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Showing posts with label Suffering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suffering. Show all posts

Friday, September 30, 2022

Hurricane Ian – The Storms Reveal What Matters Most - Purity 850


Hurricane Ian – The Storms Reveal What Matters Most - Purity 850

Purity 850 09/29/2022 Purity 850 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico somewhere in the Tarpon Springs area on the West Coast of Florida comes to us from a friend who shared various scenes of the Sunshine State while on their family vacation back in June. 

After Hurricane Ian has blown through Florida, our prayers are with our friends and all the residents in Florida who are in the process of cleaning up the devastating damage in the aftermath of the category 4 storm that caused millions of dollars in damage and took the lives of 12 people and may continue to cause more damage as it moves up the coast near South Carolina today.  

In events like this the lives lost show up how fleeting our lives can be. I don’t know the details but I am almost certain that none of the 12 people lost ever thought they would be killed because of a hurricane.  And as devastating as the losses to people’s homes and business may be, these events show us that our human lives are far more valuable than any possessions.   

The lessons of life and death that are taught through instances of traumatic losses show us that things no matter how cherished they are only things and whether our stuff is destroyed, broken or lost through out our lives or if they survive and are passed on to others after we go to the grave, our possessions value is limited in comparison to our lives.   

In my men’s Freedom in Christ discipleship group one of the men has reported that he has been suffering from debilitating aches and pains and exhaustion for months and just the other night he commented on the extreme value of our physical health, stating that he would willingly sacrifice his possession in a moment to have his health and strength restored.   But because He is a Christian, he still was thanking and praising the Lord for all that He has provided with in his life even though he is suffering,

When our health fails and things are torn asunder in our lives, where will we find our hope?  

Well that is why our personal relationship with the Lord through our faith in Jesus Christ is so important.   

When we know who we are in Christ, we know we are accepted into God’s kingdom and we are secure in God’s love no matter what negative circumstances we will face.  

In Christ, we know that we are citizens of heaven and that our place on the earth is temporary and that when death comes or when Christ returns to reclaim the earth, we will be safe and secure in the company of our Heavenly Father and the community of saints who put their faith in Christ.     

Also in Christ we know that we can receive God’s strength, grace, and mercy when we call out to Him to help us.  

We don’t know what help will come but in Christ we know that we are not abandoned, we are not forsaken, and that the Lord is with us and will help us for God works ALL THINGs together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes.  

So even in the wake of disaster, we can thank God it’s Friday today and we can thank Him for so much more.  

So if you are short on hope, peace, or joy, draw close to God and He will lift you up.  Put your faith in Christ and you will never have to walk through this life wondering about your safety. Keep walking and talking with God and you will know that even if our health fails or we lose everything we have, we will not be alone and He will give us the strength to endure our sufferings and possibly rejoice as He gives us the will to survive and build our lives new again. 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

John 15:4-5 (NLT2)
4  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

In Today’s Bible Verses Jesus tells His disciples to remain in Him and He will remain in them and that apart from Him we can do nothing.    

Christ’s words encourage us to remain in His presence with the indication that if we do that He will be with us and He will help us to produce much fruit.  

Fruit could be seen as good works done for others for the glory of God to give compassionate care or to guide people out of the darkness by showing them the light of Jesus or it could be the fruit of righteousness as our spiritual disciplines of repentance, Bible study, and prayer transforms our character.  

This passage of scripture is perhaps one of the bests examples of how Christ isn’t just telling us to follow the rules of God’s law but is inviting us into a dynamic personal relationship with Him and He assures us that their will be the benefits of much fruit.   

So don’t focus on the fruit of “doing good works” because you “have to” now that you are a Christian, instead abide with Christ and experience the peace of His presence and follow the call that He puts on your life and watch as the fruit grows naturally from being attached to the Vine of Christ.

 

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

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

Chapter Four

Discipleship and the Cross - concludes

But how should disciples know what their cross is? They will receive it when they begin to follow the suffering Lord. They will recognize their cross in communion with Jesus.

Thus, suffering becomes the identifying mark of a follower of Christ. The disciple is not above the teacher. Discipleship is passio passiva [passive suffering], having to suffer. That is why Luther could count suffering among the marks of the true church.[17] A preparatory document for the Augsburg Confession defined the church as the community of those “who are persecuted and martyred on account of the gospel.” Those who do not want to take up their cross, who do not want to give their lives in suffering and being rejected by people, lose their community with Christ. They are not disciples. But those who lose their lives in discipleship, in bearing the cross, will find life again in following in the community of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is being ashamed of Christ, being ashamed of the cross, being scandalized by the cross.

Discipleship is being bound to the suffering Christ. That is why Christian suffering is not disconcerting. Instead, it is nothing but grace and joy. The acts of the church’s first martyrs give witness that Christ transfigures the moment of greatest suffering for his followers through the indescribable certainty of his nearness and communion. In the middle of the most terrible torment that the disciples bore for their Lord’s sake, they experienced the greatest joy and blessedness of his community. Bearing the cross proved to be for them the only way to overcome suffering. But this is true for all who follow Christ, because it was true for Christ himself.

“And going a little farther, [Jesus] threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ … Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done’ ” (Matt. 26:39, 42).

Jesus prays to the Father that the cup pass from him, and the Father hears the son’s prayer. The cup of suffering will pass from Jesus, but only by his drinking it. When Jesus kneels in Gethsemane the second time, he knows that the cup will pass by his accepting the suffering. Only by bearing the suffering will he overcome and conquer it. His cross is the triumph over suffering.

Suffering is distance from God. That is why someone who is in communion with God cannot suffer. Jesus affirmed this Old Testament testimony. That is why he takes the suffering of the whole world onto himself and overcomes it. He bears the whole distance from God. Drinking the cup is what makes it pass from him. In order to overcome the suffering of the world Jesus must drink it to the dregs. Indeed, suffering remains distance from God, but in community with the suffering of Jesus Christ, suffering is overcome by suffering. Communion with God is granted precisely in suffering.

Suffering must be borne in order for it to pass. Either the world must bear it and be crushed by it, or it falls on Christ and is overcome in him. That is how Christ suffers as vicarious representative for the world. Only his suffering brings salvation. But the church-community itself knows now that the world’s suffering seeks a bearer. So in following Christ, this suffering falls upon it, and it bears the suffering while being borne by Christ. The community of Jesus Christ vicariously represents the world before God by following Christ under the cross.

God is a God who bears. The Son of God bore our flesh. He therefore bore the cross. He bore all our sins and attained reconciliation by his bearing. That is why disciples are called to bear what is put on them. Bearing constitutes being a Christian. Just as Christ maintains his communion with the Father by bearing according to the Father’s will, so the disciples’ bearing constitutes their community with Christ. People can shake off the burdens laid on them. But doing so does not free them at all from their burdens. Instead, it loads them with a heavier, more unbearable burden. They bear the self-chosen yoke of their own selves. Jesus called all who are laden with various sufferings and burdens to throw off their yokes and to take his yoke upon themselves. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. His yoke and his burden is the cross. Bearing the cross does not bring misery and despair. Rather, it provides refreshment and peace for our souls; it is our greatest joy. Here we are no longer laden with self-made laws and burdens, but with the yoke of him who knows us and who himself goes with us under the same yoke. Under his yoke we are assured of his nearness and communion. It is he himself whom disciples find when they take up their cross.

“Things must go, not according to your understanding but above your understanding. Submerge yourself in a lack of understanding, and I will give you My understanding. Lack of understanding is real understanding; not knowing where you are going is really knowing where you are going. My understanding makes you without understanding. Thus Abraham went out from his homeland and did not know where he was going (Gen. 12:1ff.). He yielded to My knowledge and abandoned his own knowledge; and by the right way he reached the right goal. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it, but I must lead you like a blind man. Therefore not you, not a man, not a creature, but I, through My Spirit and the Word, will teach you the way you must go. You must not follow the work which you choose, not the suffering which you devise, but that which comes to you against your choice, thoughts, and desires. There I call; there you must be a pupil; there it is the time; there your Master has come” (Luther).[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), 89–91.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Asking for “Thoughts and Prayers” – Purity 787


Asking for “Thoughts and Prayers” – Purity 787

Purity 787 7/18/2022 Purity 787 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a backyard towering inferno comes to us from a friend who shared this “first fire of the season” on social media back on June 15th and I share it today as an encouragement to my friends to take advantage of the summertime season to safely enjoy the comforts of a campfire or bonfire, preferably in company of friends and family.   

I have several friends and family members who enjoy camping and backyard bonfires and have been know to enjoy them myself. There is something strange peaceful and primitive about making a fire and just watching the flames consume the wood as they illuminate the night and provide comfort from the cooler temperatures at night.  And quite often it is in the solemn darkness that surrounds the campfire where stories are shared, burdens are confessed, answers are sought, and advice is given. 

In our modern world the light of social media can also be a place where we share our burdens and ask for support.  As friends face loss of employment, work problems, financial problems, things falling apart problems, and health problems,  I see requests for “your thoughts and prayers” and sometimes I see someone suggest occultic practices as general spiritual remedies!  

Although I would point out that general spiritual practices directed to “the universe” or other entities other that God,  – of the dead, or local or cultural “spirit”s or whoever -is witchcraft and that is specifically prohibited in the word of God and should be avoided at all costs.  In appealing to the general spiritual realm, at best nothing will happen, at worst you will conjure a demon.  There aren’t 50 shades of grey in the spiritual realm guys. Repeat after me: If it’s not Christ… It’s anti-Christ. And no matter how wise, good, kind, cuddly, or cute other spirits, religions, or philosophies of life may be if they don’t lead you to Christ, they will lead you to destruction. 

As someone who followed an alternate faith stream for years of my life, I can sympathize with those who have an axe to grind when it comes to organized religion and bad experiences in the church, but when it comes to Spiritual Truth the Word of God is clear that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and that No One comes to the Father except through Him.  Jesus proved He was the Son of God and God the Sone through His life, His miracles, His teachings, and His resurrection.  His is the Way to go. His is the path to follow.

So as for advice that’s mine: Seek the Lord, Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and Live your life according to His ways and stay in constant communication with Him through prayer, worship, Bible study, and just talking with HIm.  

Experientially, I have followed, repented of many of my former ways of living, my sin, and have no regrets.  I have a peace that goes beyond understanding and have learned to live by faith, living in the presence of the Lord by continuously “walking and talking with God.” 

When days are good, I thank God and rejoice over the blessing I am enjoying.  When times are not so good, I thank God and am comforted that no matter how bad or confusing the times may be, I have the assurance that He is with me and will never leave me or forsake me.   

And that is why it pains to see my friends suffer.  In my opinion, I am not special. I don’t think of myself as particularly wise or skilled in any areas of my life. I am a klutz. I even got that wrong intially… apparently it is spelled with a “k” and means a “clumsy, awkward, or foolish person”.  I forget things. I get frustrated. I get stressed.   

But the good news is that this klutz just so happened to stumble his way into the kingdom of God… Not really, I ran from God like Jonah.  I looked for love in all the wrong places.  When the going got tough, I denied God and looked anywhere else for help… And in the midst of all that, God reached me through a radio message to show me the truth that obscure by religion, my ignorance, and my pride.   God allowed me to stumble through life but when He decided enough was enough, He opened my eyes and pulled me out of the darkness.

I don’t know how God’s illumination comes… I guess I do actually, through the Holy Spirit, of course. Get it?  Yeah…

But in my experience, in my hurting I sought a spiritual answer to the big questions of life and death and existence itself.  Although my searching was a prolonged process of stumbling through the dark in which I persisted in going the wrong way for years, the Lord rewarded my searching with His love and wisdom. 

Although I refused to even consider His way as an option, He was gracious to reveal to me that the answer I refused to consider, the one that was in plain sight, was the One that leads to meaning, purpose, and eternal life.    

So if you are hurting or in a situation where you are asking for “thoughts and prayers”, let me encourage you to think and pray for yourself and to purse the One who answers prayers.   Turn to God by placing your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and take a look at your life and examine the way you are living to see if you are living in a way that contrary to God’s way.  

When we turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the Lord’s wisdom and choose to live according to our own desires or the world’s standards, we may be free to live that way but we are never free from the consequences of living in sin or from the ultimate judgement and wrath of God that will come upon us if we don’t make peace with God and decide to follow Him.  

Last Sunday, we did a Bible study on “The Silence of God” and we highlighted scriptures that indicated that when we don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, when you are an “unbeliever” the Lord doesn’t hear or honor your requests for “thoughts and prayers”.  It may sound mean but it makes sense. If you have nothing to do with God normally, it is not surprising that He may choose to let you suffer because of your sin.   

But as a “sinner saved by grace”,  let me assure you that doesn’t have to be your fate. God loves you and His word also is full of verses that highlight that He accepts and helps those who turn from their sins and ask for His help and mercy.  

My advice is that rather than just seeking His help during a crisis that you establish a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ that will provide you with His help on a continual basis. Recognize your and the world’s failure to have the answer to life and death and seek to meaning, peace, and purpose by making peace with God and surrendering your ways for His.

“Life sucks, right?” Well, it can. Suffering is not cool man. But when you turn to the Lord, you don’t have to be alone in it and He will help you through it, one way or the other.  So “give up the ghost” – stop working so hard to find peace through the world – die to it, by placing your life, hope, and trust into the hands of the One who made it and longs to redeem it.  

Instead of asking for “thoughts and prayers” or burning some mixture of spices and herbs to chase away the bad vibes… start walking and talking with God. He will see you through.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Timothy 6:18-19 (NLT2)
18  Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.
19  By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

In today’s verse, we are encouraged to tell people who trust in their riches to use their money to do good, to share it, and to store up their treasure as a good foundation for the future that they will experience true life.    

“True life” is “eternal life” in the NKJV and this points to the ultimate meaning to our lives.  While we could use our money for all kinds of things while we are here on earth, the word encourages us to us eit to do good things and to share it.  

I recently heard someone say that we never have to teach a child to be selfish, but we do have to teach them to share.   And similarly, the word of God is teaching us to mature in our faith with the way we use our money.   So as a part of our faith we should consider what we are spending our money on and examine our spending to see if we could make some changes to make our money be used for good.  

When “we put our money where our mouth” is as Christians, there will be evidence – financial records that will show that some of our funds went to good things.  Personally, I could stand to examine my ways but even I could point to my giving to my local church, the money I spend on my ministry needs, and the money I give to a child I sponsor in Haiti as evidence that a small part of my money is used for good.  And unlike some of my other purchases, those expenditures are expenses that I do not regret because they are spent by me for God’s kingdom or as a response to do good.  

So look at your financial statements and in your heart and see if there is more money available to do good things.  We can’t take our money with us but our funds can be used to do good things that will be remembered in heaven and help us to transform our hearts to be more generous like our God who freely gives us all we need.

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

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

Dead, Resurrected and Exalted

While the powers rule over a domain of death, all who know Christ have been given life. God can bestow life on his people only through their identification with Christ’s work—especially his death and resurrection. Baptism symbolizes this unity with Christ, as Paul explains, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom 6:4).

True freedom comes from identification with Jesus’ death—freedom from sin, freedom from death, and freedom from the grip of the principalities and powers. While this freedom is final and absolute insofar as we exist for the age to come, it needs to be appropriated as long as we still live in this present age and possess corruptible bodies. For this reason Paul found it necessary to admonish his readers by attempting to convince them that they are dead to sin. He urged the Roman Christians to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11) because “the death he [Christ] died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God” (Rom 6:10). As believers, sin no longer has a compelling influence over us. Therefore, we can refuse to engage in it.

In a similar way with regard to the demonic powers Christians need to believe they truly do not have to succumb to their influence. Paul has to remind the Colossian Christians that they had died to the demonic powers, arguing, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?” (Col 2:20 RSV). The Colossians believers were tempted to follow the tenets of a false teaching that Paul believed to be inspired by the evil powers themselves. In whatever way the hostile powers might make their influence felt, believers have the strength to resist. The strength comes from identification with Christ’s death. On the cross he defeated sin, death and the powers of darkness.

Some of the difficulty comes in unmasking the influence of the evil powers. It is possible that the Colossian Christians were uncritically accepting the false teaching that was being presented to them, thinking it to be helpful for their spirituality. Paul, however, revealed to them the true demonic nature of the teaching in his epistle to them. We, too, need God’s wisdom to enable us to discern critically the nature of all teachings.

Believers’ authority over the evil powers is rooted in their identification with the resurrection and exaltation of Christ. This authority is explained most dearly in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, a letter in which Paul was concerned with the issue of the evil powers. In Ephesians 1, Paul extolled God’s incomparably great power by which he raised and exalted Christ to a position “far above” every rank in the order of the powers of darkness (Eph 1:19–22). In Ephesians 2, he applied this exalted Christology directly to the believer, saying, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). The implication for believers with regard to the powers is clear from the informing context. Just as Christ holds a position of superiority to the powers, so too do believers have a position of superiority and authority over the devil’s forces. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power now available to believers. Thus Paul can pray that the Ephesians will grow increasingly aware of this divine resource. He appealed to the Ephesians, saying, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know … his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Eph 1:18–19). This truth is especially significant in the larger context of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, since this truth becomes the doctrinal basis for his later discussion of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10–20.

Paul also affirmed the same truth to the Colossians—people who were struggling with the influence of the powers of darkness. He reminded them that they were buried with Christ and raised with him through their faith in God’s power (Col 2:12). Based on their identification with Christ’s work, Paul could admonish them to regard themselves as dead to the evil powers (Col 2:20) and alive to Christ because they had been raised with him (Col 3:1). To these believers Paul gave one of the most comforting promises found in the New Testament: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). In practical terms, Paul’s teaching about their relationship to Christ meant that the Colossian Christians had the power to resist the influence of unhealthy false teaching and align their conduct more closely with God’s desires. Neither should they continue to fear the influence of the demonic powers, which they dreaded prior to conversion and which their non-Christian friends and neighbors continued to dread.

Identification with Christ in his death and resurrection is an incredibly important truth for all who are struggling with the influence of the demonic in their lives. Becoming a Christian means being linked to a powerful Lord who wields overpowering authority over the realm of darkness.

Filled—Endowed with Power and Authority

Paul taught the Colossians that God had endowed Christ with all of his “fullness” (plērōma; Col 1:19). He reaffirmed this thought in his letter to them, saying, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col 2:9). Paul made this statement here because he wanted to relate it to the Colossian church—it is not merely another laudable truth about the omnipotent Christ, but is something that has great significance for the day-to-day lives of believers. Paul continued by saying, “and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (Col 2:10).

Notice that Paul connected the Colossians’ possession of divine “fullness” (plērōma) with Christ’s supremacy to the demonic powers. Why? Paul was trying to convince the Colossians that they have been endowed with Christ’s power and authority over the demonic realm. Paul could just as easily have left the statement out. It appears that he was specifically applying the significance of their filling with God’s resources to their struggle with the powers.

The verb Paul used here is in the Greek perfect tense and is translated “you have been given fullness.” In this instance Paul wanted to convey to these believers that when they became Christians they received this endowment, but more importantly, this divine “fullness” continues to be available to them as God’s provision for them in their ongoing conflict with Satan’s realm.

The word fullness indicates far more than just power and authority over the forces of darkness. Most scholars believe it refers to a number of things related to God, including his power, essence, glory, presence and love. It probably has as its background the idea of the Old Testament Shekinah: “I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the temple of the Lord” (Ezek 44:4). It comes very close to overlapping with the work of the Holy Spirit who fills the believer.

The believer must appropriate this “fullness.” Paul found it necessary to pray that the Ephesians would “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). While God’s fullness is available to the believer, it must be received and used. Belief and prayer become highly important factors in appropriating these resources.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

 



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 114–117.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Practicing to Lose? Faith’s Response to Sudden Tragedy, Grief, and Loss– Purity 740


 Practicing to Lose? Faith’s Response to Sudden Tragedy, Grief, and Loss– Purity 740

Purity 740 05/2/2022 Purity 740 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo the sun shining through cumulous clouds and over utility lines and some roadside greenery comes to us from a friend who shared this pic and other shots of the heavens in an album they called “Look to the Sky” on social media back on May 15th. 

While this photo is magnificent in its simple beauty, It is with a heavy heart that we share it this Wednesday morning as not only has there been another mass shooting in our country, this time at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas, that has reportedly resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two adults, but I also received news late last night that my wife’s uncle, Michael, died suddenly last night apparently from cardiac arrest. 

At times like this we might finding ourselves looking to the sky to ask the Lord: Why? Why did this happen?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that our nation has seen a school shooting and it probably won’t be the last time, and regardless of the efforts of law enforcement and members of the media to investigate this latest crime, the answers they uncover about what happened will not adequately answer that question: why?

Likewise, the loss of our loved ones will not be adequately explained to us from the reported cause of death that is drawn from a coroner’s autopsy report.  

Man’s efforts to explain the evil that men do and the phenomenon of death in our lives can answer the questions of what and how things happened but for the answers of why are existential: they have to do with the big questions of the meaning of life.  

And while some will just look to the sky and possibly lament or grow angry at the seeming lack of meaning or purpose to our lives in the wake of such tragedies, I know that there is a God above it all who loves us and will one day send Christ to make things right.    

The Biblical narrative for the reason “why” bad things happen and why we die, probably won’t provide much comfort to those who are hurt and grieving and may enrage those who don’t have faith in Christ or any respect for the Bible as God’s Word.  So I would hold off on sharing the root causes of evil and death that are provided in scripture in Genesis 3 through the story of Satan tempting Adam and Eve resulting in the knowledge of good and evil, and thus the beginnings of sin, and death.     

That won’t help someone who doesn’t believe and it might not help those who do. 

However, the Christian faith can be of immeasurable value in times of trouble, provided that the person has mature understanding of the truth of reality that is revealed in scripture and has a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ that is augmented by a continuous practice of renewing the mind with God’s word and applying its wisdom to the way we live.   

The Bible contains the answers to life and death. But those answers can confuse or provided cold comfort to those who don’t understand them or who are not actively applying them to their lives.  

The Bible is uncompromising in its depictions of sin, suffering, and death and in presenting Christ as their only remedy and His life reveals the appropriate response that we are to employ when tragedy, suffering, or turmoil comes.   

From the New Testament narratives of His life on earth, we can know what we should do when we don’t know what to say or do.  

Jesus wept.  

Jesus’ tears were shown three times in scripture: Once at the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35), once over the city of Jerusalem when He contemplated its future siege and destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70 A.D.(Luke 19:41) , and finally in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of His arrest (indicated in Hebrews 5:7-9) where He anguish was great but His desire to do His Father’s was greater.  

Christ’s example shows us that its okay to cry and as Paul tells us in

Romans 12:15 (NKJV) to
15  …weep with those who weep.  

When we face tragedy, loss, or rejection, it is natural and healthy to express our emotions and to let others express theirs. Instead of trying to relieve people’s grief with theological explanations, we just be present with them and help them where we can. Which brings us to the second thing we can draw from Christ’s life to do in times of trouble.

Jesus healed.  

Jesus heart of compassion was shown in His miraculous healings. While we may not be able to physically or emotionally heal people like Christ did, we can offer hospitality and help to those who need it in other small ways. Being present and available to help others may be the best way to show God’s love to those who are hurting. So be a friend and a Christian by helping where you can and in knowing where you should give space.   

And finally,   Jesus prayed.  

Christ was constantly in prayer.  And when He was faced with His greatest trial on earth, He went to the Father in Prayer, poured His heart out to Him in prayer, and rose to drink His cup of suffering with peace.   

This is the difference maker.  That close personal connection with God and a knowledge of who God is assures of God’s presence, protection, and purpose.  

God is always with us, but we have to seek Him to know the wonders of His love in times of heart ache.   When we seek the Lord in times of suffering, we will find Him and He will give us comfort and strength to persevere througj even the worst tragedy.

Through faith in Christ, we have the assurance of our salvation and eternal life in God’s kingdom.  So no matter if disease or sudden death should come our way, those who have made Christ their Savior know that no matter what pains we suffer on earth, we can trust that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us, will give us strength to endure, and will welcome us home when our time on earth has ended. So we know that we have His ultimate protection.   Christ knew it and He faced an unjust trial and death on the cross with peace because of it.  

And although we may never fully understand why things happen, we can be assured that everything that happens has a purpose under heaven.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) says that we can
28  … know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

So while we have limited understanding of why bad things happen or why people die, the Lord knows and we can trust that He works all things together for good.   

To have peace in the storms of our lives, we need to stand on the Rock, Jesus Christ. When we know who we are in Christ we can be assured of our acceptance, significance, and security in Christ.  The truth of who we are in Christ and a close personal relationship with God that is fostered by continuous practice of the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study will keep us grounded in peace in every circumstance and comfort us in times of trouble.   

So in hard times, remember to keep walking and talking with God and He will see you through.

 

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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:

Romans 10:9 (NLT2)
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Today’s Bible verse is the prescription for salvation.  I follow the resource I have selected for the Bible verse I use each day. So I apologize if this is “old hat” because I use Romans 10:9 all the time in either directing people to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ or to assure Christians of their salvation!

Did you say it? Did you make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?   If so you are saved, so let’s follow Him.  

I like to keep things simple because living as a Christian, renewing our minds with the word of God and repenting of our worldly ways will be a complicated enough! So rather than endlessly doubting if we are actually a Christian, I ask people that simple question and then encourage them to live as a Christian if they answer in the affirmative.  

If you don’t feel like a Christian, assure yourself of your profession of faith and start acting like a Christian. Your feelings will catch up as your mind sets itself on the word of God and decides to apply God’s wisdom to the way you live.   

So you run into any who “doubt”, give them Romans 10:9 and ask them the question: “Did you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead?”  

And if they say yes, assure them that they are saved and encourage them to start living like it.

 

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

Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

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

3. We make much of Christ in our secular work when it confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel.

There is no point in overstating the case for the value of secular work. It is not the Gospel. By itself, it does not save anyone. In fact, with no spoken words about Jesus Christ, our secular work will not awaken wonder for the glory of Christ. That is why the New Testament modestly calls our work an adornment of the Gospel. In addressing slaves, Paul says they are “to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:9–10). The point here is not to endorse slavery (which Paul undermined more indirectly by calling the converted slave, Onesimus, “no longer … a slave but a beloved brother,” Philemon 16), but to show that the way we do our work “adorns” the doctrine of God.

In other words, our work is not the beautiful woman, but the necklace. The beautiful woman is the Gospel—“the doctrine of God our Savior.” So one crucial meaning of our secular work is that the way we do it will increase or decrease the attractiveness of the Gospel we profess before unbelievers. Of course, the great assumption is that they know we are Christians. The whole point of the text breaks down if there is nothing for our work to “adorn.” Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not know we are Christians is like admiring an effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.

Removing Stumbling Blocks for Faith

There is another place where Paul expresses the modest role of our work in relation to the Gospel. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11 he tells the church, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” The point here is not that our work will save anyone. The point is that if we live and work well, obstacles will be removed. In other words, good, honest work is not the saving Gospel of God, but a crooked Christian car salesmen is a blemish on the Gospel and puts a roadblock in the way of seeing the beauty of Christ. And sloth may be a greater stumbling block than crime. Should Christians be known in their offices as the ones you go to if you have a problem, but not the ones to go to with a complex professional issue? It doesn’t have to be either-or. The biblical mandate is: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23; cf. Ephesians 6:7).

So the third way we make much of God in our secular work is by having such high standards of excellence and such integrity and such manifest goodwill that we put no obstacles in the way of the Gospel but rather call attention to the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. When we adorn the Gospel with our work, we are not wasting our lives. And when we call to mind that the adornment itself (our God-dependent, God-shaped, God-exalting work) was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, and that the beauty we adorn is itself the Gospel of Christ’s death, then all our tender adornment becomes a boasting in the cross.[1]

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

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

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 142–144.