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Showing posts with label Psalm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Psalm. Show all posts

Monday, November 7, 2022

A New Happy Place! Discovering and Rediscovering the Joy and Presence of the Lord - Purity 882

A New Happy Place! Discovering and Rediscovering the Joy and Presence of the Lord - Purity 882

Purity 882 11/07/2022 Purity 882 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of sunrise and the glory of the sun shining through the clouds from the vantage point of Panther Top Tower in the Nantahala National Forest near Murphy North Carolina comes to us from a friend who reports that he has discovered a new “happy place!” less then 10 miles from his home, commenting that the photos he shared can’t do the natural beauty there justice and that the remoteness of the location means that there are rarely others there when he visits so it provides the additional serenity that comes from enjoying the splendor of God’s creation all by himself.

Of course, those of us who have had the Truth revealed to us know that we are never ever really alone as God is Omnipresent, present everywhere.  And that those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, take God with us everywhere we go because The Holy Spirit indwells us.  So we might enjoy the relative solitude of going places where there are no other people, but no matter where we go, God is with us.  And that is truly fantastic news.   

Well, it’s Monday again, and whether or not you have the time to go to your “happy place” or if your day requires you to go back to work, that fantastic news – of God’s omnipresence, and the Holy Spirit being along for the ride in those of us who have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, is always something we can take joy in even if our circumstances aren’t necessarily happy.  

Unfortunately, in the turmoil and challenges of going through life, we can lose sight of this fantastic news and we can really feel all alone and that nobody loves us or cares about us.  

That’s a big lie.  I have been listening to the audiobook of Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy and while I initially thought that Willard was perhaps trying to be a bit too intellectual or sophisticated in his exposition of the Christian faith, but he knows Jesus and his book makes the case for kingdom living, actually living our lives as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and so I continued to listen and quickly saw that we had a mutual friend in Christ and basically spoke the same language that sought to encourage people to follow Jesus.

As I listened, Willard wrote about some of the basic attributes of God, one being His omnipresence, and at first I have to admit that I thought I was in a part of the book that I would have to suffer through because I “already knew all about that”.   

But Willard’s writing caused to consider this basic fact about God that is so amazing that it is difficult to fathom just how big God is, just how deep, how wide, and how every where at once God is.   Willard’s writing pointed to the vastness of space – our ever expanding universe and discoveries from the Hubble telescope that captured images of galaxies that were so huge and magnificent that it was difficult to imagine that they actually existed in a galaxay far far away.   

But the photos from the Hubble telescope tell us they are there.   And because of that technology we can actually look at this things and enjoy their beauty. Pretty awesome right?

But the thing is Hubble is only a recent discovery. Willard’s writing pointed out that long before man ever saw these things or could even adequately imagine their existence, God knew all about them and enjoyed their beauty, all by Himself. 

Today’s photo and the contemplation of all the beautiful scenes out there just waiting to be discovered, or enjoyed again,  reminded me of:   

Psalm 19:1 (NKJV) that says
1  The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

People in their struggles through life often ask to be shown a sign that God is real.  Meanwhile we have all of  creation declaring His handiwork. The fact that there is anything, shows that there must be a self-existent Being that created it all. That’s God. 

And if creation wasn’t enough, God revealed Himself to man as documented in all the accounts of the Bible and then personally through the advent of Jesus Christ to earth.  And now because of Christ we can continuously enjoy the presence of God with us, through the Holy Spirit.   

But we can forget about what we know about God! We can be so consumed with the drama of this world that we can even think that we are all alone in the world.  

Even I who, makes a point of encouraging others to keep walking and talking with God, forgot about the wonder of God’s omnipresence. Somewhere along the path of Christian Discipleship, I took it for granted that I “knew all about it” and thus sort of forgot about it and it took another like minded Christian’s writings to reintroduce me to the awe and wonder of the One that I tell everyone to follow!

God is infinite so I realize that there will never be appoint where I “know all about” Him.  There is more to discover and even the things we “know” about God need some periodic reboots to remind us just how wonderful and amazing it is that we have come into relationship with Him and that He is literally always with us.  

So don’t harden your hearts or your heads to the Lord by thinking you know all about Him.  Even the things we “know” become less “known” over time as we lose the appreciation of the things we know because of our supposed familiarity with them.  

Plus more often than not as we keep walking and talking with God, the Lord graciously reveals more of Himself and His truth to us and we discover that our understandings of Him which we thought were so sophisticated are revealed to have been remedial.  

And because of this aspect of our relationship with the Lord, I really have to emphasize the first piece of advice that I normally give to those who are curious about having a deeper walk with the Lord: and that advice is to SEEK the LORD. 

While I thought of

Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) that are the Lords words of encouragement that say:
13  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

I am also sharing a link to 100 verses from Open Bible . info that highlight scriptures that speak about seeking God (https://www.openbible.info/topics/seeking_god) because we should not rest in our attempts to know the Lord more and to seek Him and His will for our lives.  

When we walk with God, we continually find new “happy places” because His joy fills us when we discover something new about Him or are reminded about something we thought we knew and we gain a new appreciation or understanding of it anew.

So keep walking, and keep talking with God.  Everywhere you go He goes and, when you continue to seek His wisdom and presence,  you discover a new happy place every time you discover a little more about Him and of what He knows.

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Matthew 25:29 (NKJV)
29  For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.

Today’s verses are the words of Jesus, which tell us that He has more instore for us but warns that for he who does not have a relationship with Him, even what they have will be taken away.

Like what? What will be taken away if you don’t have a relationship with Christ as a “good servant” of the Lord?

Well in verse 30, Christ states

Matthew 25:30 (NKJV)
30  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Yeah, Christ basically says that you will lose everything and be cast into Hell, yikes!!

Anyone who pontificates about “gentle Jesus”, hasn’t read the New Testament as our Savior repeatedly warned about Hell and pointed to Himself as the only way to the Father.  

So, rejoice if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, because to you, who have been given much, more will be given. 

But we shouldn’t miss the overall context of this section of scripture in which Jesus is telling a parable of servants being industrious with the resources that their master has given them.  The parable teaches us to be good stewards and to utilize the talents we have been given but if we show that we have no relationship, no trust of the master, and do nothing with what he gave us, we are warned that we will be exposed as one who was “unprofitable” or “useless” and be judged. 

Christ came to redeem our lives and lead us to realize our purpose in His kingdom.

When we are not redeemed, covered by Christ’s blood, and choose to live for ourselves rather than Him, we lose everything.  

But don’t be afraid, if we trust in and obey the master by making Jesus the Lord of our lives, we will lose anything and instead with gain everything and know just how abundant a life with Christ can be.

 

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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 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Hiddenness of Prayer continues

Of course, even prayer can be distorted into a demonstrative act, which brings what is hidden into the light. This happens not only in public prayer, which degenerates into empty phrases. These days that will rarely happen. But it is no better; indeed, it is even more harmful when I make myself the observer of my own prayer, when I pray before myself. It does not matter whether I am enjoying watching myself at prayer, or whether I catch myself feeling irritated or ashamed at prayer. The public nature of life in the street is only a more naive form of the public display I construct by myself. Even in my little room I can produce quite a remarkable public demonstration. That is how far we can distort Jesus’ word. The public display I construct by myself consists of my being simultaneously the one who is praying and the one who is listening. I listen to myself; I hear myself. Because I do not want to wait for God to listen to me, because I do not want to wait for God to show me someday that my prayer was heard, I construct my own hearing of my prayer. I observe that I prayed piously, and this observation provides the satisfaction of being heard. My prayer is heard. I have received my reward. Because I have heard myself, God will not hear me. Because I have given myself the reward of public acclaim, God will give me no further reward.

What is the room into which I should go, of which Jesus speaks, if I am not even safe from myself? How can I lock it so tightly that no observer ruins the hiddenness of prayer and steals from me the reward of hidden prayer? How can I protect myself from myself? From my own reflections? How does my reflection kill reflection? The word “kill” must be spoken. My own will to have my own way by means of my prayer must die, must be killed. My will has died when Jesus’ will alone reigns in me and all of my will has been drawn into his. It has died in community with Jesus, in discipleship. Then I can pray that the will of God, who knows what I need before I ask for it, be done. The only way my prayer is sure, strong, and pure is when it comes from the will of Jesus. Then prayer really is supplication. The child entreats the Father whom it knows. General adoration is not the essence of Christian prayer; supplication is. The right and proper attitude of a human being before God is to entreat God with outstretched hands, knowing that God has the heart of a loving parent.

Although genuine prayer is hidden prayer, that does not exclude the possibility of community prayer, provided that it has become clear how great are the dangers of common prayer. Ultimately, it does not matter whether prayer is on the street or in one’s room, whether it is short or long, whether it is in the litany of church prayer or in the sighs of those who do not know how they should pray, whether it is done by an individual or a community. The only thing that matters is knowing that your Father knows what you need. That is what directs our prayer solely to God. That liberates the disciples from false belief in works.[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), 153–155.

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

I Love It! – GAMES On - Practicing Appreciation - Purity 878

I Love It! – GAMES On - Practicing Appreciation  - Purity 878

Purity 878 11/02/2022 Purity 878 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sparkling sunshine pathway to the “hump” of Magdalen Island on the Hudson River beneath a blue sky decorated with a collection of wispy cirrus clouds comes to us from my brother in law who shared this scene on social media two days ago commenting: “When this view is down the road from your home, how can you not take advantage of day like today.”  How indeed?  While my brother’s wife’s brother didn’t share the location of this sight, as the former mayor of Tivoli, NY tipped his hand by including the hashtag “#ilovit” which is Tivoli backwards, and a google map search later led me to conclude that if this view was from Tivoli, it had to be in the southernly direction of the Hudson River, because there are no islands to the north. 

When we share our “views” on life, while we may not know all that is happening in someone’s circumstances, we can get a pretty good idea where they are coming from and when someone is pointing others to the beauty that surrounds them I believe it can be a reflection of the state of their lives. If someone is taking time to appreciate the good things around them and share them with others, I believe that they are far from God because they are not only finding moments of peace and beauty for themselves but they are trying to share the moment with us and perhaps unwittingly sharing themselves. In sharing a photo, we are telling people: here I am, at this day and time, I was here and I was well, and whether we have a deep personal connection with the person or not, we can share in their joy.   

Well, it’s Wednesday, and that “hump” of Magdalen Island sitting in the Hudson has been shared to reflect my brother in law’s appreciation for his place in life and as a visual reminder that we have reached the midpoint of another work week.  While Wednesdays can be pretty blah and matter of fact because we are find ourselves in between the joy of the weekend past and the weekend yet to come, I hope to remind all of us connected to God through our faith in Jesus Christ, that while we might only be able to find the happiness in positive circumstance, like a weekend’s rest or enjoying a good view, the Christian disciple has no limits on the joy they can experience as our relationship with God transcends our physical location and the circumstances of our current situation.  

The joy of the Lord is our strength! When we put our faith in Christ, we have peace with God. We are forgiven. We are secure in His love and assured of good outcomes, ultimately if not in the here and now.  

While I certainly encourage all my friends to seize the day and practice appreciation for the things we encounter and to give thanks to God for those things, I also am quick to point out that our relationship with God is enough to give us a continual sense of peace and subsequently fill us with joy.

Marcus Warner and Stefanie Hinman, in their book “Building Bounce:  describe a way of practicing appreciation with the acronym: GAMES, so let’s play ball and see how we can practice appreciation to help us be emotionally resilient, to continually find our way back to joy.

G – is for Gratitude.  That’s right, It’s November, so let’s give thanks! But in this instance, Warner and Hinman recognize that there is a lot to be grateful for so in their acronym, their instruction is highly specific. For the first step to play this GAME of appreciation, Warner and Hinman directs us to find something we can have gratitude for RIGHT NOW, in our present moment.  This brings us into the moment of our lives, connecting us to our bodies and our present experience, a checkup of sorts, and directs us to see a positive light in our lives right now as we live and breathe.  This can be the fact that I am alive, I am breathing, I am relatively well and free of pain.  I have warm clothes on, I am comfortable. I have electricity. I have a lot of things in my life, right now, that I can appreciate and be thankful for.

A – is for Anticipation, where we reflect on something in the Future I can appreciate.  For example, we can appreciate that this workday will come to a conclusion, and we can enjoy our time at home later. We can appreciate that we will see our friends at work. Or that we will be able to have a nice dinner later.  IF there is much we can appreciate in the present, this just naturally carries into our Futures. If now is good so will our future. 

M – is for Memories, where we can appreciate things in our Pasts.  This can be memories of good things and times, our it can even be a memory of not so good tings and times that we no longer are experiencing.  Our memories can be used to appreciate all that we have encountered that have made us grow and to bring us to where we are now.

E – is for Experiences – where we can plan to do things that we can appreciate and appreciate the fact that we can plan them!  Making plans or reflecting on something we can do that gives us some circumstantial happiness can give us joy.  Or we can just do them – If there is an experience that will give us happiness, but will not have resultant guilt or shame, we should do it and appreciate the experience.

S – for Singing, yup, there is some wisdom to the old adage to whistle while we work! The act of singing can lift our spirits and give us joy. I personally recommend getting into Christian worship music and singing songs of praise that simultaneously connect  us to the Lord and encourage us about our relationship with Him and all He has done for us. 

So, as we walk through another Wednesday, remember to get your GAMES on and practice appreciation.  When we do that, we discover that it really is a wonderful life and when we know the Author of Life, The Lord, we can experience a relational joy to God from knowing that He personally directed our lives and provides us with all there is to appreciate.

So appreciate all you have and all that God has done, is doing, and will do for you when you keep walking and talking with Him.

     

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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 112:5-9 (NLT2)
5  Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly.
6  Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
7  They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
8  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.
9  They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Today’s Bible verses encourage us to be generous and to live righteously as a result of our relationship with God, indicating that when we do this we can rise above the challenges of this life and leave a legacy behind that will be worthy of honor and that could influence others.  

The NLT promise book for Men only shared, verse 6 and 9 of these verses, with the emphasis of being remembered for the good we do, I guess,  but I decided to share the others verses to show that our lives are a little more than what we will be remembered for, that we are living this life now, and not just looking forward to positive testimonies about us at the hour of our deaths.  

The emphasis from our resource was “when you want to earn the respect of others”… which quite frankly as I see as a less than respectable motivation for living righteously. And without the surrounding context that tells us that these people are “confidently trusting the Lord” seems like a “do good to look good” instruction.   

So as much as it is nice to be respected, to be honored, and influence others, our aim as disciples of Christ is to be pleasing to the Lord.  Those other benefits are bonuses. 

Christ basically teaches us in Matthew 5 & 6 not to do things for the crowd, before men, so be generous, live righteously because it is what Lord would direct you to do and if you should gain the respect of others try to influence them by directing them to Jesus. 

 

___________________________________________

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 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

Hidden Righteousness

Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

¶ “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:1–4).

The fifth chapter spoke of the visibility of the disciples’ community and culminated in the περισσόν, requiring us to understand that what is characteristically Christian is that which steps away from the world, rises above the world, is extraordinary. Then the next chapter links up with this περισσόν and reveals its ambiguity. The danger is great that the disciples will completely misunderstand this as a command to start building a heavenly kingdom on earth, despising and destroying the world order. The danger is great that in enthusiasts’ indifference to this age they will think it their duty now to achieve and make visible the extraordinariness of this new world, separating themselves from the world radically and with no willingness to compromise, in order to force into being what is Christian, what is appropriate to discipleship, what is extraordinary. It was too easy to mistake this for the preaching of another pious style and way of life, even if it was a free, new, inspiring one. And one’s pious flesh would be so willing to accept this extraordinariness, poverty, truthfulness, suffering, or even to seek it out, if only doing so would satisfy the heart’s longing to actually see something with one’s own eyes[161] and not merely to believe. One would surely be willing to nudge the boundaries of a pious lifestyle and obedience to the word, until they move more closely together, and are finally no longer distinguishable from each other. It would only be for the one goal of finally achieving the extraordinary.

On the other hand, those would gather on the battlefield who had only been waiting for Jesus to speak about the extraordinary so that they could attack him with even more rage. Proclaiming the extraordinary unmasked Jesus as an enthusiast, a revolutionary extremist who wanted to turn the world upside down, who instructs his disciples to leave the world and build a new world. Is that still obedience to Old Testament scripture? Is it not a thoroughly self-selected personal righteousness that is being proposed here?[163] Doesn’t Jesus know about the sin of the world that will wreck anything he commands? Doesn’t he know anything about God’s revealed commandments, which are given to ward off sin? Isn’t this extraordinariness he is demanding proof of a spiritual arrogance, which is the beginning of all enthusiasm? No, not the extraordinary, but rather the completely ordinary, everyday, regular, unobtrusive behavior is the sign of genuine obedience and genuine humility. If Jesus had sent his disciples to their people, to their vocations, their responsibilities, their obedience to the law as the scribes interpreted it to the people, then he would have shown himself to be pious, truly humble, and obedient. He would have inspired people to more serious piety and stricter obedience. He would have taught what the scribes already knew, but what they liked to hear preached again with emphasis, that true piety and righteousness consist of not only the external deed, but also of one’s heartfelt intentions, and not only of intentions, but also of the deed. That would really be “better righteousness” the way the people needed it, the way no one could have avoided it. But now all of that was shattered. Instead of the humble teacher of the law, they recognized an arrogant enthusiast. Of course, in all ages the preaching of enthusiasts has been able to inspire the human heart, indeed, even the noble human heart. But didn’t the teachers of the law know that the voice of the flesh was speaking from this heart in all its goodness and nobility? Didn’t they themselves know the power the pious flesh had over people? Jesus sacrificed the best sons of the country, the honorably pious ones useless in a struggle for a chimera. The extraordinary—that was the works of a pious person, done quite voluntarily, springing from one’s own heart. It was the triumphant insistence on human freedom against simple obedience to God’s commandment. It was forbidden human self-righteousness, which the law never permitted. It was lawless self-sanctification, which had to be rejected by the law. It was the free works which established themselves in opposition to unfree obedience. It was the destruction of God’s community, the denial of faith; it was blasphemy against the law, blasphemy against God. Assessed by the law, the extraordinariness Jesus taught was deserving of the death penalty.[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), 146–148.

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

What Your Mercy Did For Me! – It Ain’t All Sinner’s Day! - Purity 877


What Your Mercy Did For Me!  – It Ain’t All Sinner’s Day!  - Purity 877

Purity 877 11/01/2022 Purity 877 POdcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a solitary flower in full bloom declaring new life after it was mercilessly mowed down comes to us from yours truly as I took the time to document this object lesson of hope and determination that I witnessed on my property Down By the River on Sunday afternoon.     

Well, it may be the second day of the work week but it’s the first day on a new month in which everyone in our country will be called to give thanks and it just happens to also be the day when the body of Christ is called to remember the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ that have gone before us and for us to give thanks to God that we will be in that number when the saints go marching in! Happy All Saints Day.  

That’s right ALL SAINTS, as in every man, woman, and child who has ever “bowed the knee” in humble surrender and made Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of their lives.  And while anyone could read this message, I have to believe that YOU and ME!

We may have been sinners saved by grace when we heard the call to repent and trust in Jesus, and we will always be less than Christ’s sinless perfection,  but after we placed our faith in Jesus, we were adopted into God’s royal family, and should thus claim and declare our identity as saints.  

While yesterday’s Halloween Celebrations unwittingly gave homage to the spiritual forces of darkness, today, along with every other day, is a day that we should celebrate the fact that of all the people in the world, the Creator of the universe chose us to know the truth about life and death, sin and forgiveness, heaven and hell, and called us to life through faith in His Son!  

This morning during my work out Micah Tyler’s What Mercy Did for Me came on and I have to tell you the words penetrated to my heart as I remembered once again that I was once lost in darkness when the Lord called me to know His love and His light and to experience a new life in Him!  

The chorus to that song says:  

“Lord you found me

You healed me

You called me from the grave

You gave me your real love

I thank you Jesus

You washed my sins away

Oh now I'm living like I'm forgiven

You came and set me free

That's what your mercy did for me”



God’s mercy and grace gave me forgiveness, love, and a new life filled with meaning and purpose.   And the gift of His mercy and grace continues to shape and transform my life and the lives of others that I encounter as I keep on walking and talking with God. 

Tonight I host the Freedom  in Christ Course on Zoom and the lesson is all about renewing the mind and breaking strongholds, a lesson that reminds Christians that Christ came to set us free and to destroy the works of the enemy. It’s a sad truth that many Christians have great joy at their salvation but stay locked in chains by believing the lies that the world, the flesh, and the devil have set up in their minds.  

The course teaches that just because we believed lies in the past doesn’t mean we have to live according to them now that we are in Christ. God has given us the Holy Spirit and His Word to use to overcome all the strongholds in our lives that have given the enemy a foothold and kept us from living the life of freedom and victory that the Lord has called us to.   

Just like the flower in today’s photo , that was dead, cut off mercilessly by my lawn mower, we can grow into the life God has for us. Because there was life in it that plant, unseen in the dirt, it was able to rise above its brokenness and fulfill its purpose to give God glory for the life He had given it by rising up and blooming by reaching for the light of the sun.  We too can rise up and if we abide in the Light of the Son of God and the truth of His Word, we can grow out of our brokenness and give God the glory for the life He has put in us.  

That’s what His mercy can do for all of us, so keep on reaching out for the Lord, that’s right keep on walking and talking with God because He has transformed us from sinners into saints and all we have to do is believe it to receive it, by living it.

  

     

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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 33:18 (NLT2)
18  But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us that the Lord watches out for those who fear Him and rely on His unfailing love.  

And as a reminder, we should fear the Lord. His righteousness and holiness calls us to repentance and if we don’t make peace with Him there will be hell to pay.  

But if we put our faith Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of Him anymore and our fear should be changed to an awe and respect that causes us to obey Him and to rely on His unfailing love.  

And this is a huge step that we have to make sure that we make after we put our faith in Jesus. We have to develop our love relationship with God.  We have to interact with Him relationally. We do that by thanking Him continually for the life He has given us, for all He has provided for us, and for all that He is and for all that He has done.  

Today’s the first day of November, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, so if you aren’t already practicing gratitude and appreciation for the Lord, give it a try.  When we live a life of thankfulness to God, out love for Him grows and we can get past any false beliefs we may have had about Him as an angry judge and we can see Him as just, holy, good, loving heavenly Father that made a way to save us when He didn’t have to.  

Start the practice of relying on God’s unfailing love today by respecting Him enough to give Him your thanks and praise and by letting Him know that you love Him for what He has done for you and for who He is.  “I love you Lord” is probably the most appropriate thing we can say to One who made us and who saved us. God is good and if you know it you should remind yourself by relying on the love that never fails.

___________________________________________

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

The Enemy—the “Extraordinary” concludes

“Pray for those who abuse and persecute you.” That is the most extreme. In prayer we go to our enemies, to stand at their side. We are with them, near them, for them before God. Jesus does not promise us that the enemy we love, we bless, to whom we do good, will not abuse and persecute us. They will do so. But even in doing so, they cannot harm and conquer us if we take this last step to them in intercessory prayer. Now we are taking up their neediness and poverty, their being guilty and lost, and interceding for them before God. We are doing for them in vicarious representative action what they cannot do for themselves. Every insult from our enemy will only bind us closer to God and to our enemy. Every persecution can only serve to bring the enemy closer to reconciliation with God, to make love more unconquerable.

How does love become unconquerable? By never asking what the enemy is doing to it, and only asking what Jesus has done. Loving one’s enemies leads disciples to the way of the cross and into communion with the crucified one. But the more the disciples are certain to have been forced onto this path, the greater the certainty that their love remains unconquered, that love overcomes the hatred of the enemy; for it is not their own love. It is solely the love of Jesus Christ, who went to the cross for his enemies and prayed on the cross for them. Faced with the way of the cross of Jesus Christ, however, the disciples themselves recognize that they were among the enemies of Jesus who have been conquered by his love. This love makes the disciples able to see, so that they can recognize an enemy as a sister or brother and behave toward that person as they would toward a sister or brother. Why? Because they live only from the love of him who behaved toward them as toward brothers and sisters, who accepted them when they were his enemies and brought them into communion with him as his neighbors. That is how love makes disciples able to see, so that they can see the enemies included in God’s love, that they can see the enemies under the cross of Jesus Christ. God did not ask me about good and evil, because before God even my good was godless. God’s love seeks the enemy who needs it, whom God considers to be worthy of it. In the enemy, God magnifies divine love. Disciples know that. They have participated in that love through Jesus. For God lets the sun shine and the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. It is not only the earth’s sun and earthly rain which descend on good and evil, but it is also the “sun of righteousness,” Jesus Christ himself, and the rain of God’s word, which reveal the grace of his Father in heaven toward sinners. Undivided, perfect love is the act of the Father; it is also the act of the children of their Father in heaven, just as it was the deed of God’s only begotten Son.

“The prayers of neighborly love and of nonrevenge will be especially important in the struggle fought by God toward which we are moving, and in which to some extent we have already been engaged for years. On one side, hatred is fighting, and on the other, love. Every Christian soul must seriously prepare for this. The time is coming in which everyone who confesses the living God will become, for the sake of that confession, not only an object of hatred and fury. Indeed, already we are nearly that far along now. The time is coming when Christians, for the sake of their confession, will be excluded from ‘human society,’ as it is called, hounded from place to place, subjected to physical attack, abused, and under some circumstances even killed. The time of a widespread persecution of Christians is coming, and that is actually the real meaning of all the movements and struggles of our time. Those opponents intent upon destroying the Christian church and Christian faith cannot live together with us, because they see in all of our words and all of our actions that their own words and deeds are condemned, even if ours are not directed against them. And they are not wrong in seeing this and feeling that we are indifferent to their condemnation of us. They have to admit that their condemnation is completely powerless and negligible. They sense that we do not relate to them at all, as would be quite all right with them, on the basis of mutual blaming and quarreling. And how are we supposed to fight this fight? The time is approaching when we—no longer as isolated individuals, but together as congregations, as the church—shall lift our hands in prayer. The time is coming when we—as crowds of people, even if they are relatively small crowds among the many thousands-times-thousands of people who have fallen away—will loudly confess and praise the crucified and resurrected Lord, and his coming again. And what prayer, what confession, what song of praise is this? It is a prayer of most intimate love for those who are lost, who stand around us and glare at us with eyes rolling with hatred, some of whom have already even conspired to kill us. It is a prayer for peace for these distraught and shaken, disturbed and destroyed souls, a prayer for the same love and peace that we ourselves enjoy. It is a prayer which will penetrate deeply into their souls and will tug at their hearts with a much stronger grip than they can manage to tug at our hearts, despite their strongest efforts to hate. Yes, the church which is truly waiting for its Lord, which really grasps the signs of the time of final separation, such a church must fling itself into this prayer of love, using all the powers of its soul and the total powers of its holy life” (A. F. C. Vilmar, 1880).

What is undivided love? Love which does not show special favor to those who return our love with their own. In loving those who love us, our kindred, our people, our friends, yes, even our Christian community, we are no different than the Gentiles and the tax collectors. That kind of love is self-evident, regular, natural, but not distinctly Christian. Yes, in this case it really is “the same” thing that non-Christians[151] and Christians do. Loving those who belong to me through blood, history, or friendship is the same for non-Christians and Christians. Jesus does not have a lot to say about that kind of love. People know all by themselves what it is. He does not need to light its flame, to emphasize it or exalt it. Natural circumstances alone force it to be recognized, for non-Christians and for Christians. Jesus does not need to say that people should love their sisters and brothers, their people, their friends. That goes without saying. But by simply acknowledging that and not wasting any further words on it, and, in contrast to all that, commanding only love for enemies, he shows what he means by love and what they are to think about the other sort of love.

How are disciples different from nonbelievers? What does “being Christian” consist of? At this point the word appears toward which the whole fifth chapter is pointed, in which everything already said is summarized: what is Christian is what is “peculiar,” περισσόν, the extraordinary, irregular, not self-evident. This is the “better righteousness” which “outdoes” that of the Pharisees, towers over them, that which is more, beyond all else. What is natural is τὸ αύτὸ (one and the same) for non-Christians and Christians. What is distinctly Christian begins with the περισσόν, and that is what finally places what is natural in the proper light. When this specialness, this extraordinariness, is absent, then what is Christian is absent. What is Christian does not take place in naturally given circumstances, but in stepping beyond them. The περισσόν never dissolves into τὸ αύτὸ. It is the great mistake of a false Protestant ethic to assume that loving Christ can be the same as loving one’s native country, or friendship or profession, that the better righteousness and justitia civilis are the same. Jesus does not talk that way. What is Christian depends on the “extraordinary.” That is why Christians cannot conform to the world, because their concern is the περισσόν.

What does the περισσόν, the extraordinary, consist of? It is the existence of those blessed in the Beatitudes, the life of the disciples. It is the shining light, the city on the hill. It is the way of self-denial, perfect love, perfect purity, perfect truthfulness, perfect nonviolence. Here is undivided love for one’s enemies, loving those who love no one and whom no one loves. It is love for one’s religious, political, or personal enemy. In all of this it is the way which found its fulfillment in the cross of Jesus Christ. What is the περισσόν? It is the love of Jesus Christ himself, who goes to the cross in suffering and obedience. It is the cross. What is unique in Christianity is the cross, which allows Christians to step beyond the world in order to receive victory over the world. The passio in the love of the crucified one—that is the “extraordinary” mark of Christian existence.

The extraordinary is doubtless that which is visible, which magnifies the Father in heaven. It cannot remain hidden. The people have to see it. The community of Jesus’ disciples, the community of better righteousness, is the visible community, that took the step beyond the orders of the world. It has left everything behind to gain the cross of Christ.

What are you doing that is special? The extraordinary—and that is what is most offensive—is a deed the disciples do. It has to be done—like the better righteousness—and done visibly! Not in ethical rigor, not in the eccentricity of Christian ways of life, but in the simplicity of Christian obedience to the will of Jesus. This deed will prove to be what is “special” by leading Christians to the passio of Christ. Such action itself is continuous suffering. In this action Christ is his disciples’ passio. If it is not that, then this is not the deed which Jesus intends.

The περισσόν is, thus, the fulfillment of the law, the keeping of the commandments. In Christ the Crucified and his community, the “extraordinary” occurs.

Here are those who are perfect, perfect in undivided love, just as their Father in heaven is. It was the undivided, perfect love of the Father which gave the divine Son up to die on the cross for us. Likewise, the passio of the communion with this cross is the perfection of the followers of Jesus. The perfect are none other than those who, in the Beatitudes, are called blessed.[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), 140–145.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Paradox of Our New Life and Putting Away Childish Things - Purity 872

The Paradox of Our New Life and Putting Away Childish Things - Purity 872

Purity 872 10/26/2022 Purity 872 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the stark contrast between what I believe to be winter wheat and a field of corn ready to be harvested comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene while out walking along Waite Rd in Easton NY back on October 14th.  

Well it is Wednesday and all though there is no “hump” in today’s photo I thought that the stark line of contrast between the old and the new crops could adequately visually represent the midpoint of our work week.  

And the thing about looking at a midpoint of transition is that the lesson we learn from it has a lot to do with our perspective.   In today’s photo we could look at that fresh young winter wheat and think that represents our youth and look at the corn, that is past its prime, as old age and it is only waiting for the “grim reaper” to come take it away.  

Now while there is obviously some truth in seeing things that way, that we grow, age, and die, the Christian disciple understands that there is more to the story of our lives than what we can easily discern with our observations of life on earth.   In

John 11:25-26 (NKJV) – Jesus said to Martha
25   "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
26  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

So although none of us are as “green” as we used to be and are increasingly approaching the time we will be “harvested”, there is a fresh new life in God’s kingdom waiting for us.   

The world would tell us that we are running out of life, but the truth, for the Christian, is that we are increasingly getting closer to the culmination of the life God is preparing us for, a life in His presence that goes on forever. 

Many are concerned with the “end times” but for the Christian Christ’s return will be a new beginning.

As much as the “end times” and the contemplation of our physical death and new lives in heaven or the new heavens and new earth can capture our imaginations, the Lord hasn’t revealed those things to us perfectly just yet and while they should give us hope rather than fear, Christ’s final words to us didn’t tell us to “hold on to the end and wait for heaven. Christ said in

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
18  …, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.  

So Christ told us that He was sharing His authority with us to go and make disciples in all the word and He made a point to tell us to baptize them and to teach them to observe, to actually do, what He has commanded us.  And He encouraged us with the assurance that He would be with us, even to the end of the age.  

So when I look at today’s photo, I look at the scene from right to left.  I see that fading cornfield as my past life of confusion, worldliness and sin, and I see that fresh green winter wheat as my new life in Christ which is alive, growing, and thriving even when the changing season may cause you to think that the times of new growth are over.  

The world system tells us that we are continually past our prime and that “life as we know it” is increasingly over.  You can buy “over the hill” themed birthday supplies for almost any age.  I saw a 30th birthday cake with a tombstone that said “Here lies my youth”.  Yup it’s all over, your 30! 

But that’s a narrative that starts in child hood, when we think 13 (remember when your older friends or siblings became “teenagers”), 16, 18, 20 or 21 is old, and it never ends.  Our world system is always lamenting our increasing age because it doesn’t know the hope that the Christian should know. The world doesn’t know that this life is a preparation ground, a stage, for the establishment of God’s kingdom.  

Paradoxically, as much as the world seems to love youth, our experience teaches us that youth is not necessarily something we want to covet.  When we look back, we should see just how ignorant, foolish, and inexperienced we were and be grateful that we no longer live there. We know better now and that’s a good thing.  

And this really plays out in the life of a Christian Disciple. The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)
11  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

When we become mature in Christ, we put away the childish things that we so desperately held onto in our ignorance that we thought were important, were good, or would fulfill us.   As we grow in our faith our understanding become mature and reveals that the things we though would fulfill us or make us happy, like material possessions, euphoric experiences, or worldly accomplishments, are revealed as things that are shallow and temporary and as we go through time we see that those things are the things that are fading away, not us.  Those things are the things that should lament the passage of time as their glory fades away as their ability to last and fulfill us are revealed to be limited if not an out right lie.  

As we let go of those childish things, our peace increases as the weight of carrying them though life with us is relieved. As we place our value on the things that ultimately matter and that will last, our relationship with God and with our fellow disciples that we have hope for, we don’t fear the passage of time and instead rejoice over the increase in our knowledge and experience we gain of the Lord’s meaning and purpose for our lives.   

As we keep walking and talking with God, we can know Him more and we can understand the truth behind verses like:

Psalm 23:1 (NKJV)
1  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

When we follow the Lord, The Good Shepherd, we don’t lack for anything because In Him, in Christ, we have everything we need.  And we can know the truth of

 

Psalm 23:6 (NKJV) that tells us:
6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

This path of Christian Discipleship, following Jesus, is a path where we continually experience the goodness and mercy of the Lord all of the days of our lives and when we walk out those days we can have peace knowing that we will one day dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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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 9:18 (NLT2)
18  But the needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.

Today’s Bible verse assures us that the needy will not be ignored forever, and that hopes of the poor will not be crushed.

If you read Psalm 9, the previous verse describes the fate of the wicked, who ignore God, as going down to the grave.  So the implication here is that these “needy” and “poor” who will not be ignored forever, and whose hopes won’t be crushed,  do not ignore God.   Psalm 9 encourages us all rather to praise the Lord because we know Him and His goodness and even if we find ourselves in times of need or may be poor our ultimate hope is fulfilled in our relationship with Him.  

We will not go “down to the grave” but will be saved. 

While we are never guaranteed lives free of suffering and filled with riches, Christians are given the richness of life that comes from being in the Lord’s presence and having that assurance that our hopes will not always be crushed because one day we will see God face to face and spend eternity with Him.

 

___________________________________________

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

Woman – concludes

 

Jesus does not demand that his followers get married. But he sanctifies marriage according to the law by declaring it to be unbreakable. Even in cases where one party divorces the other because of infidelity, he prohibits the other from remarrying. With this commandment Jesus liberates marriage from selfish evil desire and intends for it to be conducted as a service of love, as is possible only in following him. Jesus does not disapprove of the body and its natural desires. But he rejects the lack of faith that is concealed in it. Thus he does not dissolve marriage, but strengthens and sanctifies it by faith. Those who follow him maintain their sole allegiance to Christ even in their marriage by practicing discipline and self-denial. Christ is Lord even of the followers’ marriage. This causes the marriage of disciples to be something different than civil marriage, but, again, this is not contempt for marriage, but precisely its sanctification.

It appears that Jesus contradicts Old Testament law by demanding that marriage be indissoluble. But he explains his conformity with Mosaic law (Matt. 19:8). “Because of the hardness of their hearts” the Israelites were permitted to divorce. That means it was permitted only to keep their hearts from even greater wantonness. But the intent of Old Testament law agrees with Jesus in that its main concern is the purity of marriage, marriage conducted in faith in God. This purity, that is, chastity, is preserved in community with Jesus, in discipleship.

Because Jesus is solely concerned with the complete purity, that is, the chastity, of his disciples, he must also praise complete renunciation of marriage for the sake of God’s realm. Jesus does not make either marriage or celibacy into a required program. Instead, he frees his disciples from πορνεία, infidelity within and outside of marriage, which is a sin not only against one’s own body, but a sin against the very body of Christ (1 Cor. 6:13–15). Even the body of the disciple belongs to Christ and discipleship; our bodies are members of his body. Because Jesus, the Son of God, assumed a human body, and because we are in communion with his body, that is why infidelity is a sin against Jesus’ own body.

Jesus’ body was crucified. The apostle says of those who belong to Christ that they have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). Thus, the fulfillment of even this Old Testament commandment becomes true only in the crucified, martyred body of Jesus Christ. The sight of that body, which was given for us, and our communion with it provide the disciples with the strength for the chastity which Jesus commands.[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), 126–127.