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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Silencing Condemnation - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther - Day 2 - Purity 1275


 Silencing Condemnation - 40 Day Journey With Martin Luther – Day 2 - Purity 1275

Purity 1275 02/15/2024 Purity 1275 Podcast

Purity 1275 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a snow dusted winding forest pathway lined with trees covered in holiday lights comes from yours truly as I captured this dark and bright scene back on the evening of December 30th, 2023, during my visit to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake and “Forest Music” exhibit. 

Well, Its Thursday, and as I am one “wake up” away from a flight to Florida, I need a vacation!  I’ve actually on vacation since Tuesday, because I cashed in a few more vacations days to get there sooner and you think I would be just kicking back and relaxing, and I am, but I had a real “SERENIDITY NOW!” moment this morning as I just about lost it sitting in my countryside living room trying to “enjoy the silence”  and shake off the condemnation of some poor food choices I have made over the last few days, but was disturbed over my food failure and triggered because of the “white noise” of my wife’s rock tumbler that has been grinding away the hard edges of unseen rocks since last weekend. And so I pulled the pull and shut that machine up to stop all the “noise, noise, noise!” only to have to endure the rumbling of the furnace that decided to fire up to fill the vacuum of silence.   Really?!? – Still waiting… I mean I get up early enough you would think I could find some silence to rest in but that silence I find this morning will have to be a relative thing.  Anyway, this path of walking in the Spirit is all about finding peace that goes beyond all understanding and that is not contingent of conditions and so we will practice.  I know my unease this morning is more about my need to return to the new normal of my food plan and shake off the sugar-induced toxicity that I have subjected my body to over the last few days.  But the condemnation – Superbowl – Vacation – inspired feast is over and even though I may give myself permission to have desert while in the Magic Kingdom, today I am going to purge my system with copious amounts of water and account for every morsel that goes into my mouth. My body isn’t used to eating junk anymore and while I feel better this morning I felt absolutely sick to my stomach last night, as I had a persistent belly ache that stayed with me when I laid down to sleep.   But today is  a new day and I know that I can find healing and peace in the presence of the Lord so let’s get there.

It’s the second day of Lent and so we will try to recover physically by drawing close to God spiritually as I 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 2

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day… When your heart has been warmed by such recitation to yourself (of the Ten Commandments, the words of Christ, etc.) and is intent upon the matter, kneel or stand with your hands folded and your eyes toward heaven and speak or think as briefly as you can:

O Heavenly Father, dear God, I am a poor unworthy sinner. I do not deserve to raise my eyes or hands toward thee or to pray. But because Thou has commanded us all to pray and hast promised to hear us and through Thy dear son Jesus Christ hast taught us both how and what to pray, I come to Thee in obedience to Thy word, trusting in Thy gracious promise. I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ together with all Thy saints and Christians on earth as he has taught us: “Our Father who art” … through the whole prayer, word for word.

Biblical Wisdom

And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

 

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 how Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

Oh, Praise the Lord, the Furnace or whatever rumbling thing was going, has stopped, I have found silence….. Thank You Lord!  

Questions to Ponder

·       Why (and how) is the heart warmed by the recitation of the Ten Commandments and the words of Christ? Does your faith community encourage such recitation? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

I just took a few moments to compile the Bible verses for The Ten Commandments, (Exodus 20:1-17), The Lord Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13) and the text for the Apostle’s Creed and put them into a separate Word document and reflected on them briefly and recited them aloud. That simple practice of reading God’s word aloud that confirms His law, prays to the Father, and declares what I believe as a disciple of Jesus Christ has given me peace- you could say it has warmed my heart because I feel connected to the Lord and assured of who I am as a child of God as I recite those words. No wonder Martin Luther recommends this!  While the body of Christ and my local church encourage a lifestyle of prayer, I would say that the recitation of creeds, scripture, or prayers is a practice that is not specifically encouraged.  Doing the Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer was a part of the liturgy in my childhood church tradition but I currently am a member of a non-denominational seeker-friendly church and the recitation of creeds or prayers together as a corporate body just doesn’t happen and while the Lord Jesus himself warned about “vain repetitions” or prayer – I can see why churches recite creeds, scripture, or prayers together – they give honor to God, confirm our corporate and individual faith and bring us together in unity.  Why my current church doesn’t do creeds or recitations of scripture together as a body would be a question to pose to my church leadership but one could make a point of standing on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:7 or want to avoid “dead religious” practices where a well intention recitation can become meaningless, as people just parrot words that are far from their hearts and minds.   

·       Why do you think Luther recommends a certain position of the body as important for the beginning of prayer?

I think that Luther suggests a certain position of the body because the religious tradition of his day was pretty strict in teaching how one is to present themselves to the Lord in prayer. His instruction doesn’t demand bowing down before the Lord, as you can kneel or stand, but it does demand reverently folding one’s hands and looking upward to heaven.  We are to present ourselves humbly to the Lord if we understand His holiness and fear Him. We look up because He is from above – Jesus did ascend after all- and look to the clouds for His return.

·       How is it possible to “pray without ceasing”?

I think it is possible to pray without ceasing by “walking and talking with God” all day long – through walking in the Spirit -being God-conscious, living in the context of the kingdom of God, and continually bringing God into our experience by talking to Him, seeking His presence, and being surrendered to His will.

Psalm Fragment

Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I pray. O Lord, in the morning You hear my voice; In the morning I plead my case to You, and watch. Psalm 5: 1-3.

Journal Reflections

·       Reflect on any difficulties you may have had in the past in keeping a regular schedule of prayer. See whether or not you can detect “false, deluding ideas” that have kept you from keeping a schedule.

I have been doing a daily spiritual practice for so long that I don’t recall specific false or deluding ideas that kept me from keeping a schedule but in the early days of my walk there was a battle to establish my practice as a simple rebelliousness and pride that said – “I don’t want to” or “I’m tired” would try to speak up or , in my drinking days – I would be hung over and be just plain sick and unable to focus on anything other than not hurting.  But Luther’s passage points out the common trap the enemy uses to discourage prayer – the idea that you can do it later or have other things to do but really there is nothing more important to your faith walk and peace of mind then spending some time each day with God in prayer or Bible Study and meditation.

·       Meditate on the expression “pray without ceasing”. To what degree does it define your experience? Think back to yesterday and write down the several times and ways in which you may have called upon God.

I would say it “praying without ceasing”  describes my experience pretty well, except when it doesn’t. I am only human after all and make mistakes.  Yesterday, my praying without ceasing started off great because I rose, did some spiritual reading and journaling through my blog and podcast and then rushed off to my old Roman Catholic church for an early Ash Wednesday service. But then I ran into my mother, and we ended up going to breakfast where I ignored my food plan. With my plan compromised, I gave into the flesh and bought a bunch of sweet snacks and over ate on and off throughout the day.  When my belly started aching, I prayed for healing and forgiveness and went to my recovery ministry meeting, openly confessed my failures, and prayed for God to help me and the others with their struggles. So even in my wandering, I went back to the Lord and that is where we should all try to stay – in His presence, trying to follow what He says is best for our lives. 

·       Reflect on how it makes you feel to know that the saints in heaven and on earth are praying with you (and you are praying with them).

It is a great comfort to know that we are not alone in the body of Christ and that while we may seem alone at times all of us are together when we connect to the Lord in prayer.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

 Pray that you (and anyone journeying with you) can establish and keep a schedule of prayer faithfully through the next forty days.

 I pray that I can be more faithful in praying without ceasing and pray for anyone reading or hearing this message to be successful in establishing or maintaining a regular schedule of prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pray For  Today

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You that You have given me the words with which to pray. Thank You that I can come to You any time in prayer with any concern at all.

Amen

(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 verses 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 verses come from the section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

James 3:1-12 (ESV)
1  Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
2  For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
3  If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.
4  Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
5  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
7  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
8  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
10  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
11  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?
12  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Today’s verses fall under the twelfth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

12.     Tame the tongue; it can be very destructive

Today’s verse encourages us to try to bridle the tongue because of the immense damage our words can do. James calls for the image of setting fires with our careless words to impress upon us how seriously we should take our speech. He also shows how inappropriate it is for us to use the same instrument to bless others with that we curse people with, reminding us that this should not be so.  So let’s try to bridle that unruly beast and only use our words to bring encouragement, healing, and love.

 

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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 7

“He could not be hidden.” – Mark 7:24

Wherever Christ is given His rightful place, He cannot be hidden, for He is the Light of the world and therefore, a Light which cannot be hidden. Christ is the “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9).

“He could not be hidden.” This was also said of Peter and John, for it is recorded that when people saw them, they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Paul's great ambition was that Christ should live in him. He could say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).

The Lord said in that wonderful sermon of His, “Let your light so shine … that they … glorify your Father” (Matt. 5:16).

O, that this might be said of my life![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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