Labels

Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

“Saying Grace” with our Lives- Purity 901

 

“Saying Grace” with our Lives-  Purity 901        

Purity 901 11/29/2022 Purity 901 Podcast

Purity 901 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of an outlet of the Hudson River in the shadows of the fading light of day comes to us from yours truly as my wife and I decided to enjoy the last bit of daylight this past Saturday in each other’s company on a walk at Hudson Crossing Park, in Schuylerville NY.   I had spent most of the day indoors working on power point presentations for the Bonhoeffer series I am producing while TammyLyn went to lunch with her mother and daughters but upon her return, with the day disappearing, I just had a sudden impulse to “do something!” and off we went and I’m glad we did. Not only did Isnag this spooky beautiful photo but I got to spend some simple “quality time” with my wife, where we didn’t necessarily say or do much but enjoyed the simple fact that we were together and that we loved one another.  

Well, It’s Tuesday, and I guess recalling this past weekend’s little excursion is my attempt to encourage you to be cognizant of the time you have and to utilize it, where you can, to enjoy your life and let the people you love know you appreciate them.  At that late afternoon hour, we could have just surrendered to the regular routine of getting ready for dinner and watched the daylight wane from the inside of our country side home but instead we enjoyed the last brightness of the day on the drive to Hudson Crossing and at a time some may have determined to be “too late” to go on a walk, we were on our way out, having seen every bit of daylight in a place where we could enjoy God’s creation in each other’s company rather than indoors.   

I think about this “stuff” often, the fact that although God gives us His word to guide us, He also gives us a lot of “free time” to decide what to do with our lives. We can work. We can study. We can sleep. We can stay indoors. We can go out. But the thing is, even though I do enjoy my times walking and talking with God outside, I have pondered the fact that much of our human existence would seem to be “a wash” in terms of the impact that our decisions make on our lives.  In the grand scheme, one single day in our lives may not mean that much, and in hindsight, we can analyze similar days and see no difference between a day spent indoors or a day spent outside.

There is little in and of itself of certain experiences that make them “better than others” and God’s word is rather silent on what we should do with the particulars of each and every day of our lives. We can do anything and one thing isn’t necessarily better than another!  

However, the reason I write this blog and do this podcast is that I have discovered, and continue to learn, that a life spent, regardless of our particular activities, in the “presence” of the Lord and in the context of who we are in Christ is a life that is spent in peace, love, and joy.  

Anybody looking on the outside at TammyLyn and I during our walk in the park, would have counted two in our party, but they would have been missing Someone.  Yes, we were alone but the love and gratitude that we expressed towards each other at various times in our little stroll was replete with mentions of the God that we credit with bringing us together and with thanks given in His direction.  

As easy as this is to do when you are surrounded by the glory of God’s natural creation outside, it is also something you can do inside too. 

I have to admit that before TammyLyn, I never was much of a “saying grace” Christian but early on in our relationship I saw that it was a regular practice for her. Or at least I guess it was because since I have entered her life, the “saying grace” thing seems to have fallen to me!

But social awkwardness aside, its easy to do. What could be more appropriate than thanking the Lord for providing the food that you are going to eat, and in my case, for the beautiful woman who lovingly prepared it?  

So, that’s just one way we can keep the Lord in the midst of our presence while indoors, but the truth is that I am continually “saying grace” over my life as I literally thank God moment to moment for all the things I encounter.  When I say “keep walking and talking with God”, I really mean it, like literally. 

Yes, like “Wow that dude’s crazy”, walking and talking with God.  While I can’t say that all of my life is without problems, a lot of which I create myself, walking through life and recognizing the beauty of just being with the people we love, just being where you are, and just being alive is something God never tires of hearing about, or at least He hasn’t complained to me about my constant awe and thanks!

So if you are not doing this already, start living with and start loving the Lord. There is much to be thankful for and unlike some of our human companions, He never tires of hearing us “point out the obvious” or in telling Him about how we feel.  

The constructs of society and just the “business as usual” way we do things can make us “less free” as we are absorbed into the mundanity of the humdrum, when the truth is that our lives are a miracle and a mystery and there’s nothing humdrum about them. But you have to open your eyes to see it and open your heart to feel it,  the One that you never have to be ashamed to share your “silly thoughts” with is the Lord.  

So it’s another boring Tuesday again… or it is another day of living the adventure of our lives?, where we can do almost anything we want, with consequences of course, but even in the tight confines of doing what we “need to do” we can still find wonder and joy. 

So look around and appreciate where you are, or go “DO SOMETHING” and appreciate that, but no matter what you decided to do with this last Tuesday of November in the year of our Lord 2022, turn aside and thank the Lord for what you encounter.  

The pathway to peace isn’t a destination, its determined by the way you walk and the company you keep.  

--------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 4:8 (NLT2)
8  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Today’s verse highlights the importance of what we think about in our Christian walk.  I can’t recall exactly what I was thinking about on my Saturday afternoon walk with my wife TammyLyn, but I can tell you this: I wasn’t thinking about my problems, my work, or the “bad state of the world” and because I didn’t think on those things I recall the walk quite fondly.  

But let’s not get that twisted, okay? We are not to walk through life in denial.  The world is out there and the failure to recognize our surroundings and our responsibilities will eventual cause us to suffer.  We are to be stewards of what God has given us and care for it. 

However, at the same time we can manage that quite well without dwelling on the things that will lead us into sin or that will disturb our peace. 

As much as we are “world citizens” and care  for our fellow man, in truth there is not much we can do about the events that are distant from us, or even near to us, unless we choose to get involved with them.  

So, there you go. If you choose to think on things that disturb you, I would like to hold you accountable by suggesting that your thoughts should not just be something that will steal your peace, but that you would seek to solve the situations that disturb you.  Oh yeah, I’m no political pundit but if the way of the world bothers you so much, I’m going to call you out and tell you to “do something about it”.  

I have had friends that would spend hours telling me about political situations or conspiracy theories and I would listen for a while but then would always ask: “So what should I DO?”

Unbelievably, or perhaps very believably, other than getting obsessed or angry like them, they didn’t have many helpful suggestions or a course of action that would correct the situations other to hand the problems over to someone else.

Thinking about problems will steal your peace but figuring out solutions and ENACTING THEM is another matter.

Solving problems is what we are supposed to do on earth as Christians.  But the biggest problem is sin and the fact that we are hopeless without Jesus.  

So that’s my suggestion every time: put your faith in Christ and apply God’s word to the way you live your life.  

And listen today’s verse’s advice: think on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  

The world is fading away, and our lives on it every moment.  There is only so much we can do, but we should do it, if we can.  But the way to peace, no matter what we accomplish, is the way of the Lord and to think on those things that He would have us think about.

 

___________________________________________

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

The Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Suffering of the Messengers

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware [the people], for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

¶ “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!” (Matt. 10:16–25).

Lack of success and enmity cannot dissuade the messengers from the fact that they are sent by Jesus. As a mighty strength and consolation, Jesus repeats: “Behold, I send you!” It is not their own way or their own enterprise; they are sent. In this the Lord promises that he will remain with his messengers when they will be like sheep among the wolves, defenseless, powerless, fearful, and in great danger. Nothing will happen to them that Jesus does not know. “Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” How often the servants of Jesus have misused this statement! How difficult it is even for the willing messenger to understand this rightly and remain obedient! Who can always distinguish between spiritual wisdom and worldly cleverness? How tempting it is, therefore, to renounce all “wisdom” and only be as simple as doves, which, one-sided, is disobedience. Who tells us when we avoid suffering out of fear and when we seek it out of recklessness? Who shows us the hidden boundaries drawn here? It is the same disobedience, whether we use the commandment to be wise against innocence, or the other way around, whether we use innocence against wisdom. Because no human heart can fully know itself, and because Jesus never called his disciples to uncertainty, but always to greatest certainty, this warning by Jesus can only call the disciples back to the word. Wherever the word is, that is where the disciples are to be. That is their true wisdom and their true innocence. If the word must retreat, because it is obviously being rejected, then the disciples should retreat with the word. If the word remains in an open struggle, then the disciples should remain. They will have to act wisely and simply at the same time. But the disciples should never set out on a road out of “wisdom,” when that road cannot be approved by the word of Jesus. They should never justify with “spiritual wisdom” a way which does not correspond to the word of Jesus. Only the truth of the word will teach them to recognize what is wise. But it can never be “wise” to break off the smallest piece of the truth, for the sake of some human prospect or hope. Our own evaluation of our situation cannot make us see what is wise; only the truth of the word of God can do that. The only thing that is always wise is staying with the truth of God. Here alone is the place where of God’s faithfulness and aid are promised. At all times it will prove to be the “wisest” for the disciples at this time and in the coming time to simply stand by the word of God.

The word will give the messengers true knowledge of the people. “Beware the people.” The disciples should not show fear of the people, nor evil mistrust, least of all hatred toward human beings, nor should they show thoughtless trustfulness or faith in the good in all people. Instead, they should show true knowledge of the relationship of the word to the people and the people to the word. If they understand this soberly, then they will not be scared by Jesus’ announcement that their path among the people will be a path of suffering. Rather, they will be able to endure it. A wonderful strength resides in the disciples’ suffering. Criminals suffer their punishment in hiddenness. But the disciples’ path of suffering will lead them before princes and kings, “for my sake, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles.” The good news will be propagated by suffering. That is the plan of God and the will of Jesus; and that is why in the hour of accountability before courts and thrones the disciples will be given the power to give a good confession, to offer a fearless witness. The Holy Spirit itself will be with them. It will make them invincible. It will give them “a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:15). Because the disciples hold fast to the word in their suffering, the word will remain with them. Self-sought martyrdom would not have this promise. But the promise is absolutely certain for those who suffer with the word.

Hate toward the word of Jesus’ messengers will remain until the end of time. Hate will pronounce the disciples guilty of all the divisions which will come over cities and houses. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned by everyone as destroyers of the family, as forces leading the people astray, as crazy enthusiasts and troublemakers. Then the temptation to fall away will be very near to the disciples. But the end is also near. Until its coming they are to remain faithful, to endure, to stand fast. Only those who stand fast with Jesus and his word to the end will be blessed. But when the end comes, when the enmity toward Jesus and his disciples is revealed for all the world to see, then and only then should the disciples flee from one city to another, in order to proclaim the word where it will still be heard. Even in this flight, they are not separated from the word, but stand fast with it.

The promise of Jesus that he will come again soon has been kept for us by the church-community in the belief that it is true. Its fulfillment is a mystery, and it is not a good thing to look for human ways to evade the issue. But what is clear, and the only thing important for us today, is the fact that the return of Jesus will come quickly. His coming is more certain than our being able to complete our work in his service. It is more certain than our death. Jesus’ messengers can receive no greater consolation in all this than the certainty that in their suffering they will be like their Lord. Whatever happens to the master will happen to the disciple; whatever happens to the lord will also happen to the servant. If Jesus is called a devil, then that will happen even more to the servants of his house. So Jesus will be with them and they will be like Christ in everything.[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), 192–195.


Saturday, November 26, 2022

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


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

Purity 899 11/26/2022 Purity 899 Podcast

Purity 899 on YouTube: 


Good morning,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

___________________________________________

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

The Messengers

(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)

The Apostles

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

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

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

The only thing which unites the twelve is the call of Jesus that selects them: Simon, the man of rock; Matthew, the tax collector; Simon, the zealot, who struggles for justice and law against heathen oppression;[15] John, whom Jesus loved and who laid his head on Jesus’ breast; and the others, about whom we know only their names; and finally, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Nothing in the world could have united these men to do the same work except the call of Jesus. It overcame all their previous divisions and founded a new, strong community in Jesus. The fact that even Judas went out to do the work of Christ remains for us an inscrutable dilemma and a terrible warning.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 186–187.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Hurricane Ian – The Storms Reveal What Matters Most - Purity 850


Hurricane Ian – The Storms Reveal What Matters Most - Purity 850

Purity 850 09/29/2022 Purity 850 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico somewhere in the Tarpon Springs area on the West Coast of Florida comes to us from a friend who shared various scenes of the Sunshine State while on their family vacation back in June. 

After Hurricane Ian has blown through Florida, our prayers are with our friends and all the residents in Florida who are in the process of cleaning up the devastating damage in the aftermath of the category 4 storm that caused millions of dollars in damage and took the lives of 12 people and may continue to cause more damage as it moves up the coast near South Carolina today.  

In events like this the lives lost show up how fleeting our lives can be. I don’t know the details but I am almost certain that none of the 12 people lost ever thought they would be killed because of a hurricane.  And as devastating as the losses to people’s homes and business may be, these events show us that our human lives are far more valuable than any possessions.   

The lessons of life and death that are taught through instances of traumatic losses show us that things no matter how cherished they are only things and whether our stuff is destroyed, broken or lost through out our lives or if they survive and are passed on to others after we go to the grave, our possessions value is limited in comparison to our lives.   

In my men’s Freedom in Christ discipleship group one of the men has reported that he has been suffering from debilitating aches and pains and exhaustion for months and just the other night he commented on the extreme value of our physical health, stating that he would willingly sacrifice his possession in a moment to have his health and strength restored.   But because He is a Christian, he still was thanking and praising the Lord for all that He has provided with in his life even though he is suffering,

When our health fails and things are torn asunder in our lives, where will we find our hope?  

Well that is why our personal relationship with the Lord through our faith in Jesus Christ is so important.   

When we know who we are in Christ, we know we are accepted into God’s kingdom and we are secure in God’s love no matter what negative circumstances we will face.  

In Christ, we know that we are citizens of heaven and that our place on the earth is temporary and that when death comes or when Christ returns to reclaim the earth, we will be safe and secure in the company of our Heavenly Father and the community of saints who put their faith in Christ.     

Also in Christ we know that we can receive God’s strength, grace, and mercy when we call out to Him to help us.  

We don’t know what help will come but in Christ we know that we are not abandoned, we are not forsaken, and that the Lord is with us and will help us for God works ALL THINGs together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes.  

So even in the wake of disaster, we can thank God it’s Friday today and we can thank Him for so much more.  

So if you are short on hope, peace, or joy, draw close to God and He will lift you up.  Put your faith in Christ and you will never have to walk through this life wondering about your safety. Keep walking and talking with God and you will know that even if our health fails or we lose everything we have, we will not be alone and He will give us the strength to endure our sufferings and possibly rejoice as He gives us the will to survive and build our lives new again. 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

John 15:4-5 (NLT2)
4  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

In Today’s Bible Verses Jesus tells His disciples to remain in Him and He will remain in them and that apart from Him we can do nothing.    

Christ’s words encourage us to remain in His presence with the indication that if we do that He will be with us and He will help us to produce much fruit.  

Fruit could be seen as good works done for others for the glory of God to give compassionate care or to guide people out of the darkness by showing them the light of Jesus or it could be the fruit of righteousness as our spiritual disciplines of repentance, Bible study, and prayer transforms our character.  

This passage of scripture is perhaps one of the bests examples of how Christ isn’t just telling us to follow the rules of God’s law but is inviting us into a dynamic personal relationship with Him and He assures us that their will be the benefits of much fruit.   

So don’t focus on the fruit of “doing good works” because you “have to” now that you are a Christian, instead abide with Christ and experience the peace of His presence and follow the call that He puts on your life and watch as the fruit grows naturally from being attached to the Vine of Christ.

 

_____________________________________________

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 Four

Discipleship and the Cross - concludes

But how should disciples know what their cross is? They will receive it when they begin to follow the suffering Lord. They will recognize their cross in communion with Jesus.

Thus, suffering becomes the identifying mark of a follower of Christ. The disciple is not above the teacher. Discipleship is passio passiva [passive suffering], having to suffer. That is why Luther could count suffering among the marks of the true church.[17] A preparatory document for the Augsburg Confession defined the church as the community of those “who are persecuted and martyred on account of the gospel.” Those who do not want to take up their cross, who do not want to give their lives in suffering and being rejected by people, lose their community with Christ. They are not disciples. But those who lose their lives in discipleship, in bearing the cross, will find life again in following in the community of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is being ashamed of Christ, being ashamed of the cross, being scandalized by the cross.

Discipleship is being bound to the suffering Christ. That is why Christian suffering is not disconcerting. Instead, it is nothing but grace and joy. The acts of the church’s first martyrs give witness that Christ transfigures the moment of greatest suffering for his followers through the indescribable certainty of his nearness and communion. In the middle of the most terrible torment that the disciples bore for their Lord’s sake, they experienced the greatest joy and blessedness of his community. Bearing the cross proved to be for them the only way to overcome suffering. But this is true for all who follow Christ, because it was true for Christ himself.

“And going a little farther, [Jesus] threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ … Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done’ ” (Matt. 26:39, 42).

Jesus prays to the Father that the cup pass from him, and the Father hears the son’s prayer. The cup of suffering will pass from Jesus, but only by his drinking it. When Jesus kneels in Gethsemane the second time, he knows that the cup will pass by his accepting the suffering. Only by bearing the suffering will he overcome and conquer it. His cross is the triumph over suffering.

Suffering is distance from God. That is why someone who is in communion with God cannot suffer. Jesus affirmed this Old Testament testimony. That is why he takes the suffering of the whole world onto himself and overcomes it. He bears the whole distance from God. Drinking the cup is what makes it pass from him. In order to overcome the suffering of the world Jesus must drink it to the dregs. Indeed, suffering remains distance from God, but in community with the suffering of Jesus Christ, suffering is overcome by suffering. Communion with God is granted precisely in suffering.

Suffering must be borne in order for it to pass. Either the world must bear it and be crushed by it, or it falls on Christ and is overcome in him. That is how Christ suffers as vicarious representative for the world. Only his suffering brings salvation. But the church-community itself knows now that the world’s suffering seeks a bearer. So in following Christ, this suffering falls upon it, and it bears the suffering while being borne by Christ. The community of Jesus Christ vicariously represents the world before God by following Christ under the cross.

God is a God who bears. The Son of God bore our flesh. He therefore bore the cross. He bore all our sins and attained reconciliation by his bearing. That is why disciples are called to bear what is put on them. Bearing constitutes being a Christian. Just as Christ maintains his communion with the Father by bearing according to the Father’s will, so the disciples’ bearing constitutes their community with Christ. People can shake off the burdens laid on them. But doing so does not free them at all from their burdens. Instead, it loads them with a heavier, more unbearable burden. They bear the self-chosen yoke of their own selves. Jesus called all who are laden with various sufferings and burdens to throw off their yokes and to take his yoke upon themselves. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. His yoke and his burden is the cross. Bearing the cross does not bring misery and despair. Rather, it provides refreshment and peace for our souls; it is our greatest joy. Here we are no longer laden with self-made laws and burdens, but with the yoke of him who knows us and who himself goes with us under the same yoke. Under his yoke we are assured of his nearness and communion. It is he himself whom disciples find when they take up their cross.

“Things must go, not according to your understanding but above your understanding. Submerge yourself in a lack of understanding, and I will give you My understanding. Lack of understanding is real understanding; not knowing where you are going is really knowing where you are going. My understanding makes you without understanding. Thus Abraham went out from his homeland and did not know where he was going (Gen. 12:1ff.). He yielded to My knowledge and abandoned his own knowledge; and by the right way he reached the right goal. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it, but I must lead you like a blind man. Therefore not you, not a man, not a creature, but I, through My Spirit and the Word, will teach you the way you must go. You must not follow the work which you choose, not the suffering which you devise, but that which comes to you against your choice, thoughts, and desires. There I call; there you must be a pupil; there it is the time; there your Master has come” (Luther).[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), 89–91.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Peace of No “Have To’s” and Psalm 139 - Purity 803

 


The Peace of No “Have To’s” and Psalm 139  - Purity 803

Purity 803 08/06/2022    Purity 803 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of sunrise over the Atlantic comes to a us from a friend who decided to spend a week of his time off from work this year to lead a group of high school students from his local church to Harvey Cedars Bible Conference Center in New Jersey for a weeklong Summer Camp. Not only did he spend a week encouraging his youth group’s faith, but he took advantage of the ocean side facilities at Harvey Cedars and seized the opportunity to show the kids the glory of God’s creation with a 5 am wake up call to see the sun rise.  

Well it’s Saturday and the while it is still dark out as I write this, I have a peaceful, easy feeling this morning because I am at my countryside home with my wife for the sunrise of the first weekend in August.

I don’t have much to report this morning and in a way that is sort of great. Although I don’t have any epic plans for the day, I don’t have any pressing problems or concerns either. I don’t have any “have to’s” that I can think of. While I can think of a couple of things I could do, nothing is urgent that has to be done “Now!” and I am free to choose where I decide to let the day take me.  

That’s a big switch from where I was a couple of years ago when I was working two jobs and trying to find a new house. In the summer of 2020, I worked Saturdays every week and had to be super intentional about finding fun when I could, so this morning I am remembering that and am just so thankful for where God has lead me since then.

Other than encouraging all my friends to have a great weekend and to remember to keep walking and talking with God, I don’t have much to say today other than “Thank You Lord!”  

Yesterday my Bible study included Psalm 139 and so I think I will share that because it highlights so many wonderful things about our relationship with God.  

Psalm 139:1-24 (NKJV)
1  O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
3  You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.
4  For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5  You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.
7  Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8  If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9  If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10  Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
11  If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me;
12  Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13  For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.
14  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
15  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
17  How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
18  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
19  Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20  For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21  Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22  I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.
23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
24  And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

  So many good things in that Psalm. God knows us, is with us, and leads us to be fiercely loyal to His truth and ways because He made us and through Christ forgave us and rescued us from sin and death.

So whether you have lots of “have to’s” to do today or whether you have epic plans to seize the day or just epic plans to relax, remember that the Lord loves you and when you have peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, there really is nothing to worry about anymore. He has always been with us and now we are with Him and we can rest and rejoice in the simple fact that no matter where today or the future takes us, the Lord’s love for us will never change and He will be with us every step of the way as we go from here to eternity. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 4:7-8 (NLT2)
7  “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.
8  Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.”

Today’s verses remind us of the unending joy that we can have as Christians over the fact that, through Jesus, our sins are forgiven. 

The joy of our forgiveness should really never run dry because we are not perfect and will invariably “miss the mark” of God’s standards somewhere as we walk through life and we will need God’s forgiveness again somewhere down the line.  

That was one of the most amazing things that struck me in my soul and brought me to surrender my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ: the fact that all our sins would be forgiven if we put our faith in Him. All our sins! Our past sins, our current sins, and the sins we haven’t eve n done yet are covered, are forgiven, because of our faith in Jesus!  

Although, I had a big misunderstanding about grace and thought I could just freely continue in my sins unabated because of what Christ did for me, when I first came to Christ, something funny happened.   Although anything I did would be forgiven because of Jesus’s work on the cross, I increasingly felt convicted to change how I lived and repented of my sinful ways.  Even though there was nothing I could do that wouldn’t be covered by the blood of Jesus, I felt less and less drawn to my sin and felt more and more drawn to walk in the ways of the One who saved me.  

I am by no means perfect but I sure am not the sinful man I used to be as I have victory and freedom over many of my sinful habits that had kept me in bondage.  

And that victory and freedom was born out of the joy that God loved me enough to send Christ to die for my sins and to forgive me and to accept me into His kingdom. 

In God’s accounts, my slate has been wiped clean and instead of feeling guilty and condemned over the things I have done in the past, I have joy because I know I have been forgiven and given a new life to draw close to God and to be the righteous person I always wanted to be but never felt I could be.   And its all because of Jesus, through faith in Him we receive forgiveness for our sins and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to give us the power over sin.  

So rejoice, our sins have been forgiven and the Lord has set us free! That’s good news!

______________________________________________________________________

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

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

The Nature of Evil Influence

In Ephesians Paul was at pains to point out that people cannot respond to life’s decisions neutrally. They are deeply affected by a set of evil, determining influences. These influences led people on a path that is directed toward death—life apart from God. In Ephesians 2:2–3, Paul described these influences in terms of the environment (“the age of this world”), an inner inclination toward evil (“the flesh”) and a supernaturally powerful opponent (“the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit”).

By drawing attention to these three forces, Paul established the inescapability of death for non-Christians and their resultant need to experience God’s redemptive work. But an understanding of these three evil influences is also important for Christians as they seek to spread the gospel and live according to its ethical standards. These influences continue to make themselves felt even after someone is saved. A Christian is not automatically immune to temptation, the world’s influence or Satan’s direct assault.

Although these three influences continue to operate, there is a decisive difference for the Christian. The believer lives in union with the risen Christ and may draw on Christ’s power—his victory over temptation, his resistance to the world’s allurements and influences, and, above all, his victory and resultant authority over Satan and the powers of darkness. This passage thus forms the essential background to an appropriate understanding of why an orientation about the Christian life as warfare is essential.

The Christian Life As Warfare

The spiritual warfare passage represents the church as facing intense attack by the devil and his powers of evil. Paul used an extended metaphor of a soldier who puts on the appropriate pieces of armor to heighten this image. In this case the soldier puts on a belt, a breastplate, footgear, a shield and a helmet, and then takes up a sword. The main point of this imagery is that Christianity should be understood as warfare and believers should prepare for this warfare just as any soldier would prepare for battle. It is really unimportant to decide whether Paul has a Roman, Greek, Jewish or Persian soldier in mind. Most of the imagery comes straight from the book of Isaiah (see Is 11:5; 52:7; 59:17). Furthermore, one needs to exercise caution in reading too much into each of the material images, such as emphasizing that the helmet protects the brain and the breastplate the vital organs. Paul felt free to vary the spiritual truths he attached to military imagery. For example, whereas the breastplate represents righteousness in Ephesians 6:14, it represents faith and love in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

In verse 12, the use of the word struggle describes a scene of conflict. In the first century this word was commonly used, not in the context of warfare, but as the typical term for the sport of wrestling. It even occurs on inscriptions in western Asia Minor in reference to the wrestling event of the various games held in the regional cities. As such, Paul probably used it to heighten the closeness of the struggle with the powers of evil. The use of the words evil and darkness also indicate the character of spiritual warfare. The world rulers (kosmokratores) are depicted as ruling over “this darkness” and as being “evil.” The whole setting is cast “on the evil day,” which probably refers both to the fact that “the days are evil” (Eph 5:16) and that there will be intense times of demonic attack. Finally, the devil is depicted in extremely vivid terms as launching flaming arrows at the church (Eph 6:16). The whole tenor of the passage is designed to convey the feeling of extreme danger.

The danger posed to Christians by these organized powers of darkness can be overwhelming—left on our own. Christians, however, are not alone. They are united to the exalted Lord who defeated the forces of evil and now imparts his power and authority to the church. Throughout the letter the apostle has emphasized God’s power and its availability to believers. This emphasis now reaches a climax when Paul says “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph 6:10). He strung together three power-denoting terms (endynamō, kratos and ischys) that have a combined effect of bringing the almighty power of God into bold relief especially in contrast to the weaker powers of darkness.

Paul further defined and clarified God’s power by specifying various ways God bestows his power on the church and by relating the means through which God’s enabling might is imparted. Paul enumerated seven spiritual weapons. Five of these are objective endowments from God (truth, righteousness, the gospel, salvation and the Spirit/the word of God) and two stress our responsibility (faith and prayer). Our responsibility is also implicit in the five gifts from God (see also the chart at the end of the chapter). While this list of spiritual resources (“weapons”) does not exhaust all divine bestowments available to Christians, it represents the essence of all that is vital to waging successful warfare against the powers of darkness.

The nature of spiritual warfare, as Paul portrayed it here, is primarily concerned with Christian conduct and spreading the gospel—not with exorcism or eradicating structural evil. The heart of spiritual warfare could best be summarized as resistance and proclamation.[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] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 152–154.