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Showing posts with label Matthew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matthew. Show all posts

Monday, November 7, 2022

A New Happy Place! Discovering and Rediscovering the Joy and Presence of the Lord - Purity 882

A New Happy Place! Discovering and Rediscovering the Joy and Presence of the Lord - Purity 882

Purity 882 11/07/2022 Purity 882 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of sunrise and the glory of the sun shining through the clouds from the vantage point of Panther Top Tower in the Nantahala National Forest near Murphy North Carolina comes to us from a friend who reports that he has discovered a new “happy place!” less then 10 miles from his home, commenting that the photos he shared can’t do the natural beauty there justice and that the remoteness of the location means that there are rarely others there when he visits so it provides the additional serenity that comes from enjoying the splendor of God’s creation all by himself.

Of course, those of us who have had the Truth revealed to us know that we are never ever really alone as God is Omnipresent, present everywhere.  And that those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, take God with us everywhere we go because The Holy Spirit indwells us.  So we might enjoy the relative solitude of going places where there are no other people, but no matter where we go, God is with us.  And that is truly fantastic news.   

Well, it’s Monday again, and whether or not you have the time to go to your “happy place” or if your day requires you to go back to work, that fantastic news – of God’s omnipresence, and the Holy Spirit being along for the ride in those of us who have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, is always something we can take joy in even if our circumstances aren’t necessarily happy.  

Unfortunately, in the turmoil and challenges of going through life, we can lose sight of this fantastic news and we can really feel all alone and that nobody loves us or cares about us.  

That’s a big lie.  I have been listening to the audiobook of Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy and while I initially thought that Willard was perhaps trying to be a bit too intellectual or sophisticated in his exposition of the Christian faith, but he knows Jesus and his book makes the case for kingdom living, actually living our lives as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and so I continued to listen and quickly saw that we had a mutual friend in Christ and basically spoke the same language that sought to encourage people to follow Jesus.

As I listened, Willard wrote about some of the basic attributes of God, one being His omnipresence, and at first I have to admit that I thought I was in a part of the book that I would have to suffer through because I “already knew all about that”.   

But Willard’s writing caused to consider this basic fact about God that is so amazing that it is difficult to fathom just how big God is, just how deep, how wide, and how every where at once God is.   Willard’s writing pointed to the vastness of space – our ever expanding universe and discoveries from the Hubble telescope that captured images of galaxies that were so huge and magnificent that it was difficult to imagine that they actually existed in a galaxay far far away.   

But the photos from the Hubble telescope tell us they are there.   And because of that technology we can actually look at this things and enjoy their beauty. Pretty awesome right?

But the thing is Hubble is only a recent discovery. Willard’s writing pointed out that long before man ever saw these things or could even adequately imagine their existence, God knew all about them and enjoyed their beauty, all by Himself. 

Today’s photo and the contemplation of all the beautiful scenes out there just waiting to be discovered, or enjoyed again,  reminded me of:   

Psalm 19:1 (NKJV) that says
1  The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

People in their struggles through life often ask to be shown a sign that God is real.  Meanwhile we have all of  creation declaring His handiwork. The fact that there is anything, shows that there must be a self-existent Being that created it all. That’s God. 

And if creation wasn’t enough, God revealed Himself to man as documented in all the accounts of the Bible and then personally through the advent of Jesus Christ to earth.  And now because of Christ we can continuously enjoy the presence of God with us, through the Holy Spirit.   

But we can forget about what we know about God! We can be so consumed with the drama of this world that we can even think that we are all alone in the world.  

Even I who, makes a point of encouraging others to keep walking and talking with God, forgot about the wonder of God’s omnipresence. Somewhere along the path of Christian Discipleship, I took it for granted that I “knew all about it” and thus sort of forgot about it and it took another like minded Christian’s writings to reintroduce me to the awe and wonder of the One that I tell everyone to follow!

God is infinite so I realize that there will never be appoint where I “know all about” Him.  There is more to discover and even the things we “know” about God need some periodic reboots to remind us just how wonderful and amazing it is that we have come into relationship with Him and that He is literally always with us.  

So don’t harden your hearts or your heads to the Lord by thinking you know all about Him.  Even the things we “know” become less “known” over time as we lose the appreciation of the things we know because of our supposed familiarity with them.  

Plus more often than not as we keep walking and talking with God, the Lord graciously reveals more of Himself and His truth to us and we discover that our understandings of Him which we thought were so sophisticated are revealed to have been remedial.  

And because of this aspect of our relationship with the Lord, I really have to emphasize the first piece of advice that I normally give to those who are curious about having a deeper walk with the Lord: and that advice is to SEEK the LORD. 

While I thought of

Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) that are the Lords words of encouragement that say:
13  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

I am also sharing a link to 100 verses from Open Bible . info that highlight scriptures that speak about seeking God (https://www.openbible.info/topics/seeking_god) because we should not rest in our attempts to know the Lord more and to seek Him and His will for our lives.  

When we walk with God, we continually find new “happy places” because His joy fills us when we discover something new about Him or are reminded about something we thought we knew and we gain a new appreciation or understanding of it anew.

So keep walking, and keep talking with God.  Everywhere you go He goes and, when you continue to seek His wisdom and presence,  you discover a new happy place every time you discover a little more about Him and of what He knows.

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 25:29 (NKJV)
29  For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.

Today’s verses are the words of Jesus, which tell us that He has more instore for us but warns that for he who does not have a relationship with Him, even what they have will be taken away.

Like what? What will be taken away if you don’t have a relationship with Christ as a “good servant” of the Lord?

Well in verse 30, Christ states

Matthew 25:30 (NKJV)
30  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Yeah, Christ basically says that you will lose everything and be cast into Hell, yikes!!

Anyone who pontificates about “gentle Jesus”, hasn’t read the New Testament as our Savior repeatedly warned about Hell and pointed to Himself as the only way to the Father.  

So, rejoice if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, because to you, who have been given much, more will be given. 

But we shouldn’t miss the overall context of this section of scripture in which Jesus is telling a parable of servants being industrious with the resources that their master has given them.  The parable teaches us to be good stewards and to utilize the talents we have been given but if we show that we have no relationship, no trust of the master, and do nothing with what he gave us, we are warned that we will be exposed as one who was “unprofitable” or “useless” and be judged. 

Christ came to redeem our lives and lead us to realize our purpose in His kingdom.

When we are not redeemed, covered by Christ’s blood, and choose to live for ourselves rather than Him, we lose everything.  

But don’t be afraid, if we trust in and obey the master by making Jesus the Lord of our lives, we will lose anything and instead with gain everything and know just how abundant a life with Christ can be.

 

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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

The Hiddenness of Prayer continues

Of course, even prayer can be distorted into a demonstrative act, which brings what is hidden into the light. This happens not only in public prayer, which degenerates into empty phrases. These days that will rarely happen. But it is no better; indeed, it is even more harmful when I make myself the observer of my own prayer, when I pray before myself. It does not matter whether I am enjoying watching myself at prayer, or whether I catch myself feeling irritated or ashamed at prayer. The public nature of life in the street is only a more naive form of the public display I construct by myself. Even in my little room I can produce quite a remarkable public demonstration. That is how far we can distort Jesus’ word. The public display I construct by myself consists of my being simultaneously the one who is praying and the one who is listening. I listen to myself; I hear myself. Because I do not want to wait for God to listen to me, because I do not want to wait for God to show me someday that my prayer was heard, I construct my own hearing of my prayer. I observe that I prayed piously, and this observation provides the satisfaction of being heard. My prayer is heard. I have received my reward. Because I have heard myself, God will not hear me. Because I have given myself the reward of public acclaim, God will give me no further reward.

What is the room into which I should go, of which Jesus speaks, if I am not even safe from myself? How can I lock it so tightly that no observer ruins the hiddenness of prayer and steals from me the reward of hidden prayer? How can I protect myself from myself? From my own reflections? How does my reflection kill reflection? The word “kill” must be spoken. My own will to have my own way by means of my prayer must die, must be killed. My will has died when Jesus’ will alone reigns in me and all of my will has been drawn into his. It has died in community with Jesus, in discipleship. Then I can pray that the will of God, who knows what I need before I ask for it, be done. The only way my prayer is sure, strong, and pure is when it comes from the will of Jesus. Then prayer really is supplication. The child entreats the Father whom it knows. General adoration is not the essence of Christian prayer; supplication is. The right and proper attitude of a human being before God is to entreat God with outstretched hands, knowing that God has the heart of a loving parent.

Although genuine prayer is hidden prayer, that does not exclude the possibility of community prayer, provided that it has become clear how great are the dangers of common prayer. Ultimately, it does not matter whether prayer is on the street or in one’s room, whether it is short or long, whether it is in the litany of church prayer or in the sighs of those who do not know how they should pray, whether it is done by an individual or a community. The only thing that matters is knowing that your Father knows what you need. That is what directs our prayer solely to God. That liberates the disciples from false belief in works.[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), 153–155.

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

"Smile" - The Enemy Hiding in Plain Sight - Purity 859


"Smile" - The Enemy Hiding in Plain Sight - Purity 859

Purity 859 10/11/2022 Purity 859 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a display of the fruits of the harvest of autumn comes to us from a friend who visited Longwood Gardens in Kenneth Square Pennsylvania back on October 1st and shared this among many other photos of the garden grounds on social media.   

Well, we are eleven days deep into the tenth month of the year and yesterday the stress of watching my beloved suffer from dental pain all weekend and the less than idyllic weather on the last day of our extended weekend sent me to Regal Cinemas yesterday afternoon to unwind by tensing up to the suspenseful macabre delights of a film called “Smile”, and although I heard some relieved laughter after a few “jump scares” in the theatre there was really nothing to smile or laugh about as this horror movie unwittingly portrayed some scenes and themes that were logically consistent with the realities of  demonic oppression and possession and how our secular society is ill equipped to resist and defeat the powers of darkness



While “Smile” was grotesquely over the top and “schlocky” with some of its special effects near the climax of the action, the movie was entertaining and informative if you have a knowledge of the scriptures in the Bible concerning the spiritual forces of darkness and how Satan operates.   

The premise of the movie is that people are being tormented and being driven to insanity and compelled to suicide or murder by an enemy that no one can see, who uses visions and memories of the past to torment its victims. The phenomenon looks like mental illness or a curse as the terror and carnage move from host to host leaving a trail of trauma and blood in its wake.    

Without giving away too much of the film, the main character is a psychiatrist who has unresolved issues in her past that drives her to serve in her post at the psychiatric ER with religious devotion, working 80 hour weeks. She also is under family stress due to issues with her PTA picture perfect sister and from being engaged to be married to a picture perfect fiancé.  All the “perfect” pictures in this woman’s life are exposed to the light of truth when she is suddenly exposed to the spiritual forces of darkness as one of her patient’s complains of an unseen evil entity tormenting her moments before she commits suicide in front of her with a silent and devilish grin.  

In the ensuing drama we see that the unseen enemy torments this young doctor to see things that aren’t there, to do horrific things she can’t remember, and to be confronted with the unresolved issues of her past.  

She pleads with doctors, family, and her fiancé to understand that what is happening to here is caused by evil spirit and no one believes her and fears that she has simply lost her mind.  

Because this entity requires a “witness” to be carried on to the next host, the main character makes the unwise decision to isolate and do battle with this, I’ll say it, demon with her imagination, on her own?  

Again, no spoilers, but let’s just say that there is more than ample room for a sequel, because although the demons of this doctor’s past are resolved, the continuation of the dark entity may be another story…  

The things that popped out for me in “Smile” that make me endorse it for as a somewhat accurate portrayal of demonic oppression and a decent movie to give you a few chills, although the running time may have been a little too long, are the way the film subtly laid out the things that can cause a demon to attach itself to someone and how a demon could flourish.  

In describing Satan, Christ says in

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…

The dark entity in “Smile” definitely came to steal and destroy the peace and sanity of its victims and actively sough to kill thtem.

James 4:7 (NKJV) tells us
7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  

Although the doctor in “Smile” was told by her patient, and was herself later convinced that, this situation was caused by a spiritual force of darkness, no one in this entire movie ever even mention a spiritual remedy to try to cast it out. No mention of the Bible, no mention of God, priests, or even voodoo or white magic or any spiritual means were considered to solve this problem.   

In our modern secular post Christian society, this shouldn’t be too surprising but I knew that the only thing that can cast out darkness is the spiritual power and authority of the light of the world found in Christ alone.

Instead the doctor actually asks for medication to make the disturbing images go away and then only seeks to play by the enemy’s rules and in her desperation even considers murdering someone else to save her own life and pass on the demon to some one else.   

Instead of submitting to God, the doctor considers submitting to Satan!

And you may ask yourself why is this doctor selected by this dark spirit, how can she be tormented so badly by this unseen enemy.  

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)
26  "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
27  nor give place to the devil.

As I indicated the doctor had no relationship with the Lord.  She wasn’t submitting to God but by her lifestyle of casual sin also makes room for the enemy in her life.  

In the early going we see the doctor self-medicates against stress with alcohol, against the Bible’s clear instruction against drunkenness.  

The doctor lives with her fiancé, from which we can surmise that she has gone against the word of God by committing fornication.    

And finally, she has unresolved guilt from the past that the enemy delights in tormenting her with that could have been removed by a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.   

In the thick of the action of when the doctor decides to fight the enemy,  the dark spirit cackles: “Your mind is SO inviting!” which caused me to think that the enemy really is hiding in plain sight in this movie and seems to be cackling at the audience who disbelieves in the spiritual forces of darkness, who has no relationship with God, has no conviction of the sin in their lives, and who finds entertainment in a movie that puts the enemy’s dark arts on display.  

At the end of the film, some people actually applauded as there was room for more fun with this dark spirit as a sequel is all but certain.    

I know, it’s just a movie, right?   Society is basically good and we only watch these things for entertainment, right?  

Well, let’s just say I think it is dark out there and things are getting darker as the more secular we become the enemy is drawing people deeper into sins that are now common place where they were taboo in no too distant past.

Rather than resist the devil, people resist God.  

I wouldn’t think that’s true but over the weekend I had a comment on my videos on You Tube, that suggest that because Christians should pray for sinners, that we should pray for the biggest sinner of them all, Satan.  Even in jest, the suggestion to pray for the Evil One really shows the spirit of darkness, rebellion, and ignorance that is common in our world.   

Revelation 20:10 (NKJV) tells us
10  The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

So as scary as the enemy can seem He is defeated foe. He causes evil to flourish in the hearts of men and He is not worthy of our prayers or sympathy.  

 

So as we walk through the spooky month of October, let those around you know that God is in charge and although the spiritual forces of darkness and the evil that they perpetrate in the hearts of men will be overcome by the Lord when Christ returns and that if we submit to God and resist the devil in our lives we can live in peace and safety with the Lord’s protection. 

 

The enemy may be hiding in plain sight these days but we should point Him out when we see flee and cause him to flee by the power and authority that Jesus gives to all the people who put their faith in 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:

Matthew 16:25 (NKJV)
25  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to put our faith in Jesus as He assures us that our life is found when we lose it for Him.  

Christ encourages us to pick up our cross and to follow Him in the previous verse and this is the promise for those who do that.

If we surrender our lives to the purposes of Christ, we will find life in Him.

But if we choose our own plan for saving our lives, by our own efforts or reasoning we will lose our life.  So keep walking and talking with God and follow Christ and you will be saved.

___________________________________________

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 Beatitudes – Continues

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” No rights they might claim protect this community of strangers in the world. Nor do they claim any such rights, for they are the meek, who renounce all rights of their own for the sake of Jesus Christ. When they are berated, they are quiet. When violence is done to them, they endure it. When they are cast out, they yield. They do not sue for their rights; they do not make a scene when injustice is done them. They do not want rights of their own. They want to leave all justice to God; non cupidi vindictae [not desirous of vengeance][22] is the interpretation of the early church. What is right for their Lord should be right for them. Only that. In every word, in every gesture, it is revealed that they do not belong on this earth. Let them have heaven, the world says sympathetically, that is where they belong. But Jesus says, they will inherit the earth. The earth belongs to these who are without rights and power. Those who now possess the earth with violence and injustice will lose it, and those who renounced it here, who were meek unto the cross, will rule over the new earth. We should not think here of God’s punishing justice in this world (Calvin).[24] Rather, when the realm of heaven will descend, then the form of the earth will be renewed, and it will be the earth of the community of Jesus. God does not abandon the earth. God created it. God sent God’s Son to earth. God built a community on earth. Thus, the beginning is already made in this world’s time. A sign is given. Already here the powerless are given a piece of the earth; they have the church, their community, their property, their brothers and sisters—in the midst of persecution even unto the cross. But Golgotha, too, is a piece of the earth. From Golgotha, where the meekest died, the earth will be made new. When the realm of God comes, then the meek will inherit the earth.[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), 105–106.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The First Step Towards the Abundant Life - Purity 835


 

The First Step Towards the Abundant Life - Purity 835

Purity 835 09/13/2022  Purity 835 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo view of blue skies over the Hudson River comes to us from TammyLyn Clark as she shared this scene on social media from yesterday’s drive up River Road between Easton and Schuylerville New York.  

Well, it is Tuesday and as I will be facilitating the second meeting of the Men’s Freedom in Christ Course on Zoom this evening I thought I would share this roadside view and water pathway as an encouragement to all to keep walking and talking with God on the narrow path of Christian Discipleship.  

I am so excited at the prospect of tonight’s discussion because we will be discussing the spiritual reality of the transformation that happens the moment we put our faith in Christ.  

Our focus verse will be

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

And I can’t wait to go through the lesson material to explain how this is a fact and is the fundamental foundation for a life of freedom and victory in Christ.  

Something happens when you put your faith in Jesus. Something happens when you make Christ your Lord and Savior.  Your spirit is given life as the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you the moment you put your faith in Jesus.  

The problem is that the world, the flesh, and the devil don’t want you to know that you are a new creation, and they actively try to deceive and discourage Christians from knowing who they are in Christ because the spiritual forces of darkness and the world system want to keep us in bondage to prevent us from sharing the truth of the new and eternal life that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.   

Satan hates God and mankind and as Christ told us in:

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.    

The enemy seeks to destroy us, but Christ came to give us an abundant life in Him and the tragic reality of this battle between good and evil is that so many Christians are not experiencing the “abundant life” of victory and freedom that Christ came to give us.    

Our Christian faith is not merely something we are just to “believe in” it is an abundant life that we are to “live out” in the world, every day of our lives.    

When we “walk in the Spirit”, by living according to God’s ways and by staying connected to His presence through prayer and reading His word, the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control grow in our lives. 

But in order for us to experience this spiritual reality in the world of the living that bears experiential fruit and transforms us into the people that God created us to be, we have to take that first step of faith: to know who we are in Christ, to embrace our new identity,  and to agree to live according to it.

The “who I am in Christ” list is based on the word of God, look up the referenced scriptures, and was compiled by Dr, Neil Anderson, to help Christian to understand that they are accepted, secure, and significant in Christ.   I will be sharing it tonight, so I share it here and encourage all to copy it, study it, and live according to it:

Who I am in Christ

I AM ACCEPTED IN CHRIST

            I am God’s Child (John 1:12)

            I am Christ’s Friend (John 15:15)

            I have been justified (Romans 5:1)

            I am united with the Lord and one with Him in Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17)

            I have been bought with a price; I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)

            I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27)

            I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)

            I have been adopted as God’s child (Ephesians 1:5)

            I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)

            I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Colossians 1:14)

            I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

           

I AM SECURE IN CHRIST

            I am free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1)

            I am assured that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)

            I am free from the condemning charges against me (Romans 8:33-34)

            I cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

            I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

            I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)

            I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)

            I can find grace and mercy to help me in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)

            I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)  

I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7)

I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil 1:6)

 

 

 

 

Who I am in Christ

I AM SIGNIFICANT IN CHRIST

            I am the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14)

            I am a branch of the true vine, a channel to His life (John 15:1,5)

            I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)

            I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)

            I am God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16)

            I am a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

            I am God’s coworker (2 Corinthians 6:1)

            I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6)

            I am God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)

            I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)

            I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)

So now that you know who you are in Christ, walk in the new abundant life that God has given you through Jesus Christ.  Read it once a day for 40 days to renew your mind, or as a continual daily practice as I do, and watch the way that the Holy Spirit guides you into the life where you can have the peace that goes beyond all understanding, regardless of the circumstances you encounter, as you keep on walking and talking with God.

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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 18:4 (NKJV)
4  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Today’s Bible verse are the words of Jesus and they remind us that the pathway to greatness in His kingdom comes from humbling ourselves and coming to Him with child-like faith.  

Children are vulnerable. Without caregivers children die or live like savages. Ever read Lord of the Flies?  Without authority, structure, guidance, and care a group of school boys stranded on their own quickly turn to system of survival of the fittest with elements of pagan idolatry where the strong dominated and literally killed the weak.     

But Christ tells us that to be great in His kingdom we are to humble ourselves and He points to the innocence of childhood to demonstrate the quality of faith and trust we are to have in Him.    

Children trust their parents to take care of them.  Their safety and protection is given completely into the care of others without question. 

Christ wants us to trust Him, and the Bible gives us His words and example as how we should live.  To experience new and eternal life, we need to put our trust in Jesus. We need to put our faith in Christ.  

And to be great, we need to follow in His example of a humble servant leader and share the love of God that we have been given. 

If we trust Jesus, we humble ourselves and make Him the Lord of Our life and will model our lives after His.  He is the way of salvation and He is the way to an abundant life of peace. To experience it, we need to simply humble ourselves and trust Jesus enough to follow Him.  

 

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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.

PART ONE - Chapter One: Costly Grace, continued

The expansion of Christianity and the increasing secularization of the church caused the awareness of costly grace to be gradually lost. The world was Christianized; grace became common property of a Christian world. It could be had cheaply. But the Roman church did keep a remnant of that original awareness. It was decisive that monasticism did not separate from the church and that the church had the good sense to tolerate monasticism. Here, on the boundary of the church, was the place where the awareness that grace is costly and that grace includes discipleship was preserved. People left everything they had for the sake of Christ and tried to follow Jesus’ strict commandments through daily exercise. Monastic life thus became a living protest against the secularization of Christianity, against the cheapening of grace. But because the church tolerated this protest and did not permit it to build up to a final explosion, the church relativized it. It even gained from the protest a justification for its own secular life. For now monastic life became the extraordinary achievement of individuals, to which the majority of church members need not be obligated. The fateful limiting of the validity of Jesus’ commandments to a certain group of especially qualified people led to differentiating between highest achievement and lowest performance in Christian obedience. This made it possible, when the secularization of the church was attacked any further, to point to the possibility of the monastic way within the church, alongside which another possibility, that of an easier way, was also justified. Thus, calling attention to the original Christian understanding of costly grace as it was retained in the Roman church through monasticism enabled the church paradoxically to give final legitimacy to its own secularization. But the decisive mistake of monasticism was not that it followed the grace-laden path of strict discipleship, even with all of monasticism’s misunderstandings of the contents of the will of Jesus. Rather, the mistake was that monasticism essentially distanced itself from what is Christian by permitting its way to become the extraordinary achievement of a few, thereby claiming a special meritoriousness for itself.

During the Reformation, God reawakened the gospel of pure, costly grace through God’s servant Martin Luther by leading him through the monastery. Luther was a monk. He had left everything and wanted to follow Christ in complete obedience. He renounced the world and turned to Christian works. He learned obedience to Christ and his church, because he knew that only those who are obedient can believe. Luther invested his whole life in his call to the monastery. It was God who caused Luther to fail on that path. God showed him through scripture that discipleship is not the meritorious achievement of individuals, but a divine commandment to all Christians. The humble work of discipleship had become in monasticism the meritorious work of the holy ones. The self-denial of the disciple is revealed here as the final spiritual self-affirmation of the especially pious. This meant that the world had broken into the middle of monastic life and was at work again in a most dangerous way. Luther saw the monk’s escape from the world as really a subtle love for the world. In this shattering of his last possibility to achieve a pious life, grace seized Luther. In the collapse of the monastic world, he saw God’s saving hand reaching out in Christ. He seized it in the faith that “our deeds are in vain, even in the best life.” It was a costly grace, which gave itself to him. It shattered his whole existence. Once again, he had to leave his nets and follow.[22] The first time, when he entered the monastery, he left everything behind except himself, his pious self. This time even that was taken from him. He followed, not by his own merit, but by God’s grace. He was not told, yes, you have sinned, but now all that is forgiven. Continue on where you were and comfort yourself with forgiveness! Luther had to leave the monastery and reenter the world, not because the world itself was good and holy, but because even the monastery was nothing else but world.

Luther’s path out of the monastery back to the world meant the sharpest attack that had been launched on the world since early Christianity. The rejection which the monk had given the world was child’s play compared to the rejection that the world endured through his returning to it. This time the attack was a frontal assault. Following Jesus now had to be lived out in the midst of the world. What had been practiced in the special, easier circumstances of monastic life as a special accomplishment now had become what was necessary and commanded for every Christian in the world. Complete obedience to Jesus’ commandments had to be carried out in the daily world of work. This deepened the conflict between the life of Christians and the life of the world in an unforeseeable way. The Christian had closed in on the world. It was hand-to-hand combat.

Luther’s deed cannot be misunderstood more grievously than by thinking that through discovering the gospel of pure grace, Luther proclaimed a dispensation from obeying Jesus’ commandments in the world. The Reformation’s main discovery would then be the sanctification and justification of the world by grace’s forgiving power. For Luther, on the contrary, a Christian’s secular vocation is justified only in that one’s protest against the world is thereby most sharply expressed. A Christian’s secular vocation receives new recognition from the gospel only to the extent that it is carried on while following Jesus. Luther’s reason for leaving the monastery was not justification of the sin, but justification of the sinner. Costly grace was given as a gift to Luther. It was grace, because it was water onto thirsty land, comfort for anxiety, liberation from the servitude of a self-chosen path, forgiveness of all sins. The grace was costly, because it did not excuse one from works. Instead, it endlessly sharpened the call to discipleship. But just wherein it was costly, that was wherein it was grace. And where it was grace, that was where it was costly. That was the secret of the Reformation gospel, the secret of the justification of the sinner.

Nonetheless, what emerged victorious from Reformation history was not Luther’s recognition of pure, costly grace, but the alert religious instinct of human beings for the place where grace could be had the cheapest. Only a small, hardly noticeable distortion of the emphasis was needed, and that most dangerous and ruinous deed was done. Luther had taught that, even in their most pious ways and deeds, persons cannot stand before God, because they are basically always seeking themselves. Faced with this predicament, he seized the grace of free and unconditional forgiveness of all sins in faith. Luther knew that this grace had cost him one life and daily continued to cost him, for he was not excused by grace from discipleship, but instead was all the more thrust into it. Whenever Luther spoke of grace, he always meant to include his own life, which was only really placed into full obedience to Christ through grace. He could not speak of grace any other way than this. Luther said that grace alone did it, and his followers repeat it literally, with the one difference that very soon they left out and did not consider and did not mention what Luther always included as a matter of course: discipleship. Yes, he no longer even needed to say it, because he always spoke as one whom grace had led into a most difficult following of Jesus. The followers’ own teaching [“by grace alone”] was, therefore, unassailable, judged by Luther’s teaching, but their teaching meant the end and the destruction of the Reformation as the revelation of God’s costly grace on earth. The justification of the sinner in the world became the justification of sin and the world. Without discipleship, costly grace would become cheap grace.

When Luther said that our deeds are in vain, even in the best of lives, and that, therefore, nothing is valid before God “except grace and favor to forgive sins,” he said it as someone who knew himself called to follow Jesus, called to leave everything he had up until this moment, and in the same moment called anew to do it again. His acknowledgment of grace was for him the final radical break with the sin of his life but never its justification. Grasping at forgiveness was the final radical rejection of self-willed life; the acknowledgment of grace itself his first really serious call to discipleship. It was a “conclusion” for him, although a divine conclusion, not a human one. His descendants made this conclusion into a principled presupposition on which to base their calculations. That was the whole trouble. If grace is the “result” given by Christ himself to Christian life, then this life is not for one moment excused from discipleship. But if grace is a principled presupposition of my Christian life, then in advance I have justification of whatever sins I commit in my life in the world. I can now sin on the basis of this grace; the world is in principle justified by grace. I can thus remain as before in my bourgeois-secular existence. Everything remains as before, and I can be sure that God’s grace takes care of me. The whole world has become “Christian” under this grace, but Christianity has become the world under this grace as never before. The conflict between a Christian and a bourgeois-secular vocation is resolved. Christian life consists of my living in the world and like the world, my not being permitted to be different from it—for the sake of grace!—but my going occasionally from the sphere of the world to the sphere of the church, in order to be reassured there of the forgiveness of my sins. I am liberated from following Jesus—by cheap grace, which has to be the bitterest enemy of discipleship, which has to hate and despise true discipleship. Grace as presupposition is grace at its cheapest; grace as a conclusion is costly grace. It is appalling to see what is at stake in the way in which a gospel truth is expressed and used. It is the same word of the justification by grace alone, and yet false use of the same statement can lead to the complete destruction of its essence.

When Faust says at the end of his life of seeking knowledge, “I see that we can know nothing,” then that is a conclusion, a result. It is something entirely different than when a student repeats this statement in the first semester to justify his laziness (Kierkegaard). Used as a conclusion, the sentence is true; as a presupposition, it is self-deception. That means that knowledge cannot be separated from the existence in which it was acquired. Only those who in following Christ leave everything they have can stand and say that they are justified solely by grace. They recognize the call to discipleship itself as grace and grace as that call. But those who want to use this grace to excuse themselves from discipleship are deceiving themselves.

But doesn’t Luther himself come dangerously close to this complete distortion in understanding grace? What does it mean for Luther to say: “Pecca fortiter, sed fortius fide et gaude in Christo”—“Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly!”*[31] So you are only a sinner and can never get out of sin; whether you are a monk or a secular person, whether you want to be pious or evil, you will not flee the bonds of the world, you will sin. So, then, sin boldly, and on the basis of grace already given! Is this blatant proclamation of cheap grace carte blanche for sin, and rejection of discipleship? Is it a blasphemous invitation to sin deliberately while relying on grace? Is there a more diabolical abuse of grace than sinning while relying on the gift of God’s grace? Isn’t the Catholic catechism right in recognizing this as sin against the Holy Spirit?

To understand this, everything depends on how the difference between result and presupposition is applied. If Luther’s statement is used as a presupposition for a theology of grace, then it proclaims cheap grace. But Luther’s statement is to be understood correctly not as a beginning, but exclusively as an end, a conclusion, a last stone, as the very last word. Understood as a presupposition, pecca fortiter becomes an ethical principle. If grace is a principle, then pecca fortiter as a principle would correspond to it. That is justification of sin. It turns Luther’s statement into its opposite. “Sin boldly”—that could be for Luther only the very last bit of pastoral advice, of consolation for those who along the path of discipleship have come to know that they cannot become sin-free, who out of fear of sin despair of God’s grace. For them, “sin boldly” is not something like a fundamental affirmation of their disobedient lives. Rather, it is the gospel of God’s grace, in the presence of which we are sinners always and at every place. This gospel seeks us and justifies us exactly as sinners. Admit your sin boldly; do not try to flee from it, but “believe much more boldly.” You are a sinner, so just be a sinner. Do not want to be anything else than what you are. Become a sinner again every day and be bold in doing so. But to whom could such a thing be said except to those who from their hearts daily reject sin, who every day reject everything that hinders them from following Jesus and who are still unconsoled about their daily unfaithfulness and sin? Who else could hear it without danger for their faith than those who are called anew by such consolation to follow Christ? In this way, Luther’s statement, understood as a conclusion, becomes that costly grace which alone is grace.

Grace as a principle, pecca fortiter as a principle, cheap grace—all these are finally only a new law, which neither helps nor liberates. Grace as a living word, pecca fortiter as comfort in a time of despair and a call to discipleship, costly grace alone is pure grace, which really forgives sins and liberates the sinner.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

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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), 46–53.