someone and sent him storming out of the room? What set him off? you wondered. He was set off by the topic of your conversation. You touched the "button" that connected him to his past. Just touching the emotional core may bring tears to a person's eyes. The trigger is any present event that can be associated with past conflicts.

For instance, a lady once told me, "Every time I hear a siren, I freak out!"

"How long has that been going on?" I asked.

"About 10 years," she responded.

"What happened 10 years ago?" I asked.

"I was raped," she said.

Obviously, she heard a siren when she was victimized and 10 years later the sound of a siren triggers an emotional response.

Most people try to control their primary emotions by avoiding any people or events that trigger them. "I'm not going to go there if he is going to be there." "I can't watch that kind of a movie because it comes too close to home." "I don't want to talk about that subject."

The problem is, you can't isolate yourself completely from everything that may set off an emotional response. You are bound to see something on TV or hear something in a conversation that will bring to mind your unpleasant experience. Something in your past is unresolved and therefore still has a hold on you.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship