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Thursday, February 29, 2024

I Do Believe… and I’m Living It. - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 14 - Purity 1287

I Do Believe… and I’m Living It. - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 14 - Purity 1287

Purity 1287 02/29/2024 Purity 1287 Podcast

Purity 1287 on YouTube: 


Good morning,

Today’s photo of my canine pal, Harley rounding the corner from Waite Rd to the unmarked Farmer’s gravel road, which we have affectionately named “Freedom Road”,  comes to us from yours as I paused for a second during last Friday’s full moon late afternoon stroll to capture the moment.

Well, it’s Thursday and I share today’s photo of a gravel pathway to encourage my friends to take that bend in the road of life to step on the path of Christian Discipleship, where you decide to not on believe that Jesus was who He said He was, but that you put your faith in Him as Lord and Savior and commit your life to following Him as disciple, an eager and obedient student, and surrender your life to God’s will for your life.  Beyond “easy believe-ism” – or “nominal faith” (– essentially being a Christian in name only – claiming the faith but living like your non-believing neighbors), discipleship is agreeing to not only to “believe in the gospel” but to also repent – to turn from the world’s ways to learn and live by the “way of The Master” as we voluntarily commit ourselves to become “slaves to Christ” and to live for God and do His will on earth until He calls us home or Jesus comes back.  

Unfortunately, the idea of living for God has somehow been separated from the way our faith is presented for quite some time and has led to shallow faith and great misconceptions about what it means to be a Christian.  Christ said:

Luke 6:40 (NKJV)
40  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

And so we are to be like Jesus, who also said,

John 14:15 (NKJV)
15  "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

and

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)
24  … "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

John 8:31-32 (NKJV)
31  …. "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Luke 14:33 (NKJV)
33  …. whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

 

John 15:8 (NKJV)
8  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)
19  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Jesus instructs his disciples – us – to abide in His word, to forsake the things of this world, to obey his commandments, to follow Him with the way we live our lives and to make other disciples.  

Yesterday, I spent some time talking to one of the men taking the Freedom in Christ course and he confessed that while he had great hope from the things that he was learning, he was struggling with  negative thoughts and falling into sin. His internal dialog told him he was a failure and his confession revealed that he was stuck in a vicious cycle of bad feelings – temptation – sin and guilt that kept going around and around.  He stated that he “believed” what the gospel told him in “his head” but didn’t believe it in his heart.  

I asked him if he ever felt joy or was thankful to God for His salvation or was ever moved by emotions during worship.   And He admitted that he often was.  To which I responded that indicated He did believe in His heart, but He was being deceived and was actively denying what the word of God said about who He was in Christ by believing the lies of those negative thoughts and was not submitting to God and resisting the devil by failing to repent and say no to the sins that were driving his shame and guilt and feelings of condemnation. But His cycle truly started with failing to stand in the truth of who He is in Christ.  I told Him that he had to “believe” and prove his belief to himself by living as a disciple of Jesus Christ – which meant “doing” the things that Jesus said and that if he would start actually doing the things that Jesus tells us that His disciples did – those faithful actions would further confirm His identity in Christ and give Him the “fruit of the Spirit” – feelings of peace, joy, and love as he grew in his goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control.   And if He did that One day at a time: He could say: “I do believe… and I’m living it”.  

There is no better time to start living it than today. It’s the season of Lent – so repent and believe in the gospel.   Speaking of Lent…

It’s the fourteenth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walk through Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 14

YOU ARE NOT TO COVET your neighbor’s house.

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors out of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and service to them in keeping what is theirs.

You are not to covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, cattle, or whatever is his. 

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, household workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and fulfill their responsibilities to our neighbors.

These commandments are aimed directly against envy and miserable covetousness, so that God may remove the root and cause from which arise all injuries to our neighbors... Above all, he wants the heart to be pure, even though, as long as we live here, we cannot accomplish that. So this commandment remains, like all the rest, one that constantly accuses us and shows just how upright we really are in God's sight.

Biblical Wisdom

But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. James 3: 14-17

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds, a few minutes, or 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

Questions to Ponder

·       Why do you think Luther calls covetousness “miserable”?

I don’t know if there is a more psychologically, spiritually, or emotionally miserable state than the feelings of wanting, longing, jealousy, shame, guilt, anger, lust, and envy that surround covetousness – the desire for things that are not yours.  Covetousness comes from a false belief that you are lacking something and is idolatrous in nature as it falsely sees the obtaining of something that doesn’t belong to you as the means to your happiness and because it sets your eyes on other people’s possessions it is also a form of theft or adultery.  At the bottom of covetousness is rebellion against God as it reveals a distrust of the Lord to adequately provide for you.  And this commandment reveals just how serious God is about our thought lives and the desires of our hearts – God doesn’t want us to be putting our minds or hearts into this activity because He knows it separates us from Him and if left unchecked will do damage to our mental health if not to our relationships with our neighbors.  Covetousness is the root of so much pain and sin that God was specific in including it in the Ten Commandments.

·       Greed, envy and covetousness are all around. How can our faith help us to counteract this reality?

Our faith should show us that we are accepted, secure, and significant in Christ alone and that none of the things we would covet or are greedy or envious of will meet those needs. Our faith would properly reveal the lies that covetousness causes us to believe.

·       Why does Luther see helping the neighbor as so important to the Ten Commandments?

Jesus affirms that loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves to be the culmination of the law and profits, so Luther rightly includes encouragements to go beyond ourselves and help our neighbors when he teaches on properly following the Ten Commandments. Breaking the Ten Commandments usually involves harming our neighbors, so Luther advises us to help them instead.

Psalm Fragment

The righteous will see, and fear, and will laugh at the evildoer, saying, “See the one who would not take refuge in God, but trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge in wealth! Psalm 52: 6-7.

Journal Reflections

·       Envy is often pictured as a green-eyed monster. As you examine yourself, write about what if any role this green-eyed monster plays in your own life.

If I am honest, I am envious of others with successful ministries. It is my heart’s desire to be used by God for the glory of His kingdom and I pray that I can come to a place where I am in full-time ministry. My fear (and I say “my obligations and responsibilities”) keeps me from abandoning my day job to pursue full-time ministry and so I look at others who were brave enough to do that and am envious of their convictions and the success of those who are thriving in it.  Materially, I am also sometimes envious of those who have wealth even though I know that money won’t bring happiness or love. 

·       Would you describe yourself as content or envious of others? Are you satisfied or covetous? Explain.

Although I just admitted to feelings of envy, I would describe myself as content and satisfied – because I am. I am extremely happy with where the Lord has brought me in life and am content to stay more or less right where I am.  But at the same time, I feel a call or a compulsion to keep going and to see what else the Lord wants to do in my life, so I am content and satisfied day to day for the most part but continue to look forward to whatever the future the Lord has for me. 

·       Meditate on what it would mean to have a pure heart. Luther says we can’t accomplish it on our own. Do you think that is true? How would one go about seeking a pure heart?

A pure heart would be one free of covetousness and that is only possible through our faith in God and through His power to change us. I believe that to be true. We need God’s wisdom to see how we desire the wrong things in life. We can seek a pure heart by surrendering to God and following Him with the way we live our lives – that means repentance – changing our thoughts, desires, beliefs, and actions to cast out anything impure that causes us to stumble.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray for those who may be consumed with envy so much that they cannot be freed from it. Ask that you would have the courage to speak to your relative or friend about the problem.

Lord, I pray for those who are consumed by envy to come to know You and to be saved and set free of the miserable state that covetousness creates. Give me the courage to speak to those who are suffering from envy’s poison with compassion, wisdom, and love.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Prayer For Today

Lord Jesus, come into my heart and purify it, cleanse it from envy and covetousness, and help me to live in gratitude for what I have.

Amen.

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

 

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

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse comes from the section on Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

1 Timothy 6:6 (NASB)
6  But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

Today’s verse falls under the first point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

1. Godliness with contentment is great gain.

Today’s verse tells us that godliness and contentment are the means of great gain. Not surprisingly the verses that lead to this one tell us not to  be “obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions” as Paul talked of men destitute of the truth who thought they could gain something through godliness – sort of like the prosperity gospel –being motivated by selfish desires and believing primarily that if they “ act right and make the right arguments or “believe right” theologically they will be blessed materially…. But the Apostle puts us straight that it is contentment ( not striving after material or positional blessings) and godliness that leads to great gain – spiritually – that matters.  

So be godly and content and testify to just how great the gain you receive is when you walk with the Lord and are happy with the things you have. 

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

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

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

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

MORNING READING: LUKE 3

“The word of God came unto John …
in the wilderness.” – Luke 3:2

In Luke 1:80, it is recorded of John that he was “in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.”

It is very obvious that the desert or the wilderness were God's training school for this coming Man of God. He had to learn of God in private before preaching in public.

The wilderness speaks of the place of retirement, rest, and quiet. It is only in such a place that God can teach the more intimate and secret revelations of His will. It is very interesting and important to note, the number of times the Lord Jesus sought the quiet and retirement of the wilderness during his ministry (Luke 5:16). It is the place where the Word of God becomes the real weapon for the battle of preaching.

Lord, make my times with You a desert experience
full of rest and revelation from You.[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 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Need Peace? Abide in Christ – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 13 - Purity 1286

 

Need Peace? Abide in Christ – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 13 - Purity 1286

Purity 1286 02/28/2024 Purity 1286 Podcast

Purity 1286 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of winter-denuded trees and a frozen lake comes to us from yours truly as I decided to ascend the playground and capture this scene at Thompson’s Lake State Campground while on my lunch yesterday in East Berne NY.  I was in the area and had never been to the park, so I decided to “come and see” what it had to offer. The campground was quaint, empty, and quiet, and even though it was the offseason caused me to imagine brighter days ahead and it caused me to appreciate the freedom we have to travel and the freedom God has given me in Christ which gives me the capacity to appreciate my life and find peace just about anywhere.   But there is a secret, to find the fruit of the Spirit, you have to walk in the Spirit, and to know the peace of God, you have to draw your attention away from the things that would cause you to forget who you are in Christ, and you have to actively choose to “abide in Christ”.   Jesus us told us who to reap “much fruit”, said: 

John 15:3-5 (NKJV)
3  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit and if we don’t have it, we aren’t abiding in Christ. So don’t forget to abide with Christ by giving thanks, remembering who you are in Christ, and walking and talking with God every day. 

Hey, I get it – our world, our jobs, our family, our relationships and our problems can demand our attention and cause us distress, but when we ground ourselves each morning in our faith through a daily spiritual practice we set the foundation to approach each day with strength, wisdom, and joy.  So let’s draw close to God, it’s the season of Lent and it’s the most wonderful time of the year to “repent and believe the gospel”.

It’s the thirteenth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walk through Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 13

YOU ARE NOT TO BEAR false witness against your neighbor.

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything we do in the best possible light.

God wants to hold in check whatever is done with the tongue against a neighbor. This applies to false preachers with their blasphemous teaching, to false judges and witnesses with their rulings in court and their lying and malicious talk outside of court. It applies especially to the detestable, shameless vice of backbiting or slander by which the devil rides us. Of this much could be said. It is a common, pernicious plague that everyone would rather hear evil than good about their neighbors. Even though we ourselves are evil, we cannot tolerate it when anyone speaks evil of us; instead we want to hear the whole world say golden things of us. Yet we cannot bear it when someone says the best things about others.”

Biblical Wisdom

For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. James 3: 7-10

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds, a few minutes, or 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

 

Questions to Ponder

·       Why is the damage the tongue can do so destructive to human society?

Words can hurt and cause division among us. They can be used to spread lies, draw us into temptation, fuel hatred, and insight violence. Evil words usually lead to evil actions and destructive consequences. Thus the tongue can do a lot of damage to our human society.

·       What is there about us that delights in gossip, yet at the same time, we cannot bear to be gossiped about?

Gossip is secret knowledge and the more shocking or shameful the news of someone else’s failures or shortcomings the more we can take secret delight over their pain.  The gossip feels superior to the one’s being gossiped about because “we know your secret” and “I would never do that” (or at least not get caught!)  That feeling of being superior and being able to judge our neighbor as less than is known by the gossip, so when the tables are turned and we discover that others are talking about us, we get angry because we know we are being judged as “less than” by them.   

·       What resources might faith and the community of faith bring to bear in the struggle against “the tongue” and its capacity for evil?

The faith community should use the resource of the word of God to bear in the struggle against the tongue and its capacity for evil. Scripture is full of directives regarding the ways we speak that direct us to always speak the truth in love and to not speak ill of others.  If we are living according to God’s word, we would be aware of the tongue's capacity for evil and be taking steps to crucify that unruly piece of the flesh to the obedience of Christ.

Psalm Fragment

Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. Psalm 52: 1-4.

Journal Reflections

·       Reflect on a time when you felt betrayed by the false, careless, or malicious speech of another. How did you feel? What did you do? What role did faith play in your response?

Since coming to faith in Christ, I recall several instances where I was denigrated or insulted because of my faith. Those comments always hurt but I have learned to respond to them through the grid of my faith which causes me to reaffirm my self-worth according to who I am in Christ and it causes me to realize that these people who speak ill of me “know not what they do” which causes me to forgive them and to pray for them to know the Lord. It’s not always easy to do this but the Lord helps me to see the truth behind the attacks I receive.

·       Do you have difficulties taming your tongue? Reflect on times you may have hurt someone by false, careless, or malicious words. How did it make you feel? What might you do to repair the harm done?

I do have difficulty taming the tongue.  My problem is foul language when I get frustrated or angry.  I also have been careless with my dealings with others who need help by being confrontational or encouraging beyond their capacity to receive.  I can give too much teaching or try to bring too much conviction at times or suggest that someone can do more than they are currently able to do and that has caused some people I have dealt with to get upset. When this happened in the past, I felt terrible and would seek their forgiveness. My good intentions went astray as I pushed others too far without realizing it.  I have tried to repair the harm done by easing back and continuing to try to help. In most cases, I was able to maintain relationships with the people involved and we ended up both growing in the process.

·       Write down some specific steps you will take to “tame” your tongue.

 

1.    Awareness – we need to record the severity and the frequency of our verbal transgressions.  We need to know how bad and how often our tongues get out of line.

2.    Accountability – we need to ask for help from the others in our lives to help us remember our goal to tame the tongue and encourage us to change the way we speak when we mess up.

3.    Stronghold Busting – We need to meditate on Scripture that addresses the areas of where our tongue goes astray and pray to the Lord, each day, to help us to repent of our verbal transgressions. 

4.    Celebrate Progress – We need to track our progress and celebrate our growth. We have to acknowledge our victory and maintain our freedom.  

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray for those in your own life whose untamed tongue has hurt others that they may learn to be silent when speaking is hurtful or does no good.

Lord, we pray for the many people in our lives whose untamed tongues have hurt others, that You would cause them to see the error of their ways and that you would bring them into a deeper relationship with You that would encourage them to put away lying, foul speech, gossip, or slander and learn to speak the truth in love or to remain silent. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear Lord, keep me quiet and careful in my speech so that I only speak well of my neighbors and friends and work to uphold their reputations.

Amen.

 

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

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

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

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse comes from the section on Conscience.

Hebrews 10:22 (NIV2011)
22  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Today’s verse falls under the seventh and last point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Conscience.

7. A guilty conscience can be cleansed.

Today’s verse assures us that the way to be cleansed of a guilty conscience is to draw near to God with a sincere heart – a heart that sincerely trusts in Jesus.  Forgiveness of sins only comes through Jesus and is the only way that we can have our guilt taken away.   So when we sin and feel guilty, we need to confess it and abide in Christ – live with and for God in the harmony that comes from obedience– to enjoy the benefits of conscience that has been cleansed and remains clean.  

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

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

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

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

EVENING READING: LUKE 2

“[They] supposing Him to have been
in the company …” – Luke 2:44

Herein is seen the folly of supposition. Concerning things that are spiritual, such supposition is fatal.

From a parental point of view, it was folly on the part of Joseph and Mary to merely suppose that the Lord Jesus was in the company. No wonder it meant their sorrowing for Him later.

But from a spiritual point of view, it was even worse. To merely suppose that Christ is in the company is spiritual defeat and sorrow. Three days His parents lost Him – three days the disciples lost Him. The third day He arose.

O then, not to suppose, but to know Him and
the power of His Resurrection. Amen.[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 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Wishing You Had Never Been Born – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 12 - Purity 1285


Wishing You Had Never Been Born – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 12 - Purity 1285

Purity 1285 02/27/2024 Purity 1285 Podcast

Purity 1285 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a palm tree’s leaves,  a lighthouse in the distance, and a pink sunset sky comes to us from a currently unknown Facebook friend who posted this scene on social media on or around August 6, 2020. If this is your fond remembrance photo, let me know and I will give photo credit where photo credit is due by updating the blog after the fact.  

Well, It’s Tuesday and I share this photo feeling a bit forlorn and down this morning as I have decided to take the next step in a campaign of “tough love” with my son, Brennan, giving him 30 days notice to get a job and to resume paying me towards his debts or to vacate my premises. Oh joy.

Brennan inexplicably stopped going to work in January and has been lethargic ever since. While I could wait and just watch him eventually suffer from being penniless to the point where he couldn’t pay for his car insurance or cell phone or purchase food, I decided to advise him that he needs to start working again and paying his debts within the next 30 days or he could find another place to live. You can choose to suffer from being depressed, lazy, or whatever but it doesn’t mean you have a right to make me watch it.  

Brennan wasn’t happy with this notice that would cause him to get a job or get out and lamented that he wished he had never been born and that he never asked to be in a world where his value is based on the money he brings to the table.  I get it… the world sticks, and I wish I never had to work and I wish my value was never determined by the home I provide but that’s the way of the world and while you can run from it, you can’t hide and as the Lord told us way back in Genesis that man has to work ( Genesis 1:28, 3:17-19) and our emotions and quality of life will be dictated by our decision to do what is right (Genesis 4:6-7) according to God.   

As much as we must work and eke out a living here on earth, our value is not determined by the money we make or the things we can provide others with.  Our value is determined by God, our creator. He made us above all other creatures by making us in His image but for our true value to be realized we must be “redeemed” through the blood of Jesus and our faith in Him as Lord and Savior.  Our lives on earth are only so long and unless we are redeemed by our faith in Jesus, our lives will be a waste as we are consigned to hell. 

One of those verses in Genesis that tells us that we must work also tells us about the end of our lives on earth:

Genesis 3:19 (NLT2)
19  By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

That last phrase is used on Ash Wednesday, to draw us into repentance with the not-too-subtle message – you will die – but in Christ you can live – so “repent and believe in the gospel” . 

The suffering of this world may cause us to wish we were never born, but we were and unless we want to suffer more in this world – we will need to do what’s right – to work and be responsible for ourselves – and unless we want to suffer for all eternity – we need to draw close to God, repent, and put our faith in Jesus.  So in the season of Lent – let’s draw close – repent – and live.

It’s the twelfth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walk through Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

“Journey Day 12

YOU ARE NOT TO STEAL

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbor's money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.

We are forbidden to do our neighbors any injury or wrong in any way imaginable, whether by damaging, withholding, or interfering with their possessions or property. We are not even to consent to or permit such a thing but are rather to avert and prevent it. In addition, we are commanded to promote and further our neighbor's interests, and when they suffer any want, we are to help, share, and lend to both friends and foes. Anyone who seeks and desires good works will find here more than enough things to do that are heartily acceptable and pleasing to God.

Biblical Wisdom

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6: 19-21.

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds or 1, 5, 10, 15 minutes or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

Questions to Ponder

·       What is the relationship between the commandment not to steal and the Christian's attitude toward possessions? Toward poverty?

The commandment shows us that possessions have value and that we are not to obtain possessions through crooked means and by implication it puts poverty in a negative light. The subtle message in the commandment is that it is good to have possessions – they have value – we are not to take them from others – that would be wrong and thus we should respect other’s rights to their property and work to earn our own.

·       According to Luther, how are we to consider our neighbor's property, and how are we to use our own wealth and possessions with respect to the neighbor? How would the world change if Christians followed Luther's advice?

Luther indicates that we are to help our neighbors to protect and to increase their interests to help them flourish.  The world would be a better place if we followed Luther’s advice.

·       How can a faith community help people to have a healthy relationship with money and possessions?

A faith community can help people to have a healthy relationship with money and possessions by teaching about good stewardship, the focus on helping others, and the brevity of life on earth. Sharing Jesus’s teaching on investing in the kingdom of God and the folly of amassing worldly treasure and teaching good financial habits could cause people to have a proper understanding of what their relationship to money will be.  

Psalm Fragment

Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62: 10

Journal Reflections

·       Write about how your attitude toward money and possessions influences (and is influenced by) your spiritual life.

Money can’t buy you love or happiness but it does pay the bills – so work for what you need and what you want in life and don’t hold on too tightly to anything. Our life of faith matter more. 

·       How does your attitude toward money and possessions influence your relationships with others?

It makes it difficult because I expect others to be responsible.

·       Reflect on both your earthly and heavenly treasures. Write about how well you balance your life between the material and the spiritual.

I try to keep a balance. I do like my things and to be somewhat secure financially.  But I place a great value on my faith and would sacrifice all my earthly possessions to follow the Lord. I am currently trying to be a good father by giving my adult children a safe and affordable place to live but that has its difficulties and I am trying to be a good steward to what I have been given.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you will balance your own life and your use of what you own so that you will be able to help others with what you have.

Pray for Today

Lord Jesus, teach me to use what you have given me wisely; Give me a good sense for what is best both for my neighbor and my own life.

 

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

 

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

 

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

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse comes from the section on Conscience.

Hebrews 9:14 (NIV2011)
14  How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Today’s verse falls under the sixth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Conscience.

6. Christ will give you a clear conscience.

Today’s verse points to the fact that our faith cleanses us from the sin that leads to death, but it indicates that we are to be committed to following and serving him.  We can’t live in sin with a clean conscience. We have to repent.

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

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

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

MORNING READING: LUKE 1

“He will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.” – Luke 1:16

What a blessed mission for a Son of Adam! Truly, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15).

Because of such a mission, John the Baptist was to be “great in the sight of the Lord” (Luke 1:15). As to John himself, he was to touch no strong drink and he was to be filled with the Spirit from his very birth.

The application of these few thoughts is obvious. The Lord has said, “He that wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30), that is, great in His sight. But in order to be qualified to “turn many to righteousness” (Daniel 12:3), the message to be worked out in practical experience is “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18, emphasis mine).

 

May I be filled with Your spirit, Lord,
in order to bear witness to Your grace and truth.[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

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

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

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship