Last Call Before Mourning – Purity 757
Purity 757 06/14/2022 Purity 757 Podcast
Today’s photo a group of palm trees under a 4 p.m. sun comes to us from a friend who recently visited the shores of Kahekili Beach in Kaanapali, Hawaii. Our friend enjoys snorkeling here and decided to scatter some of the ashes of their beloved grandmother 25 yards off the beach between these palm trees in one of the most breathtaking views on the island of Maui to honor her memory. So now they can visit her every year, and if we ever visit Maui, our friend invites us to visit her too.
Deciding what to do with the ashes of our departed loved ones is a highly personal decision. When my ex-wife’s mother died, my family took a trip to southwest and spread her ashes in a couple of undisclosed locations in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico because Mary had deep affections for those areas of the United States and had vague plans to retire there someday. So we honored her memory with the trip and released her ashes to desert winds to mingle her ashes with the sands that she loved.
The spreading of ashes was our way of honoring her wishes and it was a way of saying goodbye to her. Our relationship with her, although it hasn’t ended, has changed. Our relationship with her lives on in our memories of course but the spiritual reality of life beyond the grave indicates that we very well may see her again.
As far as the departed go we may not always know if they a saving relationship with the Lord, but in Mary’s case, I can testify that even though she was far from perfect, quite far actually, I can state when push came to shove, and when things were serious concerning the state of her health and the uncertainty of the length of her life, Mary named Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
And as funny as it sounds, Mary’s health crisis that eventually led to her death was one of those time stamps of my entrance into God’s kingdom. In 2010, Mary suffered a ruptured ulcer and had to section of her intestines removed. The doctors tried to put her back together but she wounds never really healed, and after a subsequent surgery to try to put her back together again, after 18 months of being in the hospital, the pain and trauma of that surgery caused Mary to decide to give up the fight and let nature take its course.
But before that end there was a beginning, Mary was in the ICU after her rupture and I was a full fledge practicing Buddhist at the time and working construction as part of splicing crew. I did a lot of flagging of traffic in those days. After Mary’s admittance in the hospital, I looked up some Buddhist medicine chants/prayers I guess, and while I would flag traffic at work, I would speak those unintelligible words and phrases in hopes that their utterances would somehow result in “good karma” and healing for my mother-in-law. I know, they didn’t work. Surprise…. OOFF.
So that the environment in which the Lord decided to come into my life and pull me out of the darkness. Doing Buddhist medicine chants in the morning, I got saved by a Christian gospel radio message in the afternoon of March 19, 2010. But I believe that I wasn’t the only one the Lord had in mind when He brought me into His grace.
So, full fledge Buddhist gets saved and his mother in law is in the hospital and it is not clear if she will live our die, so what do you do? You try to save her too!
So sometime after my salvation, I went to my mother in law’s hospital room and to lead her through a sinner’s prayer to confirm that Jesus was her Lord and Savior.
My ex-wife who had the dubious pleasure of watching the shifting winds of change of her husband’s life and personality through the years, thought I was absolutely insane, I think, and she wasn’t happy about my new found faith in Christ and my status of a self proclaimed “born again Christian”, as evidence by our eventual divorce.
But it was desperate times with her mom, and even though she didn’t quite know what to make of what had happened to me, Michele didn’t try to stop me when I told her I wanted to pray with her mother.
Mary was a mess. Her hospitalization had done a number on her and when I sat before her to pray her voice was a dry almost soundless whisper but she was fully conscious and relatively normal after her extended stay and release from the ICU. So she was fully awake and in her right mind, as far as Mary went anyway, shots fired. What? I kid. If you knew Mary Sapp, you know what I’m talking about.
Mary was an ultra-liberal feminist and protesting champion for almost any disenfranchised group or cause but she did have a semblance of Christian faith, as an Episcopalian, and even served on the vestry of her Episcopalian church. Before we anoint her St. Mary though let me be clear that it was liberal church. I was liberal I went there before walking away from Christianity. The reverends their were good servants of the church and I always enjoyed the liturgical services they performed and the messages they delivered. But Reverend Keith and Reverend Bob were gay. Yup, not like flamboyantly gay, but cohabiting life partner quasi closeted gay. So yeah, I was married by a gay minister. Wide and Deep were the errors of my former existence.
So after coming to faith in Christ and understanding that church membership, no matter liberal or conservative, wasn’t enough to save you, I wanted to make sure that my mother-in-law was specific in naming Jesus as here Lord and Savior. It is by grace alone and through faith in Christ alone that we are saved, and with Mary’s life in question I wanted to make sure she was “in” the kingdom.
So, I sat down in front of Mary and explained that I had put my faith in Jesus Christ and that I wanted to lead her through a prayer to make Jesus her Lord and Savior. Much to my surprise, she didn’t object or smirk but wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agreed to be led through the sinner’s prayer. Even though her voice was a whisper, Mary prayed the prayer to be forgive of her sins and that proclaimed Jesus as the Lord and Savior of her life.
So when comes to her eternal destiny, even though it’s hard to imagine considering her past, I believe that Mary put her faith where she needed to, in Christ alone, and that she has been saved from God’s wrath and is in His kingdom now.
After my salvation, I couldn’t just assume Mary’s service on the vestry of her liberal Episcopal church meant she had faith in Jesus. Even though I didn’t know the scriptures verses at the time, I had
Romans 10:9-13 (NKJV) in mind, that tell us
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
In a hospital room, with tubes, scars, and a raspy voice that was only above that of a whisper, Mary Sapp called on the name of the Lord, and because the word says it, I believe she was saved by the Lord’s mercy and grace.
So as we begin the second day of the work week, keep walking and talking with God. And let’s be clear and let’s be specific in who we believe in and make our loved ones know about the gospel of Jesus Christ and clear up any misconceptions they may hold about “being a good person” or having their “good works outweigh their bad works” and let them know that salvation and the forgiveness of sins only comes by faith in Christ alone. And let’s be bold to encourage our friends, family, and anyone else to call on the name of Jesus, as Lord and Savior, to be saved.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
1 Peter 1:22
22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.
Today’s Bible verse reminds us of what happened at our salvation and the obligation of love that comes with it.
The verse says we “must” show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters as we are called to love each other deeply with all our hearts. As my testimony stated, we may be called to love difficult people and be called to make sure they are indeed our brothers and sisters in the faith.
The greatest act of love, as demonstrated by Christ, is to save that which is lost, to save someone’s life.
So if we are unclear about someone’s salvation or if we know they are not in the body of Christ, we must show our love for them by praying for their salvation and by delivering the good news and encouraging their reception of God’s free gift.
But we are also called to not stop there, we are to love our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ after they are saved too. And that could be difficult!
If you ever wondered where you could learn to be faithful, kind, gentle, forgiving, loving, and patient, wonder no more! The place where you can learn to practice those characteristics of a mature Christian is the local church!
People are people and just because we are all saints the moment we put our faith in Jesus doesn’t mean we will always act like saints. So the local church is where we can develop godly friendships and relationships, that will require the application of our faith.
IF we love our brothers and sisters we will be patient with them, we will be kind, we will be faithful in our dealings with them. We will be gentle in our interactions. We will undoubtedly be called to forgive from time to time. And all of that will strengthen our patience.
So if you don’t attend church, you should. It is in the body of Christ where we can grow as Christians, and if we are not taking a chance and putting ourselves out there to show the love of God, we won’t grow into the person God would call us to be.
It is because of God’s love that we will live, and so we should share that love and grow in that love as part of our purpose to be more like Him.
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.
Simon the Magician: Acts 8
In the book of Acts Luke records four separate instances involving the use of magic. In three of these instances Luke directly connects the magic with the work of Satan or his demons.
In Samaria a magician named Simon was bringing great attention to himself because of the amazing things he accomplished with his magic. So awestruck were the people of Samaria that they nicknamed him “The Great Power” (8:10).
Philip’s preaching of the gospel proved more compelling, however, and many Samaritans turned their lives to Jesus Christ, eventually even Simon. Luke paints Philip’s ministry in terms of what some missiologists would today call “a power encounter.” Although Luke does not describe it in terms of a showdown between Philip and Simon, he clearly indicates that Philip’s display of divine power is what gave him his hearing: “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said” (8:6). Philip’s miraculous signs completely overshadowed Simon’s. Philip made evil spirits come out of many people and healed numerous paralytics and cripples.
Luke simply tells us about Simon’s conversion without going into detail about whether he too had evil spirits commanded out of him. Unfortunately Simon allowed his affection for supernatural powers to take precedence over his devotion to the Lord Jesus and asked to buy the ability to impart the Holy Spirit to others. Detecting his perverse motives, Peter rebuked him in the strongest of terms, telling him to repent of his wickedness and observing that he was “full of bitterness and captive to sin” (8:23).
Some later church tradition claims Simon continued in his quest for divine power and became the originator of what would be known as Gnosticism. The second-century apocryphal book Acts of Peter vividly narrates Simon losing in a “power encounter” with the apostle Peter in Rome. After leading many astray with his heretical teaching, Simon allegedly flew in the air over the city of Rome, defying Peter. Peter prayed to the Lord, and Simon was struck down, causing his leg to break in three places.
A Jewish Magician and False Prophet: Acts 13
Luke surprises us by introducing his readers to a Jewish magician who went by the name Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus), or Elymas (13:4–12). Actually, we will later find (chapter four) that there was widespread Jewish involvement in magic, witchcraft and sorcery. The apostle Paul encountered this magician on the island of Cyprus at the outset of his first missionary outreach. Interestingly, this sorcerer was formally attached to a major political figure on the island, the proconsul Sergius Paulus.
Luke does not elaborate on the extent of the influence Elymas wielded with Sergius Paulus. Since political officials frequently consulted astrologers and diviners for guidance, we are safe to speculate that Elymas’s influence extended to the proconsul’s governance and to the political and economic structures he was responsible for. Most important for Paul, however, was the decisive opposition the magician presented to communicate effectively the gospel to Sergius Paulus and perhaps even to the area over which he governed.
Luke presents this sorcerer as the major opposition to Paul’s mission. Paul perceived the man to be under the control of Satan himself and pointedly revealed his true character to his face: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, [he] looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?’ ” (13:10). Paul then took firm action against the magician. He announced that the hand of the Lord Jesus would be against him and he will be blinded. Immediately Elymas lost his sight. The “power encounter” again proved effective for the success of the gospel; the proconsul put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Spirit of Divination: Acts 16
While Paul was in Philippi, a slave girl with a “spirit of divination” troubled Paul greatly by following him and his companions around day after day shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” This spirit of divination was literally a “Python spirit” (Greek=pythōn), according to Luke. By this spirit, the girl was able to predict the future. Meanwhile, some profit-seeking individuals, who later created great problems for Paul (16:16–21), exploited her and her supernatural ability.
The Python spirit was associated with the oracle at Delphi in Greece (about eighty miles northwest of Athens), where the female prophetess was called a Python. In classical mythology the Python was a serpent that guarded the Delphic oracle and was slain by the god Apollo. Throughout antiquity people came from all over the Near East to consult the oracle at Delphi for advice. It was widely believed to be the center of the earth. An opening in the ground at the site emitted a gas that the Delphic prophetess would breathe in order to receive her prophetic insight. She would then pass on the information to the person in verse form. The grateful traveler would then depart, leaving votive offerings and expensive gifts.
Many people also believed the Pythian prophetess had a god living within her belly. This belief led to her being called “a belly talker,” since she was observed talking in a deep second voice while making her predictions. In fact, some ancient literature attributes this second voice to a daimōn.
Because Paul clearly believed a demon controlled this girl, he commanded the spirit within her: “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Without any argument or hesitation, the spirit departed. Luke’s attention then shifts to the irate reaction of the girl’s owners, and this brief account is all that we know about her in Scripture.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 31–33.