When Your Help and Relationships Must End - Isaiah 9 - Purity 866
Purity 866 10/19/2022 Purity 867 Podcast
Today’s photo of sunset from the vantage point of snooks Bayside restaurant in grand tiki bar in Key Largo FL comes to us from a friend who's on vacation and kicking back but took time to share this view for all his friends on social media two days ago.
Well it's Thursday again and I've decided the break tradition and not share a typical pathway photo as it has been my habit to share a pathway photo as a visual encouragement to others to get on or stay on the path of Christian discipleship. Although I guess technically the water here could be considered a water pathway of sorts, we just need a boat, right? Anyway, I’m a little hard pressed for time as I got distracted because I wanted to send a Christmas card and gift to my World Vision Sponsored child because I received a prompting in the mail a couple of days ago and although I finally found the envelope and materials to send it out the card, I discovered that I have a new child!
Apparently, my donations to my previous child that I have been sponsoring since 2011 have been switched to a little girl in Colombia because the girl I was sponsoring in Haiti, goal has been met! And upon further review, Sergeline, my sponsored child in Haiti is a child no longer as she is 17 years old! Even my sponsored children have grown up in the blink of an eye!
I’m not sure how to feel about this. So the Christmas card that I am going to put in the mail will be the last thing that Sergeline receives from me. While I am happy to help my new child, Elis Tatiana in Ciudad Pensada con la Niñez, Colombia, say that three times fast…., I am saddened that Sergeline is all grown up and my sponsorship relationship with her has come to an end.
Sergeline has grown into a young woman and the help I gave apparently is no longer needed as her “goal has been met” and her community has become “self-reliant.” Individually, each year I would send a monthly donation but at Christmas I would send the maximum individual gift to Sergeline to benefit her and her family. My gifts provided Sergeline with things she needed but they also bought goats and other livestock that benefited the whole family. So I am happy I was able to help Sergeline and her community and realize that my sponsorship can now help a new girl and her family and community. I guess my help couldn’t continue forever, nor do I think it should have.
While we can help others in need, at some point people should be encouraged to provide for themselves. It’s a hard fact of life that we all have to grow up and become adults and support ourselves. So even though I’m a little sad that Sergeline’s sponsorship has ended, I hope that she would understand and encourage me to help another child in need.
I started sponsoring Sergeline after going to a Joel Osteen event in Albany where I got to meet the megachurch pastor in person, so although many can criticize Joel and his lavish lifestyle and his rather “prosperity gospel” – Your best life now- messages, he did some good for World Vision and for a little girl in Haiti because it was through his event that I felt convicted to help and now that help will reach a little girl in Colombia.
In considering all this, I just have to say that I am just a Christian trying to follow the Lord with the way I live my life, and although I suppose some could judge me harshly for allowing my sponsorship and relationship with Sergeline to come to an end according to World Vision’s direction and for not go above and beyond by continuing to send help to her directly, I have peace with the help I provided and with allowing it to end. I’m not perfect but I did this small thing for a girl in Haiti. But just anyone else that I try to encourage to live a life of Christian Discipleship, I have to let them to choose to walk on their own eventually.
Before I knew that the Christmas Card that I was signing would be the last thing I was going to send Sergeline, I filled it out and I pray that the message I sent will be taken as encouragement and a fond farewell.
Without knowing it would be good bye, I wrote: “
“Read the Bible, Follow the Holy Spirit, and Keep walking and talking with God with the way you live your life.”
And I drew a little heart, signed it “M.T. Clark”.
I sealed the envelope before I found out that my sponsorship ended, so I’m pretty sure that’s what I wrote.
But I also included, almost as an afterthought, my blog’s web address: mt4Christ.org.
So if she needs encouragement or wants to know more about the man that has been sponsoring her since 2011, Sergeline can read all about me and be continually encouraged to follow the Lord on my blog or via the podcast or the YouTube Channel.
Every relationship we have on this earth will come to an end, unless Jesus comes back first, but I have peace about it because I know that while I know the people I know I will be encouraging them to get right with God by putting their faith in Jesus and by telling them to seek the Lord’s will for their life and if the Holy Spirit decides to use my words, I will see them again when we go into God’s eternal kingdom.
I don’t have time to share the NLT Bible Promise Book for Men’s verse of the day today. But as Lord would have it, with Christmas on my mind, my Bible study this morning just happened to be Isaiah 9. So I will share some of that because it speaks of the advent of Christ and the culmination of His kingdom that is yet to come.
Isaiah 9:1-7 (NLT2)
1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
So, we can rest knowing that while we can’t help everyone forever and always, the Lord has a plan to fix what was broken and to reclaim what was Lost. Christ will return and He will be our Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace forever, and ever, Amen.
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
On the “Extraordinary” of Christian Life
The Righteousness of Christ
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17–20).
It is not surprising that the disciples supposed that the end of the law was coming with such promises they received from their Lord, in which everything was devalued which had value in the eyes of the people, and everything was called blessed which had no value. They were, indeed, addressed and set apart as people to whom simply everything had been given by God’s free grace, as the certain heirs of the kingdom of heaven, as those who now possessed everything. They had full and personal communion with Christ, who made everything new. They were the salt, the light, the city on the hill. Thus everything old had passed away and been replaced. It was too easy to assume that Jesus would draw a line of final separation between himself and what went before, that he would declare the law of the Old Covenant to be repealed and declare his independence from it in his freedom as the Son, that he would abolish it for his community. After everything that had been said before, the disciples could easily think like Marcion, who, complaining of Judaizing forgery, undertook the following text revision: “Do you think I came to fulfill the law or the prophets? I came to abolish them, and not to fulfill them.” Countless others since Marcion have read and interpreted Jesus’ words in that way. But Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets …” Christ puts the law of the Old Covenant into force.
How are we to understand that? We know that the disciples are addressed, they who are bound to Jesus Christ alone. No law was allowed to hinder the communion between Jesus and his disciples. That became clear in the commentary on Luke 9:57ff. Discipleship is allegiance to Jesus Christ alone and is unmediated. Nevertheless, now an entirely unexpected step follows: the disciples are bound to the Old Testament law. In doing so, Jesus says two things to his disciples: allegiance to the law by itself is not yet discipleship; nor may allegiance to this person of Jesus Christ without the law be called discipleship. He refers those to whom he had just given his full promise and complete communion back to the law. Because it is he whom the disciples are following who does it, the law remains binding for them. The question must then arise, What is valid, Christ or the law? To which do I owe allegiance? To him alone, or back to the law? Christ had said that no law must come between him and his disciples. Now he says that abolishing the law would mean separation from him. What does that mean?
The law is the law of the Old Covenant, not a new law, but the one old law, to which the rich young man and the tempting scribe were referred as the revealed will of God. It becomes a new commandment only because Christ binds his disciples to the law. His concern is not for a “better law” than that of the Pharisees. It is one and the same, it is the law which must remain and be carried out in every letter until the end of the world, which must be fulfilled to the letter. His concern really is for a “better righteousness.” Those who do not have this better righteousness will not enter the kingdom of heaven. This will be because they have dispensed themselves from following Jesus, who referred them back to the law. But no one is able to achieve this better righteousness except those addressed here, those called by Christ. Christ’s call, Christ himself, is required for that better righteousness.
Thus, it makes sense that at this point in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ speaks of himself for the first time. He himself stands between better righteousness and the disciples, from whom he demands that better righteousness. He has come to fulfill the law of the Old Covenant. That is the presupposition of everything else. Jesus shows his complete unity with God’s will in the Old Testament, in the law and the prophets. Indeed, he has nothing to add to the commandments of God. He keeps them—that is the only thing he adds. He fulfills the law; that is what he says about himself. Therefore it is true. He fulfills it to the last letter. By his fulfilling it, “everything is done” which is needed for the fulfillment of the law. Jesus will do what the law requires; therefore, he will have to suffer death. For he alone understands the law as God’s law. That means that the law itself is not God; nor is God the law, as if the law had replaced God. That is how Israel misunderstood the law. Idolizing the law and legalizing God were Israel’s sins. Inverted, removing divinity from the law, and separating God from God’s law would be the sinful misunderstanding of the disciples. In both cases, God and the law would be separated from each other, or identified with each other, which is basically the same thing. When the Jews equated God and the law, they did it in order to get God into their power with the law. God was dissolved into the law and was no longer Lord over the law. If the disciples supposed they might separate God from the law, they did it in order to get God into their power in the salvation they possessed. Both times the gift and the giver were switched; God was denied either by way of the law or by way of the promise of salvation.
Against both misunderstandings, Jesus validates anew the law as God’s law. God is the giver and Lord of the law, and it is fulfilled only in personal communion with God. There is no fulfillment of the law without communion with God; there is also no communion with God without fulfillment of the law. The first refers to the Jews; the second refers to the misunderstanding that threatened the disciples.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 115–117.