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Showing posts with label John. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Beyond Broken Resolutions - Return to Freedom - Purity 954


Beyond Broken Resolutions  - Return to Freedom - Purity 954

Purity 954 01/31/2023  Purity 954 Podcast

Purity 954 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the fading light of day reflected on the Hudson River comes to us from yours truly as I felt moved to capture this “down River” view as I pulled into the driveway of River House on the last Friday of January in 2023.  

Well, it’s Tuesday and the last day of January and although it is the end of the first month of the new year I am looking forward to new beginnings.  Yesterday, I was offline for a sick day and although I took a day off from blogging and podcasting as well, I do feel better today because of the rest for my body and the restoration of my soul I experienced because although I skipped my physical exercise regimen, I took the time in the early morning hours to do The Steps to Freedom in Christ.  So now I am rested and restored and ready to begin again!

Not only am I ready to resume my regular work responsibilities, I am also ready to do what I can to help and encourage other Christians to discover who they are in Christ and to either establish or deepen their freedom in Christ.  Tonight, I begin leading a new Freedom in Christ course on Zoom and am looking forward to teach, and to remember, what I have come to know about our new lives in Christ and how the acceptance of our new identities as children of God is the key to our freedom and victory.

Quite frankly, I look forward to the new course for myself as much as for the men that have signed up for the course! The last few months of 2022 and the first month of the new year has been a mixed bag of inconsistencies as I have compromised my health goals with holiday fleshly indulgences and I fell victim to an episode of wishful thinking that led to discontent and a momentary loss of reason.  So tonight, it’s back to basics and a return to sanity as I am choosing to take the momentum of the new course as a launching pad to get back on the path of Christian Discipleship with the enthusiasm of one who knows what works.  When I deny myself, pick up my cross, and just abide in the Lord’s presence and follow His lead, my life is filled with the simple peace and joy that comes from just doing what is “right”.  

To get as basic as we can see that this was one of God’s first instructions to man as He said to Cain in: 

Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT2) where He said:
6  “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?
7  You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Now, don’t get me wrong I wasn’t living in a licentious life of sin like my old man over the last few months but I did seek comfort from the things of the world here and there and I “wished-prayed” for God to be genie with the hope that He would deliver me from my secular day job and bless my socks off with a new home and comparable salary, just like that! 

I had forgotten to be disciplined in my approach to life by seeking comfort from the world in food and entertainment and was hoping to be “transported” to a better place rather than focusing on my walk day to day and trusting the Lord to lead me in the things that I have already planned for this year.  

So I am declaring today to be the start of a new chapter of this ongoing journey of pursuing the Lord and His plan for my life by keeping it simple.  

Yesterday, I did my periodic housecleaning by going through the Steps to Freedom in Christ so I am feeling light as a bird as I have dropped any and all baggage I may have been carrying since the last time I did the steps.  Through the Steps and coming before the Lord in prayer, I have dealt with some rather recent disappointments, losses, and bitterness from the slights and unjust treatments I felt I had received as I walked from the Fall of 2022 to now.       

As if to confirm the new beginning, as I returned to my regular exercise routine Amazon Music offered up Sia’s Bird Set Free which ends with the victorious declrartion: 

“And I don't care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I shout it out like a bird set free
No, I don't care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I'll shout it out like a bird set free

I'll shout it out like a bird set free
I'll shout it out like a bird set free”

That song always lifts my spirits, as I remember walking through the fire with the Lord to my new life in Christ, to my new place down to by the River, and to the love I have with my wife, TammyLyn. 

Our freedom and our victory is found in Christ alone and it is never lost. If we forget who we are and wander off the Lord is always there to restore us and to encourage us to follow Him in the way that leads to peace.  

As those lyrics faded away, my spirit was raised ever higher as The Holy Spirit caused me to remember

John 8:36 (NKJV) where Jesus told us:
36  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

Because of Jesus, I am free and it’s a fine time to remember that and to walk in it.  

So if your new year’s resolution has been blown, like many have been, celebrate the last day of the month of broken resolutions, by choosing to begin again based on who you are in Christ. Jesus has set us free and sometimes we just need to remember that to walk into the new life we already have. So keep walking and talking with God by keeping things simple and just taking care of what is a head of you and trusting Him to guide you the rest of the way into the thing unseen.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Isaiah 49:13 (NKJV)
13  Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us how the Lord comforts His people and has mercy on His afflicted. 

“His afflicted?” – Say What?  I thought that walking with the Lord would be a continual journey into Eden like gardens of happiness and peace!

While we can enjoy mountain top heights of joy as we experience moments of accomplishments and victory,  today’s verse reminds us that we will also experience the reality of the “joy of the Lord being our strength” when we receive His mercy while being afflicted.   When we seek happiness or comfort from  the world and forget about who we are in Christ, it doesn’t take long for us to long for the comfort to our souls that only the Lord can bring.  

If we are not careful, we can easily be tempted to take a rest from seeking the Lord and go back to old patterns of seeking happiness from the things of this world. But it doesn’t take long for us to remember that the things of the world never satisfied us in the first place and we soon see the errors of our ways and may even condemn ourselves of not being worthy of restoration from the Lord and may even persist in going the wrong way for a while which only make our condition worse. When you experience the goodness of God in your life, nothing else will work and we can feel the affliction that comes from forsaking His path.  

Like the prodigal son, our brokenness – our affliction- will show us that we are far from home and the goodness that we once knew.  But when we turn back to our Heavenkly Father, we learn that He has been waiting for us to return to Him and He graciously showers us with the comfort and the mercy we desperately need and our joy and our peace is restored.  

So return to the Lord and know He is good! And when you rejoice you too can shout it out for the world to hear:

“Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.” ___________________________________________

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

CHAPTER FIVE

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN REPROBATION continues

 

In Romans 9 the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in its application to both the elect and the reprobate is treated of it length. A detailed exposition of this important chapter would be beyond our present scope; all that we can essay is to dwell upon the part of it which most clearly bears upon the aspect of the subject which we are now considering.

V. 17: “For the Scripture saith unto Pharoah, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.” These words refer us back to vv. 13 and 14. In v. 13 God’s love to Jacob and His hatred to Esau are declared. In v. 14 it is asked “Is there unrighteousness with God?” and here in v. 17 the apostle continues his reply to the objection. We cannot do better now than quote from Calvin’s comments upon this verse. “There are here two things to be considered—the predestination of Pharaoh to ruin, which is to be referred to the past and yet the hidden counsel of God—and then, the design of this, which was to make known the name of God. As many interpreters, striving to modify this passage, pervert it, we must observe, that for the word ‘I have raised thee up,’ or stirred up, in the Hebrew is, ‘I have appointed,’ by which it appears, that God, designing to show that the contumacy of Pharaoh would not prevent Him to deliver His people, not only affirms that his fury had been foreseen by Him, and that He had prepared means for restraining it, but that He had also thus designedly ordained it and indeed for this end,—that He might exhibit a more illustrious evidence of His own power.” It will be observed that Calvin gives as the force of the Hebrew word which Paul renders “For this purpose have I raised thee up,”—“I have appointed.” As this is the word on which the doctrine and argument of the verse turns we would further point out that in making this quotation from Exodus 9:16 the apostle significantly departs from the Septuagint—the version then in common use, and from which he most frequently quotes—and substitutes a clause for the first that is given by the Septuagint: instead of “On this account thou hast been preserved,” he gives “For this very end have I raised thee up!”

But we must now consider in more detail the case of Pharaoh which sums up in concrete example the great controversy between man and his Maker. “For now I will stretch out My hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in every deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power; and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth” (Ex. 9:15, 16). Upon these words we offer the following comments:

First, we know from Exodus 14 and 15 that Pharaoh was “cut off,” that he was cut off by God, that he was cut off in the very midst of his wickedness, that he was cut off not by sickness nor by the infirmities which are incident to old age, nor by what men term an accident, but cut off by the immediate hand of God in judgment.

Second, it is clear that God raised up Pharaoh for this very end—to “cut him off,” which in the language of the New Testament means “destroyed.” God never does anything without a previous design. In giving him being, in preserving him through infancy and childhood, in raising him to the throne of Egypt, God had one end in view. That such was God’s purpose is clear from His words to Moses before he went down to Egypt to demand of Pharaoh that Jehovah’s people should be allowed to go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to worship Him—“And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all these wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go” (Ex. 4:21). But not only so, God’s design and purpose was declared long before this. Four hundred years previously God had said to Abraham, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them: and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge” (Gen. 15:13, 14). From these words it is evident (a nation and its king being looked at as one in the O. T.) that God’s purpose was formed long before He gave Pharaoh being.

Third, an examination of God’s dealings with Pharaoh makes it clear that Egypt’s king was indeed a “vessel of wrath fitted to destruction.” Placed on Egypt’s throne, with the reins of government in his hands, he sat as head of the nation which occupied the first rank among the peoples of the world. There was no other monarch on earth able to control or dictate to Pharaoh. To such a dizzy height did God raise this reprobate, and such a course was a natural and necessary step to prepare him for his final fate, for it is a Divine axiom that “pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Further—and this is deeply important to note and highly significant—God removed from Pharaoh the one outward restraint which was calculated to act as a check upon him. The bestowing upon Pharoah of the unlimited powers of a king was setting him above all legal influence and control. But besides this, God removed Moses from his presence and kingdom. Had Moses, who not only was skilled in all the wisdom of the Egyptians but also had been reared in Pharaoh’s household, been suffered to remain in close proximity to the throne, there can be no doubt but that his example and influence had been a powerful check upon the king’s wickedness and tyranny. This, though not the only cause, was plainly one reason why God sent Moses into Midian, for it was during his absence that Egypt’s inhuman king framed his most cruel edicts. God designed, by removing this restraint, to give Pharaoh full opportunity to fill up the full measure of his sins, and ripen himself for his fully-deserved but predestined ruin.

Fourth, God “hardened” his heart as He declared He would (Ex. 4:21). This is in full accord with the declarations of Holy Scripture—“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:1); “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water, He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Prov. 21:1). Like all other kings, Pharaoh’s heart was in the hand of the Lord; and God had both the right and the power to turn it whithersoever He pleased. And it pleased Him to turn it against all good. God determined to hinder Pharaoh from granting his request through Moses to let Israel go until He had fully prepared him for his final overthrow, and because nothing short of this would fully fit him, God hardened his heart.[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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 92–95.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Leaving a Legacy or a Scandal? - The Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Truth - Purity 913


 

Leaving a Legacy or a Scandal? - The Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Truth  -  Purity 913      

Purity 913 12/13/2022 Purity 913 Podcast

Purity 913 on YouTube: 


Not sure how YouTube flipped the Thumbnail!?!


Good morning,

Today’s photo of a street lamp shining like the sun in a blue sky as the real thing fades over the horizon illuminating the road side trees on State Route 9J, or River Road in Schodack Landing, comes to us today from yours truly, as I was moved to turn my phone sideways from its vertical rearview mirror mounted orientation to capture some of the glory before me during yesterday’s commute back to River House. After the previous day’s snow storm the Lord graced us with a clear day and a reminder of that His creation is awesome and something we can miss and just drive through if we are too consumed with the things of this world.  

Well, It’s Tuesday and I learned this morning that Clyde Wilburn’s Memorial Service and Funeral will tomorrow in Catskill but I won’t be in attendance.  I am not the best “griever” and a quote from F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby’s isums up my feelings about funerals, a mob boss in the story says : “Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”   Of course, the context of the Gatsby story actually reveals that this quote isn’t so profound as it may have been self-serving, as Gatsby’s Meyer Wolfsheim may have desired to distance himself from his deceased friend and his illegal dealings. 

So, do I want to distance myself from my deceased friend because of his falling away from the church we attended, his illegal choices, and his death by overdose? Not really, I try to be as transparent about my addictive past and don’t try to distance myself from anyone I met along the way during the 5 years that I went through, taught. and eventually led the Celebrate Freedom recovery ministry at my former church.  Because of our interactions there and in church, I will always consider Clyde Wilburn as a brother and a friend but the truth is that other than seeing him earlier this year at a “Bible Study with the Cincotti’s”


 (


https://youtu.be/7hvGHU1lmtg
)  I haven’t seen him in quite a while.

My life has taken me in a direction that led me away from Hudson and the church that we used to attend together and before hearing about Clyde’s death on Sunday I didn’t what was going on in Clyde’s life.  I assumed he was well.  I was wrong and discovered that he was charged with armed robbery in September.  In 8 months, Clyde went from a Bible Study to the police blotter and, now 3 months later, his obituary will be all the news we may see regarding our old friend.  

As I was thinking about Clyde yesterday, I was reminded how important it is to keep walking with the Lord and how when I was first saved I was so ignorant about the importance of having a “good testimony”.   Because I had lived a very selfish and sinful life for 38 years before being saved in 2010, I never thought that I would had any hope to leave a “good testimony” other than that God is gracious to forgive a sinner like me.   I didn’t understand that or testimony isn’t frozen in stone. It is progressive.  While it is awesome to say a sinner’s prayer and to attend church services, the glory that we give to the Lord comes from our decision to continue to follow Him and to seek our identity and enact our purpose in Christ. 

My testimony regarding Clyde Wilburn would be overwhelmingly positive as I loved him for his testimony as someone who had walked in darkness and decided to get right with God. His insights on the word of God, his sense of humility and humor,  and his huge heart made it easy to love him, But my testimony is obviously one sided and based on the context of Clyde’s time in church.

However, recently I wrote about how due to situations from my past, some people out there, even though I am walking out my faith the best I can, consider me to be a “bad Christian” or hypocrite.  And as I thought about the unfortunate circumstances and poor choices Clyde had made in his life, I suspect that for every praise of his name that will come tomorrow at his memorial service and funeral, there may also be words of condemnation and possibly cursing whispered or flatly statde about Clyde in the days, weeks, months, and years that will come as Clyde doesn’t get a chance to change his story or to defend himself.  

The woman charged as an accomplice in the armed robbery that allegedly took place in September with Clyde, now has the perfect opportunity to craft a defense as a hapless victim to an out of control man that coerced her into participating in his crime.  How true that is we will never know but whether the legal proceedings regarding those charges are resolved currently or not, this woman now has the option to speak well of or ill of my friend because he gave into his dark side.  

I wonder if she knows that Clyde was a Christian.  Did he share his faith with her? Does she know the Lord? Will she bless Clyde’s name with fond remembrances and a defense of the things he is alleged to have done or will she, possibly rightfully, curse him?  

It’s is doubtful that I will ever know any of the answers to these questions but I pray for peace and comfort for the Wilburn family and I pray for this woman, who remain nameless, in my blog anyway, and all the people that Clyde met in his time on this earth that they would discover the truth the gospel of Jesus Christ, turn to Lord in repentance, and learn from Clyde’s death just how important it is to continue walking with the Lord and to endure in our faith.  

The longer we live as active Spirit filled disciples of Jesus Christ the longer and brighter our testimonies become. No matter how dark our pasts may be, if we keep walking and talking with God and show our faith in the way we live, every day, the brighter and more glorious our lives become.  

So let’s not forget to encourage one another as we walk through the last month of this year, and through out our lives, to stay the course, to resist the devil and his temptations and to stay within the safety of the community and fellowship of the church.  Church congregations and the individuals who make them up may not be perfect but the One who established the church is and He calls His to abide with Him there.  

So let’s draw close together and keep following the voice of the Good Shepherd all the days of our lives and show our friendship to one another while we live so we can report on the good testimony and legacy of faithfulness each of us will leave behind.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

John 1:29 (NLT2)
29  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

 

Today’s verse tells us that Christ was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  

Christ died for all sinners. But we must be redeemed by putting our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  And let’s face it, we also have to follow Him,   

I’m short on time but this “Lamb of God” thing indicates that Christ was the perfect sinless sacrifice to pay for all the sins we have ever done or will ever do and when we put our faith in Him we are forgiven and set free. So thank God for Jesus and your forgiveness and walk free from the sins of your past.

___________________________________________

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 Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

 

Chapter Eleven

The Visible Church-Community

The body of Christ takes up physical space here on earth. By becoming human Christ claims a place among us human beings. He came unto his own.[3] Yet when he was born he was given a stable, “because there was no other place in the inn.” And when he died, they cast him from their midst so that his body hung on the gibbet between heaven and earth. Nevertheless, the incarnation does entail the claim to space granted on earth, and anything that takes up space is visible. Thus the body of Jesus Christ can only be a visible body, or else it is not a body at all. Our human eyes see Jesus the human being; faith knows him as the Son of God. Our human eyes see the body of Jesus; faith knows him as the body of God incarnate. Our human eyes see Jesus in the flesh; faith knows him as bearing our flesh. “To this human being you shall point and say: ‘Here is God’ ” (Luther).[5]

A truth, a doctrine, or a religion needs no space of its own. Such entities are bodyless. They do not go beyond being heard, learned, and understood. But the incarnate Son of God needs not only ears or even hearts; he needs actual, living human beings who follow him. That is why he called his disciples into following him bodily. His community with them was something everyone could see. It was founded and held together by none other than Jesus Christ, the incarnate one himself. It was the Word made flesh who had called them, who had created the visible, bodily community. Those who had been called could no longer remain hidden; they were the light which has to shine, the city on a hill which is bound to be seen.[8] Over their community stood visibly the cross and suffering of Jesus Christ. For the sake of community with him the disciples had to give up everything, they had to suffer and endure persecution; and yet, in the very midst of being persecuted together with him, they received back in visible form the very things they had lost—brothers and sisters, fields and houses. The community of those who followed him was manifest to the eyes of the world. Here were bodies that acted, worked, and suffered in community with Jesus.

The body of the exalted Lord is likewise a visible body, taking the form of the church-community. How does this body become visible? First, in the preaching of the word. “They continued in the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). Every word in this sentence is significant. Preaching here is called teaching (διδαχή) in order to set it apart from all forms of religious speech. The term means communication of facts that have actually taken place. The content of what has to be said is already objectively determined. It simply needs to be conveyed through the ‘teaching’. A communication of news is by definition confined to facts which are not yet known. Once these facts are known, it makes no sense to communicate them again. ‘Teaching’ thus aims by definition at making itself superfluous. However, in strange contrast we read here that the earliest church-community “continued” listening to this teaching. This means that this teaching did not make itself superfluous, but, on the contrary, required precisely this continuing attention. There must, therefore, be some rational necessity for this particular ‘teaching’ to demand continued attention. This necessity lies in the fact that the teaching in question is “the teaching of the apostles.” What does “teaching of the apostles” mean? Apostles are those chosen by God to witness to the facts of the revelation in Jesus Christ. They have lived in bodily community with Jesus. They have seen the one who became incarnate, was crucified, and is risen. They physically touched his body with their hands (1 John 1:1). They are the witnesses whom God the Holy Spirit uses as instruments to proclaim the Word. The apostles’ preaching is the witness to the physical event of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. The apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church whose cornerstone is Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:20). Any subsequent preaching must itself be ‘apostolic’ in the sense of being based on the same foundation. Thus it is the word of the apostles which makes us one with the earliest church-community. But in what way does this apostolic teaching require ongoing and continual hearing? The word of the apostles is truly God’s Word in human words (1 Thess. 2:13). It is thus a Word which seeks to accept human beings and which has the power to do so. The Word of God seeks out community in order to accept it. It exists mainly within the community. It moves on its own into the community. It has an inherent impulse toward community. It is wrong to assume that on the one hand there is a word, or a truth, and on the other hand there is a community existing as two separate entities, and that it would then be the task of the preacher to take this word, to manipulate and enliven it, in order to bring it within and apply it to the community. Rather, the Word moves along this path of its own accord. The preacher should and can do nothing more than be a servant of this movement inherent in the Word itself, and refrain from placing obstacles in its path. The Word goes forth to accept human beings. This is something the apostles knew. It is the very essence of their preaching. They had seen the Word of God with their own eyes, how it had come into the world and assumed human flesh, and with it the whole human race. Now they were compelled to bear witness to nothing else but the fact that God’s Word had become flesh, and had come to accept sinners, to forgive their sins and sanctify them. It is this same Word which now enters the church-community. The Word made flesh, the Word which already bears the whole human race, the Word which can no longer exist in isolation from the humanity it has assumed—this same Word now comes to the church-community. And in this Word comes the Holy Spirit, revealing to the single individual and to the church-community the gifts they have already been given in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit bestows faith on the hearers, enabling them to believe that, in the word of preaching, Jesus Christ himself has come to be present in our midst in the power of his body. The Holy Spirit enables me to trust that Jesus Christ has come to tell me that he has accepted me and will do so again today.[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), 225–228.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Into His Light - Calling For Life Beyond the Manger - Purity 911


Into His Light - Calling For Life Beyond the Manger -  Purity 911         

Purity 911 12/10/2022  Purity 911 Podcast

Purity 911 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the Allen Waite Farm at Twilight comes to us from yours truly as I was positively awestruck of the magic of “twilight time” as I descended down Waite Rd in Easton NY to see that the while the land below was shrouded in darkness the last night of day was on the rims of the horizon creating this magnificent silhouette effect when from the ground when you looked up.    I’m sharing two other, out of focus, shots that I grabbed while driving down to my countryside home last night on the blog today if you want to see more.  



I hate to admit that they are blurry as all get out but I share them to demonstrate just how distinct that rim of light on the horizon was and as a warning to us amateur photographers out there to STOP and get out of the car when you see something worth capturing. 

Part of the beauty of the moment was the stark clarity of the silhouettes of the objects from ground view against the twilight sky and because I didn’t actually stop when I took these photos, like I did with the photo of the day, these additional pictures’ beauty pales in comparison to what they were in reality.   But the one with the utility pole looks like a cross, so I figured I would share it and so decided to share the other blurry one as well.  Even though they are both blurry they still show the contrast of the light and the darkness.  

Well, it is Saturday and I am rejoicing this morning because I have reunited with my beloved wife at our countryside home and while there isn’t much on the agenda for this morning and the early part of the day, TammyLyn has planned our late afternoon and “twilight time” hours to be filled with experiences that will continue to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas as we have plans to go to a live Nativity Display and to drive through Washington County’s holiday lights display. 

As to where these events are, you will have to Google them or message my wife, although I have been weekending in the Great White North for over a year now, I am still a Hudson Valley-er and am still learning the lay of the land up here.  

But you know what, that doesn’t matter, because in my wife I have an experienced guide that I trust and can have faith that when she tells me to take a turn that appears to be going further into the middle of nowhere, I don’t question her, well as not as much as I did anyway, and know that she will get us where we need to get to even if I can’t clearly see the final destination or the reasoning behind her “process”. 

Through my relationship and experiences with TammyLyn, I know that she has my best interests at heart and that she would never purposely lead me astray.  She loves me and not only wants to make sure that I have everything that I need, she also wants to give me more than the bare necessities of a dutiful wife, and continually does and says things that makes me fell loved and fills my heart with joy.   When I consider all that TammyLyn and I  have in our marriage, I know that God has brought us together.  

And because of what God has done in our lives individually, and because He has brought us together, we are intentional in keeping Him at the heart of our relationship through simple things like saying grace, going to church together, and for praying for one another daily. 

And this December, to keep Christ in Christmas and to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season, TammyLyn and I decided to use the first 21 days of the last month of the year to read through the gospel of John, one chapter a day, together.  I have done this “21 days in John” Bible study in December before by myself in the past, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to draw close to the Lord, in any season, but feel it is an especially good study to do if the December chill or the secular expressions of holiday cheer has your heart  running cold and your lips whispering “Bah Humbug!”

As much as I absolutely love Christmas and the Biblical narrative of Jesus’s birth, the Christian focus in December on “BABY JESUS”,  away in the manager, the angels, the shepherds, THE VIRGIN MARY, and the other aspects of  “The Nativity” can cause me to want to remind people that “Jesus isn’t a baby anymore!”

As truly awe inspiring and awesome it is to ponder the fact that God became flesh, in the incarnation, and the fact that the divine literally pushed beyond the veil of eternity and broke into our physical reality, I feel that the focus on this one scene of Jesus’ life at Christmas time can perpetually keep immature nominal Christians to be forever “the Babes in Christ” who are more enamored with the glitz and gifts of “Toyland” than the wonders of God’s love that can be experienced through a life of following the Man and Lord, that that precious little baby boy wrapped in swaddling cloths grew up to be.   

As things wrap up on another year, I remember well that the “silent night” of the Christmas Eve church service can be a magnificent moment where we join in the company of family and friends to simply declare that God is good, but just like the way our happiness can fade after opening up our Christmas presents, that magic moment of remembering Christ’s birth can fade as “Christmas is Over” and It’s time to get back to normal.  

Well, Like the born again Ebeneezer Scrooge, yeah Dicken’s Christmas Carol is a SALAVATION STORY, DUH,- ran the streets with the hope that his neighbors know the joy of Christmas every day, I too want to make a case for experiencing the joy of the Lord every day in our lives by encouraging all of us to go beyond the manger, past the shepherds, past the three wise men or kings (not sure if they could be both), and definitely past the virgin Mary, to stand on our own two feet and to walk beyond our “childlike faith” of nominal infancy to pursue the path of Christian Discipleship that THE MAN & LORD JESUS commanded us to walk.       

I know the prospect of actually living everyday like a Christian may be unknown territory for most us. I know when I first got saved, I asked the Lord: “So how do you do that? How do you live as a Christian? Is that even possible in this day and age? Do I want to do that?  

Well, just like deciding to trust a travelling companion’s directions for the first time, it requires faith. We have to believe that the person calling us to follow them has our best interests at heart and that they won’t lead us astray. 

But the good news is that we can trust the Lord. Christ’s coming to earth is evidence of His love for us as:

John 3:16 (NLT2) tells us that:
16  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

“The world” includes you and me and when we put our faith in Jesus Christ we are given eternal life and when we follow Him, when we obey His commands, when we walk in the Spirit, we experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. That means love, peace, joy, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, patience, and self-control will define our lives the more we follow the Lord’s lead.  

So just like the farm, trees, and utility poles on Waite Rd were lost in the darkness of twilight time last night but were revealed when we decided to “look up” and see them in the last light of day,  the Lord wants us to be found by looking at ourselves according to His light. He wants our beauty to be revealed through our faith in the Light of the World, Jesus Christ,  and He wants us to experience the abundant life that He has for us when we decide to “grow up” beyond “baby Christians” and  to walk like the men and women that God created us and called us to be.  

So keep Christ in Christmas, but let’s keep walking and talking with God before then and let’s keep on walking into the sanctified life of a mature Christian disciple into the new year and beyond.  

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Acts 13:38 (NLT2)
38  “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins.

Today’s verse is an exhortation and a proclamation that forgiveness of sins is possible through Christ alone.  

This is the GOOD NEWS that many simply can’t believe or won’t believe, or are spiritually blind to.  

Scripture paints a simple yet complicated, another paradox, of salvation. 

It tells us that it is through faith alone that we are saved but that true faith will be shown by the fruit of good works and good character  It tells us that anyone who turns to the Lord in repentance and calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But it also tells us that people are spiritually blinded and that none come to the Father other than those that are drawn by Him.  Paul states that nothing can separate us from the love of God but yet Christ’s parable of the sowing of the seeds and the tares and the wheat seem to indicate that some will believe but will not endure and that there will be real and false believers in the assembly of the saints. Christ warned us about the separation of the sheep and the goats to highlight this and even indicated that these false converts could even be elevated to leadership positions as Jesus warned us about false teachers too!

No one knows the hearts of man but God and when we consider all of these seeming conflicts about “simple faith” we could wonder, like the Christ’s first disciples themselves wondered in

Matthew 19:25 (NLT2) where the word tells us that:
25  The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

Who can be saved? Who can be forgiven? 

Well while pointing out the different aspects of salvation can cause us to see that there may be more to salvation that just saying the words of a “sinners prayer” or believing in a person name Jesus once existed and we sort of like some of the things he said and we like the cozy picture of the manger at Christmas, the preponderance of evidence of scripture clearly confirms that it is through Jesus Christ that we can be forgiven and given eternal life.   

And today’s verse really cuts to the heart of the matter for me. As someone raised in a liturgical church tradition that twisted the gospel to be a combination of faith and works, I knew I was a sinner but I highly doubted that I could be forgiven. I thought I had to ear it some how or I had to be “good” to go to heaven.  

But when I heard, in the message that saved my soul, that forgiveness came because of Jesus only, that my faith in Him would give me the forgiveness that I thought I could never earn,  I finally saw the light of the truth behind all of Christianity: the love of God that sent Jesus to pay for our sins, to die for us, so that we could be forgiven and be accepted and live with God forever.   I rejoiced then and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior through tears of  the grief of repentance and the joy of a new life and am continually reminded of the miracle that happened in my life: I was drawn by the Creator of the universe to be in His royal family forever and ever. – through Christ alone!

So rejoice over your forgiveness that Jesus made possible and keep sharing the good news because this world desperately needs to know that they are loved and forgiven by God and can be accepted into His kingdom when they surrender to the Lordship of Christ.  

We are forgiven. We are free. And We will live with the LORD our God forever and ever, Amen!

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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 Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

Chapter Ten

The Body of Christ, continues

 

Through the Holy Spirit, the crucified and risen Christ exists as the church-community [Gemeinde], as the “new human being.” For Christ truly is and eternally remains the incarnate one, and the new humanity truly is his body. Just as the fullness of the godhead became incarnate in him and dwelled in him, so are Christian believers filled with Christ (Col. 2:9; Eph. 3:19). Indeed, they themselves are that divine fullness by being his body, and yet it is Christ alone who fills all in all.

The unity between Christ and his body, the church, demands that we at the same time recognize Christ’s lordship over his body. This is why Paul, in developing further the concept of the body, calls Christ the head of the body (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18; 2:19). The distinction is clearly preserved; Christ is the Lord. There are two events in salvation history, namely, Christ’s ascension and his second coming, which make this distinction necessary; these events categorically rule out any idea of a mystical fusion between church-community and Christ. The same Christ who is present in his church-community will return from heaven. In both cases it is the same Lord and it is the same church; in both cases it is the very same body of the one who is present here and now, and the one who will return in the clouds. However, it makes a serious difference whether we are here or there. Thus, both the unity and the distinction are necessary aspects of the same truth.

The church is one; it is the body of Christ. At the same time it is the multiplicity [Vielheit] and community [Gemeinschaft] of its members (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12ff.). The body has many members, and each member, whether it be eye, hand, or foot, remains what it is. That is the very point of Paul’s analogy! A hand does not become an eye, nor does an eye change into an ear. Each retains its own identity. Nevertheless, they all have an identity of their own only as members of the one body, as a community that serves in unity. The unity of the church-community gives identity and meaning to each individual and to the community as a whole, just as Christ and his body give identity and meaning to the church-community. It is at this point that the office of the Holy Spirit is thrown into sharp relief. It is the Holy Spirit who brings Christ to the individuals (Eph. 3:17; 1 Cor. 12:3). It is the Spirit who builds up the church by gathering the individuals, even though in Christ the whole building is already complete (Eph. 2:22; 4:12; Col. 2:7). The Holy Spirit creates the community (2 Cor. 13:13) of the members of the body (Rom. 15:30; 5:5; Col. 1:8; Eph. 4:3). The Lord is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17). The church of Christ is Christ present through the Holy Spirit. The life of the body of Christ has thus become our life. In Christ we no longer live our own lives, but Christ lives his life in us. The life of believers in the church-community is truly the life of Jesus Christ in them (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 John 4:15).

In the community of the crucified and transfigured body of Jesus Christ, we take part in Christ’s suffering and glory. Christ’s cross is laid upon the body of the church-community. All sufferings under this cross are Christ’s sufferings. This suffering first takes the form of dying the death upon the cross in baptism; it then is Christians’ “daily dying” (1 Cor. 15:31) by virtue of their baptism. It is, in addition, a suffering that bears an indescribable promise. True, it is only Christ’s own suffering which has atoning power; he suffered “for us” and won the victory “for us.” Yet to those who are not ashamed to belong to the community of his body, Christ, in the power of his suffering, grants in turn the immeasurable grace to suffer “for him.” No greater glory could Christ have granted to his own; no honor could be more astonishing for Christians than to be granted the privilege of suffering “for Christ.” What actually takes place here runs totally counter to the law. For according to the law, we are only capable of suffering the punishment for our own sins. According to the law, we cannot do or suffer anything that would benefit us,[30] let alone another, and least of all Christ! The body of Christ, which was given for us, which suffered the punishment for our sins, frees us to exist “for Christ” in death and in suffering. Now we are able to work and suffer for Christ, for the sake of him who did everything for us! That is the miracle and grace we enjoy in the community of the body of Christ (Phil. 1:29; 2:17; Rom. 8:35ff.; 1 Cor. 4:10; 2 Cor. 4:10; 5:20; 13:9). Even though Jesus Christ has already accomplished all the vicarious suffering necessary for our redemption, his sufferings in this world are not finished yet. In his grace, he has left something unfinished (ὑστερήμταια) in his suffering, which his church-community is to complete in this last period before his second coming. This suffering will benefit the body of Christ, the church. Whether this suffering of Christians also has power to atone for sin (1 Peter 4:1) remains an open question. What is clear, however, is that those suffering in the power of the body of Christ suffer in a vicariously representative [stellvertretend] action “for” the church-community, “for” the body of Christ. They are permitted to bear what others are spared. “We always carry in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, so that the life of the Lord Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:10–12; see also 1:5–7; 13:9; Phil. 2:17). There is a specific amount of suffering which has been allotted to the body of Christ. To one person God grants the grace to bear a special suffering on behalf of another person. The suffering must indeed be completed, borne, and overcome. Blessed are those to whom God grants the privilege of suffering for the body of Christ. Such suffering is joy (Col. 1:24; Phil. 2:17). In such suffering, believers may boast that they bear the dying of Jesus Christ and Christ’s wounds on their bodies (2 Cor. 4:10; Gal. 6:17). Now a believer is privileged to become the means by which “Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). Such vicariously representative action and suffering, which is carried out by the members of the body of Christ, is itself the very life of Christ who seeks to take shape in his members (Gal. 4:19).

In all this, we are in the community of the first disciples and followers of Jesus.[1]

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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), 220–222.