What Your Mercy Did For Me! – It Ain’t All Sinner’s Day! - Purity 877
Purity 877 11/01/2022 Purity 877 POdcast
Today’s photo of a solitary flower in full bloom declaring new life after it was mercilessly mowed down comes to us from yours truly as I took the time to document this object lesson of hope and determination that I witnessed on my property Down By the River on Sunday afternoon.
Well, it may be the second day of the work week but it’s the first day on a new month in which everyone in our country will be called to give thanks and it just happens to also be the day when the body of Christ is called to remember the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ that have gone before us and for us to give thanks to God that we will be in that number when the saints go marching in! Happy All Saints Day.
That’s right ALL SAINTS, as in every man, woman, and child who has ever “bowed the knee” in humble surrender and made Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of their lives. And while anyone could read this message, I have to believe that YOU and ME!
We may have been sinners saved by grace when we heard the call to repent and trust in Jesus, and we will always be less than Christ’s sinless perfection, but after we placed our faith in Jesus, we were adopted into God’s royal family, and should thus claim and declare our identity as saints.
While yesterday’s Halloween Celebrations unwittingly gave homage to the spiritual forces of darkness, today, along with every other day, is a day that we should celebrate the fact that of all the people in the world, the Creator of the universe chose us to know the truth about life and death, sin and forgiveness, heaven and hell, and called us to life through faith in His Son!
This morning during my work out Micah Tyler’s What Mercy Did for Me came on and I have to tell you the words penetrated to my heart as I remembered once again that I was once lost in darkness when the Lord called me to know His love and His light and to experience a new life in Him!
The chorus to that song says:
“Lord you found me
You healed me
You called me from the grave
You gave me your real love
I thank you Jesus
You washed my sins away
Oh now I'm living like I'm forgiven
You came and set me free
That's what your mercy did for me”
God’s mercy and grace gave me forgiveness, love, and a new life filled with meaning and purpose. And the gift of His mercy and grace continues to shape and transform my life and the lives of others that I encounter as I keep on walking and talking with God.
Tonight I host the Freedom in Christ Course on Zoom and the lesson is all about renewing the mind and breaking strongholds, a lesson that reminds Christians that Christ came to set us free and to destroy the works of the enemy. It’s a sad truth that many Christians have great joy at their salvation but stay locked in chains by believing the lies that the world, the flesh, and the devil have set up in their minds.
The course teaches that just because we believed lies in the past doesn’t mean we have to live according to them now that we are in Christ. God has given us the Holy Spirit and His Word to use to overcome all the strongholds in our lives that have given the enemy a foothold and kept us from living the life of freedom and victory that the Lord has called us to.
Just like the flower in today’s photo , that was dead, cut off mercilessly by my lawn mower, we can grow into the life God has for us. Because there was life in it that plant, unseen in the dirt, it was able to rise above its brokenness and fulfill its purpose to give God glory for the life He had given it by rising up and blooming by reaching for the light of the sun. We too can rise up and if we abide in the Light of the Son of God and the truth of His Word, we can grow out of our brokenness and give God the glory for the life He has put in us.
That’s what His mercy can do for all of us, so keep on reaching out for the Lord, that’s right keep on walking and talking with God because He has transformed us from sinners into saints and all we have to do is believe it to receive it, by living it.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Psalm 33:18 (NLT2)
18 But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.
Today’s Bible verse reminds us that the Lord watches out for those who fear Him and rely on His unfailing love.
And as a reminder, we should fear the Lord. His righteousness and holiness calls us to repentance and if we don’t make peace with Him there will be hell to pay.
But if we put our faith Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of Him anymore and our fear should be changed to an awe and respect that causes us to obey Him and to rely on His unfailing love.
And this is a huge step that we have to make sure that we make after we put our faith in Jesus. We have to develop our love relationship with God. We have to interact with Him relationally. We do that by thanking Him continually for the life He has given us, for all He has provided for us, and for all that He is and for all that He has done.
Today’s the first day of November, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, so if you aren’t already practicing gratitude and appreciation for the Lord, give it a try. When we live a life of thankfulness to God, out love for Him grows and we can get past any false beliefs we may have had about Him as an angry judge and we can see Him as just, holy, good, loving heavenly Father that made a way to save us when He didn’t have to.
Start the practice of relying on God’s unfailing love today by respecting Him enough to give Him your thanks and praise and by letting Him know that you love Him for what He has done for you and for who He is. “I love you Lord” is probably the most appropriate thing we can say to One who made us and who saved us. God is good and if you know it you should remind yourself by relying on the love that never fails.
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
On the “Extraordinary” of Christian Life
The Enemy—the “Extraordinary” concludes
“Pray for those who abuse and persecute you.” That is the most extreme. In prayer we go to our enemies, to stand at their side. We are with them, near them, for them before God. Jesus does not promise us that the enemy we love, we bless, to whom we do good, will not abuse and persecute us. They will do so. But even in doing so, they cannot harm and conquer us if we take this last step to them in intercessory prayer. Now we are taking up their neediness and poverty, their being guilty and lost, and interceding for them before God. We are doing for them in vicarious representative action what they cannot do for themselves. Every insult from our enemy will only bind us closer to God and to our enemy. Every persecution can only serve to bring the enemy closer to reconciliation with God, to make love more unconquerable.
How does love become unconquerable? By never asking what the enemy is doing to it, and only asking what Jesus has done. Loving one’s enemies leads disciples to the way of the cross and into communion with the crucified one. But the more the disciples are certain to have been forced onto this path, the greater the certainty that their love remains unconquered, that love overcomes the hatred of the enemy; for it is not their own love. It is solely the love of Jesus Christ, who went to the cross for his enemies and prayed on the cross for them. Faced with the way of the cross of Jesus Christ, however, the disciples themselves recognize that they were among the enemies of Jesus who have been conquered by his love. This love makes the disciples able to see, so that they can recognize an enemy as a sister or brother and behave toward that person as they would toward a sister or brother. Why? Because they live only from the love of him who behaved toward them as toward brothers and sisters, who accepted them when they were his enemies and brought them into communion with him as his neighbors. That is how love makes disciples able to see, so that they can see the enemies included in God’s love, that they can see the enemies under the cross of Jesus Christ. God did not ask me about good and evil, because before God even my good was godless. God’s love seeks the enemy who needs it, whom God considers to be worthy of it. In the enemy, God magnifies divine love. Disciples know that. They have participated in that love through Jesus. For God lets the sun shine and the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. It is not only the earth’s sun and earthly rain which descend on good and evil, but it is also the “sun of righteousness,” Jesus Christ himself, and the rain of God’s word, which reveal the grace of his Father in heaven toward sinners. Undivided, perfect love is the act of the Father; it is also the act of the children of their Father in heaven, just as it was the deed of God’s only begotten Son.
“The prayers of neighborly love and of nonrevenge will be especially important in the struggle fought by God toward which we are moving, and in which to some extent we have already been engaged for years. On one side, hatred is fighting, and on the other, love. Every Christian soul must seriously prepare for this. The time is coming in which everyone who confesses the living God will become, for the sake of that confession, not only an object of hatred and fury. Indeed, already we are nearly that far along now. The time is coming when Christians, for the sake of their confession, will be excluded from ‘human society,’ as it is called, hounded from place to place, subjected to physical attack, abused, and under some circumstances even killed. The time of a widespread persecution of Christians is coming, and that is actually the real meaning of all the movements and struggles of our time. Those opponents intent upon destroying the Christian church and Christian faith cannot live together with us, because they see in all of our words and all of our actions that their own words and deeds are condemned, even if ours are not directed against them. And they are not wrong in seeing this and feeling that we are indifferent to their condemnation of us. They have to admit that their condemnation is completely powerless and negligible. They sense that we do not relate to them at all, as would be quite all right with them, on the basis of mutual blaming and quarreling. And how are we supposed to fight this fight? The time is approaching when we—no longer as isolated individuals, but together as congregations, as the church—shall lift our hands in prayer. The time is coming when we—as crowds of people, even if they are relatively small crowds among the many thousands-times-thousands of people who have fallen away—will loudly confess and praise the crucified and resurrected Lord, and his coming again. And what prayer, what confession, what song of praise is this? It is a prayer of most intimate love for those who are lost, who stand around us and glare at us with eyes rolling with hatred, some of whom have already even conspired to kill us. It is a prayer for peace for these distraught and shaken, disturbed and destroyed souls, a prayer for the same love and peace that we ourselves enjoy. It is a prayer which will penetrate deeply into their souls and will tug at their hearts with a much stronger grip than they can manage to tug at our hearts, despite their strongest efforts to hate. Yes, the church which is truly waiting for its Lord, which really grasps the signs of the time of final separation, such a church must fling itself into this prayer of love, using all the powers of its soul and the total powers of its holy life” (A. F. C. Vilmar, 1880).
What is undivided love? Love which does not show special favor to those who return our love with their own. In loving those who love us, our kindred, our people, our friends, yes, even our Christian community, we are no different than the Gentiles and the tax collectors. That kind of love is self-evident, regular, natural, but not distinctly Christian. Yes, in this case it really is “the same” thing that non-Christians and Christians do. Loving those who belong to me through blood, history, or friendship is the same for non-Christians and Christians. Jesus does not have a lot to say about that kind of love. People know all by themselves what it is. He does not need to light its flame, to emphasize it or exalt it. Natural circumstances alone force it to be recognized, for non-Christians and for Christians. Jesus does not need to say that people should love their sisters and brothers, their people, their friends. That goes without saying. But by simply acknowledging that and not wasting any further words on it, and, in contrast to all that, commanding only love for enemies, he shows what he means by love and what they are to think about the other sort of love.
How are disciples different from nonbelievers? What does “being Christian” consist of? At this point the word appears toward which the whole fifth chapter is pointed, in which everything already said is summarized: what is Christian is what is “peculiar,” περισσόν, the extraordinary, irregular, not self-evident. This is the “better righteousness” which “outdoes” that of the Pharisees, towers over them, that which is more, beyond all else. What is natural is τὸ αύτὸ (one and the same) for non-Christians and Christians. What is distinctly Christian begins with the περισσόν, and that is what finally places what is natural in the proper light. When this specialness, this extraordinariness, is absent, then what is Christian is absent. What is Christian does not take place in naturally given circumstances, but in stepping beyond them. The περισσόν never dissolves into τὸ αύτὸ. It is the great mistake of a false Protestant ethic to assume that loving Christ can be the same as loving one’s native country, or friendship or profession, that the better righteousness and justitia civilis are the same. Jesus does not talk that way. What is Christian depends on the “extraordinary.” That is why Christians cannot conform to the world, because their concern is the περισσόν.
What does the περισσόν, the extraordinary, consist of? It is the existence of those blessed in the Beatitudes, the life of the disciples. It is the shining light, the city on the hill. It is the way of self-denial, perfect love, perfect purity, perfect truthfulness, perfect nonviolence. Here is undivided love for one’s enemies, loving those who love no one and whom no one loves. It is love for one’s religious, political, or personal enemy. In all of this it is the way which found its fulfillment in the cross of Jesus Christ. What is the περισσόν? It is the love of Jesus Christ himself, who goes to the cross in suffering and obedience. It is the cross. What is unique in Christianity is the cross, which allows Christians to step beyond the world in order to receive victory over the world. The passio in the love of the crucified one—that is the “extraordinary” mark of Christian existence.
The extraordinary is doubtless that which is visible, which magnifies the Father in heaven. It cannot remain hidden. The people have to see it. The community of Jesus’ disciples, the community of better righteousness, is the visible community, that took the step beyond the orders of the world. It has left everything behind to gain the cross of Christ.
What are you doing that is special? The extraordinary—and that is what is most offensive—is a deed the disciples do. It has to be done—like the better righteousness—and done visibly! Not in ethical rigor, not in the eccentricity of Christian ways of life, but in the simplicity of Christian obedience to the will of Jesus. This deed will prove to be what is “special” by leading Christians to the passio of Christ. Such action itself is continuous suffering. In this action Christ is his disciples’ passio. If it is not that, then this is not the deed which Jesus intends.
The περισσόν is, thus, the fulfillment of the law, the keeping of the commandments. In Christ the Crucified and his community, the “extraordinary” occurs.
Here are those who are perfect, perfect in undivided love, just as their Father in heaven is. It was the undivided, perfect love of the Father which gave the divine Son up to die on the cross for us. Likewise, the passio of the communion with this cross is the perfection of the followers of Jesus. The perfect are none other than those who, in the Beatitudes, are called blessed.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship