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Showing posts with label Appreciation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appreciation. Show all posts

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Quests for Circumstantial Happiness vs True Peace, Comfort, and Joy - Purity 1229

Quests for Circumstantial Happiness vs True Peace, Comfort, and Joy - Purity 1229

Purity 1229 12/23/2023 Purity 1229 Podcast

Purity 1229 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of my canine friend, Harley, and a late afternoon sun pouring over the border trees of farmland at the end of Freedom Road comes to us from yours truly as I decided to go just a little bit further than I normally do and realized when I turned and looked back at the sun why I did.  I live in the context of the kingdom of God where God is not only in control but He also is crafting every moment of my experience, and so you’ll have to forgive me when I say it, but, I went further than usual to see and capture this magnificent moment because – “God wanted me to.” 

Well, It’s Saturday, December 23rd, or as some will call it – Christmas Eve, Eve and it is my hope and prayer that all of my friends take time over the next three days to appreciate all that the Lord has done for them in their lives and to see what a gift we have been given in life and especially in Jesus as He delivers us into peace with God and the joy that goes beyond understanding. I also pray for the safety of my friends who will be taking to the highways, byways, and streets to finish your Christmas celebration preparations and to resist those feelings of guilt that would drive you to overspend as you get the urge to “have a Merry Christmas”.  Money can’t buy you love and it also won’t guarantee filling your family with Christmas cheer.  

I myself will NOT be going to any stores, I declare it!, until after Christmas as I spent about 6 hours going from store to store with my wife and stepdaughter yesterday to get groceries, some “last minute gifts”, and had a fruitless search for a “Christmas outfit”.  I didn’t know that last part was part of the agenda and if I had, I might have stayed at home because – the day took longer than I thought it would, there was a lot of traffic, and shopping for “ideals” especially with time waning doesn’t go well.  

Getting the “perfect” gift or “finding the perfect outfit” for Christmas is like a quest and unless it is “your quest” you really don’t want to have anything to do with it because if it is not “your quest” you can’t understand it and won’t be able to “see” what will be able to fulfill it.  As far as I knew, my stepdaughter has a dress, recently purchased, in a shade that is thematically in line with the Christmas season, at home and so I didn’t quite understand why we went from store, after store, after store – three stores – looking for another. I know our lives out at country side estates and I couldn’t quite understand the who, what, or why of the necessity of a new outfit. But I didn’t trouble myself over it because I didn’t know I was on a quest until we went to clothing store number two.  

I was busy on my own quest booking a Disney vacation on my phone for February and didn’t even know “we” were looking for the holy grail of Christmas outfits and even though I managed to make all the arrangements to fly my wife, myself, and two youngest step-kiddos to the magic kingdom and back in February, the elusive “perfect” outfit was not found – proving simultaneously how easy and difficult it can be to create a little circumstantial happiness.   

When seeking circumstantial happiness, you have to KNOW what you want.  I wanted a vacation in February and since the Lord is blessing me with the sale of my former marital home, after 4 years – mind you, on December 27th, I got it in my head a week or so ago to possibly go to Disney World.  Yesterday, I let the cat out of the bag by mentioning the idea to my wife and it didn’t take me long at all to put me into action and pull the trigger on booking it! While my wife and stepdaughter looked for an outfit in store #1, I had the Disney Resort Stay, meal plan, rental car, and flights to and from Orlando booked!  I’m going to Disney World!

But unfortunately, while I would imagine, Elisabeth had some idea of what she was looking for in an outfit, whatever it was it wasn’t at the three stores she looked in and, to her credit – and my disbelief, she didn’t buy a substitute – although she didn’t go home empty handed as even though she didn’t fulfill the quest to get a perfect Christmas outfit, she managed to find other non-Christmas clothing items that were needed or wanted… I don’t know…  Hey guys, you know when you’re shopping with ladies, just shut up, stay out of their way, and pray for it to end and don’t say anything sarcastic or “stupid” to set them off if “the quest” isn’t fulfilled, because they so rarely are.  

Anyway, the best of luck to those of you who will brave the streets and venture into the malls and stores today or tomorrow. Be kind, be patient, and remember to represent the kingdom by saying “Merry Christmas” to every “Happy Holidays” you receive.

After a long day of shopping and booking a vacation on my phone, I was happy to take a walk to shake off the madness of materialism and attempting to satisfy the urges of arranging for circumstantial happiness, by taking advantage of the circumstances and taking a long peaceful walk in the late afternoon sunshine on a brisk December day with Christmas only a few days away.   Every step brought its own peace and when I saw the view I captured in today’s photo, I turned to the Lord in gratitude and spent the return trek thanking my Heavenly Father for everything under heaven – Christmas, my wife, my family, my countryside home, my home down by The River, the upcoming sale of my former home, for Disney World in February, for the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group, for Starpoint Church, for my canine friend, Harley, for Jesus, for the Holy Spirit, and for the life and life’s journey that God has given to me.

The problem with circumstantial happiness is that its fleeting. The gifts, travel, food, or experiences that can give us pleasure wear off or fade away. The moments are good as they can give us happiness in the present moment and can be fondly remembered to give us joy for having experienced them, but those things don’t give us peace that last. Only God, through faith Jesus, and being in harmony with Him in His presence, does that.  

So as we move into Christmas, celebrate the coming of our newborn king, love your family and friends, and have fun, but when the last gift is unwrapped and holiday hoopla comes crashing to a halt, remember to thank the Lord and take some time to rest in His Peace, Love, Comfort, and Joy.

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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 Comfort.

Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV)
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3  He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Today’s verses fall under the first point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

1. The Lord is our shepherd, always leading us in the best way and protecting us.

Today’s verses have given faithful men and women of God comfort for ages past and when we are reminded of God as the Good Shepherd we can find Comfort knowing that He provides, He protects, and He will guide us by His goodness and mercy all the days of our life.  

These words give us strength in times of loss and grief and comfort in all the season of life especially when we never leave the Good Shepherd's side by faithfully following and living by His leadership.  So stay close to the Good Shepherd and experience His care all the days of your life.

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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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

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

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

ADVENT WEEK FOUR – INCARNATION

DAY SIX

The Unfathomably Wise Counselor

Wonderful Counselor” (Isa. 9:6) is the name of this child. In him the wonder of all wonders has taken place; the birth of the Savior-child has gone forth from God’s eternal counsel. In the form of a human child, God gave us his Son; God became human, the Word became flesh (John 1:14). That is the wonder of the love of God for us, and it is the unfathomably wise Counselor who wins us this love and saves us. But because this child of God is his own Wonderful Counselor, he himself is also the source of all wonder and all counsel. To those who recognize in Jesus the wonder of the Son of God, every one of his words and deeds becomes a wonder; they find in him the last, most profound, most helpful counsel for all needs and questions. Yes, before the child can open his lips, he is full of wonder and full of counsel. Go to the child in the manger. Believe him to be the Son of God, and you will find in him wonder upon wonder, counsel upon counsel.

In winter it seems that the season of Spring will never come, and in both Advent and Lent it’s the waiting that’s hard, the in-between of divine promise and its fulfillment.… Most of us find ourselves dangling in this hiatus, which in the interval may seem a waste of time.… But “the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” With such motivation, we can wait as we sense that God is indeed with us, and at work within us, as he was with Mary as the Child within her grew.

Poet Luci Shaw, in God with Us

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Galatians 4:4–7

DAY SEVEN

The One Who Became Human

Who is this God? This God is the one who became human as we became human. He is completely human. Therefore, nothing human is foreign to him. The human being that I am, Jesus Christ was also. About this human being Jesus Christ we say: this one is God. This does not mean that we already knew beforehand who God is. Nor does it mean that the statement “this human being is God” adds anything to being human. God and human being are not thought of as belonging together through a concept of nature. The statement “this human being is God” is meant entirely differently. The divinity of this human being is not something additional to the human nature of Jesus Christ. The statement “this human being is God” is the vertical from above, the statement that applies to Jesus Christ the human being, which neither adds anything nor takes anything away, but qualifies the whole human being as God.… Faith is ignited from Jesus Christ the human being.… If Jesus Christ is to be described as God, then we do not speak of his omnipotence and omniscience, but of his cradle and his cross. There is no “divine being” as omnipotence, as omnipresence.

And now Christmas is coming and you won’t be there. We shall be apart, yes, but very close together. My thoughts will come to you and accompany you. We shall sing “Friede auf Erden” [Peace on Earth] and pray together, but we shall sing “Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe!” [Glory be to God on high] even louder. That is what I pray for you and for all of us, that the Savior may throw open the gates of heaven for us at darkest night on Christmas Eve, so that we can be joyful in spite of everything.

Maria von Wedemeyer to Bonhoeffer,

December 10, 1943

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1–7[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


[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 60–63.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Satisfying Gifts and “What We Believe” – Wisdom from Dr. Neil Anderson - Purity 1228


Satisfying Gifts and “What We Believe” – Wisdom from Dr. Neil Anderson - Purity 1228

Purity 1228 12/22/2023 Purity 1228 Podcast

Purity 1228 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a headlight-illuminated Waite road and the silhouettes of trees, barns and farmyard buildings of the Allen Waite Farm comes to us from yours truly as I stopped my car to try to capture the magic moment of experiencing twilight on the shortest day of the year yesterday, the winter solstice.

Well, It’s Friday, Thanks Be to God!, and even though yesterday was the shortest day and longest night of the year, there’s good news, from now on the days become longer and the nights become shorter – in this Christmas season where we Celebrate the Light of the World – light is now increasing! Which only makes sense, the closer we get to Jesus the brighter, lighter, and better things get.  

Wednesday, I hosted the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group at Starpoint Church where I surprised the people who attended with Christmas gifts. I had an idea of who would attend and wrapped up gifts specifically for a few of them, but I also prepared extra wrapped gifts for the people who would show up that I didn’t expect. Truth be told, I had extra stores of the materials I gifted, just in case, I ran out of wrapped gifts. 

I appreciate the people who come to Celebrate Freedom and I try to express that each week by trying to tell each person as they arrive that I am happy to see them. The “C” of the ABC’s of Celebrate Freedom that we try to stress in our group is “Connections”. For the people who show up, we connect relationally as we encourage and support one another as we try to overcome those pesky “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” and grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in our faith. And because we are a Christian group, I stress that beyond one another the most important connection we can make is with the Lord. No matter who come to the group our for however long our group will last here on earth, the connection we have with God is forever and just happens to be the most important thing about us – our relationship with God – as it will determine our eternal destiny.  

So what do you give when you want to share a connection with our Heavenly Father? You give the gift of God’s love and try to give someone the possibility of experiencing their freedom in Christ, of course!   

So I wrapped up a framed copy of Mindful of Christ’s “Biblical Affirmations Poster” (which is a free resource available at https://mindfulofchrist.net/freebies/ ), along with a copy of the Freedom in Christ Ministries “Participants Guide to The “Freedom in Christ Course”, and a copy of the Steps to Freedom in Christ.  My wrapped presents were three gifts in one designed to give the recipient something to affirm their identity in Christ, give them teaching to help them grow in their faith, and give them a tool that could resolve their personal and spiritual conflicts.  

And even though I was given thanks from everyone who received a gift, yesterday one of the recipients reached out via FB messenger to thank me again and express his joy over receiving it and being a part of Celebrate Freedom. I was truly touched by his reaching out and encouraged him to ‘dig in” to the material and expressed how glad I was that he had made his way back to us after an extended absence.   Unbeknownst to me at the time, he also shared his gratitude for the gift I gave him publicly with a Facebook post and I was delighted to see that he was using it as he declared that he had read 30 pages of the Freedom in Christ Participant’s Guide already!  

At Christmas, you really want to give gifts that people like but you are really touched when you see them enjoying and using them and it is my hope that the three gifts I gave to the people at Celebrate Freedom will bring them to better the receive the gift that God freely offers to all of us, peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the only gift that can truly satisfy us and if we look for satisfaction in anything else we will be eventually disappointed.   Do you believe that?  It’s true. And to bring that truth home a little more I am sharing a short message from Dr. Neil Anderson that I received as a daily devotional email back on December 9th. Anderson writes about the importance of what we believe,  and how it relates to our overall satisfaction and joy in life and I think it's appropriate for the Christmas season because many will be looking for satisfaction from what’s under their Christmas tree when they should be looking for it from the gift that comes from above.

Dr. Neil T. Anderson writes:

“WHAT WE BELIEVE

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder (James 2:19).

We all have some beliefs about the world we live in. Whatever we think will make us happy, satisfied, successful, etc. is what constitutes our belief system. We are walking right now by faith according to what we already believe. Be assured that the world system we were raised in didn't establish a biblical belief system in our minds.

Because we came into this world separated from God, we learned to live our lives independently from Him. We were conformed to this world. Unless we were raised in a perfect Christian home, much of what we learned to believe didn't reflect biblical truth. If you believe that you will only be satisfied by possessions, then you will probably never be satisfied. Jesus revealed that satisfaction does not come from materials things: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6).

If you believe you are successful because of status or the amount of toys you accumulate, you will certainly be at odds with Scripture. God has a different standard by which we are to evaluate and achieve success. Joshua 1:8 states, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." We can't make up our own definitions of satisfaction or success or determine what we want to believe. Faith must have an object, and for the Christian, that object is God and His Word.

The only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. To think that we will get what we want if we believe with all our hearts is a faith based on selfish desires. It originates within ourselves and depends on our own definition of faith. It's a form of religious self-hypnosis. It's like the Christian who says, "I don't know the Bible, but I have faith." For that person, faith is a substitute for knowledge and a compensation for ignorance.

Lord, I choose to believe today that You are the source of everything I need in life. I place my faith in You alone.

Neil Anderson”

I thank Dr. Neil Anderson for his work. It has been used by the Lord to help me, and many others, to experience their freedom in Christ, and I hope that today’s message will encourage you to be specific in what you put your faith in and where you seek everything you need in life. 

I’ll give you a hint it comes from God and His Word and is fully realized when you put your faith in, and decide to follow, Jesus.  So thank God it's Friday and keep walking and talking with Him, as you continually put your faith in, and follow, Jesus.

 

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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 Church Discipline.

Revelation 2:14-16 (NLT2)
14  “But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.
15  In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.
16  Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Today’s verses fall under the eleventh point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Church Discipline

11. Jesus rebukes the church that does not discipline.

Today’s verses show us that the Lord cares about what we listen to and that there will be consequences for being “wrong” in what we believe if we don’t repent.

Historically, the Nicolaitans may have taught a “syncretistic” Christianity, with elements of Judaism, paganism, and occultism mixed in, where Christian theology and morality would have been compromised – as one of Balam’s claim to fame was leading the nation of Israel to intermingle with their pagan neighbors through sexual immorality and mixed marriages.  

The fact that Jesus says He hates them (verse 15, NKJV) shows us that what we believe and what we do matters and that we can’t be complicit with other religions or practice things that go against God’s world.  Regardless of what we may profess to believe, what we allow ourselves to listen to and what we do will reveal what we really put our faith in – and if that’s anything other than Jesus and God’s Word – there may be hell to pay on judgement day as, those who aren’t committed to follow Christ only will be told by Jesus – “I never knew you”.  

So be steadfast to know what we believe, why we believe it, and don’t allow any outside influences to drive you away from the Truth, The Way, and the Life – Jesus Christ.

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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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

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

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

ADVENT WEEK FOUR – INCARNATION

DAY THREE

Christmas, Fulfilled Promise

Moses died on the mountain from which he was permitted to view from a distance the promised land (Deut. 32:48–52). When the Bible speaks of God’s promises, it’s a matter of life and death.… The language that reports this ancient history is clear. Anyone who has seen God must die; the sinner dies before the promise of God. Let’s understand what that means for us so close to Christmas. The great promise of God—a promise that is infinitely more important than the promise of the promised land—is supposed to be fulfilled at Christmas.… The Bible is full of the proclamation that the great miracle has happened as an act of God, without any human doing.… What happened? God had seen the misery of the world and had come himself in order to help. Now he was there, not as a mighty one, but in the obscurity of humanity, where there is sinfulness, weakness, wretchedness, and misery in the world. That is where God goes, and there he lets himself be found by everyone. And this proclamation moves through the world anew, year after year, and again this year also comes to us.

We all come with different personal feelings to the Christmas festival. One comes with pure joy as he looks forward to this day of rejoicing, of friendships renewed, and of love.… Others look for a moment of peace under the Christmas tree, peace from the pressures of daily work.… Others again approach Christmas with great apprehension. It will be no festival of joy to them. Personal sorrow is painful especially on this day for those whose loneliness is deepened at Christmastime.… And despite it all, Christmas comes. Whether we wish it or not, whether we are sure or not, we must hear the words once again: Christ the Savior is here! The world that Christ comes to save is our fallen and lost world. None other.

Sermon to a German-speaking church in Havana, Cuba, December 21, 1930

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke 1:26–33

DAY FOUR

The Great Turning Point of All Things

What kings and leaders of nations, philosophers and artists, founders of religions and teachers of morals have tried in vain to do—that now happens through a newborn child. Putting to shame the most powerful human efforts and accomplishments, a child is placed here at the midpoint of world history—a child born of human beings, a son given by God (Isa. 9:6). That is the mystery of the redemption of the world; everything past and everything future is encompassed here. The infinite mercy of the almighty God comes to us, descends to us in the form of a child, his Son. That this child is born for us, this son is given to us, that this human child and Son of God belongs to me, that I know him, have him, love him, that I am his and he is mine—on this alone my life now depends. A child has our life in his hands.…

How shall we deal with such a child? Have our hands, soiled with daily toil, become too hard and too proud to fold in prayer at the sight of this child? Has our head become too full of serious thoughts … that we cannot bow our head in humility at the wonder of this child? Can we not forget all our stress and struggles, our sense of importance, and for once worship the child, as did the shepherds and the wise men from the East, bowing before the divine child in the manger like children?

“The Government upon the Shoulders of the Child,” Christmas 1940

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

Romans 8:31–34

DAY FIVE

God Became a Child

Mighty God” (Isa. 9:6) is the name of this child. The child in the manger is none other than God himself. Nothing greater can be said: God became a child. In the Jesus child of Mary lives the almighty God. Wait a minute! Don’t speak; stop thinking! Stand still before this statement! God became a child! Here he is, poor like us, miserable and helpless like us, a person of flesh and blood like us, our brother. And yet he is God; he is might. Where is the divinity, where is the might of the child? In the divine love in which he became like us. His poverty in the manger is his might. In the might of love he overcomes the chasm between God and humankind, he overcomes sin and death, he forgives sin and awakens from the dead. Kneel down before this miserable manger, before this child of poor people, and repeat in faith the stammering words of the prophet: “Mighty God!” And he will be your God and your might.

But now it is true that in three days, Christmas will come once again. The great transformation will once again happen. God would have it so. Out of the waiting, hoping, longing world, a world will come in which the promise is given. All crying will be stilled. No tears shall flow. No lonely sorrow shall afflict us anymore, or threaten.

Sermon to a German-speaking church in Havana, Cuba, December 21, 1930

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14[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



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 54–59.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Take a Big Pause and Appreciate Christmas - Purity 1227

Take a Big Pause and Appreciate Christmas - Purity 1227

Purity 1227 12/21/2023 Purity 1227 Podcasr

Purity 1227 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of three beautifully decorated Christmas trees comes to us from yours truly as I stopped for a moment to take in the silence and beauty of the moment as I was completely alone in the lobby of Starpoint Church as I prepared for the Celebrate Freedom Growth Group meeting last night.  

Well, It’s Thursday and after a long day of work yesterday, it was an amazing comfort to go to the church last night and appreciate my church and the journey of faith that God has taken me on. I joke that “Wednesdays are a long day for me” but honestly, I am honored to serve in the house of God in whatever capacity I can and really enjoyed the access I had to be in the church after hours. After taking in the beauty of this church and its Christmas decoration, I prepared for the meeting and walked the halls praying and worshipping the Lord in song. There is nothing quite like the joy and peace that we can have when we are in solitude and approach the Lord with prayer and praise. Last night’s silent and not so silent preparations for the meeting was one big pause to appreciate the fact that its Christmas time and that God is good. 

I know that things are going to ramp up in terms of getting ready or completing our preparations for the big days of Christmas Eve and Christmas, but I would recommend that you take a big pause to sit and reflect on the gift of Christmas and appreciate the blessings you have in life.

Brain science says that when we sit in appreciation or gratitude for five minute increments it builds our emotional resilience and capacity for joy. The Bible tells us to rejoice always and to always give thanks, so it looks like some scientists figured out, although they would never admit it, that God gave us good advice on how to live. He made us after all, and His word is true so if we reflect on its wisdom and put it into practice we will experience joy.  If you don’t believe me, listen to Jesus who said in:

John 15:10-11 (NLT2)
10  When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
11  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!  

It’s the season of joy, but if you don’t stop and appreciate it, you might miss it. So take a big pause, or several big pauses, over the next few days and nights and appreciate this most wonderful time of the year. 

 I am here to encourage your faith, but I also wanted to share our friend in the UK, Mindful of Christ.net’s Lauren Roskilly’s word from Wednesday from this week who reminds us that “Jesus is With You.”  Lauren shares:

John 3:16 (ESV)
16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

And Lauren writes:

 

Jesus is With You.

God made Himself vulnerable by coming into the world as a baby. God experienced the world as we know it so we can relate to Him.

God came through a miracle birth through the Virgin Mary and was named Jesus, Immanuel, which means God with us.

God was literally with us, died, and overcame death to be with us today. He did that for you.

If you believe this in your heart you will be saved. You have Jesus in you today and your destination is eternity in Heaven.

The seal of that promise is the Holy Spirit.

Pray this prayer today:

"Thank you, God, for coming into the world for me. I am sorry for I have sinned. Thank you for saving me from that old life. Save me, renew me, transform me. Help me to keep my mind full and focused on you. Amen"

If that was the first time you prayed this prayer with sincerity, let us know & reply to this email. I have some free resources and guidance for your new journey with Christ.

Have a wonderful CHRISTmas!

Blessings

Lauren x”

Thank You, Lauren. Yes if you prayed that prayer for the first time, welcome to the kingdom, You could contact Lauren and receive here free resources by going to https://mindfulofchrist.net/ .   Or you can contact me at mt4christ247@gmail.com and I will send you some Word documents that you can meditate upon which tell you who you are in Christ and the Statements of Truth of our faith.  

Its great to take a big pause and appreciate the good things in our lives and the best thing is our new life in Christ, so keep walking and talking with God and don’t be surprised if your holidays are filled with joy!

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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 Church Discipline.

Revelation 2:2 (NLT2)
2  “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars.

Today’s verse falls under the tenth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Church Discipline

10. Jesus commends the church for faithful discipline.

Today’s verse tell us that God is watching us and he knows what we have been doing.  God is better than Santa Claus with his magic snowball. God knows all things and beyond determining whether or not we have been naughty or nice, He gives us the opportunity to be forgiven because we are all “naughty” – desperately wicked actually, and we need someone to rescue us from sin and the death we so richly deserve. God provides us with a Savior in Jesus Christ and offers us eternal life in His kingdom.  

But God also expects us to trust Him and to follow Him in today’s verse Jesus commends the church in Ephesus for being hardworking, righteous, and not tolerating evil people. He also commends them for knowing the truth and exposing those who would seek to deceive us. 

Verses like Revelation 2:2 demonstrate to us that we have an obligation as Christians to be holy, to stand up for the truth of God’s word, and to make people accountable for the things that say and do.   We don’t tolerate evil people – we call sin for what it is: sin, and we reject anything that is said that its true or contradicts God’s word. 

God is watching and we should show Him that we understand His truth and love and demonstrate it with the way we live.

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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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

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

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

ADVENT WEEK FOUR – INCARNATION

DAY TWO

Human Beings Become Human Because God Became Human

The figure of Jesus Christ takes shape in human beings. Human beings do not take on an independent form of their own. Rather, what gives them form and maintains them in their new form is always and only the figure of Jesus Christ himself. It is therefore not an imitation, not a repetition of his form, but their own form that takes shape in human beings. Human beings are not transformed into a form that is foreign to them, not into the form of God, but into their own form, a form that belongs to them and is essential to them. Human beings become human because God became human, but human beings do not become God. They could not and cannot bring about that change in their form, but God himself changes his form into human form, so that human beings—though not becoming God—can become human.

In Christ the form of human beings before God was created anew. It was not a matter of place, of time, of climate, of race, of the individual, of society, of religion, or of taste, but rather a question of the life of humanity itself that it recognized in Christ its image and its hope. What happened to Christ happened to humanity.

The whole Christian story is strange. Frederick Buechner describes the Incarnation as “a kind of vast joke whereby the creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers.” He concludes, “Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.”

But we have taken the idea as seriously as a child can. America is far from spiritually monolithic, but the vast backdrop of our culture is Christian, and for most of us it is the earliest faith we know. The “idea of the God-man” is not strange or scandalous, because it first swam in milk and butter on the top of our oatmeal decades ago. At that age, many things were strange, though most were more immediately palpable. A God-filled baby in a pile of straw was a pleasant image, but somewhat theoretical compared with the heart-stopping exhilaration of a visit from Santa Claus. The way a thunderstorm ripped the night sky, the hurtling power of the automobile Daddy drove so bravely, the rapture of ice cream—how could the distant Incarnation compete with those?

We grew up with the Jesus story, until we outgrew it. The last day we walked out of Sunday School may be the last day we seriously engaged this faith.

Frederica Mathewes-Green,

At the Corner of East and Now

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:11–12[1]

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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



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 52–53.