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Sunday, March 31, 2024

Bible Study with M.T. Clark - Scenes of Resurrection - 03/31/2024


 Today's Bible Study, Authored by M.T. Clark  03/31/2024

Listen to our Bible Study Discussion at: Scenes of Resurrection Podcast

Or watch the Video Zoom Session of our Study on YouTube: 




Scenes of Resurrection

Growing up with the strange pageantry of chocolate Easter Bunnies and colored hard-boiled eggs in plastic green grass-filled baskets juxtaposed with a liturgical church tradition that was heavy on ceremony and the pantomime of reverence but light on the injunction to know, read, and study the Bible did nothing to assure me of the truth of the gospel or my having a part in it. My church tradition and personal experience did convince me that I was a sinner, but it didn’t convince me that I was a Christian, and although one could graciously and truthfully say that God had his hand on me from the time I was knitted in my mother’s womb and through all the days of my life, I don’t think my faith in Jesus Christ was legit until I heard a gospel radio message that made me understand that salvation wasn’t something I had to earn but was a free gift from God and caused me to surrender to God’s plan for my life and to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life in March of 2010. 

Before coming to Christ, the weird bunny-egg stuff, my angst, ignorance, confusion, doubt, and sin caused me to hate Easter. It seemed to be the phoniest holiday ever created.  He is risen indeed? Was He? Was He really? Then why do these people gather in His Name seem so strange or hypocritical? Where are the miracles? Where is the genuine faith? Why do these people not live righteous lives? Where is the holiness? Where is the love? Why hasn’t my faith changed me? And why if there is a God that is good, holy, and powerful do we celebrate the event that changes world history and brings heaven to earth in such a bizarre and childish fashion?  

You got me, brother.  But We won’t blame God though… all of this bunny and egg stuff – whether it's due to the compromise of the early church to welcome pagans into the fold or it is “harmless” symbolic (idolatry) worship run amok – we will lay not confuse the way man’s worship is acted out with who God is.  And we will choose to take the high road today and obey our Lord, Savior, and Teacher and we will:

Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
34  …forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

I guess strange child-like faith is better than no faith and so I will choose to forgive the masses of “Christians” who participate and perpetuate the egg-bunny stuff on Resurrection Sunday.  As we are all called to do, I will follow.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) that encourages me to
32  … be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

So I choose to forgive you, my Easter Bunny loving – Egg Coloring, Hiding, and Chomping brothers and sisters, for your ignorance, shallow faith, hypocrisy, and weird forms of Easter worship – because it made me doubt the Christian faith and made me feel confused, angry, and unloving.  I choose to forgive you all. In Jesus name, Amen.  

Okay, instead of focusing on the things that will invariably annoy and disturb me about today’s holiday – which truly should be the biggest Christian celebration of the year – we would instead like to share passages from the Bible that document the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus.

We pick up the Resurrection narrative in Mark – after Mary Magdalen, Mary the mother of James, and Salome – discovered the empty tomb, Jesus’s body gone, and a young man dressed in white (an angel – according to Matt 28:1-5)) who told them that Christ is risen and that they would see Him in Gailee.

Mark 16:9-11 (NKJV)
9  Now when He (JESUS) rose early on the first day of the week (SUNDAY), He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.

Matthew 28:9-10 (NKJV) tells us
9  … as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.
10  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

But Mark 16:10-11 (NKJV) tells us
10  She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
11  And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.   

But John & Luke’s gospel tell us that Peter and John believed as they ran to the tomb to confirm what they said.

Luke 24:12 (NKJV)
12  But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

John 20:3-9 (NKJV)
3  Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
4  So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.
5  And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
6  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
7  and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.
8  Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
9  For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

But He was risen indeed – and shortly after this race to the tomb – John’s gospel indicates Mary Magdelene’s seeing of the angel (s) happened after the apostles left the empty tomb.

John 20:11-17 (NKJV)
11  But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
12  And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13  Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14  Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15  Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16  Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).
17  Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.' "

So although these accounts give different perspectives of the same first encounter of the resurrection, Jesus did rise from the dead and told his disciples through Mary Magdelaine that He was alive and He would see them again, which is documented in.

John 20:19-23 (NKJV)
19  Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
20  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21  So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
22  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Jesus just suddenly appeared in their midst in a locked room and proclaimed peace to them and “breathed the Holy Spirit on them! – Sounds fantastic! 

And the scriptures tell us that even a fellow apostle – Thomas_ had difficulty in believing it. 

John 20:24-29 (NKJV)
24  Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
25  The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"
27  Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28  And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29  Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."     

That’s you and me – we are blessed because we have not seen and touched Jesus, like Thomas did, and yet we believe and I know if you have had experiences like I have, we can’t claim having a moment like Thomas did, but we would deny that we haven’t seen or been touched by Jesus in our lives.  

Matthew 28:17-20 (NKJV) tells us Jesus had more to say… 
17  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
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.

Mark 16:14-18 (NKJV) tells us more about this encounter
14  Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart (Thomas…) , because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15  And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18  they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

John 20:30-31 (NKJV) tells us
30  And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
31  but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Our encounters with Jesus aren’t written about in scripture but they have happened, and we believe.  Jesus reveals Himself through His word as He did in the early days of His resurrection to other disciples:

Mark 16:12 (NKJV)
12  After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.

These two disciples’ account of the risen Christ is told in.

Luke 24:13-25 (NKJV) which tells us:
13  Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
14  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
17  And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?"
18  Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?"
19  And He said to them, "What things?" So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20  and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
21  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22  Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23  When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24  And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see."

Luke 24:25-32 (NKJV)
25  Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"
27  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
28  Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29  But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them.
30  Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
31  Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32  And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"

Their story seems to roll into the encounters already described as the rest of Luke’s Gospel tell us.

Luke 24:33-43 (NKJV)
33  So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
34  saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
35  And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
36  Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." 37  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.
38  And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
40  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
41  But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?" 42  So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.
43  And He took it and ate in their presence.

Luke 24:44-53 (NKJV)
44  Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."
45  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46  Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
47  and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48  And you are witnesses of these things.
49  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
50  And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.
51  Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.
52  And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
53  and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

Luke retells of this last resurrection encounter with Jesus, the ascension, in

Acts 1:4-11 (NKJV)
4  And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me;
5  for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
6  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7  And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
9  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11  who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

Jesus Christ literally rose from the earth and into the heavens and is promised to return to us in:  

Revelation 1:7 (NKJV) that tells us…
7  Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

There were other encounters with the resurrected Christ that are mentioned in Scripture.  The book of Acts tells of Paul’s conversion experience on the Road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-20 and he speaks of his  and others’ encounter with Jesus in  

1 Corinthians 15:6-8 (NKJV) that tells us the resurrected Jesus
6  …was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, ……by James, then by all the apostles. 8  Then last of all He was seen by me (Paul) also, as by one born out of due time.

But the scene of the Resurrection that sticks with me the most is the one with Peter spoken of in:

John 21:15-22 (NKJV)
15  So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
16  He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
17  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep. 18  Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish."
19  This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."
20  Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" 21  Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"
22  Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

Jesus’ conversation with Peter is a conversation that we are all have with God, where we must answer the Lord’s question “Do you love me?”    And if our answer is yes, we must be prepared to feed and lead the Lord’s sheep – our brother and sisters in Christ and regardless of our uncertainty of purpose or direction for this life be fully prepared to answer Jesus’ command to “Follow Me.” – wherever it may lead us.  

It's Resurrection Sunday, – Easter – if you must…, and as Christians, disciples – students and followers of Jesus, let’s not let the strange pageantry, darkness, and ignorance that surrounds this most blessed of holidays, cause us to lose the peace and the joy that the Lord gives us when we encounter and choose to follow the– the King of Kings, the Lord of Lord, the Prince of Peace, Our brother, Our Friend, Our Teacher, Our Lord, and Savior and Wonderful Counselor, and Our God - Jesus Christ.

-----Join us for another Bible Study Next Week -------

or

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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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

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The “Harrowing of Hell” - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 40 - Purity 1313


The “Harrowing of Hell” - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 40 - Purity 1313

Purity 1313 03/30/2024 Purity 1313 Podcast

Purity 1313 on YouTube: Coming Soon!

Good morning,

Today’s photo of blue skies and a fireball sun over Waite Rd in Easton, which features my canine pal, Harley, leading the way, comes to us from yours truly as I captured this hazy scene yesterday as blustery winds whipped all around us on the way back home from a short late afternoon walk.  Despite the unseen opposition that seems to have distorted this photo, we made it back down that last stretch home.

Well, It’s Holy Saturday – the day that commemorates the “Harrowing of Hell” while Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb. While in the physical Jesus’s body lay still and lifeless in the tomb, in the spirit, Jesus descended into hell and brought salvation to the souls held captive there since the beginning of the world. The Apostle’s Creed tells us that Jesus “descended into hell” and

1 Peter 4:6 (NKJV) alludes to this ministry of Christ, as Peter tells us:
6  For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh but live according to God in the spirit.

While it may seem that those dead before Jesus’ earthly ministry may have gotten a “second chance”, I’m sharing insights I gleaned from a Got Questions.org article that helps us to understand how salvation worked before Jesus and how (https://www.gotquestions.org/before-Jesus.html) the Bible indicates that the requirement for salvation has always been faith and the object of one’s faith has always been God. What has changed through the ages is the content of a believer’s faith. God’s requirement of what must be believed is based on the amount of revelation He has given mankind up to that time.  This is called progressive revelation.

The best first case for this is the first man, Adam. Adam obviously had first-hand knowledge of God – as he walked and talked with Him in the garden, but after he sinned – Adam believed in the promise of Jesus to be saved. Say what?  That’s right. 

“Adam believed the promise God gave in Genesis 3:15 that the Seed of the woman would conquer Satan. Adam believed Him, demonstrated by the name he gave Eve (v. 20)” – the mother of all living (in Christ- her Seed – and all who would have faith in God and in the coming the Messiah )-  “and the Lord indicated His acceptance immediately by covering them with coats of skin (v. 21). At that point that is all Adam knew, but he believed it.”

Likewise,

Genesis 15:6 (NKJV) tells us that Abraham
6  … believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

So we are all saved by faith in God, the only difference between way back then was in how one came to know and have faith in the One true God.  

So Jesus went to hell to bring the progressive revelation of Him, specifically as the promised Messiah and deliverer, and He set the faithful captives free from the “Abraham’s bosom” section of Hell – which was the temporary holding place for those who had faith in God until Christ came to bring them to heaven, where the Old and New Testament Saints are waiting with Christ until His triumphant return to reclaim the earth!  

So while it is possible that some of the dead may have been given the grace of a second chance, its more likely that Jesus merely gave the good news of His coming to the one’s who already believed in God because if we don’t want anything to do with God while we live its unlikely that we will change our minds after we die.

Jesus’ account of the rich man and Lazarus indicates how the hard hearts of man who don’t believe are beyond convincing and repentance, as Jesus’ account relayed how Abraham said to the rich man, who was pleading for his unsaved brothers to be warned, in

Luke 16:31 (NKJV) that
31  … 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

And we know who Abraham was talking about there, right?  Jesus – the one who would rise from the dead.  And unfortunately even today, we see the truth of Jesus’ account as many refuse to believe in Him despite all the evidence of His life, death, and resurrection.  

But we know, don’t we? Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and God the Son! 

We have made it to the last day of Lent  And Christians everywhere will tomorrow – on Resurrection Sunday – or Easter - that Christ is risen – Christ is risen indeed!  

But before we get there – let’s walk out this last day of lent by remembering how while all seemed to be lost, Jesus was alive and well in the spirit realm rescuing those who had put their faith in God, even though they didn’t have the revelation of Him that we do.

It’s the last and fortieth day of Lent and so we will conclude my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walkthrough of Grindal’s devotional,  it was our hope that we got to know Martin Luther a little better as we sought to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.   We are there tomorrow but as for today, we continue and conclude with:

Journey Day 40

It was not unintended to God's particular ordering of things that a lowly Christian person who might be unable to read the Bible should nevertheless be obligated to learn and know the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. Indeed, the total content of Scripture and preaching and everything a Christian needs to know is quite fully and adequately comprehended in these three items... Three things a person must know in order to be saved. First, he must know what to do and what to leave undone. Second, when he realized that he cannot measure up to what he should do or leave undone, he needs to know where to go to find the strength he requires. Third, he must know how to seek and obtain the strength.

Biblical Wisdom

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. Luke 10: 21.

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 suppose that the things necessary for salvation are so simple and easily understood? Where does a person go to learn these simple things?

The things necessary for salvation are so simple and easily understood because God loves us. He wants us to know Him and it is not really a matter of the mind or one’s intellectual capacity that we are saved. It’s a matter of the heart and not resisting the knowledge of the One greater than us – Our Heavenly Father who is calling us home. We learn these simple things in His word and in houses of worship that share and teach its truth.

·       Jesus is thankful these things are revealed to the babes, not the wise and prudent. Why do you think that is?

I think that Jesus is glad that the Father reveals this to babes and not the “wise” because the gospel of grace is not about performance – or having special knowledge to be approved by God. It’s about having faith in God and there are no special abilities or works required to receive God’s gift of grace.

·       At the same time, these things are so deep even the brilliant Luther said he did not understand them. Why?

God is infinite and mysterious- His ways are higher than our ways and He invites us to seek Him and to know the depths of His wisdom and love.

Psalm Fragment

Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; Give praise, O servants of the Lord, you that stand in the House of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for he is gracious. Psalm 135:1-3.

Journal Reflections

·       Write down the three things Luther says you have to know and reflect on how much more deeply you understand them now after these 40 days.

To recap Luther said: we must know

1.    What to do and what to leave undone.

2.    Second, when we realize that we cannot measure up to what we should do or leave undone, we need to know where to go to find the strength we require.

3.    Third, we must know how to seek and obtain the strength.

All of these things point to God and receiving from Him. The smaller catechism that was unpacked the truths contained in the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, over these 40 Days with Martin Luther, has helped us to understand how our knowing what to do and how to receive God’s strength to do it or to leave it undone comes from.  Luther’s teaching of these things helps us to have a close relationship with the Lord.

·       Luther saw knowing the Commandments, Creed, and Lord's Prayer as an obligation for all Christians. Do you agree with him? Why or why not?

The term obligation is a little loaded. When we look at any aspect of our faith as an obligation, we can wander into legalism but after reading Luther’s teachings over this 40 Day Journey, I understand that Luther’s heart was only to impress upon us the sense of closeness that we have to the Lord and to honor Him by knowing at least these few things – in order to know Him accurately and intimately and to be able to share the knowledge of Him with others, intelligently.

·       Have you made the Catechism part of your daily devotions? If you have, what difference has it made in your daily life?

I have not. We all determine the way we follow the Lord individually and while you could be blessed by reading the catechism as a daily devotional, there is the Word of God itself – the Bible and many other teachings based on its wisdom that one can be blessed by too.  Reading through the catechism as presented in this 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther has blessed us.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Thank God for the time you have spent learning from Martin Luther about the life of the Christian, what you should know and how you should pray.

Thank You Lord, for the time we have spent over these 40 Days of Lent learning from our brother, Martin Luther, about the Chrisitan life and what we should know and how we should pray. We have been blessed by it. Thank You. Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear Heavenly Father, I am overflowing with thanksgiving to you, for revealing to me so much of yourself and your son Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your faithful servant Martin Luther and what he taught me now.

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 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 Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV)
13  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
14  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Today’s verses are the first of two passages of scripture that fall under the twenty-fourth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

24. The primary goal in life must be to fear God and keep his commandments.

Today’s verses summarize the wisdom of all the book of Ecclesiastes’ ponderings – that we are to fear the Lord and keep His commandments.  

Fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – but it is only the beginning. Wisdom is the application of knowledge to how we live.  Really knowing God necessitates that we obey His commandments.  To truly understand Him is to embrace His instruction and to perform it.  So let go of selfish or foolish ideas that would convince you that you know better than God or that you can somehow dismiss what He tells us to do and recognize His supreme wisdom and surrender to its commands on your life – to be righteous, faithful, and to live.

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

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: JOHN 5

“I do not receive honor from men.” – John 5:41

The Lord Jesus spoke these words to men who were bent on slaying Him. They were the Pharisees and Scribes who honored one another rather than God (v. 44). Even when they did appear to honor God, it was only mere lip-service; their hearts were far from Him. These men were hypocrites and lived criticizing others. If Christ therefore received honor from such, surely it would appear that He were condoning their hypocrisy and evil. On the other hand, the statement of the Lord Jesus in the above verse condemned rather than condoned the evil works of these Pharisees.

If my blessed Lord did not receive honor from men, how will I ever expect to receive honor from those who live to criticize?

Give me, O Lord, the Spirit of Grace.[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

Friday, March 29, 2024

Sad Friday? - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 39 - Purity 1312

Sad Friday? - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 39 - Purity 1312

Purity 1312 03/29/2024 Purity 1312 Podcast

Purity 1312 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a moody sunset dusk, or the first rays of sunrise, over an unknown lake comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this brooding or hopeful scene on social media on or around April 19th, 2021.  If this somber yet beautiful photo is yours, give us a heads up and we will update the blog to give you the photo credit you deserve.  

Well, It’s Good Friday, Thank God and Thank You Jesus, and I shared today’s photo because it has a solemn feel to it, if it is a sunset, but at the same time I realized that this could be a sunrise and if that’s the case the story is different, darkness is being dispelled by the first light of day as the sun will rise over the horizon and bring the hope and light of a new day over all the land. Because of that duality of perspective I thought the photo was a good visual representation of Good Friday as this is the day we remember how Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sin, so it was a dark day, but now that we know His sacrifice was necessary and He didn’t stay dead – He was resurrected and proved that He is God, we can recognize the although the day of Jesus’ death was dark, the light of the world was soon to be revealed.  As much as we should appreciate the pain and suffering that Jesus suffered on our behalf, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it too much because God wants us to rejoice in the resurrected life that we are able to share in since Christ died and rose again.  Some say “It’s Good Friday… but Sunday’s coming” and while I get it, that’s true, the higher truth is that Resurrection Sunday has already come and we don’t have to necessarily go through an emotional rollercoaster of guilt and sadness each year to prove we understand what Christ had to suffer through or to prove we are a devout and religious Christian.  I would say crying and being sad on Good Friday is fine if it comes from a sincere heart, but if you are living like a fool and a slave to sin all the other days of the year and only “come to God” during Easter and Christmas, you may be putting on a show and are missing the abundant life that Jesus died for you to experience.  

Our faith is not about religious observances or ceremonies and periodic sacraments. Our faith is about a relationship with the living God, believe me when I tell you that you will be moved to tears – of joy and sorrow – when you pick up your cross and follow Him.  You will be crying on a lot more days than “Sad Friday”.

I mean seriously…Do you reserve today for weeping over Jesus and then spend the rest of the year lost in the world system that opposes Him?  

Anyway, if that’s your tradition – or sincere spiritual practice, it is the appropriate time for it, the season of Lent.  We shouldn’t take Christ’s sufferings lightly but if your life is mostly “normal” or secular and not defined by your faith, let me encourage you to go deeper in your walk with the Lord after this season of Lent. And speaking of Lent…

It’s the thirty-ninth 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 of 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 39

What sins is a person to confess?

Before God one is to acknowledge the guilt for all sins, even those of which we are not aware, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. However, before the confessor we are to confess only those sins of which we have knowledge and which trouble us.

We are to confess our guilt before one another and forgive one another before we come to God and ask for forgiveness. Now, all of us are debtors to one another; therefore we should and we may confess publicly in everyone's presence, no one being afraid of anyone else. For it is true, as the proverb says, “If one person is upright, so are they all”; no one behaves toward God or the neighbor as he or she ought. However, besides the sum total of our sin, there are also individual ones, when a person has provoked someone else to anger and needs to ask for pardon. Thus we have in the Lord's Prayer a twofold absolution: both our sins against God and against our neighbors are forgiven when we forgive our neighbors and become reconciled with them.

Biblical Wisdom

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5: 23-24.

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

·       Do you think confession is about guilt and shame or about grace and freedom? Explain.

I think it is about both! We should have genuine guilt and shame about our sins but that should drive us to confess it so we can experience God’s grace and freedom.  Of course, freedom requires repentance- we don’t just “sin confess, sin confess” – we are to let our guilt and shame – and the grace we receive to drive us to make a decision to submit to God and resist the devil and make the daily conscious decision to stop sinning in the ways we have in the past.  Only when we ask God to help us to stop sincerely and make ourselves accountable to God, ourselves, and others to make a permanent change can we experience the freedom that God wants to live in. 

·       Why does a relationship with God and our relationships with others need both confession and forgiveness in order to thrive?

Our relationships with God and man require confession and forgiveness to thrive because we will make mistakes and we need to be honest to God and others when we mess up and seek their forgiveness.  Of course, we also must be sincere in our efforts to repent because otherwise we are abusing our relationships – saying one thing but doing another – in essence making each confession another sin as our apologies mean nothing if we refuse to change.  So confess and seek forgiveness but make your relationship with God and man thrive by being sincere to make a change so you don’t need to confess and seek forgiveness for the same thing again.  

·       Does your community of faith place too little, enough, or too much emphasis on confession and forgiveness in both our relationship with God and in our human relationships? Explain.

I go to a seeker friendly church and all the messages are positive and often encourage us to forgive as we have been forgiven. There is little or no emphasis on confession.  Quite frankly although the messages call us to be followers of Jesus and are biblically sound, there seems to be an unspoken policy to “keep your sin to yourself” or to “mind your own business” as certain sinful lifestyles are not called out as sin within our church.  And before you condemn my church… I would say that most churches operate under the same policy.  Pastors don’t tend to preach about things that will offend people that will empty the seats.  Calling out heterosexual couples living in sin doesn’t usually get any mention at all nor does sex outside of marriage get highlighted too much.  So no, pastors calling people to confess doesn’t usually come up too much…. because there is a lot to confess.

Psalm Fragment

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24.

Journal Reflections

·       The daily practice of confession and forgiveness with both God and others can be seen as a regular practice that builds our relationship with God. If this is a spiritual habit you presently are following, write.about its impact on your life. If you are not following this practice now, why not give it a try?

Yes, while I don’t confess like Martin Luther did when he was a monk, I do keep short accounts with the Lord by confessing any known sin and asking for forgiveness regularly, if not daily. This practice of living in the presence of the Lord gives me peace – when I say walking and talking with God – that’s what I do – I talk to God throughout the day and continually seek to be with Him and right with Him.  It makes life an exciting spiritual adventure and I recommend it to all – get on the path of Christian discipleship and walk in the Spirit.

·       Remember a time when you knew you needed to ask someone for pardon. What did you do? What were the consequences?

When I went through recovery in 2015, I did my amends and sought the forgiveness of everyone for anything and everything I had done in my life that offended them or caused them pain. It was a humbling experience and while I am sure that there may be some people I have hurt that didn’t get the news of my ammends – because they were absolute strangers to me that I met in a drunken fog or time and distance has separated us – I made every effort to ask forgiveness.  I even posted to social media to ask forgiveness.  But the amazing thing was that there was really no response, people had either forgiven me already or had forgotten or didn’t realize the things I had done or didn’t care.  It taught me that my drama wasn’t the center of the universe and that people had moved on. The truth was I didn’t have many relationships that were deeply personal and didn’t really try to hurt people in the past, so the offenses weren’t very deep because the relationships were pretty shallow.  It taught me humility and gave me peace.   

·       Journal on a moment in your life when you experienced reconciliation with another through confession and forgiveness. What did you learn from the experience? Has the learning stayed with you as a guide?

As I confessed, I didn’t really have deep relationships that needed to be reconciled at the time of my amends. Since then I haven’t really been separated from anyone because of sin on my part, except for my ex, I suppose and while I asked for and received her forgiveness early in the days when we mutually decided to divorce, I won’t be reconciled to her in terms of our marriage. Our decision to divorce was a final one and while I have forgiven and hold no animosity toward her, we are not getting back together.  She refused to walk with me into a life of faith in Christ and we have decided to go our separate ways.  That experience has taught me that forgiveness and reconciliation – or  the reestablishment of a relationship– can be two different things.  

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you will be given the grace and courage to ask forgiveness when it is necessary and that the other would have the grace and courage to forgive you.

Lord, I pray that I will be given the grace and courage to ask forgiveness when it is necessary that whoever I offend would have the grace and courage to forgive me. Amen.

Prayer For Today

Lord Jesus, I long for reconciliation with (name). Lead me and guide me so that I have the grace both to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.

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 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 Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

Ecclesiastes 5:8-17 (NLT2)
8  Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy.
9  Even the king milks the land for his own profit!
10  Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
11  The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

12  People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13  There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver.
14  Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children.
15  We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16  And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind.
17  Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

Today’s verses fall under the twenty-third point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

23. Riches are meaningless; wealth is fleeting.

Today’s verses highlight the impermanent nature of wealth and of our lives and should not drive us to despair but should encourage us to invest in God’s kingdom.  Ecclesiastes tells it like it is, but we shouldn’t miss the lesson that all that is fleeting should draw us to the One who doesn’t change and who calls us to live, through faith in Jesus, with Him forever.

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

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: JOHN 4

“The man believed the word.” – John 4:50

Here is certainly a good example of expectant faith. The Lord simply said to him, “Your son lives” (v. 51) and he believed the Word. The result was that his son was healed.

This is the source of real spiritual blessing – namely, believing and claiming the promises of God. There must be expectant faith, however. James says, “Let not that man [who wavers in the prayer of faith] suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7). Expectant faith is the key to the verse which says, “Ask, and you will receive” (John 16:24).

O Lord help me, I pray, to believe Your Word
even as this man did. 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