Hurricane Ian – The Storms Reveal What Matters Most - Purity 850
Purity 850 09/29/2022 Purity 850 Podcast
Today’s photo of a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico somewhere in the Tarpon Springs area on the West Coast of Florida comes to us from a friend who shared various scenes of the Sunshine State while on their family vacation back in June.
After Hurricane Ian has blown through Florida, our prayers are with our friends and all the residents in Florida who are in the process of cleaning up the devastating damage in the aftermath of the category 4 storm that caused millions of dollars in damage and took the lives of 12 people and may continue to cause more damage as it moves up the coast near South Carolina today.
In events like this the lives lost show up how fleeting our lives can be. I don’t know the details but I am almost certain that none of the 12 people lost ever thought they would be killed because of a hurricane. And as devastating as the losses to people’s homes and business may be, these events show us that our human lives are far more valuable than any possessions.
The lessons of life and death that are taught through instances of traumatic losses show us that things no matter how cherished they are only things and whether our stuff is destroyed, broken or lost through out our lives or if they survive and are passed on to others after we go to the grave, our possessions value is limited in comparison to our lives.
In my men’s Freedom in Christ discipleship group one of the men has reported that he has been suffering from debilitating aches and pains and exhaustion for months and just the other night he commented on the extreme value of our physical health, stating that he would willingly sacrifice his possession in a moment to have his health and strength restored. But because He is a Christian, he still was thanking and praising the Lord for all that He has provided with in his life even though he is suffering,
When our health fails and things are torn asunder in our lives, where will we find our hope?
Well that is why our personal relationship with the Lord through our faith in Jesus Christ is so important.
When we know who we are in Christ, we know we are accepted into God’s kingdom and we are secure in God’s love no matter what negative circumstances we will face.
In Christ, we know that we are citizens of heaven and that our place on the earth is temporary and that when death comes or when Christ returns to reclaim the earth, we will be safe and secure in the company of our Heavenly Father and the community of saints who put their faith in Christ.
Also in Christ we know that we can receive God’s strength, grace, and mercy when we call out to Him to help us.
We don’t know what help will come but in Christ we know that we are not abandoned, we are not forsaken, and that the Lord is with us and will help us for God works ALL THINGs together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes.
So even in the wake of disaster, we can thank God it’s Friday today and we can thank Him for so much more.
So if you are short on hope, peace, or joy, draw close to God and He will lift you up. Put your faith in Christ and you will never have to walk through this life wondering about your safety. Keep walking and talking with God and you will know that even if our health fails or we lose everything we have, we will not be alone and He will give us the strength to endure our sufferings and possibly rejoice as He gives us the will to survive and build our lives new again.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are:
John 15:4-5 (NLT2)
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
In Today’s Bible Verses Jesus tells His disciples to remain in Him and He will remain in them and that apart from Him we can do nothing.
Christ’s words encourage us to remain in His presence with the indication that if we do that He will be with us and He will help us to produce much fruit.
Fruit could be seen as good works done for others for the glory of God to give compassionate care or to guide people out of the darkness by showing them the light of Jesus or it could be the fruit of righteousness as our spiritual disciplines of repentance, Bible study, and prayer transforms our character.
This passage of scripture is perhaps one of the bests examples of how Christ isn’t just telling us to follow the rules of God’s law but is inviting us into a dynamic personal relationship with Him and He assures us that their will be the benefits of much fruit.
So don’t focus on the fruit of “doing good works” because you “have to” now that you are a Christian, instead abide with Christ and experience the peace of His presence and follow the call that He puts on your life and watch as the fruit grows naturally from being attached to the Vine of Christ.
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.
Discipleship and the Cross - concludes
But how should disciples know what their cross is? They will receive it when they begin to follow the suffering Lord. They will recognize their cross in communion with Jesus.
Thus, suffering becomes the identifying mark of a follower of Christ. The disciple is not above the teacher. Discipleship is passio passiva [passive suffering], having to suffer. That is why Luther could count suffering among the marks of the true church. A preparatory document for the Augsburg Confession defined the church as the community of those “who are persecuted and martyred on account of the gospel.” Those who do not want to take up their cross, who do not want to give their lives in suffering and being rejected by people, lose their community with Christ. They are not disciples. But those who lose their lives in discipleship, in bearing the cross, will find life again in following in the community of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is being ashamed of Christ, being ashamed of the cross, being scandalized by the cross.
Discipleship is being bound to the suffering Christ. That is why Christian suffering is not disconcerting. Instead, it is nothing but grace and joy. The acts of the church’s first martyrs give witness that Christ transfigures the moment of greatest suffering for his followers through the indescribable certainty of his nearness and communion. In the middle of the most terrible torment that the disciples bore for their Lord’s sake, they experienced the greatest joy and blessedness of his community. Bearing the cross proved to be for them the only way to overcome suffering. But this is true for all who follow Christ, because it was true for Christ himself.
“And going a little farther, [Jesus] threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ … Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done’ ” (Matt. 26:39, 42).
Jesus prays to the Father that the cup pass from him, and the Father hears the son’s prayer. The cup of suffering will pass from Jesus, but only by his drinking it. When Jesus kneels in Gethsemane the second time, he knows that the cup will pass by his accepting the suffering. Only by bearing the suffering will he overcome and conquer it. His cross is the triumph over suffering.
Suffering is distance from God. That is why someone who is in communion with God cannot suffer. Jesus affirmed this Old Testament testimony. That is why he takes the suffering of the whole world onto himself and overcomes it. He bears the whole distance from God. Drinking the cup is what makes it pass from him. In order to overcome the suffering of the world Jesus must drink it to the dregs. Indeed, suffering remains distance from God, but in community with the suffering of Jesus Christ, suffering is overcome by suffering. Communion with God is granted precisely in suffering.
Suffering must be borne in order for it to pass. Either the world must bear it and be crushed by it, or it falls on Christ and is overcome in him. That is how Christ suffers as vicarious representative for the world. Only his suffering brings salvation. But the church-community itself knows now that the world’s suffering seeks a bearer. So in following Christ, this suffering falls upon it, and it bears the suffering while being borne by Christ. The community of Jesus Christ vicariously represents the world before God by following Christ under the cross.
God is a God who bears. The Son of God bore our flesh. He therefore bore the cross. He bore all our sins and attained reconciliation by his bearing. That is why disciples are called to bear what is put on them. Bearing constitutes being a Christian. Just as Christ maintains his communion with the Father by bearing according to the Father’s will, so the disciples’ bearing constitutes their community with Christ. People can shake off the burdens laid on them. But doing so does not free them at all from their burdens. Instead, it loads them with a heavier, more unbearable burden. They bear the self-chosen yoke of their own selves. Jesus called all who are laden with various sufferings and burdens to throw off their yokes and to take his yoke upon themselves. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. His yoke and his burden is the cross. Bearing the cross does not bring misery and despair. Rather, it provides refreshment and peace for our souls; it is our greatest joy. Here we are no longer laden with self-made laws and burdens, but with the yoke of him who knows us and who himself goes with us under the same yoke. Under his yoke we are assured of his nearness and communion. It is he himself whom disciples find when they take up their cross.
“Things must go, not according to your understanding but above your understanding. Submerge yourself in a lack of understanding, and I will give you My understanding. Lack of understanding is real understanding; not knowing where you are going is really knowing where you are going. My understanding makes you without understanding. Thus Abraham went out from his homeland and did not know where he was going (Gen. 12:1ff.). He yielded to My knowledge and abandoned his own knowledge; and by the right way he reached the right goal. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it, but I must lead you like a blind man. Therefore not you, not a man, not a creature, but I, through My Spirit and the Word, will teach you the way you must go. You must not follow the work which you choose, not the suffering which you devise, but that which comes to you against your choice, thoughts, and desires. There I call; there you must be a pupil; there it is the time; there your Master has come” (Luther).
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship