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Monday, September 12, 2022

A Home in Christ - Purity 834

A Home in Christ - Purity 834

Purity 834 09/12/2022  

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a fisherman up to his knees in the surf with a rising, or setting, sun on his right, presumably near Mulligan’s Beach House in Sebastian Florida, comes to us from a friend who recently left the sunshine state for a new home in North Carolina. He shared this scene on social media back on August 7th with the following poem as a type of fond farewell, he wrote: 

I’ll soon leave the palm trees

The beach and the Sea,

The call of the mountains,

It beckons me.

Up in the mountains

Is where I will roam

Up in the mountains

A Place I’ll call home.

In all of my travels

So much I have learned

For a home in the mountains

I always have yearned

A sparkling brook

A cool waterfall

The view from the summit

The colors of fall

The Call of the mountains

It beckons to me

A home in the mountains

It sets the soul free.

Since retirement, our friend has gone from upstate New York, to Kentucky, to Florida and now to the mountains of North Carolina and has shared some amazing views along the way and it is my prayer that he finds the peace that comes from searching for, finding, and finally “going home”.    

I know in my short travels from the shadow of the Berkshires in Craryville NY to my riverside accommodations in Stuyvesant, there was a contrast geographically but it was the sense of finding a new home that made the scenic beauty of my place “down by the River” shine even brighter.   

And now because of my marriage to TammyLyn, I have another sense of home when I go to our countryside home in Easton. But in all honesty, as much as I have come to love walking up and down Waite Road to enjoy the scenic farmland and Big Sky views in the morning and afternoons, I could and would leave it all behind in a minute if she relocated.  

This is the second chance at marriage for both of us, and I believe it was the marriage we were both supposed to have all along, a marriage with God at the center, and now our sense of home doesn’t really come from a geographic location as much as it comes from being in each other’s presence.

I was just commenting to TammyLyn last night that while our lives seem to always have some elements of drama with the challenges of maintaining two households, dealing with difficult ex’s, and the shifting landscapes of careers and ministry, that I know that God brought us together, and that even though their has been difficulties to deal with, I know we are supposed to be together because I simply can’t imagine a life where TammyLyn isn’t my wife.   If I even try to imagine it, the contemplation results in imagining an existence that would be far less than what I have now, like I would have missed something that God had for me.    

Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I love TammyLyn dearly but our coming together was a little more than me “liking her”.  Men can be pretty foolish, and we can like just about anybody but with finding a wife in TammyLyn, God was the matchmaker. Because I try to live out my faith everyday, the elements of faith and character were the most important attributes in finding a spouse and when the Holy Spirit revealed to me that “there was no other” than TammyLyn, I knew I had found my wife for life.   I knew I had found the someone I would be “at home” with no matter what we would have to endure or where the Lord would have us go.    

So the Lord has blessed me with a “home” more than once.  I have a home “down by the River”, I have a home on a Country Road in Easton, and I have a home in my marriage with TammyLyn. 

However, I would not give the glory that God is due to suggest that these homes are anywhere I could find a long and sustaining peace, separate from Him. 

No, when I was a vagabond and a refugee in the great in between of my former life and where I am now, I found a home, and I found myself, when I found the Lord. I found a home in Christ. 

So if you don’t have a house or a significant other that give you a sense of “home” or peace, let me assure you that no matter where you look you will never find it without Christ. 

In speaking about Himself, and his disciples, and about the world Christ said:

John 15:19 (NKJV)
19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  

John 17:14-17 (NKJV)
14  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
15  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
16  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
17  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

John 18:36 (NKJV)
36  Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."

So this world is not our home, but when we put our faith in Jesus, we have the promise of a place in God’s eternal kingdom and will find it when He either comes back to get us when Christ returns or when He shows us the way home in eternity.   

So no matter how you feel this Monday morning about your place in this world and what you base your sense of “home” on, keep walking and talking with God because in Christ we can be at home in our own skins, we can have peace knowing that we are accepted, secure, and significant in Him.    And the home we have in Christ, exists for all eternity, endures through all trials, tribulations, and changes, and goes wherever we go.  In Him, we have peace regardless of circumstances and because of Him we can be content in all things because where ever we go, there we are, at home in Christ.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 23:12 (NKJV)
12  And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus and they remind us to not think too highly of ourselves because whoever exalts himself will be humbled.   

As we spoke about in Saturday’s blog, as Christians we are to beware of our pride because it is the original root cause of Satan’s sin and it could lead to our being humbled or our ultimate destruction if we are so busy exalting ourselves in this world that we never think to humble ourselves and make Jesus our Lord and Savior.   

In the context of today’s verse, Christ was speaking to the Pharisees and was seeking to warn them of their spiritual pride that they fed by being considered highly exalted members of their communities, receiving preferential seating at feasts and respectful greeting in the marketplaces.  

While there is nothing wrong in receiving honor for your service to God’s kingdom, it can be a slippery slope to fall on if we begin to crave the honor of men for ourselves rather than remembering that the glory should go to God.  

The pharisees were so proud that their spiritual eyes were blinded to the reality that the Messiah was in their midst. They were so concerned about their positions of power and respect that they failed to respect the Son of God when He came preaching the kingdom of God and performed miraculous signs and wonders.  

Their plot to remove Jesus by having him killed may have seemed like a way to maintain their exalted position in Jerusalem but they were undoubtedly humbled by His resurrection and, certainly, by the loss of all their positions and power when Christ’s prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem came to pass in 70 AD. 

So for the Christian disciple, we are to remember that its not about us, our lives have been saved by Christ and all that we do should be done, not to exalt ourselves, but to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and to represent the kingdom of God in humble obedience.

 

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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.

PART ONE - Chapter One: Costly Grace

Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgiveness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacrament; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without costs. It is said that the essence of grace is that the bill for it is paid in advance for all time. Everything can be had for free, courtesy of that paid bill. The price paid is infinitely great and, therefore, the possibilities of taking advantage of and wasting grace are also infinitely great. What would grace be, if it were not cheap grace?

Cheap grace means grace as doctrine, as principle, as system. It means forgiveness of sins as a general truth; it means God’s love as merely a Christian idea of God. Those who affirm it have already had their sins forgiven. The church that teaches this doctrine of grace thereby confers such grace upon itself. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins, for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be set free. Cheap grace is, thus, denial of God’s living word, denial of the incarnation of the word of God.

Cheap grace means justification of sin but not of the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways. “Our action is in vain.” The world remains world and we remain sinners “even in the best of lives.” Thus, the Christian should live the same way the world does. In all things the Christian should go along with the world and not venture (like sixteenth-century enthusiasts) to live a different life under grace from that under sin! The Christian better not rage against grace or defile that glorious cheap grace by proclaiming anew a servitude to the letter of the Bible in an attempt to live an obedient life under the commandments of Jesus Christ! The world is justified by grace, therefore—because this grace is so serious! because this irreplaceable grace should not be opposed—the Christian should live just like the rest of the world! Of course, a Christian would like to do something exceptional! Undoubtedly, it must be the most difficult renunciation not to do so and to live like the world. But the Christian has to do it, has to practice such self-denial so that there is no difference between Christian life and worldly life. The Christian has to let grace truly be grace enough so that the world does not lose faith in this cheap grace. In being worldly, however, in this necessary renunciation required for the sake of the world—no, for the sake of grace!—the Christian can be comforted and secure (securus) in possession of that grace which takes care of everything by itself. So the Christian need not follow Christ, since the Christian is comforted by grace! That is cheap grace as justification of sin, but not justification of the contrite sinner who turns away from sin and repents. It is not forgiveness of sin which separates those who sinned from sin. Cheap grace is that grace which we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.

Costly grace is the hidden treasure in the field, for the sake of which people go and sell with joy everything they have. It is the costly pearl, for whose price the merchant sells all that he has; it is Christ’s sovereignty, for the sake of which you tear out an eye if it causes you to stumble.[7] It is the call of Jesus Christ which causes a disciple to leave his nets and follow him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which has to be asked for, the door at which one has to knock.

It is costly, because it calls to discipleship; it is grace, because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—“you were bought with a price”—and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did, indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.

Costly grace is grace as God’s holy treasure which must be protected from the world and which must not be thrown to the dogs. Thus, it is grace as living word, word of God, which God speaks as God pleases. It comes to us as a gracious call to follow Jesus; it comes as a forgiving word to the fearful spirit and the broken heart. Grace is costly, because it forces people under the yoke of following Jesus Christ; it is grace when Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”[13]

Twice the call went out to Peter: Follow me! It was Jesus’ first and last word to his disciple (Mark 1:17; John 21:22). His whole life lies between these two calls. The first time, in response to Jesus’ call, Peter left his nets, his vocation, at the Sea of Galilee and followed him on his word. The last time, the Resurrected One finds him at his old vocation, again at the Sea of Galilee, and again he calls: Follow me! Between the two lies a whole life of discipleship following Christ. At its center stands Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ of God. The same message is proclaimed to Peter three times: at the beginning, at the end, and in Caesarea Philippi, namely, that Christ is his Lord and God. It is the same grace of Christ which summons him—Follow me! This same grace also reveals itself to him in his confessing the Son of God.

Grace visited Peter three times along his life’s path. It was the one grace, but proclaimed differently three times. Thus, it was Christ’s own grace, and surely not grace which the disciple conferred on himself. It was the same grace of Christ which won Peter over to leave everything to follow him, which brought about Peter’s confession which had to seem like blasphemy to all the world, and which called the unfaithful Peter into the ultimate community of martyrdom and, in doing so, forgave him all his sins. In Peter’s life, grace and discipleship belong inseparably together. He received costly grace.[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), 41–46.

 

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