Quests for Circumstantial Happiness vs True Peace,
Comfort, and Joy - Purity 1229
Purity 1229 12/23/2023 Purity 1229 Podcast
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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
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
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.
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 )
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.
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.
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
The Unfathomably Wise Counselor
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
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.
The One Who
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
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.
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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,
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
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.