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Showing posts with label Who I Am in Christ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Who I Am in Christ. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Instinct, Reactivity and Responding – Freedom in Christ - Purity 769


Instinct, Reactivity and Responding – Freedom in Christ - Purity 769

Purity 769 06/28/2022 Purity 769 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of farmland and  my canine companion, Harley, thrusting his head into some roadside weeds underneath pleasant blue skies comes to us from your truly as I captured this random photo somewhere along Waite Road back on May 29th.  

The power lines in the background that obscure the simplicity of this pastural scene and the fact of my doggie friend’s head is in a bunch of weeds would usually relegate a photo like this to the trash.  But apparently I take more photos than I look at and this photo remained on my phone for the last month and it is oddly appropriate for what’s on my mind this morning.  

My friend, Harley, follows his nose. Although he has learned to respond to some basic commands, he is still mostly pure instinct.  Here his nose causes him to thrust his head into some road side weeds possibly smelling the remnants of the sent of a rabbit, another animal’s spray or waste, or something dead, all of which seem to be a dog’s nose’s bread and butter. As much as I think at times that Harley is a “good dog” who listens, sometimes his instincts kicks in and causes him to behave in ways I wish he wouldn’t.

The Best example of this is when I began trusting him off his leash to allow him to run free in those farmland fields unencumbered as he on several instances would run at top speeds with the unadulterated joys of freedom and would make his way back to me without incident. But then on Easter Sunday, his instincts got the best of him.  While “running free” Harley discovered the delightful scents of cow manure and out of his pure joy and instincts, he inexplicably rolled around in said manure, putting me and him in the dog house of disappointment when his new scent was discovered back at the house. 

I could imagine me asking: “Why did you do it boy?” and his silent unblinking response as if to say: “What did you expect? I’m a dog.”   As if to paraphrase a line from the movie Animal House, which I will edit, “You “messed” up. You trusted us.”   

But he’s a dog. Right? Surely humans should know better and learn from their mistakes and not just blindly react to situations in the ways they have in the past, especially when they have had a measure of success in overcoming their old patterns of behavior.  

OOF, I wish I could say it wasn’t so.  I don’t have to look far, maybe only as far as the nearest mirror, to be able to testify of the difficulty of changing the ways we behave.   “Relapse is part of recovery” is a phrase because of this tendency to react rather than respond and to go back to old thought and behavior patterns when we are not diligent in renewing our minds with the word of God.   

Recently, I was disappointed to hear of a teen who had success in overcoming symptoms of depression, thoughts of suicide, and acts of self-harm had an emotional relapse and reverted to an act of self-harm, cutting themselves. Their parent was dumbfounded because they had been doing so well, having successfully gone through a teen mental health treatment program and been removed from the bullying elements that had caused much of their problems.    

However, this teen, who apparently only moments before been happy and interacting with their family, went to their room overwhelmed with emotions and shortly after emerged distraught with bleeding wounds.  I don’t know the details but the trigger to this outburst was a text message that they had received from someone from their past. So one warped individual with no compassion or empathy decided to reach out and touch someone, and intentionally or not, caused this teen to be dragged back into depression, thoughts of suicide, and an act of self-harm.

It's very easy to place blame here: the texter is obviously at fault here but without knowing the content or context of the message we can only speculate and assume that it was a negative message of derision. But to be honest, with text especially, the message received may be different from the message sent especially when emotions are involved. Communication can be a subtle thing. “I know what you meant” “I didn’t mean THAT!”

Because of the complexity of human emotions and the difficulties of communication the possibilities for an event that would precipitate an emotional reaction and an unwise decision are endless.     

As I considered this situation, I was obviously angered by the texter but as I contemplated the responses of this teen’s support group, I was a little dumbfounded by how there seemed to be little consideration of the relapsed teen’s personal responsibility in the way they chose to react to the text. 

I can only assume that somewhere along the lines in this teen’s previous mental health treatment that they were given instruction or encouragement to talk to someone when they were having problems.  They were surrounded by family. SO why didn’t they go to someone? Why didn’t they show someone the text? Why didn’t they tell someone what was going on in their life? Why didn’t they stop themselves when they had thoughts to hurt themselves?     

And then I thought about it.  We only learn what we choose to learn.  We only do what is required. To get out of a mental health hospitalization, all you have to do is demonstrate that you are no longer a danger to yourself or others.  You have to demonstrate through your affect, you mood, that you have stabilized and can verbally express your intention not to harm yourself or others, verbally, and agree to seek help if you are in crisis.   That’s it really.  

The hospital and mental health systems don’t exist to imprison people and they can not read the thoughts and intentions of the people they treat. Unfortunately, most of modern psychology has an atheistic world view and the relativistic morality that it brings paints the world in shades of gray and is hesitant to instruct clients with the wisdom of good and evil and the basic tenants of problem solving.  

While the world and all that is in it, including malicious texters, is a big problem, it isn’t the problem we should try to resolve.   The problem in mental health is in self perception and the way we interact with the world.  A Christian worldview would insist on each of our personal responsibility for the things we say, think, and do and how that lines up with the very black and white moral principles that God establishes in His word. 

Our guilt feelings, depression, and low view of ourselves may be a result of the fact that we are living independently from God and have ignored all of His wisdom and have instead decided to live by the world’s “dog eat dog, it’s a jungle out there, “I’ll do what I want” mentality.  

In this instance, whatever was sent in the text and whatever it said about the teen who received it, whether it was based on facts regarding the teen’s appearance, behaviors, or past,  wouldn’t overrule what God says about that teen.   The “Who I am in Christ list (https://www.mt4christ.org/2022/06/celebrating-life-and-freedom-purity-766.html) which I shared recently and am sharing a link to the post in which I shared it, spells out what God thinks about us when we are in Christ.  In Christ, we are accepted, significant, and secure.    

If this teen knew this, they disregard the opinions of men.  They disregard the opinion of some teasing adolescent bully who undoubtedly has some unresolved issues in their life if they feel the need to build themselves up by tearing someone else down.    

So as much as the world sucks, and as much as people can suck, it is up to us to know that it is not the world that defines us.

Of course, this all presupposes some knowledge of, and faith in, Jesus Christ.   

While we can use cognitive therapy from the world to develop better strategies to employ when we face triggers.  Those strategies won’t set you free. The world’s positive affirmations are usual pretty general and won’t give you any authority to based your positive affirmations on other than man’s logic which can so easily be derailed in a world that is quite often irrational and chaotic.  

So with out peace with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, there is only so much you can do: thus relapse is a part of recovery.  This seemingly contradictory statement is accepted wholesale in the world because: What did you expect? You messed up. You trusted us.    

Without Christ, we are in bondage to sin, we are separated from God, and all those good things that the “Who I am in Christ” list says about us, isn’t true for those without Christ, and they don’t have the authority of the maker of the universe to tell them that they are loved, significant, secure, or accepted.   

Christ gives us the forgiveness of sins and life eternal but He also gives us the power to overcome. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ in us, we can say no to sin. With the word of God, we can renew our mind to change our thoughts and emotions. And we can stand on the authority of the maker of all things, to know the truth and to see it grow in our lives.

So, stop acting on instinct, stop reacting, and start responding by seeking the Lord and His ways for our lives.   Step 1 is surrendering to the Lordship of Christ by making Christ our Lord and Savior. Step 2 is to surrender to the truth of who you are in Christ. Step 3 is to start living according to who you are in Christ and by the wisdom of God’s word.  

While we may run off from time to time and make a mess of ourselves, when we are in Christ we know always have a home and we always have peace with our Master. And we start obeying Our Master by believing what He says about us and by doing what He would have us do, we can have one dog-gone good life in the peace of His presence.

 

 

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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:

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT2)
18  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of receiving spiritual sight and the process of sanctification.

Here the Apostle Paul describes our new life in Christ, our transformation.   We see the truth of God and then we become more and more like Him. 

It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress and the more we seek to see and reflect the Lord’s glory we become more and more like Him.    

Our faith was never supposed to be spent sitting idly in worship services remaining more or less unchanged.  Our faith is process of change, a process of transformation that brings us closer and closer to God until we reflect His goodness, His character, and His glory.  

 

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

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

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

The Angelic Fall

In the Jewish literature of this period one of the most prominent themes was the belief that demons came into the world as a result of unnatural sexual relations between angels and human beings. This belief is based on an interpretation of Genesis 6:1–2 and 4, which says:

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.… The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.

Many Jewish writers interpreted the reference to “sons of God” as angels (called “Watchers”), who rebelled against God. The disastrous consequence of this unnatural union resulted in the birth of the Nephilim, the source of demons and evil spirits. The Jewish apocalyptic book of 1 Enoch spends thirty-one chapters elaborating on this fall (1 Enoch 6–36). According to this account, after the physical beauty of women on earth erotically tantalized some 200 angels, led by a certain Semyaz, the angels made a joint decision to violate their divinely given boundaries by engaging in sexual activity with the women. While they were occupying the earth, they taught people many evil arts, including alchemy, astrology, incantations and warfare. The women, made pregnant by these supernatural beings, gave birth to freakish giants. These giants committed numerous atrocities, yet their deaths did not prove to be the end of rampant evil—demons came from them:

But now the giants who are born from the union of the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. Evil spirits have come out of their bodies.… The spirits of the giants oppress each other; they will corrupt, fall, be excited, and fall upon the earth, and cause sorrow. They eat no food, nor become thirsty, nor find obstacles. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of the people and against the women, because they have proceeded forth from them. (1 Enoch 15:8–12)

It was believed these evil spirits, which issued from the giants, would continue to corrupt humanity until the end of the age when God would put an end to their hostility and judge them. In Jewish literature this rebellion is referred to many times as responsible for the presence of demons. Meanwhile, the good angels, Raphael and Michael, have bound those angels who were guilty of this crime against women under the earth, where they will remain until the judgment (1 Enoch 10:1–14; cf. Jude 6; 1 Pet 3:19–20; 2 Pet 2:4).

We may wonder about the time before this rebellion, especially in view of the Genesis account of the serpent’s temptation of Eve. Was there some prior angelic rebellion in Jewish belief? It is clear that the same Jewish literature speaks of the existence and malignant workings of evil angels prior to the Fall. There is virtually no discussion, however, about how or when Satan and his angelic cohorts came on the scene. This literature refers to a major figurehead of evil called “Satan,” the leader of a group of angels also referred to as “Satans.” These Satans accuse people and lead them astray. Interestingly, according to 1 Enoch, it was one of these Satanic messengers, named Gader’el, who misled Eve in the garden (1 Enoch 69:6). The Jews must have assumed true some kind of pre-Adam fall in order to explain the evil character and function of this Satan and his hostile messengers (see 1 Enoch 40:7; 53:3; 54:6).

Classes and Names

Asmodaeus, Semyaza, Azazel, Mastema, Beliar, Satan, Sammael and Satanail are just a few of the names used to refer to the evil angelic powers current in Judaism by the time of Paul. While there is a certain amount of diversity regarding the specific functions of each of these powers, there is a fairly common belief in Satan as the chief. These powers of evil are represented as each having a significant measure of authority within the structured hierarchy. For example, Semyaza is identified as the chief of those angels who cohabited with women. Of the 200 angels who came to earth with him, they were divided into groups of ten, with a prince, such as Arakeb, Rame’el and Tam’el, set over each.

A similar concern to name the evil angels and classify them according to their function was typical of much of this Jewish literature. Equally prominent is the arrangement and naming of the good angels surrounding the throne of God.

In the years following the New Testament era this fascination with the spirit realm did not diminish. There are frequent references to evil angels and spirits in the rabbinic literature. Far more evil spirits are identified and described. In fact, one scholar has counted 123 different demons identified by name in the rabbinic literature![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), 65–67.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Celebrating Life and Freedom! – Purity 767

 

Celebrating Life and Freedom! – Purity 767

Purity 767 06/24/2022 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing sun over Waite Rd comes to us from yours truly as I captured this moment while walking my canine friend, Harley, back to our countryside home back on June 3rd.  

Well we made it the weekend and those who love life and freedom have a reason to celebrate today! It’s 50th birthday my birthday and it is the 2 year Anniversary of my moving into “River House”   My birthday is the celebration of my life. And the move to my home “down by the River” is definitely a significant moment that marks the freedom from the darkness of my past. So today’ I have Nina Simone’s Feeling Good in my mind: The opening lyrics state: 

“Birds flying high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by, you know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life for me, yeah

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life for me, ooh
And I'm feeling good”

There is a link on the blog today to hear that song on YouTube, enjoy. (https://youtu.be/oHs98TEYecM



Oh man, It’s so good. 

I got to mail it in today guys.  It’s my birthday and I’m feeling good.  So I am going to share the truth of the spiritual reality that we can and should stand in by presenting the Who I am in Christ List and the Overcomer’s Covenant.  I do these as a spiritual practice, reciting, praying, and meditating over them nearly every single day to remind myself of what the Lord has done: He has given me a new and eternal life where I am free from sin and death! And nothing and no one can stop me from being the person God created me to be, except me. 

I could exercise my freedom of choice to do all kinds of wrong things. And trust me, in the darkness of my past I enthusiastically “did what ever I wanted, whenever I wanted” and sometimes had to face some very bad consequences for doing so, but not always.  My “getting away with things” wasn’t a good thing as it caused me to think I could do what ever I wanted without consequence as long as I wasn’t discovered.  That “do what ever I want” form of freedom only made me a slave to my selfish and sinful desires that isolated me from everyone else and never led to lasting satisfaction.  

But the freedom God gave me, through faith in Jesus Christ, was the freedom to say no to those selfish desires that always led to pain and instead I began to understand that freedom really was best used in the pursuit of becoming the person God created me to be, a person who sought to do good instead of evil, a person who could receive and give love to others, a person who could know peace because I had peace with God.   

So pursue that peace the goes beyond all understanding by seeking the Lord and His will for your life. And feel good about it.  

Repeat after me, out loud or silently agree with Who I am in Christ:

Who I am in Christ

I AM ACCEPTED IN CHRIST

            I am God’s Child (John 1:12)

            I am Christ’s Friend (John 15:15)

            I have been justified (Romans 5:1)

            I am united with the Lord and one with Him in Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17)

            I have been bought with a price; I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)

            I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27)

            I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)

            I have been adopted as God’s child (Ephesians 1:5)

            I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)

            I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Colossians 1:14)

            I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

           

I AM SECURE IN CHRIST

            I am free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1)

            I am assured that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)

            I am free from the condemning charges against me (Romans 8:33-34)

            I cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

            I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

            I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)

            I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)

            I can find grace and mercy to help me in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)

            I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)  

I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7)

I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil 1:6)


I AM SIGNIFICANT IN CHRIST

            I am the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14)

            I am a branch of the true vine, a channel to His life (John 15:1,5)

            I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)

            I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)

            I am God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16)

            I am a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

            I am God’s coworker (2 Corinthians 6:1)

            I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6)

            I am God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)

            I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)

            I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)

Overcoming the darkness of a selfish, addicted, sinful life comes from knowing who you are in Christ. So say it, pray it, mean it and know it.    And you can also pray:

The Overcomer's Covenant in Christ

I usually pray this, starting with Dear Heavenly Father,

 

1.   I place all my trust and confidence in the Lord, I put no confidence in the flesh and I declare myself to be dependent upon God.

2.   I consciously and deliberately choose to submit to God and resist the devil by denying myself, picking up my cross daily and following Jesus.

3.   I choose to humble myself before the mighty hand of God in order that He may exalt me at the proper time.

4.   I declare the truth that I am dead to sin, freed from it and alive to God in Christ Jesus, since I have died with Christ and was raised with Him.

5.   I gladly embrace the truth that I am now a child of God who is unconditionally loved and accepted. I reject the lie that I have to perform to be accepted, and I reject my fallen and natural identity which was derived from the world.

6.   I declare that sin shall no longer be master over me because I am not under the law, but under grace, and there is no more guilt or condemnation because I am spiritually alive in Christ Jesus.

7.   I renounce every unrighteous use of my body and I commit myself to no longer be conformed to this world, but rather to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I choose to believe the truth and walk in it, regardless of my feelings or circumstances.

8.   I commit myself to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and choose to think upon that which is true, honorable, right, pure and lovely.

9.   I commit myself to God's great goal for my life to conform to His image. I know that I will face many trials, but God has given me the victory and I am not a victim, but an overcomer in Christ.

10. I choose to adopt the attitude of Christ, which was to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind. I will regard others as more important than myself; and not merely look out for my own personal interests but also the interests of others. I know that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Amen.  

 

I also pray this short prayer that encompasses a lot of the above as a concluding prayer before my Bible Study.


Dear heavenly Father,

I submit myself to You as Your child, and I declare myself to be totally dependent upon You. I yield my body to You as a living sacrifice, and I ask You to fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I renounce the lies of the evil one and I choose to believe the truth as You have revealed it to us in Your holy Word. Give me the grace and the wisdom to resist the devil so that he will flee from me. I now commit myself to You, including my body as an instrument of righteousness. In Jesus' precious name I pray.

Amen.

That’s it that’s some of my “daily spiritual practice” and I invite you to utilize any or all of it as a part of yours.

Happy Birthday to me! I pray on day where I can celebrate my life and my freedom that all who listen to or read this message will seek the Lord and the life and freedom He has for you, in Christ.  

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT2)
38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
39  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Today’s Bible verse that nothing can separated us from God’s love.  

He’s God guys. To quote Joe Cabot from Reservoir Dogs: “It’s my way, or the highway.”   Well, following Joe Cabot led to everyone’s death in that film, spoiler, so I would say we should take the “High Way” and decide to have peace and life everlasting with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  

God is sovereign. He is over and above all things. All must come before Him. And the only way to peace with Him is Jesus.  

But when you put your faith in Christ, we need not fear ever again.  For through Christ, we can know the love of God. When we are forgiven of our sins, we know God’s love through His mercy and grace.   

And because God is all powerful and eternal, we can know that nothing and no one can separate us from his love, even death,  

In Christ, we need never fear anything ever again and instead can pursue the meaning and purpose that God has for us and we can continually know His love when we stay in harmony with Him by seeking his strength and guidance to help us walk in HIS WAY. 

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

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

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

Situations Involving Evil Spirits

In the Old Testament the activity of evil spirits is described a few times, and usually with the author carefully subordinating them to God’s sovereign control. During the time of the Judges, Abimelech sought to rule over a segment of the northern kingdom, which included the city of Shechem (Judg 9). After soliciting and receiving the support of the citizens of Shechem, he quickly eliminated all his competition for the throne by murdering his seventy brothers (except for one, Jotham). Because of his treacherous bloodshed, “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem” after he had ruled over Israel for three years (Judg 9:23a). This conflict resulted in a time of great civil strife, war and death.

Because an evil spirit tormented King Saul, his advisors counseled him to find someone who could play the harp, believing music would bring him relief (1 Sam 16:14–23). Saul’s attendants discovered the talents of a young man named David, who was then summoned into the king’s service. Whenever this malignant spirit afflicted Saul, David would play the harp, and Saul would be relieved. The text says, “He would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him” (1 Sam 16:23b). It was this same evil spirit who twice prompted Saul to attempt to kill David (1 Sam 18:10–11; 19:9–10).

One other account presents a situation in which an evil spirit inspired 400 prophets to give false advice to Ahab, king of Israel, when he inquired whether he should go to war to reclaim a foreign-occupied city (1 Kings 22:1–40). The text depicts a heavenly session with the Lord in which evil spirits were permitted to suggest to him ways of luring Ahab into attacking the city. Finally one of the wicked spirits suggests that it would go out and be “a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets” (1 Kings 22:21–22). Receiving Yahweh’s approval, the spirit was successful in its deceitful activity despite the Lord’s prophet disclosing to the king all the details of the heavenly plan as they had been revealed to him. Contrary to the advice of the Lord’s prophet, Ahab attacked the city, and in the ensuing battle he was killed. Some commentators on this text have much difficulty on deciding what to make of this “spiritual interpretation” of the events. It must be seen, however, in conjunction with the account of Satan asking Yahweh for permission to afflict Job (Job 1:6–12). All three of these scenarios not only stress God’s ultimate control over the realm of evil spirits, but also make the point that God even permits these forces to carry out their evil deeds as a means of accomplishing his own divine purposes.

The Serpent of Old

The Apocalypse of John brings its readers hope by predicting a future overthrow of “the serpent of old,” also known as Satan or the devil (Rev 20:2). This allusion is to the Genesis account of creation and the serpent’s temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen 3:1–15). Paul also spoke of this event in his second letter to the Corinthians, in which he compared the serpent’s effective cunning with the deceitful work of Satan on the Corinthians (2 Cor 11:3, 14–15). Although some scholars hesitate to identify the serpent in Genesis 3 with Satan, this was the unanimous early Christian (and Jewish) interpretation.

The scene in the garden is the classic portrayal of Satan’s character as the tempter—a motif found throughout the New Testament, especially in Paul’s treatment of the powers of darkness. This narrative does not reveal the devil as a spirit or angel, but his supernatural character comes to light for the reader when he animates a snake causing it to talk. The snake represented an “archetypal unclean animal” in the law of God (see Lev 11 and Deut 14).

This passage marks the beginning of salvation history. It establishes the need for the redemption of humanity because of the Fall. It points to the devil’s activity in promoting sin and rebellion against God and consequently to the need for this evil being to be dealt a crushing blow for God’s purposes to be brought to completion (Gen 3:15).

The Old Testament never explicitly addresses the origin of Satan or how or when he turned against God. It is possible that couched in the prophecies against the king of Tyre (Ezek 28) and the king of Babylon (Is 14) are insights into the original state and fall of Satan. This connection was certainly how early Jewish interpreters understood these passages. These texts, however, may also point to the heavenly angelic figures associated with those nations, as was the case with the angelic “prince of Persia” in Daniel 10:13.

Satan is mentioned only at three other places in the Old Testament (Job 1–2; Zech 3:1–2; 1 Chron 21:1). In all of these passages he appears as a supernatural enemy of both God and humanity. In Job Satan appears as an accuser and an afflicter. He challenges the genuineness of Job’s righteousness and commitment to God, claiming that Job fears God because God had so richly blessed him (Job 1:6–11). God sovereignly permits Satan to afflict Job. Satan then strips Job of his wealth, makes him dreadfully ill, kills all of his children and turns his wife against him. Yet Job responded to these overwhelming trials with integrity and did not sin or turn from God. This passage shows what great power the Lord God permits Satan to exercise on earth and even over his people. Not only does he function as an accuser, but God also gives him the authorization to control such things as sickness, robbery and even natural disasters that cause death.

The writer of 1 Chronicles reaffirms Satan’s activity as a tempter: “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel” (1 Chron 21:1). In this passage Satan is also portrayed as Israel’s adversary—a role that corresponds to the meaning of the word “devil” (diabolos), which the Greek translators of the Old Testament chose to translate the term “Satan.”

Finally in the vision of Zechariah Satan accuses the high priest Jonathan for his past sins in an apparent attempt to disqualify him from his office (Zech 3:1–2). Satan’s activity of bringing accusation is more in line with the extended usage of the Hebrew term satan. In the Old Testament the word is used elsewhere with the simple meaning of “accuser” or “adversary.” The writer of 1 Samuel records, for instance, that the Philistines were opposed to David fighting with them, “lest in the battle he become an adversary [satan] to us” (1 Sam 29:4 RSV).

Satan is thus an accuser and a powerful adversary against God’s people. He performs his hostile functions against them by luring them into rebelling against the express will of God and by causing even physical destruction, pain and grief. In spite of Satan’s powerful malignant activity, God’s people are called to maintain their pure devotion to the Lord.[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), 60–62.


Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Truth – The Way of The New Life – Purity 673


 Truth – The Way of  The New Life – Purity 673

Purity 673 03/08/2022  Purity 673 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a of blue and cloud filled sky above the expanse of a partially frozen Lake George comes to us from a friend who took advantage of an unseasonably warm February day to go hiking back on the 23rd. Their post optimistically declared: the ice is melting! And since then the seasonal tide in upstate New York may have changed as warm weather over the past weekend has caused a good deal of the ice and snow that had been in abundance to dissipate.

However, March is a mangy lion at times and my virtual personal assistant annoying reports that flurries are a possibility even though the temperature currently are above freezing and is forecasted to rise.

I was so annoyed with this apparent meteorological impossibility that I ask my electronic friend: “How can we have snow if it’s above freezing?” 

To which she replied: “It is snowing right now.” 

Causing me to retort: “Are you serious?”  

To which my electronic assistant replied: “I take helping you very seriously.” 

Regardless of her electronic claims to take her job of helping me seriously, her report of falling snow caused me to look outside to see if she knew what she was talking about. 

It may be snowing somewhere this morning, but it is not snowing outside of my window, proving once again the risks we take when we trust machines too much.  

But even though it doesn’t make any sense that it would snow when the temperature is above freezing (again reported by a machine), I went and looked anyway because sometimes weird things happen despite our expectations and sometimes seemingly contradictory things equally coexist when logic tells us they shouldn’t.    

My friend in California recently shared a video of his reaction to falling hail. His surprised expression testified to the rarity of that type of weather happening near his home without him having to say a word.  

Likewise, sometimes on the path of Christian Discipleship we can see things in our lives that contradict who we are in Christ.     

The second step of The Steps to Freedom in Christ, which deals with the conflict of “Deception versus Truth”, presents several ways that we can be deceived by the world and by ourselves along with the various coping mechanisms we may employ to wrongly defend ourselves.    

One item that is on the list of “ways that we deceive ourselves” is:

·       Hearing God’s Word but not doing what it says (James 1:22)

If we are honest, I think every Christian out there would have to admit to the fact that even though we understand that God’s Word is true and it presents wisdom for living, we don’t always do what it says!  

I am pretty sure that one is on the list to expose any Christians that may be deceiving themselves into believing that they are without sin.  

No matter how well we may have been able to renew our minds and purify ourselves of our previous overt sinful habits, none of us should be able to declare that we always do what God’s word says perfectly.

Only Jesus lived a perfect life and even if we have conquered many of our besetting sins, we would have to set up some special conditions (like total isolation) to claim that we “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Mark 12:31) or that we perfectly obey Christ’s injunction to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).  

But don’t get it twisted, like some people do, we are incapable of being perfect. Christians are not perfect. That’s why we need Jesus to be perfect for us. We are made righteous because of Him. 

However that doesn’t mean that we just stay in the darkness of where Christ found us when He called us from death to life.  

Although we won’t be able to claim perfection, our lives can be transformed by applying the wisdom of God’s Word to our lives. We can make progress.   

The purpose of the “Deception versus Truth” step of the Steps to Freedom in Christ is to reveal, to repentant Christians, the ways that we have been lied to by the world system and the ways that we have lied to ourselves to provide a basis from which we can confront the lies that we have believed with the truth of who we are now in Christ which is drawn from the truth of God’s Word.   

As Christians, who have accepted Jesus, the Truth, the Way, and the Life, as our Lord and Savior, one of the first things we should commit ourselves to is the truth.

We should recognize and agree with the fact that the Word of God is true. And if we believe the Bible is true we should also agree with what the Word of God says about us as Christians.

I am sharing a link today on the blog to a post that includes the “Who I Am in Christ” List (https://www.mt4christ.org/2021/09/freedom-in-christ-lesson-2-who-am-i.html) for anyone who struggles with what it means to be a Christian.  The listed developed by Dr. Neil Anderson is based on the word of God and declares the truth of who we are in Christ and the scripture references for each statement.

In addition to being grounded in our identity in Christ, as those who follow the Way, the Truth and the Life, we should also make the commitment to put our money where our mouth is by practicing honesty.  

The mystical practice of honesty is pretty simple actually. To quote that unknown hip hop sound bite from my youth: “Stop lying”. 

Anyway, if you were entrenched in sin and the ways of the world like I was before coming to Christ, lying wasn’t just an occasional misstep, it was a way of life. If you are not doing what you are supposed to do or are hiding a lifestyle of sin, lying is the method you employ to stay in the shadows.

But since I have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, I made the commitment early on to just tell the truth, the whole the truth and nothing but the truth so me help me God.  

And guess what, when I committed myself to the practice of honesty, God did help me.  

The enemy keeps us locked in bondage to our sins and the negative mind states we experience through deception.

When we confess all of our sins, like the character “Chunk” did in the movie Goonies when he was threatened with torture by admitting to everything he ever did wrong his entire life,  we are set free from the power of the enemy and the burdens our past.

After we come to Christ, we are new creations. We are no longer who we used to be and when we confess to the Lord all of our wrongs, we can accept the forgiveness that Christ has given us, and we can walk away from the darkness of our former lives.  

We have been forgiven so now it is just a matter of staying right with God by being honest with Him, with ourselves, and with everyone else in our lives. The feelings of liberation that we can experience when we no longer have anything to hide is significant. The freedom that honesty brings fills us with joy and encourages us to stay honest.   

So be honest, drop the con and fess us to the Lord and make the commitment to walk in the light as He is in the light by telling the truth in all your dealings.  When you do that you will see how wonderful it is to not have to remember all the details of the lies you have told. You will know what peace and freedom actually mean.

So keep walking and talking with God. Build your self up in the most holy faith by continually reminding yourself who you are in Christ and make that Biblical Truth manifest in your life by “walking the walk and talking the talk” that reflects the Truth, the Way, and the Life that Jesus Christ has given you.     


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

This morning’s meditation verse is :

Romans 5:3 (NLT2)
3  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.

Today’s verse provides a counterintuitive response and perspective to the problems and trials we will experience in life.  

Paul is teaching on the realities of the life of Christians in his letter to the church in Rome and doesn’t pull any punches. He readily admits to the Roman Christians that their lives will not be free of problems or trials but instead of telling the church to run and hide from these difficult situations he encourages them to rejoice because even problems and trials in life can be seen to have a purpose: to endure.  

As much as education may be revered in our society, we also give respect to people who “have been there and done that”. We respect and often seek out people to help us who have “experience”.   

Someone telling you what to expect because they have read about it in a book may be given some attention but hearing a personal testimony from someone who has actually lived through it is the advice you really listen to.  

Why?  

Because the person with a testimony endured. They made it through.    

Our Christian maturity doesn’t come from just listening to teachings and from reading books. Our maturity comes from us applying God’s wisdom to our experience, even during problems and trials. 

Are we really Christians?   One of the proofs of our “fruit”, is how we deal with the problems and trials we will face.   

Paul tells us to rejoice because problems and trials can help us to endure and really practice what we preach.  

Anyone can claim Christianity on sunny days where everything is great but when we face opposition, persecution, problems and trials because of our faith, we can really know that we are who God says we are, and we can really grow in our maturity as Christians when we rely on God’s presence, wisdom and strength to see us through.  

So if you are having problems and trials as Christians, don’t run back to the ways of the world. Go to the Lord and draw from His strength and rejoice because you know that your God is more than able to help you and that you if, nothing else, will have “the experience” to one day help and encourage others to endure.

 

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 begin sharing from June Hunt’s Envy & Jealousy: Taming the Terrible Twins.

 

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

“First seek the counsel of the Lord.”

(1 Kings 22:5 NIV)

Envy & Jealousy

Taming the Terrible Twins

by June Hunt

“Envy is the greatest of all diseases among men.”

—Euripides

I.    DEFINITIONS

A. What Is Envy?

    Envy is resenting the advantage of another, with a desire to possess the same advantage.

    Envy is coveting what another has.

    The Latin word for “envy” is invidere, which means “to look at with enmity.”

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

(Exodus 20:17)

Q  “Is envy always wrong?”

Yes. Scripture never portrays envy in a positive light. God is never depicted as an envious God.

“Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, ‘Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’ For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.” (Matthew 27:15–18)[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] June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Envy & Jealousy: Taming the Terrible Twins (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 1.