The Glorious Pathway to a Beautiful Ending – Purity 735
Purity 735 05/19/2022 Purity 735 Podcast
Today’s photo of a boardwalk pathway running along the waters of the Hudson River comes to us from a friend who visited the Saugerties Lighthouse back on April 28th. Even though I can’t see the lighthouse in this photo, I trust that my friend was telling their friends on social media the truth and that if we followed in their footsteps we would find the lighthouse at the end of this path and that we would undoubtedly see it and enjoy its beauty as we walked toward it.
Well, it’s Thursday, and by now it shouldn’t surprise any of my friends that I am sharing another photo of a pathway today because Thursdays nights have been the day on which I have taught and encouraged others to follow the path of Christian Discipleship to experience their freedom in Christ and to overcome besetting sins and negative emotions that prevent Christians from experiencing the peace and joy that is to be expected when we walk in the Spirit.
Although I first “believed” and made Jesus my Lord and Savior back in 2010, and I set about coming to know what His word said and what being a Christian meant in earnest in the years leading up to it, I didn’t really “put my money where my mouth was”, I didn’t really repent until 2015, when Pastor Bob Costello started a Christian Recovery program at my local church, and I decided to trust the Lord to free me from the bondage of addiction that I had put myself in since being a young adult. We are talking about 20 hard core years of willful enjoyment of alcohol and drugs here. And not only did I think I was unable to stop, I frankly didn’t want to stop.
Although I had been a Christian for a few years, I hadn’t given up my besetting sin even though I was sincerely trying to seek the Lord. I not only attended church twice a week, I also served in the church as an audio visual tech. I went to Bible study once a week. I already had gotten my Associates degree in Biblical Studies and was working on completing my Bachelor’s degree in Bible College!
But even though I had given myself to all of these pursuits and had tried to repent of my addictions on my own with little success, in 2015 – I publicly let everyone know that I was going into recovery and trusting the Lord to help me overcome the vices I thought I would never give up.
The Lord is faithful and if you humble yourself and surrender to His will for your life, He will lift you up and give you the strength to walk away from the darkness of your past.
So after successfully completing the program, I began teaching on Thursday Nights at the recovery ministry and eventually transitioned to teaching Christian Discipleship in 2021. And tonight I will continue in my endeavors to encourage Christians to apply their faith to their lives by facilitating the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course on Zoom for Freedom in Christ Ministries.
I share these messages of encouragement on the blog and podcast and volunteer my time to share the message of Freedom in Christ because I have “been there” and “done that”. I have walked the path of Christian Discipleship through some very dark valleys in my life’s journey and I know that faith in Jesus Christ and living according to the life principles set forth in the word of God is the pathway that is rich in meaning and purpose, is paved with the fruit of the Spirit, and just happens to lead to everlasting life.
I know that the word is God is true because I have experienced the Lord’s presence and guidance in my life and simply have no choice but to give Him honor and praise and encourage others to come to know the Lord and to experience their freedom in Christ for themselves.
Somewhere along the path, early in my walk, I fell in love with the Barlow Girl’s song “Beautiful Ending”. I am sharing a link to a YouTube video of it, on the blog (https://youtu.be/XO0lBwYCehc) because my stating the lyrics probably won’t do it justice. But the song says:
Has taken so many
Love lost cause they all
Forgot who You were
And it scares me to think
That I would choose
My life over You
Oh, my selfish heart
Divides me from You
It tears us apart
So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
Oh, why do I
Let myself let go
Of Hands that painted the stars
And hold tears that fall?
And the pride of my heart
Makes me forget
It's not me but You
Who makes the heart beat
I'm lost without You
And dying from me
So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
Will my life
Find me by Your side?
Your love is beautiful
At the end of it all
I wanna be in Your arms”
And repeat! Bridge, Chorus, Chorus.
That song was a huge inspiration for me in those early days of my faith because it pointed to my ultimate salvation, of when I would see God face to face. But it also stretched my heart to love the Lord, for the gift of His forgiveness and the power He had poured into me with the Holy Spirit. It not only gave me hope for that final destination, it gave me hope for overcoming the many problems in my life by walking with Him. Is that not in the song? Must have been the Holy Spirit encouraging me!
And so I sang that song. I lived that song. And I saw the beautiful ending of my struggles come into sight the more I followed the Lord. And even in the darkest days, it drove me to believe that I would find a beautiful ending, not only in heaven, but here on earth.
And can I tell you? I found it. But guess what this is a pathway. Our journey is not over. I keep walking and talking with God because I know that there is another “beautiful ending” somewhere down this road and many more before I see the Lord face to face.
So let me encourage you. God has a beautiful plan for your life. There may be great suffering in our journey but the beauty of our path begins with the reception of the gift of our forgiveness and a new and eternal life.
If we forsake the gift, if we accept Jesus and then just go back to the normalcy of our dark pre-Christ existence, if we fail to answer His call on our life, we will lose sight of the beautiful thing He has done for us and we will not walk into the beautiful things that He wants us to see before we see Him face to face, before we are in His arms.
So turn from the world and start, or keep on, walking and talking with God. Surrender to His will and guidance. He has beautiful things for you to see. So start walking in His direction, because even though I know you can’t see it yet, I swear that your beautiful endings are down this pathway and I promise that you will eventually see them in the distance, reach them and then move on to the next beautiful ending that the Lord has for you, before you get to that ultimate beautiful ending which is really just another beginning as we will live, rule, and reign with God for ever and ever. Amen.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.
Today’s Bible verse reminds us that when we understand what it means to fear the Lord, we will gain knowledge of Him.
Pretty simple huh, the Word means what it says. Uh Oh, Are we supposed to fear the Lord?
Hey, let’s keep it real life and death are scary matters. And the Word of God is filled with the Lord’s warnings to be right with Him or be subject to His wrath.
Yeah, Hell isn’t Satan’s kingdom. It’s his prison and God is the one who sends him, and everyone else who rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior, there.
So yes having a healthy fear of the all powerful and holy God of all creation is wisdom. However, because God graciously offers us forgiveness and adoption into His kingdom through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, we don’t have to be afraid of God.
God loves us and wants us to come to Him. His warnings of His judgement and wrath are done out of love. He wants us to know the consequences of rebellion and denying Him.
In the world they have “scared straight” programs, where trouble youth are brought into prisons to see the harsh reality of where their criminal behaviors will ultimately lead them. The intention isn’t just to terrify the children with the possibilities of confinement, violence, and degradation that are part of life in prison. The intention is to cause them to see the error of their ways and to avoid the consequences.
The fear of the Lord is supposed to draw us to surrender to Him and to follow His wisdom and ways.
So the fear of the wrath of God is one aspect of gaining knowledge of God.
But another aspect of this “fear of the Lord” should include the simple but awesome fact that God is Creator. Think of it. As big as this universe is, as old as it is, God was before it all. He imagined and created it all.
I sometimes get tripped up just thinking about the vast multitudes of people on the earth and consider the fact that God knows everyone of them and the intentions of their hearts.
The fear in this sense is “respect”. How great and might is He! So we are to have a healthy fear of God, His ways are higher than our ways but He calls us to be with Him and to know Him and it is an offer we should accept.
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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
Inspiring Sacrifice for Lesser Causes
In fact, in wartime sinners often rise to remarkable levels of sacrifice for causes that cannot compare with Christ. The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is. No war on earth was ever fought for a greater cause or a greater king.
But oh, what bold risks and daring sacrifices these lesser causes have inspired! On February 19, 1944, the battle for Iwo Jima began. It was a barren, eight-mile-square island six hundred miles south of Tokyo, guarded by 22,000 Japanese prepared to fight to the death (which they did). They were protecting two air strips that America needed in the strategic effort to contain Japanese aggression after Pearl Harbor and preserve the liberty that America cherished. It was a high cause, and the courageous sacrifice was stunning.
The hard statistics show the sacrifice made by Colonel Johnson’s 2nd Battalion: 1,400 boys [many still teenagers] landed on D-Day; 288 replacements were provided as the battle went on, a total of 1,688. Of these, 1,511 had been killed or wounded. Only 177 walked off the island. And of the final 177, 91 had been wounded at least once and returned to battle.
It had taken twenty-two crowded transports to bring the 5th Division to the island. The survivors fit comfortably onto eight departing ships.
The American boys had killed about 21,000 Japanese, but suffered more than 26,000 casualties doing so. This would be the only battle in the Pacific where the invaders suffered higher casualties than the defenders.
The Marines fought in World War II for forty-three months. Yet in one month on Iwo Jima, one third of their total deaths occurred. They left behind the Pacific’s largest cemeteries: nearly 6,800 graves in all; mounds with their crosses and stars. Thousands of families would not have the solace of a body to bid farewell: just the abstract information that the Marine had “died in the performance of his duty” and was buried in a plot, aligned in a row with numbers on his grave. Mike lay in Plot 3, Row 5, Grave 694; Harlon in Plot 4, Row 6, Grave 912; Franklin in Plot 8, Row 7, Grave 2189.
When I think of Mike, Harlon, and Franklin there, I think of the message someone had chiseled outside the cemetery:
When you go home
Tell them for us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today
O Lord, Don’t Let Me Waste My Life!
I am deeply moved by the courage and carnage on Iwo Jima. As I read the pages of this history, everything in me cries out, “O Lord, don’t let me waste my life!” Let me come to the end—whether soon or late—and be able to say to a family, a church, a city, and the unreached peoples of the earth, “For your tomorrow, I gave my today. Not just for your tomorrow on earth, but for the countless tomorrows of your ever-increasing gladness in God.” The closer I looked at the individual soldiers in this World War II history, the more I felt a passion that my life would count, and that I would be able to die well.
As rainy morning wore into afternoon and the fighting bogged down, the Marines continued to take casualties. Often it was the corpsmen [medics] themselves who died as they tried to preserve life. William Hoopes of Chattanooga was crouching beside a medic named Kelly, who put his head above a protective ridge and placed binoculars to his eyes—just for an instant—to spot a sniper who was peppering his area. In that instant the sniper shot him through the Adam’s apple. Hoopes, a pharmacist’s mate himself, struggled frantically to save his friend. “I took my forceps and reached into his neck to grasp the artery and pinch it off,” Hoopes recalled. “His blood was spurting. He had no speech but his eyes were on me. He knew I was trying to save his life. I tried everything in the world. I couldn’t do it. I tried. The blood was so slippery. I couldn’t get the artery. I was trying so hard. And all the while he just looked at me. He looked directly into my face. The last thing he did as the blood spurts became less and less was to pat me on the arm as if to say, ‘That’s all right.’ Then he died.”
In this heart-breaking moment I want to be Hoopes and I want to be Kelly. I want to be able to say to suffering and perishing people, “I tried everything in the world.… I was trying so hard.” And I want to be able to say to those around me when I die, “It’s all right. To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
When the Trifling Fog Clears
At these moments, when the trifling fog of life clears and I see what I am really on earth to do, I groan over the petty pursuits that waste so many lives—and so much of mine. Just think of the magnitude of sports—a whole section of the daily newspaper. But there is no section on God. Think of the endless resources for making your home and garden more comfortable and impressive. Think of how many tens of thousands of dollars you can spend to buy more car than you need. Think of the time and energy and conversation that go into entertainment and leisure and what we call “fun stuff.” And add to that now the computer that artificially recreates the very games that are already so distant from reality; it is like a multi-layered dreamworld of insignificance expanding into nothingness.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship