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Showing posts with label Joy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joy. Show all posts

Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Little Tree and The Big Sky – Peace and Joy Right Now - Purity 899


The Little Tree and The Big Sky – Peace and Joy Right Now - Purity 899    

Purity 899 11/26/2022 Purity 899 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a short tree with abundant shade under a pleasant blue sky on the shores of an unknown beach comes to us from the photo archives of my phone and an unknown friend who shared this scene back on social media back on November 25th , 2021.  

In my zeal to share beautiful scenes of God’s creation I will save photos that friends have shared but when you have as many well-travelled friends as I have, you end up saving more photos than you use, so this morning I decided to dial it back a year and see what I could find.  This was the first one that grabbed it and so I shared it. I am setting it free. I’m putting it out there and deleting it from my phone. So if this memory is yours, thank you for going “there” and sharing it.   If you want to let us know who you are and where you went, we will update the blog.

Yesterday, my wife dressed up in a red and white dress and Santa hat to do face painting at Troy’s Landscape Supply in Cohoes for their Black Friday Event where scores of people picked up their Christmas trees, so when I look at today’s photo I am thinking of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts and Linus’ humble little Christmas tree and am reminded that sometimes the little things, the simple things can mean a lot.  

Let’s face it, our “little tree that could” on this unknown beach isn’t much to look at. The sky’s pretty, the water’s pretty, and yeah, this Bonsai-esque tree is cute, but where’s the sun? 

But sometimes we don’t need the “flash” and big things to have joy. Sometimes we can just rest in the peace of what is and appreciate life for what it is. Last night, I was out walking my canine friend, Harley, at 6pm, which means it was as black as midnight outside. I wear a headlamp when I take the dog out at night because I would like to see where I am going, and I would like any motorists that are fling down Waite Rd to see me too!  

The thing about walking under the light of the head lamp though is that you sort of have “tunnel vision”.  The head lamp is a good one and casts quite a strong beam of light into the distance but the contrast of the dark of night makes it feel like the world outside of the light has faded to black and more or less disappeared.  

But last night on the return trek back to my countryside home, I happened to look up to see that all though the land was dark the sky above me was illuminated by a galaxy of stars! It was a real planetarium like view just overhead, but my head lamp was obscuring the show. So, I stopped the dog from walking for a moment and turned it off and just beheld the glory of outer space standing in the dark on the side of a road in upstate New York and enjoyed this little moment under the great big sky.

And these two experiences of the little tree on an unknown beach and the great big night sky last night, remind me to remind you to step outside the “situations” of your life and to immerse yourself in the joy and peace that you can find in the present moment. 

In every life there is drama, “the bills”, “the people”, “the work”, “the news”, and all of these things can so preoccupy our minds and emotions it is as if we are walking in the night and our light is only shining on them. Our preoccupation with these problems or ongoing situations gives us tunnel vision. While we should always take care of the things we need to take care of, when we are only focused on the problems or dramas of our lives we can miss the moments of peace and joy that are there for the taking.  Our lives can become so busy “taking care of business” that we end up missing the moments where we could have found a little bit of peace, or a little bit of joy. 

And that’s why I recommend a life of Christian Discipleship, of walking in the Spirit, where you keep walking and talking with God because if you are doing that you will gain two things:

1.    An understanding of what really matters in life: our relationship with God.

2.    Freedom from the preoccupations with the world system and what other people think.

And when you have those two things and agree with what the Bible says about you, you have freedom in Christ, and you will experience the fruit of the Spirit growing in your life as your meaning and purpose come into focus as you widen the lens of your vision.  

Last night, I thanked the Lord for the moment under the stars, and the walk back to the house, and the cool evening breeze that told me I was alive and well. And I thanked Him for His presence that told me that I would never be alone.  

I came to the realization again that rather being consumed with the dramas of this world, there is great joy and peace to be found from the little things, from the big things, and from just the experience of life. These are things that anyone can “dig” on but when you have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, you can enjoy the mystery of life because you know there is a purpose to it all because you know the Author of the story.

And even though, we have no idea what’s going to happen next our how the dramas of our lives will play out, when we stay in His presence, we can enjoy the show all the same.  

So take a time out to look around and realize “Hey, I’m okay!” and enjoy that fact and enjoy the presence of the Lord who created that moment just for you and who has a whole host more of them waiting for you to experience and appreciate as you keep walking and talking with Him.

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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:

1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT2)
25  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Today’s verse encourages us to be disciplined in our training, reminding us that the work we do for the kingdom of God will never fade away.        

Discipline can be viewed as a dirty word because it is usually associated with performing something repetitive that is “done for our own good” but that may not have immediate results.  Also discipline can be with hard work.  

When contemplating change we like the idea of the finished result but in the grueling process of getting there and the discipline our goals require, we can easily grow weary and decide to take a break from or quit altogether the disciplined activities we decided were necessary to accomplish our goals.  

But those who stick with their disciplined plan of action consistently and with a commitment to the long term, discover that discipline is actually a good thing.   

So if you have a health goal or a financial goal in mind, like I do, let’s encourage one another to walk out of this Thanksgiving weekend with a renewed commitment to be disciplined in our approach to accomplishing them.  This can be a rough weekend for discipline when it comes to those two areas of our lives and believe me I am “preaching to the choir” when I say we should endeavor to get back on that bucking horse and not give up on our goals, regardless of how much pie we ingested or how much money “Black Friday deals” may have cost us.  

That’s the great thing about being a Christian, there is grace for our failures and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. 

However, we should answer the call to repent when we realize that we have stepped off the path.  

The good news is that in Christ we are accepted regardless of our performance. SO in one sense it doesn’t really matter what we do….. BUT – careful now, because the devil would love to tell you to remain lazy, selfish, and sinful because of God’s grace. That’s a trap!

Paradoxically, while in one sense it doesn’t matter what we do, in Christ we have been given the power to do things that we formerly would have considered to be impossible.

 To quote myself: “When I discovered that the Lord was willing to do the impossible in my life, I said: “What’s next?” 

So that is why we engage our discipline and decided to follow where the Lord leads us, because if He puts something on our heart to accomplish we should know that we are able to perform it, but we have to pursue it and do it!

God has given us the eternal prize and everything for life and godliness, so let’s agree to stay disciplined and keep walking in the way the Lord would have us walk, and let’s go accomplish the good works that He has prepared for us to perform!

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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 Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Apostles

“Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him” (Matt. 10:1–4).

The prayer is heard. The Father has revealed God’s own will to the Son. Jesus Christ calls his twelve disciples and sends them into the harvest. He makes them into “apostles,” into his messengers and coworkers. “And he gave them power.” This power is, indeed, what is at stake here. The disciples receive not only words or doctrine, but effective power. How should they do their work without this power? It has to be a power which is greater than the power of the one who rules on earth, the devil. The disciples know that the devil has power, although it is precisely the deception of the devil to deny his power and to make people believe that he does not exist. It is just this most dangerous expression of his power which must be confronted. The devil must be pulled into the light and defeated by the power of Christ. In this, the disciples come to stand by Jesus Christ himself. They are called to help him carry out his work. So Jesus does not deny them the highest gift possible to meet this task, namely, participating in his power over the unclean spirits and over the devil, who has taken hold of humanity. In this commission the apostles have become equal to Christ. They are doing the work of Christ.

The names of these first messengers will be preserved for the world until the Last Day. The people of God consisted of twelve tribes. There are twelve messengers, who are to complete the work of Christ among them. Twelve thrones will be standing ready for them as judges of Israel in the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:28). The heavenly Jerusalem will have twelve gates through which the holy people will come in. The names of the tribes will be inscribed on the gates. The wall of the city has twelve cornerstones and they will bear the names of the apostles (Rev. 21:12, 14).

The only thing which unites the twelve is the call of Jesus that selects them: Simon, the man of rock; Matthew, the tax collector; Simon, the zealot, who struggles for justice and law against heathen oppression;[15] John, whom Jesus loved and who laid his head on Jesus’ breast; and the others, about whom we know only their names; and finally, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Nothing in the world could have united these men to do the same work except the call of Jesus. It overcame all their previous divisions and founded a new, strong community in Jesus. The fact that even Judas went out to do the work of Christ remains for us an inscrutable dilemma and a terrible warning.[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), 186–187.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

I Love It! – GAMES On - Practicing Appreciation - Purity 878

I Love It! – GAMES On - Practicing Appreciation  - Purity 878

Purity 878 11/02/2022 Purity 878 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sparkling sunshine pathway to the “hump” of Magdalen Island on the Hudson River beneath a blue sky decorated with a collection of wispy cirrus clouds comes to us from my brother in law who shared this scene on social media two days ago commenting: “When this view is down the road from your home, how can you not take advantage of day like today.”  How indeed?  While my brother’s wife’s brother didn’t share the location of this sight, as the former mayor of Tivoli, NY tipped his hand by including the hashtag “#ilovit” which is Tivoli backwards, and a google map search later led me to conclude that if this view was from Tivoli, it had to be in the southernly direction of the Hudson River, because there are no islands to the north. 

When we share our “views” on life, while we may not know all that is happening in someone’s circumstances, we can get a pretty good idea where they are coming from and when someone is pointing others to the beauty that surrounds them I believe it can be a reflection of the state of their lives. If someone is taking time to appreciate the good things around them and share them with others, I believe that they are far from God because they are not only finding moments of peace and beauty for themselves but they are trying to share the moment with us and perhaps unwittingly sharing themselves. In sharing a photo, we are telling people: here I am, at this day and time, I was here and I was well, and whether we have a deep personal connection with the person or not, we can share in their joy.   

Well, it’s Wednesday, and that “hump” of Magdalen Island sitting in the Hudson has been shared to reflect my brother in law’s appreciation for his place in life and as a visual reminder that we have reached the midpoint of another work week.  While Wednesdays can be pretty blah and matter of fact because we are find ourselves in between the joy of the weekend past and the weekend yet to come, I hope to remind all of us connected to God through our faith in Jesus Christ, that while we might only be able to find the happiness in positive circumstance, like a weekend’s rest or enjoying a good view, the Christian disciple has no limits on the joy they can experience as our relationship with God transcends our physical location and the circumstances of our current situation.  

The joy of the Lord is our strength! When we put our faith in Christ, we have peace with God. We are forgiven. We are secure in His love and assured of good outcomes, ultimately if not in the here and now.  

While I certainly encourage all my friends to seize the day and practice appreciation for the things we encounter and to give thanks to God for those things, I also am quick to point out that our relationship with God is enough to give us a continual sense of peace and subsequently fill us with joy.

Marcus Warner and Stefanie Hinman, in their book “Building Bounce:  describe a way of practicing appreciation with the acronym: GAMES, so let’s play ball and see how we can practice appreciation to help us be emotionally resilient, to continually find our way back to joy.

G – is for Gratitude.  That’s right, It’s November, so let’s give thanks! But in this instance, Warner and Hinman recognize that there is a lot to be grateful for so in their acronym, their instruction is highly specific. For the first step to play this GAME of appreciation, Warner and Hinman directs us to find something we can have gratitude for RIGHT NOW, in our present moment.  This brings us into the moment of our lives, connecting us to our bodies and our present experience, a checkup of sorts, and directs us to see a positive light in our lives right now as we live and breathe.  This can be the fact that I am alive, I am breathing, I am relatively well and free of pain.  I have warm clothes on, I am comfortable. I have electricity. I have a lot of things in my life, right now, that I can appreciate and be thankful for.

A – is for Anticipation, where we reflect on something in the Future I can appreciate.  For example, we can appreciate that this workday will come to a conclusion, and we can enjoy our time at home later. We can appreciate that we will see our friends at work. Or that we will be able to have a nice dinner later.  IF there is much we can appreciate in the present, this just naturally carries into our Futures. If now is good so will our future. 

M – is for Memories, where we can appreciate things in our Pasts.  This can be memories of good things and times, our it can even be a memory of not so good tings and times that we no longer are experiencing.  Our memories can be used to appreciate all that we have encountered that have made us grow and to bring us to where we are now.

E – is for Experiences – where we can plan to do things that we can appreciate and appreciate the fact that we can plan them!  Making plans or reflecting on something we can do that gives us some circumstantial happiness can give us joy.  Or we can just do them – If there is an experience that will give us happiness, but will not have resultant guilt or shame, we should do it and appreciate the experience.

S – for Singing, yup, there is some wisdom to the old adage to whistle while we work! The act of singing can lift our spirits and give us joy. I personally recommend getting into Christian worship music and singing songs of praise that simultaneously connect  us to the Lord and encourage us about our relationship with Him and all He has done for us. 

So, as we walk through another Wednesday, remember to get your GAMES on and practice appreciation.  When we do that, we discover that it really is a wonderful life and when we know the Author of Life, The Lord, we can experience a relational joy to God from knowing that He personally directed our lives and provides us with all there is to appreciate.

So appreciate all you have and all that God has done, is doing, and will do for you when you keep walking and talking with Him.

     

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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:

Psalm 112:5-9 (NLT2)
5  Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly.
6  Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
7  They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
8  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.
9  They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Today’s Bible verses encourage us to be generous and to live righteously as a result of our relationship with God, indicating that when we do this we can rise above the challenges of this life and leave a legacy behind that will be worthy of honor and that could influence others.  

The NLT promise book for Men only shared, verse 6 and 9 of these verses, with the emphasis of being remembered for the good we do, I guess,  but I decided to share the others verses to show that our lives are a little more than what we will be remembered for, that we are living this life now, and not just looking forward to positive testimonies about us at the hour of our deaths.  

The emphasis from our resource was “when you want to earn the respect of others”… which quite frankly as I see as a less than respectable motivation for living righteously. And without the surrounding context that tells us that these people are “confidently trusting the Lord” seems like a “do good to look good” instruction.   

So as much as it is nice to be respected, to be honored, and influence others, our aim as disciples of Christ is to be pleasing to the Lord.  Those other benefits are bonuses. 

Christ basically teaches us in Matthew 5 & 6 not to do things for the crowd, before men, so be generous, live righteously because it is what Lord would direct you to do and if you should gain the respect of others try to influence them by directing them to Jesus. 

 

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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 Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

Hidden Righteousness

Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

¶ “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:1–4).

The fifth chapter spoke of the visibility of the disciples’ community and culminated in the περισσόν, requiring us to understand that what is characteristically Christian is that which steps away from the world, rises above the world, is extraordinary. Then the next chapter links up with this περισσόν and reveals its ambiguity. The danger is great that the disciples will completely misunderstand this as a command to start building a heavenly kingdom on earth, despising and destroying the world order. The danger is great that in enthusiasts’ indifference to this age they will think it their duty now to achieve and make visible the extraordinariness of this new world, separating themselves from the world radically and with no willingness to compromise, in order to force into being what is Christian, what is appropriate to discipleship, what is extraordinary. It was too easy to mistake this for the preaching of another pious style and way of life, even if it was a free, new, inspiring one. And one’s pious flesh would be so willing to accept this extraordinariness, poverty, truthfulness, suffering, or even to seek it out, if only doing so would satisfy the heart’s longing to actually see something with one’s own eyes[161] and not merely to believe. One would surely be willing to nudge the boundaries of a pious lifestyle and obedience to the word, until they move more closely together, and are finally no longer distinguishable from each other. It would only be for the one goal of finally achieving the extraordinary.

On the other hand, those would gather on the battlefield who had only been waiting for Jesus to speak about the extraordinary so that they could attack him with even more rage. Proclaiming the extraordinary unmasked Jesus as an enthusiast, a revolutionary extremist who wanted to turn the world upside down, who instructs his disciples to leave the world and build a new world. Is that still obedience to Old Testament scripture? Is it not a thoroughly self-selected personal righteousness that is being proposed here?[163] Doesn’t Jesus know about the sin of the world that will wreck anything he commands? Doesn’t he know anything about God’s revealed commandments, which are given to ward off sin? Isn’t this extraordinariness he is demanding proof of a spiritual arrogance, which is the beginning of all enthusiasm? No, not the extraordinary, but rather the completely ordinary, everyday, regular, unobtrusive behavior is the sign of genuine obedience and genuine humility. If Jesus had sent his disciples to their people, to their vocations, their responsibilities, their obedience to the law as the scribes interpreted it to the people, then he would have shown himself to be pious, truly humble, and obedient. He would have inspired people to more serious piety and stricter obedience. He would have taught what the scribes already knew, but what they liked to hear preached again with emphasis, that true piety and righteousness consist of not only the external deed, but also of one’s heartfelt intentions, and not only of intentions, but also of the deed. That would really be “better righteousness” the way the people needed it, the way no one could have avoided it. But now all of that was shattered. Instead of the humble teacher of the law, they recognized an arrogant enthusiast. Of course, in all ages the preaching of enthusiasts has been able to inspire the human heart, indeed, even the noble human heart. But didn’t the teachers of the law know that the voice of the flesh was speaking from this heart in all its goodness and nobility? Didn’t they themselves know the power the pious flesh had over people? Jesus sacrificed the best sons of the country, the honorably pious ones useless in a struggle for a chimera. The extraordinary—that was the works of a pious person, done quite voluntarily, springing from one’s own heart. It was the triumphant insistence on human freedom against simple obedience to God’s commandment. It was forbidden human self-righteousness, which the law never permitted. It was lawless self-sanctification, which had to be rejected by the law. It was the free works which established themselves in opposition to unfree obedience. It was the destruction of God’s community, the denial of faith; it was blasphemy against the law, blasphemy against God. Assessed by the law, the extraordinariness Jesus taught was deserving of the death penalty.[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/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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), 146–148.

 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Let It Shine, Shine, Shine All Around the World - Purity 797


Let It Shine, Shine, Shine All Around the World - Purity 797

Purity 797 07/29/2022   Purity 797 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of “Daybreak on the Indian River, Wabasso Florida,” comes to us from a friend who I have come to be able to rely on to continually bring stunning views of God’s creation as they always have an eye on the sky and periodically share what they have seen on social media.  

This morning I came across this photo but momentarily was absolutely clueless about its origins but as I considered the list on my “usual suspects”, I said to myself: “Of Course!” when I remembered this friend because I have used their work for a long time now as I have followed their travels from the earliest days of the re-emergence of my blog. Unfortunately, life isn’t always sunshine and currently this friend is dealing with a health issue and this morning as I highlight their work, I am also petitioning the Lord with prayer for their healing and the continuation of their active lifestyle that brings his friends joy. 

And also as it’s Saturday, it is my prayer that all my friends find some joy this last weekend of July.

It’s funny how the simplest, and sometimes silliest things, can change our mood and deliver us from the “blahs” and put a smile on our face.  

The caption of today’s photo: “Daybreak on Indian River” made me think of the old Barry Manilow song: “Daybreak”. As any child of the late 70’s & 80’s can tell you, “Barry Manilow was a thing” as in a big thing. My mother was a big fan of Barry in his hey day, and even though my mom was a working woman that had 4 sons to raise and seemingly didn’t have a lot of hobbies and interests other than working and taking care of her family, she actually went to a Barry Manilow concert!  My mother wasn’t the only fan of Barry’s. For a time Barry was everywhere!  I have friends who were in band in high school and they can attest to the fact that they performed his songs in marching band and at school assemblies.  

So because of my friend’s awesome photo and a distant memories of the past, I decided to take a look at the lyrics to Barry Manilow’s “Daybreak” and was surprised that, if we are daring enough, Christians could commandeer this song and use it to encourage us in our faith.  The lyrics say:

“Singing to the world

Its time we let the spirit come in”

Excuse me let the SPIRIT come in? As in the Holy Spirit?  Preach Barry, Preach!

“Let it come on in

I'm singing to the world

Everybody's caught in the spin

Look at where we've been

We've been running around

Year after year

Blinded it with pride

Blinded it with fear

 

But its daybreak

If you wanna' to believe

It can be daybreak

Ain't no time to grieve

Say its daybreak

If you 'll only believe

And let it shine, shine, shine all around the world”

I am sharing a link to a video of the song that highlights the lyrics on the blog today (https://youtu.be/kx0vDspgdLc) Man, what an simple uplifting song that can encourage us in our faith.  But when we sing that song let’s make it specific, in our hearts and minds and know that it is faith in Christ alone that can let the Spirit come in and that it is He who can give us the power to know peace and joy regardless of our circumstances. 

As someone who is familiar with depression, I can attest that our faith in Christ, the acceptance of who we are in Christ, and the recognition of all that the Lord has done through His creation, throughout history, and in our lives is the remedy for all the negative thoughts and feelings that can keep us down.  

If you want to believe, it can be daybreak!  And let me tell you brothers and sisters, when you live in the joy of all that the Lord has done and is actively doing in the world and in our lives, we can be grateful and rejoice with each new “daybreak”.  

So sing it to the world! Get past your pride. Get past your fears.  Put your trust in Christ as Lord and Savior and live according to God’s wisdom and ways and you can have peace and joy and you can let it shine, shine, shine all around the world.

So keep walking and talking with God.  At each daybreak give Him your gratitude and praise and make the daily decision to walk with Him. When you trust in Christ, He will transform your life by giving you the power to overcome all the things that drag you down and by reminding you that in Him alone you have found the life of peace that you have been looking for.  

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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 8:31 (NLT2)
31  Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.

Today’s verse reminds us what a disciple of Christ is: someone who remains faithful to His teachings.   

I think sometimes we can have a big misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian.  We are often encouraged to “believe in Jesus” and I think that some of us might really not know what that means.  I get the impression that some “Christians” believe in Jesus like a superstitious talisman and their faith in Christ is something where they will attest to historical moments from His life as the proof of their belief in Him. 

They say things like: “Christ was born of the virgin Mary, was crucified, died and rose again! Amen?”  

While these facts are all true, and we are to believe they are true as part of belief in and faith in Christ,  today’s verse indicates that His disciples are encouraged to do more that just be able to recite biographical facts about Christ.  

While it is very important to know the historical and theological facts about Jesus, and it’s a huge topic – called Christology -, Christ instructed his disciples to remain faithful to His teachings, and again, likewise, through His other instructions to His disciples in scripture we should understand the Christ didn’t expect His disciples to just intellectually know what he said and be able to repeat them.

As much as we are to know what “The Sermon on the Mount” and “The Great Commission” teachings say, we are also are to remain faithful to all of Christ’s teachings by trying to apply their wisdom to the way we live our lives.  

Christ’s teachings are the Word of God and they are to renew our minds and change they way we live. That’s how we are to remain faithful to His teachings, to be able to repeat them but to also be a living example of them, as much as we can. 

So Abide in Christ’s word, be faithful to His teachings by knowing what they say and by applying them to the way you live your life to show the world God’s love and to demonstrate that you are truly a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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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 Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

10 Christ and No Other

In africa a recurring problem for tribal people who turn to christ is what to do with their household gods and the deities whom their ancestors worshiped. Should they forsake them and destroy all their cultic images and paraphernalia? Or should they hold onto them and try to worship Christ together with their tribal deities? This decision is incredibly difficult for a tribal chief who fears that forsaking the gods of his ancestors might mean big trouble, even death, for him and his people.

In Paul’s day Christians struggled with the same issue. New converts certainly would have asked: Why not continue celebrating the mystery rites of Cybele or Dionysus? Why not wear an amulet invoking gods and angels for protection from evil spirits? Why not worship Hekate or Selene for the protection they can provide from the astral spirits or dangerous wildlife spirits? Would not spirituality be enhanced by performing the mystery rites of Demeter or by observing the days that are sacred to Artemis or to Yahweh?

The Colossian Christians, in particular, were undoubtedly entertaining many such questions. Living in a valley about 100 miles inland from Ephesus and only eleven miles away from Laodicea, the fledgling church at Colossae was struggling to resist the influence of other religious traditions. In a spiritual environment where syncretism was an accepted part of life, these Christians were tempted to compromise their fidelity to Christ alone.

To all Christians who are tempted to syncretize their faith, Paul gave a very clear response in the epistle to the Colossians. Yahweh continues to be a jealous God. He wants all believers to give their wholehearted and undistracted devotion to him and to his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Problem at Colossae: Christ Plus Something Else

Paul perceived a dangerous teaching was threatening the health and stability of the Colossian church. Although it is difficult to interpret the details of the aberration with certainty, it appears a group of people within the church were advocating that the rest of the church join them in a number of practices that were not a part of the Christian tradition or apostolic teaching. These practices seemed to be rooted in a syncretistic view of Christianity in which elements of mystery initiation, Jewish ritual observances and magical practices were combined with the gospel. In his letter Paul revealed the demonic nature of this false teaching and its accompanying practices. He called the church to a fresh commitment to the purity of the gospel.

Like all other cities of the Mediterranean world during Paul’s time, numerous gods and goddesses were worshiped at Colossae. Since archeologists have never excavated this ancient city, we know little about its religions from inscriptions, temples or cultic images. Fortunately a number of Colossian coins have been discovered bearing the images of a few of the deities worshiped there. Among them were Isis, Sarapis, the Ephesian Artemis, the Laodicean Zeus, Demeter, Men, Selene and Helios. We can assume that magical practices and astrological beliefs were part of the spiritual outlook of the Colossian citizens because they were so deeply rooted in the coastal cities of Asia Minor. There is also evidence for a fairly large Jewish population in Colossae and the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis. Thus there was probably a Jewish synagogue in or near the city.

There is also evidence that the false teaching had an explicit connection with mystery initiation. This connection may be seen at a place in the letter where Paul is describing the nature of the false teaching as part of his polemic. Unfortunately this connection is not clear in many of the modern English translations of the New Testament. In Colossians 2:18, Paul warned the Colossian Christians: “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions” (NIV; italics mine). Years ago, Sir William Ramsay, the distinguished authority on the geography and religions of Asia Minor, suggested that the italicized part of the verse should more precisely be translated: “what he had seen when he performed the higher stage of the [mystery] ritual” (italics mine).

The varying translations revolve around the interpretation of one very important word in the verse, which occurs only here in the New Testament. The word is actually quite rare in all of Greek literature, and every translator has had difficulty determining the exact meaning of it in this context. Literally, the phrase reads, “what he had seen, entering.” Some have tried to explain the word as “entering” in the sense of “investigating” or “explaining.” Ramsay based his interpretation on the appearance of the word in a series of religious inscriptions found just a few years earlier in a cultic sanctuary. The word appeared a number of times and seemed to refer to the climax of the initiation rites to the mysteries of the god Apollo at his temple at Claros on the west coast of Asia Minor. What heightened the significance of this discovery for interpreting Colossians was the fact that one of the groups coming to the Apollo temple was from Laodicea, Colossae’s nearest neighbor.

All of this seems to point to the fact that the false teaching at Colossae had a very close tie with initiatory rites into the mystery religions. It is possible a faction in the Colossian church was suggesting that their fellow believers join them in celebrating the mystery rites of a local deity, or perhaps even in establishing a Christian mystery initiation. Ramsay suggested there was a rival leader in the congregation who was introducing ideas that he had brought over from his old belief in the mystery religions, resulting in a mystic form of Christianity.

The dangerous teaching at Colossae also had an explicit connection with magical practices. The phrase “worship of angels” (Col 2:18) offers some evidence for this connection. It is quite possible Paul was denouncing a magical invocation of angels. It is not ntr. Floyd V. Filson (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, necessary for us to think only of good angels surrounding the throne of Yahweh. Christians and Jews were not the only ones who used the word angel for supernatural beings or spirits. Pagans also used the word angel in reference to their deities (such as Hekate) and to refer to intermediary spirits. Understood in this sense, Paul warned the Colossians not to get involved in calling on other gods or supernatural beings for protection or to perform a given task. For Paul this was tantamount to worshiping them. Christ alone deserved their worship.

This disrupting faction was presenting its teaching as a “philosophy” (2:8). This word does not necessarily imply an adherence to the ideas of a particular Greek philosopher or philosophical school of thought. Philosophy was a term that was used quite broadly, even in the sense of magical practices. Paul’s opposition to it was clear when he described their “fine-sounding arguments” (2:4) as “hollow” and “deceptive” (2:4, 8).

This teaching was not merely intellectual with no impact on the way day-to-day life was lived out. There were quite a number of ascetic practices that Paul alluded to in his characterization of it. The ascetic behavior extended to a “harsh treatment of the body” (2:23), perhaps implying even bodily mutilations. Self-flagellation was typical of the behavior of adherents to the cults of Cybele and Attis, which were known to exist in the area. Food and ritual observances also played a role in this “philosophy.” Paul cautioned the believers to allow no one to place upon them ritual demands in the realm of food and drink or with regard to religious festivals, new moons and sabbaths (2:16). Paul also scorned a prohibiting phrase that the adherents of this teaching had apparently cited: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” (2:21).

The rival teaching thus appeared to have elements from the mystery religions, magical practices and even Jewish beliefs (sabbaths). It was unequivocally a syncretistic “philosophy”—Christianity plus something else.[1]

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 138–141.