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Showing posts with label Numbers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Numbers. Show all posts

Friday, June 2, 2023

Gratitude for Others - 28 Day Joy Challenge – Day 2 – Purity 1058

 

Gratitude for Others - 28 Day Joy Challenge – Day 2 –  Purity 1058

Purity 1058 06/02/2023 Purity 1058 Podcast

Purity 1058 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a view “Along the River” that features bright orange flowers in the foreground, and a mirror like reflection of the green trees and the blue sky above on the surface of what is presumably the Hiawassee River, somewhere near Murphy NC, comes to us from Fred Dimmick who shared this oasis like scene yesterday on social media.   

Well it’s Friday, thank God, and although I have things to do today. I am appreciating the oasis like splendor of my last official day of this Memorial Week vacation that will provide me with the time to get them done.  As I have walked through this week that has been a combination of rest, work, and learning, I have come to the conclusion that “time off” is an illusion as even in the most laid back circumstances there are inherent needs and responsibilities that need to be addressed if we seek to maintain any semblance of balance and peace.  

While we are free to choose to “do nothing”, we are not free of the consequences of “doing nothing” as the impermanent nature of this world requires that we be diligent in paying attention to the things and systems that surround us that need regular maintenance and care to operate as they should. As much as I was rejoicing over the silence that I found in Nemorod cabin just a few days ago, noting the lack of the sounds of lawn mowers, I am facing the fact that I will break the silence around my house down by the River today as I will choose to mow my own lawn, preferring to keep my lawn short and my chore less taxing but more frequent, rather then letting the grass grow thick and long making the mowing more challenging.  

I also will be choosing to get an oil change even though the mileage isn’t quite to the limit yet because I would rather do it now rather than trying to sneak it in after work some day next week.  

Yeah, time off is an illusion to some extent because we are called to be good stewards to what the Lord has provided us with, and we experience negative consequences when we don’t “do what is right.”   This principle extends to our homes and things, and even our bodies.  If we overindulge our flesh with too much food or too much rest, we begin to suffer under the weight of our own bodies or from the weakness that results from a lack of physical exercise.  So even though it was my “week off” and I made some compromises on my food choices in the spirit of “vacation”,  I have continued my normal exercise routine and have righted the ship of my food choices knowing that the occasional indulgence may be allowed, it isn’t wise, and it shouldn’t be repeated for long. So no more ice cream (why does a half gallon cost less than 2 pints?) and no more large buckets of popcorn at the movies, for a while anyway.    

And similarly, we don’t really get any time off from our relationships either. When we avoid people, or take people for granted, there are negative consequences – we feel alone, the enemy comes in to encourage our isolation by causing us to think on the negative aspects of other people, and we feel even more anxiety over reconnecting because we haven’t been exercising our social skills that may require patience and forgiveness.  

So today I am encouraging myself and whoever gets this far in the message to be grateful for the other people in our lives.  I know some people right now who are grieving the loss of loved ones. I know some who are suffering medical problems – some quite sudden and traumatic. I know some people who are struggling to make ends meet because of a lack of work or a sudden change of employment status.  And while all of these people’s problems are different and highly personal, I believe all of them could benefit through the care and concern of others.  

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NKJV) tells us.
9  Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.
11  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?
12  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

We are called to love one another, and Solomon points out how we greatly benefit from having others walking with us through life to help us.  And so we should be grateful for the people in our lives and seek to form wholesome and godly relationships with others in our lives, based on our mutual faith in Christ, if we find ourselves alone.  Easier said then done I know, but God calls us to be loving, bold, and courageous so don’t give up hope of finding good relationships and don’t stop giving yourself to others who may need a friend like you.   

Anyway, that brings us to our current series where I am walking through the 28 Day Joy Challenge, (https://4habits.org/) which is based on Dr. Marcus Warner & Chris Coursey’s latest book, The Four Habits of Joy-Filled People.

You can sign up for the 28 Day Joy Challenge for free and purchase a variety of books from Warner and Coursey on topic of Joy, by going to https://4habits.org/.  

So let’s jump into Day 2!

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Day 2: Gratitude Jumpstarts our Joy! 

Welcome to Day 2 of the 28 Days to Joy Challenge!

Today’s Encouragement:

Just as with practicing a sport or instrument, we don’t start out as experts. The goal of this journey is not perfection, but rather to gain awareness and grow over time. If any of these exercises don’t come naturally or easily to you, that is okay. As you practice, you will grow! 

Today’s Practice: Exercise 2

Today we will learn to use gratitude to jumpstart our joy.

- How This Exercise Will Benefit You:

Gratitude jumpstarts our joy and activates the joy switch in our brains. Spending time remembering the things we are grateful for retrains our brains to focus on life’s blessings versus life’s problems. The more we practice gratitude, the more we remember, see, and anticipate good things in life.

- Exercise Steps:

Identify a person you feel thankful for today and write out specific reasons and examples of why you appreciate this person. Then, take this skill to the next level and tell them how much you appreciate them. (If they are unavailable, practice with someone else.) 

Have fun with this exercise. We pick up tomorrow with more joy practice!

(https://4habits.org/)

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I reviewed Day 2’s instructions last night to prepare myself for what I would be in for this morning, because I do intend to actually practice what they instruct and report on my experiences with them.  

I had thought of a few people that I could be grateful for a variety of reason but when I sat down to do the practice this morning, I was moved to focus on my wife, TammyLyn, and to be true to the instructions on actually writing out “specific reasons and examples” of why I appreciate her.  Also by blogging, and podcasting this – I will be faithful in telling her how much I appreciate her, but if for some reason she doesn’t read or here this message, I will be seeing her tonight and will have my little notebook of reason to present to her in person to let her know how much I appreciate her.  

Luckily, we already “practice appreciation” for one another by letting each know how much we love one another and how we appreciate the things we do and the people we are to one another quite regularly. And there seems to be no limit on how much we each appreciate reporting and hearing these things to one another.   

But just because we do this on the regular doesn’t mean that I am going to neglect doing today’s Joy Challenge in earnest!

SO this is straight from my scribbled notes (unedited -mostly)

TammyLyn,  

I am grateful for you because (this was actually added as I more or less wrote a list) of your:

·       Tenacity – You never gave up on me when you felt you “needed me in your life” even though I was unsure, fearful, and resistant to the idea, even though I felt drawn to you the moment I first saw you. 

·       Faith – Your faith in Christ is genuine and “the evidence” was there and real.

·       Determination – While I think you were prone to perseverance, endurance, and acceptance because “it was what it was”, you increasingly seem to have become determined in pursuing the things you need to accomplish and realizing your full potential.

·       Care – You care for your kids, your pets, your students, me, and others in countless selfless ways, putting the needs of others above your own.

·       Love – I have never felt loved for, like the way I feel loved by TammyLyn – I feel joy in her presence as I feel like I am the “sparkle in her eye” and she seems genuinely happy to be with me. 

·       Character – She may not be perfect, but since I have known TammyLyn, she has done what is right and stood for righteousness, isn’t ashamed of it, and will even suffer because of it at times.

So that is my cleaned up version of my notes.  After compiling the list, I am obviously very grateful for my wife, but I also recognized that of the other people I had thought of as other possible people to be grateful for in this practice – I noticed that they had the same attributes. In varying degrees, the people I could think of to be grateful for were also: tenacious, determined, caring, loving, and faithful people of character.   Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people I could think on that had these qualities are Christians as they reflect the One they are called to follow: Jesus Christ.  

And for those of you out there that may be struggling to think of anyone you can be grateful for let me suggest you make friends with Christians but also you remind you of the friend you have in Jesus.  

As much as these joy exercises will lead us to try to increase our joy through the things around us, let’s not forget that True Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and it is not contingent on positive circumstances.  

TammyLyn could change. She could become bitter and angry. She could lose her mental facilities and forget who she is. She could and will someday die. So if my joy in life is only based on her, I am setting myself up for real disappointment. 

However, God doesn’t change and our relationship to Him through our faith in Jesus Christ is sealed for eternity.  If I am worshipping TammyLyn more than the Lord, I got something really wrong. I am worshipping the “created” over the Creator. That’s Idolatry and that’s a sin.  

While we should be grateful for all the people, places, and things in our lives, we need to remember that they have all been provided to us from a tenacious, determined, caring, loving, God who defines what a righteous character is.

So thank God for the people in your life, show them appreciation because they may not always be who they are now or be present in your life, but remember that when you have your faith in Christ, you are never alone and can be grateful for God.   

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple apologetic will provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

Numbers 6:24-26 (NLT2)
24  ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you.
25  May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
26  May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’

Today’s verses are the “Priestly blessing” – delivered from God to Moses, to Aaron to be give the people of Israel a “special blessing” and it relates God loves for His people and when we speak it, it relates our selfless love for others. 

Instead of asking for “what we can get”, this prayer selflessly directs the Lord to bless others with His grace, His favor, and His peace.   

I love how the Lord arranged to put this before us on the day we are practicing gratitude and appreciation for other people in our lives!  It’s as if He is giving these words to us to bless those we are grateful for, and really there is no “as if” about it.  He did give us these words to bless those we are grateful for!

So thank God for the people you are grateful for, and let them know about it too, and while you at it, use this “priestly blessing” to prayer for them as well!

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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  The Holy Spirit By A.W. Pink.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for $0.99 (https://www.amazon.com/Holy-Spirit-Arthur-Pink-Collection-ebook/dp/B008CM5292/ref=sr_1_3?crid=AHKAQOM39CTN&keywords=a.w.+pink+the+holy+spirit&qid=1684376225&sprefix=a.w.+pink+the+holy+spirit+%2Caps%2C96&sr=8-3)  

A.W. Pink’s The Holy Spirit  

6 - The Holy Spirit During the Old Testament Ages

In Relation to the Nation Israel

Let us next observe the relation of the Holy Spirit unto the nation of Israel. A very striking and comprehensive statement was made by Nehemiah, when he reviewed the Lord’s dealings with His people of old: “Thou gavest also Thy good Spirit to instruct them” (Neh. 9:20). He was, until quenched, upon the members of the Sanhedrin (Num. 11:16, 17). He came upon the judges (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 15:14), upon the kings (1 Sam. 11:6; 16:13), and the Prophets. But note it is a great mistake to say, as many have done, that the Holy Spirit was never in any believer before Pentecost: Numbers 27:18, Nehemiah 9:30, 1 Peter 1:11 clearly prove otherwise. But alas, Israel “rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit” (Isa. 63:10), as Stephen declared, “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51).

That the Holy Spirit indwelt saints under the Legal economy is clear from many considerations: how otherwise could they have been regenerated, had faith, been enabled to perform works acceptable to God? The Spirit prompted true prayer, inspired spiritual worship, produced His fruit in the lives of believers then (see Zech. 4:6) as much as He does now. We have “the same Spirit of faith” (2 Cor. 4:13) as they had. All the spiritual good which has ever been wrought in and through men must be ascribed unto the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was given to the Old Testament saints prospectively, as pardon of sin was given in view of the satisfaction which Christ was to render unto God.[1]

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

For those who require the assistance of a Deeper Walk International Prayer Minister to experience healing or your freedom in Christ, I highly recommend Christy Edge’s Life on the Edge Freedom Prayer Ministry. You can schedule a session by going to : https://cedge216.wixsite.com/life-on-the-edge      

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Holy Spirit (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, n.d.).


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

“Thanksgiving Eve” - May The Light of The Lord Shine Upon You - Purity 896


“Thanksgiving Eve” - May The Light of The Lord Shine Upon You - Purity 896     

Purity 896 11/23/2022 Purity 896 Podcast

Purity 896 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of light of the sun reflecting off the windows of a house on to the waters of the Champlain Canal comes to us from my beloved wife, TammyLyn Clark, who captured the beauty of this reflection while out for an impromptu stroll at Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville back on November 11th.   

Well, it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so “Happy Friday” to the vast majority of us that will have the day off tomorrow to gather with family and friends to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, watch football, feast on mass quantities of food, and, oh yeah, to GIVE THANKS….

I point this out because sometimes in the preparation for the holiday we forget what its original purpose of the Thanksgiving holiday is.  Anyone referring to tomorrow as “Turkey Day”, I’m talking to you!

And since we are pointing things out, I would also point out that our “Thanks”, just like our “Faith” has to have an object.  And whether you have “Great Faith” or “little faith” in the Lord, you should recognize that ultimately whatever “Thanks” we would like to give tomorrow should eventually be humbly left before the throne of grace.  

I know, you may be truly thankful for the food, for your family, for you job, for your friends, for the day off, for your health, for football, for the universe, and for the host that put together your holiday feast but above and beyond all these things is the Lord God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth and the author of all life, and the sovereign King who shapes its history.   So ultimately, while we should express our appreciation for all of these other things that the Lord made possible, we should only give our “Thanks” to God.  

So really Thanksgiving, in essence should be one of worshiping the Lord, a true holiday, in the sense of a “holy-day”.  But you know what’s great about “worshiping the Lord”. It doesn’t have to be weird.  We don’t have to put on special out fits or go to a designated site with holy relics or trappings to worship God.  We can give thanks to the Lord, praise His Holy Name, and worship Him in the most mundane trappings and the humblest clothes.  That includes your living room Lazy Boy with your feet up as you enjoy the company of many or just by yourself.  Our “Thanks”, our worship, to the Lord only requires our hearts and minds set on Him. You can meditate upon, worship, or give thanks to the Lord for hours or just a few moments but He is to be the object of them all.   

I like to point out the obvious in this day and age because our holidays have increasingly become secular celebrations of general good tidings and well wishes that increasing fail to honor the Lord.   This is even more expressed in the anticipation of tomorrows holiday and how it will play out this evening.  

As solemn or relaxed as our Thanksgiving gathering may be tomorrow, for many the “true celebration” of Thanksgiving will be tonight as scores of people will be returning home and will be gathering with friends to catch up over mass quantities of alcohol or drugs before having to suffer through another forced family event.   The restrictive duty of honoring  father and mother or gathering with family close and not so close can cause us to really want to kick loose and the night before Thanksgiving can be one of the wildest nights of partying of the year.   Or at least it used to be in my pre Christ, pre-recovery experience.

Add to the contemplation of another repressive family gathering, the fact that many will be taking to the skies, the highways and byways to travel a considerable distance to arrive at their Thanksgiving destination,  and its no wonder people may want to blow off some steam tonight. 

So it is my prayer that the Lord protect all of us and that we allow Him to guide us in His ways and peace tonight. There is nothing wrong with meeting with friends this evening, but the emphasis should be placed on the joy of the gathering and the safety of ourselves and those we love; And let’s keep it real, in not doing anything that will cause us guilt, shame, pain, or regrets.   I wish I could say that hangovers were the only pain I experienced from Thanksgiving Eve’s of old so I speak from experience and what may seem like a good idea tonight may not look so good in the light of day on Thanksgiving morning.  Road rage, drunk drivers, shameful liaisons, and old vendettas reignited into verbal and physical altercations are all possible scenarios tonight, so let’s be careful out there.  

I am thankful to God for keeping me safe thus far and for leading me into a life that is guided by His light rather than my darkness.   So let me encourage you to either start or to continue to keep walking and talking with God. His way is the best way to live and placing your faith in Jesus Christ really is the only way to live, so put your trust in Him and follow Him to where He wants to take you.   When you walk in His light, it shines in your life.

The light reflected off of that house in today’s photo is shining as bright as the sun itself.  I had to look twice to realize that this wasn’t just a sunset photo. My wife captured a scene highlighting a reflection of the sun on the waters of Chaplain Canal off of a reflection of the sun on the windows of a house.  The sun is not even in this photo, just its reflection.  So just like today’s photo, let’s allow the Lord’s light in us shine for all the world to see this Thanksgiving by expressing wisdom, peace, and love.  

All these shining reflections, made me think of the Old Testament Prayer of Blessing in

Numbers 6:22-26 (NKJV) where
22  … the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
23  "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24  "The LORD bless you and keep you;
25  The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
26  The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." '

 

And so it is my prayer that all who read or hear this message, have the Lord shine His face upon you and your families this Thanksgiving, and that you receive His grace and peace.  God bless you and keep you, Amen.

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verses is:

Colossians 1:20-22 (NLT2)
20  and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
21  This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.
22  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Today’s verses teach us that Christ reconciles us to God, no matter how far away we once were from God. We who because of our evil thoughts and actions were once His enemies, have been brought into His presence and have been made holy and blameless because of Jesus.    

I would say a parallel to these verses or a nice conclusion would be my life verse:

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) which says: 
1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus because we have been reconciled to the Father, because all our sins have been forgiven, and we have been made holy and blameless. We can walk in the Spirit because when we put our faith in Christ we were reconciled to God, and He gave us anew life and the indwelling Holy Spirit to keep us forever in His presence.  

That’s good news. And even though the holiday is tomorrow, we should be “Thanksgiving” to the Lord every single day, from here to eternity, for what He has done for us through Jesus Christ.  

This is life changing spectacular news that never gets old.  So if you get a few minutes of quiet time with a family member or friend who doesn’t know the Truth of Jesus or hasn’t fully realized who they are in Christ, take the time to tell them and to encourage them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior or to claim the wonders of their new life by making the decision to follow Him,  in Spirit and in truth.

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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 7

The Community of Disciples Is Set Apart

The Conclusion

“ ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’

¶ “Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matt. 7:24–29).

We have heard the Sermon on the Mount; perhaps we have understood it. But who has heard it correctly? Jesus answers this question last. Jesus does not permit his listeners to simply walk away, making whatever they like of his discourse, extracting what seems to them to be useful in their lives, testing how this teaching compares to “reality.” Jesus does not deliver his word up to his listeners, so that it is misused in their rummaging hands. Instead, he gives it to them in a way that it alone retains power over them. From the human point of view there are countless possibilities of understanding and interpreting the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus knows only one possibility: simply go and obey. Do not interpret or apply, but do it and obey. That is the only way Jesus’ word is really heard. But again, doing something is not to be understood as an ideal possibility; instead, we are simply to begin acting.

This word, which I accept as valid for myself; this word, which arises from “I have known you,” which immediately draws me into acting, into obedience, is the rock on which I can build a house. This word of Jesus coming from eternity can only be answered by simply doing it. Jesus has spoken; the word is his; our part is to obey. The word of Jesus keeps its honor, its strength, and power among us only by our acting on it. Then a storm can sweep over the house, but it cannot tear apart the unity with Jesus created by his word.

The only thing which exists besides action is inaction. There is no such thing as intending to act and not doing it. Those who treat the word of Jesus any other way except by acting on it assert that Jesus is wrong; they say no to the Sermon on the Mount; they do not do his word. All our questions, complications, and interpretations are inaction. The rich young man and the scribe in Luke 10 are examples. I can insist on my faith and my fundamental recognition of this word as much as I want; Jesus calls it inaction. The word that I do not want to do is no rock for me on which I can build a house. I have no unity with Jesus. He has never known me. Hence, when the storm comes, I will lose the word quickly and I will learn that in truth I never really had faith. I did not have the word of Christ. Instead, I had a word I wrested away from him and made my own by reflecting on it, but not doing it. Then my house falls down with a great fall, because it does not rest on the word of Christ.

“And the crowds were astonished …” What had happened? The Son of God had spoken. He took the judgment of the world into his hands. And his disciples stood beside him.[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), 181–182.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Way or the Highway – A Fork in the Road that Defines Us - Purity 591


 

The Way or the Highway – A Fork in the Road that Defines Us - Purity 591

Purity 591 12/02/2021  Purity 591 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo from inside the Buskirks covered Bridge comes to us from yours truly as I was looking in the photo archive and came across some memories from October 7th of this year.  For those who don’t know that was the day that I was to propose to my fiancĂ© and the photo’s I have of the Buskirk Bridge from that day are a demarcation point in my personal history because before I crossed that bridge I didn’t know I was going to propose that day.  It was on the other side of the bridge that I discovered I was to receive my fiancĂ©’s engagement ring early and I realized that the time was now! Today, October 7th, 2021, was the day of salvation! Well engagement anyway.

I guess I was saved in a sense, from the monkhood that I had expected to live in for the rest of my days, when TammyLyn Seguin nodded and then verbally consented to be my wife.    

You see since coming to faith in Christ in 2010, I have been committed to follow the call that God has put on my life to be an authentic Christian and to walk in the Spirit.

As I have progressively gotten to know the Lord more through His word and through His calling, I turned from my “normal” life that was characterized by reactive emotions, addiction, and bondage to the sins of the flesh and turned to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life. 

My previous life and a Christian disciple’s lifestyle were not exactly one in the same and over the years there has been lots of growing pains and a fair share of broken relationships as some friends and family were not on board with my transition from “fun loving drunk” to a Christian who tries to live according to the Word of God. 

As I progressively walked out my Christian faith, I realized that there were not many available women on this narrow path and after a few disappointments I realized that even though some women would identify themselves as Christians, their ideas of faith and how they mixed with the world’s philosophies were far from what I was looking for.  I had resolved to be alone for the rest of my life rather than enter into a relationship that would compromise my faith. 

Dating really isn’t an option for a Christian. An authentic Christian really would be “courting” because causal dating with a lack of commitment should be antithetical to a Christian disciple’s lifestyle.  The Bible is pretty clear that sexual relationships are only approved, or not sin,  under a marriage covenant. 

So while it is possible to date without having sex, let’s be real… who wants to? Nobody.

As much as the world likes to theorize and blaspheme over the idea that Jesus could have had “girlfriends”,  Christ was unmarried and was without sin. Christ had female disciples, not romantic interests. The word of God is true and there are no accounts of Jesus “playing the field” or “going steady”.  Basically, even Jesus didn’t want to date. He had a higher call.

Some of us can be called to a single life dedicated to serve the Lord exclusively.  Some of us can be called to be single and celibate. I thought that was a real possibility for my life because there seemed not to be any faithful Christian women who were interested in purchasing my “brand of Christianity” or me personally and all the accompanying baggage of my past.  

But as far as I was concerned, as long as I had my relationship with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, I had more than enough love in my life, and I could spend the rest of my life in joy and peace walking the disciple’s path solo.  

If you zoom in on today’s photo, you will see a road sign that points to the left and to the right.  When you cross the Buskirk Bridge, you must choose which way you should go.   

Similarly, at some point in our lives we come to The Bridge that leads to eternal life, Jesus Christ.  Before we die, we must choose if we will cross it. 

If we choose to reject Christ and decide to do things “My way” and challenge God to judge us on our own merits, we will eventually come to discover that what we always suspected about our lives of sin was true. Without Christ, we are on the Highway to Hell.  And unlike all the jokes and foolish speculations of man that tell us that Hell is a place where we will party with all our friends in low places, Jesus spent His earthly ministry warning people to repent and to avoid the place that He described with images of fire (Matt. 25:41), darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), and the weeping and gnashing of teeth ” (Matt. 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28).

So while Fleetwood Mac will tell you that “You can go your own way”, I wouldn’t recommend it.    Instead we should choose the Truth, The Way, and The Life: Jesus Christ.

If we place our faith in Christ, we cross the bridge from death to life eternal. God gives us the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, spiritual life, and the assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us.  

Faith in the Prince of Peace gives us peace with God. Walking in the Spirit, living according to God’s ways, results in the fruit of the Spirit that gives us peace on earth.

So choose to cross into life everlasting by putting your faith in Jesus Christ every day.  Yeah, just because we “crossed that bridge” once upon a time doesn’t mean our journey is over.  

When we cross that bridge into faith, we run into another road sign.  It points to the path of Christian discipleship and to the Road of Compromise.  The path of Christian discipleship leads to freedom in Christ and victory.  The Road of Compromise leads to bondage to sin, to guilt, to shame, and to a lack of assurance of salvation.

While you have crossed the bridge into life eternal, the enemy will beckon you to “go your own way” and to remain in the chains that you have been set free of. The difference of experiencing a victorious Christian life and one that doesn’t seem all that different from life before Christ lies in the way that you walk out your faith on the earth.  

Walking the Christian path of discipleship will change you as you renew your mind and conform to the image of Christ.

It will also cost you something, for as your light of Christ shines brighter the darkness that surrounds you will flee and will take with it those who have chosen the darkness rather than the light.  You have chosen The Way and they have sadly chosen the highway and because you are going in different directions it shouldn’t surprise us that people will depart from our journey of faith.  

It can be a lonely road at times, but Christ’s way is not only the best way, for those who understand it, it really is the only way.   But it is a way that is paved with peace, love, and joy.   

And just when you think you will walk your life of faith all by yourself, the Lord will give you company for your travels and ask you to take another step of faith with a Christlike man or woman to walk with you from here to eternity.  

So keep walking and talking with God, the path of Christian discipleship may not be seem to be as fast or exciting as the Highway to Hell, but man when you are travelling with God you are not so worried about making “good time” because you know that you will see some amazing sights and do some amazing things as you travel and you know that your final destination will be a good one.

 

Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is:


Numbers 23:19 (NLT2)
19  God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

 

Today’s verse reminds us that God is not like our neighbor.  

One of the major problems in the world is our human relationships.  Jean Paul Sartre’s famous quote from his play “No Exit” tells us that “Hell is other people.”   What’s so hellish about people? 

Well, while we could spend a long time documenting the evil that men do, one thing that pains us the most is that men lie.  Sometimes we don’t even intend to lie but circumstances change, and we change our minds about something that we have said or promised and the change in our stance makes us liars.    Sometimes we say we will do something and just don’t do it. Broken promises or the failure to act make us liars.   

The pain that comes from the lies that we have been told could send us on a journey to escape the company of men altogether because it seems like there is no one we can trust. 

But today’s verse encourages us to have a relationship with God because He is not a liar.  God doesn’t change His mind or fail to act, and He makes good on His promises faithfully. 

Those without a relationship with God though faith in Jesus Christ might balk at that idea.  They look at the untrustworthiness of human relationships and the suffering in the world and decide that God is a liar.. somehow. They assume that a good God wouldn’t allow these things to happen and thus can’t be good and must be a liar too.  

Unfortunately, God’s ways are higher than our ways and while we can’t understand why things happen the way they do all the time, if we seek the Lord and His righteousness we will come into a relationship with God that accepts His sovereign rule and His word which assures us that He will intervene and take control of the destiny of the universe.  

While some may struggle to see how God can be good, He sent Christ to die for us and reconcile us to Him.  God’s justice will come, and His promises will be fulfilled, in His time and according to His will.  The word of God is true, and He is not a liar.  

But just like a parent that withholds rewards until the proper time, He will make good on all of His promises and act justly when it is time for His will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.   

Christ is known as the Truth and there is no deceit in Him. He spoke the things of God the Father and we can trust Him.

So take solace in the fact that God is not a man that He should lie and rejoice over all the promises that will be fulfilled when Christ returns and His eternal kingdom will culminate with the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.

 

 

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 begin sharing from A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven,  starting on Day 6, as I started late and want our sharing to lead us up to Christmas Eve.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Tozer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

 

LUKEWARM ABOUT CHRIST’S RETURN

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:51–52

The return of Christ as a blessed hope is, as I have said, all but dead among us. The truth touching the second advent, where it is presented today, is for the most part either academic or political. The joyful personal element is altogether missing. Where are they who

“Yearn for the sign, O Christ, of thy fulfilling,

Faint for the flaming of Thine advent feet”?

The longing to see Christ that burned in the breasts of those first Christians seems to have burned itself out. All we have left are the ashes. It is precisely the “yearning” and the “fainting” for the return of Christ that has distinguished the personal hope from the theological one. Mere acquaintance with correct doctrine is a poor substitute for Christ and familiarity with New Testament eschatology will never take the place of a love-inflamed desire to look on His face.

If the tender yearning is gone from the advent hope today there must be a reason for it; and I think I know what it is, or what they are, for there are a number of them. One is simply that popular fundamentalist theology has emphasized the utility of the cross rather than the beauty of the One who died on it. The saved man’s relation to Christ has been made contractual instead of personal. The “work” of Christ has been stressed until it has eclipsed the person of Christ. Substitution has been allowed to supersede identification. What He did for me seems to be more important than what He is to me. Redemption is seen as an across-the-counter transaction, which we “accept,” and the whole thing lacks emotional content. We must love someone very much to stay awake and long for his coming, and that may explain the absence of power in the advent hope even among those who still believe in it.

Another reason for the absence of real yearning for Christ’s return is that Christians are so comfortable in this world that they have little desire to leave it. For those leaders who set the pace of religion and determine its content and quality, Christianity has become of late remarkably lucrative. The streets of gold do not have too great an appeal for those who find it so easy to pile up gold and silver in the service of the Lord here on earth. We all want to reserve the hope of heaven as a kind of insurance against the day of death, but as long as we are healthy and comfortable, why change a familiar good for something about which we actually know very little? So reasons the carnal mind, and so subtly that we are scarcely aware of it.

Again, in these times religion has become jolly good fun right here in this present world, and what’s the hurry about heaven anyway? Christianity, contrary to what some had thought is another and higher form of entertainment. Christ has done all the suffering. He has shed all the tears and carried all the crosses; we have but to enjoy the benefits of His heartbreak in the form of religious pleasures modeled after the world but carried on in the name of Jesus. So say the same people who claim to believe in Christ’s second coming.

History reveals that times of suffering for the Church have also been times of looking upward. Tribulation has always sobered God’s people and encouraged them to look for and yearn after the return of their Lord. Our present preoccupation with this world may be a warning of bitter days to come. God will wean us from the earth some way—the easy way if possible, the hard way if necessary. It is up to us.

Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

 

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

 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship