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Showing posts with label Podcast. Show all posts

Saturday, November 26, 2022

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


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

Purity 899 11/26/2022 Purity 899 Podcast

Good morning,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, November 25, 2022

Some Disturbing but Hopeful Thoughts For Black Friday - Purity 898


 

Some Disturbing but Hopeful Thoughts For Black Friday - Purity 898    

Purity 898 11/25/2022  Purity 898 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the reflection of the sky in the waters on the shores of Kingscliff Beach in Adelaide South Australia comes to from Dave Baun Photography. Dave shared this photo with the news that it has been a week since his eye surgery and although the healing isn’t complete yet and recovery is hard because he can’t practice the craft that he loves so much, he still wanted to share this scene to point to some good news: that in the Land Down Under where things are sort of, well upside down from our perspective, the summer weather is returning.  While we are just beginning to deal with the fact that winter is not only coming but is here in full force in places like Buffalo, Dave is experiencing the hope of increasing recovery and warm summer days.  

Something as simple as a report from a friend on the other side of the world can really point out just how big the world is and when I look at today’s photo in Australia, I can’t help but to think of the television series “Lost” and the befuddled rock star Charlie’s question: “Guys, Where are we?”  

Where are we indeed?  This message is coming in late today because I have the day off I decided to “let the Lord wake” me and apparently He decided I could get some sleep as I woke up at the late hour of 5:30 am! So we start today with more rest than usual, and thoughts that are probably contrary to most in my reflections on yesterday’s Thanksgiving holiday.  

You have to forgive my somewhat morbid outlook that I have at times. As a child of the late seventies and early 80’s, graduating in 1990, I was raised in the heart of the cold war with entertainment that prophesied nuclear holocaust, took delight in the works of Stephen King, and was eventually into music artists that had disdain for the hypocrisy of polite society because of its tendencies to “keep people in their place” and that restricted or judge the “free life” that we wanted to live. 

The freedom a lot of my gen x contemporaries and I wanted was freedom from any restrictions or judgements of what we wanted to do, usually surround things like sex and drugs, but we also sought to make society repent of its former violent, racists, and materialistic ways.  The nineties were like a reboot of the sixties as the Berlin wall came down and we had grand ideals of peace and peaceful easy living.  But we also had that contrast of nihilism, because we had lived in the fear of nuclear holocaust for most of our lives and now that we discovered we might just have to live to see old age, some of us didn’t have a clue what we wanted to be when we grew up. I had spent so long living it up that I didn’t prepare for the future! When you live a good part of your life thinking “nothing really matters”, it can be quite a surprise when you realize they might. 

One of the things angsty teens and young adults, traditionally rebel against is the institution of family, and yesterday I suspect that there may have been several Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations that had pride in how their gatherings differed from the traditional family gathering.  

But you know what? For the most part, as much as we love our friends and as wild as  the days of our mad existences may have been in our youths, as we move through life that those ideals and friendships of youth generally fade away and you see that what was so important for a few years in our teens and 20’s turned out to be the things that “didn’t really matter”.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love all my friends from my youth but in terms of Thanksgiving plans for 2022, they didn’t play a part, and the thing that remained was “family”. 

However in the landscape that divorce chisels into our society and our immediate experiences, even that can cause things to be “:upside down” from what we were used to.  The Facebook photo of large “whole” family gatherings may be considered sweet or annoying from your perspective, but you have to admit that the brokenness of the traditional family has their appearances decreasing.    

Year after year the changes can be subtle, but as the kids grow up and family members are lost to divorce or death, sometimes they can be  quit jarring.  Yesterday my step kids, from my second marriage, met with their father for “Thanksgiving Breakfast” that turned out to be lunch and while I of all people certainly understand the difficulties for meeting all those familial obligations of honor, something about the idea of a “Thanksgiving Breakfast” just offended me. 

This wasn’t God’s plan for sure.  I am sure these things weren’t our plan either but there they are. “Nothing spells dysfunction like “Thanksgiving Breakfast”. The hilarity and the absurdity of it actually caused me to google – “What did the pilgrims have for breakfast?”  but as gleeful as I was to start typing out that malicious question, my heart sank as google started to complete the question as it often does when someone else out there asked the same question.  And I was saddened and somewhat ashamed because I imagined that the question I submitted as a joke was possibly submitted in full sincerity as someone out there was desperately trying to create something “traditional” around their nontraditional gathering.  “Guys, where are we?”   

Another tradition that I enjoy is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but even that staple of Thanksgiving tradition seems to increasingly be revealed for the materialistic ad campaign that it is and because it highlights current events and trends it reveals the moral slippage that our country has gone through since I was a child.  Without being specific, let’s just say that some things on display during yesterday’s parade would have never been deemed as suitable for public consumption. Again, I have nothing really grotesque to point to because the grotesque ain’t what it used to be as what some would call progress could very well be seen as corruption from a Biblical world view. 

And thus as I watched the parade yesterday the nihilism of old and the apocalyptic reality of Biblical end times prophecies came together and made me think of something rather macabre: What would happen if Jesus came back on Thanksgiving Day in the midst of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? 

And at first my thoughts were of a Rapture, where a small number, probably very small (perhaps unnoticeable?), of the people would simply vanish, causing parade staff to seek to fill empty spots as the parade would just keep marching on…

But then I thought of a post Rapture, Revelation 14 return of Jesus Christ on Thanksgiving Day where God’s wrath would be poured out where there would be few if any men left standing….

Revelation 14:14-20 (NLT2) says
14  Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15  Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.”
…..19  So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
20  The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.

 There is or was actually a joyous worship song on Christian radio this year proclaiming that “Jesus is coming back” but in light of the moral corruption that is prevalent in our society and evidenced in families broken by divorce, sexual immorality, substance abuse, and selfish materialism, I fear that the return of Jesus Christ will not be the good news that the masses are waiting to hear.  

Yesterday, I presented a short teaching based on a devotional from John MacArthur about Enoch, and one of the things that Macarthur drew from the few Bible verses on Enoch was that he “walked with God” and He through naming his son Methuselah he warned others about the certainty of God’s judgement on the people of his corrupt moral society.  MacArthur pointed out that even though Enoch knew he would never live to see the Flood that would come, he was still faithful to warn others about it.  

People really must have thought Enoch was crazy, or at least a judgmental jerk, undoubtedly lecturing people of their moral failures and encouraging them to repent and trust in the one true unseen Creator God.   But one day, because of His relationship with God, Enoch did not collect $200 and go directly to the grave,  instead He was the first to provide evidence of the possibility of being “raptured”.  We can imagine the theories that would have explained Enoch’s disappearance and I’m sure there were several quite reasonable and plausible ones. I can think of a bunch.  But God through His word, reveals to us the truth about Enoch and a whole lot more.  

God reveals to us what is right and wrong. Our society is lacking mightily in respecting His standard.  

God also has revealed to us the Way to be at peace with Him,  through faith in Jesus Christ. And our society, and even what some would consider the “church” doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on what that means either.  

And finally, God tells us in Revelation of how this world will end but few seem to have confidence in being ready for that.   

End times prophetic preachers vary in their predictions, but some will sell you disaster supply kits and most have been preaching for decades that Christ would come back at any minute.  Their attempts to predict and “draw parallels” between newspaper headlines and scripture haven’t always been spot on and may even cause some to doubt the word of God because of their messages!

Me?  I thought I had some prophetic giftings in the past, and sometimes I have instances of having the feeling that “God set me up” as I walk into good things or “God gave me a heads up” when I avoid bad things, but because of my “false prophecies”, ideas about what would of should happen in my life that didn’t come to pass, I am hesitant to prophesy anything specific about future events.  

Instead, I unknowingly have adopted the stance of Enoch.  I concern myself with my daily walk with God from day to day and moment to moment. But I also try to, as lovingly as I can, warn people to secure their eternal destiny by putting their faith in Jesus Christ, to live according to God’s standards for living, and to respect the word of God as true: to believe and to understand that Jesus is coming back.  But like Enoch, I may not live to see Christ’s return from the perspective of the earth.  I may be coming with Him!  

But I don’t know about that one way or the other.  But I do know that God loves us, and He wants us to make peace with Him and to enjoy our lives with Him.  So, I hope the end times imagining of Christ coming back at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Judgement doesn’t freak you out but encourages you to see that God is holy and encourages us to be on His side when the wrath of God should come.  

Ironically, all of this caused me to remember Green Days’ song, Macy’s Day Parade’s lyrics and feel that somehow they express the angst over the way the pageantry of the parade of life is inadequate to satisfy us but amazingly there is a hope for the future, that Billy Jo Armstrong may or may not know, lies in the person of Jesus Christ. The lyrics say: 

 

“Today's the Macy's Day Parade

The night of the living dead is on its way

With a credit report for duty call

It's a lifetime guarantee

Stuffed in a coffin, 10% more free

Red light special at the mausoleum

 

Give me something that I need

Satisfaction guaranteed to you

What's the consolation prize?

Economy sized dreams of hope

 

When I was a kid, I thought

I wanted all the things that I haven't got

Oh-oh, but I learned the hardest way

Then I realized what it took

To tell the difference between thieves and crooks

Lesson learned to me and you

 

Give me something that I need

Satisfaction guaranteed

 

'Cause I'm thinking 'bout a brand new hope

The one I've never known

'Cause now I know it's all that I wanted”

 

I think I might have shared this song before. If I did I apologize. But even though things continue to change, some things remain the same.  This world and our human relationships are inadequate, and were never intended, to satisfy us. 

But I am thinking about what wasn’t long ago a “brand new hope” for me, the hope that only comes through Christ alone.  Jesus gives us the hope of peace in our lives on earth and the hope for everlasting life from here to eternity. He is our only hope.   

And even though speaking on the moral standards and the reality of an end time judgement may be offensive,  I have to tell you about them with the hope that it will cause you to discover the hope that I have found in Jesus Christ.  

Everyday, I’m walking and talking with God and life is good. Every day, I’m think about a brand new hope, the one I never knew, cause now I know, after years of suffering and searching, I know it’s all that I wanted or could ever hope to have.  

God bless you and keep you on this Black Friday and as you go to work or prepare for Christmas, I pray that you know the hope of Jesus and seek to share it with others.    

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

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 Harvest

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were ill-treated and helpless,[3] like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ ” (Matt. 9:35–38).

The gaze of the Savior falls in pity on his people, on God’s people. It could not be enough for him that only a few people heard his call and followed him. He could not consider isolating himself aristocratically with his disciples and transmitting to them in the manner of great founders of religions the doctrines of higher knowledge and more perfect way of life separated from the mass of the people. Jesus had come; he worked, and he suffered on behalf of his entire people. And though the disciples wanted to have him all to themselves, and tried to keep distant from him the nuisance of the children who were brought to him and of some poor beggars on the side of the road (Mark 10:48), they had to acknowledge that Jesus would not permit his ministry to be limited by them. His gospel of the kingdom of God and his power to save belonged to the poor and sick, wherever he found them among his people.

The view of the crowds, which perhaps prompted disgust, rage, or contempt in his disciples, filled Jesus’ heart with deep pity and grief. No reproaches, no accusations! God’s beloved people were lying ill-treated on the ground, and the guilt for this fell on those who were to serve them with God’s ministry. It was not the Romans who had brought this about, but the misuse of the word of God by those called to be ministers of the Word. There were no more shepherds there! Jesus found God’s people to be a flock which was not led to fresh water, whose thirst remained unquenched[6]—sheep, whom no shepherd protects from the wolf, battered and wounded, terrified and fearful under the hard staff of their shepherds, sheep lying on the ground. Questions, but no answer; need, but no help; consciences kept in fear, but no liberation; tears, but no consolation; sin, but no forgiveness! Where was the good shepherd this people needed? What did it help here that there were scribes, who drove the people into the synagogues by brute force? What did it matter that zealots of the law harshly condemned sinners without helping them? What did it matter that the most orthodox preachers and interpreters of the word of God were present, if they were not filled with all of the mercy and all of the grief over the abused and ill-treated people of God? What use are scholars of Scripture, pious followers of the law, preachers of the word, if the shepherds of the church-community themselves are missing?

¶ The flock needs good shepherds, “pastors.”[8] “Feed my lambs” is Jesus’ last command to Peter. Good shepherds[10] fight for their flock against the wolf and do not flee. Instead, they give their lives for the sheep. They know all their sheep by their names and love them. They know their needs and their weaknesses. They heal their wounds, giving drink to the thirsty and lifting up those who are in danger of falling. They feed them gently and not harshly. They lead them along the right path. They seek the single lost sheep and bring it back to the flock. The evil shepherds, however, rule by violence; they forget their flock and tend to their own affairs. Jesus is looking for good shepherds, and behold, there are none to be found.

That saddens his heart. His divine pity embraces this lost flock, the mass of people around him. From the human point of view, it is a hopeless picture. But it is not hopeless for Jesus. Here, where God’s people stand before him ill-treated, miserable, and poor, Jesus sees God’s field ripe for harvest. “The harvest is great!” It is ripe to be brought into the barns. The hour has come that these poor and miserable people are brought home into the kingdom of God. Jesus sees God’s promise dawning over the masses of people. The scribes and zealots of the law saw only a trampled, burned, battered field. Jesus sees the ripe, waving field of grain for the kingdom of God. The harvest is great! His mercy alone sees that!

Now there is no time to lose. Harvesting cannot be delayed. “But the laborers are few.” Is it a miracle, since this merciful gaze of Jesus is given to so few? Who could enter into this work, besides those who have won a place in Jesus’ heart, who have received from him eyes that can see?

Jesus is looking for help. He cannot do this work alone. Where are the workers to help him? God alone knows them and must give them to God’s Son. Who would dare to take the initiative to offer to be Jesus’ helper? Even the disciples do not dare to do so. They are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers at the right hour, for it is time.[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), 183–185.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Bonhoeffer's Discipleship - Lesson 12 - The Messengers

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! 

I am happy to announce that I have completed and uploaded  Lesson 12 of “Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship” : an informal study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship – with Lesson  12  – The Messengers: The Harvest,  The Apostles, The Work, The Suffering of the Messengers, The Decision, & The Fruit   

 

 

Here is a link to the audio podcast: Lesson 12 Podcast

Here is a link to the video on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel:  


 

 

It is my prayer that this series will encourage people to read Bonhoeffer’s work but more importantly I hope the lessons encourage people to deepen their faith in Christ by pursuing a life of Christian Discipleship. 

God bless you all. 

 

M. T. Clark  

 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Skillfully Dealing with “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” of Thanksgiving- Purity 895


 Skillfully Dealing with “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” of Thanksgiving- Purity 895   

Purity 895 11/22/2022 Purity 895 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing cotton candy sunset sky over my favorite portion of I-787 South, highlighting the glass domed peak of the building at 625 Broadway in downtown Albany, comes to us from yours truly as I tried my best to capture some of the beauty of this spectacular November sky from my securely mounted iPhone as I drove home from work yesterday.  The beauty of God’s creation is all around us at all times and as much as we may enjoy the warmer temperatures of Summer, yesterdays sunset reminded me that we don’t get sunsets quite like this during those warmer months. Even though they don’t happen every day in late Autumn or throughout the winter, the history of my blog will testify to the truth that some truly magical celestial moments happen during these colder days of the year.  

Well, it’s Tuesday and for nearly all of us, today is “Hump Day” because Thanksgiving is only 48 hours away, making this first part of the week a 3 day work week.  

As I write these words, I am excited at the prospect of all of us coming together with family and friends to reunite in a celebration of Thanksgiving.  I myself will be celebrating Thanksgiving at my brother-in-law’s place, who I see quite regularly as we go to the same church and I attend the “growth group” he leads for our church. So while I will not be reuniting with people I haven’t seen in a while, I am filled with joy at just contemplating all the people who will be.  Over the next couple of days, people will be travelling from near and far to enjoy the company of their friends and family and I just have great joy contemplating the way God has knit us all together in relationships of love.   It makes me think of Peter’s words on the Mount of Transfiguration.  When Peter witnessed Christ in unveiled glory miraculously joined by Moses and Elijah, he:

Matthew 17:4 (NKJV)
4  … said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

Peter certainly didn’t understand what was happening but he knew it was good to be together and he wanted this magical moment to last.   

And that’s how I feel right now just thinking about people coming together in the next 48 hours to talk, to laugh, to hug one another, to be together, and to love one another in peace and thanksgiving.   I know my visions may seem Pollyanna-ish and may be distorted Hallmark movie fantasies but even though all our interactions over the next few days aren’t guaranteed to be perfectly harmonious, the love that lies at the foundation of them all will still be there even if we won’t be able to express it perfectly. 

Let’s face it people, even family people, can drive you nuts. But usually there is more good than bad in our familial dealings, otherwise we wouldn’t get together, right? I hope that’s the case, anyway. Otherwise, maybe next year we should investigate establishing boundaries to limit or keep the dysfunction at bay.

So as we gear up for the good, the bad, and, oh My – help us Jesus, the ugly that we may encounter over the next few days, let’s promise one another that we will try to be the light that God wants us to be. Let’s agree that we will be the one’s that try to establish peace, whenever possible, with our family and friends, where necessary, as ambassadors for God’s kingdom.   

Remember some basics, presented from God’s word, on how to deal skillfully with “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Thanksgiving.”

Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)
1  A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

James 1:19 (NLT2)
19  Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

James 1:2-3 (NKJV)
2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 (NLT2)
14  Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
15  See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
16  Always be joyful.
17  Never stop praying.
18  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

And finally,

Luke 23:34 (NLT2)
34  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” …

While I hope you have some mountain top moments of joy over the next few days that will make you want the moments to last forever, we have to remember that those we encounter over the next few days may not know the “peace that goes beyond all understanding” and may be bitter, angry, or hurting”.  So let’s do our best to minister to them, but also remember not to be dragged into contentions or squabbles. Let’s walk that line with skill and let’s not forget that while Christ also commanded us to love our enemies, we are not Jesus.  So know your limitations, speak an encouraging word, but if necessary, don’t forget to call on the Lord to show you the way of escape.   

If we remember who we are in Christ, we will be grounded in peace no matter what we face, but wisdom may demand we extract ourselves from difficult situations or endure them with patience.  There are no pat answers on how to deal with difficult situations but if we are diligent to forgive others and show love, we just may have something to be thankful for after this latest holiday passes.  

Keep walking and talking with God, and He will see you through.

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Colossians 2:13 (NLT2)
13  You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

Today’s verse reminds us that before Christ we were dead! But because we put our faith in Jesus, God has made us alive with Christ and has forgiven all our sins.   

To be forgiven is huge gift from the Lord but our salvation is not just a “pardon” from the penalty that we would have rightly had to suffer.  In Christian teachings there are many illustrations about going to court and having Jesus show up to pay our fine so we could be set free. While that is a useful way to explain the atonement, that picture is somewhat  incomplete in expressing the new life we have in Christ.  

Today’s verse indicates that our sinful nature has been cut away and that God gives us new life with Christ. What we receive when we put our faith is more than just a pardon, it is a new existence with new capabilities that we didn’t have before. But to experience the new existence, the new life in Christ and to realize the power of our new capabilities, we have to believe that this verse is true, that this verse and all the other one’s about the new life in Christ, is true about us.   

When we put our faith in Jesus, we receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who makes us spiritually alive, and powerful.  After we become Christians, we are guaranteed eternal life with God forever and we have the power to say no to sin, for good.   But we have to believe it and act on it.  Sometimes transformation comes quickly, sometimes it comes in time, but it always comes from faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.  

So believe and receive what the Lord has done for you. Keep walking and talking with God, and obey the call He puts on your life.  We can trust the Lord because we were once dead but He has made us alive and He wants us to thrive. Go with God.

 

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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 Great Separation concludes

Verse 22. Confessors and doers are separated from each other. Now the separation is driven in as far as it can go. Here, finally, those speak up who have survived the test up to now. They belong to the doers, but now they make demands based upon their deeds instead of upon their confession. They have done deeds in the name of Jesus. They know that confession does not justify; hence, they went out to make the name of Jesus great among the people by their deeds. Now they come before Jesus and refer to those deeds.

Jesus reveals to his disciples here the possibility of a demonic faith, point that they are indistinguishable from the deeds of true disciples of Jesus. They do works of love, miracles, perhaps even sanctify themselves, and yet deny Jesus and discipleship. It is just as Paul says in chapter 13 of the First Letter to the Corinthians about the possibility of preaching, prophesying, having all knowledge, even all faith to remove mountains—but without love, that is, without Christ, without the Holy Spirit. Yes, even more than this: Paul must even consider the possibility that the works of Christian love themselves, giving away one’s goods, even so far as martyrdom, can be done—without love, without Christ, without the Holy Spirit. Without love—that means that in all those actions the deed of discipleship does not take place, that deed, whose doer is finally none other than the one who calls us, Jesus Christ himself. That is the deepest, least comprehensible possibility of the satanic within the congregation, the ultimate separation, which, of course, does not take place until the last judgment. But it will be a final one. Those following Jesus must ask what is the ultimate standard of measure of who will be accepted by Jesus and who will not. Who remains and who does not? Jesus’ answer to those who are rejected at the end says it all: “I never knew you.” That is the final secret, which has been kept from the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount up until its end. That alone is the question, whether we were known by Jesus or not. To what should we hold fast, if we hear how the word of Jesus draws the separation between the community and the world, and then within the community until the last judgment? If nothing is left to us, neither our confession nor obedience? Then the only thing left is his word: I have known you. This is his everlasting word, his everlasting call. The end of the Sermon on the Mount connects here with its beginning. His word at the last judgment—it is issued to us in his call to discipleship. But from the beginning to the end, it remains his word, his call. Those who in discipleship hold fast to nothing except this word and let everything else go will be carried by this word through the last judgment. His word is his grace.[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@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), 179–181.