Joy and Peace in the Great-in-Between - Purity 889
Purity 889 11/15/2022 Purity 889 Podcast
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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:
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
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.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship