Boxing Day – Christmas is Over But the New Life Continues - Purity 924
Purity 924 12/26/2022 Purity 924 Podcast
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Today’s photo of blue and cloud filled skies over my neighbor’s old barn and a snow bordered Waite Rd comes to us from yours truly as I thought to bring my phone with me yesterday as I took the dog for a walk and decided to capture some sights from the journey along the way.
Well, It’s Christmas – Observed Holiday - Monday – and while a good deal of us will have the grace and mercy of a three day weekend because Christmas fell on a Sunday, that won’t be the case for all of us. I offer the following to employers who have the unenviable task of having to call their workers back to reality today, you can text or send the following:
“Christmas Day is Christmas Day,
but if it’s not the 25th,
you’re expected to work today!”
While I had a positively blissful Christmas Day, as TammyLyn and I spent our first Christmas together as man and wife in relative solitude and peace, and will be enjoying the day off today because of the “legal holiday observance” today, a part of me is just as happy that Christmas is over!
While some have told me in the last 24 hours that “Christmas lasts until New Year’”s and I don’t want to start a fight, I have to keep it real and tell you that no matter what time off you have or what Christmas themed activities you may persist in for the next week, “It’s over Johnny… Christmas is OVER!
Today is “Boxing Day”, DING-DING, so rejoice over your cherished memories of holiday bliss or pack up your disappointments and bind them in your “bitterness box” or exchange them for store credit at your local or online retailer but either way don’t deceive yourself by living in some temporary state of denial by being oppressed by a false spirit of Christmas cheer.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to rain on your parade of peace or try to discourage you from enjoying today or any other time off you may have off this week. Trust me, I have been blessed with being able to arrange from a Christmas to New Years Staycation and will be utilizing every bit of the time to rest, relax, and reflect on the year that was 2022 and to look ahead to what the new year will bring. I just don’t want to encourage anyone to deny reality in the name of the “holiday spirit” that will cause us to lose focus on what’s important to us and to overindulge the flesh.
Remember the definition of a “sin” is to “miss the mark” – to veer of course of what God would have us do, to do things that directly go against God’s word, create idols out of other things, or to leave undone the good works that God has prepared for us. While it is fully acceptable to enjoy a holiday feast and some childish antics, on Christmas Day, it is not necessarily wise to “treat every day like Christmas” if that means we persist in walking in the flesh or leaving responsibilities undone.
I feasted and admittedly made some Jolly borderline jokes over the course of the last 48 hours that were acceptable for the holiday celebration but if I persisted in acting like I did on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I would soon feel that I have deceived myself and have sabotaged my efforts to establish and progress in a lifestyle that promotes good physical, mental, and spiritual health.
God’s ways are higher than are ways and even though the ways of the world and the tendency to “do what ever I want, when I want” may not always seem sinister if we fail to follow the Lord faithfully, we will experience the negative consequences of going astray. Extra pounds, physical and mental pain, possible depression, guilt, and spiritual dryness are all waiting for those who walk in the flesh for too long and I’m telling myself and all my friends to forget the holly and the folly of the traps that “secular Christmas” has sprung on us and to get back on track by walking and talking with God by being aware of what we are doing and agreeing to walk in the Spirit from this day forward.
Unfortunately, the spirit of peace that we establish in dealing with our secular friends and family can easily lead us to compromise our convictions and give people the impression that we aren’t any different, and thus our faith is merely one option of many ways to live, and that choosing a lifestyle of saintliness over sin is no better, and thus extremely puzzling. In the name of Christmas, I tried to be friendly and accepting and fear that my efforts could easily lead some to feel that I have no objection to the way they live and maybe that “my faith” is as much a curse as a blessing as it “prevents” me from “being free” like them.
I won’t name names but I have friends and family that are living far from God and whose lifestyles go directly against what God’s word says and when I reflect upon the fact they would enthusiastically celebrate “Christmas” but would fail to follow the ways of the reason for the season it causes me great pain to contemplate their spiritual blindness and their final destination.
I can easily imagine Christ telling many “Christmas” enthusiasts that He never knew them. Jesus warned those who enjoyed feasts with Him and who heard His words but never obeyed them about the dangers of hell.
Luke 13:26-28 (NLT2)
26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.
Bible verses like these and the scores of others that indicate that our saving relationship with the Lord includes the fruit of obedience to His commands caused me to see that I needed to repent and to forsake my “walking in the flesh”.
I can’t think of anything more tragic than people who had enthusiastically celebrated “Christmas” each year of their lives coming to the shocking realization that their participation in religious traditions and holiday celebrations didn’t establish their peace and new life with God. Those “going through the motions” of faith at Christmas or Easter time to satisfy a familial or religious obligation will discover that the what they always suspected was true. They really weren’t a Christian. They worshipped other things, philosophies, or themselves but they never put their faith in Christ in any real way and the lack of the fruit of the Spirit or good works that would give glory to God and specifically point to Jesus in their lives will testify against them.
Faith in Christ is a matter of life and death.
So with Christmas being over today. Let’s remember to keep on walking and talking with God.
If Christmas caused you to stray from your faith a little bit by indulging in flesh or by making peace with people who live in darkness in the spirit of the holiday, show the authenticity of your faith by recommitting yourself to walk in the Spirit and to seek the Lord’s presence and purpose for you in the last days of this year and the year ahead.
If Christmas caused you to draw closer to God, even if it was just for a moment in church or through reflecting on the mystery of our faith, consider that to be the Lord’s call on your life to worship Him in spirit and in truth, to make Christ you Lord and Savior and to follow Him with the way you live your life.
Or if you just went through the motions and didn’t really get anything out of Christmas and have some real doubts of whether you believe at all, or know that you don’t believe, if you’ve read this far, I have to believe that a part of you wants to believe, that you want to live. To you I would ask you to pray to God to reveal Himself to you and would invite you to diligently pursue the truth about Christianity and to follow wherever the evidence leads you.
The word tells us the if we seek the Lord we will find Him and if we follow the Lord we will live and experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
While it may be harsh to declare that Christmas is over, I want to be clear that “The Day” may be over but our lives in Christ never end and the peace, love, and joy of the Spirit will be with us all the days of our lives when we follow Him.
Somebody told me that the Christmas songs on a pop station that we have been listening to would continue until New Years. Because Christmas is over and because it’s back to “life and back to reality” for me as I will resume the disciplines of a Christian Discipleship as per usual on a Monday morning, I was up early and discovered that this “fact” about the pop station was false.
Although this station was playing a steady stream of “holiday songs” since before Thanksgiving, I’m not the only one declaring the Christmas party to be over, as I was greeted by Wilson Philip’s “Hold On” this morning. While the lyrics are partly right that “there is pain” and that we do play a part in changing our lives, it really depends on what we are “holding on to” that will make the difference in whether we will live.
If we are holding on to pleasant circumstances or the way of the world, we will see eventually that we were holding on to nothing of value.
But if we hold onto our faith in Christ and to our commitment to follow Him where ever He leads us, we will discover our life and purpose with Him goes on forever.
So let go of that which is fading away and hold on to what matters, The Day is over and while we can play and enjoy Christmas like a child, the Lord never called us to stay that way.
I’m taking a vacation from sharing the “Bible Verse of the Day from the “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”, again. But I would invite you to read the “20 Christmas Bible Verses” that was compiled by Concordia University’s Adriana Thompson last year, by clicking on the link you will find on today’s blog. (https://www.concordia.edu/blog/20-christmas-bible-verses.html). I share it this one last time, because I am on vacation, and because some of us really need to know that Christmas isn’t about the things of this world and it is my hope that the Holy Spirit will use His word to light a spark of faith in someone who seeks God here.
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 Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship
The Saints, concludes
The sanctification of the church-community thus proves itself by a conduct which is worthy of the gospel. The church-community produces the fruit of the Spirit and is subject to the discipline of the scriptural word. In all that, it remains the church-community of those whose sanctification is Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:30) and who journey toward the day of his coming.
This brings us to the third hallmark of true sanctification. All sanctification is directed toward being able to stand firm on the day of Jesus Christ. “Pursue … holiness[,] without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Sanctification always relates to the end of time. Its goal is not to pass the test when judged by the world or even by the person being sanctified, but to pass the test before the Lord. In their own eyes and in the eyes of the world the holiness of the saints may appear as sin, their faith as unbelief, their love as cruelty, and their discipline as weakness. Their true holiness remains hidden. But Jesus Christ himself is preparing his church-community so that it will be able to stand before him. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25–27; Col. 1:22; Eph. 1:4). Only the sanctified church-community is able to stand before Jesus Christ. He who reconciled God’s enemies and laid down his life for the godless did this in order that his church-community remain holy unto the day of his second coming. This happens by the church being sealed with the Holy Spirit. The saints are being sealed within the church-community’s realm of holiness and preserved unto the day of Jesus Christ. On that day they are not to be found defiled and full of shame, but they will appear before him holy and blameless in spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23). “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9–11). Therefore, do not count on God’s grace if you intend to persist in sin! On the day of Jesus Christ only the sanctified church-community will escape the wrath of God. For the Lord will judge us each according to our works without partiality. For each person’s works will become apparent, and to each the Lord will give “recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:6ff.; Matt. 16:27). Whatever has not already received its judgment here on earth will not remain hidden on judgment day, but must come to light. Who will then stand firm? Those whose works are found to be good. Not the hearers but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rom. 2:13). According to the Lord’s own saying, only those who do the will of his heavenly Father shall enter the kingdom of heaven.
Since we shall be judged according to our works, we stand under the command to do the ‘good work’. The fears we have about doing good works as a pretext to justify our evil works is a notion which certainly is foreign to scripture. Scripture never sets faith over against the good work which hinders and destroys faith. Grace and deeds belong together. There is no faith without the good work, just as there is no good work without faith.  Christians need to do good works for the sake of their salvation. For whoever is found doing evil works shall not see the kingdom of God. Thus the good work is the goal of being a Christian. In this life, there is only one thing of real importance, namely, how we can give a good account of ourselves in the last judgment. And because all persons will be judged according to their works, it is of utmost importance that Christians be prepared to do good works. Thus our becoming a new creation in Christ also has as its goal the doing of good works. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are God’s work, created in Christ Jesus for good works, for which God has prepared us beforehand to be our way of life” (Eph. 2:8–10; cf. 2 Tim. 2:21; 3:17; Titus 1:16; 3:1, 8, 14). On this point everything is crystal clear. Our goal is to do the good work which God demands. God’s law remains in effect and must be fulfilled (Rom. 3:31). This is being accomplished through the good work. However, there is but one work which deserves that designation, namely, God’s work in Christ Jesus. We have been saved through God’s own work in Christ, rather than through our own works. Thus we never derive any glory from our own works, for we ourselves are God’s work. But this is why we have become a new creation in Christ: to attain good works in him.
All our good works are nothing but God’s own good works for which God has already prepared us. Thus good works are, on the one hand, demanded of us for the sake of our salvation; and they are, on the other hand, always only the works which God is doing in us. They are God’s gift. It is indeed we who are required to persist in carrying out good works; it is we who are called to good works at any moment. And yet we know that with our good works we could never stand fast before God’s judgment, but that it is Christ alone and his work to which we cling in faith. Thus to those who are in Christ Jesus, God promises good works with which they will be able to stand fast on that day; God promises to preserve them in the state of sanctification unto the day of Jesus. All we can do is to trust in this promise of God because it is God’s word, and then go and persist in carrying out the good works for which God has prepared us.
Our good work is thus completely hidden from our eyes. Our sanctification remains hidden from us until the day when everything will be revealed. Those who attempt to see something here, who want to see their own identity revealed rather than wait in patience, will already have had their reward. In the very midst of the presumably visible progress in our sanctification in which we would like to rejoice, we are most of all called to repent and to recognize our works as thoroughly sinful. However, we are called to rejoice ever more in our Lord. God alone knows our good works, while we know only God’s good work and listen to God’s command. We journey under God’s grace, we walk in God’s commandments, and we sin. There is indeed no denying the fact that the new righteousness, the sanctification, the light which ought to shine remains completely hidden from us. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. But we have faith and trust that “the one who began the good work in us will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). On that day, Jesus Christ himself will reveal to us the good works of which we had been unaware. Without knowing it, we have fed him, provided him with drink, given him clothes, and visited him; and without knowing it, we have turned him away. On that day, we will be greatly astonished, and we will recognize that it is not our works which endure here but only the work which God, in God’s own time, accomplished through us without our intention and effort (Matt. 25:31ff.). Once again, the only thing left for us is to look away from ourselves and to look to the one who has already accomplished everything for us, and to follow this one.
Those who have faith are being justified; those who are justified are being sanctified; those who are sanctified are being saved on judgment day. This is not because our faith, our righteousness, and our sanctification, to the extent that they are ours, would be anything other than sin. Rather, it is because Jesus Christ has been made our “righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that those who boast, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:30).
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 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.
My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via 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)
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship