Walking into Wide Open Spaces and Why “You Lift All Them Weights!” - Purity 870
Purity 870 10/23/2022 Purity 870 Podcast
Today’s photo of my faithful companion, Harley, wearing his “foxy sweater” and standing in front of a stand of trees displaying autumn colors, comes to us from yours truly as I decided to take our landlord’s invitation to go off road and explore his property.
When you show your integrity as a Christian by just doing what is right and meeting your responsibilities, all kinds of doors will open up to you. And when someone tells me that I am welcome to enter into a new experience that I thought was off limits, I generally step into it with enthusiasm.
To make Harley visible in today’s photo I really had to zoom in, so I am sharing the original also on the blog today to give you all an idea of just how wide open the space was that we walked into and to see just how big and blue the sky was that was over us in Easton New York’s version of Big Sky Country! If you y go to the blog to see it, I just want to point out that the photo that I titled “Great Wide Open” is just one cross section of the 360 degree panorama of cleared fields and distant forests that surrounded us as we boldly walked into the unknown expanses beyond the gorge behind our countryside home.
Well, it’s Monday again and even though its back to work and back to reality, I want to encourage everyone who has read thus far to accept my invitation to broaden your horizons by stepping out in faith to seek all that the Lord has for you because a lifestyle of living in the presence of God and walking in the Spirit is not something that most people even consider as possible and my ongoing testimony is intended to let everyone know just how good God is and how amazing your life can be when you start walking and talking with Him.
After I spent nearly 40 years in a lifestyle of confusion, sin, and worldliness after I experience the love and forgiveness of God upon my salvation, I was intentional in my new life in Christ to know God more and to seek out His will for my life and while the narrow road that Christ has put me on hasn’t been free of trials and tribulations, I am here to tell you that it is through following Christ alone where the pathway to peace is found, both here on earth and as it will be in heaven.
As wobbly as my walk was in my Christian infancy, I had a real desire to know that I was following a God who was real, good, and holy and I went into my journey of faith with the skepticism and caution of someone who wasn’t going to accept much of anything unless I could know and experience that it was true. At the same time though, I also understood that this faith walk was uncharted territory so while I was going to proceed with caution I realized that I also had to have an open mind and an open heart to consider the Lord’s ways because they were foreign to the world’s wisdom of the “ends justify the means” and the “take what you want” mentality.
So I started, praying, and reading the Bible on my own, listening Cto hristian podcasts, going to church, serving there, going to a men’s Bible study, and eventually enrolling in Bible college, all in the pursuit of seeking to know God more and to seek out His will for me.
And now, 12 years after I said the prayer that put my faith in Christ, I can tell you that although I have learned a lot and experienced a lot in my faith walk, I can easily admit that there are still wide open spaces to walk into and that there is simply no end in sight of how much we can know about God, our Christian faith, and about our lives walking with the Lord.
Although there are dry and dusty areas that we will experience on this path of faith, I have managed to keep things “fresh” by continually seeking the “next thing” that the Lord has for me but without abandoning the basic disciplines of discipleship and I think that is a key to progress. We keep doing what we are doing in terms of reading the word of God, again?!? Oh yeah again, and staying connected to the Lord in prayer and just talking to Him as we go on a daily basis, but we also keep our eyes forward and keep our eyes on that horizon to see what the Lord is bringing us to.
This morning I was a reminded of a quote by the Super Bowl Champion coach of the NY Giants, Bill Parcels who inspired his team on the side lines of a game once by saying:
“Hey fellas! This is what you work all off season for. This is why you lift all them weights! This is why you do all that $&#%!”
Just like the “Big Tuna”, Coach Parcels, I would encourage Christians to do disciplines that will make your faith strong and prepare you for what the Lord wants you to do.
For the Christian, lifting weights is reading the Bible, praying, going to church, reading Christian books, praising, worshiping, and listening to Christian music or podcasts.
These disciplines of the Christian make our faith strong by renewing our minds and reshaping our hearts. Just like lifting weights or working out, these disciplines should be done wisely and consistently in a manner that will build your capacity but in a way that will not overwhelm you.
You start with small weights and then, when you are stronger you lift heavier weights.
When we first come to faith in Christ, we can’t lift much but we should lift something! And we should seek to engage our “faith muscles” regularly and consistently in order to gain wisdom and the capacity to let more of what God has for us into our lives. That can involve an openness to receive what God has for you and a willingness to surrender our old wisdom and ways for His higher wisdom and ways. That involves a humbleness to admit “I didn’t know that” or what may be an even harder thing to say: “I was wrong.”
But don’t worry, you didn’t know any better, and neither did those who tried to “coach” you to live in this world independently of God.
But now we do know. God has opened our eyes to the truth of Jesus Christ and while knowing Him is enough to save us, we should not be shy to accept the Lord’s invitation to walk into the wide open spaces of His wisdom, love, and light to discover all the things the Lord has for us that we could never see in our former darkness.
So start or keep “lifting them weights” and keep walking and talking with God to know Him more and to explore all He has for you to see and all He has for you to be that lies somewhere over the next horizon on your journey 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:
Psalm 94:14 (NLT2)
14 The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession.
Today’s Bible verse speaks one of the most important promises of our faith. The Lord will not reject us and He will not abandon us. The Lord will never leave or forsake us and this is what can give us a continuing sense of hope.
This is the one of the greatest things about our faith. We can count on the Lord, ALWAYS.
In this life, people will come and go. Family, friends, loved ones, and neighbors will go in different directions from us. Some will leave us because of our faith in Christ! Ask me how I know! Actually don’t ask me, because there are simply too many people to count! Through my life in general, and through the last 12 years specifically, there are a whole lot of people that I will probably never see, in the flesh, or even on social media again.
But the Lord? He is always available. He is always with us!
So rejoice in knowing that He will not reject you or abandon you and that He considers you to be His special possession.
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
On the “Extraordinary” of Christian Life
Anyone who is angry toward a sister or brother, who aims harsh words at them, who scorns or slanders another in public, has, as a murderer, no place before God. Alienating oneself from another person causes alienation from God. Such alienated persons no longer have access to God. Their offerings, their worship, their prayers cannot please God. For the followers of Jesus, unlike the rabbis, service to God in worship can never be separated from service to sisters and brothers. Contempt for others makes worship dishonest and deprives it of any divine promise. Individuals as well as church communities who intend to enter God’s presence with contemptuous or unreconciled hearts are playing games with an idol. As long as we withhold service and love from a sister or brother, as long as he or she remains a target of our contempt, as long as a sister or brother has something against me or Jesus’ community, our offerings will remain unaccepted. It is not just my own anger which gets between me and God, but even the fact that a brother or sister exists whom I have abused, humiliated, and dishonored, and who “has something against me.” So the community of Jesus’ disciples ought to examine itself as to whether it is here and there at fault toward sisters and brothers, and whether, for the sake of the world, it has participated in hating, despising, and humiliating others. To do these things is to be guilty of their murder. Jesus’ community today ought to examine whether at the moment it enters God’s presence for prayer and worship many accusing voices rise up between it and God and hinder its prayers. Jesus’ community ought to examine whether it has given a sign of Jesus’ love, which preserves, supports, and protects lives, to those whom the world has despised and dishonored. Otherwise the most correct form of worship, the most pious prayer, and the bravest confession will not help, but will give witness against it, because it has ceased following Jesus. We are not allowed to separate God from our sister or brother. God does not want to be honored if a sister or brother is dishonored. God is the Father. Yes, God is the Father of Jesus Christ, who came to be brother to us all. That is the ultimate reason why God refuses to be separated from our sister or brother. God’s own Son was dishonored and humiliated in order to honor the Father. But the Father, refusing to be separated from his Son, will likewise not be separated from those whose humanity the Son assumed as an equal and for whose sake the Son bore his humiliation. Because the Son of God became a human being, service to God in worship can no longer be detached from service to sisters and brothers. Those who say that they love God and yet hate their brothers or sisters are liars.
Thus there remains only one path for those who in following Jesus want to truly serve God in worship, and that is the path of reconciliation with their sisters and brothers. Anyone who comes to the word and sacrament with an unreconciled heart stands judged by doing so. Such a person is a murderer in God’s sight. That is why you must “first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” It is a difficult path Jesus imposes on his disciples. It includes much humiliation and dishonor for the disciples themselves. But it is the path to him, our crucified brother, and thus, it is a path full of grace. In Jesus, service to the least brother or sister and service to God became one. He went and was reconciled to his human kindred and then he came and offered himself, the one true sacrifice, to his Father.
This is still a time of grace, for brothers and sisters are still given to us and we are still “on the way with them.” The day of judgment lies before us. There is still time to offer satisfaction to a sister or brother; there is still time to pay what we owe to those to whom we are indebted. The hour is coming in which we shall be handed over to the judge. Then it will be too late; then righteousness and punishment shall rule until the last debt is paid. Can we understand that our sisters and brothers are not given to Jesus’ disciples as an expression of the law, but of grace? It is grace to be permitted to satisfy our sisters and brothers, and to help them attain their rights. It is grace that we may be reconciled with our sisters and brothers. They are our grace before the day of judgment.
The only one who can speak to us like that is the one who himself, as our brother, became our grace, our reconciliation, our salvation from judgment. The grace of sisters and brothers is granted to us in the humanity of the Son of God. Might the disciples of Jesus seriously contemplate that!
Service to sisters and brothers which satisfies them and respects their rights and life is the path of self-denial, the path to the cross. No one has greater love that those who lay down their lives for their friends. That is the love of the crucified one. Thus, this commandment is fulfilled solely in the cross of Jesus.
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
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Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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