Thankfulness – Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 5 – Purity 977
Purity 977 02/27/2023 Purity 977 Podcast
Purity 977 on YouTube:
Today’s photo of the silhouette of a person walking before the crashing surf of the Atlantic while God starts to set the stage for a magnificent sunrise comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene on February 23rd while on vacation at Myrtle Beach.
Well, It’s Monday and it’s the 5th day of Lent and as I shared previously I decided to sign up for the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer devotional that is available at Biblegateway.com (https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/40-Day-Journey-Dietrich-Bonhoeffer/today) link is on the blog for those who would like to sign up. Saturday I shared the material from Day 4 and stated that I wouldn’t be sharing from that resource again.
However, this morning I have made the executive decision to stay the course for the rest of the season of Lent with the 40 day Bonhoeffer devotional and will be sharing from it each day until we arrive at Easter Sunday on April 9th.
I am doing this for a few reasons. The first is that I want to stay faithful to my decision to do the study and I know that with my normal morning practices, it might prove difficult to do so. So I guess I am going to use the blog and podcast to be accountable by documenting my participation and responses in the study. The second reason is that I trust that the material should be worthwhile because it is drawn from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who is a martyred example of someone who lived out his faith to the very end and who some scholars consider to be a theological genius. And the final reason is that I seek to approach the Lord in a spirit of repentance and feel that surrendering the reigns of the blog to the Bonhoeffer study will be a practice of humility as I will walk according to its pace and direction.
It’s time to follow the Leader and we are trusting the Bonhoeffer study will be used by the Lord to encourage and edify me and those who read or listen along with me.
So let’s surrender together and see where the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer takes us.
"Thankfulness works in the Christian community as it usually does in the Christian life.
Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the great things as well.
We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.
We think that we should not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be seeking the great gifts. Then we complain that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experiences that God has given to other Christians, and we consider these complaints to be pious.
We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we receive daily.
How can God entrust great things to those who will not gratefully receive the little things from God’s hand?"
You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name.... Isaiah 12:1-4
Questions to Ponder
- What are the cultural forces in our society that work against the experience and expression of thankfulness?
M.T. Clark: The cultural forces of materialism, entitlement, and the emphasis of the pursuit of happiness can all work against the experience and expression of thankfulness as our society encourages us to strive for a better way of life and the accumulation of more things or experiences, we are conditioned to focus on the things we lack and take for granted and not appreciate the things we have.
- What are the “small gifts” we receive from God each day?
M.T. Clark: While there really are no “small gifts” from God, the things we can consider small are: life itself, the lack of pain in our lives, healthy bodies and minds, the people in our lives, the things we have, heat, electricity, food, water, shelter, our jobs, our homes, our vehicles, our government, our relative safety, sleep, our pets, books, art, beauty, love, the Bible, the forgiveness of sin, and our salvation and eternal life in Christ.
- How could such “small gifts” be affirmed, honored, and celebrated in a community of faith?
M.T. Clark: These “small gifts” can be affirmed, honored, and celebrated in a community of faith through the daily practice of gratitude and appreciation where we personally thank the Lord for all that He has provided. This will help us personally each day and we can pass on this joy to our community of faith by choosing to be a continuous voice of encouragement and thanksgiving, to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of all that we have.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits․
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5
- At the end of each remaining day in this 40-day journey, write in your journal a list of those things from that day for which you are grateful.
M.T. Clark: I have created a word document to record at the end of each remaining day of this journey the things I am grateful for, I encourage you to do the same.
- Reflect on how the “small gifts” you receive from God shape your life and your relationships.
M.T. Clark: I practice gratitude and appreciation daily because I have much to be thankful for and because I have come to learn that it is through being thankful for the “small things” we receive from God that we can have a continuous outflow of peace and joy in our lives. I am continually amazed at how the Lord has blessed me and worked all the “small things” of my life together for good and how He has provided me with so many wonderful relationships since I have decided to follow Him.
Pray that you would be a voice of thanksgiving in your family, among your friends and co-workers, and in your community of faith. Pray that your voice of thanksgiving would encourage others to give voice to the many things for which they are thankful.
M.T. Clark: Nothing to it but to do it.
Lord God Heavenly Father, I pray that I would be a voice of thanksgiving in my family, among my friends and co-workers, and in my community of faith. I pray that my voice of thanksgiving would encourage others to speak about all the “small things” that they are thankful for.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Prayer for Today
Lord, open my eyes that I may see the giftedness of my life and let my life be a hymn of praise and thanksgiving."
M.T. Clark: In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
(40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.)
Well, Let me give thanks to the Lord for another day in the kingdom, for this study, and for those who have joined me in this journey either by reading or hearing this message. We were never meant to walk this life of faith out by ourselves and I am glad there are others like me who have a real heart to keep on “walking and talking with God.
I pray for the Lord to richly bless all those who have found this message and are faithful to follow where the Lord leads them. God bless you all.
***As we are being provided with Bible verses from the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we will are taking a break from sharing a verse of the day from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”. We plan on resuming that normal installment of the blog following Easter.***
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are:
Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)
3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Today’s Bible verse
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 A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Pink’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 SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
SOVEREIGNTY AND HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY
1. How is it possible for God to so bring His power to bear upon men that they are PREVENTED from doing what they desire to do, and IMPELLED to do other things they do not desire to do, and yet to preserve their responsibility?
It would seem that if God put forth His power and exerted a direct influence upon men their freedom would be interfered with. It would appear that if God did anything more than warn and invite men their responsibility would be infringed upon. We are told that God must not coerce man, still less compel him, or otherwise he would be reduced to a machine. This sounds very plausible; it appears to be good philosophy and based upon sound reasoning; it has been almost universally accepted as an axiom in ethics; nevertheless, it is refuted by Scripture!
Let us turn first to Genesis 20:6: “And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.” It is argued, almost universally, that God must not interfere with man’s liberty, that he must not coerce or compel him, lest he be reduced to a machine. But the above scripture proves, unmistakably proves, that it is not impossible for God to exert His power upon man without destroying his responsibility. Here is a case where God did exert His power, restrict man’s freedom, and prevent him from doing that which he otherwise would have done.
Ere turning from this scripture let us note how it throws light upon the case of the first man. Would-be philosophers who sought to be wise above that which was written have argued that God could not have prevented Adam’s fall without reducing him to a mere automaton. They tell us, constantly, that God must not coerce or compel His creatures otherwise He would destroy their accountability. But the answer to all such philosophisings is, that Scripture records a number of instances where we are expressly told God did prevent certain of His creatures from sinning both against Himself and against His people, in view of which all men’s reasonings are utterly worthless. If God could “withhold” Abimelech from sinning against Him then why was He unable to do the same with Adam? Should someone ask, Then why did not God do so? we might return the question by asking, Why did not God “withhold” Satan from falling? or, Why did not God “withhold” the Kaiser from starting the War? The usual reply is, as we have said, God could not without interfering with man’s “freedom” and reducing him to a machine. But the case of Abimelech proves conclusively that such a reply is untenable and erroneous—we might add wicked and blasphemous, for who are we to limit the Most High! How dare any finite creature take it upon him to say what the Almighty can and cannot do? Should we be pressed further as to why God refused to exercise His power and prevent Adam’s fall, we should say, Because Adam’s fall better served His own wise and blessed purpose—among other things, it provided an opportunity to demonstrate that where sin had abounded grace could much more abound. But we might ask further: Why did God place in the garden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when He foresaw that man would disobey His prohibition and eat of it; for mark, it was God and not Satan who made that tree. Should someone respond, Then is God the Author of Sin? We would have to ask, in turn, What is meant by “Author”? Plainly it was God’s will that sin should enter this world otherwise it would not have entered, for nothing happens save as God has eternally decreed. Moreover, there was more than a bare permission for God only permits that which He has purposed. But we leave now the origin of sin, insisting once more, however, that God could have “withheld” Adam from sinning without destroying his responsibility.
The case of Abimelech does not stand alone. Another illustration of the same principle is seen in the history of Balaam, already noticed in the last chapter, but concerning which a further word is in place. Balak the Moabite sent for this heathen prophet to “curse” Israel. A handsome reward was offered for his services, and a careful reading of Numbers 22–24 will show that Balaam was willing, yea, anxious, to accept Balak’s offer and thus sin against God and His people. But Divine power “withheld” him. Mark his own admission, “And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say anything? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak (Num. 22:38). Again, after Balak had remonstrated with Balaam, we read “He answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth?… Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it” (23:12, 20). Surely these verses show us God’s power, and Balaam’s powerlessness: man’s will frustrated and God’s will performed. But was Balaam’s “freedom” or responsibility destroyed? Certainly not, as we shall yet seek to show.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 155–157.