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Showing posts with label Victory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Victory. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2023

Live in Victory - The Joy of Champions - Purity 965

Live in Victory - The Joy of Champions - Purity 965

Purity 965 02/13/2023 Purity 965 Podcast

Purity 965 on YouTube: Coming Soon!

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun shining bright through a less than clear windshield over I90 West about a mile east of Exit 32 comes to us from yours truly as I decided capture the sun while speeding towards Syracuse because I wasn’t sure if it would be there when I got there with minutes to spare before sunset.  

Well, It’s Monday and it turns out the sun was in Syracuse when I got there yesterday but any inclination to capture sunset photos from my hotel’s parking lot was not.  The drive out west wasn’t terribly long but all I wanted to upon arrive was to grab my bags, get to my room, and relax.   It was Superbowl Sunday after all and even though I hadn’t really watch any significant amount of football all season, I felt that old familiar pull to watch the big game.   I didn’t have much of an opinion on which team I liked better.  The truth is that I have friends or acquaintances that are fans of both the Eagles and the Chiefs and so I wasn’t sure who I would root for. I had picked the Eagles to win in my family’s Yahoo pick ‘em league earlier in the week but when I saw that ALL (literally all) the Fox pregame commentators picked the Eagles to win, I suddenly found myself emotionally invested in the underdog – the Chiefs.  So I decided to root for them.

But I am not the football fan that I used to be, by half time – with the Chiefs down by 10 points and the Chiefs quarterback limp jogging off the field after being injured on a play late in the 2nd quarter, I decided to avoid the emotional roller coaster and probable disappointment and decided to call it a night and go to bed before the third quarter was even under way.   I had hoped that the Chiefs would win, I guess, but with Patrick Mahomes injured it looked like they were destined to lose.   

But I awoke to discover that the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes had other ideas.  I haven’t watched any of the highlights yet but apparently the Chiefs overcame the half time deficit and are champions once again.  

As I stated- I haven’t watched the highlights but I know that Patrick Mahomes has led his team in come from behind wins before and apparently he did it again.  And that is one aspect of the experience of our lives that I would like to encourage us all with on this Monday morning – drawing from

2 Peter 1:2-4 (NLT2)
2  May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
3  By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
4  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

So whether you have overcome and experienced freedom and victory before or if you are striving to overcome in certain areas for the first time, let me encourage you that God has given us everything we need to do it because He enables us by sharing His divine nature.  

So whether you are continuing an ongoing victory parade or find yourself back to the drawing board let me encourage you by telling you that our victory lies in Christ and abiding in Him.  

The world, the flesh, and the devil can tempt us and draw us away from the people God created us to be.  Superbowl Sunday is one of our man made feast days that is a veritable trap of over indulgence, possible sin, and strife as a sporting contest that should give glory to God is inflated with pride and surrounded by vice. Many people may be not at work today because of hang overs from too much food or drink. Dejected Eagles fans could be depressed, bitter, or angry as all the hopes and emotions they invested in someone else’s achievements were not realized.   And elated Chief fans may be filled pride until next year over a victory that someone else has won.  

The only vicarious achievement that we can truly share in is the victory that Christ has won for us through His death and resurrection and when we put our faith in Him not only do we have the victory over death and the grave, we receive the power to be transformed and set free from the sins and negative emotions that so easily beset us.   

Not only is the joy of the Lord are strength because of our salvation, we can be joyful because Christ gives us the power to overcome.  

Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)
11  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
12  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

So whether this Monday finds you high or low, remember to be content and that Christ has given us everything we need to live a godly life.  

Whether we have to dig ourselves out of a deficit, maintain the freedom and victory, or to boldly take on new challenges, the Lord enables us to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  We can overcome our sinful desires and have a life that is defined by peace, love, and joy when we live according to God’s precious promises that are given freely to those who put their faith in Christ and decide to follow Him.   

So, let’s turn the page on last week and any defeats we may have suffered by making the decision today to keep walking and talking to God so we can share in His power. We already have been given all we need to live a godly life so let’s walk in it and experience the abundant life that comes from living in freedom and victory.   Christ has already won the victory, so let’s live with the determination and joy of champions.

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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:

Acts 5:41 (NLT2)
41  The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.

Today’s Bible reminds us that we should rejoice when we suffer because of our faith in Christ.   

It may seem strange that the apostles would rejoice because they were persecuted by the high council but we have to remember that it wasn’t the suffering and insult they were taking joy in but that they received it only because they represented Jesus and the kingdom of God.  

Sometimes in our walk of faith we can doubt whether or not we are faithful Christians, but when some one treats you badly or rejects you because of your faith in Christ you can rejoice because they are confirming you in your faith!    

As painful as rejection and mild or not so mild persecution can be, we can at least find solace in knowing that our faith is true and that it is what is to be expected as Christ warned his disciples that they would be hated because of Him.   

When we suffer we are in good company, we are not only a part of the fellowship of the saints that have gone on before us who suffered or died because of their faith, we become partners in Christ’s suffering. 

1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT2)
12  Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.
13  Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

So don’t be surprised if persecution comes but be assured that through it you not only receive a confirmation of your faith, you also have the wonderful joy of seeing Christ’s glory when He comes to rule and reign forever.

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

Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”

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

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

By  ARTHUR W. PINK

CHAPTER SIX

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN OPERATION continues

God’s method of dealing with the righteous: continues

2. God exerts upon His own elect an energizing influence or power.

The apostle prayed to God for the Ephesian saints that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened in order that, among other things, they might know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe” (Eph. 1:18), and that they might be “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (3:16). It is thus that the children of God are enabled to fight the good fight of faith and battle with the adverse forces which constantly war against them. In themselves they have no strength: they are but “sheep,” and sheep are one of the most defenseless animals there is; but the promise is sure—“He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength” (Isa. 40:29).

It is this energizing power that God exerts upon and within the righteous which enables them to serve Him acceptably. Said the prophet of old, “But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord” (Micah 3:8). And said our Lord to His apostles, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8), and thus it proved, for of these same men we read subsequently, “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). So it was, too, with the apostle Paul, “and my speech and my preaching was not with enticing word of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4). But the scope of this power is not confined to service, for we read in 2 Pet. 1:3, “According as His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” Hence it is that the various graces of the Christian character, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” are ascribed directly to God Himself, being denominated “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22). Compare 2 Cor. 8:16.

3. God exerts upon His own elect a directing influence or power.

Of old He led His people across the wilderness, directing their steps by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and today He still directs His saints, though now from within rather from without. “For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our Guide even unto death” (Psa. 48:14), but He “guides” us by working in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. That He does so guide us is clear from the words of the apostle in Eph. 2:10—“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Thus all ground for boasting is removed and God gets all the glory, for with the prophet we have to say, “Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us” (Isa. 26:12). How true then that “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:29)! Compare Psa. 65:4; Ezek. 36:27.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 122–124.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

From the Valley of the Shadow of Death to We are the Champions - Purity 771


From the Valley of the Shadow of Death  to We are the Champions - Purity 771

Purity 771 06/30/2022 Purity 771 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a green pathway to a distant lake of blue comes to us from a friend’s recent trip to Thirteenth Lake in the Adirondack region of Upstate New York.  I love the way the pathway is a mix of sunlight and shadows under a canopy of trees and how it offers the promise of something good at the end of the tunnel.  

Well, It’s Thursday again and as is my custom I share a photo of a pathway to encourage my friends to keep going or to step onto the path of Christian Discipleship by making drawing close to God each day in Bible study, prayer, and by living according to His word, to the best of your abilities.  I say “to the best of your abilities” to indicate that a life of faith is not about perfection and that no matter where you are in your life as a Christian, God is right there with you and that He is encouraging you to keep going because when you walk and talk with Him on a continuous basis there is always more to see and experience along the way as we draw closer to Him and the purposes He has for us.  

I was going to say as “He draws you towards something good”, because after all He does work all things together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose, but just as this pathway has various portions that are in light and in shadows, I don’t want to set up the expectation that “good things” or “good times” are always to be found on the path when we walk with God.  

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV) says
4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…

to reflect the truth that things won’t always be sunny in the metaphorical “Philadelphia”, the city of brotherly love of Christianity.

The “valley of the shadow of death” could be used to describe a metaphorical period of darkness in one’s life as we could face various trials like disease, relationship turmoil, financial difficulties, or the difficulties of overcoming sin.    But that “valley of the shadow” of death could also describe times of “literal death” as in suffering through a period of grief as we prepare for the death of a loved one who is suffering or after the loved one has departed.   This dark phrase can also describe periods of mortal danger as Christians may be called to walk through a period of persecution where people will literally try to take their lives. And finally, the valley of the shadow of death could be used to describe walking through or fighting through  a war zone.   

I never want to be accused of painting too bright a picture of Christianity because our faith does not insulate us from pain, suffering, persecution, or danger.   Just because we are Christians, it doesn’t mean there won’t be “shadows” in our journey down the path of Christian discipleship.   

But no matter how dark the day is , when we are in Christ and we shape our lives to be lived according to God’s word and  are spent in His presence, there is always the light of hope to encourage us and to guide us.   There is light at the end of the tunnel and there is a good deal of light along the way, if we walk and talk with God.

In speaking of the valley of the shadow of death, the psalmist goes on to say:  

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)
4  … I will fear no evil;

And why is that exactly?

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

For You are with me;

In the Lord’s presence there is always light.  In His presence, we can find the courage to not fear evil and to endure and persevere through all the various trials of life, and when we walk through life’s, joys and, difficulties with the Lord we learn to be patient and seek His wisdom as we go.  

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV) concludes by saying:
4   Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Bible scholars have described the Lord’s “rod” and “staff” as His guidance and His protection, as shepherds would use a rod to drive or correct their sheep’s direction and the staff would be used to pull a sheep out of trouble. When we walk with the Lord, no matter how dep the shadows may be, we are comforted by His constant guidance and protection.    

So when I talk about walking on the path of Christian Discipleship, I’m not talking about some magical tour of sun shiny days that will be free of trials or pain, but as I have received the continuous comfort of the Father’s presence, guidance, and protection in my journey down this narrow road, I can assure you that although I took the path least traveled through this post Christian landscape, it has made all the difference.

So keep walking and talking with God. Others may hate for it or not understand what has happened to you but Your Heavenly Father will guide, protect, and comfort you through the shadows and lead you in the way of His light.   

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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 62:1 (NLT2)
1 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

Today’s Bible verse advises us where our victory come from. It comes from God and quietly waiting before Him. 

We are the champions, my friends….

I am a Queen fan. I’m certainly not a supporter of Freddy Mercury’s lifestyle choices and as I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar award winning film based on a portion of his life,  I was pained by how such a talented artist could be plagued by the sins of the flesh and the pride of life and how the freedom of fortune and fame doesn’t lead us to truth. 

But that song, We are the Champions, by Queen, is simply iconic of the thrill of victory and it transcends, time because it beautifully describes the human struggle and the joy of overcoming.  

I’m not as huge a sports fan as I used to be but I am a Indianapolis Colts fan.  When I was in high school and seeking to form my identity by the things I was “in to”, I didn’t really have a favorite a football team and resisted just going with the New York Teams because I was from New York State nor did I want to be a fan of a team just because my friends or family liked a team. In deciding a favorite football team, I wanted it to be “my team”.      

I had been partial to the Houston Oilers because of their limited success in the 70’s but as history can testify their Super Bowl dreams were never fulfilled and the small amount of criticism I received for being their fan when they missed their chance and began to fade into mediocrity caused me to disavow any loyalties to the Oilers.   I was a young man without a team and as these things matter to young men, or at least they did at the time in my circles, I felt I had to pick somebody!

It was 1986 and I saw a story on Inside the NFL about the Indianapolis Colts and how they were so bad that there was a possibility that they would have a winless season but in the last 3 weeks of the season the lowly Colts turned things around and won their last three games.  Being someone who didn’t have many friends, I could relate to another “loser” and when I saw that the Colts defied the odds, fought back, and won those last three “meaningless” games. That was enough for me. The Colts were my team from that moment forth and I declared myself to be a fan of theirs with absolutely no expectations of future success.    

For someone who wasn’t much of a fan of sports, it was the perfect choice. The Colts’ games were rarely seen on T.V. in my local market so I just would follow them in the newspapers and if they lost I didn’t have to see it.  

And the Colts did go on to have varying levels of success at times because of players like Eric Dickerson and Jim Harbaugh but they never made it to the Super Bowl and would have moments of greatness and success  followed by seasons of struggle.  

But then in 1998 the Colts drafted Peyton Manning and even though the Colts were 3-13, again, in his rookie season, they had increasing success until finally in the 2006 Season, Peyton Manning led the Colts to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory since 1971, the first and only one in my life time.  

So, you can be sure that “We are the Champions” was playing at my place, on repeat, back on February 6, 2007, on the evening of my team’s victory.  After choosing the Colts and waiting 21 years, my team had won!

As great as all that is, I share it not to point to Peyton Manning, the Colts, or even myself.   

I know now that God is sovereign. That means He is in control of shaping world history, that includes sports history.   So that year, the Lord allowed the Colts to win.  And even though I was a man with highly questionable faith at the time, I prayed for my teams success and the Lord was gracious enough to grant my and many other Colts fam’s request that day.    

All victory comes from God. All of it. Every outcome has His sovereign hands moving or allowing things to come into play. Ever see a “miraculous play”, I think we all have. That was God as much as it was the skill of the players.   Why do some balls get dropped? Why do some get plucked out of the air with one hand, off of helmets, off of feet, to be caught?  Gravity? Karma?  Not, God’s sovereign will makes the miraculous possible. He brings the victory in all things. 

But don’t curse God if your team is a loser okay?  

Because God offers all of mankind a place on His championship team.  Through faith in Jesus Christ God seeks to “draft you” to be a part of a franchise that will enjoy the victory that will make a Super Bowl victory seem like a Tee-Ball exhibition scrimmage. God freely offers all men the ability to know what victory really means. God seeks to make peace with us and rewards us with the victory over sin and death when we place our faith in Him. 

With these twin victories, over sin and death, God assures us of a good end and new beginning.   We are secure in His love and promised eternity in His presence for the ever after but we are also given the power to win a victory over besetting sins and the negative ministates, like fear, anger, depression, and anxiety, that come from a life separated from Him.  Through God gives us the victory and the new identity of a champion.  

When we receive the new life that Christ gives to us we can overcome impossible odds to accomplish what we never thought we could: a life defined by peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, patience and self-control.  

So become a part of God’s winning team by making Christ your Lord & savior.  And then quietly wait on Him to lead and guide you in the way you should go because His way is a victory tour that never ends.  

The Lord has a plan and purpose for your life. He gives you the victory the minute you come to Him and you are set on a path to experience more triumphs when you walk with Him.

______________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

The Influence of the Powers on Society: Pagan Religion

Jewish writers ascribed the rise of all non-Jewish religions to the inspiration of evil powers. In discussing the influence of the powers on the rise of civilization after the flood, the book of Jubilees, a second-century B.C. writing, refers to the beginnings of idolatry. The inhabitants of Ur of the Chaldees “made for themselves molten images, and everyone worshiped the icon which they made for themselves as a molten image. And they began making graven images and polluted likenesses. And cruel spirits assisted them and led them astray so that they might commit sin and pollution. And the prince, Mastema, acted forcefully to do all of this” (Jubilees 11:4–5). Likewise, the apocalyptic book of 1 Enoch speaks of the demonic root of idolatry: “The spirits of the angels … have defiled the people and will lead them into error so that they will offer sacrifices to the demons as unto gods, until the great day of judgment in which they shall be judged till they are finished” (1 Enoch 19:1).

Although the Old Testament is not as explicit about the involvement of the evil powers in the origins of idolatry, it does affirm that sacrificing to idols is tantamount to sacrificing to demons (Deut 32:16–17). Such a sentiment is also known in the New Testament (Rev 9:20). Most important is the fact that this perspective about demonic involvement in pagan religion characterized the apostle Paul’s belief, which he in turn passed on to the Corinthian church (1 Cor 10:19–21).

Many streams of Judaism also believed occultic practices were the work of the devil and his powers. According to 1 Enoch, the fallen angels taught people magic, incantations, alchemy and astrology (1 Enoch 7–8; see also Jubilees 11:1–8).

The Influence of the Powers on Society: Warfare and the State

Even civil unrest among the nations and their hostility toward Israel is attributed to the devious work of the evil powers. The book of Jubilees ascribes a murderous tendency in people to the influence of the forces of Mastema, an evil angel corresponding to Satan: “And [Mastema] sent out other spirits to those who were set under his hand to practice all error and sin and all transgression, to destroy, to cause to perish and to pour out blood upon the earth” (11:5). All the weaponry of warfare was also inspired by fallen angels: “And Azaz’el taught the people the art of making swords and knives, and shields, and breastplates” (1 Enoch 8:1).

Egypt’s hostility to Israel, and especially to Moses, is interpreted by the book of Jubilees as stemming from the supernatural opposition of the evil Mastema. It was actually Mastema who used the Egyptian Pharaoh in an attempt to kill Moses; it was also Mastema who enabled the Egyptian magicians to perform the great wonders in opposition to Moses; furthermore, it was Mastema who exerted his evil-inspiring influence on the Egyptians to pursue Israel into the sea (Jubilees 48).

As we have already seen, the Jewish community, which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls, gives a similar prominence to the demonic in their understanding of society. According to the Qumran War Scroll (1QM), it is Satan and his powers who are behind the Roman usurpers: “All those [who are ready] for battle shall march out and shall pitch their camp before the king of the Kittim [Romans] and before all the host of Satan gathered about him for the Day [of Revenge] by the Sword of God” (1QM 15.2–3).

The demonic, therefore, had a major role in a popular Jewish understanding of society during the time leading up to the New Testament period. Any early Jewish theory of social justice would have given a prominent place to the spiritual and supernatural dimension of life. In the eyes of the writer of the book of Jubilees, justice and freedom from oppression would have been impossible to obtain for Israel without addressing the powerful demonic hostility of Mastema. The people of Israel were freed from their formidable conditions because Yahweh worked through his servant Moses to redeem them as part of his larger plan for his people. The Qumran community was anticipating the direct intervention of “the mighty hand of God” to deal an everlasting blow to “Satan and all the host of his kingdom.”[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 69–71.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Celebrating and Claiming Continuous Victory in Christ– Purity 643


 Celebrating and Claiming Continuous Victory in Christ–  Purity 643

Purity 643 02/01/2022 Purity 643 POdcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the last sunset of January of 2022 over the mostly frozen Hudson River near Castleton NY comes to us from yours truly as I seized the moment yesterday and decided to capture a picture of that blazing sun that I knew would be just below the horizon when I got back to my home in fifteen minutes or so.  And I was right, the sun sets quick in January in my neck of the woods and when you have extended periods of overcast skies you have to be intentional in enjoying the sun when it is out on display.     When the temperatures in the morning are either below or just above zero, you can either lament over the cold or rejoice when the sun does come out and raises the temperatures to the relatively balmy mid-twenties or the sweltering heat of those above that magic number of 32 degrees when the ice and snow melts and recedes a little bit.  

I’m not fooling myself of course today is February 1st and I know that our winter seasons are often defined by what happens in the next 28 days, but I have lived long enough to know that everyday we go through in the next two months is another day closer to the return of spring and although I can appreciate winter for what it is, I consider every passing day in the days ahead as a victory of sorts.    

Through the many years of my life, I have walked through many trials and tribulations and thankfully I have had a close relationship with the Lord to help me walk through most of the hardest ones in the past 11, going on 12 years.   Our walk with the Lord is progressive walk through time and space and will ultimately culminate in our being in His presence and His kingdom as He will eventually reclaim all of existence for His purposes and glory.      

So just like our slow walk through the season of winter, every day behind us is another day closer to the return of the Lord and thus our progressing lives should not be viewed with fear or trepidation as we contemplate seeing the end times unfold before us or as we see ourselves age.  Instead we should have immense hope and joy over the fact that we are moving closer to the days where we will see our Lord face to face.  We should view every day as a mini-victory because we are moving closer to Him and because we are being faithful to follow Him through all the “mini-dramas” of our lives.    

I know that focusing on the return of the Lord and the coming of His kingdom may be a tall order for our imaginations and may seem to be as cold a comfort as the winter’s crisp temperatures outside, but our Christian walk also focuses on the here and now and the hope we have for today can be increased by our reflection on the Lord’s interactions in our lives and from the testimonies of others.   

The word of God is filled with statements that tell us that because of our faith in Christ we already have “the victory” that we seek.  

1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)
57  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ we are victorious, over sin and death. So yes, we can celebrate our “future homecoming” in heaven!  In,

John 14:2-3 (NKJV), Christ told his disciples
2  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Christ was talking about the life after death in heaven. Hey, the assurance that we need not fear death is something that should liberate you from fear!  So meditate on that!  Or the other option is that we will be living on the earth when Christ comes to take us home while we still live! 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV) says:
16  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

I’m just trying to be obedient and comfort you with these words.   Talk about good news! 

But beyond these awesome pictures, of heaven or the rapture of the saints,  we can enjoy the progressive victory of being faithful to the call of Christ on our lives by living everyday in His presence and enjoying the peace that comes from walking in the Spirit.   

Our daily lives as Christian disciples are lives that are filled with the worship of the Lord and the contemplation of  who we are in Christ and the abundant joy that comes from progressive growth and maturity that we experience the more that we walk with the Lord.      

So keep walking and talking with God and experience your life as a victorious celebration of your Christian faith, that recognizes the things you have gone through, the things you are doing now, and looks forward to what the Lord will be doing next on this journey called life where the God who created the universe has personally called your name and asked you to be with Him for all eternity and who wants you to see the  fruit of the Spirit manifest in your life when you draw close to Him and follow where He leads.    

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 116:15 (NLT2)
15  The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die.

Today’s verse speaks of the Lord’s great care for our lives and of our passing.   

The Lord loves all of His creation. So in a way all those living are His loved ones.  However, His redemptive plan, the reason Jesus lived and died for the atonement of our sins, offers mankind the choice to accept or reject His love.  

The Lord loves us so much that He wants us to be free to choose to love Him in return.  The word tells us that God doesn’t anyone to perish and that He wishes that all would come to have faith in Jesus, but He doesn’t force us to.    

So He deeply cares about when His loved ones die because some of those loved ones will choose to reject Him and face His wrath rather than accept His love.   

But this verse also can refer to those who accept His love and are given eternal life because of their faith in Jesus.  

You might think that God wouldn’t care about the deaths of those who will be in His eternal kingdom and who will be victorious over death, but He does care.  

The shortest verse in the Bible:  

John 11:35 (NKJV)
35  Jesus wept.

Refers to Jesus’ response to the death of Lazarus.  Even though Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead He still cried.   Why? Because death, for the believer or the unbeliever is wrong.  Death is the result of sin as scripture tells us the wages of sin is death. God warned Adam of the consequences of sin, but he ignored it and every descendant of Adam therefore sins and dies.   

However, God made a way for us to live, and Revelation tells us that in the coming kingdom of the Lord that there will be no more death. 

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)
4  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

God doesn’t want any of us to die. He cares deeply when His loved ones die, and He has made a way through Jesus Christ where we can overcome death and He will one day close the books on death and sin as He establishes the new heaven and new earth where He will reign forever.     

So it’s okay to grieve the dead, God cares when His loved ones die so we should care too, and we should be very vocal when our friends and family suffer a loss to speak the truth in love and to let them know that God calls us to life through faith in Jesus Christ and that some day death will be not more for those who answer His call. 

 

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 begin sharing from Chapter 7.   

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.

CHAPTER SEVEN -  OVERCOMING HABITUAL SIN

Suppose you could see the reality of the spiritual world as God does and knew what people were thinking. You observed a dark brooding angelic figure lurking outside the door of a young Christian named Danny.

Disguised as an angel of light, this demon subtly suggests that Danny open the door to sin: Why don’t you take a peek at that pornography? You know you want to. You will get away with it. Who would know? Everybody else does it.

The Holy Spirit within Danny brings immediate conviction and offers a way of escape. Danny also has a physical appetite for food and sex, as well as old flesh patterns that operate independently of God. The old nature wants to be satisfied and argues against the Spirit of God: What’s wrong with looking at pornography anyway? After all, who created me to have all these desires? Wasn’t it God? How could He create me a certain way and then condemn me for it?

The battle in the mind is intense, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.”136 God offered Danny a way of escape, but he failed to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.137 At first the pictures are a delight to the eyes, and the body responds with a euphoric explosion of feelings. But the pleasure is only for a moment, because “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”138

CONSEQUENCES TO WRONG CHOICES

The brooding figure takes advantage of the open door, because Danny acted independently of God by choosing to sin. Satan’s role as the tempter changes immediately to the role of the accuser: “You will never get away with this. How can you call yourself a Christian and do what you do? You’re pathetic!”

Overcome by guilt, Danny cries out to God, “Lord, forgive me; I’ll never do it again.” Two days later, Danny sins again, which precipitates another cry for forgiveness. As the downward spiral of sin, confess, sin, confess, and sin again continues, another event takes place. Danny is caught in his sin by another “Christian,” who knows nothing of compassion.

Instead of responding as a minister of grace and reconciliation, he joins with the brooding figure in a “ministry” of condemnation.

“You’re a pathetic example of what a real Christian is supposed to be!” he says to Danny. “How can you do that and call yourself a Christian? You’re an embarrassment to the Church. You better confess it and beg God’s forgiveness.” Legalistic controlling “Christians” are in league with the accuser of the brethren, and they don’t even know it.

This “Christian” accuser doesn’t seem to know that Danny is already forgiven by God and that he has probably confessed his sin a hundred times before. His merciless and insensitive response will only drive Danny to greater depths of despair. Adding guilt and shame does not enhance mental health. The world, the flesh, and the devil have brought another saint to his knees. How does one break this cycle of defeat? Is confession enough?

To confess means to agree with God or to walk in the light as He is in the light.139 It is the critical first step in repentance, but it is not complete repentance and won’t be until there is a demonstrated change. We must agree with God and face the truth, but that alone will not deal with sin’s entrapment. You have submitted to God, if the confession was genuine and accompanied by a commitment to do His will, but you haven’t yet resisted the devil.140

Complete repentance means to submit to God, resist the devil, and close the door to future temptations. That means getting rid of the pornography in your home, and on your computer. It means staying away from bars, drug dealers, and inappropriate relationships. It means that you “abstain from every form of evil.”141 It may mean that you change your phone number, so drug dealers and other undesirables can’t contact you. The door will be completely closed when all the bondages have been broken and all the mental strongholds have been torn down. The latter includes renouncing the lies you have believed that contributed to the sinful behavior, and then choosing the truth. This Step is intended to break the bondages and tear down the mental strongholds. You will be transformed when you renew your mind to the truth of God’s Word.142

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship