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Showing posts with label Worship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worship. Show all posts

Friday, October 7, 2022

Acting on “Good Thoughts” - Walking in the Spirit - Purity 856


 

Acting on “Good Thoughts”  - Walking in the Spirit - Purity 856

Purity 856 10/07/2022 Purity 856

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun setting the misty clouds of morning ablaze for God’s glory comes to us from yours truly as I was racing to work yesterday and took some “blind shots” as I drove up the overpass of 787 North on my way to work.   I didn’t know what I would get at the time, but I trusted that something good may come from my efforts and I was blessed with this scene of the clouds and fog enshrouding Rensselaer being illuminated by the sun with a sliver of the Hudson River reflecting the shore line, with the cold hard gray wall and guard rail of the overpass in the foreground highlighting the contrast between the splendor of God’s creation and what man can create.   

Don’t get me wrong while the beauty of God’s creation will always be superior to what man can create, God put man on the earth for a purpose and while that guard rail may not be pretty, it keeps us safe and is part of a structure that is extremely useful for travel and for giving us a different perspective that just wouldn’t exist if men didn’t make it.  

Well, it’s Friday and it is my prayer that all my friends have a good and quick workday as some of us will be enjoying a three day weekend on the other side of our 9 to 5. 

This morning, while I was working out the worship song I was listening to caused me to think of a brother who recently asked for a moment to talk about his walk of faith and how negative thoughts have been plaguing his mind as he seeks to follow the Lord’s will for his life.  

The Holy Spirit put it on my heart to share that song with him as an encouragement. So I stopped what I was doing and immediately emailed my friend and brother in Christ a link to the song on YouTube.   Even though it disrupted my workout, I “answered the call” that I felt the Holy Spirit put on me this morning. And I didn’t regret it.  

And this is a good example of how the Holy Spirit may work in our lives.  We suddenly get a thought to help someone or to do something for someone that we could easily dismiss as “a nice thought”.  But if we are seeking to do the Lord’s will for us, we have to realize that these “nice thoughts” may be the Lord inviting us to “do good works”.  The question is: will we just dismiss those nice thoughts or will we act on them?   

Back in my pre-Christ days, in the midst of euphoric experiences brought upon me through the use of psychedelic drugs, on occasion I would get some grand altruistic vision to do go something good for others or to clean up my act.  In the heights of my euphoria I thought “I could do that!” but do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. 

In fact it was worse than that. Perhaps this was the spiritual forces of darkness discouraging me or just my habitual low self-esteem that plagued me back then, but on the summit of my altruistic vision I would have the realization that I wasn’t a “good person”. I was a drunk and a drug addict. I was high! And the ideas that I could do anything “good” was ridiculous.

So the joy of the experience of imagining myself doing something good, came grinding to a halt, as I realized that I was just some guy high in a basement, up late reveling on drugs and alcohol, by himself, while his wife and children slept upstairs.  This guy was “crazy” if he thought he could do anything good. 

And so I would turn my attention to something else and forget about the “good things” that I could do.   

Like I said, whether it was me recognizing the facts, my low self-esteem, or the spiritual forces of darkness seeking to keep me in bondage to my addictions,  I didn’t do the good things that I had thought of and I was in that basement for years.  

But God, right?  Yeah.  While I do work out in a basement during the week, I no longer spend time hiding away in my “man cave” reveling and entertaining myself.   God called me out of the darkness and now when I get a thought to do something good, I act on it. I do it as soon as possible.   And I have learned that regardless of the results of my actions, I have never regretted doing the good things that I felt compelled to do.  

And sometimes, one good thing leads to another. 

So after I emailed my friend that link to a song on YouTube, I remembered that I wanted to compile a playlist of Christian worship music that inspired me on my journey to victory and freedom in Christ to share with the participants of the Freedom in Christ course that I facilitate. So, this morning’s work out was cut short and I rushed upstairs to get it done, now!

So I did and I have already shared it on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit and I am sharing it here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYr9n4D1yfkqTat0ovqY0CRkhIJ2Tq61r

You see, one of the things that I discovered on the path of Christian Discipleship is that our worship is a weapon and it is a spiritual practice that increases our joy and our love for our Heavenly Faither.  

How does this “martial art of the Christian disciple” work?  

It’s simple.  You get alone. You play Christian worship music that moves you. You sing the songs and think about the Lord and what He has done, in general and in your life specifically.   You can do this while driving to work or you can do this in the privacy of your own home.   I also recommend “singing with feeling”, preferably as loud as you can.  

Perry Stone says that when we open our mouths in worship, singing and crying out to the Lord it “rolls away the stone” and allows the Holy Spirit to come out and opens us up for His infilling.   And based on my experience and growth through worship, I would say that Perry Stone sums it up pretty good.  

I have experienced the manifest presence of God at various times in periods of worship and prayer.  When we draw close to God and give Him thanks and praise, He draws close to us, and sometimes in dramatic fashion.  

I have no doubts because I know God lives because I experienced His presence.  

So there’s the playlist, and my advice: SEEK the Lord, repent of your worldly ways, make a commitment to follow Him, worship Him, and ask for The baptism of the Holy Spirit and see what happens.  When we keep seeking, when we keep asking, when we keep knocking, eventually the door to God in our lives will swing wide open and reveal to us the manifest presence of God and the reality of what a relationship with God really means.  

Through the Holy Spirit, God will reveal biblical truths to you in ways you never knew when you have a practice of Bible study. He will compel you to do good things that we may not be comfortable with.  And He will touch our hearts and minds when new surrender to Him in worship.   

So keep walking and talking with God, because when you experience His presence  you will realize that you have never been alone and that He is waiting for you to answer His call to the new and abundant life that He has for you.  

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 57:2 (NLT2)
2  I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to cry out to the Lord Most High and to take joy in the fact that He is the one who will fulfill His purpose for us.  

I posit that our relationship with God is an interactive and cooperative experience.  We do our part by seeking to know God through His word and by applying it to our lives, but God is the one who brings the results for our efforts and the blessings we could have never expected.

God is sovereign. That means He reigns, and He determines the course of His creation and human history. History is HIS STORY.  What has come to pass was ordained by God. He even uses evil for good.

So if you want to know what God’s will is, look at what has happened.  Our pasts reveal the consequences of our actions, for good and bad choices, but they also reveal the path that God has put us on.  Why were we born into this age? Why were we placed in our families in this part of the world.  God determined it. 

So where should we go?  

God invites everyone to have peace with Him through Jesus Christ and to follow Him to find their purpose.  And as today’s verse indicates God will fulfill it for us. 

IF we follow the Lord we will find His “good”, “acceptable” or “perfect: will for our lives (Romans 12: 2) So which will it be? That is determined by how we follow the Lord, by how much we “renew our minds” and present our bodies as living sacrifices for righteousness (Romans 12:1-2).    So we have free will and the more we follow the Lord the more “perfect” our purpose will be.  

But if we don’t make peace with Him by placing our faith in Christ, the purpose He will fulfill for us is to receive His just wrath, to be punished and to be separated from Him for all eternity. As we chose to reject His love and wisdom in life, we reject His presence after life and reap the consequences of our rebellion and sin.  

So don’t do that, submit to God and make peace with God through Christ and follow Him to experience the good things He has for you.

And the best thing about it all is that He fulfills our purpose, so we can answer the calls that God puts on our life and leave the results up to Him. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Amen.

 

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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

Jesus on the mountain, the crowd, the disciples. The crowd sees: There is Jesus with his disciples, who have joined him. The disciples—not so long before, they themselves were fully part of the crowd. They were just like all the others. Then Jesus’ call came. So they left everything behind and followed him. Since then they have belonged to Jesus—completely. Now they go with him, live with him, follow him wherever he leads them. Something has happened to them which has not happened to the others. This is an extremely unsettling and offensive fact, which is visibly evident to the crowd. The disciples see: this is the people from whom they have come, the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is the chosen community of God. It is the people as church [Volkskirche].[2] When the disciples were called by Jesus from out of the people, they did the most obvious and natural thing lost sheep of the house of Israel could do: they followed the voice of the good shepherd, because they knew his voice. They belong to this people, indeed, especially because of the path on which they were led. They will live among this people, they will go into it and preach Jesus’ call and the splendor of discipleship. But how will it all end? Jesus sees: his disciples are over there. They have visibly left the people to join him. He has called each individual one. They have given up everything in response to his call. Now they are living in renunciation and want; they are the poorest of the poor, the most tempted of the tempted, the hungriest of the hungry. They have only him. Yes, and with him they have nothing in the world, nothing at all, but everything, everything with God. So far, he has found only a small community, but it is a great community he is looking for, when he looks at the people. Disciples and the people belong together. The disciples will be his messengers; they will find listeners and believers here and there. Nevertheless, there will be enmity between the disciples and the people until the end. Everyone’s rage at God and God’s word will fall on his disciples, and they will be rejected with him. The cross comes into view. Christ, the disciples, the people—one can already see the whole history of the suffering of Jesus and his community.1

Therefore, “Blessed!” Jesus is speaking to the disciples (cf. Luke 6:20ff.). He is speaking to those who are already under the power of his call. That call has made them poor, tempted, and hungry. He calls them blessed, not because of their want or renunciation. Neither want nor renunciation are in themselves any reason to be called blessed. The only adequate reason is the call and the promise, for whose sake those following him live in want and renunciation. The observation that some of the Beatitudes speak of want and others of the disciples’ intentional renunciation or special virtues has no special meaning. Objective want and personal renunciation have their joint basis in Christ’s call and promise. Neither of them has any value or claim in itself.

Jesus calls his disciples blessed. The people hear it and are dismayed at witnessing what happens. That which belongs to the whole people of Israel, according to God’s promise, is now being awarded to the small community of disciples chosen by Jesus: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But the disciples and the people are one in that they are all the community called by God. Jesus’ blessing should lead to decisions and salvation for all of them. All are called to be what they truly are. The disciples are blessed because of Jesus’ call that they followed. The entire people of God is blessed because of the promise which pertains to them. But will God’s people, in faith in Jesus Christ and his word, now in fact seize the promise or will they, in unfaith, depart from Christ and his community? That remains the issue.[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), 100–102.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Surrendered to the Moment - Here I am to Worship - Purity 773

 

Surrendered to the Moment - Here I am to Worship - Purity 773

Purity 773 7/2/2022 Purity 773 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of twilight over the crowd gather at the River Rock Christian Music Festival at the Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry Maine comes to us from yours truly as I paused for a moment to capture the beauty of God’s creation as I made my way back to my spot amongst “my people”, to the right of the sound tent pictured here.  

Jean Paul Satre, in His play No Exit, is famous for the line “Hell is Other People” and when we first set up our lawn chairs on the grounds of Sunday River, my mild social anxiety had the fear that Satre’s quote would have some real life application as I am not crazy about crowds and the people there seemed a little bit different from me.  There are some vendors at the event selling quasi patriotic and political wears in various shades of camouflage and I started to fear that I had found myself at a “Make America Great Again Rally”. That coupled with seeing that several members of the crowd were tattooed, and adorned with camouflage or “biker gear” had me a little concerned that I wouldn’t “fit in” as I don’t think of myself as an extremest politically and don’t have any affinity for camo, leather, hunting, fishing, or motorcycles per se, not that there’s anything wrong with that….

But as I sat awaiting the worship to start it didn’t take me long to realize that the event I was at was unlike any event I have ever been to before.  As I took a closer look at the crowd I realized two things: 1. This crowd was old and 2. No matter what style of dress they had or what political stances they held as I far as I could tell all these people were my family as we all had the same adoptive Heavenly Father and had been brought together in His family and at this Christian worship event by His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

As different as the others members of my “family” seemed to me at first, I realized that the vast majority of the people at this event had a real heart for God and a deep love of Jesus, and they weren’t shy about it as a good deal openly proclaimed Jesus as Lord with their words, with their actions, and with their praises as well as with the clothes they wore that reflected their allegiance to King Jesus.   

As my apprehensions were fading but still present in those early moments of the festival, they completely dissolved when the first musicians began to lead the crowd in worship.  Ntumba Mutumbo, a worship leader from a church in Washington State that originally hails from the Congo began the festivities and my spirit immediately went into worship mode.  

So, can you “really” worship the Lord at one of these big events?  

Well if you have been walking with the Lord like I have you know that you can worship the Lord literally anywhere and in several different ways. Whether it is seated, standing laying down, shouting at the top of your lungs, singing, or silently because we are connected to God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit our worship to the Lord isn’t really a matter of what you do it is really dependent on where your heart is and what His Spirit is doing in you.   

When the worship start, my spirit or the Holy Spirit, even after all these years I’m not completely sure how it works but it is definitely a cooperative effort of sorts, - Our spirit told me that this was the real deal – as always – God was here.  When I felt that in my spirit, I remembered Moses at the burning bush in scripture, and took my socks and shoes off because I was on holy ground.  

Through out the day, I found myself alternating between worshiping from my seat, standing with my arms raised high in song, and sitting on our blanket on the ground our in a meditative posture or in my chair silently praising the Lord in prayer. 

Although I was there with my wife and stepkids, I was completely surrendered to the day of worship and was enjoying the Lord’s presence on this mountainside location where His people had gathered to give Him thanks and praise. 

While all the musicians were excellent yesterday, Highlights for day one for me included:

·       Dave Pettigrew (https://www.davepettigrew.net/) whose performance and testimony caused me “the non-materialist” to go to his “merch” table and purchase a couple of his T-shirts and follow Him on Amazon Music,

·       Bigg Daddy Weave, who closed the show and whose song’s “Redeemed” and “My Story” are near and dear to me because I performed them back in my Celebrate Freedom Recovery ministry days, and  

·       Jon Reddick – who presence of praise – brought me to run to the front stage as His soulful performance of his Christian hit, “God, Turn It Around” and some old gospel hymns brought me to the heights of praise and worship as the Holy Spirit came over me. I’m not sure why there was only a handful of people moved to go up front when he performed, but Jon Reddick “took me to church” and although I simply loved his hit song, I am a colossal fan of Mr. Reddick now.

So I had my worries and trepidations about whether or not I could “do” a Christian Music Festival and really wondered about my wife’s insistence that we go, and who is already lobbying for a return visit next year,  but now I see that these events present us with an uncommon opportunity to enjoy the presence of the Lord in a way that simply isn’t available to us in our 9-5 – status quo routines.  With this Christian Festival that goes from 12 noon to 10pm at night, for two days, there is the opportunity to show the Lord that we love Him and to hear other Christians share what He has done in their lives and we loudly or silently give Him thanks and praise for what He has done in ours: 

IF you are interested, tickets are still available for Day 2 of the River Rock Music Festival and the schedule of events includes:   


  So if you are even within a 3 hours radius of Newry Maine, I invite you get motivated and jump in the car and come on out and worship with us at the River Rock Music Festival at Sunday River Resort in Newry Maine.  (https://riverrockfestival.com/)  

If not, I really encourage you to attend a Christian music event like this. When we seek the Lord on a continuous basis we can find Him everywhere we go, but when we joing together in unity with other Christians to sing and testify of the wonders of His love, we get to demonstrate to the Lord that we love Him and He is worthy to be praised.    

But no matter where you are or what you choose to do today, I encourage you to keep walking and talking with God because He is with you and when you turn to Him and lean on Him, heaven invades the earth and you can know beyond all doubt that God is alive and well and walking with you.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 8:5 (NLT2)
5  Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

Today’s Bible verse speaks about the battleground of our thought lives and how those who are “dominated by the sinful nature” (the flesh) think about sinful things, but those who are “controlled by the Holy Spirit” only think about things that please the Spirit.  

Hey guys I love the simplicity of the NLT to help Christians read the Bible with a user friendly translation that is good for our youth, but I am not a fan of this rendering of Romans 8:5 which says in the NKJV: 

Romans 8:5 (NKJV)
5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

I think the NLT tries to make this “spiritual verse” easier to understand but in their attempt they simultaneously present the truth of the verse but do it in a way that can easily be misconstrued and develop an error in our thinking theologically.  

Their use of “controlled by the Holy Spirit” is the easiest place to start to explain what I mean.  I wish I was controlled by the Spirit! Then I would just do what God says without question and be free of the choice to sin.  

Also I have an even larger problem with the use of “dominated by the sinful nature” to describe people who “live according to the flesh”.  

Being “dominated by the sinful nature” and “being controlled by the Holy Spirit” sound like “possession” terms that we have no “control” over.  While we do either “belong” to God’s kingdom because of our faith in Jesus Christ, or are lost and are in the company of Satan, demons, and other unrepentant men and women,  we paradoxically still have the right to choose how we live. 

A life that is lived to demonstrate that we are “controlled by the Holy Spirit” is better described as living according to the Spirit, because in that life, we choose to live according to the wisdom of God’s word and by the leadings of the Holy Spirit.  But we do have a choice.   

And as for the “sinful nature”, as children of God through faith in Jesus Christ – our sinful nature was crucified on the cross the moment we said “Yes” to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. “It is finished” but we paradoxically can still choose to live a sinful life.   But unlike those who don’;t place their faith in Christ, the Christian has the power to say no and overcome their sins when they trust what the Lord has said about their new life in Christ and live according to it.  

“I am free in Christ, thus I live free. I don’t sin like I used to do. Instead I turn from my old ways, and start living according to God’s ways and according to my new nature, as a child of God.  

We don’t have two natures. We are either a born again saint through faith in Christ or we are dead in our trespasses and sins.   A sinner’s nature belongs to those who don’t come to Christ. A saints nature is given to those who come to Christ.  The difference is between life and death.  

But as for our choice of action, we are still free to choose our daily path.

Even the unredeemed, sinners who without Christ will go to Hell, can choose to do good things from time to time or even make a lifestyle of doing good, but when they refuse Christ they seal their doom.  

Likewise, a saint – a follower of Christ – can still choose to sin but, if my experience is common, I can tell you the enjoyment of sin will not be the same anymore as it will be against our “new nature” and disrupt the harmony of our relationship with God.   

Who said faith was simple?  

So, we don’t have two natures, we have a new life – a new life in Christ – but we can choose among various ways of living according the flesh or choose to live according to the Spirit.   

The way we choose to live will be indicated by what we think about.  If you are scheming and plotting on how to satisfy the desires of the flesh or are preoccupied with the things of this world you are living according the flesh, our your old and dead sinful nature.  If you are thinking about how to live out your faith and are interested in the things of God you are living according to the Spirit.  

So keep an eye on your thoughts and change the way you think to be in line with God’s word and you will experience that when you do the peace, love, and joy that you always wanted grows in your life when you walk in the Spirit.

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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.

5

The Teaching of Jesus

Traveling on a long, dusty road to damascus, syria, paul of tarsus met a person who forever changed the course of his life—he encountered the resurrected Lord of the Christians whom he was persecuting. Jesus Christ appeared to Paul and called him to proclaim his death and resurrection to the Gentiles. The person and teaching of Jesus was to become the single most influential factor in the thinking and writing of Paul.

Jesus was by no means silent about the realm of evil spirits. In fact, Jesus’ conflict with the powers of darkness is a major theme in all of the Gospel accounts of his ministry. After the ruler of demons had tempted him, he went on the attack engaging many of the forces of evil. He also reflected on the meaning of his mission and passion in relationship to the devil and the powers of darkness. Jesus’ teaching about evil powers had great influence on the apostle Paul, and therefore, it is very important for us to consider.

Jesus Is Attacked—The Temptation

Satan made his first appearance in all three synoptic Gospels as the supernatural tempter of Jesus (Mt 4:1–11; Mk 1:12–13; Lk 4:1–13). Recognizing Jesus as the Son of God, the devil came and made a bold attempt to divert Jesus from his divinely intended redemptive mission.

The attacks apparently did not take Jesus by surprise nor were they outside the design of God’s sovereign leading. Each Gospel tells us it was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. There, as Jesus fasted for an extremely long period of time, the devil tried to take advantage of his weak physical condition to entice him to behave in a way contrary to God’s plan. He tested Jesus’ devotion to his Messianic call.

First, the devil tempted Jesus where he was extremely vulnerable—hunger. He wanted Jesus to use his divine powers to satisfy his hunger; he did not want Jesus to wait until after his fast to obtain food through normal means. Jesus repulsed the attack by citing a passage from the Old Testament, which reflected his devotion to life’s more important matters: “Man does not live on bread alone” (Deut 8:3). In his experience of hunger, Jesus realized that God was teaching him this important lesson.

Second, the devil tested Jesus on whether or not he was susceptible to pride and had a potential thirst for power—ultimately, testing his loyalty to the Father. Showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, the devil offered them to Jesus in return for his obeisance and worship. Again and again the nation of Israel had succumbed to this temptation, forsaking God and worshiping foreign gods. Jesus, in contrast, resisted the devil’s temptation. He revealed to Satan his intense devotion to God alone by citing a portion from the Law: “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only” (Deut 6:13).

Finally, the tempter tried to compel Jesus to test God’s devotion to him, perhaps to silence any lingering doubts, by challenging Jesus to jump from a high elevation and thus force God to rescue him. As part of his strategy, the devil even reminded Jesus of a divine promise that he would never be harmed. Jesus, so in tune with God’s written revelation of his will, resisted (now for the last time) by expressing his desire not to put God to the test. Jesus verbalized the content of God’s command, recorded in Deuteronomy 6:16: “Do not test the Lord your God.” As Richard France observes, “the Son of God can only live in a relationship of trust which needs no test”3

Failing both to influence Jesus at this time and thwart God’s purpose through him, the devil leaves Jesus. Jesus is victorious over the devil. This is one of the reasons Jesus could later tell his disciples that “the prince of this world … has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (Jn 14:30).

The use of Scripture was the vital part of Jesus’ successful resistance of the devil’s enticements. In fact, Jesus’ only words recorded by the Gospel writers in their recounting of the temptation scenes are Jesus’ quotation of the three passages from Deuteronomy. As we will see later, Paul also counseled Christians about the significant role of God’s Word (“the sword of the Spirit”) in resisting the devil (Eph 6:17). It is important, however, to recognize that Jesus was not using the Scripture in some magical sense, like holding up a crucifix, to ward off the evil one. The Scripture Jesus chose was not only appropriate to the nature of the temptation, but each passage also accurately reflected the Son’s devotion to the Father. The texts convey the unity of purpose that the Son shared with the Father.

A second aspect of Jesus’ victory in facing supernatural temptation can be attributed to the Spirit’s work in his life. Luke emphasizes that when Jesus went out to the desert, he was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Lk 4:1). The temptation scenes also follow Jesus’ baptism by John, at which time the Spirit descended on him in a visible form like a dove (Mk 1:9–11; Mt 3:13–17; Lk 3:21–22; Jn 1:29–34). Paul also reaffirms the experience of being filled with the Spirit as prerequisite to resisting the onslaught of evil forces (Eph 5:18; 6:10–20).

The temptation of Jesus by the devil was intensely personal. No other person stood by his side as he experienced the wooing of the evil one in the Judean desert. Were it not for Jesus relating his experience with the devil to his disciples, we would have no knowledge of it. Fortunately Jesus has provided us with an account of his struggle, an account that influenced the apostle Paul’s words on spiritual warfare and serves as a relevant model for the church today.

Unlike the people of Israel, who were put to the test in the desert after the exodus and failed, Jesus succeeded. Unlike Adam, who gave in to the devil’s enticement in the garden, Jesus resisted. He continued to resist to the point of his death—a death that secured our atonement and reconciliation with the Father.[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), 75–77.


Friday, July 1, 2022

Open for Worship in the House of God - Purity 772


 Open for Worship in the House of God  - Purity 772

Purity 7/1/2022 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a green mountain under a clear blue sky with an almost angelic cirrus cloud formation comes to us from a friend who recently visited the Lake Placid area in New York State. For those curious about the location of this scene, our friend was kind enough to caption the photo and with their information and a google search I can tell you that this is Baker Mountain, which is a 2,454-foot-tall mountain in Essex County, which is east of Saranac Lake.  We are presuming that our friend was somewhere on the shores of Lake Placid but a google map search of Baker Mountain could cause you to doubt because there is more than one body of water near Baker Mountain including: McKenzie Pond, Moose Pond, and Moody Pond. So where they were exactly is still unknown but if your really adventurous, I have given you more than enough clues if you want to follow in their footsteps to experience this view for yourself.   

Well, It’s Friday and I am thanking God for the day, for safely bringing me to my travel destination in Bethel Maine, and for providing me with an unprecedented opportunity to worship and praise Him.  

 I am staying at Sudbury Inn in Bethel Maine for the next three days, leaving on Sunday – no Bible Study with the Cincotti’s this week as we are “on the Road. For those envisioning a trip to the Maine Seacoast and guys with strange Maine accents pulling in lobster traps let me gently burst your bubble.  Bethel is in an area of the state that I will call “Barely Maine”.  I call it that because as Bethel is only a short drive from the New Hampshire border and I suppose because we are near the “Unorganized Territory of South Oxford and minutes away from Mahoosuc Mountain Range you could also think of this area as Bearly Maine, as in I hope I don’t get mauled by a Grizzly because that would totally “Mahoosuc”.  

Forgive the “Dad Joke” pun,  but I am traveling with my wife and the youngest pair of my step kids and that’s what we do.  Anyway, we are all together to attend the River Rock Music Festival Christian Music Festival for two full days of Christian music and fun.  TammyLyn attended the festival last year and was very enthusiastic about having her family experience it too. SO here we are.  Anyone familiar with the dynamics of blended families, interacting with teenagers, replicating experiences, and travelling for family vacations, I’m asking for prayers and I don’t think I have to explain why.   

Anyway, as the word Bethel means the “House of God”, I am in the house and I am ready to worship! I am ready to praise the Lord.  

The River Rock Music Festival seems like it is going to be a first for me.  When I think of 2 day music festivals, I can’t help but think of the Woodstocks or Lollapaloozas and think of wild times with alcohol and drugs in abundant supply.  I never attended any of those concert events because I was too timid, for those in my past that may be hard to believe but it’s true, there was something about surrendering to a long event with the promise of drugs, large crowds, and loud music that caused me to say “no”.  Hearing reports of bad venues, bad weather, inflated prices, and violence and discord at some of those events made it easy to say no to ever going to one as I grew older and less wild.  I wanted to have fun and knew that “other people” could really mess that up.  

But today’s and tomorrow festival seems to be a far cry from those rock n roll extravaganza’s. First, I was shocked to discover that not only is this event Christian, it is really Christian in that there is no alcohol or smoking allowed at this event.   That’s different. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised really, drunkenness is prohibited according to the Bible but unfortunately according to various surveys done over the last few years, many of those who identify as Christians don’t have a biblical worldview and walk the walk of Christian Discipleship and don’t live much differently from their non-Christian neighbors.   

So, that’s good – we will worship today with far less inebriated concert goers than normal. I would say none but as a former addict I know that a determined person can bring drugs into any venue and enjoy their affects in all environments.  Marijuana, pills, and psychedelic drugs can all be ingested and enjoyed and go beyond detection. So some people today could choose to exercise their freedom from the law and take it as a license to sin.  I doubt that anyone would do that but I know it certainly is possible and if I see someone who is “lost to the music” today I will have my suspicions.

As the man in our small band of worshippers, I have the unspoken responsibility to make sure everyone is safe and it is a responsibility I take seriously, so as much as I intend to fully enter in to worship, I will undoubtedly keep an eye on our surroundings.  I know the evil that men can do and I know that Satan would love to cause strife at such an event that is designed to give God glory.  Today’s festivities run from 11am to 10PM, and the line-up of Christian musicians and speakers include:


So if you are in the area of “Barely Maine”, I invite you to come on our and worship with us at the River Rock Music Festival at Sunday River Resort in Newry Maine.  (https://riverrockfestival.com/)  

If not, I hope you have a quick day at work today and a wonderful weekend where you experience the beauty of all that God has provided you with and that you take a moment or two this weekend to thank the Lord and give Him praise.  

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 62:5 (NLT2)
5  Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

Today’s Bible verse assures us that we can quietly wait before God because our hope lies in Him.  

Although I will be at a venue today surrounded by Christian music, there is a lot to be said for spending quiet time with the Lord. Quiet time for prayer and Bible study are the foundational disciplines of the Christian Disciple and it is our time with the Lord that can help us to have peace in the world regardless of the raucous or wild circumstances that we may face.  

Although I am not really into crowds, I am hoping in the Lord not the security of my situation to give me peace.  In Christ, I am assured that I am secure in Him.  My hopes for good outcomes and safety are not sole based on my ability to manipulate circumstances and make wise decisions with where I go and what I do.  

While we should all be wise and discerning with the things we expose ourselves to in this world, the truth is that in this world broken by sin and subject to the influences of the powers of darkness there is no “safe place”.  History has tells us of the evil that men do and the sudden death that can come at their hands or to other situations like accidents or natural disasters.    

In the Final Destination movies, the unseen specter of death seeks to take back the lives of people who have escaped death and in those films we see the characters make every effort to remain safe but in the end, for nearly all the characters, death manages to make its way through their defenses and take their lives.  

But for the Christian, death has lost its sting. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  So no matter what, the Christian really is going to “be okay” because the Lord is with them. It is in the Lord that we have our hope.   

Only when we forget this fact of our spiritual reality can fear, anxiety, or depression come in and invade our lives. So spend some quiet time with the Lord to remind yourself about who you are in Christ and how your hope is assured because your hope is in the Lord.  

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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.

Jewish Magic

Perhaps nothing reflects Jewish popular belief in demons, spirits and the powers of evil more clearly than the widespread information illustrating Jewish involvement in magic. Contrary to Old Testament and official Jewish restrictions against the use of magic, many Jews throughout the Mediterranean world adopted and even further developed these occult practices of their pagan neighbors. In fact, Jewish magic gained a notoriety of its own in antiquity. Its importance for illuminating folk belief is rightly stressed by P. S. Alexander:

[Jewish] incantations and books of magic … open up areas of popular religion which are often inadequately represented in the official literary texts, and which are in consequence frequently ignored by historians. As an indicator of the spiritual atmosphere in which large sections of the populace lived—rich and poor, educated and ignorant—their importance can hardly be overestimated.

The New Testament itself helps to confirm this Jewish interest in magic by specifically naming two Jewish magicians—Simon (Acts 8:9) and Bar-Jesus, or Elymas (Acts 13:6–12). Luke also writes about certain itinerant Jewish exorcists, who had added the name of Jesus to their repertoire of magical names (Acts 19:13–20).

Over the past century archeologists have discovered numerous Jewish magical charms and amulets. Many of these have been collected and published with photographic reproductions as part of a beautifully done twelve-volume work by Jewish scholar E. R. Goodenough on Jewish symbols of the Greco-Roman period. Goodenough helped call the scholarly world’s attention to Jewish involvement in magic (and perhaps even mystery religions) by his analysis of the material evidence. The magical charms typically have a depiction of some Jewish symbol (such as a menorah or a representation of Solomon) on one side; the other side may contain a series of magical words or names (such as Sabaoth, angel names, names of patriarchs and often names of pagan deities). These amulets were used for many purposes, but most commonly for protection from evil spirits.

There are also a number of Jewish magical documents. In the standard collection of Greek magical papyri edited by Karl Preisendanz, some of the magical texts are distinctively Jewish. Just as significant is the extent to which Judaism influenced the development of the magical tradition as a whole. A number of scholars agree there are few Greek magical texts from late antiquity without some sort of Jewish component. The Jews provided the Greeks with new magical names to invoke, such as Iao (a Greek form of Yahweh) and numerous other names thought to be laden with power. Most scholars are not concerned to draw any firm distinction between Jewish and pagan magic. The occult sciences crossed all religious boundaries and borrowed from all religions.

In Jewish magic it is interesting to note the prominence of Solomon. According to the biblical account of Solomon’s life, he was granted a measure of wisdom from God unsurpassed by anyone preceding or following him (1 Kings 3:12). Later Judaism understood this gift to include wisdom and expertise in dealing with the spirit realm. The eminent Jewish historian Josephus believed this tradition:

God also enabled him [Solomon] to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return, and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country whose name was Eleazar, releasing people who were demonic in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. (Josephus Antiquities 8.2.5)

Josephus then gives a very detailed account of how this Eleazar performed exorcisms using a magical ring and by reciting incantations ostensibly written by Solomon. A number of these Solomonic magical traditions have been preserved in the form of a document known as the Testament of Solomon. Although the Testament postdates the New Testament, many scholars agree it may have been put together in the first century A.D. It is a major source for helping us to understand early Jewish demonology. The Testament functioned as a serious Jewish work on magic and a sort of encyclopedia of demonology. The work centers on Solomon’s rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, but focuses specifically on the demonic opposition he faced and his ability not only to thwart the evil powers but also to manipulate them into actually aiding the construction of the temple! According to the Testament, the archangel Michael gave Solomon a magical seal ring that he used to interrogate the evil powers. By using it, Solomon was able to find out their names and evil activities, and to force them to divulge how they could be thwarted. The Testament is thus filled with accounts of Solomon’s interrogation of the demons and how he manipulated them.

These traditions about Solomon would have had great significance for the Jew, who was fearful of evil spirits, and who sought a means for protection. A number of early Christian writers are familiar with the Solomon tradition and allude to exorcisms taking place using Solomonic formulas. The Testament is significant for our study by giving us yet another glimpse into the belief in demons and the use of magic that flourished throughout the Mediterranean world in popular culture, even in Judaism. The Testament also employs many of the terms used by the apostle Paul when he referred to the powers of darkness. This certainly does not imply that Paul agreed with everything said in this Testament, but it does show that Paul was concerned to give a perspective on these evil powers (that he believed to exist)—a perspective he based on the Christ event.

One final point needs to be made about first-century Judaism. Many of the common Jews were firm believers in astrology. The Testament of Solomon itself testifies to this Jewish interest in astrology (since magic and astrology overlap significantly). In the past fifty years, new archeological data and newly discovered documents have confirmed and further illustrate this interest in astrology. For example, among the Dead Sea Scrolls was an astrological document (a horoscope containing the signs of the zodiac) that likely reflects part of the beliefs of the Qumran community, also illustrating that astrological beliefs even extended to some of the Jewish sages.

This discussion verifies and illustrates the strong Jewish belief in the powers of darkness throughout their history, and which intensified as the birth of Jesus approached. Furthermore, the Judaism of the Roman period shows a prevalent tendency toward overlooking the Old Testament restrictions against practicing magic and astrology. These activities became a common mechanism for overcoming the fearful threat posed by the powers of darkness.[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), 71–74.