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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

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Under The Hunter’s Moon - How Do You Do That? - Purity 863


 

Under The Hunter’s Moon - How Do You Do That?  - Purity 863

Purity 863 10/14/2022 Purity 863 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a darkened roadway, the shadows of trees, and an evening sky illuminated by “The Hunter’s Moon” comes to us from a friend who shared this scene of an October evening, presumably near their home in Round Top NY, on social media earlier this week.  

Well, we have made it to the weekend and as I stated yesterday, and have now confirmed via Google, we in the Catskills or the Adirondacks regions of upstate New York are currently in the peak of the fall foliage season. So as the forecast, according to Alexa, is calling for partly sunny weather and a high of 67 F degrees, I encourage all of my local friends to venture outside of the four walls of your homes and go see the glory of the Autumn season.  

Yesterday, I took my canine friend, Harley, for a westward walk down Waite Road toward River Road which is lined by forests after I pass my neighbors place and was absolutely rejoicing over how God’s creation had all the colors of Autumn on display. We were also blessed by the appearance of a Blue Jay flying above and a Deer scampering across the roadway.  Sometimes it’s just being aware of and being present for the things in our immediate surroundings that can give us a resounding sense of peace and a thrill of joy at just how blessed we are to simply live in this world that the Lord has made.   

So why didn’t I share any photos of that? I didn’t bring my phone and I have decided that was a good thing for the memory of yesterday’s short walk in Autumn ‘22’s splendor will be just between me and God.    

But before you go running off to the wilderness to be one with the Lord and decide that being alone with the Lord in His creation is your purpose in life, I want also remind us all of the blessings that the Lord brings us when Christians are in community and that our purpose is not to keep our light under a bushel but are to share what we have come to know about the Lord with others.  

I shared my friend’s picture of what they call “The Hunter’s Moon” because last night I had to don a bright orange hunter’s knit cap in service of the Lord and I wasn’t hunting rabbits, deer, or ducks but was only to be used in assisting the Lord to capture the hearts of men.   

My Church, Starpoint Church in Clifton Park, hosted a men’s worship event called “Man Up” last evening and prior to the event I was asked by our executive pastor to be a “connect group leader” to encourage men to boldly proclaim what areas of their life the Lord was leading them to “Man Up” in. 

The evening started with fellowship that involved a catered meal from “the Dog Haus”, of sliders and tater tots, and manly games of corn hole and axe throwing was also available, which I missed as I spent the first half hour eating and talking to my brother-in-law and other men I knew from the church. 

A lively session of worship music by our churches worship team followed the meal and fellowship and then we were blessed by an impactful message from Pastor Pierre, a visiting friend of our church from Rochester. Pastor Pierre’s message was encouraging and convicting and after I heard it I knew that it would almost certainly cause some of the men to consider the ways they are living and what “shadow” they would be casting for their family and friends to remember as they walked from last night into eternity.  

After the message, the men were invited to meet out on the church’s lawn where various fire pits were assembled and lit, for a final session of fellowship, making smores and prayer.  

Burt before all that, at the beginning of the evening,  the “connect group leaders” were called together to be instructed on what our roles were to be following the service to end the night. Pastor Larry gave us our orange hats, that were to serve as a visual indicator of who would be leading the fire pit sessions, and explained how we were to encourage the men that gathered to share a little about themselves and to answer the question: “In what one area is the Lord calling you to “Man Up”. 

As Pastor Larry concluded giving his instructions and we were about to leave, I got a call from the Holy Spirit to pray. I’m relatively new to the church and didn’t know all the guys, but I felt the Holy Spirit was calling me to step out and pray.

So when Pastor Larry asked: Are there any questions? I asked “Can I pray for us?”  Pastor Larry said yes and then I said a quick prayer for the Holy Spirit to bless each of the connect group leaders and to use us to help the men gathered to open up and reveal what the Lord was asking them to do.  

It was a quick prayer and I said Amen and even though I thought I had did what I was called to do, a strange thing happened right on the heals of that prayer.  

I got blasted by what I would call a rush of anxiety and even though I maintained my composure, I was overcome with nervousness and this condemnation that told me that I was showing off or I was too new to this church or I didn’t belong here. Luckily, I knew all of this to be lies but the attack was pretty intense all the same and I had a moment where I was worried and I contemplated “What have I gotten myself into?”

But as I talked to my brother in law Donald and other men of the church, I found my peace again. And after worship and Pastor Pierre’s message,  the sudden panic attack was all but forgotten.  So I ventured out to a firepit I called my own with my orange hat on and started welcoming men to my circle and lead them through the short session of smore making, sharing their convictions of what the Lord put on their hearts about “Manning Up” in, and then we prayed for one another.  

As we got settled in to the group, I introduced myself and started to share testimony of all the things the Lord has helped me to overcome and it encouraged the other men to open up and be transparent about the areas where they needed to step up in. 

After we prayed for each other, one of the men pondered and asked “How can we do that? In regards to trying to find the balance between being loving and leading our families but at the same time not being overly controlling or completely passive. 

In the short time we had, I couldn’t explain the 12 year journey that had led me through the fires of adversity and to my new life in Christ, but I did encourage Him to follow the Lord and to develop a daily spiritual practice of prayer, Bible study, praying over the Who I am in Christ list, and gratitude to set the foundation for His day and to realize that the work that Lord has for us to do lies in changing our character more than trying to change others.   

I confessed that earlier I had a panic attack, probably demonic – didn’t say that to them, but after I was reminded myself of who I was in Christ I had peace and felt able to encourage them to seek the Lord’s will for their lives.  

The men truly seemed to appreciate my transparency, and I advised them that all the good things have happened in my life was because I decided to follow Lord and that He could help them too.   

And so I was blessed last night by fellowship of the men of my church and by the opportunity to give glory to God for all that He has done for me.  

So keep walking and talking with God, because it simply is the Only way to know true peace and to overcome the lies the enemy that would cause us to run away and hide.  The peace God has for us is in His light, not in the darkness of this world.  So I light a fire for Him and I will continue to encourage others to seek all that He has from them.

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

Will be back on Monday...... 

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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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Beatitudes – Continues

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Jesus’ followers are called to peace. When Jesus called them, they found their peace. Jesus is their peace. Now they are not only to have peace, but they are to make peace. To do this they renounce violence and strife. Those things never help the cause of Christ. Christ’s kingdom is a realm of peace, and those in Christ’s community greet each other with a greeting of peace. Jesus’ disciples maintain peace by choosing to suffer instead of causing others to suffer. They preserve community when others destroy it. They renounce self-assertion and are silent in the face of hatred and injustice. That is how they overcome evil with good. That is how they are makers of divine peace in a world of hatred and war. But their peace will never be greater than when they encounter evil people in peace and are willing to suffer from them. Peacemakers will bear the cross with their Lord, for peace was made at the cross.[42] Because they are drawn into Christ’s work of peace and called to the work of the Son of God, they themselves will be called children of God.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 108.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The First Step Towards the Abundant Life - Purity 835


 

The First Step Towards the Abundant Life - Purity 835

Purity 835 09/13/2022  Purity 835 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo view of blue skies over the Hudson River comes to us from TammyLyn Clark as she shared this scene on social media from yesterday’s drive up River Road between Easton and Schuylerville New York.  

Well, it is Tuesday and as I will be facilitating the second meeting of the Men’s Freedom in Christ Course on Zoom this evening I thought I would share this roadside view and water pathway as an encouragement to all to keep walking and talking with God on the narrow path of Christian Discipleship.  

I am so excited at the prospect of tonight’s discussion because we will be discussing the spiritual reality of the transformation that happens the moment we put our faith in Christ.  

Our focus verse will be

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

And I can’t wait to go through the lesson material to explain how this is a fact and is the fundamental foundation for a life of freedom and victory in Christ.  

Something happens when you put your faith in Jesus. Something happens when you make Christ your Lord and Savior.  Your spirit is given life as the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you the moment you put your faith in Jesus.  

The problem is that the world, the flesh, and the devil don’t want you to know that you are a new creation, and they actively try to deceive and discourage Christians from knowing who they are in Christ because the spiritual forces of darkness and the world system want to keep us in bondage to prevent us from sharing the truth of the new and eternal life that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.   

Satan hates God and mankind and as Christ told us in:

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.    

The enemy seeks to destroy us, but Christ came to give us an abundant life in Him and the tragic reality of this battle between good and evil is that so many Christians are not experiencing the “abundant life” of victory and freedom that Christ came to give us.    

Our Christian faith is not merely something we are just to “believe in” it is an abundant life that we are to “live out” in the world, every day of our lives.    

When we “walk in the Spirit”, by living according to God’s ways and by staying connected to His presence through prayer and reading His word, the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control grow in our lives. 

But in order for us to experience this spiritual reality in the world of the living that bears experiential fruit and transforms us into the people that God created us to be, we have to take that first step of faith: to know who we are in Christ, to embrace our new identity,  and to agree to live according to it.

The “who I am in Christ” list is based on the word of God, look up the referenced scriptures, and was compiled by Dr, Neil Anderson, to help Christian to understand that they are accepted, secure, and significant in Christ.   I will be sharing it tonight, so I share it here and encourage all to copy it, study it, and live according to it:

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)

 

 

 

 

Who I am in Christ

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)

So now that you know who you are in Christ, walk in the new abundant life that God has given you through Jesus Christ.  Read it once a day for 40 days to renew your mind, or as a continual daily practice as I do, and watch the way that the Holy Spirit guides you into the life where you can have the peace that goes beyond all understanding, regardless of the circumstances you encounter, as you keep on walking and talking with God.

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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:

Matthew 18:4 (NKJV)
4  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Today’s Bible verse are the words of Jesus and they remind us that the pathway to greatness in His kingdom comes from humbling ourselves and coming to Him with child-like faith.  

Children are vulnerable. Without caregivers children die or live like savages. Ever read Lord of the Flies?  Without authority, structure, guidance, and care a group of school boys stranded on their own quickly turn to system of survival of the fittest with elements of pagan idolatry where the strong dominated and literally killed the weak.     

But Christ tells us that to be great in His kingdom we are to humble ourselves and He points to the innocence of childhood to demonstrate the quality of faith and trust we are to have in Him.    

Children trust their parents to take care of them.  Their safety and protection is given completely into the care of others without question. 

Christ wants us to trust Him, and the Bible gives us His words and example as how we should live.  To experience new and eternal life, we need to put our trust in Jesus. We need to put our faith in Christ.  

And to be great, we need to follow in His example of a humble servant leader and share the love of God that we have been given. 

If we trust Jesus, we humble ourselves and make Him the Lord of Our life and will model our lives after His.  He is the way of salvation and He is the way to an abundant life of peace. To experience it, we need to simply humble ourselves and trust Jesus enough to follow 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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

PART ONE - Chapter One: Costly Grace, continued

The expansion of Christianity and the increasing secularization of the church caused the awareness of costly grace to be gradually lost. The world was Christianized; grace became common property of a Christian world. It could be had cheaply. But the Roman church did keep a remnant of that original awareness. It was decisive that monasticism did not separate from the church and that the church had the good sense to tolerate monasticism. Here, on the boundary of the church, was the place where the awareness that grace is costly and that grace includes discipleship was preserved. People left everything they had for the sake of Christ and tried to follow Jesus’ strict commandments through daily exercise. Monastic life thus became a living protest against the secularization of Christianity, against the cheapening of grace. But because the church tolerated this protest and did not permit it to build up to a final explosion, the church relativized it. It even gained from the protest a justification for its own secular life. For now monastic life became the extraordinary achievement of individuals, to which the majority of church members need not be obligated. The fateful limiting of the validity of Jesus’ commandments to a certain group of especially qualified people led to differentiating between highest achievement and lowest performance in Christian obedience. This made it possible, when the secularization of the church was attacked any further, to point to the possibility of the monastic way within the church, alongside which another possibility, that of an easier way, was also justified. Thus, calling attention to the original Christian understanding of costly grace as it was retained in the Roman church through monasticism enabled the church paradoxically to give final legitimacy to its own secularization. But the decisive mistake of monasticism was not that it followed the grace-laden path of strict discipleship, even with all of monasticism’s misunderstandings of the contents of the will of Jesus. Rather, the mistake was that monasticism essentially distanced itself from what is Christian by permitting its way to become the extraordinary achievement of a few, thereby claiming a special meritoriousness for itself.

During the Reformation, God reawakened the gospel of pure, costly grace through God’s servant Martin Luther by leading him through the monastery. Luther was a monk. He had left everything and wanted to follow Christ in complete obedience. He renounced the world and turned to Christian works. He learned obedience to Christ and his church, because he knew that only those who are obedient can believe. Luther invested his whole life in his call to the monastery. It was God who caused Luther to fail on that path. God showed him through scripture that discipleship is not the meritorious achievement of individuals, but a divine commandment to all Christians. The humble work of discipleship had become in monasticism the meritorious work of the holy ones. The self-denial of the disciple is revealed here as the final spiritual self-affirmation of the especially pious. This meant that the world had broken into the middle of monastic life and was at work again in a most dangerous way. Luther saw the monk’s escape from the world as really a subtle love for the world. In this shattering of his last possibility to achieve a pious life, grace seized Luther. In the collapse of the monastic world, he saw God’s saving hand reaching out in Christ. He seized it in the faith that “our deeds are in vain, even in the best life.” It was a costly grace, which gave itself to him. It shattered his whole existence. Once again, he had to leave his nets and follow.[22] The first time, when he entered the monastery, he left everything behind except himself, his pious self. This time even that was taken from him. He followed, not by his own merit, but by God’s grace. He was not told, yes, you have sinned, but now all that is forgiven. Continue on where you were and comfort yourself with forgiveness! Luther had to leave the monastery and reenter the world, not because the world itself was good and holy, but because even the monastery was nothing else but world.

Luther’s path out of the monastery back to the world meant the sharpest attack that had been launched on the world since early Christianity. The rejection which the monk had given the world was child’s play compared to the rejection that the world endured through his returning to it. This time the attack was a frontal assault. Following Jesus now had to be lived out in the midst of the world. What had been practiced in the special, easier circumstances of monastic life as a special accomplishment now had become what was necessary and commanded for every Christian in the world. Complete obedience to Jesus’ commandments had to be carried out in the daily world of work. This deepened the conflict between the life of Christians and the life of the world in an unforeseeable way. The Christian had closed in on the world. It was hand-to-hand combat.

Luther’s deed cannot be misunderstood more grievously than by thinking that through discovering the gospel of pure grace, Luther proclaimed a dispensation from obeying Jesus’ commandments in the world. The Reformation’s main discovery would then be the sanctification and justification of the world by grace’s forgiving power. For Luther, on the contrary, a Christian’s secular vocation is justified only in that one’s protest against the world is thereby most sharply expressed. A Christian’s secular vocation receives new recognition from the gospel only to the extent that it is carried on while following Jesus. Luther’s reason for leaving the monastery was not justification of the sin, but justification of the sinner. Costly grace was given as a gift to Luther. It was grace, because it was water onto thirsty land, comfort for anxiety, liberation from the servitude of a self-chosen path, forgiveness of all sins. The grace was costly, because it did not excuse one from works. Instead, it endlessly sharpened the call to discipleship. But just wherein it was costly, that was wherein it was grace. And where it was grace, that was where it was costly. That was the secret of the Reformation gospel, the secret of the justification of the sinner.

Nonetheless, what emerged victorious from Reformation history was not Luther’s recognition of pure, costly grace, but the alert religious instinct of human beings for the place where grace could be had the cheapest. Only a small, hardly noticeable distortion of the emphasis was needed, and that most dangerous and ruinous deed was done. Luther had taught that, even in their most pious ways and deeds, persons cannot stand before God, because they are basically always seeking themselves. Faced with this predicament, he seized the grace of free and unconditional forgiveness of all sins in faith. Luther knew that this grace had cost him one life and daily continued to cost him, for he was not excused by grace from discipleship, but instead was all the more thrust into it. Whenever Luther spoke of grace, he always meant to include his own life, which was only really placed into full obedience to Christ through grace. He could not speak of grace any other way than this. Luther said that grace alone did it, and his followers repeat it literally, with the one difference that very soon they left out and did not consider and did not mention what Luther always included as a matter of course: discipleship. Yes, he no longer even needed to say it, because he always spoke as one whom grace had led into a most difficult following of Jesus. The followers’ own teaching [“by grace alone”] was, therefore, unassailable, judged by Luther’s teaching, but their teaching meant the end and the destruction of the Reformation as the revelation of God’s costly grace on earth. The justification of the sinner in the world became the justification of sin and the world. Without discipleship, costly grace would become cheap grace.

When Luther said that our deeds are in vain, even in the best of lives, and that, therefore, nothing is valid before God “except grace and favor to forgive sins,” he said it as someone who knew himself called to follow Jesus, called to leave everything he had up until this moment, and in the same moment called anew to do it again. His acknowledgment of grace was for him the final radical break with the sin of his life but never its justification. Grasping at forgiveness was the final radical rejection of self-willed life; the acknowledgment of grace itself his first really serious call to discipleship. It was a “conclusion” for him, although a divine conclusion, not a human one. His descendants made this conclusion into a principled presupposition on which to base their calculations. That was the whole trouble. If grace is the “result” given by Christ himself to Christian life, then this life is not for one moment excused from discipleship. But if grace is a principled presupposition of my Christian life, then in advance I have justification of whatever sins I commit in my life in the world. I can now sin on the basis of this grace; the world is in principle justified by grace. I can thus remain as before in my bourgeois-secular existence. Everything remains as before, and I can be sure that God’s grace takes care of me. The whole world has become “Christian” under this grace, but Christianity has become the world under this grace as never before. The conflict between a Christian and a bourgeois-secular vocation is resolved. Christian life consists of my living in the world and like the world, my not being permitted to be different from it—for the sake of grace!—but my going occasionally from the sphere of the world to the sphere of the church, in order to be reassured there of the forgiveness of my sins. I am liberated from following Jesus—by cheap grace, which has to be the bitterest enemy of discipleship, which has to hate and despise true discipleship. Grace as presupposition is grace at its cheapest; grace as a conclusion is costly grace. It is appalling to see what is at stake in the way in which a gospel truth is expressed and used. It is the same word of the justification by grace alone, and yet false use of the same statement can lead to the complete destruction of its essence.

When Faust says at the end of his life of seeking knowledge, “I see that we can know nothing,” then that is a conclusion, a result. It is something entirely different than when a student repeats this statement in the first semester to justify his laziness (Kierkegaard). Used as a conclusion, the sentence is true; as a presupposition, it is self-deception. That means that knowledge cannot be separated from the existence in which it was acquired. Only those who in following Christ leave everything they have can stand and say that they are justified solely by grace. They recognize the call to discipleship itself as grace and grace as that call. But those who want to use this grace to excuse themselves from discipleship are deceiving themselves.

But doesn’t Luther himself come dangerously close to this complete distortion in understanding grace? What does it mean for Luther to say: “Pecca fortiter, sed fortius fide et gaude in Christo”—“Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly!”*[31] So you are only a sinner and can never get out of sin; whether you are a monk or a secular person, whether you want to be pious or evil, you will not flee the bonds of the world, you will sin. So, then, sin boldly, and on the basis of grace already given! Is this blatant proclamation of cheap grace carte blanche for sin, and rejection of discipleship? Is it a blasphemous invitation to sin deliberately while relying on grace? Is there a more diabolical abuse of grace than sinning while relying on the gift of God’s grace? Isn’t the Catholic catechism right in recognizing this as sin against the Holy Spirit?

To understand this, everything depends on how the difference between result and presupposition is applied. If Luther’s statement is used as a presupposition for a theology of grace, then it proclaims cheap grace. But Luther’s statement is to be understood correctly not as a beginning, but exclusively as an end, a conclusion, a last stone, as the very last word. Understood as a presupposition, pecca fortiter becomes an ethical principle. If grace is a principle, then pecca fortiter as a principle would correspond to it. That is justification of sin. It turns Luther’s statement into its opposite. “Sin boldly”—that could be for Luther only the very last bit of pastoral advice, of consolation for those who along the path of discipleship have come to know that they cannot become sin-free, who out of fear of sin despair of God’s grace. For them, “sin boldly” is not something like a fundamental affirmation of their disobedient lives. Rather, it is the gospel of God’s grace, in the presence of which we are sinners always and at every place. This gospel seeks us and justifies us exactly as sinners. Admit your sin boldly; do not try to flee from it, but “believe much more boldly.” You are a sinner, so just be a sinner. Do not want to be anything else than what you are. Become a sinner again every day and be bold in doing so. But to whom could such a thing be said except to those who from their hearts daily reject sin, who every day reject everything that hinders them from following Jesus and who are still unconsoled about their daily unfaithfulness and sin? Who else could hear it without danger for their faith than those who are called anew by such consolation to follow Christ? In this way, Luther’s statement, understood as a conclusion, becomes that costly grace which alone is grace.

Grace as a principle, pecca fortiter as a principle, cheap grace—all these are finally only a new law, which neither helps nor liberates. Grace as a living word, pecca fortiter as comfort in a time of despair and a call to discipleship, costly grace alone is pure grace, which really forgives sins and liberates the sinner.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 46–53.

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.