All the More - Purity 866
Purity 866 10/19/2022 Purity 866 Podcast
Today’s photo of the shadows of trees stretching over the plains that lead to the autumn decorated hump of Willard Mountain in the distance under a blue sky with a cloud formation that in my imagination looks like Godzilla reaching out towards us comes from yours truly as I stopped long enough to capture this scene as I drove back up Watie Road on my way back to Riverhouse on Sunday. I took this photo to capture those autumn colors on the mountain and was going to crop out the rest to highlight that feature but now that I see all that is going on in this photo I decided to leave it as is.
Well, it’s Wednesday again and I share today's photo because of that hump of Willard mountain adequately represents the midpoint of another work week but I love that this photo has shown me that sometimes there's more than meets the eye, that sometimes we think we know what we're looking for only to discover that God has so much more for us.
Last night I facilitated the freedom in Christ course again and shared with the participants a photo of myself from 2017 where I was tabling for the recovery ministry I was doing at the time and it showed me smiling and wearing a Celebrate Freedom T-shirt and what must have been at least an additional 30 pounds of me.
The photo had come up in my Facebook memories from five years ago and when I saw it II was shocked and marveled over how I had freedom over alcohol and drugs in 2017 and was obviously motivated and happy with my freedom enough to go out and table for my frecministry but I recall all the things I didn't know that I needed freedom from that I hadn't achieved yet. When I saw the photo I had laughed at it and said wow I really needed more freedom, you know? There was more freedom to be had and I didn’t even know it.
I shared it with these participants last night to demonstrate that our freedom and our walk with Christ is a progressive thing. That the freedom that they may experience through the freedom in Christ course can be significant but that doesn't mean that the freedom they achieve is the only freedom that they can have. I shared the photo to encourage them that after they finished the course they should continue with the life of Christian discipleship to discover all the things that the Lord has for them.
In 2017, I had many things that I was in bondage to that I didn't quite realize at the time but that the Lord made me aware of and gave me the power to overcome in the years that followed. But I never would have known this freedom and victory that I have today if I had just stayed content to stay in recovery ministry and claim that victory and only speak about that. If I had stayed complacent and stopped walking with the Lord and stopped examining my life I would have not known the great freedom and victory that I have today. And as I walk with the Lord today in 2022 I know that there's other things that I I can work on that I can overcome.
As I've said in the past, after I realized that the Lord was willing to do the impossible in my life I asked “What's next Lord?” as I've continued to walk in the spirit I realized that there are no limits to what the Lord can do and I stopped trying to figure out what was the next thing a long time ago and just continue to do what I do day-to-day and remain open for the Lord to lead me in whatever direction he chooses.
Now just to be clear here I don't get an audible word from the Lord. Although sometimes the promptings in my spirit sure sounds like God, I can't claim that everything I “felt I was to do” was the Lord’s direct commands to me.
The truth is that walking in the Spirit can be a process of trial and error because allthough we have the Spirit of God living in us, we also have ideas and dreams of our own that we have carried with us from our Pre-Christ existence or that the world and society values that influence us and we may think that we can discern God’s will perfectly only to discover that things don’t work out like we thought they would, that the things we decide to “do for the Lord” may not have been divinely inspired because they weren’t successful.
But our failures are part of this path of Christian Discipleship, so rather than worrying about whether or not the “callings” we get are divinely inspired or not, I would advise others to “give it a try, and see what happens” rather than not doing something and be left always wondering “what if”. When we step out in faith and try new things or take on challenges that we struggle with, the Lord can use the process to make us grow into the people He wants us to be: people who live by faith in the power of The Holy Spirit rather than people who have it all figured out and only do what is safe.
Right now there are lies that we are believing, still, that we need to stop believing. Like “I don’t have faith like ____” or “Overcoming X isn’t the same as overcoming Y” or The Lord blessed them with freedom and victory but He hasn’t blessed me” or “You have to eat” or “I only eat the food I like” or “I only do the things I like and that make me happy”
Now, if any of those statements ring a bell or confound you or even anger you, we might have found an area where there is more freedom to be had.
I know a person who is constantly making “I can’t” or “I don’t” statements that are subtly defining their lives. I can’t really go into detail about what this person is all about but I if I wanted I could give you a very long list of all the things they:
In my perception of this person, I just see a whole lot of resistance and I don’t see any joy. I see someone who looks to other people or circumstances to make them happy and surprisingly as much as that seems to be the only thing that occupies their minds: what pleases them, some how they are continually in a state of discontent. And once you think of applying a solution to “their problem” that has worked in the past, they shoot it down as “something they don’t want today” or “don’t feel like” today. And instead of telling us, what will satisfy them, they hem and haw, expecting others to figure out, somehow magically, what will make them happy, what they “feel like” today.
This person, and people like them, are slaves to their circumstantial happiness because they are in bondage to their preferences and the resistance they put up to new things and their utter failure to take personal responsibility for themselves.
But there is great news here! There is lots of freedom to be won here! If they were so inclined, the Lord could lead them to cast fears and anxiety, the Lord could shift their focus off of themselves to consider Him and others, and the Lord could reveal to them that life is not all about pleasing ourselves.
So what do you do with somebody like this?
You try to encourage them to seek the Lord and to examine their lives according to what He says is true and to be open minded to consider all the things that He would lead them into. And you pray for them.
People like this are blinded by the lies of this world and trapped in a perspective that considers only themselves. They have mirror vision – where they only see themselves – and they rarely let anyone else into their frame.
I think we all suffer from this to some extent, so none of us gets off this hook. But the remedy to this self-centered ideation is to consider the Big Picture that the Lord reveals to us and to realize that what the Lord has for us is more than our personal preferences and likes. The Lord has much more than we could ever imagine, but we won’t know it unless we pursue His truth and His presence.
So that’s why I say, keep walking and talking with God, because He will tell you what you need to know and He will invite you to follow Him where you should go.
We currently don’t know all the lies we are believing. We don’t know all that we can be “free from” or all that we can be “free to” but if we keep seeking the Lord and His will for our lives, one day we will be able to look back and marvel over how far we have come and how much the Lord has given us. So keep going and see and experience, all “the more” that the Lord has in store for you.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are
Romans 15:5-7 (NLT2)
5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.
6 Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
Today’s Bible verses encourages us who follow the Lord into the complete harmony that followers of Jesus Christ can know when we join together to give Him praise and glory and accept each other as Christ has accepted each of us.
One of the biggest challenges of the Christian Walk is being discerning with what the Lord has revealed to us and how we are to interact with others now that we “know the TRUTH”.
Because we are in Christ, we are sensitive to the Lord’s will for our lives to be sanctified and to repent of sin and worldliness. But while we can have this conviction in our lives, other Christians or our friends and family may not have received the same message and in order to maintain harmony and unity in the body of Christ, we may have to learn to use that conviction to transform us and be accepting of our brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t seem to be there just yet, and we have to be even more careful with God’s Truth with our unsaved loved ones.
I haven’t been discerning and in my zeal to share the gospel I have said some pretty harsh things that were true but somehow didn’t lead people to Christ or a deeper relationship with God. It turns out I am not the Holy Spirit and I have learned that His job is not my job and, while I will speak the truth in love when I feel His leading, I have learned to get out of His way.
When we gather as a church, I am not to judge my brother by their supposed sins and offer unsolicited advice on how they can be grow. As today’s verse says, we are to come together and accept one another in peace as Christ has accepted us and should concern ourselves with giving God praise and glory. That’s what the corporate gathering is for to praise the Lord and to encourage one another to keep in the faith.
So, accept others, warts and all, encourage them to follow the Lord, and let The Holy Spirit do His work but be ready in case He calls you into service to help someone in their walk.
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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
The Sermon on the Mount
On the “Extraordinary” of Christian Life
The Visible Church-Community
The other possibility, of course, is that salt loses its taste, that it stops being salt. It ceases to be effective. Then it really is no longer good for anything except to be thrown away. That is the special distinction of salt. Everything has to be salted. But salt that has lost its taste can never again be salty. Everything, even the most spoiled stuff, can be saved by salt. Only salt which has lost its saltiness is hopelessly spoiled. That is the other reality of salt. That is the threatening judgment which hangs over the disciples’ community. The earth is supposed to be saved by the community. But the community that has stopped being what it is will be hopelessly lost. The call of Jesus Christ means being salt of the earth or being destroyed. It means following Christ or—the call itself will destroy the one called. There is no second opportunity to be saved. There cannot be such a salvation.
Jesus’ call promises the community of disciples not only the invisible efficacy of salt, but the visible shine of light. “You are the light”—again, not: “you should be the light”! The call itself has made them light. It cannot be any other way. They are a light which is seen. If it were different, then the call would not be revealed in them. What an impossible, senseless goal it would be for Jesus’ disciples, for these disciples, to want to become the light of the world! They have already been made into light by the call, in discipleship. Again, not “you have the light,” but “you are it!” The light is not something given to you as for example your preaching, but you yourselves are it. He who speaks directly of himself by saying, “I am the Light,” says directly to his disciples, “You are the light in your whole lives, as long as you remain faithful to the call. Because you are the light, you can stay hidden no longer, even if you wanted to. Light shines, and the city on the hill cannot be hidden.” It simply cannot. It is visible far into the countryside, no matter whether it is a strong city, a guarded fortress, or a crumbling ruin. This city on the hill—what Israelite would not be reminded of Jerusalem, the city built on high!—is the community of disciples. With all this, the followers of Jesus are no longer faced with a decision. The only decision possible for them has already been made. Now they have to be what they are, or they are not following Jesus. The followers are the visible community of faith; their discipleship is a visible act which separates them from the world—or it is not discipleship. And discipleship is as visible as light in the night, as a mountain in the flatland.
To flee into invisibility is to deny the call. Any community of Jesus which wants to be invisible is no longer a community that follows him. “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand”—there is that other possibility, that the light will be shaded intentionally, that it is extinguished under the basket, that the call is denied. The bushel basket, under which the visible community hides its light, can be fear of human beings just as much as it can be intentional conformity with the world for some arbitrary purposes, whether it be missionary purposes or whether it arises from misguided love for people! But it may also be—and that is even more dangerous—a so-called Reformation theology, which even dares to call itself theologia crucis [theology of the cross] and whose signature is that it prefers a “humble” invisibility in the form of total conformity to the world over “Pharisaic” visibility. In that case the identifying mark of the community ceases to be an extraordinary visibility. Instead, it is identified by its fitness to function within the justitia civilis. Here the criterion for Christianity is considered to be that the light should not shine. But Jesus says, “Let your light shine before the Gentiles.” In any case, it is the light of Jesus’ call which is shining. But what sort of a light is it in which those followers of Jesus, those disciples of the Beatitudes, are to shine? What sort of light should come from that place, to which only the disciples have a claim? What do the invisibility and hiddenness of Jesus’ cross, under which the disciples stand, have in common with the light which is to shine? Shouldn’t it follow from the hiddenness of the cross that the disciples should likewise be hidden, and not stand in the light? It is an evil sophistry which uses the cross of Jesus to derive from it the church’s call to conformation to the world. Does not a simple listener recognize quite clearly that precisely at the cross something extraordinary has become visible? Or is that all nothing but justitia civilis? Is the cross conformation to the world? To the shock of everyone else, is the cross not something which became outrageously visible in the complete darkness? Is it not visible enough that Christ is rejected and must suffer, that his life ends outside the city gates on the hill of shame? Is that invisibility?
The good works of the disciples should be seen in this light. “Not you, but your good works should be seen,” says Jesus. What are these good works which can be seen in this light? They can be no other works than those Jesus himself created in the disciples when he called them, when he made them the light of the world under his cross—poverty, being strangers, meekness, peacemaking, and finally being persecuted and rejected, and in all of them the one work: bearing the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is that strange light which shines there, by which alone all these good works of the disciples can be seen. Nowhere does it say that God becomes visible, but that the “good works” will be seen, and that the people will praise God for these works. The cross becomes visible, and the works of the cross become visible. The want and renunciation of the blessed become visible. But human beings can never be praised for the cross and for such a faith-community, only God can be praised. If the good works were all sorts of human virtues, then the disciples, not the Father, would be praised for them. As it is, there is nothing to praise in the disciple who bears the cross, or in the faith-community whose light so shines, which stands visibly on the mountain—only the Father in heaven can be praised for their “good works.” That is why they see the cross and the community of the cross, and have faith in God. There, then, shines the light of the resurrection.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 112–114.