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Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Little Tree and The Big Sky – Peace and Joy Right Now - Purity 899


The Little Tree and The Big Sky – Peace and Joy Right Now - Purity 899    

Purity 899 11/26/2022 Purity 899 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a short tree with abundant shade under a pleasant blue sky on the shores of an unknown beach comes to us from the photo archives of my phone and an unknown friend who shared this scene back on social media back on November 25th , 2021.  

In my zeal to share beautiful scenes of God’s creation I will save photos that friends have shared but when you have as many well-travelled friends as I have, you end up saving more photos than you use, so this morning I decided to dial it back a year and see what I could find.  This was the first one that grabbed it and so I shared it. I am setting it free. I’m putting it out there and deleting it from my phone. So if this memory is yours, thank you for going “there” and sharing it.   If you want to let us know who you are and where you went, we will update the blog.

Yesterday, my wife dressed up in a red and white dress and Santa hat to do face painting at Troy’s Landscape Supply in Cohoes for their Black Friday Event where scores of people picked up their Christmas trees, so when I look at today’s photo I am thinking of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts and Linus’ humble little Christmas tree and am reminded that sometimes the little things, the simple things can mean a lot.  

Let’s face it, our “little tree that could” on this unknown beach isn’t much to look at. The sky’s pretty, the water’s pretty, and yeah, this Bonsai-esque tree is cute, but where’s the sun? 

But sometimes we don’t need the “flash” and big things to have joy. Sometimes we can just rest in the peace of what is and appreciate life for what it is. Last night, I was out walking my canine friend, Harley, at 6pm, which means it was as black as midnight outside. I wear a headlamp when I take the dog out at night because I would like to see where I am going, and I would like any motorists that are fling down Waite Rd to see me too!  

The thing about walking under the light of the head lamp though is that you sort of have “tunnel vision”.  The head lamp is a good one and casts quite a strong beam of light into the distance but the contrast of the dark of night makes it feel like the world outside of the light has faded to black and more or less disappeared.  

But last night on the return trek back to my countryside home, I happened to look up to see that all though the land was dark the sky above me was illuminated by a galaxy of stars! It was a real planetarium like view just overhead, but my head lamp was obscuring the show. So, I stopped the dog from walking for a moment and turned it off and just beheld the glory of outer space standing in the dark on the side of a road in upstate New York and enjoyed this little moment under the great big sky.

And these two experiences of the little tree on an unknown beach and the great big night sky last night, remind me to remind you to step outside the “situations” of your life and to immerse yourself in the joy and peace that you can find in the present moment. 

In every life there is drama, “the bills”, “the people”, “the work”, “the news”, and all of these things can so preoccupy our minds and emotions it is as if we are walking in the night and our light is only shining on them. Our preoccupation with these problems or ongoing situations gives us tunnel vision. While we should always take care of the things we need to take care of, when we are only focused on the problems or dramas of our lives we can miss the moments of peace and joy that are there for the taking.  Our lives can become so busy “taking care of business” that we end up missing the moments where we could have found a little bit of peace, or a little bit of joy. 

And that’s why I recommend a life of Christian Discipleship, of walking in the Spirit, where you keep walking and talking with God because if you are doing that you will gain two things:

1.    An understanding of what really matters in life: our relationship with God.

2.    Freedom from the preoccupations with the world system and what other people think.

And when you have those two things and agree with what the Bible says about you, you have freedom in Christ, and you will experience the fruit of the Spirit growing in your life as your meaning and purpose come into focus as you widen the lens of your vision.  

Last night, I thanked the Lord for the moment under the stars, and the walk back to the house, and the cool evening breeze that told me I was alive and well. And I thanked Him for His presence that told me that I would never be alone.  

I came to the realization again that rather being consumed with the dramas of this world, there is great joy and peace to be found from the little things, from the big things, and from just the experience of life. These are things that anyone can “dig” on but when you have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, you can enjoy the mystery of life because you know there is a purpose to it all because you know the Author of the story.

And even though, we have no idea what’s going to happen next our how the dramas of our lives will play out, when we stay in His presence, we can enjoy the show all the same.  

So take a time out to look around and realize “Hey, I’m okay!” and enjoy that fact and enjoy the presence of the Lord who created that moment just for you and who has a whole host more of them waiting for you to experience and appreciate as you keep walking and talking with Him.

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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:

1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT2)
25  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Today’s verse encourages us to be disciplined in our training, reminding us that the work we do for the kingdom of God will never fade away.        

Discipline can be viewed as a dirty word because it is usually associated with performing something repetitive that is “done for our own good” but that may not have immediate results.  Also discipline can be with hard work.  

When contemplating change we like the idea of the finished result but in the grueling process of getting there and the discipline our goals require, we can easily grow weary and decide to take a break from or quit altogether the disciplined activities we decided were necessary to accomplish our goals.  

But those who stick with their disciplined plan of action consistently and with a commitment to the long term, discover that discipline is actually a good thing.   

So if you have a health goal or a financial goal in mind, like I do, let’s encourage one another to walk out of this Thanksgiving weekend with a renewed commitment to be disciplined in our approach to accomplishing them.  This can be a rough weekend for discipline when it comes to those two areas of our lives and believe me I am “preaching to the choir” when I say we should endeavor to get back on that bucking horse and not give up on our goals, regardless of how much pie we ingested or how much money “Black Friday deals” may have cost us.  

That’s the great thing about being a Christian, there is grace for our failures and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. 

However, we should answer the call to repent when we realize that we have stepped off the path.  

The good news is that in Christ we are accepted regardless of our performance. SO in one sense it doesn’t really matter what we do….. BUT – careful now, because the devil would love to tell you to remain lazy, selfish, and sinful because of God’s grace. That’s a trap!

Paradoxically, while in one sense it doesn’t matter what we do, in Christ we have been given the power to do things that we formerly would have considered to be impossible.

 To quote myself: “When I discovered that the Lord was willing to do the impossible in my life, I said: “What’s next?” 

So that is why we engage our discipline and decided to follow where the Lord leads us, because if He puts something on our heart to accomplish we should know that we are able to perform it, but we have to pursue it and do it!

God has given us the eternal prize and everything for life and godliness, so let’s agree to stay disciplined and keep walking in the way the Lord would have us walk, and let’s go accomplish the good works that He has prepared for us to perform!

___________________________________________

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.

The Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Apostles

“Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him” (Matt. 10:1–4).

The prayer is heard. The Father has revealed God’s own will to the Son. Jesus Christ calls his twelve disciples and sends them into the harvest. He makes them into “apostles,” into his messengers and coworkers. “And he gave them power.” This power is, indeed, what is at stake here. The disciples receive not only words or doctrine, but effective power. How should they do their work without this power? It has to be a power which is greater than the power of the one who rules on earth, the devil. The disciples know that the devil has power, although it is precisely the deception of the devil to deny his power and to make people believe that he does not exist. It is just this most dangerous expression of his power which must be confronted. The devil must be pulled into the light and defeated by the power of Christ. In this, the disciples come to stand by Jesus Christ himself. They are called to help him carry out his work. So Jesus does not deny them the highest gift possible to meet this task, namely, participating in his power over the unclean spirits and over the devil, who has taken hold of humanity. In this commission the apostles have become equal to Christ. They are doing the work of Christ.

The names of these first messengers will be preserved for the world until the Last Day. The people of God consisted of twelve tribes. There are twelve messengers, who are to complete the work of Christ among them. Twelve thrones will be standing ready for them as judges of Israel in the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:28). The heavenly Jerusalem will have twelve gates through which the holy people will come in. The names of the tribes will be inscribed on the gates. The wall of the city has twelve cornerstones and they will bear the names of the apostles (Rev. 21:12, 14).

The only thing which unites the twelve is the call of Jesus that selects them: Simon, the man of rock; Matthew, the tax collector; Simon, the zealot, who struggles for justice and law against heathen oppression;[15] John, whom Jesus loved and who laid his head on Jesus’ breast; and the others, about whom we know only their names; and finally, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Nothing in the world could have united these men to do the same work except the call of Jesus. It overcame all their previous divisions and founded a new, strong community in Jesus. The fact that even Judas went out to do the work of Christ remains for us an inscrutable dilemma and a terrible warning.[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 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), 186–187.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Some Disturbing but Hopeful Thoughts For Black Friday - Purity 898


 

Some Disturbing but Hopeful Thoughts For Black Friday - Purity 898    

Purity 898 11/25/2022  Purity 898 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the reflection of the sky in the waters on the shores of Kingscliff Beach in Adelaide South Australia comes to from Dave Baun Photography. Dave shared this photo with the news that it has been a week since his eye surgery and although the healing isn’t complete yet and recovery is hard because he can’t practice the craft that he loves so much, he still wanted to share this scene to point to some good news: that in the Land Down Under where things are sort of, well upside down from our perspective, the summer weather is returning.  While we are just beginning to deal with the fact that winter is not only coming but is here in full force in places like Buffalo, Dave is experiencing the hope of increasing recovery and warm summer days.  

Something as simple as a report from a friend on the other side of the world can really point out just how big the world is and when I look at today’s photo in Australia, I can’t help but to think of the television series “Lost” and the befuddled rock star Charlie’s question: “Guys, Where are we?”  

Where are we indeed?  This message is coming in late today because I have the day off I decided to “let the Lord wake” me and apparently He decided I could get some sleep as I woke up at the late hour of 5:30 am! So we start today with more rest than usual, and thoughts that are probably contrary to most in my reflections on yesterday’s Thanksgiving holiday.  

You have to forgive my somewhat morbid outlook that I have at times. As a child of the late seventies and early 80’s, graduating in 1990, I was raised in the heart of the cold war with entertainment that prophesied nuclear holocaust, took delight in the works of Stephen King, and was eventually into music artists that had disdain for the hypocrisy of polite society because of its tendencies to “keep people in their place” and that restricted or judge the “free life” that we wanted to live. 

The freedom a lot of my gen x contemporaries and I wanted was freedom from any restrictions or judgements of what we wanted to do, usually surround things like sex and drugs, but we also sought to make society repent of its former violent, racists, and materialistic ways.  The nineties were like a reboot of the sixties as the Berlin wall came down and we had grand ideals of peace and peaceful easy living.  But we also had that contrast of nihilism, because we had lived in the fear of nuclear holocaust for most of our lives and now that we discovered we might just have to live to see old age, some of us didn’t have a clue what we wanted to be when we grew up. I had spent so long living it up that I didn’t prepare for the future! When you live a good part of your life thinking “nothing really matters”, it can be quite a surprise when you realize they might. 

One of the things angsty teens and young adults, traditionally rebel against is the institution of family, and yesterday I suspect that there may have been several Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations that had pride in how their gatherings differed from the traditional family gathering.  

But you know what? For the most part, as much as we love our friends and as wild as  the days of our mad existences may have been in our youths, as we move through life that those ideals and friendships of youth generally fade away and you see that what was so important for a few years in our teens and 20’s turned out to be the things that “didn’t really matter”.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love all my friends from my youth but in terms of Thanksgiving plans for 2022, they didn’t play a part, and the thing that remained was “family”. 

However in the landscape that divorce chisels into our society and our immediate experiences, even that can cause things to be “:upside down” from what we were used to.  The Facebook photo of large “whole” family gatherings may be considered sweet or annoying from your perspective, but you have to admit that the brokenness of the traditional family has their appearances decreasing.    

Year after year the changes can be subtle, but as the kids grow up and family members are lost to divorce or death, sometimes they can be  quit jarring.  Yesterday my step kids, from my second marriage, met with their father for “Thanksgiving Breakfast” that turned out to be lunch and while I of all people certainly understand the difficulties for meeting all those familial obligations of honor, something about the idea of a “Thanksgiving Breakfast” just offended me. 

This wasn’t God’s plan for sure.  I am sure these things weren’t our plan either but there they are. “Nothing spells dysfunction like “Thanksgiving Breakfast”. The hilarity and the absurdity of it actually caused me to google – “What did the pilgrims have for breakfast?”  but as gleeful as I was to start typing out that malicious question, my heart sank as google started to complete the question as it often does when someone else out there asked the same question.  And I was saddened and somewhat ashamed because I imagined that the question I submitted as a joke was possibly submitted in full sincerity as someone out there was desperately trying to create something “traditional” around their nontraditional gathering.  “Guys, where are we?”   

Another tradition that I enjoy is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but even that staple of Thanksgiving tradition seems to increasingly be revealed for the materialistic ad campaign that it is and because it highlights current events and trends it reveals the moral slippage that our country has gone through since I was a child.  Without being specific, let’s just say that some things on display during yesterday’s parade would have never been deemed as suitable for public consumption. Again, I have nothing really grotesque to point to because the grotesque ain’t what it used to be as what some would call progress could very well be seen as corruption from a Biblical world view. 

And thus as I watched the parade yesterday the nihilism of old and the apocalyptic reality of Biblical end times prophecies came together and made me think of something rather macabre: What would happen if Jesus came back on Thanksgiving Day in the midst of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? 

And at first my thoughts were of a Rapture, where a small number, probably very small (perhaps unnoticeable?), of the people would simply vanish, causing parade staff to seek to fill empty spots as the parade would just keep marching on…

But then I thought of a post Rapture, Revelation 14 return of Jesus Christ on Thanksgiving Day where God’s wrath would be poured out where there would be few if any men left standing….

Revelation 14:14-20 (NLT2) says
14  Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15  Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.”
…..19  So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
20  The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.

 There is or was actually a joyous worship song on Christian radio this year proclaiming that “Jesus is coming back” but in light of the moral corruption that is prevalent in our society and evidenced in families broken by divorce, sexual immorality, substance abuse, and selfish materialism, I fear that the return of Jesus Christ will not be the good news that the masses are waiting to hear.  

Yesterday, I presented a short teaching based on a devotional from John MacArthur about Enoch, and one of the things that Macarthur drew from the few Bible verses on Enoch was that he “walked with God” and He through naming his son Methuselah he warned others about the certainty of God’s judgement on the people of his corrupt moral society.  MacArthur pointed out that even though Enoch knew he would never live to see the Flood that would come, he was still faithful to warn others about it.  

People really must have thought Enoch was crazy, or at least a judgmental jerk, undoubtedly lecturing people of their moral failures and encouraging them to repent and trust in the one true unseen Creator God.   But one day, because of His relationship with God, Enoch did not collect $200 and go directly to the grave,  instead He was the first to provide evidence of the possibility of being “raptured”.  We can imagine the theories that would have explained Enoch’s disappearance and I’m sure there were several quite reasonable and plausible ones. I can think of a bunch.  But God through His word, reveals to us the truth about Enoch and a whole lot more.  

God reveals to us what is right and wrong. Our society is lacking mightily in respecting His standard.  

God also has revealed to us the Way to be at peace with Him,  through faith in Jesus Christ. And our society, and even what some would consider the “church” doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on what that means either.  

And finally, God tells us in Revelation of how this world will end but few seem to have confidence in being ready for that.   

End times prophetic preachers vary in their predictions, but some will sell you disaster supply kits and most have been preaching for decades that Christ would come back at any minute.  Their attempts to predict and “draw parallels” between newspaper headlines and scripture haven’t always been spot on and may even cause some to doubt the word of God because of their messages!

Me?  I thought I had some prophetic giftings in the past, and sometimes I have instances of having the feeling that “God set me up” as I walk into good things or “God gave me a heads up” when I avoid bad things, but because of my “false prophecies”, ideas about what would of should happen in my life that didn’t come to pass, I am hesitant to prophesy anything specific about future events.  

Instead, I unknowingly have adopted the stance of Enoch.  I concern myself with my daily walk with God from day to day and moment to moment. But I also try to, as lovingly as I can, warn people to secure their eternal destiny by putting their faith in Jesus Christ, to live according to God’s standards for living, and to respect the word of God as true: to believe and to understand that Jesus is coming back.  But like Enoch, I may not live to see Christ’s return from the perspective of the earth.  I may be coming with Him!  

But I don’t know about that one way or the other.  But I do know that God loves us, and He wants us to make peace with Him and to enjoy our lives with Him.  So, I hope the end times imagining of Christ coming back at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Judgement doesn’t freak you out but encourages you to see that God is holy and encourages us to be on His side when the wrath of God should come.  

Ironically, all of this caused me to remember Green Days’ song, Macy’s Day Parade’s lyrics and feel that somehow they express the angst over the way the pageantry of the parade of life is inadequate to satisfy us but amazingly there is a hope for the future, that Billy Jo Armstrong may or may not know, lies in the person of Jesus Christ. The lyrics say: 

 

“Today's the Macy's Day Parade

The night of the living dead is on its way

With a credit report for duty call

It's a lifetime guarantee

Stuffed in a coffin, 10% more free

Red light special at the mausoleum

 

Give me something that I need

Satisfaction guaranteed to you

What's the consolation prize?

Economy sized dreams of hope

 

When I was a kid, I thought

I wanted all the things that I haven't got

Oh-oh, but I learned the hardest way

Then I realized what it took

To tell the difference between thieves and crooks

Lesson learned to me and you

 

Give me something that I need

Satisfaction guaranteed

 

'Cause I'm thinking 'bout a brand new hope

The one I've never known

'Cause now I know it's all that I wanted”

 

I think I might have shared this song before. If I did I apologize. But even though things continue to change, some things remain the same.  This world and our human relationships are inadequate, and were never intended, to satisfy us. 

But I am thinking about what wasn’t long ago a “brand new hope” for me, the hope that only comes through Christ alone.  Jesus gives us the hope of peace in our lives on earth and the hope for everlasting life from here to eternity. He is our only hope.   

And even though speaking on the moral standards and the reality of an end time judgement may be offensive,  I have to tell you about them with the hope that it will cause you to discover the hope that I have found in Jesus Christ.  

Everyday, I’m walking and talking with God and life is good. Every day, I’m think about a brand new hope, the one I never knew, cause now I know, after years of suffering and searching, I know it’s all that I wanted or could ever hope to have.  

God bless you and keep you on this Black Friday and as you go to work or prepare for Christmas, I pray that you know the hope of Jesus and seek to share it with others.    

--------------------------------------------------------

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.

The Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Harvest

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were ill-treated and helpless,[3] like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ ” (Matt. 9:35–38).

The gaze of the Savior falls in pity on his people, on God’s people. It could not be enough for him that only a few people heard his call and followed him. He could not consider isolating himself aristocratically with his disciples and transmitting to them in the manner of great founders of religions the doctrines of higher knowledge and more perfect way of life separated from the mass of the people. Jesus had come; he worked, and he suffered on behalf of his entire people. And though the disciples wanted to have him all to themselves, and tried to keep distant from him the nuisance of the children who were brought to him and of some poor beggars on the side of the road (Mark 10:48), they had to acknowledge that Jesus would not permit his ministry to be limited by them. His gospel of the kingdom of God and his power to save belonged to the poor and sick, wherever he found them among his people.

The view of the crowds, which perhaps prompted disgust, rage, or contempt in his disciples, filled Jesus’ heart with deep pity and grief. No reproaches, no accusations! God’s beloved people were lying ill-treated on the ground, and the guilt for this fell on those who were to serve them with God’s ministry. It was not the Romans who had brought this about, but the misuse of the word of God by those called to be ministers of the Word. There were no more shepherds there! Jesus found God’s people to be a flock which was not led to fresh water, whose thirst remained unquenched[6]—sheep, whom no shepherd protects from the wolf, battered and wounded, terrified and fearful under the hard staff of their shepherds, sheep lying on the ground. Questions, but no answer; need, but no help; consciences kept in fear, but no liberation; tears, but no consolation; sin, but no forgiveness! Where was the good shepherd this people needed? What did it help here that there were scribes, who drove the people into the synagogues by brute force? What did it matter that zealots of the law harshly condemned sinners without helping them? What did it matter that the most orthodox preachers and interpreters of the word of God were present, if they were not filled with all of the mercy and all of the grief over the abused and ill-treated people of God? What use are scholars of Scripture, pious followers of the law, preachers of the word, if the shepherds of the church-community themselves are missing?

¶ The flock needs good shepherds, “pastors.”[8] “Feed my lambs” is Jesus’ last command to Peter. Good shepherds[10] fight for their flock against the wolf and do not flee. Instead, they give their lives for the sheep. They know all their sheep by their names and love them. They know their needs and their weaknesses. They heal their wounds, giving drink to the thirsty and lifting up those who are in danger of falling. They feed them gently and not harshly. They lead them along the right path. They seek the single lost sheep and bring it back to the flock. The evil shepherds, however, rule by violence; they forget their flock and tend to their own affairs. Jesus is looking for good shepherds, and behold, there are none to be found.

That saddens his heart. His divine pity embraces this lost flock, the mass of people around him. From the human point of view, it is a hopeless picture. But it is not hopeless for Jesus. Here, where God’s people stand before him ill-treated, miserable, and poor, Jesus sees God’s field ripe for harvest. “The harvest is great!” It is ripe to be brought into the barns. The hour has come that these poor and miserable people are brought home into the kingdom of God. Jesus sees God’s promise dawning over the masses of people. The scribes and zealots of the law saw only a trampled, burned, battered field. Jesus sees the ripe, waving field of grain for the kingdom of God. The harvest is great! His mercy alone sees that!

Now there is no time to lose. Harvesting cannot be delayed. “But the laborers are few.” Is it a miracle, since this merciful gaze of Jesus is given to so few? Who could enter into this work, besides those who have won a place in Jesus’ heart, who have received from him eyes that can see?

Jesus is looking for help. He cannot do this work alone. Where are the workers to help him? God alone knows them and must give them to God’s Son. Who would dare to take the initiative to offer to be Jesus’ helper? Even the disciples do not dare to do so. They are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers at the right hour, for it is time.[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 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), 183–185.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving 2022! - Walking With God - Purity 897


Happy Thanksgiving 2022! - Walking With God - Purity 897 

Purity 897 11/23/2022  Purity 897 Podcast

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving,

Today’s photo of Lake Ontario from the vantage point of the swing set on the shores of B. Forman Park in Williamson NY comes to us from yours truly as I was letting the Holy Spirit guide my path during my pilgrimage to Buffalo to serve as an altar counselor for the “An Evening with David Jerimiah” event at the Key Bank Center back on November 10th.  

This scene is just a reminder to me of just one of the many moments in 2022 that I had abundant joy and am deeply thankful for. 

Why? Because I was “walking and talking with the God”, of Course!  When you live a life of Christian Discipleship, when you walk in the Spirit, you are constantly in His Presence and the fruit of the Spirit, the Lord’s love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience and self-control, shape your character and define your experience.

So that is why I encourage all who see or hear this message to establish or rededicate your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and to make the daily decision to follow Him, by applying the wisdom of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, to the way you live your life, by choosing to “Walk with God”.

Because I don’t have to rush out the door to get to work this morning, and because it is Thanksgiving I have decided to “step outside of the box” of my normal message by producing it as a video via Zoom, with a power point presentation that I presented to the men that attended the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course as our last meeting this past week, with a few alterations, including this text.  

So it is with a grateful heart and a sincere hope that all who see this have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving, I present this short teaching called: Walking with God!

 


 

 

---------------------------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 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

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Bonhoeffer's Discipleship - Lesson 12 - The Messengers

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! 

I am happy to announce that I have completed and uploaded  Lesson 12 of “Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship” : an informal study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship – with Lesson  12  – The Messengers: The Harvest,  The Apostles, The Work, The Suffering of the Messengers, The Decision, & The Fruit   

 

 

Here is a link to the audio podcast: Lesson 12 Podcast

Here is a link to the video on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel:  


 

 

It is my prayer that this series will encourage people to read Bonhoeffer’s work but more importantly I hope the lessons encourage people to deepen their faith in Christ by pursuing a life of Christian Discipleship. 

God bless you all. 

 

M. T. Clark  

 

“Thanksgiving Eve” - May The Light of The Lord Shine Upon You - Purity 896


“Thanksgiving Eve” - May The Light of The Lord Shine Upon You - Purity 896     

Purity 896 11/23/2022 Purity 896 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of light of the sun reflecting off the windows of a house on to the waters of the Champlain Canal comes to us from my beloved wife, TammyLyn Clark, who captured the beauty of this reflection while out for an impromptu stroll at Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville back on November 11th.   

Well, it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so “Happy Friday” to the vast majority of us that will have the day off tomorrow to gather with family and friends to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, watch football, feast on mass quantities of food, and, oh yeah, to GIVE THANKS….

I point this out because sometimes in the preparation for the holiday we forget what its original purpose of the Thanksgiving holiday is.  Anyone referring to tomorrow as “Turkey Day”, I’m talking to you!

And since we are pointing things out, I would also point out that our “Thanks”, just like our “Faith” has to have an object.  And whether you have “Great Faith” or “little faith” in the Lord, you should recognize that ultimately whatever “Thanks” we would like to give tomorrow should eventually be humbly left before the throne of grace.  

I know, you may be truly thankful for the food, for your family, for you job, for your friends, for the day off, for your health, for football, for the universe, and for the host that put together your holiday feast but above and beyond all these things is the Lord God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth and the author of all life, and the sovereign King who shapes its history.   So ultimately, while we should express our appreciation for all of these other things that the Lord made possible, we should only give our “Thanks” to God.  

So really Thanksgiving, in essence should be one of worshiping the Lord, a true holiday, in the sense of a “holy-day”.  But you know what’s great about “worshiping the Lord”. It doesn’t have to be weird.  We don’t have to put on special out fits or go to a designated site with holy relics or trappings to worship God.  We can give thanks to the Lord, praise His Holy Name, and worship Him in the most mundane trappings and the humblest clothes.  That includes your living room Lazy Boy with your feet up as you enjoy the company of many or just by yourself.  Our “Thanks”, our worship, to the Lord only requires our hearts and minds set on Him. You can meditate upon, worship, or give thanks to the Lord for hours or just a few moments but He is to be the object of them all.   

I like to point out the obvious in this day and age because our holidays have increasingly become secular celebrations of general good tidings and well wishes that increasing fail to honor the Lord.   This is even more expressed in the anticipation of tomorrows holiday and how it will play out this evening.  

As solemn or relaxed as our Thanksgiving gathering may be tomorrow, for many the “true celebration” of Thanksgiving will be tonight as scores of people will be returning home and will be gathering with friends to catch up over mass quantities of alcohol or drugs before having to suffer through another forced family event.   The restrictive duty of honoring  father and mother or gathering with family close and not so close can cause us to really want to kick loose and the night before Thanksgiving can be one of the wildest nights of partying of the year.   Or at least it used to be in my pre Christ, pre-recovery experience.

Add to the contemplation of another repressive family gathering, the fact that many will be taking to the skies, the highways and byways to travel a considerable distance to arrive at their Thanksgiving destination,  and its no wonder people may want to blow off some steam tonight. 

So it is my prayer that the Lord protect all of us and that we allow Him to guide us in His ways and peace tonight. There is nothing wrong with meeting with friends this evening, but the emphasis should be placed on the joy of the gathering and the safety of ourselves and those we love; And let’s keep it real, in not doing anything that will cause us guilt, shame, pain, or regrets.   I wish I could say that hangovers were the only pain I experienced from Thanksgiving Eve’s of old so I speak from experience and what may seem like a good idea tonight may not look so good in the light of day on Thanksgiving morning.  Road rage, drunk drivers, shameful liaisons, and old vendettas reignited into verbal and physical altercations are all possible scenarios tonight, so let’s be careful out there.  

I am thankful to God for keeping me safe thus far and for leading me into a life that is guided by His light rather than my darkness.   So let me encourage you to either start or to continue to keep walking and talking with God. His way is the best way to live and placing your faith in Jesus Christ really is the only way to live, so put your trust in Him and follow Him to where He wants to take you.   When you walk in His light, it shines in your life.

The light reflected off of that house in today’s photo is shining as bright as the sun itself.  I had to look twice to realize that this wasn’t just a sunset photo. My wife captured a scene highlighting a reflection of the sun on the waters of Chaplain Canal off of a reflection of the sun on the windows of a house.  The sun is not even in this photo, just its reflection.  So just like today’s photo, let’s allow the Lord’s light in us shine for all the world to see this Thanksgiving by expressing wisdom, peace, and love.  

All these shining reflections, made me think of the Old Testament Prayer of Blessing in

Numbers 6:22-26 (NKJV) where
22  … the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
23  "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24  "The LORD bless you and keep you;
25  The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
26  The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." '

 

And so it is my prayer that all who read or hear this message, have the Lord shine His face upon you and your families this Thanksgiving, and that you receive His grace and peace.  God bless you and keep you, Amen.

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verses is:

Colossians 1:20-22 (NLT2)
20  and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
21  This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.
22  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Today’s verses teach us that Christ reconciles us to God, no matter how far away we once were from God. We who because of our evil thoughts and actions were once His enemies, have been brought into His presence and have been made holy and blameless because of Jesus.    

I would say a parallel to these verses or a nice conclusion would be my life verse:

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) which says: 
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.

There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus because we have been reconciled to the Father, because all our sins have been forgiven, and we have been made holy and blameless. We can walk in the Spirit because when we put our faith in Christ we were reconciled to God, and He gave us anew life and the indwelling Holy Spirit to keep us forever in His presence.  

That’s good news. And even though the holiday is tomorrow, we should be “Thanksgiving” to the Lord every single day, from here to eternity, for what He has done for us through Jesus Christ.  

This is life changing spectacular news that never gets old.  So if you get a few minutes of quiet time with a family member or friend who doesn’t know the Truth of Jesus or hasn’t fully realized who they are in Christ, take the time to tell them and to encourage them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior or to claim the wonders of their new life by making the decision to follow Him,  in Spirit and in truth.

___________________________________________

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.

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 7

The Community of Disciples Is Set Apart

The Conclusion

“ ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’

¶ “Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matt. 7:24–29).

We have heard the Sermon on the Mount; perhaps we have understood it. But who has heard it correctly? Jesus answers this question last. Jesus does not permit his listeners to simply walk away, making whatever they like of his discourse, extracting what seems to them to be useful in their lives, testing how this teaching compares to “reality.” Jesus does not deliver his word up to his listeners, so that it is misused in their rummaging hands. Instead, he gives it to them in a way that it alone retains power over them. From the human point of view there are countless possibilities of understanding and interpreting the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus knows only one possibility: simply go and obey. Do not interpret or apply, but do it and obey. That is the only way Jesus’ word is really heard. But again, doing something is not to be understood as an ideal possibility; instead, we are simply to begin acting.

This word, which I accept as valid for myself; this word, which arises from “I have known you,” which immediately draws me into acting, into obedience, is the rock on which I can build a house. This word of Jesus coming from eternity can only be answered by simply doing it. Jesus has spoken; the word is his; our part is to obey. The word of Jesus keeps its honor, its strength, and power among us only by our acting on it. Then a storm can sweep over the house, but it cannot tear apart the unity with Jesus created by his word.

The only thing which exists besides action is inaction. There is no such thing as intending to act and not doing it. Those who treat the word of Jesus any other way except by acting on it assert that Jesus is wrong; they say no to the Sermon on the Mount; they do not do his word. All our questions, complications, and interpretations are inaction. The rich young man and the scribe in Luke 10 are examples. I can insist on my faith and my fundamental recognition of this word as much as I want; Jesus calls it inaction. The word that I do not want to do is no rock for me on which I can build a house. I have no unity with Jesus. He has never known me. Hence, when the storm comes, I will lose the word quickly and I will learn that in truth I never really had faith. I did not have the word of Christ. Instead, I had a word I wrested away from him and made my own by reflecting on it, but not doing it. Then my house falls down with a great fall, because it does not rest on the word of Christ.

“And the crowds were astonished …” What had happened? The Son of God had spoken. He took the judgment of the world into his hands. And his disciples stood beside him.[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 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), 181–182.