Labels

Showing posts with label Contentment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Contentment. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Joy and Peace in the Great-in-Between - Purity 889


Joy and Peace in the Great-in-Between -  Purity 889  

Purity 889 11/15/2022 Purity 889 Podcast

Purity 889 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a pair of trees under a blazing late afternoon sun on the shores of the Niagara River comes to us from yours truly as I made a point of stopping at Fort Schlosser, or the “Upper Niagara Intake Observation Area” while departing Niagara Falls NY back on Thursday.  

Well, there are two trees in this photo, so I guess that makes it a natural selection to represent the second day of our work week, Two for Tuesday? Anyway, I have been to Niagara Falls on a few other occasions in the past but have never stopped at “Fort Schlosser” and so I made a point to do so as the last stop, well almost, it should have been the last stop, before going to my hostel accommodations in Buffalo.  

I can understand why I never stopped at For Schlosser before. After the grandeur of Niagara Falls, the Upper Niagara Intake Observation Area can be a little underwhelming but in truth it is a beautiful site, with wide open spaces to picnic and a long trail that runs parallel to the Niagara Scenic Parkway along the Niagara River that if followed to the West would lead you to the Falls, about 3 miles away, and if followed to the east would lead you beneath the North Grand Island Bridge to Lasalle Riverfront Park, two miles away. So Fort Schlosser may not seem like much to look at when you’re driving past it after visiting the Falls, but it could be the starting point for a great day of walking along the Niagara River.  

And I guess depending on where you are in your walk with the Lord, Fort Schlosser could represent where we find ourselves today, in the “Great-in-Between”, between our pasts and the things waiting for us in the future that could be many miles or even years away.  

One destination in all of our future is Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years beyond.   While we may be  looking ahead at those times with joyful expectation or anxiety and dread, the important thing to remember about our walk through life and specifically on the path of Christian discipleship is to enjoy the present.  Sure Fort Schlosser may not be Niagara Falls, but its pretty nice there all the same and we shouldn’t not appreciate it because we either have left the Falls behind or are looking forward to the Falls in our future.  

The enemy seeks to steal our peace by telling us two equal and opposite lies. 

1.    Things were better in the past.  

2.    Things are better in the future.  

Like any good lie, there is always a grain of truth in them if the enemy is going to be successful in deceiving us. 

Sure there were good things in our pasts, but there we shouldn’t fall in the trap of living there because our nostalgic vision that only highlights the positive or dwells on the pain, paints a picture that is distorted, one way or the other.  While we could and should appreciate our pasts, for the bad and the good, we should never let it disrupt the peace and joy that we can have today.  

Likewise, we might be in some real present struggles currently or we may have some really good things that are beyond the horizon in our futures.  But if we are focused on the future so much that we are hating the gift of our present, the enemy has won again.  

So as we enter into the second day of the week, submit to God and give Him thanks for the day He has made, today,  and resist the devil who would like to convince you that peace and joy exist only in our pasts or are far away in the distant future.  

Also, the enemy also likes to point out the things we supposedly “lack”.  He can do this with a one-two punch.   

He can stir pleasant thoughts and desire for things that are good, tempting us with circumstantial happiness, with even positive desires for family gatherings or doing acts of service to the Lord or kindness to others.   

But then after the enemy tempts you with “things that would be nice”, he slams you with the facts of your current situation that may make those things difficult to obtain.   Thus we are drawn into depression about the thing “we can’t do” and discontentment with the way things are. 

But the truth is, generally, that right now isn’t so bad, in fact things may actually be better than how they were, but in pointing out nice desires that we may not be able to do right now, our present becomes something we don’t appreciate.  

The kicker is usually these desires the enemy presents also distract us from the problems we should be focused on resolving.  So we end up fantasizing about “what if” rather than addressing the problems left on the back burner of our lives.  Instead of focusing on the “nice things” we wish we had, we would be better served to develop a plan to address the things that have been ignored that if resolved would increase our freedom and peace.   

So obviously, as we walk through this life we have to be aware our current situations and appreciate where we are and rather than fantasize and be disappointed about the things we “can’t have” now we should instead find the joy and the peace that is available to us right here, and right now, and we should not ignore the things that surround us that we could resolve.  

When we walk in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and the truth is there are good things in your life right now that you can appreciate and have peace and joy about.  There is also work to do to resolve past problems that are still a part of your present and to prepare us for the future that is always one day closer.  

However, if we keep walking and talking with God, we will know that we are never alone as we walk from here to there and we have Him to help us and guide us in the way we should go.   

 

 

 

Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 10:9 (NLT2)
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Today’s verse reminds us of all it is  that we must do in order to be saved. 

We must confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead.   That’s it.  

But as simple as that may sound, to just believe that!, the whole counsel of God would cause us to understand that confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior means a lot.  

The implication of anyone being your lord is that you answer to them, and you obey them.  You follow their instructions and call on your life.  

And so the great news is that we are saved by faith alone, however I would never seek to mislead anyone into putting their faith in Christ is just a matter of “easy-believe-ism”.

Christ warned His disciples that the world would hate them and that they would be persecuted because of their faith in Him.  

While salvation is a free gift of grace from God, there is a cost of discipleship – our very lives. God gives us eternal life through Christ and thus we are said to die with Christ and are raised to new life with Him in His resurrection. Our old self is dead, and our purpose is to discover and live our new life in Christ.  

We are saved from God’s wrath and saved to become a part of His kingdom and to represent Him by the way we live.  

So rejoice over your salvation, but never take it lightly or lead people to believe that being a Christian is as simple as the faith it takes to become one.  

___________________________________________

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

Matthew 7

The Community of Disciples Is Set Apart

The Disciple and the Unbelievers

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

¶ “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

¶ “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:1–12).

There is an essential connection that leads from chapters 5 and 6 to these verses and then to the great conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. The fifth chapter spoke of the extraordinariness of discipleship (περισσόν), while the sixth chapter spoke of the disciples’ hidden, simple righteousness (ὰπλο͂υζ). In both aspects the disciples were separated from the community to which they had previously belonged and bound solely to Jesus. The boundary became clearly visible. This raises the question of the relationship between disciples and the people around them. Did their being set apart give them special rights of their own? Did they receive special powers, measuring standards, or talents, which enabled them to assume a special authority toward others? This would have been most likely if Jesus’ disciples had now separated themselves from their environment by sharp, divisive judgments. People could even have come to think that it was Jesus’ will that such divisive and condemnatory judgments were to be made in the disciples’ daily dealings with others. Thus Jesus must make clear that such misunderstandings seriously endanger discipleship. Disciples are not to judge. If they do judge, then they themselves fall under God’s judgment. They themselves will perish by the sword with which they judge others. The gap which divides them from others, as the just from the unjust, even divides them from Jesus.

Why is that so? Disciples live completely out of the bond connecting them with Jesus Christ. Their righteousness depends only on that bond and never apart from it. Therefore, it can never become a standard which the disciples would own and might use in any way they please. What makes them disciples is not a new standard for their lives, but Jesus Christ alone, the mediator and Son of God himself. The disciples’ own righteousness is thus hidden from them in their communion with Jesus. They can no longer see, observe, and judge themselves; they only see Jesus and are seen, judged, and justified by grace by Jesus alone. No measuring standard for a righteous life stands between the disciples and other people; but once again, only Jesus Christ himself stands in their midst. The disciples view other people only as those to whom Jesus comes. They encounter other people only because they approach them together with Jesus. Jesus goes ahead of them to other people, and the disciples follow him. Thus an encounter between a disciple and another person is never just a freely chosen encounter between two people, confronting each other’s views, standards, and judgments immediately. Disciples can encounter other people only as those to whom Jesus himself comes. Jesus’ struggle for the other person, his call, his love, his grace, his judgment are all that matters. Thus the disciples do not stand in a position from which the other person is attacked. Instead, in the truthfulness of Jesus’ love they approach the other person with an unconditional offer of community.[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 You Tube 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 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)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 169–170.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Appreciation and Contentment – Keys to Joy and Endurance - Purity 569


Appreciation and Contentment – Keys to Joy and Endurance -  Purity 569

Purity 569 11/06/2021   Purity 569 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the of the setting sun from the vantage point of Waite Rd in Easton NY comes to us from yours truly as I decided to take a stroll with a canine friend yesterday and grabbed several shots of the fading sun and the surrounding countryside as I realized that God had blessed us with a spectacular opportunity to enjoy the autumnal colors just before twilight.

It’s Saturday and as I am becoming more and more comfortable with weekends at my fiancé’s place in Washington County, I have come to realize that there comes a point in the process of entering into new phases of life where the process of adaptation stops, and acceptance comes; where you go from feeling like “What is this?” or “I don’t know about this!” to “Oh  yeah, we’re doing this” or “Yup, this is what we are doing now!”  

It’s that wonderful part of a journey of life where you still haven’t arrived to where you’re going to yet, and you are still far from establishing a new status quo, but you have fully embraced the direction you are walking towards and are rejoicing with each new step into that “new normal”.  It’s that phase where things are still new and exciting but where things are becoming familiar and comfortable. 

But you know what, even though I am experiencing the joy of a deepening relationship, adapting to new environments, and transitioning to a whole new existence, I am pretty sure that I don’t have the exclusive rights to these feelings of joy and that all of my friends can have a wonderful weekend if they simply take a moment to rest and to appreciate all the good they have in their lives.   

We stop losing our joy when we start taking things for granted or we stop growing. So if you have made it to Saturday without rejoicing over the end of the work week yesterday or by gaining feelings of peace with where you are and contentment with the things you have, I’m here to remind you that all of us have the ability to enter into those feelings if we merely take some time to direct our thoughts to appreciate the blessings we have been given.  

So look around at where you are and appreciate all you have and the people who are in your life. If you do that you will realize that in many ways you can agree with what the “Easy to Read Version” of the Bible has to say in

Psalm 23:1 (ETRV)
1 The LORD is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need.

Also if we are feeling “bored” or “blah” because of the “same old, same old” of life, the responsibility falls on us to either be content with what we have or to do something new. God gave us two eyes, two legs, and a mind to go explore and “take dominion over the earth”  so we should utilize those gifts to see new places, to do new things, to gain new knowledge and insights about the world we live in, or to deepen our relationship with the Lord by learning more about Him.  



 My friend in the UK, Philip Hand recently shared this original art which I call “Love like a Dove” of the symbolic rendering of the love of God and the Holy Spirit. He also shared  these simple verses of poetry and I thought I would share them to remind us of all we have through our relationship with God and to encourage my friends to walk into the remainder of the weekend with joy, peace, and hope. 

“This love I know moves mountains,

 I'm told it can even save my soul.

The taste of death won't stop us,

till love reaches it wonderful goal.”

-       Philip Hand

God’s not done with us. Our continuing lives are evidence that He has more for us to experience here on earth. So appreciate what you have, keep a fresh perspective that looks for the beauty and good around us, and walk in the newness of your life in Christ every day.

 

Today’s Bible verses are drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verses are:

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT2)
11  Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Today’s verses encourage contentment with the circumstances of life and gives us the proper perspective on our ability to “do everything through Christ.”   

If I didn’t know how the Holy Spirit can subtly work in our lives, I would think that it was rather “ironic” that these verses came up as I was moved to speak briefly about contentment and appreciating what we have in the first part of this message without knowing that these verses would just so happen be the next ones to come up in the NLT Promise Book for Men.  

When the same scriptures or similar themes reappear in your experience, I say that is a small piece of evidence that tells you that you are indeed on the path of Christian discipleship or as some would put it, you are “tracking with the Holy Spirit.”  

I particularly like that our resource presented Philippians 4:11 & 12 and didn’t just present verse 13.   The anthem of empowered Christian faith of verse 13 is often proclaimed to give us hope that “we can do this!”. We can do “all things through Christ who strengthens me .” as the NKJV puts it. 

However, the context that precedes verse 13 is important.  The context points out what some of the “all things” that we can do through Christ includes.  The possibility of living on “almost nothing” with an empty stomach and still being content is one of those “all things” that we can do through Christ who gives us strength.  

So yes while we can accomplish new and wonderful things in life with Christ as our guide, we are also reminded that there can be times when things won’t be so triumphant materially, but we can still be content in all circumstance because of our relationship with God and the reality of Christ in Us, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

So be content with where you find yourself today. Keep walking and talking with God and strive to become the person God wants you to be and to walk into the good works that He has prepared for you.

It turns out that God is with us in good times and bad and we can always have hope and be empowered to overcome, persevere, or endure because of the strength, love, and guidance that He gives us.   


As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

Today we conclude sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

I. How to Maintain Purity Over Passion

How easy to be deceived in dating—to be misled by looks, propelled by insecurity, or lured by lust—and end up with a used body, a guilty conscience, and a broken heart. To prevent hurtful relationships, plan your personal guidelines before you begin dating. Having your convictions in place ahead of time will help you uphold them, even in the face of shifting emotions.

In addition, each couple should be sensitive to the physical boundaries in their relationship. That is, they should know their limits and be cautious about approaching them—much less crossing them. In their cooler moments, couples should talk about how to avoid times of temptation and set boundaries in order to make purity in the dating relationship a top priority....

"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception." (Proverbs 14:8)

The following acrostic on Purity can help you maintain a godly perspective in your dating relationship.

Purity

P—Prioritize God's standard for purity in your dating.

Make a commitment to God and each other to maintain sexual purity until marriage. Pray about this daily...and before each date. Should you ever violate this commitment, have an understanding that you will break off the relationship and seek individual counsel and healing.

  • —Have same-sex "his and her" accountability partners who ask explicit questions about sexual purity on a weekly basis—or more often if needed. Give them a copy of your written sexual purity commitment.
  • —Let your accountability partners know when you will be alone together in private for an extended period. Ask them to lift you up in prayer during these times.

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4).

U—Undertake personal accountability for how you treat your date's body.

Avoid any touch that emulates or entices sexual activity.

  • —Don't touch your date in a sexual manner.
  • —Read a good book together on sexual purity.

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people" (Ephesians 5:3).

R—Refrain from activities that violate God's standard by arousing sexual desires. Then repent and recommit to sexual purity if these standards are violated.

  • —Avoid sexually oriented media—like magazines, books, movies, television programs, videos, websites.
  • —Be willing to walk out of a movie theater, change the television channel, or turn off a video player when you encounter material that creates sexual desire or tension—even if only one of you is feeling uneasy.
  • —Don't use language that could arouse sexual desire—even when "joking"—and avoid discussing sexually oriented subjects.
  • —If you travel together before marriage, arrange for separate bedrooms.
  • —Immediately involve your accountability partners if you find yourself slipping morally.

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

I—Implement goals that are pleasing to God.

  • —Study Scripture together...reading, for example, about other role models in the Bible, such as Joseph and Ruth.
  • —Undertake service projects that give you an opportunity to work together to help others.
  • —Commit to helping each other maintain balanced lives, with time for friends, hobbies, and other priorities.

"We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

T—Trust in God's timing.

  • —Remember that God's sense of timing differs vastly from ours.

"Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Peter 3:8).

  • —As you date, allow the Lord to handle any hurts and disappointments that may come your way.
  • —Don't think of dating as a waiting game. Use your single years to build relationships with the Lord and others. God has not created us to live in isolation, but to be in fellowship with others. Develop a heart of love and acceptance for those He has placed in your life.

"Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her" (Genesis 29:20).

Y—Yield your life to the Lord.

  • —Surrender your expectations. Don't let the pounding of your biological clock block out the voice of the Holy Spirit.
  • —Surrender your emotions. Since feelings follow thinking, learn to think the way God thinks by memorizing and meditating on Scripture that is related to waiting on the Lord.
  • —Surrender your will. Give up your demands and expectations for marriage. Instead, seek His will.

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).

Resisting Sexual Temptation

Question: "I have committed my life to the Lord. What can help me resist sexual temptation?"

Answer: Carry visual reminders of your highest ideals, values, and commitments. For example, many young people choose to wear a "purity ring" to symbolize their covenant to the Lord—specifically, to abstain from engaging in sexual activity outside the marriage relationship.

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." (Proverbs 27:12)

Too Late

Question: "I wanted to remain pure, but what do I do if I've already crossed that line and it's too late?"

Answer: You cannot take back sexually what has already been given away any more than you can take back words that have already been spoken. However, if you have lost your virginity, take heart in knowing it can be reclaimed. God is both your Redeemer and Restorer.

If you are single and not a virgin, God still desires that you live a life of sexual integrity. You can choose what is called "secondary virginity," and He can empower you to have victory over the past. Through His compassionate power to cleanse, God offers you sexual redemption and a purified heart.

He intends your sexuality to be a wonderful present to your marriage partner. So, from this point on, save yourself for the one God has saved for you....

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.... I will cleanse you from all your impurities...I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you...I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees." (Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:25-27)

On your next date, think about your future mate and apply God's Golden Rule:

Do unto your date what you would have someone do to your mate!

Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship