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Showing posts with label Testimony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Testimony. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Put Your Hands Up: Surrender to God, Surrender to Victory - Purity 463


Put Your Hands Up: Surrender to God, Surrender to Victory

Purity 463 07/056/2021  Purity 463 Podcast

Good morning  

Today’s photo of the silhouettes of three women on the shores of Cap Cod at sunset comes to us from our friends at SK Photography & Design as they recently vacationed there with family.   While they captured the heavenly light of sunset in the sky and reflected on the waters of the Atlantic and sand below, they also caught three creations made in God’s image enjoying where the Lord placed them at this moment in time.  One of the party of three was so moved by their experience of the glory of their surroundings that they raised their hands to the sky in triumph.   

I share this photo because I love the view, but I also love the inherent joy that is visibly expressed in the one subject’s raising of hands.  We don’t know what that person’s narrative is but there is a freedom of expression of emotion on display here that we could all learn from.  

We could all imagine different stories of why this woman is raising her hands to the sky and whatever story we tell would reflect something about ourselves. 

We could imagine that she was in remission to cancer.

We could imagine that she had recently graduated from school or university.

We could imagine she recently left a bad relationship. 

We could imagine she had just suffered the loss of a loved one and was celebrating life in honor of them.

We could imagine she was celebrating overcoming addiction or some other personal struggle.

We could imagine she was just enjoying a vacation or a day off rather than working.

We could imagine she was just a free spirit who raises their hands to virtually everything.

We could even imagine that she was celebrating her relationship with God through her faith in Jesus Christ.  

As amazing as all those different possibilities may seem to ponder, perhaps the most amazing possibility is that her story could encompass elements of all the above!

Our lives are not one dimensional. Each of our lives are a robust blending of our personal histories, our education, and our individual experiences.  So as preposterous it may seem to say that someone had gone through all of that, I am sure there are people alive today that could check off every box on our list of experiences as life is a journey that can go through the deepest valleys of despair to the highest heights of joy.  

No matter how different each of our life journeys can be, there is one thing that is true of all of us: we have all been made in God’s image and He deeply cares for and loves each one of us.  

Our life experiences may have been filled with a good deal of suffering, but the Lord sent Jesus Christ to give us an example of His understanding of the pains of life and to make a way for all of us to overcome and to be reconciled with the One who made heaven and earth.  

So raise your hands in exaltation that you’re still standing. Raise your hands for all you have accomplished and all you have overcome.  Raise your hands at the beauty of this world and all the good you have experienced.    But remember that you were never alone. God was watching your walk every step of the way and He was patiently waiting for you to come to Him.  

The Lord is all knowing and ever present. There is nothing about you and your life that He doesn’t know. He offers wisdom and strength through His word. He offers comfort and healing for your pain. He offers forgiveness and eternal life in His presence through faith in Jesus Christ.     

So rejoice over all that the Lord has provided. Make peace with Him by making Christ the Lord of your life and by following where He leads. Throw your hands up to the Father and surrender to the new life He has for you.

You may have had to fight to survive but with Christ the war is over. When we surrender to Him, we surrender to victory.  

(There is more content to help you walk out your journey of faith at MT4Christ dot org. You can also subscribe to the mt4christ247 podcast to hear this message, our discipleship classes, and our weekly Bible Study, on Apple, Google, and Amazon Podcasts, as well as Audible and Podbean).

#faith #christianblog #encouragement #freedominchrist #christiancounseling #jesuschrist #mt4christ #discipleship #victoryoverthedarkness #Christianpodcast #Bondagebreaker #mt4christ247podcast

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 2:12 (NKJV)
12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

 

Today’s verse encourages us to live our lives according to God’s way with the promise that we will participate in His kingdom and glory.  

Often in our Christian faith, there many who proclaim to believe in Jesus Christ and the word of God but their walk through this world is defined by sin and suffering.  Unfortunately, I was one of these people for years.  

I believed in Jesus Christ with my mind and my heart after I got saved in 2010 but somehow I had some huge blind spots in terms of how to walk worthy of the call of God. 

My limited understanding of faith from my liturgical upbringing had put religion in a box that would only be opened on Sundays and holidays.  After I became born again, I ripped that box open to include Bible study, mid-week services, prayer, and serving in the church to the expression of my faith and my efforts to develop my relationship with God.  

However, my enslavement to certain sins of the flesh seemed absolute and I assumed God knew that about me and that He was gracious enough to accept me anyway but certainly didn’t expect me to change.   

But my efforts to develop a relationship with the Lord worked and His communications to me encouraged me to trust Him with more and more of my life. I loved the Lord so much for rescuing me from perdition that I wanted to walk worthy of God’s call on my life, and I slowly started taking more and more steps in His direction.  

When I first came to faith in Christ, I thought that salvation was more than I could hope for, and I was happy to have it.  But God called me to life for a reason, He wanted me to enjoy all the benefits of being in His kingdom and knew that He supplied me with everything I needed to give Him glory.   

Eleven years later, my testimony includes overcoming a lot of those sins of the flesh, my addictions, and broken relationships. It includes serving the Lord in my local church and missions, foreign and domestic.  It includes graduated from Bible College, getting my master’s degree in Christian Counseling, and serving as a teacher of recovery, spiritual warfare, and Christian Discipleship. I did none, and do none, of the above because of me. I did it all for God’s glory because I had a heartfelt desire and a divine calling to walk worthy of Him.   

So now I endeavor to encourage others to walk worthy of the calling of God by adopting the path of Christian Discipleship for their lives. I know that walking worthy of God results in personal sanctification and victory but more importantly walking the disciple’s path that the Lord prepares for us allows us to experience our membership in God’s kingdom and to give Him glory.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Answer His call to walk worthy of Him.

 

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing in Chapter 6.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

If You Believe You Can, You Can

If you think you are beaten—you are.

If you think you dare not—you don't.

If you want to win but think you can't,

It is almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose—you've lost.

For out of the world we find

That success begins with a fellow's will;

It's all in the state of mind.

Life's battles don't always go

To the stronger or the faster man;

But sooner or later the man that wins

Is the one who thinks he can.

Consider what the world has accomplished just by believing in itself. How much more could we accomplish if we really believed in God? The Christian community has been somewhat reluctant to buy into the power of positive thinking, and for good reason. We are not called to just think positive thoughts; we are called to think the truth. Without God as the object of our faith, thinking is merely a function of the mind that cannot exceed its input and attributes. Attempting to push the mind beyond its limitations will result only in moving from the world of reality to fantasy.

The Christian, however, has far greater potential for success in life through the power of believing the truth. Belief incorporates the mind, but is not limited by it. Faith actually transcends the limitations of the mind and incorporates the real but unseen world. The believer's faith is as valid as its object, which is the living (Christ) and written (Bible) Word of God. If you have the infinite God of the universe as the object of your Christian faith, you can go wherever God leads you.

Someone has said that success comes in "cans" and failure in "cannots." Believing you can live a victorious Christian life takes no more effort than believing you cannot. So why not believe that you can walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, that you can resist the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and that you can grow as a Christian. It is your choice. The following "Twenty Cans of Success," taken from God's Word, will expand your knowledge of our faith object: the almighty God. Building your faith by internalizing these truths will lift you from the miry clay of the cannots to sit with Christ in the heavenlies.

Twenty Cans of Success

  1. Why should I say I can't when the Bible says I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13)?
  1. Why should I worry about my needs when I know that God will take care of all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19)?
  1. Why should I fear when the Bible says God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7)?
  1. Why should I lack faith to live for Christ when God has given me a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)?
  1. Why should I be weak when the Bible says that the Lord is the strength of my life and that I will display strength and take action because I know God (Psalm 27:1; Daniel 11:32)?
  1. Why should I allow Satan control over my life when He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)?
  1. Why should I accept defeat when the Bible says that God always leads me in victory (2 Cor. 2:14)?
  1. Why should I lack wisdom when I know that Christ became wisdom to me from God and God gives wisdom to me generously when I ask Him for it (1 Cor. 1:30; James 1:5)?
  1. Why should I be depressed when I have hope and can recall to mind God's loving-kindness, compassion and faithfulness (Lament. 3:21-23)?
  1. Why should I worry and be upset when I can cast all my anxieties on Christ who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7)?
  1. Why should I ever be in bondage knowing that there is freedom where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Cor. 3:17)?
  1. Why should I feel condemned when the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)?
  1. Why should I feel alone when Jesus said He is with me always and He will never leave me nor forsake me (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)?
  1. Why should I feel as if I'm cursed or have bad luck when the Bible says that Christ rescued me from the curse of the law that I might receive His Spirit by faith (Galatians 3:13, 14)?
  1. Why should I be unhappy when I, like Paul, can learn to be content whatever the circumstances (Phil. 4:11)?
  1. Why should I feel worthless when Christ became sin for me so that I might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21)?
  1. Why should I feel helpless in the presence of others when I know that if God is for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31)?
  1. Why should I be confused when God is the author of peace and He gives me knowledge through His spirit who lives in me (1 Cor. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:33)?
  1. Why should I feel like a failure when I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loved me (Romans 8:37)?
  1. Why should I let the pressures of life bother me when I can take courage knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and its problems (John 16:33)?


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Our Independence Day: Real Freedom in Christ - Purity 461


Our Independence Day: Real Freedom in Christ

Purity 461 07/03/2021  Purity 461 Podcast

Good morning  

Today’s photo of a towering cloud rising into the blue skies over, and reflected in a pond on, the grounds of the Byodo-in Temple in Kahaluu, Oahu, Hawaii comes to us from a friend’s recent visit to the most recent addition to the union that is our United Sates. This scene is beautiful but has some ominous undertones if you consider the context of world history and the spiritual realities that surround the replica of the Japanese temple and the shape of that cloud.     

As my fellow Americans and I celebrate our Independence Day this weekend, we are often reminded that freedom isn’t free and a mushroom shaped cloud over the grounds of a Japanese Buddhist Temple can remind us of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the extremes that can be required to secure freedom and peace.  Our country’s history is written in the blood of those who paid the ultimate cost to win and maintain our freedom.  Freedom can come at a terrible cost and the suffering can be far reaching as the hell of war consumes the just with the unjust, the innocent and the guilty.

Unfortunately, evil forces continue to thrive in our world and the sacrifices of human lives in maintaining and securing our freedom is still a present-day reality as our armed forces are still deployed in various parts of the world in the name of freedom and securing our country’s interests.   

So is freedom worth the cost? 

Absolutely. The evil regimes that have been vanquished in the past and the atrocities that occur when totalitarian governments go unchecked show us that our freedom as a country is worth dying for.  So this weekend, Americans should celebrate their freedom and remember how precious it is.  

Likewise in spiritual realm, our freedom was paid for by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross.   Because of Christ’s sacrifice, all who place their trust in Him receive eternal life and freedom from the kingdom of darkness.  

Christians are freed through faith in Christ from sin and death.  No matter what they may suffer on earth, they are secured in God’s love.

Just as Hawaii is the most recent state to join the union in 1959, I sometimes I feel like the newest Christian to join God’s kingdom in 2010.  

Today’s photo taken on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, remind me of the spiritual darkness that I was living in for years before I discovered that the true path to enlightenment doesn’t lead to some mystical state of self-actualization above heaven and hell, it leads to a covenant relationship to the Creator of all things through faith in Jesus Christ.   

I was a practicing Buddhist for five years before the Lord used a “chance” encounter with a radio gospel message that told me of the Lord’s love and forgiveness and delivered me from a religion that had no God and who’s tenants were based on the individual’s efforts to become godlike and act as a savior for all sentient beings.

 I often tell people if you want to know where the god is in Buddhism, just take a look at the one sitting on the meditation cushion.  As selfless as Buddhist practitioners profess to be, their aspirations are to attain godlike insights and power and to rescue the world themselves by breaking through to the other side of a state they call nirvana.  

Unfortunately, Buddhism and every other world religion that doesn’t recognize Jesus as Lord and Savior is, by definition, antichrist.  Satan and his spiritual forces of darkness seek to take mankind with them on the road to perdition and influence men to worship any and everything other Jesus, who suffered, died, and was resurrected to prove that He is the Son of God and to pay for the sins of the world.  

Freedom from sin and death only come through Jesus Christ.  So as we celebrate our Independence from foreign powers here on earth, Christians should also celebrate their independence from the Satanic forces that previously enslaved them by proclaiming their total dependence on the grace of God and by sharing the good news that Christ’s sacrifice provides for our ultimate and eternal freedom and is available to anyone who puts their faith in Him.

     

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

Today’s verse reminds us that the Lord is fearsome and awesome to behold and that those who dismiss the things of God are foolish.  

Okay I have heard several messages regarding this verse where the authors made great efforts to assure their listeners that they needn’t be afraid of the Lord and that the fear of the Lord is better understood to mean reverence or respect. 

The Hebrew word for fear in this passage, yir'â, does indeed have these definitions in Strong’s Concordance.  So they are correct. We are to have the utmost respect and reverence for the Lord our God.

So definitely maintain that respect and reverence for the Lord and demonstrate it by using His wisdom and instruction that is found in the Bible to guide your life.   If you don’t respect the Lord and utilize His wisdom and instruction you, as this verse says, are a fool.  

So why is it so foolish to despise the Lord’s wisdom and instruction?  

Well let’s take a look at the first few definitions from Strong’s concordance for “, yir’â,, the word for fear that is apparently the beginning of knowledge.  

The first few definitions are the following: “fear, terror, an awesome or terrifying thing”.

You see, the reason why it is so foolish to despise the wisdom and instruction of the Lord is because there are fearful, awesome, and terrifying consequences in store for those who do.  

The wisdom and instruction of the Lord would lead us to place our faith in Christ.   If we despise that wisdom and don’t make Christ our Lord and Savior, the word of God tells us that we will share in the suffering of the second death in the lake of fire for all eternity (Matt 25:41, Rev 20:10,14-15,21:8).  

If we don’t place our faith in Christ, we face God’s wrath.  Hear that: God’s wrath, not Satan’s wrath.  Satan is not the king of hell. He is just another prisoner waiting for his final judgement along with all other unbelievers (Rev 20;10). 

The reason why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge is because a healthy fear of the wrath of God will bring us to faith in Christ and save us from eternal suffering and punishment.   Likewise, a healthy fear of God’s chastisement will also cause us to turn from our lives of sin and to choose to live a righteous life and enjoy the benefits of the fruit of the Spirit.  

So please respect and revere the Lord God almighty by living according to His wisdom and instruction, but please let’s keep it real by recognizing that if is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31) when you don’t have a covenant relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ.  

So enjoy the freedom we have in Christ and be sure to share the good news that God has made a way for all to avoid His wrath and to experience a new life here on earth and forever with Him. 

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

 Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 6.

 As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

The Essence of Faith

Faith in God is indispensable to the Christian life. The author of Hebrews capsulized it by writing: "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Believing who God is, what He says and what He does is the key to the kingdom of God.

Consider how important the concept of faith is. You are saved by faith (see Ephes. 2:8, 9), and you "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). In other words, faith is the basis for our salvation and the means by which we live. If we are going to continue living free in Christ, we need to keep in mind three simple faith concepts.

1. Faith Depends on Its Object

The truth is, everyone lives by faith. The only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. The critical issue is what you believe or who you believe in. Telling people to live by faith is invalid if they have no understanding of the object of their faith. You can't have faith in faith. Faith has no validity without an object.

The truth is, we live every moment of every day by faith. However, some of our faith objects are valid but others aren't. For instance, suppose you are driving a car and see a green light. You would probably drive through the intersection without giving your action a second thought, and you would do it by faith. First, you believed the light was red in the other direction even though you couldn't see it. Second, you believed the drivers coming from the other direction saw the red light and would stop. That is a lot of faith, but if you didn't believe that, you wouldn't go through too many intersections or you would proceed very cautiously. We trust people or things that have proven to be reliable over a long time period.

What happens when the object of your faith proves unreliable? You give up on it—maybe not immediately, but how many failures would you tolerate before saying never again? Once faith is lost, it is very difficult to regain. Your ability to believe isn't the problem; it is the object of your faith that has proven to be untrustworthy.

If you have had a few auto accidents as a result of careless drivers, your ability to trust other drivers may be seriously shaken, and rightfully so. That is why our relationships are so fragile. One act of unfaithfulness can all but destroy a marriage. You can forgive your spouse and commit yourself to make the marriage work, but it will take months and even years to gain back the trust that was lost. You would be foolish to trust someone or something that has proven to be unreliable.

The most accepted faith object by the world's population is the fixed order of the universe, primarily the solar system. You set your watch, plan your calendar and schedule your day believing that the earth will continue to revolve on its axis and rotate around the sun at its current speed. If the earth's orbit shifted just a few degrees and the sun appeared two hours late, the whole world would be thrown into chaos. So far the laws governing the physical universe have been among the most trustworthy faith objects we have.

The ultimate faith object, of course, is not the sun, but the Son, because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The fact that God is immutable is what makes Him eminently trustworthy (see Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6). God cannot change, nor can His Word. "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). This eternal consistency is why God is faithful and why we can put our trust in Him.

2. How Much Faith You Have Is Dependent Upon How Well You Know the Object of Your Faith

When people struggle with their faith in God, it is not because their faith object has failed or is insufficient. It is because they don't have a true knowledge of God and His ways. They expect Him to respond in a certain way or answer prayer a certain way—their way, not His—and when He doesn't comply they say, "Forget you, God." The problem is not with God. He is the perfect faith object. Faith in God fails only when people have a faulty understanding of Him.

If you want your faith in God to increase, you must increase your knowledge of God. If you have little knowledge about God and His Word, you will have little faith. If you have great knowledge of God and His Word, you can potentially have great faith. Faith cannot be pumped up by coaxing yourself, If only I can believe! If only I can believe! You can believe because belief is a choice we all have to make.

Any attempt to push yourself beyond what you know to be true about God and His ways is to move from faith to presumption. You choose to believe God according to what you know to be true from His Word. The only way to increase your faith is to increase your knowledge of God, who is the believer's only legitimate faith object. That is why Paul wrote that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).

The only limit to your faith is your knowledge and understanding of God, which grows every time you read your Bible, memorize a Scripture verse, participate in a Bible study or meditate on His Word. Can you see the practical, tangible potential for your faith to grow as you endeavor to know God through His Word? It is bound only by the infinite nature of God! I doubt there is a Christian alive who has lived up to his or her faith potential based on what he or she already knows to be true.

It is important to know that God is under no obligation to humankind. We can't maneuver or manipulate God through prayer. He is under obligation to Himself and to remain faithful to His covenant promises and His Word. We have a covenant relationship with God that we can count on being true. If God declares something to be true, you simply believe Him and live according to what is true. If God didn't say it, no amount of faith in the world will make it so. Believing doesn't make God's Word true. His Word is true; therefore we believe it.

Let me illustrate how our faith grows. When my son, Karl, was a toddler, I would stand him up on the table and encourage him to jump from the table into my arms. He would waver in unbelief for a moment and then fall into my arms. Then I would stand back a little bit farther, which made the step of faith a little bit bigger. Then one day I took him outside and put him on the limb of a tree and encouraged him to jump. This was a greater leap of faith, but he did it. As he continues to climb the tree of life, however, can I always be the ultimate object of his faith? There was a time when Karl thought I could answer any question and defeat any foe.

We have an obligation as parents to do more than lead our children to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to help them understand their spiritual identity and heritage. The ultimate object of their faith changes when they become children of God. I can't go everywhere my children go, but God can and He does.

3. Faith Is an Action Word

When I was encouraging Karl to take a step of faith, did he believe I would catch him? Yes. How did I know he believed? Because he jumped. Suppose he wouldn't jump. Suppose I asked Karl, "Do you believe I will catch you, Karl?" and he answered, "Yes," but never jumped.

Does Karl really believe I will catch him if he doesn't jump? According to James, that is just wishful thinking. He says, "Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, 'You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works'" (James 2:17, 18). In other words, really believing will affect one's walk and one's talk. If we believe God and His Word, we will live accordingly. Everything we do is essentially a product of what we have chosen to believe.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Friday, June 25, 2021

Exodus: All Things For Good - Purity 454


 Exodus: All things for Good

Purity 454 06/25/2021  Purity 454 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the view from my kitchen window on a summer’s day with the Hudson River in the background comes to us from 2020. Yes, this view may be a familiar one to some as I have captured and shared it at various times over the last year on FB. Others may recognize my neighbor’s tree and the river beyond it because I cropped this photo and made it the logo for the mt4christ247 podcast.  

I share this old photo today because it is a day of celebration.  It was exactly one year ago today that I moved into my new home “Down by The River”.   This day was and forever will be a day of triumph and a day to remember the goodness of God and what He has done in my life.   

In 2018, my marriage fell apart in a very quick and unexpected fashion. I filed for divorce in August and due to financial reasons, lived in the basement of my home with my ex who was actively involved in another relationship and lived upstairs.  It was a very difficult for my children and I and it was only made worse by the fact that no one other than me had any sense of urgency to finalize the proceedings even though the divorce was vehemently demanded by my ex initially. 

More than a year later, at the end of September 2019, we signed and due to some last-minute fumbling on our side, I found myself with the realization that my new life would require a new place for me take my kids as my plans at negotiating keeping the house fell through. Add to this difficulty having to pay spousal support and being up to my eyeballs in debt.   I almost immediately got a second job to keep things afloat and had a pipe dream of a plan to make some moves to begin looking for a place to live in June of 2020. (We agreed to remain in the house until my son’s graduation from high school last year).  

But God…

To detail the chain of events that happened from September 2019 to June 25, 2020, and how the Lord guided my path every step of the way would require more space than we have today to document.  My story tells of the Lord’s presence in my life EVERY DAY while I did everything in my power to turn things around and keep positive and trust that He would deliver us.   From the outside looking in, the things that transpired would have people question my sanity as I made bold financial moves through the direction of the Holy Spirit that I didn’t fully understand myself and received unexpected blessing after blessing.  It is a whopper of a story, but it was far more compelling as I was living it, as I experienced the Lord leading me into “all truth”, revealing to me things that were to come, and directing me to do things that I could only do by faith.     

According to my plans, I would have earned a place to start looking for a new house by June of 2020, but according to God’s plan – I was to move into my new home on this day in June 2020.  

Oh and add to the backdrop that I was working two jobs in the forbidden zone of the pandemic.  No I wasn’t singing to my neighbors from my window. I also got sick for a week that was most likely Covid, but I was never tested, and I have been vaccinated so I guess I’ll never know. Also I was the first house sold for my broker that spring because of the near absolute shut down of the real estate industry due to the pandemic.  So despite of these minor details and other obstacles along the way, I can tell you that nothing is impossible for God.   

Oh by the way June 25th is my birthday too. Yeah, I moved into my new place on my birthday.  God is good. 

Almost 2 years after I filed for divorce and lived in difficult circumstances, I moved into my new place last year and my children and I have a home that is defined by its peace.  My home and the remembrance of how God brought me here is a constant source of joy.  

So, if you are in a dark season, I can assure you that if you come close to God, He will come close to you. If you surrender to Him, He will deliver you. 

That doesn’t mean you just get to sit there “a hoping and a praying”, our relationship with God is a co-operative effort. We are expected to use the talents and resources made available to us by God.   If you want freedom, you are going to have to trust the Lord and be consistent in pressing on toward your goals.        

You must do everything you can to better your situation but above all you are to continue to be faithful in prayer, worship, and the study of God’s Word.   We can’t do it all by ourselves, but it doesn’t mean we don’t do anything.  We must show God, others, and ourselves that we are God’s children by our words and actions. When we surrender ourselves to His care, He moves all things together for good.   

It may take longer than you want or planned for, but God will even use the delays and things that infuriate you for your ultimate good.  So be faithful and keep walking and talking with God.  He has good things for you, but you must keep looking forward and never leave His side to get there.     

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Today’s total random verse, I swear it, can encourage us in our Christian walk because it gives us a glimpse of the love that God has for His people.    And man did God have a future and a hope for me!

Now before I go on with how awesome God is, I must address the context of this verse, so I am not accused of being some Pollyanna Christian that doesn’t know the word.  

These words were spoken by God to the remaining nation of Israel (Judah) to encourage them even though nothing good was happening for them at the time. Babylonian Exile ring a bell? 

Have you read Jerimiah? Brother, it is rough and real in its depictions of the suffering that God’s people were going through during the time of God’s judgement on His people for their idolatrous ways.  The history of God’s people in the Bible is fascinating and should be studied to have a better understanding of who God is. He is holy, just, righteous, and loving but because He is just He will judge and punish those who are rebellious to His person and His ways.  

Disbelief is rebellion. If you don’t believe, you are telling the One who made you that He is wrong. 

Excuse me? God made you; and you don’t trust His word or the person of Jesus Christ?

Well because God gave us free will, you can hold whatever opinion you like. However you will be judged according to what you believe and put your faith in. If its not Jesus Christ, at the end of your life there will be hell to pay. 

Weeping and gnashing of teeth doesn’t sound good to me. Lake of fire doesn’t sound good to me.   The fear of hell was always before me when I was living in sin. By God’s grace, He showed me His love for me through Jesus and I was very grateful and joyful when I placed my faith in Him and knew I had been rescued from perdition.   

Anyway, many “Bible scholars” get snarky when people quote Jerimiah 29:11 as a promise for God working towards a good future for them because of the dismal circumstances that surrounded God’s encouragement and because it was directed at the nation of Israel/Judah. 

And I can understand some exasperation at Christians who quote verses out of context because of their lack of maturity or Bible knowledge, but I think I am more exasperated by Christians who would “pharisaical-ly” chastise or correct their “weaker” brother and tell them they shouldn’t use this verse to instill hope because of its original context.  

Us “wiser bible scholars” should educate our own hearts and allow whoever to take all the hope and encouragement they can get out of God’s word.  Instead of standing on your academic laurels, encourage your brothers and sisters to study the word and if the Lord wants to open their eyes to more of His truth, trust that He will.  

So do I think that God has thoughts of peace, and not evil towards us,?  Absolutely!

Do I think God will give us a future and a hope? I know He has and will.  I

n Christ we have a future and a hope right now. We are free in Christ right now.  

Are wonderful things necessarily going to come our way here on earth? Maybe not, but I know that those who place their faith in Jesus Christ, have a future and a hope.  Christ will return or we will go to Him if our life expires before He does.   We will be part of His kingdom for ever and ever, where there is no more sickness or death.   I’d say that’s a pretty good future and because of it we can stand in hope for the day it comes and every day in between here and there.    

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

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, concluding in Chapter 4.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support His work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Balancing the Indicative and the Imperative

The greatest tension in the New Testament is between the indicative (what God has already done and what is already true about us), and the imperative (what remains to be done as we respond to God by faith and obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit). You have to know and believe positional truth to successfully progress in your sanctification or you are going to try doing for yourself what God has already done for you.

The balance between the indicative and the imperative is about equal in Scripture, but I have not observed that in our churches. Most preaching I have heard focuses on the imperatives. People could go to a good evangelical church for years and never hear the message that they are children of God who are alive and free in Christ. We need to worship God for all He has done, and rest in the finished work of Christ. We need to hear again and again the wonderful identity and position we already have in Christ; then we will be better prepared to receive the instructions and assume our responsibility for living the Christian life.

In Summary

I was asked if I taught the eradication of the sinful nature at the new birth. One cannot give a simple yes or no answer to that question. If you are asking, "Do you believe that the old man is dead?" the answer is yes. I am no longer in Adam, I am spiritually alive in Christ. If you are asking, "Do you believe that the Christian can still sin and walk or live according to the flesh?" the answer is yes. New believers are dominated by the flesh and deceived by the devil. It takes time to renew the mind and overcome the patterns of the flesh.

If you asked me, "Do you believe that you have a new nature?" I would answer yes, because God has given me a new heart and I am now spiritually alive. My "new self" is oriented toward God. I have become a partaker of the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:4), and "I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man" (Romans 7:22). If you asked me, "Are you a sinner or a saint?" I would joyfully respond, "I believe I am a saint by the grace of God and I intend to live my life as His child in the way He intended me to live by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit."

Don't forget that our entire being was morally corrupt before we came to Christ. Our minds were programmed to live independently of God and the desires of our flesh are in opposition to the Spirit of God. The flesh, our old nature, has to be crucified by the believer (see Galatians 5:24). I do not believe in instant maturity. It will take us the rest of our lives to renew our minds, and conform to the image of God. The seed that was sown in us by God is only a beginning. Being a child of God and being free in Christ is positional truth and the birthright of every believer. Because of a lack of repentance and ignorance of the truth, many believers are not living like liberated children of God. How tragic! Perhaps the following illustration I used in The Common Made Holy will explain part of the reason why.

Slavery in the United States was abolished by the 13th Amendment on December 18th, 1865. How many slaves were there on December 19th? In reality, none, but many still lived like slaves. Many did, because they never learned the truth, others knew and even believed that they were free but chose to live as they had been taught.

Several plantation owners were devastated by this proclamation of emancipation. "We're ruined! Slavery has been abolished. We've lost the battle to keep our slaves." But their chief spokesman slyly responded, "Not necessarily, as long as these people think they're still slaves, the proclamation of emancipation will have no practical effect. We don't have a legal right over them anymore, but many of them don't know it. Keep your slaves from learning the truth, and your control over them will not even be challenged."

"But, what if the news spreads?"

"Don't panic. We have another barrel in our gun. We may not be able to keep them from hearing the news, but we can still keep them from understanding it. They don't call me the father of lies for nothing. We still have the potential to deceive the whole world. Just tell them that they misunderstood the 13th Amendment. Tell them that they are going to be free, not that they are free already. The truth they heard is just positional truth, not actual truth. Someday they may receive the benefits, but not now."

"But, they'll expect me to say that. They won't believe me."

"Then pick out a few persuasive ones who are convinced that they're still slaves and let them do the talking for you. Remember, most of these free people were born as slaves and have lived like slaves. All we have to do is to deceive them so that they still think like slaves. As long as they continue to do what slaves do, it will not be hard to convince them that they must still be slaves. They will maintain their slave identity because of the things they do. The moment they try to profess that they are no longer slaves, just whisper in their ear, 'How can you even think you are no longer a slave when you are still doing things that slaves do?' After all, we have the capacity to accuse the brethren day and night."

Years later, many have still not heard the wonderful news that they have been freed, so naturally they continue to live the way they have always lived. Some have heard the good news, but evaluated it by what they are presently doing and feeling. They reason, "I'm still living in bondage, doing the same things I have always done. My experience tells me that I must not be free. I'm feeling the same way I was before the proclamation, so it must not be true. After all, your feelings always tell the truth." So they continue to live according to how they feel, not wanting to be hypocrites!

One former slave hears the good news, and receives it with great joy. He checks out the validity of the proclamation, and finds out that the highest of all authorities has originated the decree. Not only that, but it personally cost the authority a tremendous price which He willingly paid, so that he could be free. His life is transformed. He correctly reasons that it would be hypocritical to believe his feelings, and not believe the truth. Determined to live by what he knows to be true, his experiences began to change rather dramatically. He realizes that his old master has no authority over him and does not need to be obeyed. He gladly serves the one who set him free.


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

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

 

God bless you all!

 

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship