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Showing posts with label Work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Work. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

It’s Who I am in Christ, Not Who I am at Work - Purity 1321


It’s Who I am in Christ, Not Who I am at Work  - Purity 1321

Purity 1321 04/9/2024 Purity 1321 Podcast

Purity 1321 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun setting over the Oswego Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography’s Rocco Saya who shared this scene on social media commenting that the sun did make an appearance on the day of the big eclipse, but it apparently was obstructed by clouds at the “magic moment” when the moon eclipsed its light.

Well, It’s Tuesday, and although I enjoyed unobstructed sunshine for most of the morning and early afternoon while doing a spring clean-up of my backyard, my view of the eclipse was similarly obstructed by overcast clouds causing me to agree with Saya’s other comment to his FB friends that we – “…can’t have everything in life”. I would add that if you are counting on the circumstances of your life to fulfill you or to give you “everything in life”, you will be severely disappointed. 

We don’t look to blue skies and sunsets to give us joy. We don’t look to eclipses to give us a sense of meaning and purpose. We don’t look to thing things on earth or the things in the skies to give us those things.  No, we should look to the Creator, God, not the creation, to give us  a sense of purpose, joy, and worth.  And luckily Our God revealed Himself throughout history and used men to tell us all about it in the Bible. We don’t have to look for a sign in the skies or listen for a voice from heaven, God shows us who we are and tells us what we need to know in Scripture.   And He doesn’t only tell us about Himself and the history of His interactions with man, He also tells us about who we are when we put our faith in Christ. 

This world would tell you that your identity and your worth is based on your accomplishments, talents, preferences, and performance but who we really are and what we are really worth should be determined by the One who has perfect knowledge and who made us.

I’m on vacation this week but as I was enjoying myself outside yesterday I received a negative report from a colleague at work who was assigned to use my truck and reported  “there was no way he could work out of it” because of its disorganized – overstocked state and that he was concerned about negative comments about my “less than exemplary work”. Now this man is a brother and a friend, so I appreciate his “warnings” and readily admit to disorganized state of my truck when I left for vacation and humbly accept that people may criticize my skill sets (although I do perform the jobs I get to the best of my abilities) but then he wished to “encourage” me by reminding me that “we work for the Lord” and convict me that how I “choose to work is not a good testimony”. He then admitted that he may have his own issues in some regards but stood on the fact that he gets “his work done.”  - whereas I guess the perception is that I don’t (because I don’t work overtime and will pass my unfinished work on to those who do and will readily ask for and accept help if I need it). He then reminded me that we have a “great job” – Its great… sorry for the sarcasm – it is a well-compensated job and I appreciate how it provides for my needs. But my colleague did admit that the job isn’t perfect, and neither are we, but “we need to be a reflection of Christ”.

While I understand what my brother is saying and appreciate that I could keep a more organized truck and strive to “do better”, I have to admit that I take issue with the performance based – works based – bill of goods that he is trying to impart me with.  While I agree with the Colossians 3:23 sentiment to do everything “heartily” as to the Lord, I think there is a fine line here in thinking that we are approved, significant, or secure because of our performance and that the opinions of our fellow men are similar to what God thinks about us.   The truth is our worth in Christ (who we are supposedly trying to “reflect”) doesn’t work that way.    

As I stated I am doing everything to the best of my abilities – and somehow got a satisfactory evaluation from my supervisor during my last review, I believe, and even get customer accommodations on occasion. Oh by the way, I couldn’t stop myself and had to check my “numbers” and I discovered that I have exceeded my performance goals more than I have “missed the mark” so far this, although I can’t claim perfection.  I know I am not the best tech but do my work to best my abilities and am satisfied with my work.  The standards of performance and the opinions of others are subjective and honestly I don’t put my sense of personal worth in “doing a good job” because there will always be room to criticize me, and my performance will vary from time to time. If I were to put my sense of worth in my performance, I would be fearful of not measuring up to others (how good do I have to be?) or depressed because I am not “the best” (Is top 10 good enough, what about top 20?) Or do I have to be approved by all of my cp-workers to feel a sense of worth?  Or do I have to be number one to “reflect Christ. – He is perfect after all. 

The reason I am so zealous about my faith is because I am accepted by the Lord because of who I am in Christ, not because of “Who I am at Work” and honestly it bothers me when Christians fuel this worldly performance driven evaluation of our reflecting Jesus.  That’s not how it works, although you may have been taught in the church!  Legalistic standards created “Sunday best” and the Pharisaical attitudes of being “above the law” and often drive people away from faith or cause us to live in despair over our shortcomings.  

I have been going through Neil Anderson’s “Who I am in Christ: A Devotional” and just yesterday read about how our worth is NOT determined by our “talents”.  And so I am sharing what I read yesterday to stop the condemnation I was under and to remind myself that negative reports should be evaluated not by our “feelings” but should be check out according to the actual truth – the facts are my performance is satisfactory-ish, lol – like I said not perfect in all the areas, all the time,  and more importantly – the truth of God’s word. 

So from Neil Anderson, I present that:

I Am a Member of Christ’s Body

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

1 CORINTHIANS 12:27

Anybody who regularly relates to people on a deep level knows that they don’t inherently feel good about themselves. We are not born with an innate sense of worth or value. The natural man has no identity in Christ, so from the time we are born into this world, we are constantly pursuing some sense of identity, purpose or meaning in life.

The self-esteem movement has been profoundly affecting every aspect of life. More and more, people are searching for some sense of significance, and the philosophy of attempting to find it within yourself has even found its way into the Church.

I have heard Christians say a man finds his identity in a job and a woman finds her identity in her children or family. Some say this teaching comes out of Genesis 3, where it states that a man shall work by the sweat of his brow and a woman shall bear her child in pain. But that is the curse of the Fall, the result of man’s choosing to live independent of God. If a man finds his identity in his job, what happens when he loses his job? If a woman finds her identity in her family or children, what happens if she never gets married?

Who we essentially are is not determined by what we do or the roles we live out in society. It is who we are that determines what we do, and then what we do brings a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

The Search for Self-Worth

So the question is, “Where does a person find a legitimate sense of identity or worth?” Is it in talents? No, it can’t possibly be. God has given some one talent, some two talents, and others five talents (see Matt. 25:14–28). You may say, “Well, God, how could You do that? Don’t You know that the only person who can have any legitimate sense of worth or identity is the five-talented person?” But that is not true. I know a lot of five-talented people who are struggling for a sense of worth, just like the one-talented person.

Well, then, does our worth lie in intelligence? No, according to 1 Corinthians 1:27, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” Okay, how about appearance? If we only appeared good, certainly we would have the acceptance and affirmation of others. But according to Isaiah 53:2, Jesus had “no beauty or majesty to attract us to him.”

One time I asked my son, “Karl, suppose there is a young girl at your school who has a potato body, stringy hair, bad complexion, stutters when she talks and stumbles when she walks—is there any hope for happiness for her?”

He paused for a moment and said, “Hmmm. Probably not.” In the world’s system, probably not, but could she have a legitimate sense of worth in God’s system? Absolutely.

Is our worth found in spiritual gifts? No, I am sure it is not. God has not equally distributed gifts, talents or intelligence, but He has equally distributed Himself. Our identity comes from knowing who we are as children of God, and our sense of worth grows out of our commitment to become like Him.

Legitimate Sense of Worth in Christ

Show me people today who know who they are as children of God and have committed themselves to Him, and I will show you those who have a profound sense of self and of worth. Show me somebody who is continually growing in the fruit of the Spirit, whose life is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Will that person have a good sense of identity and value? Yes, I am sure of it. And the beautiful part of that truth is that everyone has exactly the same opportunity.[1]

Not to “toot my own horn”, but I do know who I am as a child of God and have committed myself to Him, and as Anderson indicates, I have a profound sense of self and of worth.  I marvel over how much I have grown in the areas of the fruit of the Spirit and have a great sense of peace and joy as long as I don’t let the world’s performance based system, or the opinions of men speak to me more than truth of what my Heavenly Father says about me. 

There is NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, right? So if someone comes at you with a negative report and tells you to “do better” to “reflect Christ” take it under advisement, look at where they are coming from and see if they have a point,  but at the end of the day remember we are not accepted because of our performance and we will never be “free in Christ” if we are busy in our attempts to measure up to some subjective standard of performance or to be “well considered” in the eyes of men – most of whom are desperately wicked and head for perdition.   In only in Christ that I would I ever be accepted, secure, or significant and I won’t let the opinions of others, or the changing circumstance of the world erase the truth of my new identity in Christ.  \

It’s who I am in Christ, not “who I am at work”, that’s sets me free. So please excuse me, as I reject your performance based evaluation of my sense of worth and choose to keep on walking and talking with God in the way He leads me. 

 

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verse comes from the section on Death and Eternal Life

Philippians 1:21 (NIV2011)
21  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Today’s verse falls under the third point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Death and Eternal Life.  

3. To live is Christ; to die is gain.

Today’s verse determines our mission in life.  To live is Christ – so we live to proclaim the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone, until our dying breath. And if we die? We go to see Him. We can’t lose because we are victorious through Jesus. The only loss we suffer is when we fail to remember who we are in Christ or fail to tell others of how they can be saved, forgiven, and set free through Him.

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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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

MORNING READING: JOHN 13

“[Jesus] rose from supper and laid aside His garments,
took a towel and girded Himself.” – John 13:4

In this picture is presented supreme humility. O to grasp the same spirit, that my life may be characterized with the humility of my blessed Lord.

He rose from Supper. Here was the deliberate and intentional advance for the expression of humility. It is true that He was incarnate humility, but it is also true that He deliberately came to express it.

He laid aside His garments. He emptied Himself of all His glory. He who was rich became poor.

He took a towel and girded Himself. He took upon Him the form of a servant. Girding is essentially the sign of service. He could say, “I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27).

Teach me humility, O Lord.[2]

---------------------------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 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Neil T. Anderson, Who I Am in Christ (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2001), 61–63.

Monday, May 1, 2023

I am My Work – Lies of the Enemy #19– Purity 1031


I am My Work – Lies of the Enemy #19– Purity 1031

Purity 1031 05/01/2023  Purity 1031 Podcast

Purity 1031 on YouTube: Coming Soon!

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Arthur Parton’s oil on canvas painting “Scene on the Housatonic River” comes to us from yours truly as I captured this work of art on film while visiting the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield Massachusetts on Saturday. While the weather was rainy on and off all weekend, my wife and I decided to seize the day on Saturday and “do something” so we enjoyed each other’s company while exploring the modest exhibits that highlighted man’s innovative and artistic spirit but that was also tempered by the harsh reality of our physical impermanence.

While we can appreciate the beauty of Arthur Parton’s painting, the artist departed this mortal coil over 100 years ago, dying in 1914. Similarly while we could appreciate the unchanging beauty of an impressive display of rocks and minerals at the Berkshire, the collection of stuffed or mummified remains of the what used to be living and breathing animals or people reminded us that although preserved, the flesh didn’t fare so well over time, or after death.  Some of the displays were positively creepy but paradoxically they made me thankful for my faith in Christ, because regardless what happens to my physical remains after I die, I know that although I may die, because I believe in Jesus, I shall live. (John 11:25).  

Well, it’s Monday again, so its back to work for most of us but even though most of us have to make the ends meet and will spend a good deal of our lives at work, today our current series will challenge the common belief that our work defines who we are.  

While there is a fair amount of truth that our work lives will say a lot about us as people, we are here to contest the lie that “I am My Work.”  Although we could preserve some of our handiwork in a museum like Arthur Parton’s “Scene on the Housatonic River”, the thing that will endure forever is not the work of our hands or imaginations. And ironically, there is no amount of work we can do to secure our place in eternity.  

As a reminder we are currently “working on” a continuing series, the Lies of the Enemy, which is an examination of some of the common lies, sometimes sneakily whispered into our minds as “first person” statements, that the enemy tells us to cause us to doubt our faith, lose our peace, cause division, or influence us to not follow the Lord with the way we live our lives.  

Today’s big lie is:

Lie #19:  I am My Work.  

While our work can be a large part of our identity here on earth, we are not our work.  Many a retiree discovers just how valuable their hard work is after they are no longer doing it.  After they retire, they discover just how disposable they were as the next generation comes in to take their place.  Similarly shifts in economic and business trends over the passage of time has shown us how entire industries that once defined the “way of the world”, fade away as new technological innovations or new companies make the “big and mighty”, small and obsolete.   

This was highlighted to me more than once during our visit to the Berkshire Museum as the antiquities on display testified to the things that once were but that are now no longer.  There was a display on Children’s Literature and I marveled over how “Little Golden Books” which began in the 1940s was such a huge and impactful industry affecting the lives of generations of children in the decades since then and how are now, while they are still available, are not the cultural force they used to be. While “everybody” had those books when I was little, they are not as prevalent today as things have changed.  

While Golden books is still out there, other industries have gone the way of the dodo all together and I am sure there are retired people who are still alive today that can tell you all about how their jobs are “no longer”.   What used to define their working lives and a big part of who they were is now “gone with the wind.”  

I don’t mean to depress by the fact that we are not our jobs but only seek to encourage us to seek our identity according to the One who made us: God.  

All those displays at the museum testified to the fact that things don’t last, so in order to have peace we need to seek our meaning and purpose in the One who will last forever: God.  

While various cultures have different ideas about what happens when you die, the museum had a mummy on display to testify of this, the Lord sought to give us the Truth about life and death, meaning and purpose, by sending Jesus to tell us like it is and to show us that He is God incarnate by defeating death and the grave.  

And amazingly, Jesus came to tell us that we could be part of His eternal kingdom and we don’t even have to “work for it”.    In

John 11:25-26 (NKJV) Jesus said to Martha, all of us:
25   "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
26  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

While we could disagree with someone who just “said” things like this, Jesus proved He was the resurrection and the life – by rising from the dead, ascending to heaven, and giving new spiritual lives to those who put their faith in Him.   

And Jesus’ words tell us that we receive this new life by just believing in Him! The Apostle Paul seeks to make the way to life everlasting clear in:  

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

It’s not our work that will save us. Its by faith alone, in Christ alone that we will receive and enjoy eternal life.  

As faith in Christ in our society is becoming increasingly rare and disparaged, people increasingly seek to find their identity and purpose in their work.  I’m including a couple of links to articles on the blog today to testify to the failure of the  “gospel of workism” to save us (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/religion-workism-making-americans-miserable/583441/ ) , and even modern psychology’s assurance that we are not our jobs ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tracking-wonder/201903/you-are-not-your-work ) but no matter what insights or assertions those articles share about “buying free time” or “identifying your own personal purpose” I want to encourage you to look beyond yourself and to seek the Lord and His wisdom to discover who you are, what really matters, and what God’s purpose is for your life.   

So as we go into another week of work, do a good job and get those ends met and do your best to meet your professional goals but remember that you are not your work. You are a piece of God’s creative work and He made you for a purpose in His kingdom and in Christ you will never find yourself “out of a job” or declared to be “obsolete” as He has future and a hope for all who trust in Him and decide to follow where He is leading. 

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple apologetic will provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

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

This morning’s meditation verses  :

Isaiah 60:18, 22 (NLT2)
18  Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”

Today’s verse assures us of the future and the hope that we have in Christ as Isaiah prophesied about life beyond the millennial kingdom as God will some day make a new heaven and a new earth.  

Yeah this passage of scripture is looking at the end times because although it sounds like these verses just point to the end of war – the intervening verses of 19,20, and 21 talk about cosmic changes as the Lord will somehow replace the sun and moon and become our “everlasting light”. This verbiage is reiterated by

Revelation 21:23 (NLT2)
23  And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.

So, when God brings “peace on earth” – He will be the light that shines upon us and illuminates our meaning and purpose, taking away all that is warped, evil, or broken. We won’t have to work to know who we are or to be accepted as the Lord will show us what to do and how to live in the new heaven and new earth and our praise of Him will never leave our lips.

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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 begin sharing from  “Satan, Demons & Satanism: A Sinister Reality” By June Hunt.

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 her work.  This resource is available online for $7.99 (https://june-hunt.myshopify.com/collections/keys-for-living/products/keys-for-living-on-satan-demons-satanism_ ).

Satan, Demons & Satanism

A Sinister Reality

by June Hunt

B.  What Is Satanism?

Satanism is not just a hodgepodge of occultic activity, but a religion that demands worship and allegiance to Satan. Devotion to the devil and his legion of demons can take the form of worshiping Satan himself, or it can be participation in various occultic activities that open doors to the demonic. Operating in this world since the Garden of Eden, Satan deceives and demands compliance with his desires. His ultimate goal is to replace God.

“The devil took him [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” ’ ”

(Matthew 4:8–10)

     Satanism is a religion that worships and declares allegiance to Satan.

   Ritualistic ceremonies promote a relationship with Satan and call on his power.

   Secret rituals may involve sacrificial killings, black magic and the black mass.

   It is illegal and underground.

     Satanism is also a religion based on the exaltation of evil with no belief in a personal devil.

   It consists of complete indulgence in orgies and other sexual obscenities.

   Rituals include the use of magic to achieve personal desires.

   It is legal and tax-exempt.

Q “If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He destroy Satan and Satanism?”

He will. The day will come when Satan is cast forever into the lake of fire. To face annihilation? No—that would be too tame! The destiny of the devil is never ending torment … eternal punishment … “day and night for ever and ever.”

“The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10)[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Satan, Demons & Satanism: A Sinister Reality (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 3–4.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Re-emerging to Work with Gratitude - Purity 822


 Re-emerging to Work with Gratitude - Purity 822

Purity 822 08/29/2022  Purity 822 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a view of the beach at Rapid Bay from the inside of a cave comes to us from Dave Baun Photography (https://www.facebook.com/DaveBaunPhotography) who reports that this location is one of his favorite places to drive to in South Australia and even know there is quite a bit of cave rock obstructing our view, we can see enough to understand why.  

Well it’s Monday again and as we emerge from the safe confines of the weekend to reemerge to the bright lights of the world of the working, I am encouraging everyone to face the day with an attitude of gratitude because even though my staycation is over, in reflecting on my “life of work” this morning, I realize how blessed I have been to be able to work over the years to provide for myself and my family to bring me to where I am today.  

So even though I suppose I could be facing the day with a sour puss because my time off has expired, simply reflecting upon the twists and turns of all the different jobs I have had has me counting my blessings today instead.  

As much as I recognize the truth that God is sovereign and is in control, I also recognize that because He gives us free will much of our lives are the result of our choices and that obviously includes where we find ourselves on our life’s career path. 

While our eternal destiny depends on our covenant relationship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, I believe our professional lives are a combination of our efforts and God’s providence.    

We can choose to quit. We can choose to never apply. We can choose to be a diligent worker or we can choose to be less than that and reap the benefits or consequences of our performance.  So there is lots we bring to our career path. 

However, for us to believe that we are somehow “self-made” men or women is to display the heights of ignorance, pride, or self-deception.  

God made us. God choose when we would be born and where we would begin our lives.  God gave us our “able bodies” that allow us to work.  God gave us our brains to think and store intelligence. God also gave us our temperament – those inborn talents and personality or attitudinal predispositions that make us uniquely who we are. And God may have made also all in His image but He didn’t make us equal or the same in all these different areas, all of which play a huge part in what type of career we have now. 

Also because I know that God shapes the history of the world according to His overall purposes, His will be done, I have to believe that there are also no “lucky breaks”.  Remember God put you where you were and made you who you are, so you getting the job you have today may not be a miracle but we would be foolish to think that God’s providence didn’t play some part in where you are today.  

However, because of our free will to act foolishly and “miss the mark”, we can’t assume that where we are today is God’s perfect will for us either.  We may have been tempted or deceived by some aspect of our career path that led us to do what we do now.   We may have been tested and we may have not chosen wisely. 

For instance,

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT2)
9  But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.
10  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Pursuing riches is just one way we could have possibly wandered from God’s plan for us and may have resulted in “many sorrows”.  

In my path, I resisted working for the phone company. In my youth, I didn’t want to follow in my mother’s footsteps and I applied for all kinds of positions without any success.  

I had a heart to help people and became a residential counselor for the psychiatrically disabled.  I did that for two years and that is where I met my ex, and no she didn’t live there – shots fired.  But I loved my ex and wanted a family and the low income I made as a counselor would have meant a life of financial struggles and so remembering my middle class existence I decided to “go corporate” and the last 25 years of work for “the phone company” was a result of my desire to have a family.

And of course, as many know, that had mixed results.  After 19 years, my marriage ended in divorce but my kids stayed with me. They are twenty somethings and struggling with the decision of what to do with their professionally  and we live together in a little house down by the River. 

My life was tumultuous at times through those 25 years at my job, that was full of changes itself, but I have no regrets.  My job provided the means to house my family, raise my kids, and have quite a number of wonderful years even though it didn’t work out like I hoped when I started way back when.     

I don’t regret my career because it was instrumental in bring to where I am today and while I would never think of it as God’s perfect will for me, when I go to work today I will give it my best effort to do a good job. 

Our choices are sometimes regrettable but the good news is that God gave us free will and if we find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be we can change it. So if you are dragging into Monday hating your life, pray and allow God to direct your next steps.  He may call you to endure or He may encourage to boldly go where you never thought to go.  

When we are in Christ, we are never without hope or without the help of the Lord. So we follow His path and where ever we go we do our best to represent Him by doing the best we can and by helping and supporting the other people we encounter along the way. 

So let’s go to work. Let’s do the best job we can do today to represent the God who made us and to share His love.  And let’s keep walking and talking with Him to follow where He would have us go.  

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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:

Philippians 2:13 (NLT2)
13  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Today’s verse encourages us that God is working in us to want to do and to give us the power to accomplish what please Him.  

Hey, God is with us. If you put your faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells you!  The Holy Spirit will convict us and encourage us to stop doing the things that displease God and will encourage us to do the things that please Him.  

In discerning the spirits, we need to know that the Holy Spirit is not a condemning voice. Those would be the spiritual forces of darkness.

Romans 8:1 (NKJV)
1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

 So the Holy Spirit in us would encourage us to change from our worldly ways to follow God’s ways but He wouldn’t beat us up about it. God wants us to freely choose to be with Him and He likewise wants us to choose for ourselves His path for living.   

God does not have a nagging or condemning voice. He invites us to trust Him and live according to His ways with love.  We might consider it a “tough love” at times because of the mess we have made that we have to climb out of but while God will lead you into a path that doesn’t compromise on holiness and righteousness, He will never beat you into submission. God knows what’s best for us and He will encourage us to take a path that may include some suffering but it will be for our overall good.  

The good news is that, like today’s verse tells us, He not only gives us the desire and the encouragement to do what pleases Him, He also gives us the power to accomplish it.  

That power isn’t usually some miraculous sign or wonder, God’s power in us comes from trusting in Him and asking for His strength and guidance.   His intuitions will lead us to good things we wouldn’t have thought of. His strength will cause us to endure and overcome things we never thought were possible.   

So don’t doubt it. God is working in you. He is giving you the desire and provides the power to do what please Him.

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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.

15 The Powers and Society

In the Pauline letters the emphasis is on the threat the powers pose to the individual Christian and to the church. This threat comes in a large measure from the temptation of the flesh. It also comes from a larger organized front, which Paul characterized as “the world.” We will now look closely at the nature of “the world” as Paul envisioned it and determine how the powers influence the world and work in conjunction with it to lead humanity astray.

Recent Interpretations of the Powers

Since World War 2, there has been a growing trend among scholars in the West to interpret Paul’s references to principalities and powers almost exclusively as the structures of our existence. The powers of darkness are “demythologized” and described in terms of religious structures (especially tradition), political and economic structures (as, for example, imperialism, nationalism, dictatorship, socialism and capitalism), the set of values held by a given social grouping (accepted morality, public opinion and interest, ideas of social status, concept of justice and so on) and intellectual structures (ologies and isms). All of these structures and values exert a controlling influence on society. They are also capable of becoming evil (“demonic”) and may stand in the need of redemption. Many of those who interpret the powers along these lines emphasize political structures. Responding to the powers thus becomes a mandate for political activism. In commenting on Ephesians 3:10, for instance, one writer remarks, “Announcing Christ’s lordship to the powers is to tell governments that they are not sovereign … to witness in a biblical way to the principalities and powers is to engage in dangerous, subversive political activity.”

For many of these interpreters a major factor that leads them to a “structural” interpretation is the modern Western world view, which denies the reality of the actual existence of evil spirits. In chapter thirteen, I attempted to show that there is ample reason for revising the modern world view to affirming the actual existence of evil spirits and angels. If this premise is accepted, there is no need to demythologize the powers in order to interpret their meaning for us. Our task needs to be focused on determining how the powers influence “the world” in its variety of expressions; that is, through political structures, values, traditions and so on.

Evangelical scholars identifying the powers with structures often express their concern to grapple with the question of structural evil as part of a quest to develop a biblical basis for social ethics. This is a commendable goal and one that evangelicals have neglected. I would suggest, however, that it is erroneous to equate the powers with the structures. As I will argue, we ought to distinguish between the powers of darkness and the structures of our existence. The two categories are ontologically distinct. One is personal, the other is nonpersonal; one possesses intelligence and the ability to will, the other does not. Truer to Paul’s letters is to say that the powers exert their influence over the structures of our existence than to make the powers coextensive with the structures.

Not all evangelicals writing on this topic equate the powers with structures. In his book on social ethics Robert Webber contends that the powers are spiritual beings at work in the world, that they are nonmythological, and that they have an ontological point of reference in time, space and history. In the course of his discussion of the powers, however, their ontological distinction from the structures of existence becomes blurred. At the end of his analysis he states that there really is no firm distinction, but rather a dual reference at each occurrence: “The word powers is used in two different ways: it may refer to the spiritual powers of evil or to the powers which we have called ‘the structures of existence.’ ”

For Webber the powers even have a positive side: “We know that the powers are God’s creation which serve as agents to provide order, guidance, and meaning.” In this latter comment he is clearly referring to the structures of our existence, not evil spirits. But the problem with this view is that he confuses the terminology and inaccurately identifies Paul’s “principalities and powers” terminology with the concept of structures. This problem is not just with words; it is also a conceptual problem. An evil spirit is not nationalism; a demon is not a tradition; the principalities and powers are not structures. I would contend that there may be a relationship, however, between an evil spirit and nationalism, in that an evil spirit may incite excessive patriotism.

The primary practical danger in limiting our interpretation of the powers to the structures is that it is reductionistic. It unreasonably restricts how we understand the work of the devil in Paul’s day and in our day. Specifically it overlooks the direct and immediate work of an evil spirit in the life of an individual—either through overt demonization (“giving a place to the devil”) or the devil’s classic work of directly tempting people to sin.

Evangelicals (especially Pentecostals and Charismatics) have traditionally had a much easier time reckoning with the work of Satan on an individual level as opposed to a societal level. In light of this problem the many recent works dealing with the topic of the relationship between the powers and the structures of our existence is a necessary corrective to an individualistic outlook.

In my analysis of various writers on this topic, I have found two Pauline texts that surface as crucial to the debate but which are frequently misunderstood. They are Ephesians 2:2 and 3:10. I offer two necessary correctives to some of the current discussion about the relationship between the powers to the structures of our existence.

1. The references to “air” and “spirit” are not references to “spiritual climate.” When Paul spoke of “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph 2:2), a number of interpreters have assumed he was speaking of something like “the climate of opinion.” Some would go so far as to suggest that Paul was referring to culture or world view. This view does not have a long history in the interpretation of this passage. The origin of this idea can be traced back to an essay written by Heinrich Schlier in 1930, later translated into English and published as a small book. Schlier explained that the “air” and “the spirit” of this passage is “the general spiritual climate which influences mankind.” He said it exercises a control, a domination that usually begins “in the general spirit of the world, or in the spirit of a particular period, attitude, nation or locality.… Men inhale it and thus pass it on into their institutions and various conditions.… It is so intense and powerful that no individual can escape it.”

This view has had an undue amount of influence on the course of subsequent treatments on the theme of principalities and powers. The single greatest difficulty with this view is that it would have been unintelligible to a first-century reader. I have argued in detail in another context that Paul is using spirit here in the sense of a personal being. Likewise, Paul intended air to be understood in a literal sense; both Jews and Gentiles commonly regarded the air as a dwelling place for evil spirits. The following lines from various Greek magical papyri illustrate this perspective:

For no aerial spirit which is joined with a mighty assistant will go into Hades.

Protect me from every demon in the air.

I conjure you by the one who is in charge of the air.

A first-century A.D. Jewish document aligns itself with this concept: “For the person who fears God and loves his neighbor cannot be plagued by the aerial spirit of Beliar since he is sheltered by the fear of God” (Testament of Benjamin 3:4).

In Ephesians 2:2, the reference to spirit is simply a reference to a personal evil force, and the reference to air is representative of the common belief that demons inhabit the air. One simply cannot press the reference to air in this context to find a precise metaphysical description of the dwelling place of an evil spirit.

2. The church is not called to proclaim a message to the powers. In Ephesians 3:10, some have seen a divine mandate for the church to preach to the powers. In this passage Paul explained that God’s “intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” This passage is not a warrant for raising a prophetic voice against the corrupted structures of our existence. In the context of Ephesians and of Pauline theology as a whole, the passage is merely asserting that the very existence of the church testifies to God’s wisdom. This passage confirms that God has foiled the wisdom of the demonic powers, who thought they could end God’s redemptive plans by inciting the political and religious leaders to put Jesus to death (1 Cor 2:6–8). God raised Jesus from the dead, and he became the head of a worldwide body of believers who would spread the good news of his offer of salvation everywhere. As 1 Corinthians 4:9 asserts (as well as numerous Jewish documents), the angels carefully observe the affairs of humanity. The evil angels, the principalities and powers, now see Jesus actively redeeming the lost through the church.

The only message the church is called to proclaim is the gospel, and that gospel to people all around the world who have not heard its good news of liberation and deliverance from captivity in Satan’s kingdom. Both the existence of the church and the continued evangelistic growth of the church demonstrate to the powers that they are in fact powerless to impede the redemptive work of God.[1]

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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), 194–198.