Labels

Showing posts with label Steps to Freedom in Christ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steps to Freedom in Christ. Show all posts

Friday, November 4, 2022

Don’t Fear the Reaper - A Harvest of Repentance - Purity 880

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper - A Harvest of Repentance  Purity 880

Purity 880 11/04/2022 Purity 880 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s rather dark photo of a recently harvest cornfield set against the contrast of the thriving green of what I believe to be “winter wheat” comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene while out for walk along Waite Rd in Easton yesterday as the sun was dipping into the horizon.   

Well, it is Friday, so Thanks God, and rejoice over the last day of the normal work week, if that applies to you, and for all that the Lord has done to make your lives new. While today’s photo isn’t particularly spectalur I thought it was a good visual representation of us transitioning into the “life of the weekend” and because I will be leading another man through the Steps to Freedom in Christ today and I hope to see the Holy Spirit reap a harvest of repentance as we meet later this morning in prayer.   

For those who follow the blog, you may remember I already shared a photo of this field and the contrast of corn ready for harvest and the humble beginnings of the sprouting winter wheat.  But yesterday I saw that the farmers had completely cleared the corn field of its harvest and I am sharing this photo today because it reminds me of what the Lord can do with the unruling overgrown messes of our pasts.   

Just like that cornfield, our pasts can be a substantial unruly mess and the sheer volume of it and all its accumulated trauma, sin, and bitterness can seem like its just too much to deal with and it is something that we should just ignore and keep walking past.   But just like that cornfield, if we don’t clear the land of our pasts and use the things in it to nourish us, its just a waste.  And we can’t just pick and choose the good things of our pasts to be able to walk free of it. Just like the reaper took the ears of corn and all the stalks, leaves, and ripped out the roots, in order to adequately be free of the pain of our pasts and to be able to grow anew, we have to take all of our pasts and give them to the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to process it all to make us grow.  

With the Lord’s help we can acknowledge it all. All of that did happen to me. Some of it was good. But some of it was bad. Some of it just wasn’t right.  The things I did weren’t right! The things others did to me weren’t right. And some things that happened to my friends and family, or by my friends and family weren’t right!   

While the world would suggest either to move on from your past by just forgetting about it or by settling scores by getting even, The Lord wants you to processour past, your old life, by living the new one He has for you.  

And the new life that the Lord has for you commands that you enact the Lord’s solution for your problems, past and present.  His solution is forgiveness and repentance and the Holy Spirit in every Christian, is the One who can help us reap all of our spiritual and personal conflicts according to God’s wisdom and love, to clear the land and allow you to sow the seeds of a new life that won’t be choked out by the weeds of your past.  

Going to the Lord and confessing your sins and then making the decision to live for Him and according to His way, to learn who you are in Christ and to follow the example of Jesus, is the way to the new life.  It is a process of prayer, faith , and action. 

We can’t just reap our own harvest. Repentance is granted by the Holy Spirit alone and it is with and through Him that we can be healed of our hurts and give the power to transform our lives.  

So for those who have already had the Lord clear the fields of your pasts, rejoice! Your victory and freedom need never end, as long as you keep on walking and talking with God.  

As for those whose pasts still have a tendency to loom over you,  I suggest you go to the Lord and ask Him to help you to clear your field. The Steps to Freedom in Christ is one way you can do it.  The Steps guide people to pray to the Lord and to ask Him to help them repent and deal with the hurts of the past.  The steps are just a road map but you invite the Lord to walk through them together, in faith, the Lord has been known to use them to set people free.  I have seen it happen to others and I have seen the Lord do it for me.  

But hey, I’m just suggesting one path of many right? I guess that’s true but just like our pasts are filled with choices to many paths we wish we never took, sometimes we know there really is only one RIGHT thing we should do and I pray that the Lord reveals the truth of THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE, of Jesus, to you. 

The Lord is patient and loving and He won’t force us to do anything but, man, if you accept Jesus’ invitation to Follow Him, you will discover just how good walking and talking with God can be.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 12:20 (NLT2)
20  Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Today's Bible verse encourages us to show love to those who would despitefully use us, to put into practice Christ’s command to love our enemies with the expectation that love can conquer hate.  

I have to thank God for the godly men that He has put on my path of Christian growth.  While some “Christians” are known to quote Bible verses, chapter and verse, some of these zealots give Christianity a bad name because while they can accurately state the word of God and obviously have it in their heads, there unfortunately seems to be a disconnect with the hearts as they use the word of God to chastise, criticize, manipulate, and control others, they haven’t allowed it to produce the spiritual fruit of love in their lives.   And in some cases, the knowledge of the word is only a sheep’s covering that is used to conceal secret sins and a hidden agenda.  

But then there are those Christians who not only know the word of God but seek to understand it and apply it to their lives and how they interact with others.  

Today’s verse reminds me of my mentor Pastor Bob Costello and our days serving together in Celebrate Freedom, the now disbanded recovery ministry at my former church.  In the early days of that ministry, a homeless veteran of the Gulf War with physical, mental, and spiritual problems came to our church’s attention and Pastor Bob was given the task of trying to help this troubled man. Although this man served our country and professed to be a Christian, he also served his flesh and didn’t always express gratitude for Bob’s companionship and efforts to help.  The veteran had addiction issues, physical disabilities, and a history of prison time so like a wounded dog, he would often bite the hand that literally fed him and would periodically run free and make a mess of things.  

I know Pastor Bob to be a man of great patience but this man’s ungrateful attitude and unrighteous antics test his limits, so much so that he took his concerns to the senior pastor who suggested that Bob apply Romans 12:20 to the situation.  

As much as Bob wanted to complain about this man and wanted to just shake the dust off his feet and walk away from the whole situation, the word of God convicted Bob to forgive much because he himself had been “trouble” in his youthful days back in the Bronx and had been forgiven much by the Lord and other Christians.  

And the word of God, really did a work on Bob. He didn’t just begrudgingly keep on trucking along out of some sense that was what He was supposed to, He applied that verse to His heart and it changed everything.  Instead of seeing this troubled vet as a big problem, Bob started to see Him as one of God’s children that needed love. 

So Bob just kept serving him and showing him compassion until something amazing happened, things got better.  The Vet entered into our recovery ministry and resisted the real and present danger to relapse.  Bob and the church eventually connected him to resources and provided him with financial assistance to get him his own apartment. After a while this vet was actually walking in sobriety and was so grateful that he decided to lead worship at our recovery ministry with a soulful rendition of Christ Tomlin: “You’re a good, good father.”   The heaping coals of kindness on this man’s head had worked.  The love that Bob and those at the church had given this man had “shamed” the evil in him and caused him to repent and start walking in the way the Father would have him go.  

This man had been a hostile combatant against the world for the pain he had suffered but the love he received caused him to literally sing the Lord’s praises.  

So feed your enemies, if they are thirsty given them something to drink, because love is great than hate, good is better than evil, and the light of God’s love that we allow to shine through us will dispel the darkness. 

___________________________________________

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

Hidden Righteousness concludes

Second, we ask: what in the content of the act of following Christ constitutes the union of the visible and the hidden? How can the same thing be simultaneously visible and hidden? To answer we need only to turn back to the result of chapter 5. What is extraordinary and visible is the cross of Christ, beneath which the disciples stand. The cross is at once what is necessary and hidden, and what is visible and extraordinary.

Third, we ask: how can the paradox between the fifth and sixth chapters be resolved? The concept of discipleship itself provides the resolution. It is exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. Disciples always look only to their Lord and follow him. If they were to see the extraordinariness itself, then they would no longer stand in discipleship. In simple obedience disciples do the will of the Lord who bids them do something extraordinary, and they know in everything only that they can do nothing else, that they are, therefore, doing what is simply a matter of course.

The only required reflection for disciples is to be completely oblivious, completely unreflective in obedience, in discipleship, in love. If you do good, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. You should not know your own goodness.[170] Otherwise it will really be your goodness, and not the goodness of Christ. The goodness of Christ, the goodness of discipleship takes place without awareness. The genuine deed of love is always a deed hidden to myself. Pay heed that you do not know it. Only in this way is it the goodness of God. If I want to know my own goodness and my own love, then it is no longer love. Even the extraordinary love of enemies remains hidden to disciples. When they love their enemies, then they no longer view them as enemies. This blindness of the disciples, or rather this vision enlightened by Christ, is what makes them certain. The hiddenness of their lives from themselves is their promise.

The other side of hiddenness is its being in the open. There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed. That is how God made things to be, before whom everything hidden is already revealed. God wants to show us what is hidden. God will make it visible. Being revealed in public is the reward ordained by God for hiddenness. The question is only where and from whom people receive this reward of public recognition. If they long for it to be in sight of other people, then they will have had their reward as soon as they get such publicity. There is no difference whether they seek it in the cruder form, in the presence of others, or in the more subtle form, in the presence of themselves. Whenever the left hand knows what the right is doing, whenever I myself become aware of my own hidden goodness, whenever I want to know about my own goodness, then I have already prepared for myself the public reward which God intended to store up for me. I am the one who revealed my own hiddenness to myself. I do not wait for God to show it to me. So I have gotten my reward. But those who remain hidden even from themselves until the end[173] will receive from God the reward of being revealed. But who can live in such a way as to do the extraordinary in secret? Who can prevent the left hand from knowing what the right hand is doing? What sort of love is that which does not know of itself, but can remain hidden from itself until the last day? It is clear that because it is hidden love, it cannot be a visible virtue, a human habitus [attitude]. Beware—it says—that you do not mistake genuine love for the virtue of kindness or for a human “quality”! It is self-forgetting love in the most genuine sense of the word. In this self-forgetting love, however, the old self must die with all its virtues and qualities. The old Adam dies in the disciples’ love, which is oblivious of the self and bound solely to Christ. The death of the old Adam is proclaimed in the sentence: “Let not your left hand know what your right is doing.” Once again, who can live so that chapters 5 and 6 are one? None except those whose old self has died in Christ and who have found a new life in Christ’s community of discipleship. Love as the deed of simple obedience is death to the old self and the self’s discovery to exist now in the righteousness of Christ and in one’s brothers and sisters. Then the old self is no longer alive, but Christ is alive in the person. The love of Christ the Crucified, who leads the old self in us to death, is what lives in Christ’s follower. Disciples find themselves only in Christ and in their brothers and sisters.[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), 150–152.


Thursday, November 3, 2022

That All You Got? Freedom from Unforgiveness - The Lord Has More for You - Purity 879

 

That All You Got?  Freedom from Unforgiveness - The Lord Has More for You - Purity 879

Purity 879 11/03/2022 Purity 879 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the of the clear still waters of Queechy lake comes to us from a friend or share this photo on social media from what they think may be their last paddle of the season on Saturday October 29th.  however in the comments of the photo’s post a friend playfully challenged our paddling enthusiast, asking the question “That all you got?”

Well is it?  knowing the weather in upstate New York, the challenger may have a point. While we are in November now and can reasonably expect anything from snow to near 70 degree temperatures, like today, we don't know always know what the future will hold and what we will be capable of unless we challenge ourselves to stretch and the see just what it is we can do. Rather than looking at the limitations on our lives we should ask the question can I do this?

well it's Thursday again and I share this photo of a kayak on a lake as another visual example of a pathway of sorts to encourage my friends to get on or keep walking on the path of Christian discipleship because while things may be impossible for man Christ said that all things are possible with God and while we think we might not be able to do something in our own strength, if it is in His will, God will help us to accomplish things we never dreamed of being possible.

Last night I led one of the men the from the Freedom in Christ course through the Steps to Freedom in Christ and while he admitted to having thoughts that denied that the process of going through the steps in repentance would be successful, a funny thing happened. After he forgave all the people in his life for all the offenses they have ever done to him, those condemning and doubting voices were silenced.

I have to admit that for a second there I thought I was going to have to square off against  manifestation of the enemy but together we prayed, stood in the authority that we had in Jesus Christ and after the step on forgiveness the rest of the process was relatively peaceful as this man confessed rebellion, pride, and all the known sins in his life, renounced and broke spiritual soul ties to people in his sexual past, and cancelled any generational sins of his ancestors.   The work of repentance of the Holy Spirit and this man's faith brought to the table was mighty to behold and at the end of the process when I asked him to listen in an extended moment of silence, he reported that things were quiet in his mind, and he had an abiding sense of peace.

Unforgiveness can be a real stronghold that can keep us in bondage to bitterness and to the literal spiritual forces of darkness.

So which was it? Was it demons, the hardness of this man's heart, or the baggage of a past filled with abuse that kept him from knowing peace?

The answer to that question might be only known by the Lord himself but the good news is that when we come before the Lord and forgive those who have offended us, the bondage of bitterness is broken. Something that many people would consider impossible: to forgive.

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and to guide us in the way we should go. But the Lord is gracious and allows us to have free will, to freely choose what path will take in life. We can choose to live life like we've always had before coming to Christ, according to the worlds and our own wisdom, or we can listen to the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the word of God to know and experience the abundant life that Christ has for us.

This life of Christian discipleship is counterintuitive to how we've been conditioned to live without God, but it is possible. With God, we can turn from the world's ways, and we can be transformed. We can have peace, joy, love, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control. The fruit of the spirit grows in our lives when we walk in the spirit and when we confess our sins and renounce the way we used to live we remove all the limits on what God can do for us.

So as we draw into the 4th day of the work week remember to ask yourself from time to time: that all you got?

The world, the flesh, and the devil will tell you that it's all over, that it's best to just pack it in and not try anything new, to just play it safe and stay safe in the shadows of what you're familiar with.

But Jesus Christ invites us to: “come and see”.

The Holy Spirit invites us to know what faith is and to experience his power to transform us and to give us a life of meaning and purpose that few in this world know of.

God the Father has made you for a purpose and He wants to have peace with you, through faith in Jesus Christ, and for you to be conformed in his image, to be the person that He created you to be.

So let go of the sins of the past, in Christ you're forgiven, and because you've received God's forgiveness, cast off the burden of bitterness that comes from holding on to offences against others by forgiving everyone for everything from the heart, as the Lord commands you.  

God doesn't want us to suffer anymore from the things that people have done against us. The solution to our problem of bitterness is forgiveness: to set the captive free and to realize it was you.

So keep walking and talking with God then follow the word of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, and you will discover that you have a lot more life to live, a lot more things to do, and a lot more hearts to touch then you thought you could.  with the Lord you'll discover they got a lot more of life left in store.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 12:9 (NLT2)
9  Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.

Today's Bible verse encourages us to not be a pretender to really love others, to hate what is wrong, and to hold tightly to what is good.

One of the biggest drawbacks to pursuing a life of faith in Christendom is the perception that the people in the church are a bunch of phonies. Unfortunately, our experience may actually bear out that perception as our past relationships in the hallowed halls of the buildings called churches may have been plagued by hypocrisy and quite possibly abuse.

Some people say they don't want to be a part of a church because of the hypocrites in the church. Unfortunately, the truth is there's hypocrisy in everyone's lives. No one lives perfectly according to the standards that they would like to hold themselves to. No one. The only perfect person was Jesus Christ. And while we are called as Christians to follow Jesus the word of God clearly points out that we will not be able to perfectly live like Jesus did. That's why we need Jesus!

So what do we do with this hypocrisy? We won't be able to be perfect but today's verse I think is calling us to try to be genuine in our faith: to really love others, hate what is evil, and to hold on to what is good.

If you don't like the phonies in the church, don't be one by having the heartfelt intention to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love the Lord God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

___________________________________________

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

Hidden Righteousness continues

What does Jesus say about all that? He says: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them.” The call to be extraordinary is the great, inevitable danger of discipleship. Therefore, beware of this extraordinariness, of the way that discipleship becomes visible. Jesus calls a halt to our thoughtless, unbroken, simple joy in what is visible. He gives a sting to the extraordinary. Jesus calls us to reflection.

The disciples should have this extraordinariness only by way of reflection. They should heed it, watch out for it. The extraordinary is not supposed to happen in order to be seen. This means that the extraordinary deed should not be done for the sake of its being extraordinary. And it should not be seen just for the sake of being seen. The better righteousness of the disciples should not be an end in itself. Of course, what is extraordinary does have to become visible, it does have to happen, but—beware that you do not do it in order for it to become visible. Although the visibility of discipleship does have a necessary reason, which is the call of Jesus Christ, it is never a goal in itself. If it were, then the focus would no longer be on discipleship itself; then a moment of repose would occur, our following would be interrupted, and we would not be able to take it up again at the point where we had stopped to rest. We would immediately be sent back to begin all over again. We would have to take note that we are no longer disciples. So something has to become visible, but—paradoxically: beware that it does not happen for the sake of being seen by people. “Let your light shine before the people …” (5:16), but: pay attention to the hiddenness! Chapters 5 and 6 collide hard against each other. What is visible should be hidden at the same time; at the same time both visible and not to be seen. The reflection we have mentioned, thus, needs to be guided so that we do not stray into reflection about our extraordinariness. Our paying attention to our righteousness is supposed to support our not paying attention to our righteousness. Otherwise extraordinariness is no longer the extraordinariness of discipleship, but the extraordinariness of our own will and desire.

How are we to understand this contradiction? First, we ask: from whom should the visibility of discipleship be hidden? Not from the other people, for they are to see the light of Jesus’ disciples shining. Rather it should be hidden to those doing the visible deed of discipleship. They should keep on following Jesus, and should keep looking forward to him who is going before them, but not at themselves and what they are doing. The righteousness of the disciples is hidden from themselves. Of course, they, too, can see the extraordinariness, but not themselves in it; they remain hidden from themselves. They see the extraordinary only when they look at Jesus, and in him they do not see it as extraordinary, but as something obvious and normal. So what is visible really is hidden from them, in obedience to the word of Jesus. If the extraordinariness were important to them because it is extraordinary, then they would act like enthusiasts, out of their own power, out of the flesh. But because Jesus’ disciples act in simple obedience to their Lord, they view the extraordinary as only the normal act of obedience. According to Jesus’ word, the disciples can do nothing else but be the light that shines. They do not do anything to accomplish this; they are the light while following Christ, looking only to their Lord. Precisely because what is Christian is necessarily extraordinary, that is, in the indicative form [“you are”], it is at the same time normal and hidden. Otherwise it is not Christian, it is not obedience to the will of Jesus Christ.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 148–150.


Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Revolutionary, but Tried and True, Path - Purity 873

 

The Revolutionary, but Tried and True, Path - Purity 873

Purity 873 10/27/2022 Purity 873 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of an elevated wooden pathway winding through brush and trees underneath a pleasant cloud filled blue sky comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene while on my honeymoon vacation with my beloved wife back in February as we stayed in Tampa and ventured out to various parks in the surrounding area to enjoy God’s creation and each other’s company.  I don’t remember the name of this park and didn’t have enough time to figure it out but my iPhone recorded that I was in Holiday Florida, so I guess you could say I was in Holiday while on holiday.  (Update - TammyLyn tells me that this was taken at "Key Vista Nature Park", no wonder I lover her.) 

Anyway it is Thursday again, and I share today’s photo of another pathway as a visual reminder to encourage all my friends to get on or to stay on the path of Christian Discipleship because I know that taking Christ’s “path less travelled” makes all the difference in our journey to find meaning, peace, and purpose in this life,    

Last night, I had the singular pleasure and honor of leading a brother in Christ’s up and over the Steps to Freedom in Christ. I have walked this way before and while no two journeys through the Steps to Freedom in Christ are the same I know that if I encourage the participant to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance they will emerge from the process with a new sense of freedom and victory as the Lord will help them to unburden themselves of their spiritual and personal conflicts and to cancel any claims the enemy has to torment them.  The Steps are a repentance process and when they are approached and completed in faith amazing break throughs can happen as the person turns from the darkness of their pasts and chooses to walk in the way that the Lord would lead them. 

My jail house apologetic that I developed from my short stint “inside”, as a part of my former church’s jail ministry team, presented the captive audience with 3 quick evidences for God:

1.    Creation – Who made all of this? God did. Genesis 1:1 right?

2.    Our consciences – We know right and wrong because God wrote His law on our heats.  (Romans 2:15) Who put that sense of right or wrong, our “oughtness” in us? God did.   

And number three:  Transformed Lives – People who come to put their faith in Christ and repent demonstrate the NEW LIFE that God has given them. They once were lost and now they are found. They once were one way, and now they are different, in a good way.  

And there is perhaps no place better to see the truth of my third point then in a walk through the Steps to Freedom in Christ.  In the process the participants, testify of the changes God has made in their lives and how He has drawn them out of the darkness of their sins and worldly living and how the Holy Spirit has empowered them to walk away from the habits and sins of the past and to start living according to God’s ways.  

Although it was the first time through the Steps to Freedom in Christ for last night’s participant, he was no stranger to following the call of God on his life.  My brother in Christ truly has a heart for God and has increasingly surrendered parts of his life to God and had some amazing victories over alcohol and sexual immorality, (as in zero masturbation! No one makes that claim unless it is true and I believe him because it is so contrary to our society’s sexual permissiveness that to admit to sexual purity is almost as taboo as it once was to admit to the sexual sins that are now presented as normal and acceptable and shame free.  Last night’s freedom appointment was just another step in this man’s journey into sanctification and a deeper walk with the Lord. 

What he and others on the path of Christian Discipleship have done is almost revolutionary in this worldly day and age: to not just rest on the grace and forgiveness of God and remaining stuck in the all too familiar sin-confess, sin-confess cycle but to be intentional and victorious by overcoming the sins that can so easily beset us through crucifying the flesh through faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.  

That’s what disciples are: overcomers. We walk in the Spirit and we accept God’s truth as our standard for living and as our instructions for life. And this is important, a disciple of Jesus does this not out of some sense of meeting a legal or religious requirement, but seeks to take on new challenges and to overcome because of the love they have for God. Disciples repent and start living according to God’s word because of the love, joy, and peace they have received from the Lord. And it is through that love that we endeavor to do whatever we can to please the Lord, up to and including changing the man in the mirror.  

I often quote the benefits of walking in the Spirit with the list of the fruit of the Spirit from

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) which says
22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

But unfortunately it seems that while the fruit of the Spirit is talked about. No one really gives applicable instructions on how to experience them.  Ironically those instructions are found in the following verses. 

Galatians 5:24-25 (NKJV)
24  And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Crucify the flesh. Live and walk in the Spirit and THEN you experience the fruit of the Sprit.   So keep seeking the Lord and His will for your lives.  Confess and Repent of your sins and seek to live your life according to who you are in Christ and you will not satisfy the lusts of flesh.  

That may seem like a hard road, but I assure you that other disciples of Christ have walked this way before and if we just keep walking and talking with God with a heart of repentance we will find our way to freedom, victory, and the life we always wanted to live.    

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

John 14:27 (NLT2)
27  “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Today’s Bible verse are the words of Jesus and they remind us of His precious gift to us: the peace and mind of heart that comes from knowing that we are His and He is with us always.   A peace of mind and heart that is a gift from God and that can give us the power over all fear.  

Perfect love casts out all fear and the love of Jesus has perfectly saved us!

So focus on Jesus and who you are in Christ. Live according to the Teacher’s Lessons. Christ’s words and life show us the Way and when we follow Him we discover the peace of mind and heart that God wants us to experience.  

God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, peace and a sound mind. So let not your hearts be troubled but trust in the One who has overcome the world and given us the power over sin and death.  Follow Jesus and live in His peace and love.

 

___________________________________________

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

Retribution

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you” (Matt. 5:38–42).

At this point Jesus is placing the rule “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” parallel to the other Old Testament commandments he has already quoted, for example, to the prohibition against killing in the Decalogue. He thus recognizes the rule as a valid commandment of God, just as much as that prohibition. As in that case, it is not to be abolished, but fulfilled completely. Jesus does not elevate the Ten Commandments above other Old Testament commandments as we once did. For him the commandment of the Old Testament is one, and he directs his disciples to obey it.

Jesus’ followers renounce their own rights for his sake. He blesses them as the meek. If, after they had given up everything else for the sake of his community, they desired to hold fast to this one possession, they would have abandoned discipleship. Therefore, this is nothing more than an expansion of the Beatitude.

The Old Testament law puts the claim to rights, or justice, under the protection of divine retribution. Nothing evil may happen without its being retaliated. Its concern is to construct a just community, to overcome and identify evil, and to eradicate evil from the community of God’s people. That is the purpose of justice, which is enforced by retribution.

Jesus takes up this will of God and affirms the power of retribution to convict and overcome evil, and to ensure the community of disciples as the true Israel. Just retribution should do away with injustice and give proof to the disciples’ following Jesus.

According to Jesus’ words, such just retribution takes place only in not resisting it.

With this statement, Jesus releases his community from the political and legal order, from the national form of the people of Israel, and makes it into what it truly is, namely, the community of the faithful that is not bound by political or national ties. God’s chosen people of Israel did exist in a political form in which, according to the divine will, retribution consisted of returning a blow for a blow. For the community of disciples, which makes no national or legal claims for itself, retribution means patiently bearing the blow, so that evil is not added to evil. That is the only way community can be established and preserved.

Here it has become clear that the followers of Jesus who experience injustice do not cling to their own rights as if they were possessions to be defended at all costs. Instead, they are completely free of such possessions and are bound to Jesus Christ alone. Indeed, in giving witness to their sole allegiance to Jesus, they create the only solid foundation for community and place sinners into the hands of Jesus.

The overcoming of others now occurs by allowing their evil to run its course. The evil does not find what it is seeking, namely, resistance and, therewith, new evil which will inflame it even more. Evil will become powerless when it finds no opposing object, no resistance, but, instead, is willingly borne and suffered. Evil meets an opponent for which it is not a match. Of course, this happens only when the last remnant of resistance is removed, when the urge to retaliate evil with evil is completely renounced. Then evil cannot achieve its goal of creating more evil; it remains alone.

Suffering passes when it is borne. The evil comes to an end when we permit it to pass over us, without defense. Humiliation and debasement are revealed as sin when the disciple does not commit them, but bears them, without defense. Assault is condemned by not being met with violence. The unjust claim on my coat is answered by my giving up my cloak as well.[119] The exploitation of my service becomes obvious as exploitation when I set no limit on it. Our willingness to yield up everything when we are bidden to do so is our willingness to have enough in Jesus Christ alone, to desire to follow him alone. Our voluntary renunciation of counterviolence confirms and proclaims our unconditional allegiance to Jesus as his followers, our freedom, our detachment from our own egos. And it is only in the exclusivity of this adherence that evil can be overcome.

Our concern here is not only with evil, it is with the person who is evil. Jesus calls the evil person evil. My behavior should not give excuses and justification for those who indulge in violence or who oppress me. Nor do I intend to express my understanding for the rights of an evil person by my patient suffering. Jesus has nothing to do with such sentimental considerations. The humiliating blow, the violent deed, and the act of exploitation all remain evil. Disciples are to know this and to give witness to it just as Jesus did, because otherwise the evil person will not be engaged and overcome. A disciple should not resist when challenged by evil that cannot be justified at all. Instead, by suffering, the disciple will bring evil to its end and thus will overcome the evil person. Suffering willingly endured is stronger than evil; it is the death of evil.

There is no thinkable deed in which evil is so large and strong that it would require a different response from a Christian. The more terrible the evil, the more willing the disciple should be to suffer. Evil persons must be delivered to the hands of Jesus. Not I but Jesus must deal with them.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 131–134.


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Steps and the Facts of Forgiveness - Purity 871


The Steps and the Facts of Forgiveness - Purity 871

Purity 871 10/25/2022 Purity 871 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun heading toward setting over Lake Ontario comes to us from SUNY Oswego’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SUNYOswego)  as my alma mater recently invited potential students to apply now, to take advantage of the waiver of application fees that is in affect from now until November 6tth , promising excellent academic options and spectacular views like this to those who are accepted.   

I have recently seen an increase in ads from my old college and it makes me wonder about the state of the school because when I applied back in 1990, SUNY Oswego was one of the more coveted SUNY schools to attend and they didn’t have to advertise.  When I was accepted as a freshmen, I was positively thrilled because of the perceived prestige of the school, that didn’t just accept anyone, and the fact that it was a distant 3 and a half hours drive from my home in Hudson NY!  The feelings of joy of a new adventure in college and being free of all things Hudson was positively jubilant because it felt like I was going to begin a new life free from the things of the past and the perceptions of who I was based on who I was growing up in Hudson.  

And I was free and I was happy and I celebrated often, actually way too much,  and that in turn corrupted the dream of who I wanted to be when I applied to college in the first place resulting in 4 years of partying, meager grades, and no clue of what to do upon graduation, sending me back home hopeless, because I didn’t take advantage of those excellent academic options which led me to make the best of my bad situation which would be the ongoing theme for the next 16 years of my life until I learned what real acceptance was when I put my faith in Jesus and have been allowing Him to lead me out of the darkness of that distant past and all the years since.     

The great news is that I absolutely have no bitterness toward my alma mater, anyone I knew back then, or myself regarding the decisions I made in those college years because the Lord has helped me to resolve any of those offenses or regrets through forgiveness.  

Anything going back that far and any thing since has been resolved through the Lord, and a lot of it was done through the Steps to Freedom in Christ, which is a set of prayers, declarations, and renunciations that were developed by Dr. Neil Anderson, based on the word of God and used by the Holy Spirit to set people free in Christ. The Steps are a process of repentance that the Lord can use to help Christians resolve the personal and spiritual conflicts that would otherwise keep them in stuck in their sins and the bitterness of unforgiveness.

As I prepare to lead participants of the Freedom In Christ course through the Steps to Freedom in Christ, I answered the Lord’s call to “clean my own house” this morning by praying through the steps myself.  And I feel wonderful because I have renounced all my sins, failures, and selfish attitudes and forgiven everyone everything that may have caused some residual bitterness in my soul.  

I had last done the Steps in the spring and although I didn’t have as much to unload as I did the first few times I went through the steps, I was surprised by the fact that there were quite a lot of people to forgive since my last session. 

Oh People.  If we are in relationship with anyone we will have to forgive and even though I try to keep short accounts and forgive people immediately, over time our souls can be burdened of having to continually forgive the people in our lives who continue to unwittingly or purposely cause us offense.  Some situations and people don’t change too much over time and if we remain in relationship with them, we will have to forgive and even if we are diligent in doing so, it can be a huge relief to take their compounded offenses and lay them down for the Lord to remove from us.

So I have decided to forgive from the heart and feel light and free this morning and thought I would share the “facts on forgiveness” that are contained within the Steps to Freedom in Christ to teach or to remind all of us what forgiveness is not and what it is:

So here we go:  

     

Forgiveness Is Not Merely Forgetting

People who want to forget all that was done to them will find they cannot do it. Don’t put off forgiving those who have hurt you, hoping the pain will one day go away. Once you choose to forgive someone, then Christ can come and begin to heal you of your hurts. But the healing cannot begin until you first forgive.

Forgiveness Is a Choice, a Decision of Your Will

Since God requires you to forgive, it is something you can do. Sometimes it is very hard to forgive someone because we naturally want revenge for the things we have suffered. Forgiveness seems to go against our sense of what is right and fair. So we hold on to our anger, punishing people over and over again in our minds for the pain they’ve caused us.

But we are told by God never to take our own revenge (see Romans 12:19). Let God deal with the person. Let him or her off your hook, because as long as you refuse to forgive someone, you are still hooked to that person. You are still chained to your past, bound up in your bitterness. By forgiving, you let the other person off your hook; but he or she is not off God’s hook. You must trust that God will deal with the person justly and fairly, something you simply cannot do.

“But you don’t know how much this person hurt me!” you say. You’re right. We don’t, but Jesus does, and He tells you to forgive others for your sake. Until you let go of your anger and hatred, the person is still hurting you. You can’t turn back the clock and change the past, but you can be free from it. You can stop the pain; but there is only one way to do it—forgive from your heart.

Forgive others for your sake, so you can be free from your past.

Forgiveness Is Agreeing to Live with the Consequences of Another’s Sin

You are going to live with those consequences whether you like it or not, so the only choice you have is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. No one truly forgives without accepting and suffering the pain of another person’s sin. That can seem unfair, and you may wonder, “Where is the justice?” The Cross makes forgiveness legally and morally right. Jesus died once for all our sins.

Jesus took the eternal consequences of sin upon Himself. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We, however, often suffer the temporary consequences of other people’s sins. That is simply a harsh reality of life all of us have to face.

Do not wait for the other person to ask for your forgiveness. Remember, Jesus did not wait for those who were crucifying Him to apologize before He forgave them. Even while they mocked and jeered at Him, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

Forgiveness Comes from Your Heart

Allow God to bring the painful memories to the surface, and then acknowledge how you feel toward those who’ve hurt you. If your forgiveness doesn’t touch the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete. Too often we’re afraid of the pain, so we bury our emotions deep down inside us. Let God bring them to the surface so He can begin to heal those damaged emotions.

Forgiveness Is Choosing Not to Hold Someone’s Sin Against Him or Her Anymore

It is common for bitter people to bring up past issues with those who have hurt them. They want the other people to feel as bad as they do! But we must let go of the past and choose to reject any thought of revenge. This doesn’t mean you continue to put up with the future sins of others. God does not tolerate sin and neither should you. Don’t allow yourself to be continually abused by others. Take a stand against sin while continuing to exercise grace and forgiveness toward those who hurt you. If you need help setting scriptural boundaries to protect yourself from further abuse, talk to a trusted friend, counselor or pastor.

Forgiveness Cannot Wait Until You Feel Like Forgiving

You will never get there. Make the hard choice to forgive even if you don’t feel like it. Once you choose to forgive, Satan will lose his power over you in that area, and God will heal your damaged emotions. Freedom is what you will gain right now, not necessarily an immediate change in feelings.

Now you are ready to begin. Starting with the first person on your list, make the choice to forgive him or her for every painful memory that comes to your mind. Continue until you are sure you have dealt with all the remembered pain caused by that individual. Then work your way down the list in the same way.

As you begin forgiving people, God may bring to your mind painful memories you’ve totally forgotten. Let Him do this even if it hurts. God wants you to be free; forgiving those people is the only way. Don’t try to excuse the offender’s behavior, even if it is someone you are really close to.

Don’t say, “Lord, please help me to forgive.” He is already helping you and will be with you all the way through the process. Don’t say, “Lord, I want to forgive …” because that bypasses the hard choice we have to make. Say, “Lord, I choose to forgive …”[1]

So that’s it – at this point the Steps would direct you to start forgiving those in your life that the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance for you to forgive, naming the person, their offense against you, and how it made you feel.  The instructions read as follows:  

For every painful memory you have for each person on your list, pray aloud:

Lord,

I choose to forgive  (name the person) for  (what he/she did or failed to do), which made me feel  (share the painful feelings).

After you have forgiven each person for all the offenses that came to your mind, and after you have honestly expressed how you felt, conclude this step by praying aloud:

Lord,

I choose not to hold on to my resentment. I thank You for setting me free from the bondage of my bitterness. I relinquish my right to seek revenge and ask You to heal my damaged emotions. I now ask You to bless those who have hurt me. In Jesus’ name, amen.[2]

So if you have people to forgive, and want to be free of the bitterness that your unforgiving is causing you. Make a list and go through that process. All the text is on the blog as well as other entries from which you can go through all the Steps to Freedom in Christ.  

When we let go of the bitterness of unforgiveness, we can walk and talk with God with a renewed spirit and an experiential knowledge of what Freedom in Christ means.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

John 6:37 (NLT2)
37  However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.

Today’s Bible verse are the words of Jesus that assure us that if we come to Him and put our faith in Him as Lord and Savior, He will never reject us.  

That’s straight from the Messiah’s mouth.  So if you know someone who thinks that the Lord won’t accept them if they turn to Him in repentance and faith, show them this verse and assure them that in Christ all can be forgiven and all will be accepted in Him.  

This is the promise that gives us all hope. In Christ we are not rejected. We are accepted.  So go to Christ and keep going to Him to know the new life He has for you and the joy that comes from knowing you are accepted for ever more.

___________________________________________

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

Woman

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of infidelity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt. 5:27–32).

Our bond to Jesus Christ permits no desire without love. Instead, such desire is forbidden the disciple. Because discipleship is self-denial and a complete bond with Jesus, at no point may the disciple’s own desire driven will take over. Such lust, and even if it were only in a single look, disconnects us from discipleship and brings the whole body into hell. It causes human beings to sell their heavenly birthright for a bowl of porridge. They do not believe him, who can grant joy a hundredfold[97] to make up for desire denied. They do not trust what is invisible, but seize only the visible fruit of desire. They fall away from the path of discipleship and become separated from Jesus. Lack of faith is what makes lust impure. That is the only reason it is to be condemned. No sacrifice that the disciples make to be free of that desire which separates them from Jesus is too great. The eye is less than Christ, and the hand is less than Christ. If the eye and the hand serve lust and hinder the whole body from the purity of discipleship, then they, rather than Jesus Christ, should be sacrificed. The benefits of desire are small compared to the harm it does—you gain the desire of your eye or your hand for a moment, and you lose your whole body for eternity. Your eye, when it is serving impure desire, cannot see God.

At this point, must we not decisively face the question of whether Jesus intended his command to be taken literally or merely figuratively? Must not our whole life depend on a clear answer to this question? Must not the disciples’ attitude already determine the answer? Our own will advises us to flee from this decision, which appears to be so deadly serious. But the question itself is wrong and evil. It cannot be answered. If we were to say that, of course, the command is not meant to be taken literally, then we would already have dodged the seriousness of the command. But if we were to say, of course, it should be taken literally, this would only show that Christian existence is absurd on principle, and the command would lose its authority. It is precisely the fact that, for us, this basic question is not answered that binds us completely to Jesus’ command. Neither option offers us an escape. We are trapped and must obey. Jesus does not force his disciples into an inhuman constraint; he does not forbid them to look. But he guides the disciples to look to himself knowing that here the disciples’ view will remain pure, even when they look at a woman. In this way he does not impose on his disciples an unbearable yoke of the law, but mercifully helps them by way of the gospel.[3]

---------------------------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] Neil T. Anderson, The Steps to Freedom in Christ, ed. Pam Weston and Patti Pennington Virtue, Revised. (Gospel Light, 2001), 19–21.

[2] Neil T. Anderson, The Steps to Freedom in Christ, ed. Pam Weston and Patti Pennington Virtue, Revised. (Gospel Light, 2001), 22.

[3] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 125–126.