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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Finding Rest and Keeping it Holy – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther- Day 8 - Purity 1281

Finding Rest and Keeping it Holy – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther- Day 8 - Purity 1281

Purity 1281 02/22/2024 Purity 1281 Podcast

Purity 1281 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a small white dot of a full moon over relatively huge palm trees and the hazy glow of the electric lights of Disney World’s  Port Orleans – French Quarter Resort comes to us from yours truly as I paused for a moment to capture this scene before going inside the main registration building to compose this message this morning.  

Well. It’s Thursday and although this isn’t much of a pathway photo, it was a scene along my path this morning and I share it to encourage my friends to get and see some of the world, and to be sure to take the Lord with you when you go.  Although a trip to Disney World is a tough sell as a spiritual pilgrimage, my faith has gone with me and even though I relaxed the restraints on my food plan this week, I haven’t let go of the Lord and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to help me keep things in the perspective of a Christian worldview, with awareness, spiritual discernment, kindness, compassion, and lots and lots of patience.  

Oh brother, the crowds, long lines, and barely contained chaos of herd mentality at Disney have given me lots of opportunities to practice patience, bridling the tongue, and adjusting my heart as I repeatedly shifted my mental assessments from “enemy mode” – viewing others with contempt or hostility – to seeing the other people around me for what they are people made in God’s image doing their best in life, with what they have, to find some fun with their family and friends. Even though I can tell that there are lots of differences between me and the others that I have seen in passing here at Disney World, I can see that we all have something in common – we all are trying to love one another to some degree and all need Jesus. We all need the Lord.  

And hey, I know I got Him- I have faith in Jesus and I have the Holy Spirit within me, but I also know that unless I believe in God’s word, live according to it, and stay in continuous contact with God through my daily spiritual practice and by “walking and talking with God”, I could easily lose the peace and joy that the Lord gives me.  It is in Christ alone that I have hope and find peace and so I do my best to abide in God’s presence, one day at a time, regardless of the location, through the different seasons of all the days of my life. And that brings us to our current season, Lent, which is a great occasion to recommit ourselves to growing in our faith and to growing ever closer to the Lord.

It’s the eighth 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 walkthrough 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 8

YOU ARE TO HALLOW THE day of rest.

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God's Word, but instead keep that Word holy and gladly hear and learn it.

What is meant by "keeping it holy"? Nothing else than devoting it to holy words, holy works, and holy living. The day itself does not need to be made holy, for it was created holy. But God wants it to be holy for you. So it becomes holy or unholy on your account, depending on whether you spend it doing something holy or unholy. How does such sanctifying take place? Not when we sit behind the stove and refrain from hard work, or place a garland on our head and dress up in our best clothes, but... when we make use of God's Word and exercise ourselves in it.

BIBLICAL WISDOM

Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath. " Mark 2:27-28

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

     Luther states that the sabbath should be devoted to "holy words, holy works, and holy living." What does that suggest to you about how we should spend Sunday?

Luther’s words suggest that we spend Sundays worshipping the Lord and doing our best to reflect our love for the Lord with the things we say and do. Beyond going to a church service, reading the Bible, praying, and singing the Lord’s praises, Luther indicates that what we do and how we live should be holy too. The way we behave should reflect the fruit of the Spirit of peace, love, joy, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control.

     In what ways is sabbath-keeping countercultural?

Keeping anything “holy” is countercultural. Setting aside time to thank and worship the Lord is countercultural.  In our postmodern increasingly atheistic society, the emphasis is usually placed on personal happiness and that quest is put over and above any considerations for God or the principles of faith and morality that are revealed in the Bible.  

     What does it mean to "exercise ourselves in God's word"? How does your community of faith encourage and support such "exercise"?

To “exercise ourselves in God’s word” is to practice what we preach – to be authentic Christians – to actually live by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit by applying the wisdom of God’s word to our lives.  Exercising ourselves in God’s word would include spiritual practices of reading God’s word, praying, worshiping God, and giving thanks to the Lord but it also includes showing we know what God’s word says by repenting of our sins and by living a holy and righteous Christian life.

PSALM FRAGMENT

How lovely is your dwelling place, 0 LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Psalm 84:1-2, 4

JOURNAL REFLECTIONS

     Reflect on the Sundays of your childhood. Write about your favorite memories. Did your family observe the sabbath? How? What did it mean to you? What does it mean to you now?

 I spent most of my childhood on Sundays, or Saturday afternoons, going to our local Roman Catholic church, St. Mary’s, in Hudson NY, by my mother.   Mom wasn’t much of a Bible reader, at all from my observations, but she was extremely faithful in bringing my brothers and me to Mass each week and making sure we were raised and confirmed in the Catholic Church.  While my penchant for the sins of the flesh conflicted with a devout and holy life later in life, I have mostly fond remembrances of going to Mass with my family.  The liturgy was familiar and comforting and the atmosphere at St. Mary’s caused me to think of it as a “holy place” where the Lord was to be honored with our worship, prayers, and reverent silence.  Church was serious business but there was peace to be found amongst the pews and even though I have major issues with the institution and doctrinal stances of the Roman Catholic Church, I don’t have a problem with the people who go there to be close to God and pray that they put their faith in Christ alone to be saved. Unfortunately, my times on Sunday in the Roman Catholic church meant religion – rules and regulations - and fear of going to hell but now that I have separated myself from its errors and gone directly to God and put my faith in Jesus – and have full assurance of my salvation – my life of faith in Jesus means everything to me. My faith in Jesus forms my identity and gives me peace as well as my purpose for living.

 

     Sabbath, or rest, is important to the rhythm of our lives. Is there anything you might do to give your life a better balance between work and rest? Between secular pursuits and holy pursuits?

I would say that the balance that I have between work and rest is right where it needs to be. I only give myself to “work” for the 40 hours a week I get paid and even during those hours I am “resting in the Lord” as I talk to God throughout the day.  Other than doing what I need to do during my day job to get paid, I don’t have any secular pursuits. I spend the rest of my time trying to follow the Lord and try to love my wife, family, and friends the best I can while trying to encourage others to seek the Lord with the way they live their lives. I have found new life in Christ and I’m going to live it.  The Lord has given me a great gift and I’m going to enjoy it.

     Have you ever "longed for the courts of the Lord"? If so, write about the feeling of longing. If not, can you imagine such longing?

Yes, I have longed for the “courts of the Lord” in several different ways, I suppose.  I have had longings for Sunday and church to come. I have longed to enter into full-time ministry, some way and some how ( Lord, call me, maybe?). I have longed for Jesus to return – Your kingdom Come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – today is as good as any Lord, so Come Lord Jesus.   So yeah, I have longed for the courts of the Lord because that’s where true meaning and peace are found.  I long for the day that we all know the “Lord’s courts” where Christ will rule and reign forever and ever.  Until then I will spend time at the local assemblies of believers I go to now, I long to be back there this Sunday.

 

PRAYERS FOR THE LIFE OF FAITH

Pray that you and your family will take the time to hear God's word and keep it. Pray for someone you know who needs both rest and the refreshment that comes from hearing God’s word.

Lord, I pray that I and my family take time to hear Your word and to keep your sabbath holy. In this season of rest, I pray for the people I know who so desperately need the rest and refreshment that comes from hearing Your word and from knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.  Help them to see the truth and to long for the rest and peace that is found in Christ alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord Jesus, You made the sabbath for me to rest in you. May the day become holy for me through the use and exercise of Your word.

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 comes 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.

Acts 24:16 (ESV)
16  So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

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

2.    Keep a clear conscience before God and men.

Today’s verse comes from the Apostle Paul as he tried to convince those in authority that even though the gospel he preached was turning the world upside down, he always took pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 

As Christians, we are to put God first but also are to be concerned with doing what is right in our dealings with our fellow man, whether they agree or disagree with us when it comes to matters of faith.  Although we are not to shy away from telling the truth that has been revealed to us through the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ,  we are to share that truth in love and to treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated.  While we can’t get anyone to believe in Jesus or convince anyone to follow Him (that’s the Lord’s work), our consciences can be clear of any worries when we know that we have told others the truth of the gospel and treated them with the dignity and respect that someone who is made in God’s image deserves.  Kindness, goodness, faithfulness, patience, and gentleness are fruits of the Spirit that tell us how to treat our fellow man so let’s practice those with others and be sure that our conscience is clear with God and man.  

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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: MARK 13

“For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.”
– Mark 13:11

What a promise to claim before setting forth to preach the Gospel! It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to present and reveal Christ. So that if it is He that speaks through me today, how fruitful will the ministry be!

The essentials are: Cleansing, Emptying, Filling with the Holy Spirit, Absolute Reliance upon Him for speaking, praying, and all service. Such reliance is vitally important if I am to be genuine when I preach Christ.

Then empty me, Lord. Cleanse me by Your precious blood.
Now fill with me the Holy Spirit. I take the fullness,
and thank You. Control me in all I do and say,
that You might be glorified today. 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

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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)

“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

 

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