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Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Praising from the Mountain of Love – The Gift that Keeps on Giving – Purity 752

 

Praising from the Mountain of Love – The Gift the Keeps on Giving – Purity 752

Purity 752 06/08/2022 Purity 752 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun shining through the trees over a campsite comes from my cousin’s recent excursion to the top of Keller Peak in Running Springs, California.  He was recently laid up with a foot and ankle injury a couple of months ago but now is back at it stating on his social media post that he was doing some “soulcleansing” by “putting in some work” while “resetting the batteries outdoors”.  

Well it’s Wednesday, and I thought this photo of a summit campsite and his sentiments to cleanse the soul where perfect to represent “hump day” and our continual focus to find peace in our souls by walking and talking with God.  

Like my cousin, I have found that the exercise of the body does have some ability to cleanse the soul as our bodies, and the life that God breathed into them, were the first gift that we received from God, and when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, they became temples of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  So it is good to keep our temples in order by keeping our bodies healthy and that requires proper nutrition, rest, and “putting in some work” from time to time with regular exercise.  

After taking an uncharacteristic rest yesterday, I was raring to “get back at it” with my normal light exercise routine, and as my cousin testifies, I can confirm that there really is something to be said for the ability of simple exercise to “cleanse our souls as we can sweat out frustrations or just experience the simple contentment of knowing that we are being good stewards to the bodies that God has given us.         

But as good as sweating out frustrations and stress, the assurance of being a good steward to our bodies, and feeling the euphoric rush of endorphins firing, may be able to give us a measure of happiness in our souls, as Christians we can raise our experience to the heights of joy by bringing our praises and thanks to the Lord as our spirits are in direct communication with our heavenly Father at all times.  

Not for nothing, but while you can think through problems or set your focus on the things that lie ahead of you while you exercise, I can get a little frustrated, anxious, angry or depressed if the content of my thoughts is “just me” focused.  When we try to do everything through our own strength and cunning, we can really begin to feel overwhelmed, worried, or burdened with our lives.  

So while I work out, I may think of “what I can do” with the day ahead and with the situations that I have to face, but after a while I will get “sick of me” and will turn to the Lord and say something like: “And that’s why I am SO GLAD, that You are in my life, O Lord.” And than proceed to remember that I am not alone and will recall all that the Lord and I have walked through together to bring me to this “current day and present moment” and I will thank Him and praise Him for never leaving me or forsaking me and always being with me.  

The weight of the world seems to not be so heavy when we have the Creator of the Universe on our side. As the word says, if God is for us, who can be against us!

Well, frankly, everyone can be against us! But with God, it just doesn’t matter, because when we walk with Him we never walk alone and when we continue to seek His presence and follow His wisdom for living we can have peace and joy regardless of the circumstances that surround us because He has “cleansed” and saved our souls the minute we placed our faith in Christ.  His love pours into us with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, when we first believed, and it abounds in us when we abide in Him.  

So there, I am “putting some work in” by exercising, contemplating the current events of my life, and rejoicing because I know that “There ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t not valley low enough, and there ain’t not river wide enough” to keep the Lord from getting to us!

The Lord has a mountain of love to pour out on us if we would just seek to receive it by keeping our relationship with Him a healthy one, where we care for our bodies, live according to His wisdom, continually reflect on His thoughts, His words, and Our story together, as an continuous expression of our faith.  

This gift of our lives, our bodies, our relationship with God, His love, His forgiveness, His hope, His strength, and how it all goes together is the gift that keeps on giving. So live your life as a continual exercise of praise and worship to the Lord who gave us life and set us free to live with Him forever when He showed us the truth of Jesus Christ and we accepted the gift of His mercy, grace, and love.

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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:

Psalm 112:1-3 (NLT2)
1  Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands.
2  Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.
3  They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.

Today’s Bible verses encourage us to praise the Lord and they indicate that when we fear and obey Him not only will we benefit but the potential exists to influence generations through our faithfulness.   

When you are brought up in a “religious tradition of Christianity” where no one seems to know the joy of their salvation and everyone seems to be under a burden of obligation to go to “mass”, you view the “fear of the Lord” as the fear of judgement and going to Hell and you view His commands as a list of requirements to meet with the silent warning of “or else” implied.  

The houses of worship where “God is in the box”, require people to enter reverently, almost fearfully, because the doctrine of transubstantiation, teaches that He literally is in the communion elements, so God is in the house and you best come correctly into His presence, or you will face the wrath or condemnation of the priest, your parents, or the other congregants that bow low under their religious tradition but who may not be good examples of the joy or love of the Lord.  

But here in today’s verses, the Bible speaks of people who are joyful who fear the Lord and obey His commands. Joyful?   How can you be joyful in the presence of a God who is just waiting to send you to Hell?  Or in an environment where His “believers” almost cower in His presence and will chastise and threaten anyone who doesn’t put on a show of reverence while they are “in the building”. 

Well, the Bible is true and the fact that people can be joyful when they fear the Lord and obey His commands must point to something that is “other” than what we see in some liturgical churches.  

It must point to a relationship with God that is His based on His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love rather than the traditions of men that corrupt the gospel of Jesus Christ by making us think that our salvation depends on our perfect obedience and can be something that we can lose.   

While our God is awesome to be hold and should be feared by anyone who hasn’t been reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ, the fear of the Lord that the Christian has should be one that is born from the knowledge of His love and is reflected by our respect for His word and our joy at following the One who gave us life and set us free. 

Only when we are assured of our salvation and the love of God for us, can we be joyful in obeying His commands. When we know the love of God and are assured that He isn’t going to condemn us to Hell at the drop of a hat, our obedience to His commands is an expression for our deep respect, fear, and love that we have for Him.  

Unlike religious traditions that are fueled by fear and guilt, and seem to be fading away in our post Christian society, this joyful relationship with God is something that future generations could be influenced by to pursue and emulate as they can learn of the tremendous blessings that can flow from an authentic faith and love relationship with our God.  

We can’t force anyone, including our kids, to follow the Lord but we can show them the joy that we have from knowing His love, from fearing His word, and obeying His commands and how a life dedicated to following Him is a blessing, not a curse or an obligation.    

 

 

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.

10  -My Prayer—Let None Say in the End, “I’ve Wasted It”

Your steadfast love, O Lord, is better than life. You have told us this in many ways. With these very words you have said it through the mouth of your servant David: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” You have said it in the words of your apostle Paul, when he cried out in prison, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” O Lord, how much better you are than life! Does your apostle Paul not use strong language! Not just “better,” but “far better.” You are so much better than life that your apostle says death is gain. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” To lose everything this world can offer and be left with you alone is gain.

Why, O Lord, is your love better than life? Surely David gives us the answer in the way he speaks. He does not say, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise your love.” What does he say? He says that he will praise you, not your love. “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Is this not because the most loving thing about your love is that it brings us home to you—with eyes and hearts and minds able to see the riches of your glory? With all your wrath removed, and all our sin forgiven, lest anything prevent the pleasure of your presence. Is this not what divine love is—the will and work of God, to give us undeserving sinners everlasting joy in God? What else could love be, if it would be infinite! What greater prize might we be given than yourself, if we are loved!

O God, you know I tremble now for fear that many of the ones who call you Lord have made themselves the prize and glory of your grace. How many, Lord, have made your love a witness to their worth! Is then their joy a resting in your worth or in their own? So many decades have gone by in which the constant message from the world, and even from some ministers, is this: that love means making much of man. And so when men, with this assurance, ponder what your love might mean, they say the same: God’s love means making much of man. For proof they ask: Don’t you feel loved when someone calls attention to your worth?

I answer: Once I did. When life was better than the Lord, and not the other way around. There was a time love felt like this—when I could not conceive of any joy greater than the honor of my name. When I was so absorbed in me that it was inconceivable for joy to rise by my admiring rather than my being admired. Oh, yes, I’ve known what it is like to call the praise of men an act of love and justify this craving with the readiness to give the same. How satisfying it does seem—this love among ourselves of mutual admiration!

But now (thanks to your mighty grace!) I see it is an imitation. It has its roots in Eden long ago. The great destroyer of our love and joy said to our mother, Eve, “God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” Like God! She should have said, “I am like God already.” She should have seen the trick. But she did not, and oh, how many do not see it yet today! She was indeed like God! You made her so—your very image-bearer. Her calling and her high design was this: to image forth her Maker’s majesty, and with her joy and trust, make much of you. But then the evil thought was sown: “I could be like him in another way. I could be one whose majesty is seen, and love might be defined as making much of me.”

And so it came into the world, this great inversion we call sin. And love was made to stand now on its head. I grieve, Lord, just to put it into words, but here it is with shame: Your love no longer means that you do what you must do to make yourself our joy. It has come to mean that you do what you must do so we can feel our worth. It was a sad exchange. And doubly so: Not only did it rob our souls of that one joy that you designed to satisfy us for eternity, but worse, it robbed you of your honored place as Treasure of our lives.

And everything you’ve done since that dark day in Eden is designed to set things right. Oh, what a history of deeds and revelations you have wrought to make yourself the center of our joy and take back for yourself the place of honor in the world—to be the One your people treasure more than life. How many ways you said and showed, “I made you for my glory. I made you for my praise. I made you for my honor and my name.” And, lest we miss the point, you added: “In my presence there is fullness of joy; at my right hand are pleasures forevermore. Delight yourself in me! Be glad in me and leap for joy; I am your sure and great Reward! Come taste, and even now rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Oh, what a grand design! To make our joy the echo of your excellence. To make our pleasure proof that you now hold the place of Treasure in our lives. To make the gladness of our souls the essence of our worship, and the mirror of your worth. To make yourself most glorified in us, O God, when we are satisfied in you. How could I, Lord, have ever been so blind to think that being loved by you means making much of me and not yourself? How could I put my eye to some great telescope, designed to make me glad with visions of the galaxies, and notice in the glass a dim reflection of my face and say, “Now I am happy, I am loved”? How could I stand before the setting sun, between the mountain range and the vastness of the sea, and think that everlasting joy should come from making much of me?

No, Father, love is this: At great expense you made yourself my glory and my boast. The cost was infinite by which you made yourself the Treasure of my life. You sent your Son, the blazing center of your beauty and your love. You gave him up to mockery, betrayal, thorns, the whip, the rod, the fists, the nails, the shame, and death. For what? To swallow up your wrath, and satisfy your righteousness, and bury all my sins as far as east is from the west and in the deepest sea, so that I might come home and see the galaxy. This is your love, O God, not to make much of me, but do whatever must be done so that I waken to the joy of making much of you through all eternity.

How then shall Christ not be my only boast! Not only that he bought yourself for me, O God, but is himself your perfect image and the blazing center of your radiance. What do I have that does not come from him? What gift of life or breath? What promise ever made did not receive its Yes in him? What one sweet thing—or hard thing you will soon make sweet—did I receive except that it was purchased by his blood? Not one thing I deserve, but hell. Yet everything is mine in him, and by his sacrifice alone. O God, forbid that I should ever boast save in the cross of Christ, my Lord.

And now shall we who treasure Christ and know your love is better far than life lay up, like all the world, our treasures on this earth? Would not we hear you say, as you once said, “Fool, will not this same night your soul be taken back? And then whose will these barns of bounty be?” Forbid, O Lord, that while the world is filled with need we would sit down and say, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” A terrible reversal awaits such lovelessness. “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” We tremble at the words you spoke once to the heartless rich: “Remember in your lifetime you received good things, and that poor man, beside your door, received the pain; but now the great reversal comes, and he has comfort here, while you lie there in anguish.”

O God, such riches are a wasted life. Protect us, Lord. Grant us to hear and heed another call: “Lay up your treasure not on earth, but in the place where moth and thief will never come. Make treasures for yourself that cannot fail.” But then we ask, “What treasures, Lord?” We see you smile. “I am your Treasure and your great Reward. I am your food, your drink, your festal garments and your everlasting gain. I am your life and your all-satisfying Joy.”

Yes, Lord. That is enough. But we would ask, How shall we lay this treasure up? Is it not laid there by your grace alone and bought now once for all by Jesus’ blood? How shall we make this life—this brief and only life that we now live—a laying up of treasure there in heaven? To answer this, you know, O God, that I have written this small book. And I have looked not to myself or listened to some voice. But I have tried to probe your written Word and say what you have said. That is my only claim to truth—that I have echoed what you wrote.

The answer is that in this life we may begin to treasure Christ, and here gain, as it were, an aptitude for joy in him. A greater weight of glory waits to be enjoyed for those who grow in love to Christ. And what is love to Christ? It is the cherishing of all you are for us in him. It is the treasuring of his perfection over all the treasures of the world. It is delighting in his fellowship beyond all family and friends. It is embracing all his promises that there will be more pleasure in his presence than from all the lying promises of sin. It is a gladness in the present taste of glory and the hope of future fullness when we see him face to face. It is a quiet peace along the path he chooses for us with its pain. It is a being satisfied that nothing comes to us in vain.

There is a quiet kind of joy, O Lord, that Jesus did both save us from our sin and show us how to love. His life, as you have said, was both a purchase and a path. He died for us, and now calls us to die with him. He took our poverty upon himself that we, in him, might have the riches of his heaven, and he calls us now to use our riches for the poor. He did not count equality with you a thing to grasp, but made himself of no account and crossed an endless chasm between heaven and earth, so we might see what frontier missions means and join him in the final task. Is not this, then, the way we lay up treasure in your house—to give our money and ourselves to make as many rich with God forever as we can?

A quiet kind of joy, I say, because of so much suffering. I cannot rise above the great apostle Paul who called his life a daily death and put it in a paradox: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything.” O Father, grant your church to love your glory more than gold—to cease her love affair with comfort and security. Grant that we seek the kingdom first and let the other things come as you will. Grant that we move toward need and not toward ease. Grant that the firm finality of our security in Christ free us to risk our homes and health and money on the earth. Help us to see that if we try to guard our wealth, instead of using it to show it’s not our god, then we will waste our lives, however we succeed.

Dear Lord, I tremble now to pray for readers what I barely feel myself. But I have tasted what our life might be if I, and they, could walk along the ever-present edge of death, and smile with utter confidence that if we fell, or possibly were pushed, it would be gain. Oh, what abandon, what great liberty, what invincible resolve to love would be our portion if we walked this way! What readiness to suffer for the glory of Christ! What eagerness to show the poor that we would gladly spend and be spent to make them glad in God for all eternity! What lowliness and meekness and freedom from the need for praise and pay! All things are ours in Christ—the world, life, death, the present, the future. All are ours, and we are Christ’s. And none of it deserved.

And so, dear Lord, I dare to pray that everything I’ve written in this book, if it be true, explode with fear-defeating joy in Jesus Christ. Let every wavering heart remember this: You promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So may we say with death-defying confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Forbid that any, Lord, who read these words would have to say someday, “I’ve wasted it.” But grant, by your almighty Spirit and your piercing Word, that we who name Christ as the Lord would treasure him above our lives, and feel, deep in our souls, that Christ is life and death is gain. And so may we display his worth for all to see. And by our prizing him may he be praised in all the world. May he be magnified in life and death. May every neighborhood and nation see how joy in Jesus frees his people from the power of greed and fear.

Let love flow from your saints, and may it, Lord, be this: that even if it costs our lives, the people will be glad in God. “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” Take your honored place, O Christ, as the all-satisfying Treasure of the world. With trembling hands before the throne of God, and utterly dependent on your grace, we lift our voice and make this solemn vow: As God lives, and is all I ever need, I will not waste my life …

through Jesus Christ, Amen.[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 183–189.


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Essential Oil of Gladness - Purity 721


 The Essential Oil of Gladness - Purity 721

Purity 721 05/03/2022 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a stunning sunrise breaking through the clouds and blue sky of morning over the crashing surf on the shores of Vero Beach, Florida comes to us from a friend who visited the Treasure Shores State Park back on March 14th. This sight was so stunning it inspired are friend to not only share the photo on social media but as this short poem to accompany it: 

"A brand new day

Bout to begin

With salty air upon your skin

 

A new sunrise

invokes a feeling

It shines a light

sends darkness reeling

 

Increasing light

As day commences

A symphony

for all your senses"

 

I love the sentiments of light casting out the darkness and the hope of a new day that is invoked through my friend’s prose. I also love the sensory focus as our friend’s words indicate that this experience included different aspects that encompassed all of their senses and obviously inspired their imagination.  

Well, it’s Tuesday and as the light of a new day will bring us into the second day of the work week, for some of us anyway, I am reflecting on how our walk of faith is all encompassing and how the light that the Lord brings into our life can send the “darkness reeling” regardless of the sights, sounds, or feelings of our present circumstances.  

Recently, as I reflected on the amazing journey that the Lord has led me through in my life and how I had certain hopes and expectations that didn’t come true I remarked how I was SO GLAD, that the Lord had His will be done instead of my own.  

For example, I had originally planned to try to keep my former house, with its high mortgage, because let’s face it sometimes we would rather suffer through with what’s familiar rather than be forced to do something new. But due to an error in our calculations, that hope was dashed and can I tell you, I am SO GLAD that I had to move on because it resulted in my finding a new home of my own “down by The River” and everyday I look out and see the Hudson, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord has brought me here.  

Similarly, when I was newly divorced I had considered a couple of relationships with Christian women that I thought may be “wife material”. My loneliness and lack of insight even caused me to be a little obsessed with the idea of being with one particular person to the point that I even had dreams that we would be married and serving the Lord together. But in each instance those hopes and dreams turned out to be false visions as the Lord revealed to me that these women weren’t for me.  

For a while I was convinced that my lifestyle of Christian discipleship might require a life of monkhood but then through the Lord’s providence, TammyLyn came into my life out seemingly out of nowhere. Maybe out of the middle of nowhere anyway, as Easton NY is a little off the beaten track.  So again, even though my previous interests were dead ends and I was convinced I would be happy all by myself, I was SO GLAD that I was wrong and the Lord brought a Christian woman into my life who could love me for me, and for who I am in Christ, and the man I am trying to be as I seek out my purpose in God’s kingdom.

So yeah, we can be SO GLAD, over the prayers that aren’t answered sometimes because we don’t necessarily know what is best for us or what God has planned, or how He works all things, and I mean all things, as His word tells us, He works all thing together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  

So obviously with those various disappointments in my journey, I didn’t know what the Lord had in store for me and I could have been bitter over my misfortunes.  

But you know what? I wasn’t!  Why?  Because every day, I thanked the Lord for saving me and providing me with what I had.  Whether it was sunny and bright or snowy and dark, I put on the garment of praise and experienced the Lord’s presence with me on a continual basis as I prayed for strength, guidance, and to be used by Him for His kingdom cause whatever that would be.    

Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV) talks about how the Lord can console us, It says:
3  To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."

Putting on that “garment of praise” – the act of praising and thanking the Lord every day regardless of seasons or circumstances, will lift that “spirit of heaviness” and will give us “beauty for ashes” and give us joy even in the face of bitter disappointment and traumatic losses.   

For the Lord wants to show us that in Him we are never defeated and we are never alone. Standing on our identity in Christ and praising and thanking the Lord gives us the power overcome and when we walk in the Lord’s ways and are firmly rooted in His righteousness, in Christ and in holiness, we glorify the Lord through our faithfulness.  

Psalm 45:7 (NKJV) says
7  You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

 

Although this Psalm has messianic themes that point to Jesus, it also points to the fact that when we choose the Lord’s path of righteousness over the worldly ways of wickedness, we will be anointed with the oil of gladness” more than our worldly neighbors who don’t know the hope and joy that come through faith in Jesus Christ and through the process of growing in the fruit of the Spirt when we walk in the Spirit.   

 

Walking in the light in the company of our Lord is the Way that leads to an abundant life that will encompass and excite all of our senses and just happens to be the path that leads to life forevermore.    SO keep walking and talking with God, and one day regardless of times of trouble or days of disappointment  you will be SO GLAD to discover all the things the Lord has been working together for your good.  

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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:

Psalm 147:6 (NLT2)
6  The LORD supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us of the support that the Lord has for the humble and the dusty demise that awaits the wicked.  

In this world, you may have heard the adage that “nice guys finish last” or “only the good die young”  and wonder what’s the point of trying to do the “right” thing when so many people benefit from following the world’s ways where the ends justify the means. 

Well, today’s verse assures us that we have the Lord’s support when we remain humble and that the ones who follow the wicked ways of the world will perish.  All the money, power, and posssions that we can accumulate through legitimate or illegitimate means will mean nothing when the Lord calls us to answer for our lives.  

Those who humble themselves, admit their sin, and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ will be forgiven and welcomed into God’s kingdom but those who are wise in their own sight and think that their status in the world, their good works, or their worldly power and influence will deliver them into a state of grace will be sorely mistaken. As the Lord Jesus says of those who haven’t humbled themselves to His Lordship:

Matthew 7:23 (NKJV)
23  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

So acknowledge the authority of the Lord and humbly follow His ways.  When we do that He will support us but when we cut corners or do things our way, we will be exposed for our wickedness and brough down lower than the dust.

 

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.

5 - Risk Is Right—Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It

If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from it is to waste your life.

What Is Risk?

I define risk very simply as an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury. If you take a risk you can lose money, you can lose face, you can lose your health or even your life. And what’s worse, if you take a risk, you may endanger other people and not just yourself. Their lives may be at stake. Will a wise and loving person, then, ever take a risk? Is it wise to expose yourself to loss? Is it loving to endanger others? Is losing life the same as wasting it?

It depends. Of course you can throw your life away in a hundred sinful ways and die as a result. In that case, losing life and wasting it would be the same. But losing life is not always the same as wasting it. What if the circumstances are such that not taking a risk will result in loss and injury? It may not be wise to play it safe. And what if a successful risk would bring great benefit to many people, and its failure would bring harm only to yourself? It may not be loving to choose comfort or security when something great may be achieved for the cause of Christ and for the good of others.

Risk Is Woven into the Fabric of Our Finite Lives

Why is there such a thing as risk? Because there is such a thing as ignorance. If there were no ignorance there would be no risk. Risk is possible because we don’t know how things will turn out. This means that God can take no risks. He knows the outcome of all his choices before they happen. This is what it means to be God over against all the gods of the nations (Isaiah 41:23; 42:8–9; 44:6–8; 45:21; 46:8–11; 48:3). And since he knows the outcome of all his actions before they happen, he plans accordingly. His omniscience rules out the very possibility of taking risks.

But not so with us. We are not God; we are ignorant. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. God does not tell us in detail what he intends to do tomorrow or five years from now. Evidently God intends for us to live and act in ignorance and in uncertainty about the outcome of our actions.

He says to us, for example, in James 4:13–15:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

You don’t know if your heart will stop before you finish reading this page. You don’t know if some oncoming driver will swerve out of his lane and hit you head-on in the next week, or if the food in the restaurant may have some deadly virus in it, or if a stroke may paralyze you before the week is out, or if some man with a rifle will shoot you at the shopping center. We are not God. We do not know about tomorrow.

Exploding the Myth of Safety

Therefore risk is woven into the fabric of our finite lives. We cannot avoid risk even if we want to. Ignorance and uncertainty about tomorrow is our native air. All of our plans for tomorrow’s activities can be shattered by a thousand unknowns whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways. One of my aims is to explode the myth of safety and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it’s a mirage. It doesn’t exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns and things beyond your control.

The tragic hypocrisy is that the enchantment of security lets us take risks every day for ourselves but paralyzes us from taking risks for others on the Calvary road of love. We are deluded and think that it may jeopardize a security that in fact does not even exist. The way I hope to explode the myth of safety and to disenchant you with the mirage of security is simply to go to the Bible and show that it is right to risk for the cause of Christ, and not to is to waste your life.

“May the Lord Do What Seems Good to Him”

Consider the context of 2 Samuel 10. The Amalekites had shamed the messengers of Israel and made themselves odious in the sight of David. To protect themselves they had hired the Syrians to fight with them against the Israelites. Joab, the commander of Israel’s forces, found himself surrounded with Amalekites on one side and Syrians on the other. So he divided his troops, put his brother Abishai in charge of one troop of fighters, and led the other himself.

In verse 11 they pledged to help each other. Then comes this great word in verse 12: “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” What do these last words mean, “May the Lord do what seems good to him”? It means that Joab had made a strategic decision for the cities of God, and he did not know how it would turn out. He had no special revelation from God on this issue. He had to make a decision on the basis of sanctified wisdom. He had to risk or run. He did not know how it would turn out. So he made his decision, and he handed the results over to God. And this was right.[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 79–82.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Mercies New Every Morning! - I Am not Ashamed! – Purity 640


Mercies New Every Morning! - I Am not Ashamed! –  Purity 640

Purity 640 01/28/2022  Purity 640 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a setting sun over what looks like a frozen field of snow is actually a winter’s view of the Hudson River as I stopped in Castleton to capture this scene on the way home from work last evening.   

It’s the last Friday in January of 2022 and just like that we are quickly exiting the first month of a new year and as slow as the beginning of this week seemed to be on Tuesday evening here we are at the end of another work week and soon to enter into a new month this Tuesday.   

That’s the great thing about God’s created order, time keeps marching on and as the word tells us His mercies are new every morning. That means that everyday we can rejoice in the hope of a new day and because of the Lord’s “great sidereal movement over which time is commonly reckoned” we can be assured that no matter what troubles we may be going through in this life we are one more day closer to moving out of them with each new morning.    

God’s created order should be a great comfort for us as every aspect of our existence can be seen as evidence for God’s presence and care for us.  The universe screams that there is a God and that He has created an environment in which we can live and thrive and while the conditions of this world may be cold and forbidding at times God has poured His wisdom into man to discover ways to not only survive but to prosper in the face of circumstantial adversities.  

So as we move through the last day of the work week, let’s take some time today to thank the Lord for helping us to progress to this moment in our lives and take some time to reflect on how we are doing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Let’s use this weekend to examine our experience in January and evaluate what is working and what may need to be changed.

God encourages us to have an abundant life that is filled with peace and joy but the key to finding it is to recognize His sovereignty and to align ourselves with His wisdom and ways for our lives.  

As preparation for some ministry work that I have planned for tomorrow, I decided to do a spiritual check up by praying through the Steps to Freedom in Christ this morning. The Steps have us look at our pasts and resolve any issues on our hearts by renouncing the things we shouldn’t have done, asking for God’s forgiveness, and by committing ourselves to follow Him with a renewed mind, heart, and spirit from this point forward.  

The process allows us to remove any residual bitterness that we may have on our souls that result from less than perfect interactions with our “neighbors” by forgiving those who have “sinned” against us and by releasing those negative feelings that resulted for our being “offended”.   As you walk through life, you can pick up all kinds of little offenses and when you release them in prayer to God, you can be amazed just how burdened you were and didn’t realize it!

So this morning I am rejoicing over my relationship with God and all the people in my life because I have sought forgiveness from God, forgiven others for anything they had knowingly or unknowingly done against me that made me feel hurt, offended, or rejected, and now realize once again the tremendous gift that my relationship with God has given me. 

My relationship with God through my faith in Christ has set me free and the continual practice of my faith gives me the opportunity to keep enjoying the gift of a new eternal life that I have received.  

So if you are feeling blah, and are wondering what’s so good about life, repent and go to God to receive the mercy of His love that can give you a renewed spirit when you simply are honest with Him and seek it.  

The battle of our lives as Christians is to keep the hope of our faith alive because the world, the flesh, and the devil all seek to drive us to despair with their false promises of fulfillment.   So fight the good fight of faith by reminding yourself of who you are in Christ and of just how good God is.   

If you want to know how to fight, Deeper Walk International has a free online conference on Spiritual Warfare tonight and tomorrow and I am sharing the link on the blog today. (https://deeperwalkinternational.org/product/free-spiritual-warfare-conference/)

Dr. Neil Anderson and other Christian teachers will be addressing the reality of the spiritual world of darkness that endeavors to lead us into despair and will be teaching on how we can experience and maintain our freedom in Christ.  So if you need knowledge and understanding, seek it and learn how to fight for and win the abundant life that God has for you to experience.  

So keep walking and talking with God because it is through our relationship with Him that we can experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  Enjoy the mercies of a new morning and walk in the hope that comes from living by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.   

When you experience the joy of your salvation and the peace that knows that nothing can separate you from God’s love you will not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and will boldly speak about the Lord’s goodness and the power that He gives us to overcome.  

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 1:16 (NLT2)
16  For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.

Today’s verse speaks of the power that the good news of Jesus Christ can have on our lives and the boldness that it provokes in us to speak it.  

The good news of Jesus Christ is for every man, Jews, and Gentiles, and it is every man’s responsibility in life to find peace with God and the only way to be reconciled to Him is through Jesus.     

As today’s verse tells us, this good news has the power to save but in order to be saved we must believe.  We don’t earn salvation we receive it through faith in Christ alone.   That’s why it is good news! We don’t earn salvation we receive it by believing that Jesus is the Messiah and that by our placing our faith in Him as Lord and Savior we are given a new life of significance, security and acceptance as adopted children of God. 

“Everyone” means everyone.  Everyone who believes is saved. So no matter what you have done or where you have come from, God extends the invitation to be saved and to live forever with Him to those who seek His truth put their faith in Jesus.   

If you have believed on the Lord Jesus, you are saved and that should fill you with the joy and peace of the Lord and cause you to boldly proclaim that good news to a world that desperately needs it.    

So feel he power and love of your salvation, let it work in you to give you peace and to motivate you to live for God and His purpose for your life.  Do not be ashamed of the glorious gift of your salvation. Instead be a light in the darkness, that burns bright for the cause of Christ, to seek and save that which is lost and to reconcile men to God through His beloved Son.  

They say that if you see something you should say something. Well in Christ we have seen death turned to life and light shine in the darkness.  So be not ashamed, be bold and speak the good news of Jesus Christ!       

 

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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 6.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

AVENUES OF PRIDE

People come from diverse backgrounds, but pride, rebellion, and self-sufficiency are consequences of the Fall and common to all humanity. The whole aim of Satan is to get self-interest recognized as the chief end of man. Satan is called the “prince of this world” because self-interest rules this world. The iniquity that is passed on from one generation to another is a distortion of, and preoccupation with, self-will. This self-will is the chief characteristic of the false prophet and teacher. Peter says they “indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties.”130 They operate from independent spirits and won’t answer to anyone. An even more sober scenario is given in Matthew 7:20-23:

So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness [iniquity].”

Strongholds of pride are not only passed on from one generation to the next, but each new generation will develop its own basis for pride by seeking fame and fortune in the worldly system in which it is raised. Self-glorification can come by accumulating wealth, garnering social status, acquiring academic degrees, and even obtaining biblical knowledge. There is nothing wrong with having wealth, social status, academic degrees, or biblical knowledge—if they are obtained by the grace of God for the purpose of doing His will.

Pride is the chief characteristic of the world: “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”131 All temptation is an attempt to get us to live our lives independently of God. When we give into such temptation, we unwittingly serve the world, the flesh, or the devil. We have been deceived into thinking we are benefiting ourselves, but such temporal gratification quickly fades away. Jesus counters by sharing the way of the Cross, the foundational principle for our lives in Christ, which is the repudiation of the old natural life and embracing the new joyful union with the resurrected life of Christ.

Though the immediate evidence of pride is self-centeredness, the root of pride is self-exaltation. It is at this point that we are most like the evil “god of this world.” Self-exaltation expressed by subtle attitudes of pride and self-righteousness will keep a person from humbly admitting the need for Christ’s righteousness. Such pride is an open invitation to the god of this world, which may render impossible the ability to carry out even the best of our intentions. Notice how this proved to be true in the life of Peter.

Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”132 Notice that Jesus didn’t say He would not permit Satan to sift Peter like wheat. He just said He would pray for him, that he would be able to help others if he repented.

What right did Satan have to ask permission of God? The previous context reveals that a dispute had arisen among the apostles regarding who was the greatest. Such pride can coexist with the best of intentions. Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death.” Sadly, he had already forfeited his right. Before the cock crowed, Peter denied his Lord three times.

 

 ---------------------------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. 

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