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Showing posts with label Sin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sin. Show all posts

Saturday, November 19, 2022

To Be With Jesus – The Chosen Season 3 Purity 893

 

To Be With Jesus – The Chosen Season 3  Purity 893         

Purity 893 11/19/2022 Purity 893 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the silhouettes of an Autumn Stripped tree line against the backdrop of ethereal sunset sky comes to us from my beloved wife, TammyLyn Clark, who captured this heavenly scene back on November 11th when she decided to take her youngest children and our canine pal, Harley, to Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville for an impromptu walk.  When we get to see scenes like this, I think we get a small idea of the beauty of heaven, and it makes me yearn for the days when we get to see God’s kingdom and Jesus face to face.  

Well, it is the weekend, and it is my prayer that all who hear or see this message have a wonderful weekend and will consider my recommendation to go and see The Chosen, Season Three Episodes 1 & 2 in a theatre near you. 

The only thing I was disappointed in at last night’s viewing of The Chosen, Season 3’s premier was my decision to fall in my patterned behavior of getting that large popcorn and soda. I know “say it isn’t so….” As I have said in the past, there is grace for our weaknesses and ours is a walk of progress and not perfection. 

Paradoxically,  part of my failure in the decision to indulge in the popcorn and soda (zero sugar – okay) was the result of a decision to get serious about my health goal. Say what?   

Yesterday, I was either the victim of click bait or genuinely resolved to get help by seeking the advice of experts in the field of fitness, as I purchased a fitness plan that is bold in its claims to help people transform their bodies.

After the bliss of my courtship and wedding to TammyLyn, I had let my health goal slip in 2022 but recently made steps to right the ship and have made progress. But after Halloween’s Harvest Fest candy indulgences and other slips, I have seen my progress stall.  Mercifully, I have more or less plateaued, with only gaining a pound or two back from my recent progress to reclaim the ground I had lost. So with the knowledge that I had to do something to start heading in the right direction again, I was open to suggestions. 

So I signed up for V-Shred, yup the “swipe up and take my fitness quiz”-guy, Vince Sant, that you have most likely seen on YouTube or Instagram plugging his Fat Loss Extreme Program.  So I intend to change my normal workout routine on Monday and trust this program and my personal trainer’s recommendations to “get shredded” or at least get headed in the right direction to accomplish my health goal of being in the normal BMI range for my height. 

So last night due to the excitement of going out on a Friday night, and like the alcoholic who gets drunk one last time before going to rehab, I gave into my patterned behavior of getting a large popcorn and soda, and of course had to get the refills, AND also got Cookie Dough Pieces! So, I look forward to my first V-Shred workouts Monday morning so I can atone for this latest failure.  

But, hey, speaking of atonement, I have been forgiven, right? Because of Jesus Christ, I have been forgiven of all my sins and have been delivered from condemnation, so I acknowledge my weaknesses, am seeking help and accountability, and will not beat myself up about failure 1,999.643 or whatever number this one was, and instead will repent and will press into my health goal with a new resolve on Monday.  

And that’s something I think that we should all remember,  just because we fail in achieving our goals in life doesn’t mean we should just abandon them.

This is a tough thing to discern of course because sometimes our goals can seem unrealistic, or they may indeed be impossible, and sometimes we have to give them up.

But in this area, our physical health, I believe that the Lord would encourage us to seek to be good steward of our bodies, the temples of the Holy Spirit, and would prefer that we didn’t suffer because our lack of discipline.

Gluttony is not a virtue and Obesity is its bad fruit.  Scripture doesn’t have good things to say about gluttony and there are verses to tell us to take care of our bodies. If you don’t believe me or need some verses to build a stronghold buster for you health goal, I am including links to openbible.ifo’s 100 Bible verses about gluttony (https://www.openbible.info/topics/gluttony)   and physical fitness (https://www.openbible.info/topics/physical_fitness) on the blog today.  

You see my health goal is not about vanity. I’m not looking to impress other people; I’m looking to be as healthy as I can be as I move into the last years of my life because I want to live as I can to continue to encourage other people to see what the Lord can do with your life when you follow Him. And in this latest chapter of the battle of the bulge, which has admittedly been a lifelong struggle, I hope to utilize the self-control that the Holy Spirit has brought to my life to accomplish what just about everyone says is impossible: to be a healthy, or “normal”, weight; to be strong, in the body as well as in the mind and spirit.

Guys like Vince Sant know that, with proper diet, exercise, motivation, and discipline people can transform their bodies to be healthy.  So why not me?  I have already made great strides in my physical health so why not keep going until “it is finished”?  I have already renewed my mind about my eating habits and altered my diet to have success, so why not be focused to strengthen my body and further undo the excesses of the past?  That’s what I hope to do, and I know that the Lord will be with me.  

And speaking of the Lord being with me, I have to tell you that the first two episodes of The Chosen Season Three were fantastic!  I won’t give you any spoilers, but I positively loved the interactions of Christ and His Apostles and the supporting characters in these first two episodes.  Forgiveness, the determination of Discipleship and the acceptance of some hard truths were major themes in last night’s drama, and they cause me to appreciate The Chosen with new zeal.  

Previously, I watched the show with a love/hate mentality born from my love for the Bible and the Lord. The Chosen builds a drama based on scripture and sometimes I have liked what they have done and other times I have cringed over certain moments where I thought their artistic license went too far, didn’t go far enough, or took me in a direction I didn’t expect. Admittedly, I still carry a bit of theological baggage from my long road to freedom in Christ, and sometimes my objections are born more from my personal history than what the creators of The Chosen have done.  I have issues… 

But, except for a couple of minor moments of critical scrutiny in the beginning moments of last night’s premiere, I didn’t have any issues with what the creators of The Chosen did with episodes one and two of Season 3.   Quite the contrary, I was moved to tears more than once at the unfolding drama. I was particularly moved by a realization that I, like the Apostles, would one day SEE JESUS, and just that simple thought set my heart ablaze with love and a yearning to continue to be faithful to follow Him, as I had the absurd but accurate thought that “Jesus was a really cool guy.”   

Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean any disrespect by that statement. I have deep love, awe and reverence for Jesus and understand that He is fully God and Man, but The Chosen gives us an opportunity to imagine what it would be like to be with Him, to be in His physical presence, to talk with Him face to face, and to hear His voice. 

I think as Christians, we don’t think about Jesus as a Man that we could hang out with and The Chosen Season Three episodes one and two made me desire the contact that the Apostles enjoyed.  

So as we keep stumbling along in life, don’t give up on your dreams and don’t forget that Jesus walked on this earth and showed His love to others personally and as strange as it may sound He knows us and one day we will see Him. 

 

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse are:

Romans 6:6-8 (NLT2)
6  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.
7  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.
8  And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.

Today’s verses remind us that when we put our faith in Him, we died with Christ and were free from the power of sin, and now live with Him.  

When we know that Christ is for us, it doesn’t matter who comes against us. 

In terms of Spiritual warfare, when our Big Brother, Jesus, is with us, we receive all His power and Authority to cast out the spiritual forces of darkness.   We can utilize his authority to set ourselves and others free from demonic oppression.  

And in today’s verse, Paul reminds us that Christ also gives us power to say no to our personal demons of temptation and sin but the key point that Paul makes here is that we live with Christ, that we follow Him.  

If we just continue in our worldly ways, resting on the forgiveness we have received, we may be relieved and find comfort from knowing God won’t hold our sins against us.   But that doesn’t make us free.  And even worse, our continued sins will cause disharmony in our relationship with God as we will persist in living against His word and apart from His wisdom. When we willfully persist in sin, we deny our identity in Christ and reject the truth of what God has done in our lives.  

Through Christ we have been made new creations, but when we choose to sin we deny that we have been made new and our decisions reveal that we either don’t believe that God’s ways are best or that we have not een given the power that the word of God tells us we have.  

“You are always going to sin!” is a phrase that is true, but the Lord gives us power to decrease the number and to change the quality of our sins if we ask the Lord for the ability to repent and to overcome the sins that beset us.   You might need the help of others. You need to renew you mind with the word of God.   And you might need to try, try, try again but if we lean on the Lord’s strength and power, we can make a change. We may never be sin ess, but we can sin less, and the quality of our sins can change.

But first we need to believe it. Believe these verses, have faith in the word, and show your faith by demonstrating you believe with the way you live.  Victory, peace, and joy come from living with Christ, so never leave His side.

 

___________________________________________

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 7

The Community of Disciples Is Set Apart

The Great Separation

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

¶ “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

¶ “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evil-doers’ ” (Matt. 7:13–23).

The faith-community of Jesus cannot arbitrarily separate itself from the community of those who do not hear Jesus’ call. The faith community is called to discipleship by their Lord’s promise and commandment. That must suffice for them. They submit every judgment and separation to the one who has chosen them in predestination, not by the merits of their deeds, but by grace. It is not the faith community which separates itself from others, yet this separation necessarily takes place in the call by the Word.

The call separates a small group, those who follow, from the great mass of the people. The disciples are few and will always be only a few. This word of Jesus cuts off any false hope of their effectiveness. Disciples should never invest their trust in numbers. “There are few of them …,” but there are, and always will be, many others who go to their destruction. What can console disciples experiencing this, except the fact that life is promised to them, the eternal communion with Jesus?[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 175–176.


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

The Chief Sinner says Vote JESUS – Purity 883


 

The Chief Sinner says Vote JESUS –  Purity 883

Purity 883 11/0/2022 Purity 883 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the Easton Sunflowers of Summer comes to us from TammyLyn Clark who shared this photo back on social media back in July.  

Well, I can testify that those sunflowers really flourished in the backyard of our countryside home but are all but gone on this Tuesday in November.  

And as today is election day, I would encourage all my Christian friends to vote their Christian consciences in hopes that those who promote policies that are contrary to Christian principles of morality, and basic common sense, would no longer be aloud to flourish in the halls of our governmental institutions. It’s harvest time, so why not take advantage of our right to vote in hopes that our voices would be heard?  

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get political but if you enjoy complaining about things, and most people do, I suggest you renew your legitimate right to complain by actually voting, that way at least you can say you tried to change things.    

I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of faith in the government or institutions in general to affect change because I don’t trust people to choose what’s right over their personal preferences.  And one of our preferences as people is to be loved rather than hated,  and so we have a natural inclination to not cause offense and will hesitate to tell people that the way they are living is wrong according to God’s word. Our silence indicates that we would rather that others suffer, die, and go to hell rather than to run the risk that we might be seen as unloving.  

I know I’m guilty of people pleasing.  But in my defense I have shared those unpopular verses in the Bible that call people out for their sin.  I think my favorite is:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) that says:
9  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.   

So, shots fired! Duck everybody because I’m pretty sure the Apostle Paul got everybody with that one. 

Politically incorrect too! Calling or homosexuals! My goodness.  Some may think that’s messed up, but unfortunately when it comes to what is right and wrong, we only express opinions. 

God the Creator of all things determines what is right and wrong and his word is clear on homosexuality, and all other sins including all on my former pet sins.   

Fornication and adultery is ANY sex acts outside of a marriage covenant, which biblically would be between one man and one woman, – Guilty. 

Theft – Guilty

Idolatry – worshiping things other than God? – Guilty, in basic principles of selfishness and materialism and a specifically to a false religious system for years of my life!

Drunkenness?  - Oh so Guilty! “Drunken Verses” like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 caused me to repent and to go into recovery when I decided to be a “Real Christian” – to be authentic in my faith, to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.  

Covetous? – to want what other people have, as if it would satisfy or fulfill me (a form of idolatry) – Guilty

Reviling? – to abuse, or to attack with evil words – Guilty! (https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/revile/)

Extortion?  -I had to look that one up – According to Bible study tools dot com,  an extortioner is guilty of snatching away from another by strife, greed and oppression that which does not lawfully belong to him. (https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/extortion/#:~:text=eks%2Dtor'%2Dshun%3A,not%20lawfully%20belong%20to%20him.)   -- 

I wasn’t sure about that one – It sounds like a sophisticated form of theft and I was never too sophisticated in taking from others what didn’t belong to me, but I am ashamed to admit that I did bully a couple of kids on a few occasions in my childhood and I would say that I snatched away their peace via oppression, so – Guilty!

Now I have never been guilty of a homosexual encounter, sorry fellas, but I was guilty of all the rest, and I know that without Christ I was headed on the highway to hell.   

Although a lot of my former identity was caught up in all of my sins, when I surrendered to Christ I realized that I would have to change. The word of God indicates that our former lives were darkness, and the Lord calls us to live in the light by turning from these things.  

Was it easy? No, I thought it would be impossible to give up living the way I used to, but with God all things are possible, even giving up the sins of the flesh that we identified with for all of our lives.   

But when we understand that our way of living was wrong according to the One who gave us life, we should be ashamed and seek to follow Him and live according to the way He intended for us to live.  

While there may have been some pleasure associated with the things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, none of those sins were good things and the Lord declares that if we live in them, we will be separated from Him, suffer for our rebellion, and the word of God indicates that the suffering never ends.  

How can we be so blind and rebellious to ignore God’s word and jeopardize our very existence?

Trust me I don’t offend anybody, but Ibecause I was so lost in darkness and have not only seen the light but now flourish in it, I will take the risk of offending all in the hopes that it will encourage some to repent and pursue the peace that the Lord makes available through Jesus Christ.

Hey like Paul, I was chief sinner too. And if the Lord could save me and transform my life, there is no one He can’t make brand new.  

So VOTE JESUS! -Put your Faith and Trust in Him.   In Him you f are orgiven of all of these sins, and through Him and the power of the Holy Spirit in ever born again believer, you receive the power to turn from any and all of these ways of darkness, and can experience of freedom, victory, peace, love, and joy.  

If we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh and instead can reap an experiential harvest of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  

Experienceing our new life in Christ, might take a while but if we keep walking and talking with God our lives will get a whole lot brighter as we progressively move from darkness to light.     

 

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 16:10 (NLT2)
10  “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

Today’s verses  are the words of Jesus who encourages us to be faithful in the little things as a foundation of our faith, knowing that faith in the little things will help us ot be faithful with greater responsibilities. 

I will leave the Bible commentary on the Parable of the Shrewd Manager for another time, it is one of the more perplexing parables of Christ because it seems to praise some one who made some shrewd deals with someone else’s resources to gain the favor of men. I suggest looking up John MacArthur’s exposition of the text for a sound teaching. 

Because I am out of time, I would just offer that the encouragement to be faithful in the little things is a great piece of advice for the Christian disciple.  In essence, Christ is saying to be faithful to follow His example in all the things that we do, that there is no area of our lives where we shouldn’t consider “What would Jesus Do?” And as Christ points out that if we are faithful in those little things, our capacity for faithful living will increase and assist us when we are called to be faithful with greater responsibilities.  When we practice faith in the little things, we just learn to do “what is right”?    So follow the Lord in the little things and the big things won’t seem so big because we will become increasingly more skilled in living like Christ.  

 

___________________________________________

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

Today we continue 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 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Hiddenness of Prayer continues

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but rescue us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:9–15).

Jesus told his disciples not only how they should pray, but what they should pray. The Lord’s Prayer is not an example for the prayer of the disciples. Rather, it is what should be prayed as Jesus taught them. God will hear them praying this. That is certain. The Lord’s Prayer is the essence of prayer. The essence and limit of all the disciples’ praying may be found in it. Here again, Jesus does not abandon his disciples to uncertainty. Instead, with the Lord’s Prayer he leads them to complete clarity in prayer.

“Our Father in heaven”—together the disciples call upon their heavenly Father, who already knows what God’s dear children need. They have been made into sisters and brothers by the call of Jesus, who binds them together. In Jesus they have come to know the kindliness of the Father. In the name of the Son of God they may call God their Father. They are on earth and their Father is in heaven. The Father looks down on them, and they lift their eyes up to the Father.

“Hallowed be your name.” God’s fatherly name, as it has been revealed to the disciples in Jesus Christ, should be kept holy among them, for the entire gospel is contained in this name. May God keep the holy gospel from being tarnished and spoiled by false teaching and an unholy life. May God reveal in Jesus Christ God’s holy name to the disciples forevermore. May God lead all preachers to pure proclamation of the gospel which makes people blessed. May God turn back the tempters and convert the enemies of God’s name.

“Your kingdom come.” In Jesus Christ the disciples have experienced the inbreaking of God’s kingdom on earth. This is where Satan is overcome, the power of the world, sin, and death broken. God’s kingdom still is found in suffering and in struggle. The small community of those called forth will participate in such suffering and struggle. They stand under the rule of God in new righteousness, but also in enduring persecution. May God grant that the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth grow in his community. May God soon put an end to the kingdoms of this world and bring about God’s own reign with power and glory.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 155–156.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Live and Let Die – The Cost of Compromise – Purity 715


Live and Let Die – The Cost of Compromise  – Purity 715

Purity 715 04/26/2022 Purity 715 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of sunset over the Florida Everglades comes to us from a friend who is traveling in the sunshine state and sharing some of their “views” on social media.  Don’t worry our friend’s sharing isn’t likely to cause offense as the views they are sharing are visual rather than religious or political.  

I, as someone who has come to understand the great a importance of a relationship with Jesus Christ don’t have that luxury.  While I share magnificent views of God’s creation to encourage people to consider something bigger than themselves and to ponder the meaning of our lives, I do so to lead people to seek God and to find Jesus as their Lord and Savior. 

I more than anyone else know the truth that you can bring a “horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” but I also know that God can use anyone and anything to start the process to bring people to be reconciled to Him.  In my experience, my long and winding road of searching for meaning after the loss of my infant son eventual lead to a moment of clarity as the Lord used a gospel radio message to open my eyes and to bring me to Him.  

In all those years of being lost, I was looking. I was looking for love in all the wrong places as the song goes, but I was looking.  And even on that faithful day when I made Christ my Lord and Savior, my willingness to listen, my curiosity, was all the faith that the Lord needed to work with. So it is my deep hope, not to offend, and that my encouragements to “seek the Lord” or “keep walking and talking with God” will lead others to find their salvation, and their freedom in Christ. 

The problem with the concept of freedom is that we really are deceived in terms of what we think freedom is.   My idea of freedom before being set free by Jesus was very simple.  Freedom for me, and undoubtedly for many others, was the simple idea that I could “do whatever I want” or to “do whatever I choose.”

Unfortunately, without God in our lives, the things that man tend to “want” are selfish, short sighted, and lead to the opposite of freedom: bondage.   

The simplest example of “freedom” that is bondage are addictions.  We are “free” to do whatever we want, right?, but somehow if we keep exercising our freedom to do the same things over and over again we seem less free to say no to those impulses and cravings to “feed the beast” be it alcohol, drugs, shopping, eating, relationships, sex, gathering possessions, or earning recognition in the eyes of others.  

Freedom turned to bondage usually reveals itself when our “wants to” turns into “have to” or “needs to”,  as in “I have to do this!” Or “I need this!”      

In America, we are bid believers in the pursuit of happiness and the freedom to choose and as we have developed as a society in this current post-Christian era, there seems to be only one standard of restraint of our ‘freedoms’, which is “as long as it doesn’t harm others.” But even that has slipped, as I have heard the implication of “unless the other person is okay with it” showing us that it’s okay to victimize someone as long as they are complicit with it.  The battered wife or husband isn’t battered if they are “into it.”

It's a dark, dark world out there and it hasn’ gotten so dark that I have seen the light so to speak.  I like many other Americans, believe in freedom. I believe that people are free to do whatever they want, because in reality they are: they have free will.  Whether it’s healthy or harmful, legal or illegal, wise or foolish, people are going to do what they are going to do.   

Because of this fact of life, I used to hold the view that if it didn’t hurt anyone, who was I to tell anyone what they were doing was wrong.  I could disagree with what they did but I had problems and issue of my own and I wouldn’t want anyone to try to tell me to change my behavior so I took on the philosophy of “live and let live” and wouldn’t say a negative word about anyone’s lifestyle choices because I knew I didn’t want anyone telling me that my lifestyle choices were wrong, even if they were causing me to suffer.  

I think our society has had “the live and let live” motto for years and years and somehow we are surprised that things seem to be getting worse and worse.  The world seems to increasingly abandoned their standards for morality that would align with the wisdom of God’s word as we have all been doing what seems ‘right in our own sight.” 

I once thought that “the world could do what it wants, that’s freedom” and somehow my family and I would be wise and unaffected by the foolishness out there.  I hadn’t always been the best at making wise choice but I tried to instill in my children the basic tenants of right and wrong and when I became a Christian I brought them to church with me every week.  At several times through the years, I was encouraged from things that my children said to me that indicated that they had made Christ their savior and although they weren’t perfect they somehow learned from the mistakes of their father as they are living drug and alcohol free.  

But although I thought I was clear about our faith and what was right and wrong, I also taught them to accept others for who they are and I taught them that we are all free to choose our path in life.   

I know you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. So instead of demanding mandatory church attendance, after my kids were old enough to have cars and drive, I allowed them to choose how often they attended church. And it may be no surprise to you that, they stopped going.  

I knew from my life’s journey that you can’t “make someone believe” so I decided to give them liberty in their walk of faith.   But the world, the flesh, and devil have other options out there.  And whether it was laziness or cold hearts of apathy or hot hearts of rebellion, the kids exercised their freedom of choice that a lot of people choose to “do nothing”.  

I let my kids decide that for themselves and figured as long as they weren’t doing drugs and alcohol and keeping their sex lives a mystery to me everything was “good”. “Good but not great” right?   

But now I think differently.  As the John Piper’s book that I am sharing on the blog currently is tells us – a life without Christ is a wasted life. A life that is not lived according to the Lord’s wisdom and for His purposes is a life of bondage, not freedom and it’s not “good”.   

So as much as I have previously let “bygones be bygones” and to “live and let live”, I realize the errors of my ways and that as Christians we need to let people know what the word of God indicates about the choices they are making with their lives. 

What’s wrong is wrong, no matter how free you are to choose and do it.  

A life without peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ is a life that is lost and that is headed for destruction.   Our supposed freedoms will lead to consequences of suffering. 

Sportsbook gambling – which is advertised all over the place has the potential to lead to financial instability, people losing their homes, and families being broken in the aftermath. 

The legalization of drugs and the development of less bitter alcoholic options – leads to the bondage of addiction, loss of income, physical, emotional and mental suffering.  Ask me how I know.  

The legitimization of loose sexual ethics, both hetero and other, lead to loss intimacy, shame, the erosion of the family, divorce, bondage to sex addiction, and gender role confusion.     

The proliferation of “food culture” – with its instance on prescribing “comfort” – leads to obesity, health problems, and death. 

Everyone seeking their own happiness with their own personal recipe of all of the above leads to a society of self-interest that results is division and strife where fear and hatred  increases and no one has peace.   Without the Lord all these paths, no matter how “right they seem in our own eyes” or how they “work for us”, will lead to death and separation from God’s kingdom in eternity.

None of the things of this world can give lasting peace. No matter how free we are to pursue them and indulge our desires, the things of this world, because of their impermanent and imperfect attributes, will fail to satisfy.  True peace can only come from God and when we let people “live and let die” we are being complicit in their destruction.   

While we can’t save anyone, we need to warn people that while they are free to choose whatever they like, they are not free from the consequence of their choices. 

If they choose to ignore the fact that their “freedom” is bondage and is slowly killing their bodies, and destroying their minds and souls, they will die. 

If they choose to ignore the implications of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, they choose to reject the life that He came to give them and they will perish.  

So be kind, be loving, and don’t be a jerk.  But let’s not be silent in our concerns for our fellow man and let’s try to be clear to point out the consequences that their “freedom and moral compromises will bring. Let’s point to what God’s word says about sexual immorality, drunkenness, gluttony, and worshipping things other than the One True God, that reveals Himself in the holy scriptures contained in the Bible and that came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. 

While we can’t make the horse drink, we can try to show them the life giving properties of the living waters that Jesus Christ has to offer by showing our care, concern, and love for them by saying the difficult things, by telling people that their freedom isn’t freedom, it’s sin. And while they are free to sin, they are also free to suffer from their choice to sin. 

The Lord told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and that may require us to have difficult conversations that may cause others to revile us.  Jesus said that the world would hate us.  Have you ever wondered why?   In Christ, we are the light of the world and Jesus told us in

John 3:19 (NKJV)
19  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

So men may hate us for telling them that the darkness they love is evil but Christ so loved the world that He died to save them from their darkness and He called us to share good news even if the world doesn’t want to hear it.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Listen to His voice and if the Holy Spirit moves you to speak to help bring someone out of their darkness and to invite them into the light, say what needs to be said. Make it clear that your words come from care and concern and are based on the word of God and the peace and joy that you received when you entered into His Kingdom through Christ the Lord.  

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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:

1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT2)
12  And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us we have received the Holy Spirit to know all the wonderful things that God  has freely given us. 

Life and Life more abundantly is what Christ wanted us to have.  Spiritual life. Eternal Life. A life set free from sin and death re all given to us when we put our faith in Jesus.  

The Holy Spirit confirms this by revealing these truths when we read God’s word and when we choose to live our lives in obedience to the Lord’s will.  The realization of who we are in Christ and the wonderful promises draws us close to God, wiping away our fears and giving us the assurance of our salvation and the Lord’s love for us.  

So seek to know what you have received and what has been promised to you and live in the hope that you can know more of these promises in your life here and now and will one day inherit the rest when you see the Lord face to face,.

 

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.

 

Dying, Living, and Boasting in the Cross

Now let’s take all that over to Galatians 6:14, and we will see how we come to live totally for the glory of Christ crucified. “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” That is, don’t boast in anything except in the cross. How shall we become so radically cross-exalting? How can we become the kind of people who trace all our joy back to joy in Christ and him crucified? Answer: The old self that loves to boast and exult and rejoice in other things died. By faith we are united to Christ. His death becomes the death of our self-exalting life. We are raised with him to newness of life. What lives is a new creature whose single passion is to exalt Christ and his cross.

To put it another way, when you put your trust in Christ, your bondage to the world and its overpowering lure is broken. You are a corpse to the world, and the world is a corpse to you. Or to put it positively, according to verse 15, you are a “new creation.” The old “you” is dead. A new “you” is alive. And the new you is the you of faith. And what faith does is boast not in the world, but in Christ, especially Christ crucified.

This is how you become so cross-centered that you say with Paul, “I will not boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The world is no longer our treasure. It’s not the source of our life or our satisfaction or our joy. Christ is.

Shall We Prize What He Presents or What It Portrays of Him?

But what about safety in the car accident? What about the insurance payment we received? Didn’t I say I was happy about that? Isn’t that worldly? So am I really dead to the world? Dead to insurance payments and new cars?

I pray that I am dead in the right way. I believe that I am. Not perfectly, I am sure, but in a real sense. How can this be? If I feel glad about safety or health or any good thing, and if these things are things of the world (which they are), then am I dead to the world? Yes, because being dead to the world does not mean having no feelings about the world (see 1 John 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:3). It means that every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s love, and an occasion of boasting in the cross. We are dead to insurance payments when the money is not what satisfies, but Christ crucified, the Giver, satisfies.

C. S. Lewis illustrates what I mean by an experience he had in a toolshed.

I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.

Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, ninety-odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.

The sunbeams of blessing in our lives are bright in and of themselves. They also give light to the ground where we walk. But there is a higher purpose for these blessings. God means for us to do more than stand outside them and admire them for what they are. Even more, he means for us to walk into them and see the sun from which they come. If the beams are beautiful, the sun is even more beautiful. God’s aim is not that we merely admire his gifts, but, even more, his glory.

We Die to the Innocent World in the Blaze of Christ’s Glory

Now the point is that the glory of Christ, manifest especially in his death and resurrection, is the glory above and behind every blessing we enjoy. He purchased everything that is good for us. His glory is where the quest of our affections must end. Everything else is a pointer—a parable of this beauty. When our hearts run back up along the beam of blessing to the source in the blazing glory of the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.

The Only God-Glorifying Life

This is no different than the goal of magnifying the glory of God that we saw in Chapter 2. Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it he bought for us every blessing—temporal and eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all. Because of Christ’s cross, God’s elect are destined to be sons of God. Because of his cross, the wrath of God is taken away. Because of his cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Therefore every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ—the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life—the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 56–59.