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Friday, October 21, 2022

The Myth of “The One” - Purity 868


The Myth of “The One” - Purity 868

Purity 868 10/21/2022 Purity 868 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a circular ripple on Hiawassee Lake from the vantage point of the Hanging Dog Recreational Area in Murphy North Carolina comes to us from a friend who posted this scene on social media back on October 12th with the following poem: 

“Sunlight starts the day anew

A lifetime I have searched for you

Eyes like the ocean

Reflect sky blue

Hair like the sun

With a golden hue

I've searched in the desert

I've searched by the sea

I came to the mountains

Where you might be

Now I sit by the water

With a mountain view

Watching ripples on the water

Fade away like you

Waterfalls turn into streams

And day turns into night

I’ll only see you in my dreams

Where I will hold you tight.”  

Well it's Friday again, Thank God,  and while our friend’s poem touches the heart as it portrays the reality that life can sometimes be the desperate but fruitless search for loves lost, but fondly remembered, I am thanking the Lord for showing me His love and for bringing me the love of my who just happens to have “Hair like the sun.” because I can well remember several times in my life that I was obsessed over gaining the love of someone I desired or was lamenting over the loves I had lost. 

Before I was shown the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I thought that was the meaning of life: finding your “soul mate”.  With that romantic world view, the world was a cold and lonely, albeit beautiful, place. But all the splendor of the world or the good things of life, were rendered meaningless without “THE ONE” who was somewhere out there with whom only a man could enjoy the other fruits of life with.  

But after a many broken relationships where I had hoped to find fulfillment, and in the midst of a troubled marriage where I couldn’t seem to make a “happy life” or a “happy wife” no matter how much I tried to appease and surrender to another’s will, the Lord revealed to me the truth about the meaning of life and death by opening my eyes to the BIG PICTURE that included the creation of the universe, , the God who authored it, the history and purpose of man, what went wrong, and how we can be made right because of Jesus Christ!

Everything I had tried to find meaning or satisfaction had failed me and in a moment of divine grace and clarity, I saw that everything that I had heard about Jesus Christ was true but I also saw the truth that being right with God wasn’t about me “doing everything right” it was about simply putting our faith in Jesus and surrendering to His Lordship and I discovered that it wasn’t about God’s desire to dominate or control us. Life was about the Creator trying to save His creation and it was motivated by love.   

God made us in His image and without Him, we suffer a feeling of inadequacy, that something is missing.  We each instinctively know this but the world, the flesh, and the devil come in and offer us alternatives that they promise will “complete us”.  One of those lies is of “The ONE” – the myth that there is one perfect person out there that will complete you and make you happy.  

But that myth is short sighted.  Even if there is someone out there that is perfectly compatible with you who can support and love you all the days of your life, they don’t answer the question of death.   To be focused on the search of “THE ONE” is to be blinded of the reality of your spiritual separation from God.  

Other myths out their do the same thing: The myths that life is:

·       “ALL ABOUT FAMILY” or

·       “Having ENOUGH MONEY” or

·       “BEING HAPPY” or

·       “BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF” or

·       “BEING THE BOSS OF MY LIFE” or

·       “BEING SMART” or

·       “BEING HEALTHY” or

·       “BEING SUCCESSFUL” or

·       “BEING LOVED”

Equally all fail us.  They all ignore the LORD, as if He was somehow not important? I mean how could we be so deceived to think that the One who gave us life is just some minor portion of our lives that can be given homage once a week or a couple of times a year? How can we think we can find the “meaning”, purpose, or a good strategy for life if we haven’t considered the One who made us?

But I know we can, because most of my life that’s what I did. My life philosophy was a composite of all the above myths and even though I was able to support myself financially and have a family and some fun in life if I am honest there was always that sense of absurdity or lack of satisfaction when I looked at my life and thought: “This is IT?”  

When those myths are your focus, the spiritual issues are either a sidebar to your life, that we will just have to hope for the best, or we deny the spiritual altogether and say “Yeah, this is it!” as in we blink out of existence, thus we better selfishly live it up!

But God wants us to know that this world and our ideas of it are not “IT”.  The idea of “The ONE” – or a soul mate is not IT.   Or at least not the way we thought it was.   

Because there is ONE who can fulfill us. One that can make us right. And that ONE is Jesus Christ and God sent Him to tell us the truth and to pay for our sins that separate us from God.   Christ answers all the questions of meaning and purpose.

 We are made in the image of God. Creation was broken by man’s sin and rebellion. SO God, out of His love for us sent Jesus to reconcile us to Him and it is only through Him that we can find peace.    

Just like we thought that the world was a pretty cold and lonely place that lacked the ability without our perfect = “soul mate” -  We discover that the reason why we have never been satisfied is because that only One that can complete us is Christ alone!

And the wonderful news is that when we put our faith in Jesus, we can truly live.  Through Christ we overcome death and sin, and have the power to enjoy our lives in his acceptance, security, and significance. 

In Christ we “become somebody”, we are adopted as royal ambassadors to the kingdom of God. We receive the knowledge of the wisdom of how to live and have peace with God.  

In Christ we need not fear, for God is with us and for us, forever.     

In Christ we are loved by God and have the mission to live out His purpose for us.  

Before Christ, I considered my self to be a Jack Kerouac searcher for meaning, good times, and love as I tried to make sense of the world with just the things of the world. I would wax on philosophically and poetically about all the wisdom I had gathered from my wild experiences of life.  But although I considered myself somewhat Kerouacian, I didn’t know JACK!  

In all my wanderings I dismissed the Bible, forsook the fellowship of the saints, and it was only through the grace of God, and a gospel radio message, that the Lord led me to the truth. 

So, don’t lament about the past, the Christian disciple’s orientation is to be forward looking and to keep our eyes on Christ, to follow Him with the way we live our lives, to meditate on the word of God, and to enjoy His presence in prayer and as we walk through this world.  

So keep walking and talking with God, IT turns out that JESUS is THE ONE we should have been looking for all along. And when we know His love, we can discover the new life He has for us and if the Lord wills it He will lead us into relationships with others, maybe even a spouse, that we can share our lives with, lives that are defined by the fruit of the Spirit because no matter what we do, our relationship with God will be the center of our existence and will provide us with the meaning, purpose, and love that we were always searching 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:

Psalm 51:17 (NLT2)
17  The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Today’s Bible versesdescribes our condition when we give up those myths and lies of the world and finally repent and surrender to the Lord. 

The spirit of broken man is the spirit of rebellion and self-sufficiency. We try to live independently from God and forge our own destinies, as if we could control anything in an ultimate sense.  Or we will try to please God with “good works” thinking if we just perform the right “sacrifice”, God will accept us.  

But today’s verse indicates the God desires us to submit to Him and repent. Our surrender to the Lordship of Christ not our sacrifice is the only thing that God wants or will accept.  

So remember what God desires and give Him wants by living a life that is repentant and surrendered to His will.   

___________________________________________

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.

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Righteousness of Christ continues

Jesus, the Son of God, who alone stands in full communion with God, renews the validity of the law by coming to fulfill the law of the Old Covenant. Because he was the only One who did that, he alone could truly teach the law and how it is fulfilled. The disciples would know and understand this when he told it to them, because they knew who he was. The Jews could not understand it as long as they did not believe him. That was why they had to reject his teaching of the law as blasphemy against God or, rather, against God’s law. Thus, for the sake of God’s true law, Jesus had to suffer at the hands of the advocates of the false law. Jesus died on the cross as a blasphemer, as a transgressor of the law, because he put into force the true law against the misunderstood, false law.

The fulfillment of the law, about which Jesus speaks, could therefore come about only through his being nailed to the cross as a sinner. He himself, as the crucified one, is the perfect fulfillment of the law.

This means that Jesus Christ and only he fulfills the law, because he alone lives in perfect communion with God. He himself steps between his disciples and the law, but the law does not come between him and his disciples. The disciples’ path to the law leads through the cross of Christ. Because Jesus points the disciples to the law, which he alone fulfills, he thus binds them anew to himself. He had to reject lawless allegiance apart from God’s law, because this would be enthusiasm, and, therefore, would mean a disrupture of all bonds instead of being bound to him. The disciples’ anxiety, however, that being bound to the law might separate them from Jesus was dispelled. Such anxiety could only arise from misunderstanding the law, which did, in fact, cut the Jews off from God. Instead of this, it became clear that true adherence to Jesus is granted only together with adherence to God’s law.

But if Jesus stands between his disciples and the law, it is not to release them from fulfilling the law. Instead, it is to enforce his demand that the law be fulfilled. The disciples’ adherence to him requires the same obedience of them. Also, fulfilling the law to the iota does not cancel that iota for the disciples from then on. It is fulfilled; that is all. But that fulfillment is precisely what really makes the law valid, so that now anyone who does and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “Do and teach”—it would be possible to think of a teaching of the law which dispenses with doing it by explaining that the purpose of the law would be merely to let us know that its fulfillment is impossible. Such a teaching cannot claim to be based on Jesus. The law demands to be done, just as surely as he himself did it. Those who in discipleship follow Jesus, who fulfilled the law, do and teach the law in their following. Only those who do the law can remain in the community of Jesus.

It is not the law which distinguishes the disciples from the Jews. Instead, it is ‘better righteousness’. The righteousness of the disciples “towers over” the scribes. It surpasses them; it is something extraordinary and distinctive. This is the first time that the concept of περισσεύειν appears, which will assume so much importance in verse 47. We must ask, what did the righteousness of the Pharisees consist of? What does the righteousness of the disciples consist of? The Pharisees certainly never succumbed to the antiscriptural fallacy of believing that the law should be taught, but not done. The Pharisees intended to be doers of the law. Their righteousness consisted of their immediate, literal obedience to what was commanded in the law. Their righteousness was their action. The goal of their righteousness was complete conformity of their action to what was commanded in the law. Nonetheless, a remnant always remained, which had to be covered by forgiveness. Their righteousness always remained incomplete. The righteousness of the disciples could also consist solely of their doing the law. No one who did not keep the law could be called righteous. But the disciples’ action surpasses that of the Pharisees in that it really is perfect righteousness, as opposed to the imperfect righteousness of the Pharisees. How can this be? The superiority of the disciples’ righteousness is that Jesus stands between them and the law—he, who has completely fulfilled the law, and in whose community they live. Instead of a law not yet fulfilled, the disciples confronted a law which had already been fulfilled. Before they even began to obey the law, it was already fulfilled; its demands were already satisfied. The righteousness required by the law is already there; it is the righteousness of Jesus, who went to the cross for the sake of the law. But because that righteousness is not only a good deed to be performed, but complete, true, and personal communion with God, Jesus not only has righteousness, he is righteousness personified. He is the disciples’ righteousness. In calling his disciples, Jesus granted them participation in himself; he gave them community with him; he let them participate in his own righteousness; he granted them his own righteousness. The disciples’ righteousness is the righteousness of Christ. Jesus begins his talk about ‘better righteousness’ by referring to his fulfillment of the law in order to make this point. The righteousness of Christ is really also the disciples’ righteousness. In a strict sense, it remains righteousness freely granted, granted through the call to discipleship. It is that righteousness which consists precisely in following him. It is that righteousness which received the promise of the kingdom of heaven in the Beatitudes. The disciples’ righteousness is righteousness under the cross. It is the righteousness of the poor, the mournful, the hungry, the meek, the peacemakers, and the persecuted—for the sake of the call of Jesus. It is the visible righteousness of those who in following him become the light of the world and the city on a hill—for the sake of the call of Jesus. The disciples’ righteousness is “better” than that of the Pharisees in that it rests solely on the call into the community of Jesus, who alone has fulfilled the law. The disciples’ righteousness really is righteousness, because they themselves now truly do the will of God and fulfill the law. The righteousness of Christ should not just be taught, but done. Otherwise, it is no better than the law which is merely taught, but not obeyed. Everything which will be said next should be understood in light of this doing of the righteousness of Christ by the disciples. In a word, this means to follow him. It is genuine, simple obedience in faith in the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness of Christ is the new law, the law of Christ.[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), 117–120.

Monday, September 12, 2022

A Home in Christ - Purity 834

A Home in Christ - Purity 834

Purity 834 09/12/2022  

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a fisherman up to his knees in the surf with a rising, or setting, sun on his right, presumably near Mulligan’s Beach House in Sebastian Florida, comes to us from a friend who recently left the sunshine state for a new home in North Carolina. He shared this scene on social media back on August 7th with the following poem as a type of fond farewell, he wrote: 

I’ll soon leave the palm trees

The beach and the Sea,

The call of the mountains,

It beckons me.

Up in the mountains

Is where I will roam

Up in the mountains

A Place I’ll call home.

In all of my travels

So much I have learned

For a home in the mountains

I always have yearned

A sparkling brook

A cool waterfall

The view from the summit

The colors of fall

The Call of the mountains

It beckons to me

A home in the mountains

It sets the soul free.

Since retirement, our friend has gone from upstate New York, to Kentucky, to Florida and now to the mountains of North Carolina and has shared some amazing views along the way and it is my prayer that he finds the peace that comes from searching for, finding, and finally “going home”.    

I know in my short travels from the shadow of the Berkshires in Craryville NY to my riverside accommodations in Stuyvesant, there was a contrast geographically but it was the sense of finding a new home that made the scenic beauty of my place “down by the River” shine even brighter.   

And now because of my marriage to TammyLyn, I have another sense of home when I go to our countryside home in Easton. But in all honesty, as much as I have come to love walking up and down Waite Road to enjoy the scenic farmland and Big Sky views in the morning and afternoons, I could and would leave it all behind in a minute if she relocated.  

This is the second chance at marriage for both of us, and I believe it was the marriage we were both supposed to have all along, a marriage with God at the center, and now our sense of home doesn’t really come from a geographic location as much as it comes from being in each other’s presence.

I was just commenting to TammyLyn last night that while our lives seem to always have some elements of drama with the challenges of maintaining two households, dealing with difficult ex’s, and the shifting landscapes of careers and ministry, that I know that God brought us together, and that even though their has been difficulties to deal with, I know we are supposed to be together because I simply can’t imagine a life where TammyLyn isn’t my wife.   If I even try to imagine it, the contemplation results in imagining an existence that would be far less than what I have now, like I would have missed something that God had for me.    

Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I love TammyLyn dearly but our coming together was a little more than me “liking her”.  Men can be pretty foolish, and we can like just about anybody but with finding a wife in TammyLyn, God was the matchmaker. Because I try to live out my faith everyday, the elements of faith and character were the most important attributes in finding a spouse and when the Holy Spirit revealed to me that “there was no other” than TammyLyn, I knew I had found my wife for life.   I knew I had found the someone I would be “at home” with no matter what we would have to endure or where the Lord would have us go.    

So the Lord has blessed me with a “home” more than once.  I have a home “down by the River”, I have a home on a Country Road in Easton, and I have a home in my marriage with TammyLyn. 

However, I would not give the glory that God is due to suggest that these homes are anywhere I could find a long and sustaining peace, separate from Him. 

No, when I was a vagabond and a refugee in the great in between of my former life and where I am now, I found a home, and I found myself, when I found the Lord. I found a home in Christ. 

So if you don’t have a house or a significant other that give you a sense of “home” or peace, let me assure you that no matter where you look you will never find it without Christ. 

In speaking about Himself, and his disciples, and about the world Christ said:

John 15:19 (NKJV)
19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  

John 17:14-17 (NKJV)
14  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
15  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
16  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
17  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

John 18:36 (NKJV)
36  Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."

So this world is not our home, but when we put our faith in Jesus, we have the promise of a place in God’s eternal kingdom and will find it when He either comes back to get us when Christ returns or when He shows us the way home in eternity.   

So no matter how you feel this Monday morning about your place in this world and what you base your sense of “home” on, keep walking and talking with God because in Christ we can be at home in our own skins, we can have peace knowing that we are accepted, secure, and significant in Him.    And the home we have in Christ, exists for all eternity, endures through all trials, tribulations, and changes, and goes wherever we go.  In Him, we have peace regardless of circumstances and because of Him we can be content in all things because where ever we go, there we are, at home in Christ.

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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:

Matthew 23:12 (NKJV)
12  And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus and they remind us to not think too highly of ourselves because whoever exalts himself will be humbled.   

As we spoke about in Saturday’s blog, as Christians we are to beware of our pride because it is the original root cause of Satan’s sin and it could lead to our being humbled or our ultimate destruction if we are so busy exalting ourselves in this world that we never think to humble ourselves and make Jesus our Lord and Savior.   

In the context of today’s verse, Christ was speaking to the Pharisees and was seeking to warn them of their spiritual pride that they fed by being considered highly exalted members of their communities, receiving preferential seating at feasts and respectful greeting in the marketplaces.  

While there is nothing wrong in receiving honor for your service to God’s kingdom, it can be a slippery slope to fall on if we begin to crave the honor of men for ourselves rather than remembering that the glory should go to God.  

The pharisees were so proud that their spiritual eyes were blinded to the reality that the Messiah was in their midst. They were so concerned about their positions of power and respect that they failed to respect the Son of God when He came preaching the kingdom of God and performed miraculous signs and wonders.  

Their plot to remove Jesus by having him killed may have seemed like a way to maintain their exalted position in Jerusalem but they were undoubtedly humbled by His resurrection and, certainly, by the loss of all their positions and power when Christ’s prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem came to pass in 70 AD. 

So for the Christian disciple, we are to remember that its not about us, our lives have been saved by Christ and all that we do should be done, not to exalt ourselves, but to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and to represent the kingdom of God in humble obedience.

 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

PART ONE - Chapter One: Costly Grace

Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgiveness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacrament; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without costs. It is said that the essence of grace is that the bill for it is paid in advance for all time. Everything can be had for free, courtesy of that paid bill. The price paid is infinitely great and, therefore, the possibilities of taking advantage of and wasting grace are also infinitely great. What would grace be, if it were not cheap grace?

Cheap grace means grace as doctrine, as principle, as system. It means forgiveness of sins as a general truth; it means God’s love as merely a Christian idea of God. Those who affirm it have already had their sins forgiven. The church that teaches this doctrine of grace thereby confers such grace upon itself. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins, for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be set free. Cheap grace is, thus, denial of God’s living word, denial of the incarnation of the word of God.

Cheap grace means justification of sin but not of the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways. “Our action is in vain.” The world remains world and we remain sinners “even in the best of lives.” Thus, the Christian should live the same way the world does. In all things the Christian should go along with the world and not venture (like sixteenth-century enthusiasts) to live a different life under grace from that under sin! The Christian better not rage against grace or defile that glorious cheap grace by proclaiming anew a servitude to the letter of the Bible in an attempt to live an obedient life under the commandments of Jesus Christ! The world is justified by grace, therefore—because this grace is so serious! because this irreplaceable grace should not be opposed—the Christian should live just like the rest of the world! Of course, a Christian would like to do something exceptional! Undoubtedly, it must be the most difficult renunciation not to do so and to live like the world. But the Christian has to do it, has to practice such self-denial so that there is no difference between Christian life and worldly life. The Christian has to let grace truly be grace enough so that the world does not lose faith in this cheap grace. In being worldly, however, in this necessary renunciation required for the sake of the world—no, for the sake of grace!—the Christian can be comforted and secure (securus) in possession of that grace which takes care of everything by itself. So the Christian need not follow Christ, since the Christian is comforted by grace! That is cheap grace as justification of sin, but not justification of the contrite sinner who turns away from sin and repents. It is not forgiveness of sin which separates those who sinned from sin. Cheap grace is that grace which we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.

Costly grace is the hidden treasure in the field, for the sake of which people go and sell with joy everything they have. It is the costly pearl, for whose price the merchant sells all that he has; it is Christ’s sovereignty, for the sake of which you tear out an eye if it causes you to stumble.[7] It is the call of Jesus Christ which causes a disciple to leave his nets and follow him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which has to be asked for, the door at which one has to knock.

It is costly, because it calls to discipleship; it is grace, because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—“you were bought with a price”—and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did, indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.

Costly grace is grace as God’s holy treasure which must be protected from the world and which must not be thrown to the dogs. Thus, it is grace as living word, word of God, which God speaks as God pleases. It comes to us as a gracious call to follow Jesus; it comes as a forgiving word to the fearful spirit and the broken heart. Grace is costly, because it forces people under the yoke of following Jesus Christ; it is grace when Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”[13]

Twice the call went out to Peter: Follow me! It was Jesus’ first and last word to his disciple (Mark 1:17; John 21:22). His whole life lies between these two calls. The first time, in response to Jesus’ call, Peter left his nets, his vocation, at the Sea of Galilee and followed him on his word. The last time, the Resurrected One finds him at his old vocation, again at the Sea of Galilee, and again he calls: Follow me! Between the two lies a whole life of discipleship following Christ. At its center stands Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ of God. The same message is proclaimed to Peter three times: at the beginning, at the end, and in Caesarea Philippi, namely, that Christ is his Lord and God. It is the same grace of Christ which summons him—Follow me! This same grace also reveals itself to him in his confessing the Son of God.

Grace visited Peter three times along his life’s path. It was the one grace, but proclaimed differently three times. Thus, it was Christ’s own grace, and surely not grace which the disciple conferred on himself. It was the same grace of Christ which won Peter over to leave everything to follow him, which brought about Peter’s confession which had to seem like blasphemy to all the world, and which called the unfaithful Peter into the ultimate community of martyrdom and, in doing so, forgave him all his sins. In Peter’s life, grace and discipleship belong inseparably together. He received costly grace.[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), 41–46.

 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

What Remains Matters – A Simple Mission of Love – Purity 746

 

What Remains Matters – A Simple Mission of Love – Purity 746

Purity 746 06/01/2022  Purity 746 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the geological wonder known as The Sugar Loaf at sunset comes to us from Dave Baun Photography (https://www.facebook.com/DaveBaunPhotography/) as Dave visited the Hallett Cove Conservation Park in Adelaide South Australia on May 27th.  The Sugarloaf, named for its resemblance to a mass of hard refined sugar is said to have been shaped due to wind and erosion. The red layer is made of boulders and sediment deposited on the bottom of an ancient glacial meltwater lake. When the lake was drained, white sand blew over it and settled https://www.walkingsa.org.au/walk/find-a-place-to-walk/glacial-hike-hallett-cove-conservation-park/)

Well, it’s Wednesday again and I couldn’t think of a better photo to represent “hump day” and the process of gradual change than this picture of the Sugar Loaf. Even though some sources say it took Sugar Loaf 280 million years to form from the gradual shaping of wind and water, the beauty of Sugar Loaf lies not in what was lost but in what endured the test of time and remained.  As I often say regarding our journey of life, it is not where you start that matters but where you finish that will define who you are and what you stand for. 

And like the Sugar Loaf, it won’t matter what was lost over the years and through the winds of change, but what will matter is what remains.  

Yesterday, one of my jobs sent me to a senior couple who had been married for 70 years! The husband, a WWII veteran who had enlisted in the Marine Corp at 17 years old, still had a strong hand shake at 97, and his wife of 90 years was still proud of and in love with her hero.  Why these two were still in such good health at such an advanced age is anyone’s guess, but I would hypothesize that it could have something to do with their faith, as I happen to notice several pieces of tangible evidence of their devotion to Jesus Christ in their home.

Proverbs 16:31 (NLT2) says
31  Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.  

 

And this couple’s kindness and love for one another would reflect Christ’s statement about his disciples:

 

John 13:35 (NKJV)
35  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

 

This simple example of love and a prolonged commitment to God and one another inspires me for the years ahead for my beloved wife and I.  

 

In my journey of faith over the last twelve years , I have continuously sought the Lord and His will for my life and have always imagined that my journey would lead me to some epic mission or some great work of ministry, and I realize now that I have found it as my marriage to TammyLyn is something that Lord has provided me with that gives me love, meaning, and purpose. 

 

Ephesians 5:25-33 (NKJV) says
25  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
26  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27  that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
28  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
29  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
30  For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
31  "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
32  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  

 

As I was saved and delivered from my personal darkness and chose to be faithful to the calling of following the Lord’s will for my life and decided to live according to God’s word, I found the peace, love, and joy of the Lord.  

But let’s keep it real when you decided to live a lifestyle of a Christian disciple, the rest of the world and even other “Christians”, can think you have gone off the deep end. Living according to Biblical Christianity with discernment and balance is not common at all and the convictions and moral discipline it requires separates you from the rest of society as there are many things that are acceptable in our society today that Christians really shouldn’t do, at all. 

 

My conviction to remain sexually pure, unless I was married, after my divorce was challenging, especially considering I wasn’t sure I would ever get married again! So when I decided to remain celibate unless married, I was fully prepared to go through the rest of my life without sex, of any kind, as the Bible convicted me that all sex outside of marriage was sin and bondage to the flesh.  

 

But amazingly, sexual purity was possible and a great relief once I had a degree of freedom in it.   So, I was okay.  In fact, despite the occasional temptations to consider going back to my old ways, I was great.

 

Anyway, the point is not that wow, I get to have sex again.  The point is that I never thought that I would enjoy the love and intimacy of a Christian marriage.  It seemed to be something that just was not going to be in the offering for me because frankly, there are some rather worldly women calling themselves Christians, and my level of commitment to follow the Lord was not exactly lining the ladies up at my doorstep.  

 

But the Lord used my podcast, to introduce me to TammyLyn and in less than a years time we became friends, fell in love, and were married with our faith and the Lord at the center of our marriage.  

 

So I take those verses in Ephesians 5 about loving my wife like Jesus loved the church as my continual mission and purpose for the rest of my life.  I don’t know if TammyLyn and I will live to be 97 and 90 like the couple I saw yesterday, but if we do, I plan on honoring my wedding vows and endeavoring to love my wife like Jesus loved the church.  

 

I think one of the great problems of the Christian faith in America is the lack of understanding and commitment people have when it comes to knowing what the Bible says and applying its wisdom to our lives. Christ’s great commandments would have us love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

 

So God comes first. Love Him by getting to know who He is, by seeking His presence, and by knowing and living by what His word says. 

 

Then, if you are married, you first neighbor is your spouse! So love them sacrificially and make sure that you are both in tune with that first commandment, to keep God at the center of your relationship to maintain the proper balance. If you are both accountable to follow the Lord, neither one of you will seek to dominate or abuse the other and your love will be bult on mutual love, trust, and service to one another.   

 

I know I am only at the 5 month mark of my marriage with TammyLyn, but my marriage to her represents part of God’s plan for my life and I plan on being faithful to follow The Lord’s direction and to let Him live in the center of our marriage to guide us in loving one another and to show His love to everyone we encounter.  

 

   

 

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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:

2 Thessalonians 1:6 (NLT2)
6  In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us that God is sovereign, and no one is free of the consequences of His judgement and that those who persecute Christians will be paid back.     

As Creator, God sets the standards for what is right and wrong behaviorally but in truth our behaviors really are a reflection of whether or not we understand and respect God’s authority, as Creator and Righteous Judge of the universe.

If we believe the word of God is true and Jesus is who He said He is we will put our faith in Him as Lord and Savior and then seek to follow what the Lord instructs in His word.  

But as much as this world like to profess tolerance, those who deny the truth of God’s word are often not content to just “live and let live” and will actively mock, deride, condemn, and persecute Christians for what they believe.   

Darkness has no place in the Light and the darkness of men’s hearts will cause them to persecute Christians.  But today’s verse assures us that those who persecute Christians will be repaid.  

Even if they deny God’s existence, they are still subject to His law and His judgement.  The only good God has to be a just God and the Bible speaks of the how the wicked will be punished for their sins.   

We are to endure persecution and love our enemies in hopes that they will put their faith in Jesus because we know that we were worthy of God’s wrath too but we found mercy and grace. As much as we can be relieved that justice will be done, we should seek to save that which is lost while there is still hope that they can see the light and leave their darkness behind.

 

 

 

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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

If You Come With No Interest or Knowledge

Not everybody comes to this chapter with a clear and driving passion for the glory of Christ among the unreached peoples of the world. Most of us are pretty parochial and ethnocentric and narrow, and even sometimes self-centered and racist, in our way of life. We hardly ever even think about the global, multinational, multiethnic, multi-linguistic cause of God, and what God’s passion and purposes are for Guinea and Indonesia and Tanzania and Thailand and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Turkey and Czechoslovakia and China and Siberia and Japan and Cameroon and Myanmar and the Somali or the Hmong or the Dakota or the Ojibwa of Minnesota.

So I don’t assume that you come to this chapter with a clear and resounding interest in the really great news of the world—which the media never report—namely, the spread of Christian truth and faith among the peoples of the world on the way to a God-wrought consummation that will make all of world history look like what it really is—a brief prelude to the everlasting, all-glorious kingdom of Christ. I don’t assume you come with your heart enthralled with God’s great global purpose. So I simply want to let God tell you, in his own words, about his priorities.

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27–28)

Then there are Old Testament prayers:

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy. (Psalm 67:3–4)

Then there are Old Testament commands:

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! … Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” (Psalm 96:3, 10)

Then there is the great New Testament Commission from the risen Christ:

Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)

Then there is the apostle Paul’s great life of utter dedication to this mission:

I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” (Romans 15:20–21)

Then there is the magnificent picture of the final outcome of God’s purposes in history:

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you [O Christ] to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9–10)

A Summary Statement of Faith on Missions

From these and many other Scriptures, I have been impelled over the years to think and preach and write about Christ’s great global purpose called missions. Several years ago the elders of our church drafted a statement of faith to guide us in the education of our apprentices and in the selection of new elders. Paragraph 13 of that document summarizes our sense of what missions is:

We believe that the commission given by the Lord Jesus to make disciples of all nations is binding on His Church to the end of the age. This task is to proclaim the Gospel to every tribe and tongue and people and nation, baptizing them, teaching them the words and ways of the Lord, and gathering them into churches able to fulfill their Christian calling among their own people. The ultimate aim of world missions is that God would create, by His Word, worshippers who glorify His name through glad-hearted faith and obedience. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and the goal of missions.

Even Civilians Love to Follow the Triumphs on the Front Lines

This is the big picture. Christ came and died and rose again in order to gather a joyful, countless company for his name from all the peoples of the world. This is what every Christian should dream about. I say this carefully, in view of what I wrote in Chapter 8 about secular vocations. It is crucial that millions of Christians fulfill their life calling in secular jobs, just as it is crucial that during wartime the entire fabric of life and culture not unravel. But during wartime, even the millions of civilians love to get news from the front lines. They love to hear of the triumphs of the troops. They dream about the day when war will be no more. So it is with Christians. All of us should dream about this. We should love to hear how the advance of King Jesus is faring. We should love to hear of gospel triumphs as Christ plants his church among peoples held for centuries by alien powers of darkness.

This is God’s design in world history—that people from all nations and tribes and languages come to worship and treasure Christ above all things. Or as Paul put it in Romans 15:9, “that the Gentiles [all the peoples] might glorify God for his mercy.” There can be no weary resignation, no cowardly retreat, and no merciless contentment among Christ’s people while he is disowned among thousands of unreached peoples. Every Christian (who loves people and honors Christ) must care about this.[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 159–163.