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Monday, February 19, 2024

Sunflowers in the Sand - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther - Day 5 - Purity 1278


 Sunflowers in the Sand – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 5 - Purity 1278

Purity 1278 02/19/2024 Purity 1278 Podcast

Purity 1278 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of sunflowers flourishing in the midst of sand comes to us from yours truly as I captured this inspiring scene of growth despite dryness while boating through one of the four working greenhouses at Disney World’s Epcot Center’s Living with the Land Exhibit while on vacation in Orlando yesterday.  

One of the hopes of our faith is growth, that our faith, knowledge, understanding, maturity, wisdom, and skill at living the Christian life will increase over time.  However, unlike, other areas and endeavors that will be excused for their lack of progress due to bad conditions, the Christian is rightfully expected to “grow where your planted” – meaning that trials, afflictions, or negative circumstances are no excuse for not growing in the kingdom of God.  We don’t grow by our own efforts. We grow through abiding in Christ – staying in God’s presence – relationally – we trust and follow Him – and we renew our minds though His word – by knowing it and applying its wisdom to how we live our lives and that includes in ‘bad times” or in hostile environments.  

Well, Its Monday and while I am not in what anyone would consider a hostile environment – being on vacation at an amusement park resort in Florida – the spiritual dryness here is palpable as this man-made pleasure dome emphasizes self-reliance, circumstantial happiness, indulging the flesh, and community of universal acceptance that not only denies some harsh realities of this world but also contradict what the world of God says.

So to try to stay grounded by staying in step with the Spirit despite living in the midst of what I have to consider enemy territory, where lies, fantasy, and half-truths come together to paint a beguiling picture of what a wonderful world it could be, without God, - I am doing my best to observe Lent by going through Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther.

It’s the fifth 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 5

Where there is to be true prayer, there must be utter earnestness.

We must feel our need, the distress that drives and impels us to cry out. Then prayer will come spontaneously, as it should, and no one will need to be taught how to prepare for it or how to create the proper devotion... God... wants you to lament and express your needs and concerns, not because he is unaware of them, but in order that you may kindle your heart to stronger and greater desires and open and spread your apron wide to receive many things.

Biblical Wisdom

But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6

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

     Why does Luther say that it is only with earnestness and distress that "prayer will come spontaneously"?

While I don’t necessarily think we need to be carried away emotionally, one way or the other, I agree with Luther’s sentiments that we have to be earnest – “we have to mean it – to be sincere – in our faith. We have to feel the distress of our spiritual needs – even after they have been met in Christ – to continue in our faith and for our prayer to be spontaneous, instead of becoming a rote or dry and dead spiritual ritual where we go through the mental gymnastics of saying our prayers but fall short of having a heart connection with God.  We don’t just agree with God mentally, we don’t just acknowledge our need for a Savior mentally. The gospel we heard when we first believed should have moved beyond mental ascent and grabbed our hearts and turned our wills to throw ourselves on the mercy of our Lord, who died for us.  When we face the state of our continual sin and slippage, we should see our need for the Lord hasn’t stopped and that we should earnestly throw ourselves on His mercy and grace to move us further into His will for our lives.  Our needs are new every day and so we should come earnestly to ask God for what we need today.

 

     Luther suggests that our prayers do more for us than for God. How does prayer intensify our relationship with God?

Prayer intensifies our relationship with God because it develops our knowledge of Him and our extreme dependence on Him. Through answered prayers we see that God loves us and is helping us. Through “unanswered prayers”, we learn to grow in our relationship with the Lord by being challenged to understand why what we want isn’t being supplied and whether or not we will still believe in and trust the Lord.  Prayer should be a daily and continuous conversation with the Lord and the more we communicate with Him the deeper our relationship with and faith in God will be.

     What does it mean that prayer kindles in us "stronger and greater desires" and causes us to "spread our apron wide to receive"?

The “stronger and greater desires” that prayer can kindle is to be fully surrendered to the Lord. The fire of prayer will burn in us a desire to do God’s will more and when we rely on God fully and surrender to His will, we simply await to receive whatever He has for us to receive and fully accept – spread our aprons wide – whatever the good Lord sees to bring to us – be it blessings or trials that lead to growing – we humbly and expectantly wait on the Lord to receive whatever He has for us.

PSALM FRAGMENT

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, 0 LORD.

I will keep your statutes.

I cry to you; save me, that I may observe your decrees.

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words.

My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. Psalm 119:145-48

JOURNAL REFLECTIONS

     For Luther prayer is really quite simple, it is about our being driven by our earnestness and distress to pray to God. In your journal, reflect on whether or not this is true. When do you feel closest to God?

I believe this is true. I don’t rise early every day just to meet a religious obligation of sainthood. I earnestly enter into prayer every morning not just because I feel it is what I should do or because I have some pressing needs but because I really want to know God more and I really want to be with God.  Granted I feel close to God during times that I need His help, which is always, but I also feel close to Him when I ponder what He has done in creation and in my life.  I earnestly pray and desire to follow God because I have had my needs met but I also do it because I have received His love and earnestly desire to love Him right back.

 

     The Psalmist cries out with his whole heart. Describe a time when your "whole heart" was at prayer. What feelings were evoked in you?

The idea of our whole heart being used to cry out to God gives me pictures of times of great distress and need of the Lord’s help. I can reflect on times where I was praying to the Lord to help with situations that were beyond my control and I petitioned the Lord for good outcomes but would also ask for guidance and strength to help me through the situations regardless of what I wanted. Those situations evoked all kinds of feelings in me – anger, fear, worry, sadness – but the peace in those situations came from God who let me express all that I was feeling and comforted me with the assurance of His presence.

 

     Jesus suggests that prayer is best when it is done in secret. What does it mean to you that God is "in secret"? Do you have a "secret" place, a quiet place, a sacred place of your own for prayer? If so, describe it. If not, perhaps you should find one.

“In secret” is anywhere we can be “alone with God” to pray.  That can even be in the midst of a crowd of people – as our spirit has access to God at all times through the Holy Spirit. But I do have a “secret place” of my own. In my bedroom, I have a space where I have a meditation cushion and lamp where I pray and practice gratitude most mornings. Just going there causes me to give thanks to the Lord and to go to Him in prayer. I highly recommend getting a secret place for prayer to all who read or hear this message.

PRAYERS FOR THE LIFE OF FAITH

Pray that you will grow in your understanding of prayer and in your relationship with the Lord and that those dearest to you will open up their "whole" hearts to the Lord in prayer so that together you can come to know the Lord's love and grow to live more fully in him.

Lord God, I pray You will help me to grow in my understanding of prayer and in my relationship with You and that my family and friends be moved by the Holy Spirit to open up their whole hearts to you in prayer – to be saved – and to be compelled to seek you and to follow Jesus to know Your love and to live completely for you. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER FOR TODAY

Dear Lord Jesus, I pray to you in the confidence that you hear my prayer, and I trust your promise that when I pray you will hear my cry.

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 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.

Proverbs 25:11-12 (NASB)
11  Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
12  Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

Today’s verses are the first of two passages of scripture that fall under the fifteenth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

15.     A word aptly spoken and a wise rebuke can be very helpful to others.

Today’s verses encourage us that the words we speak can be extremely valuable when delivered in the right circumstances to ears that are listening.   As Christians, we have the good news of life and death and through knowledge of God’s word we have all the answers to the problems of living in this world but we have to be wise and discerning in where we cast our pearls.  Only when God opens the eyes of the blind, will they see so we need to know “listening ears: are created by His supernatural work but we should be a continual witness for Christ and the abundant life we have in Christ so one day our words will be treasures for the spiritually poor and make them rich in the joy of the Lord.  

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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.

EVENING READING: MARK 10

“Who then can be saved?” – Mark 10:26

The Lord Jesus had just made three important statements, which represented in themselves three possible stages in the experience of an unsaved man. They were:

“How hard it is for those who have riches” to be saved (v. 23)! Here the possession of riches is best illustrated in the foregoing story of the rich young ruler. “He … went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 22).

“How hard it is for those who trust in riches” to be saved (v. 24)! Here is not merely possession of, but “trust in,” riches. This is illustrated by Paul's words in 1 Timothy 6:17: “Command those who are rich … not to … trust in uncertain riches but in the living God.”

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man” to be saved (v. 25)! Here is the “love of riches” to the exclusion of all else (God) (see also Luke 12:16-21).

However, with You, Father,
even such as these can be saved.[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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