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Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2022

Walking into Wide Open Spaces and Why “You Lift All Them Weights!” - Purity 870

 

Walking into Wide Open Spaces and Why “You Lift All Them Weights!” - Purity 870

Purity 870 10/23/2022  Purity 870 Podcast

Good morning,

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.   

    

 

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

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

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

Kindred concludes

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.[89] 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.[92]

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.[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), 120–125.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Healing By Faith – Gradually and All at Once- Purity 865


 

Healing By Faith  – Gradually and All at Once- Purity 865

Purity 865 10/18/2022 Purity 865 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a kaleidoscope of autumn color found in a sampling of trees comes to us from an anonymous friend who captured this scene on social media last Thursday. My friend is not anonymous of course but time was limited this morning and I didn't think I had enough of it to  scour Facebook to discover the identity of the photographer. I know they're not a professional, I don't think, but the photo they captured shows they certainly have an eye  of an artist, and I am thankful to them for sharing what they saw. And if they should happen to see their photo and want credit, just contact me and I will add your name to the post.

Well it's the 18th of October and as I stated last week the peak season for the fall foliage in the Catskills and Adirondacks region of upstate New York is the first couple of weeks in October,  so we may be on the other side of seeing the best of the season as I see more and more leaves on the ground with each passing day.

The change in the leaves can be gradual but it can also seem like it happens all at once. For those people who were waiting for the changes that come it probably seemed like it took forever and now with each passing day the glory of those autumn colors are beginning to fade as October draws closer to the arrival of November in just two weeks.

In the past two weeks I was waiting for healing to come to my wife as she was suffering from an infection in her gums because of a dental problem. We started praying for healing immediately, and she started taking antibiotics to fight the infection, but instead of things getting better they seemed to get worse.

I was positively upset that my wife was suffering, and I had some real out loud conversations with the Lord about it. I wish I could say I wasn't angry but I was. My wife's journey has been a strange one this year, with several job changes and contentions in court, and just when it seemed like we were ready to finally come to a place of peace and victory she gets hit with this!

So I went to the Lord, and I told Him I wasn't happy. I kept praying for healing every day. I even answered a call that I felt the Lord was giving me to make an offering to a local cause that was calling for donations, and even though I stepped out in faith and made the sacrifice even that didn't seem to be changing the spiritual atmosphere to bring healing to my wife situation. But I kept praying and hoping and my wife kept suffering.

And then Saturday, I had a fall at work that could have been a real disaster, but I was providentially given the grace of the Lord so that I walked away from it with comparatively minor injuries.  But I was still pretty sore Sunday morning when I went to church.

Our pastor was concluding his four part series on prayer and the message broke down the different scenarios concerning God answering prayer.  Pastor Roscoe shared the four following points:

Request not right = NO

You're not right = grow

Timing not right = slow

Everything's right = go

He explained that if our prayer request wasn't in God's plan for us the answer would be no.  The second point meant that if we weren't right with God and needed to repent or mature in our faith, God would use our walk and our unanswered prayers to make us grow.  The third point meant that our prayer would be answered but not yet. And the fourth point meant that everything would be right, and your prayer would be answered.

Well I had to believe that my prayers for TammyLyn was a good request and I hoped that it was in God's plan that she'd be healed. Although I have to admit the enemy whispered my ear “This is how your wife dies” but I didn't listen to that!

As for me being right, while I will never claim to be perfect, I didn't think that I had anything in my life that would prevent God from healing Tammy Lynn.

So, it looked like option 3, the timing, wasn't right yet Or something else was going on that I didn't know about.

As a service drew to an end, Pastor Roscoe, the prayer team, and other members of leadership, invited people to come up to be prayed for.  Well I had been blessed the previous day without being seriously injured, I was still hurting, and I remembered

James 5:14-15 (NKJV) that says:
14  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

When I remembered that, there was no way I wasn't going up there for prayer.  So I went up and Pastor Larry, our executive pastor, just happened to be the person available for me to go to.

And so I explain to him how I had had a fall the previous day and the Lord had blessed me with without being seriously hurt but I was in pain and I wanted to be obedient to the word of God and come to the elders and get anointed with oil and be prayed for. But I also said that I wanted him to pray for my wife Tammy Lynn to be healed as well. And that I knew that if we want to be right with God we have to obey His word.   So pastor Larry prayed and the service ended.

Sunday night I made my way back to River house and I was very sore and very tired and I had entertained the idea I'm staying out of work for a couple of days to fully recover, not knowing for sure whether or not I would go to work come Monday morning.  But yesterday I woke up and I wasn't too sore and I was able to do my regular morning workout and although my neck was a little stiff I made it through a full day of work Monday without any real problems.

I think that sometimes we have a choice of what story we're going to tell with our lives. I think we can stay home sick or we can get on with our lives. Now don't get me wrong if you're sick stay home. If you're not well enough to work don't force yourself to do something that you can’t. 

But sometimes it's not very clear whether or not you're well or sick and you have to decide what you're gonna do. You have to either agree that the Lord is going to heal you and has healed you or you can choose to stay and wait on the Lord to see if you're healed. Yesterday I decided by faith that I was well enough to go to work and I was.

Now this is a Gray area because I could have easily just stayed home and believe me at different times I'm like what am I doing at work. But I didn't want to be a liar either. I don't wanna stay home nursing a little bit of muscle soreness and being deceitful and saying I couldn't work. When you're walking with the Lord you have to really be concerned with whether or not you're speaking the truth. By calling in sick saying i couldn't work, I thought it be dishonest.

So because I was convicted about being honest I assessed my situation and said I can work and if I could work that means I had received healing or at least I wasn't hurt too bad.

And this reminds me of the verse where Jesus asked the guy at the pool of Siloam in

John 5:6 (NKJV)
6  … "Do you want to be made well?"

Well, do you want to be made well? 

And it reminds me of the time Christ spoke to the woman who had the issue of blood who fought through the crowd to touch the hem of His garment and how she was healed. Christ said to her. 

Luke 8:48 (NKJV)
, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."  

Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.

So I went in peace to work on Monday, oh brother.  But today I am feeling even better that yesterday, and I believe I made the right choice and my faith in that choice is blessed by the Lord.  

Oh by the way, after I had Pastor Larry pray for me and my wife, TammyLyn has dramatically improved as well.  She isn’t completely healed yet but her condition has vastly improved and I am encouraging her to take it on faith, and to follow her dentist’s instructions, that her complete healing is on the way, and it is all but a done deal in God’s eyes because He already knows the end from the beginning.  

So if you are hurting today or know someone who is sick or just have something you are praying for, I encourage you to get right with God by turning from any overt sins and by being under the spiritual authority of a local church, to examine just what your praying for and to consider how it may or may not be part of God’s plan for you, and to be patient and to trust the Lord’s timing and that He will get it right in the end, whether you receive what want or not.  

The way to peace and joy in our lives comes from following the Lord and from accepting what He has in store for you.  So keep walking and talking with God and you will be blessed. It’s just a matter of how and when. What God has for us may be gradual or may come all at once just like the leave on the trees will shine bright for a season one moment and fall to the ground the next, we may just have to wait to see God’s plan work in the seasons of our lives.  

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

This morning’s meditation verse is

Mark 11:25 (NLT2)
25  But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

Today’s Bible verse reminds us of another aspect to our prayer life: forgiveness.  

Yeah, being right with God also includes forgiving others and asking others for their forgiveness.   Scripture repeatedly commands us to forgive much as we have been forgiven much.  So when we go to worship God or when we have prayers that we want to be considered, we should be obedient to God and true to who we are in Christ by living a lifestyle of forgiveness.  

If we sin, we are to confess it to God and ask for His forgiveness. 

If we offend or hurt someone, we are to ask them to forgive us.  

IF we are offended or hurt by others, we are to forgive them, as Christ forgave us.  

So pray to  the Lord at all times, but be sure to be obedient to His command to forgive.

___________________________________________

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

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

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

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Visible Church-Community

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

¶ “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13–16).

Those being spoken to are those called in the Beatitudes into the grace of following the crucified one. So far the blessed have appeared as people worthy of the kingdom of heaven, but obviously at the same time as people unworthy of living,[51] superfluous for this earth. Now they are described using the image of the most indispensable commodity on earth. They are the salt of the earth. They are the noblest asset, the highest value the world possesses. Without them the earth can no longer survive. The earth is preserved by salt; the world lives because of these poor, ignoble, and weak people, whom the world rejects. It destroys its own life by driving out the disciples, and—O wonder!—the earth may continue to live because of those outcasts. This “divine salt” (Homer) proves itself by its effectiveness. It penetrates the entire earth. It is the earth’s substance. Thus, the disciples are focused not only on heaven, but are reminded of their mission on earth. As those bound to Jesus alone are they sent to the earth, whose salt they are. When Jesus calls his disciples “the salt,” instead of himself, this transfers his efficacy on the earth to them. He brings them into his work. He remains in the people of Israel, but he consigns the whole world to the disciples. Only when salt remains salty is the cleansing, flavoring power of salt preserved and the earth preserved by salt. Salt must remain salty for its own sake, as well as for the sake of the earth. The community of disciples must remain what Christ’s call has made them. That will be their true efficacy on earth and their preserving strength. Salt does not decay; it is, therefore, a lasting power for cleansing. That is why salt is used in the Old Testament for offerings, that is why in the Catholic baptism ritual salt is put into the child’s mouth (Exod. 30:35; Ezek. 16:4). The fact that salt will not decay guarantees that the community will last.

“You are the salt”—not “you should be the salt”! The disciples are given no choice whether they want to be salt or not. No appeal is made to them to become salt of the earth. Rather they just are salt, whether they want to be or not, by the power of the call which has reached them. You are the salt—not, “you have the salt.” It would diminish the meaning to equate the disciples’ message with salt, as the reformers did. What is meant is their whole existence, to the extent that it is newly grounded in Christ’s call to discipleship, that existence of which the Beatitudes speak. All those who follow Jesus’ call to discipleship are made by that call to be the salt of the earth in their whole existence.[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), 110–112.


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Under The Hunter’s Moon - How Do You Do That? - Purity 863


 

Under The Hunter’s Moon - How Do You Do That?  - Purity 863

Purity 863 10/14/2022 Purity 863 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a darkened roadway, the shadows of trees, and an evening sky illuminated by “The Hunter’s Moon” comes to us from a friend who shared this scene of an October evening, presumably near their home in Round Top NY, on social media earlier this week.  

Well, we have made it to the weekend and as I stated yesterday, and have now confirmed via Google, we in the Catskills or the Adirondacks regions of upstate New York are currently in the peak of the fall foliage season. So as the forecast, according to Alexa, is calling for partly sunny weather and a high of 67 F degrees, I encourage all of my local friends to venture outside of the four walls of your homes and go see the glory of the Autumn season.  

Yesterday, I took my canine friend, Harley, for a westward walk down Waite Road toward River Road which is lined by forests after I pass my neighbors place and was absolutely rejoicing over how God’s creation had all the colors of Autumn on display. We were also blessed by the appearance of a Blue Jay flying above and a Deer scampering across the roadway.  Sometimes it’s just being aware of and being present for the things in our immediate surroundings that can give us a resounding sense of peace and a thrill of joy at just how blessed we are to simply live in this world that the Lord has made.   

So why didn’t I share any photos of that? I didn’t bring my phone and I have decided that was a good thing for the memory of yesterday’s short walk in Autumn ‘22’s splendor will be just between me and God.    

But before you go running off to the wilderness to be one with the Lord and decide that being alone with the Lord in His creation is your purpose in life, I want also remind us all of the blessings that the Lord brings us when Christians are in community and that our purpose is not to keep our light under a bushel but are to share what we have come to know about the Lord with others.  

I shared my friend’s picture of what they call “The Hunter’s Moon” because last night I had to don a bright orange hunter’s knit cap in service of the Lord and I wasn’t hunting rabbits, deer, or ducks but was only to be used in assisting the Lord to capture the hearts of men.   

My Church, Starpoint Church in Clifton Park, hosted a men’s worship event called “Man Up” last evening and prior to the event I was asked by our executive pastor to be a “connect group leader” to encourage men to boldly proclaim what areas of their life the Lord was leading them to “Man Up” in. 

The evening started with fellowship that involved a catered meal from “the Dog Haus”, of sliders and tater tots, and manly games of corn hole and axe throwing was also available, which I missed as I spent the first half hour eating and talking to my brother-in-law and other men I knew from the church. 

A lively session of worship music by our churches worship team followed the meal and fellowship and then we were blessed by an impactful message from Pastor Pierre, a visiting friend of our church from Rochester. Pastor Pierre’s message was encouraging and convicting and after I heard it I knew that it would almost certainly cause some of the men to consider the ways they are living and what “shadow” they would be casting for their family and friends to remember as they walked from last night into eternity.  

After the message, the men were invited to meet out on the church’s lawn where various fire pits were assembled and lit, for a final session of fellowship, making smores and prayer.  

Burt before all that, at the beginning of the evening,  the “connect group leaders” were called together to be instructed on what our roles were to be following the service to end the night. Pastor Larry gave us our orange hats, that were to serve as a visual indicator of who would be leading the fire pit sessions, and explained how we were to encourage the men that gathered to share a little about themselves and to answer the question: “In what one area is the Lord calling you to “Man Up”. 

As Pastor Larry concluded giving his instructions and we were about to leave, I got a call from the Holy Spirit to pray. I’m relatively new to the church and didn’t know all the guys, but I felt the Holy Spirit was calling me to step out and pray.

So when Pastor Larry asked: Are there any questions? I asked “Can I pray for us?”  Pastor Larry said yes and then I said a quick prayer for the Holy Spirit to bless each of the connect group leaders and to use us to help the men gathered to open up and reveal what the Lord was asking them to do.  

It was a quick prayer and I said Amen and even though I thought I had did what I was called to do, a strange thing happened right on the heals of that prayer.  

I got blasted by what I would call a rush of anxiety and even though I maintained my composure, I was overcome with nervousness and this condemnation that told me that I was showing off or I was too new to this church or I didn’t belong here. Luckily, I knew all of this to be lies but the attack was pretty intense all the same and I had a moment where I was worried and I contemplated “What have I gotten myself into?”

But as I talked to my brother in law Donald and other men of the church, I found my peace again. And after worship and Pastor Pierre’s message,  the sudden panic attack was all but forgotten.  So I ventured out to a firepit I called my own with my orange hat on and started welcoming men to my circle and lead them through the short session of smore making, sharing their convictions of what the Lord put on their hearts about “Manning Up” in, and then we prayed for one another.  

As we got settled in to the group, I introduced myself and started to share testimony of all the things the Lord has helped me to overcome and it encouraged the other men to open up and be transparent about the areas where they needed to step up in. 

After we prayed for each other, one of the men pondered and asked “How can we do that? In regards to trying to find the balance between being loving and leading our families but at the same time not being overly controlling or completely passive. 

In the short time we had, I couldn’t explain the 12 year journey that had led me through the fires of adversity and to my new life in Christ, but I did encourage Him to follow the Lord and to develop a daily spiritual practice of prayer, Bible study, praying over the Who I am in Christ list, and gratitude to set the foundation for His day and to realize that the work that Lord has for us to do lies in changing our character more than trying to change others.   

I confessed that earlier I had a panic attack, probably demonic – didn’t say that to them, but after I was reminded myself of who I was in Christ I had peace and felt able to encourage them to seek the Lord’s will for their lives.  

The men truly seemed to appreciate my transparency, and I advised them that all the good things have happened in my life was because I decided to follow Lord and that He could help them too.   

And so I was blessed last night by fellowship of the men of my church and by the opportunity to give glory to God for all that He has done for me.  

So keep walking and talking with God, because it simply is the Only way to know true peace and to overcome the lies the enemy that would cause us to run away and hide.  The peace God has for us is in His light, not in the darkness of this world.  So I light a fire for Him and I will continue to encourage others to seek all that He has from them.

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

Will be back on Monday...... 

___________________________________________

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

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

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

Chapter Six

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Beatitudes – Continues

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Jesus’ followers are called to peace. When Jesus called them, they found their peace. Jesus is their peace. Now they are not only to have peace, but they are to make peace. To do this they renounce violence and strife. Those things never help the cause of Christ. Christ’s kingdom is a realm of peace, and those in Christ’s community greet each other with a greeting of peace. Jesus’ disciples maintain peace by choosing to suffer instead of causing others to suffer. They preserve community when others destroy it. They renounce self-assertion and are silent in the face of hatred and injustice. That is how they overcome evil with good. That is how they are makers of divine peace in a world of hatred and war. But their peace will never be greater than when they encounter evil people in peace and are willing to suffer from them. Peacemakers will bear the cross with their Lord, for peace was made at the cross.[42] Because they are drawn into Christ’s work of peace and called to the work of the Son of God, they themselves will be called children of God.[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/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), 108.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Praying for Sinners, Pleading for Saints - Purity 852


 

Praying for Sinners, Pleading for Saints - Purity 852

Purity 852 10/04/2022 Purity 852 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Blues Skies and the beginnings of the changing colors of Autumn surrounding an outcropping of a rock covered by the waters of a flowing stream comes to us from a friend who spent the first day of October visiting “The Flume Gorge, at Franconia Notch State Park” in New Hampshire.  Our friend shared a bunch of photos during their visit, so we may be revisiting this State Park again as there were other scenes worth sharing, but I liked this one for its simple beauty that testifies to the fact that Fall has descended upon us and the evidence will increase as the days pass.   

And that’s life isn’t it? We get small indications of the future in the present but depending on our ability to live apart from the distractions of this world we may or may not see the signs of the times and only in hindsight can declare that we “knew” what was coming.   

Well it’s Monday, again and even though it is back to work and back to reality, I am rejoicing today because the work we may complain about is something that some of us are not blessed with or able to perform at all.  What we may complain about may be something that someone else would relish being able to do or is something that someone else’s family desperately needs.   

Some of the sick, disabled, infirmed, or aged would gladly trade places with us this morning if it meant that they had the strength and ability to do what we take for granted. 

Some of the unemployed would also trade places with us if it meant they would be able to change their financial circumstances and provide for the needs of their family.  

This subject hits close to home because since 2022 began my wife, TammyLyn, has gone through 4 jobs changes and even though she was willing and able to work and has even done odd jobs, part time work, and did independent work, all of her combined efforts were not enough to adequately provide for the unforeseen inflation and unexpected expenses that came her way in 2022. But throughout it all TammyLyn has not lost her hope and continued to do all she could to persevere and trusted the Lord to guide her path, and today she starts work at her fourth, and prayerfully last new job, this year.    

She has been faithful and God has been faithful to bless her with this new career opportunity and with her family and friends that have helped her along the way.   So thank God. It’s Monday and we all get to go to work!

In examining TammyLyn’s path, we could ask: Why God? But even with all the turmoil along the way, the final results seem to indicate that God has been working all of what TammyLyn has experienced together for good.  This final job and the stability that may provide seems like an answer to prayer, and it is,  even though the process of its fulfillment was not anything that we could have anticipated and certainly not anything we asked for!   

Which brings up the question of prayer and the mystery of how it works or how we should pray, or the thing that’s on my mind this morning, who we should pray for or what we should pray for.  

I have shared enough of my testimony on this blog and podcast to reveal that I did not always walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. I was not always a born again Christian. And even after I put my faith in Jesus Christ, I didn’t repent of all my sins until the Holy Spirit convicted me and led me to repentance. The victory and freedom I have may have been given to me the moment I put my faith in Jesus, but it didn’t manifest in my experience until I made a decision to believe what God said about who I am in Christ and to live like it.    

At first, I rejoiced over my salvation and thought that God’s grace was truly amazing because there was simply no way I was going to change who I was in terms of my brokenness. I was a drunk. That’s who God saved and that’s what God was going to have to deal with.  Or so I thought. 

But as my heart grew to want to follow the Lord and be authentic in my faith, I increasingly was drawn to turn from my worldly ways and leave them behind for good. And God was faithful to give me the strength and wisdom to accomplish what I had considered impossible.  

But here’s the crux of my question this morning, I was a “carnal” Christian for something like 5 years, with little or no indication that I would repent of my fleshly ways.   If you knew what I was up to in the five years before I went into recovery, you may have even doubted if I was a Christian at all!  Although I went to church, served, and even got a an Associates degree in Biblical studies, I still had secret sins that I felt powerless to overcome.  

So, knowing all that, that I tried to live a Christian life, but was failing in major ways, would you have prayed for me if I asked for prayer?   

While I made a profession of faith in Christ, I still had sin in my life – some pretty blatant sins that are on the “do these and you go to hell list” in

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) which says:
9  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

So knowing what the word of God says, would you have prayed for me, or anyone else, who does things on this list, if they asked you for prayer?  

I am part of the prayer team at my local church and yesterday our pastor started a series on prayer and at the end of the message he called on the congregation to come up to ask the prayer team and other members of the church leadership to pray for whatever needs they had.  

The prayer team is available to do this each week at our church but yesterday because the emphasis was on “invinting God into your circumstances” through prayer, we had easily double if not three or four times as many prayer requests than we normally do.  

The Holy Spirit was moving for sure and I enthusiastically followed His lead and prayed for several people and their various requests. One after another came up and on a couple of occasions, before I began to pray for their requests, I got the indication that the person standing before me had some pretty obvious sins in their life that needed repenting of, but they weren’t asking for prayer for that. 

So what do you do? Do you sermonize and tell the people that have come forth asking God for help in their lives to repent because you “just know” they are living in sin?  

What would have I said to my former self, if I asked for prayer?  

Well I don’t know if I get these things right, but in the moment,  I did not get an indication from the Holy Spirit that I was to do anything other than to minister to the people before me and to prayer for what they asked for to and encourage them to trust in and follow the Lord, and to leave the results up to God.  

In the moment, that’s what I did and I felt that my prayers and words of guidance and encouragement were what the Lord led me to say.

But afterwards…  you wonder should I have done that? Should I have remained silent about their sin?   

As far as scripture goes, we can easily make a case for judgment or mercy in this situation because the word of God contains lots of wisdom on both. 

Several verses indicate that repentance is something that comes from God, and remembering those, I decided to trust that God would draw them to repentance and I would seek to show love and understanding and come along side these “sinners” in prayer and continue to follow the Lord who would show them the way to go.  

Only God knows the hearts of men, and as a former “carnal” Christian, I know in my situation the only one who could have made me to want to repent of my sins is God.  I was a big rebel and only His authority, grace, and love could guide me to where I am today.  

So even though I have some conflicts in how I feel about “praying for sinners”, I know that I was once lost and it was through a lot of prayer that things changed. 

So I will pray for sinners, but if you ask for counsel I will undoubtedly confront you with the word of God and direct you to repent, as Nouthetic or Biblical counselors are instructed to do. 

But we all have to start somewhere, and the prayers of a righteous person are said to accomplish much, and so we trust the Lord to do what is right, good, and holy and to grant what is His will and will be done for the glory of His kingdom. 

So keep walking and talking with God, pray, and follow where He leads you knowing that nobody’s perfect but Jesus, but His path leads us to be more and more like Him. So keep walking and pray.

_____________________________________________

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 Five

Discipleship and the Individual – Continues

This breaking with the immediacy [Unmittelbarkeit] of the world is nothing other than recognizing Christ as the Son of God, the mediator. It is never an arbitrary act, in which a person loosens his or her ties to the world for the sake of some ideal, exchanging a lesser ideal for a greater one. That would again be enthusiasm, high-handedness, even a return immediacy to the world. Only the disciples’ recognition that the deed is done, namely, that Christ is the mediator, separates them from the world of people and things. Jesus’ call, to the extent that it is understood not as an ideal, but as the word of the mediator, brings about this accomplished break with the world in me. If it were only a matter of weighing ideals against each other, then by all means a balance should be sought, which then could turn to the advantage of a Christian ideal, but this should never be one-sided. From the point of view of idealism, or from the perspective of “responsibilities” of life, it would be inexcusable to radically debase the natural orders of life by confronting them with a Christian ideal of life. Instead, much would have to be said on behalf of the contrary evaluation—especially from the point of view of a Christian idealism, a Christian ethic of responsibility or ethic of conscience! But the issue here is not at all about ideals, values, responsibilities. Instead, it is about accomplished facts and recognizing them, and therefore about the person of the mediator himself, who has come to stand between us and the world. That is why there must be a break with the immediacies of life; that is why a person called must become an individual before the mediator.[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), 94.