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Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts

Friday, December 2, 2022

Encouraging Prodigals to Accept the Invitation to Purpose - Purity 904

 


Encouraging Prodigals to Accept the Invitation to Purpose -  Purity 904    

Purity 904 12/02/2022 Purity 904 Podcast

Purity 904 on YouTube : 


Good morning,

Today’s photo of a parking lot across from my place of work, in Albany NY, under the last light of day which is sandwiched underneath the dark clouds reflecting the fact that evening was descending over the land comes to us from yours truly as I decided to capture  this moment from the first day of December of 2022 after an extended day of work.  My last job was a physical challenge that kept me at work later that I would have hoped for but there was something about the way the light of day was beneath the clouds of night and the contrast of the man made lights here that made me pause to take a breath, to enjoy what I was seeing, and capture it before racing home to rest.  

Some times the work day, or the work week,  is long, but there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of knowing that you met the challenges that faced you successfully and “got ‘er done!” That satisfaction can even make you appreciate the view of a parking lot!

Well it is Friday, Thank You God! and I for one am looking forward to the end of today’s work day because no matter what I face today, I will do my best, and Lord willing will be safely and joyously reunited with my beloved wife, TammyLyn, at our countryside home later this evening. And it is my prayer that all who read or hear this message rejoice over what they got done this week and will get done today, and will enjoy this evening and the weekend that lies ahead.  

For three days, my electronic personal assistance whose name begins with an A, had been warning me about a high wind advisory for my area but it wasn’t until late yesterday afternoon when I was working aloft on a ladder hanging a drop wire on a backyard telephone pole on S Manning Boulevard did that warning seem to be warranted. I was on the third pole odfa four pole drop hanging project, throwing a ball of string through tree limbs to guide the drop to its final destination when suddenly the winds began to gust and caused me to suddenly remember Alexa’s warning and causing me to immediately call on the Lord!

“Okay, Lord you didn’t send me up this pole and get me this far just to knock me down, right Father? I mean, Abba, okay DADDY GOD? I know I’m not one of call you, Daddy, but if you want to hear it, come one Daddy God, let’s cool it with the winds okay? We are almost home here. In Jesus, name I pray?, Amen.”

That may not be a verbatim transcript to our conversation but that basically included all of the elements of my prayer.  It may sound silly but I believe God was listening because after I steadied myself the gusting wind subsided.   I know many would doubt that this lull in the wind was “answered prayer” but I’ll take it!

You see God is with us at all times and when we talk to Him and listen for His guidance, you will begin to see phenomenon that will make a compelling case for the existence of “God with us.”  

After getting home last night, and fellowshipping with my wife via Facebook Messenger, with a December Bible study where we are reading through the gospel of John, once chapter a day, to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas, I was ready to call it a night but I was please to see my son, Brennan and was even more pleased at our conversation.  

My son Brennan turns 21 on the 21st and unfortunately, like most of us at his age, hasn’t really had a vision for what he wants to with his life.  Graduating late in 2020, Brennan’s attempts at college has been unfulfilling and he has been unmotivated to pursue work opportunities, and I have had the difficult task of being patient, loving, and encouraging while he has been not doing much with his life. 

My busy schedule and two household existence results in seeing my adult children like ships passing in the night for the most part. So, yes, if you’d like to pick up the theme from yesterday’s blog, you can add “You are not a good father.” to the devil’s accustations of “You are not a good Christian” and “You are a hypocrite!” that were recently thrown at my feet. But I’m not really hearing that or agreeing with that lie from the pit of hell.  

Since my divorce from their mother that began in 2018 and was final in 2019, I did everything in my power to assist my kids to transition from teenagers to adults by teaching them to drive, establishing a new home where they could live in peace, and encouraged them to go to college and follow whatever path they wanted to pursue in life, with the emphasis on being independent and responsible.   My daughter, Haley, who to outsiders may seem shy and timid, took my advice and got an Associates degree and a job at Lowes where she has become one of the more senior cashiers. 

But Brennan, stagnated after covid-19, taking a “gap year” sitting around my house.  After that he did go to school and seemed to thrive by becoming involved with the theatre program at HVCC, but he encountered some not so wholesome elements in the student body there that lead him into confusion, a bad relationship, and disillusionment and academic ineptitude, resulting in his decision not to go back to school this fall, which frankly I was fine with because I felt his “friends” who were confused about their genders, sexuality, or into recreational drugs, even though Brennan is straighter edge than I ever could have hoped for, were best left behind and separated from.

But Brennan hasn’t worked anywhere, at all during all of this time, either, so he has just been sitting around, playing video, streaming, and staying up late at night.   So I have just been waiting for him to DO SOMETHING, anything else, as his inherited and saved for college funds have depleted.  

So when I saw him last night, I reminded him that he turns 21, in 19 day this morning, and that after that I am no longer financially responsible for him and that I would discontinue providing to his savings as I have been doing since he was a child and that the policy of my home is that anyone living under my roof that isn’t going to school, will pay rent.  I advised him that he could do whatever he would like to do with his life but, after a grace period of one month, for January, if he wasn’t in school, he would have to start paying rent in February, as sister is already doing after she decided to not to continue in her studies.  

This may seem harsh to some, but it is my intention to teach my adult children to be accountable, responsible, and independent and to face the realities of this world. So, I gave him the news and we had a good conversation about his different options going forward. I’m not sure what he will decide but one of the options, the one I am asking for prayers for, is that Brennan considered going to nursing school with the possible future goal of becoming a doctor!  I don’t know what will happen but I laid on the encouragement rather thickly this morning via text as I felt in my spirit that this may be what the Lord is calling my son to do.  So prayers for my son, choosing the path, whatever it is, that God has for him, would be much appreciated.  

Because, I know that the One that can cause the winds to be still, sometimes will blow “wild ideas” into our attention as invitation for our destinies.  One minute you are confused and uncertain, and suddenly, something that seems daring, crazy, and good will occur to you.  At this point, the enemy will discourage you and say “You can’t do that” but at the same time the invitation is there waiting to be accepted…. The choice is ours to make.  And I say, go for it! God calls out to step on the waves, man! So go for it! Surf’s up dude! Be bold and courageous and see what it out there!

Whether we fall on our face and crash or if we are given a new direction of vitality and purpose, won’t be known unless we step out and see what the Lord has for us.  We have to take the step of faith into uncertainty and I have discovered the Lord does this REPEATEDLY in our lives when we walk in the spirit, but when we let go of fear and follow His call, oh brother!, do good things happen. Sure, sometimes we struggle, sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes we question what exactly it is we are doing, but when you honestly follow what you believe the Lord is calling you to, I discovered that no matter what the results are, there are no regrets. 

You did what you thought was best by seek the Lord and pursuing a righteous path. That’s all we can do. SO DO IT!

Enjoy your weekend, consider what the Lord is inviting you to pursue, and keep walking and talking with Him and even if you don’t where you are going to next, at least you will have some good, loving, and powerful company along the way.  

 

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

1 Peter 4:10-11 (NLT2)
10  God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11  Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

 Today’s verses just happen to fall in line with today’s message to trust the Lord by encouraging us to use our God given abilities to discover our purpose and to give God glory.  

God has made us and given us all our talents and abilities. The problem we run into in life is when we don’t acknowledge that and decide to use our talents and abilities for selfish gain or to satisfy our personal lusts, independent of God. The worst mistake we can make – and believe me most of the world is making it every day, is to establish our identity in the things of this world and to live our lives as if God doesn’t exist when we are supposed to live with Him and to be good stewards of the things He has provided us with for His purposes, which actually with personally benefit us too, and for His glory.   

Yesterday, while at work, I saw a person riding on a motorcycle and even though they were a bike, they had a sound system to rival any “car that goes boom”.  And so they were pumping out their “soundtrack”, the music they identified with and that told other people who they were.  I don’t what was playing but it wasn’t praise music, okay. In considering this person, I had such sorrow over them because they had believed the world’s lies about who they were. They were proclaiming a lot about themselves by their mode of transportation, their clothes, and their music but none of it pointed to God or would really endure and prove to be meaningful in time.  

In time fashions change, music changes, and our modes of transportation change. What is “cool” today is lame tomorrow.  And these things that we build up our identity in doesn’t age well.   God bless them but I think that the people who are locked into the music of their youth, whatever their age, are displaying a fundamental lack maturity or growth. Their preference show they are frozen in time and that despite of their age and the changes the world goes through, they are declaring that “their time, their music was best”, but it is decaying and fading away. 

But the Lord doesn’t fade away and the fundamental truth about us in Christ endures forever, so takes today’s verse as advice to use what you have as good stewards and to give God the glory, Amen.

 

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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 Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

Chapter Eight

Preliminary Questions

To his first disciples Jesus was bodily present, speaking his word directly to them. But this Jesus died and is risen. How, then, does his call to discipleship [Ruf in die Nachfolge] reach us today? Jesus no longer walks past me in bodily form and calls, “Follow me,” as he did to Levi, the tax collector. Even if I would be truly willing to listen, to leave everything behind, and to follow, what justification do I have for doing so? What for the first disciples was so entirely unambiguous is for me a decision that is highly problematic and fraught with uncertainty. What gives me the right, for example, to hear Jesus’ call of the tax collector as being addressed to me? Did Jesus not say quite different things to others on other occasions? What about the paralytic to whom he extended forgiveness and healing?[2] And what about Lazarus whom he raised from the dead? Did he love them any less than his disciples? And yet he did not call them to leave their profession and follow him, but left them at home with their families and their jobs. Who am I to recommend myself to do something unusual and extraordinary? Who is to judge whether I or others are not simply acting out of our own authority and religious enthusiasm? But that would definitely mean something other than discipleship!

There is something wrong with all of these questions. Every time we ask them, we place ourselves outside the living presence of the Christ. All of these questions refuse to take seriously that Jesus Christ is not dead but alive and still speaking to us today through the testimony of scripture. He is present with us today, in bodily form and with his word. If we want to hear his call to discipleship, we need to hear it where Christ himself is present. It is within the church that Jesus Christ calls through his word and sacrament. The preaching and sacrament of the church is the place where Jesus Christ is present. To hear Jesus’ call to discipleship, one needs no personal revelation. Listen to the preaching and receive the sacrament! Listen to the gospel of the crucified and risen Lord! Here he is, the whole Christ, the very same who encountered the disciples. Indeed, here he is already present as the glorified, the victorious, the living Christ. No one but Christ himself can call us to discipleship. Discipleship in essence never consists in a decision for this or that specific action; it is always a decision for or against Jesus Christ. And this is exactly why the situation was not any less ambiguous for the disciple or the tax collector who was called by him than it is for us today. The obedience of those who were first called constituted discipleship precisely in that they recognized Christ in the one who was calling them. For them, as for us, it is the hidden Christ who calls. The call as such is ambiguous. What counts is not the call as such, but the one who calls. But Christ can only be recognized in faith. That was true in the same way for the first disciples as it is for us. They saw the rabbi and the miracle worker, and believed in Christ. We hear the word and believe in Christ.

But did those first disciples not have an advantage over us in that, once they had recognized Christ, they received his unambiguous command from his very own lips and were told what to do? And are we not left to our own devices precisely at this crucial point of Christian obedience? Does not the same Christ speak differently to us than he spoke to them? If this were true, then we would indeed be in a hopeless situation. But it is far from true. Christ speaks to us exactly as he spoke to them. For the first disciples of Jesus it was also not as if they first recognized him as the Christ, and then received his command. Rather, it was only through his word and his command that they recognized him. They trusted in his word and his command, and thereby recognized him as the Christ. There was no other way for the disciples to know Christ than through his clear word. Conversely, therefore, to recognize Jesus truly as the Christ necessarily included a recognition of his will. To recognize the person of Jesus Christ did not undermine the disciples’ certainty about what to do, but on the contrary created that certainty. Indeed, there is no other way to recognize Christ. If Christ is the living Lord of my life, then I am addressed by his word whenever I encounter him; indeed, I do not really know him except through his clear word and command. There are those who object that this is precisely our dilemma: we would like to know Christ and have faith in him, and yet we are unable to recognize his will. This objection, however, springs from a vague and mistaken knowledge of Christ. To know Christ means to recognize him in his word as Lord and savior of my life. But that includes an understanding of his clear word spoken to me.

Suppose we say finally that, whereas the command the disciples received was unambiguous, we have to decide for ourselves which of his words is addressed to us. In that case, we have once again misunderstood not only the situation of the disciples, but also our own. Jesus’ command always has a single purpose: it demands faith from an undivided heart, and love of God and neighbor with all our heart and soul. This is the only aspect in which the command was unambiguous. Any attempt to carry out the command of Jesus, without also understanding it in this way, would again mean that we misinterpret and disobey Jesus’ word. However, this does not mean that we would have no way of knowing the concrete command.[6] On the contrary, we hear it clearly in every word of proclamation in which we hear Christ, but we hear it knowing that it can only be fulfilled through faith in Jesus Christ. The gift Jesus gave to his disciples is thus fully available to us too. In fact, it is even more readily available to us now that Jesus has ascended, by our knowledge of his transfiguration, and by the Holy Spirit that has been sent.[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), 199–203.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

This is US! - Purity 891

 

This is US!  -  Purity 891   

Purity 891 11/17/2022 Purity 891 Podcast

Purity 891 On YouTube:  




Good morning,

Today’s photo of the pathway to the marker at the end of the at the Irondequoit Bay Outlet Pier under blue & cirrus cloud filled skies comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene during my recent road trip to Buffalo. I’m including a selfie of myself on the blog to prove to myself, and anyone else who would doubt it, that I was there.  



Well, It’s Thursday again and as I share today’s photo of a pathway to that red and white marker as my subtle encouragement to anyone who should see or hear this message to stay on, or to get on, the path of Christian Discipleship.  

Whoever thinks that our Christian faith, our life in Christ, is boring undoubtedly has bought into the lies, or the limited view that God is continued to the pages of scripture or within the four walls of a church building, or even worse that He doesn’t intervene in the lives of men and has not decided to seek the Lord and His will for our lives.  

Our faith is a living relationship with the God of all creation who graciously gave us a “heads up” and revealed the truth of His plan of redemption, to put our faith in Jesus Christ alone, and who invites us to follow Him to discover our purpose in His kingdom.  

Ours is a personal God and before you start thinking that your purpose in Christ is to do a whole lot of good works for His glory, make sure you understand that our relationship with God is like any other relationship and that the main point of it is to spend time with one another, to spend “quality time” with God.  

While I am a big proponent of developing a daily spiritual practice of prayer and Bible Study, I also want to echo the sentiments of Dallas Willard from his book, Divine Conspiracy, where he said that our relationship to our Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, with God benefits from “quality time”, where we seek to know the Lord and be in His presence with great intensity where we spend extended periods of time in silence and solitude and in the disciplines of prayer, bible Study, service, or worship.

My trip to Buffalo was a mini mission trip with a set destination and purpose but during the trip I followed the Lord’s call of where to pull over and spend some time with Him.  I left the road periodically take walks, see the sights, and appreciate what I was experiencing and thanked God for bringing me where I was and thanked Him for being with me.  

I gloried over the magnificence of His creation and reflected on all the people, places, and things that we have encountered since “we got together”. The change in my life has been so significant since that day I said “Yes” to Jesus that sometimes I am simply overwhelmed and have to remind myself, “Yup, that happened. I was there and You were with me. We did that!  This is me! This is US! ”  And I am not ashamed to say it, I absolutely love what God has done with my life. 

Although I am sure that I may be considered strange by some, I don’t care. The story God has written in my life since that day my idea to mock a Christian message got turned on its head and resulted in my tearful proclamation of Jesus as my Lord and Savior, is simply amazing and perhaps the most surprising thing about it is that the tale of my new life in Christ simply does not end.  

It's one thing to another to another when you are walking in the Spirit and while everyday may not be filled with travelling adventures to distant lands, because I seeking to know Him and His presence, in prayer and Bible study or in just meditating, thinking about Him, there are always moments where I have joy or peace because I literally keep walking and talking with God through my day.  

Before Christ, I used to talk to myself, sometimes out loud, and would just think about what I wanted to do or what the grand exalted “I” thought about life.  My internal dialog and external musings were always focused on the small world of “Me-ville”.  What do I want? What did they do to ME? How dare they get in MY WAY. Or Why don’t they leave ME alone. Or I hate them!”

Like I used to say in recovery ministry, before Christ we are all opera singers: “ME, ME, ME, ME!” Passionate, self-obsessed, overly dramatic opera singers!

Okay I am sure there are some of you out there who are thinking this doesn’t apply to you. You are thinking that you don’t think too highly of yourselves and that you aren’t so vain as that.  But the bad news is that pride is a stick with two ends, if we don’t think highly of ourselves, we are holding the opposite end of the “pride stick”  “Nobody loves ME” I’M no good. Nobody helps ME.   SO for you although your voice may be low, you are also singing “me, me, me”, maybe just in lower case letters and a whispering tone.  

But when you put your faith in Christ, if you know who you are in Christ and realize that the Holy Spirit dwells in you,  you are no longer an “I” or a “ME”, capital or lower case letters.   

In Christ we become an “US”,  it’s not longer “ME against the world”, Tupac. When you make peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord is with you! He will never leave you or forsake you and because He is omnipresent, He is with you and available to you no matter where you go!  

Christianity is the story of US, You and God, and all the rest of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  While we might not always seem to be “in this together” on the human realm with the church and all of its expressions, if we are indeed in Christ, we are in this all together,  but the most important aspect of our new life in Christ is our direct and personal relationship with God.  

A lot of people point to the unity of the body of believers to be the most important thing or that loving others is the end all of what we are to do as Christians, and in many ways it is, but how do you “get there”.   

Christ directs us to love God first, and then love our neighbors as ourselves.  

So we have to first develop our love for God otherwise our love for our neighbors will just be some act, some duty to perform that we would rather not do.  

But when we love the Father, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit, when we love God, He gives us His eyes and His heart.   We  can be kind, forgiving, compassionate, and loving to others because we have received God’s abundant love and when we know it that love can pour out on others.  

So get intense about your relationship with the Lord. Spend some quality time with Him. Press into your spiritual practices to know the Lord more and to give Him and opportunity to change your heart and mind.  Keep walking and talking with God and one day you will be utterly amazed at where you have gone together and what you have experienced together.  One day you will see the changes He has done in you, and you will be thrilled to say “This really is me! This is what God has done in my life! This is US!”

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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:

John 3:16 (NLT2)
16  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Today’s verse is one of if not the most popular verses in scripture because it speaks the truth of who Jesus is and what happens when we believe in Him.  

Jesus is the Son of God, His One and Only Son, and He came to earth to teach about God’s kingdom and to command us to repent and to put our faith in Him.  

And as today’s verse tells us, when we put our faith in Christ we will not perish but will have eternal life.  

In this one verse, Jesus confirms Himself as God and He confirms the spiritual destiny for all mankind.  If we believe in Him, we have eternal life. If we don’t, we perish in places he described as dark and painful.

So let this good news be something to give you assurance, if you have faith in Christ, that you will live with Him forever,  And also let it encourage you to share this good news and bad news to warn those that don’t know Jesus so they can be saved and not perish.    

 

 

___________________________________________

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

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

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

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 7

The Community of Disciples Is Set Apart

The Disciple and the Unbelievers Continues

When we judge, we encounter other people from the distance of observation and reflection. But love does not allot time and space to do that. For those who love, other people can never become an object for spectators to observe. Instead, they are always a living claim on my love and my service. But doesn’t the evil in other people necessarily force me to pass judgment on them, just for their own sake and because of our love for them? We recognize how sharply the boundary is drawn. Love for a sinner, if misunderstood, is frightfully close to love for the sin. But Christ’s love for the sinner is itself the condemnation of sin; it is the sharpest expression of hatred against sin. It is that unconditional love, in which Jesus’ disciples should live in following him, that achieves what their own disunited love, offered according to their own discretion and conditions, could never achieve, namely, the radical condemnation of evil.

If the disciples judge, then they are erecting standards to measure good and evil. But Jesus Christ is not a standard by which I can measure others. It is he who judges me and reveals what according to my own judgment is good to be thoroughly evil. This prohibits me from applying a standard to others which is not valid for me. When I judge, deciding what is good or evil, I affirm the evil in other persons, because they, too, judge according to good and evil. But they do not know that what they consider good is evil. Instead, they justify themselves in it. If I judge their evil, that will affirm their good, which is never the goodness of Jesus Christ. They are withdrawn from Christ’s judgment and subjected to human judgment. But I myself invoke God’s judgment on myself, because I am no longer living out of the grace of Jesus Christ, but out of a knowledge of good and evil. I become subject to that judgment which I think valid. For all persons, God is a person’s God in the way the person believes God to be.

Judging is the forbidden evaluation of other persons. It corrodes simple love. Love does not prohibit my having my own thoughts about others or my perceiving their sin, but both thoughts and perceptions are liberated from evaluating them. They thereby become only an occasion for that forgiveness and unconditional love Jesus gives me. My refraining from judgment of others does not validate tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner; it does not concede that the other person is somehow right after all. Neither I nor the other person is right. God alone, God’s grace and judgment is proclaimed to be right.

Judging others makes us blind, but love gives us sight. When I judge, I am blind to my own evil and to the grace granted the other person. But in the love of Christ, disciples know about every imaginable kind of guilt and sin, because they know of the suffering of Jesus Christ. At the same time, love recognizes the other person to be one who received forgiveness under the cross. Love sees the other person under the cross, and that is what enables it to have true sight. If my intent in passing judgment were really to destroy evil, then I would seek evil where it really threatens me, namely, in myself. But the fact that I seek evil in another person reveals that in such judgments I am really seeking to be right myself, that I want to avoid punishment for my own evil by judging another person. All judging presupposes the most dangerous self-deception, namely, that the word of God applies differently to me than it does to my neighbor. I claim an exceptional right in that I say: forgiveness applies to me, but condemnation applies to the other person. Judgment as arrogation of false justice about one’s neighbor is totally forbidden to the disciples. They did not receive special rights for themselves from Jesus, which they ought to claim before others. All they receive is communion with him.

But it is not only judging words which are forbidden to the disciples. Proclaiming salvific words of forgiveness to others also has its limits. Jesus’ disciples do not have the power and the right to force them on anyone at any time. All our urging, running after people, proselytizing, every attempt to accomplish something in another person by our own power is in vain and dangerous. In vain—because swine do not recognize the pearls thrown before them; dangerous—because not only does this defile words of forgiveness, not only does it make the other person I am to serve into a sinner against holy gifts, but even the disciples who are preaching are in danger of being needlessly and pointlessly harmed by the blind fury of hardened and darkened hearts. Squandering cheap grace disgusts the world. Then the world will turn violently on those who want to force on it what it does not desire. This signifies for the disciples a serious limitation on their work. It agrees with the directive in Matthew 10 to shake from their feet the dust of any place that does not hear the word of peace. The driving restlessness of the group of disciples, who do not want to accept any limitation on their effectiveness, and their zeal, which does not respect resistance, confuses the word of the gospel with a conquering idea. An idea requires fanatics, who neither know nor respect resistance. The idea is strong. But the Word of God is so weak that it suffers to be despised and rejected by people. For the Word, there are such things as hardened hearts and locked doors. The Word accepts the resistance it encounters and bears it. It is a cruel insight: nothing is impossible for the idea, but for the gospel there are impossibilities. The Word is weaker than the idea. Likewise, the witnesses to the Word are weaker than the propagandists of an idea. But this weakness liberates them from the sick restlessness of a fanatic; they suffer with the Word. Disciples may retreat, or even flee, as long as they are retreating and fleeing with the Word,[224] as long as their weakness is the weakness of the Word itself, as long as they do not abandon the Word in their flight. They are nothing but servants and tools of the Word, and should not want to be strong when the Word is weak. If they wanted to force the Word onto the world by all means, then they would make the living Word of God into an idea, and the world will justifiably fight back against an idea which cannot help it at all. But it is as weak witnesses that they do not flee, but remain—to be sure, only where the Word is. Disciples who would know nothing about this weakness of the Word would not have come to know the secret of God’s lowliness. This weak Word, which suffers contradiction by sinners, is the only strong, merciful Word, that can make sinners repent from the bottom of their hearts. The Word’s power is veiled in weakness. If the Word came in full, unveiled power, that would be the final judgment day. The great task of recognizing the limits of their mission is given to the disciples. But when the Word is misused, it will turn against them.[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), 170–173.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Listening for His Guidance, Answering His Call - Purity 854


Listening for His Guidance, Answering His Call - Purity 854

Purity 854 10/05/2022 Purity 854 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a Long Lake Adirondack Autumn sunset comes to us from the Adirondack Aerial & Ground Imagery Showcase Page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/stephen.j.lemieux) who shared this scene that they captured on October 1st.    Stephen Lemieux shares scenes he sees from the ground, while flying in planes, and by using the latest drone technology to showcase the beauty of the Adirondacks which he loves. His work shows that man can utilize the latest technology to show others the beauty of God’s creation in ways that weren’t previously possible to reveal there are simply no limits on the things we can do that can inadvertently give God glory.     

Well, it’s Wednesday, I thought Mr. Lemieux’s photo was a great way to praise his work, give God glory, and to visually represent our arrival to the “hump” of our work week.   

Just like Stephen’s use of aircraft and drones can take his photography to new heights, the Lord has blessed me with an online ministry and led me to utilize Zoom to encourage other Christian men from all over the country to find or deepen their Freedom in Christ.  The Zoom technology allows a group of men who would have otherwise never meant to be open, honest, and vulnerable to share their experience as they seek the Lord and their efforts to do His will in a spirit of repentance.    

My efforts to teach and encourage others to discover the power of their Christian faith to resolve their personal and spiritual struggles and to experience the fruit of their Spirit in their lives began in recovery ministry but spilled outside the four walls of my local church when I decided to encourage a brother with daily texts as he sought to pursue sexual purity and to be accountable. This desire to do more for God’s kingdom  eventually led me to share encouraging posts on Facebook and to resurrect and revitalize my blog.

 In 2021, in the aftermath of Covid, I decided to start the mt4christ247 podcast to share the teachings from my new Community Freedom Ministry at my local church. That led to meeting my wife. My decision to keep following the Lord’s call to serve Freedom in Christ Ministries has led to this latest opportunity to teach and encourage men in their faith and freedom online.  

Last night our Freedom in Course Group met again and I am “flying high” with joy  this morning because our “meeting” has become a robust community where the men are being empowered by the Holy Spirit and the fellowship we have created to take on challenges in their lives that they have felt powerless to overcome in the past.  They have the hope of Christ, not just for heaven, but for experiencing the abundant life that He promised here and now.  

One man reported that He has been intentional in listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and because He has made himself available for God’s purposes He is living out his faith in ways that will help the world around him.   After finishing the home improvements on his new house, this man had a “lull” in his purpose and wondered “what’s next?” and so he has been going to the Lord in prayer to be led.  

After the recent devastation due to Hurricane Ian in Florida, he had seen the requests to give to the Red Cross but felt unmoved to give at all.  But as he has been communing with the Lord in prayer, he seemed to be getting the call to do something unconventional, to actually go to Florida and to use his skills to help others to rebuild.  He lives in Tennessee and has a wife and children that need him so the “call” to “just go to Florida to help” seemed insane but he mentioned it to his faithful Christian wife about it and to pray on it.  She, who would carry the burden of caring for their children and household in his absence, surprised him by telling him that if he felt the Lord was calling to go that he should be obedient to the call but he was uncertain of what this “call” even meant. 

However, all confusion fell away as this past Sunday as a man that represents a ministry that helps communities to rebuild after storms and floods came to his church to enlist volunteers to go to Florida.  What seemed like a vague call out of left field suddenly became crystal clear.  In the “lull” between projects, the Lord has called this man to help others and He is obeying it and will be carrying the hope and truth of Jesus Christ with him as he will work to rebuild what was broken.    

This is one story of several testimonies that I was blessed to hear last night as each man spoke about how the Freedom in Christ course has led to them to examine their lives and to be willing to invite the Lord into their circumstances and to provide wisdom and guidance to lead them. 

God is good and active on this planet but you have to seek Him and be willing to trust Him and to follow the calls on your life.  When we let go of the things we try to control and make the daily decision to obey the word of God and to follow where He leads amazing things happen, like having an enduring sense of peace and joy that no circumstances can take away.  

I have watched it and continue to watch it in my life and now I am watching in in the lives of 10 perfect strangers that just happen to be my brothers in Christ. We all different capacities and talents  and may be all on different paths but we all have the same Heavenly Father and same call.  

Christ calls each of us to “Follow Me” and so I point to Him and tell to listen for His direction and to seek His wisdom in the word and to apply to their lives.  

I just tell them to keep “walking and talking with God” and when they do that amazing things happen.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse are:

Romans 14:7-8 (NKJV)
7  For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
8  For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

Today’s Bible verses calls us out to recognize the truth that no one lives to themselves and that those who follow Christ, as these comments are directed to the Church, we live and die to the Lord and we are the Lord’s.  

Nobody likes to talk about death but for the Christian while we may not be crazy about the process of dying, when we know who we are in Christ, we can have peace about it because we know that we are already citizens of heaven and that when we depart our physical bodies as we expel our last life’s breath, we will be safe and secure and in the presence of the Lord.  So we have the hope of heaven and the peace that comes from knowing that in the ultimate sense everything is going to be alright.  

But the atheist, no matter how much they would deny the Lord and choose to believe in themselves, if they are honest can have no peace. The life they have built is meaningless as they believe, at best, that their lives will continue on in memories of others, who also die and eventually be forgotten.  

But we don’t have to worry about this nihilistic nonsense because things ain’t like that! There is a God and no one lives or dies apart from Him. 

So we seek to show others the pathway to life everlasting: faith in Jesus Christ.  

There is no getting away from God but we can have peace with Him and eternal life when we put our faith in and follow 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.

Chapter Five

Discipleship and the Individual – Continues

 

For a disciple of Jesus, “God-given realities” exist only through Jesus Christ. Anything not given me through Christ, the incarnate one, was not given to me by God. Anything not given me for the sake of Christ does not come from God. Our gratitude for the gifts of creation is offered through Jesus Christ, and our request for the merciful preservation of this life is made for Christ’s sake. Anytime I cannot be grateful for something for the sake of Christ, I may not be grateful for it at all lest it becomes my sin. Even the way to the “God-given reality” of that other person, with whom I live, must go through Christ, or it is a wrong way. All our attempts to bridge the chasm that separates us from others, or to overcome the unbridgeable distance, the otherness or strangeness of another person, by means of natural or psychic connections are doomed to fail. No human way leads from person to person. The most loving sensitivity, the most thoughtful psychology, the most natural openness do not really reach the other person—there are no psychic immediacies. Christ stands between them. The way to one’s neighbor leads only through Christ. That is why intercession is the most promising way to another person, and common prayer in Christ’s name is the most genuine community.

There is no true knowledge of God’s gifts without knowledge of the mediator, for whose sake alone they are given to us. There is no genuine gratitude for nation, family, history, and nature without a deep repentance that honors Christ alone above all these gifts. There is no genuine tie to the given realities of the created world; there are no genuine responsibilities in the world without recognition of the break, which already separates us from the world. There is no genuine love for the world except the love with which God has loved the world in Jesus Christ. “Do not love the world” (1 John 2:15). But “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Breaking with immediate relationships is inevitable. There is no ultimate difference whether it takes place externally in a break with one’s family or nation, whether one is called to visibly bear Christ’s shame, to accept the reproach of hatred for humans (odium generis humani [hatred of the human race]), or whether the break must be borne hidden, known by the individual alone, who, however, is prepared to make it visible at any time. Abraham has become a role model for both possibilities. He had to leave his friends and his father’s house. Christ came between him and his relatives. In that case the break had to become visible. Abraham became a stranger for the sake of the promised land. That was his first call. Later Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Christ steps between the father of faith and the son of the promise.[13] Not only natural immediate relationships are broken, but even unmediated spiritual relationships are broken here. Abraham had to learn that the promise did not depend on Isaac, but only on God. No one hears about that call from God, not even the servants who accompany Abraham to the site of the sacrifice. Abraham remains completely alone. He is again completely the single individual, just as he was long ago, when he left his father’s house. He receives the call as it is given. He does not try to interpret it, nor does he spiritualize it. He takes God at God’s word and is prepared to obey. Against every natural immediacy, against every ethical immediacy, against every religious immediacy, he obeys God’s word. He brings his son to be sacrificed. He is prepared to make the secret break visible, for the sake of the mediator. At the same time, everything that he had given up is restored to him. Abraham receives his son back. God shows him a better sacrifice, which is to take Isaac’s place. It is a turnaround of 360 degrees. Abraham received Isaac back, but he has him in a different way than before. He has him through the mediator and for the sake of the mediator. As the one who was prepared to hear and obey God’s command literally, he is permitted to have Isaac as though he did not have him; he is permitted to have him through Jesus Christ. No one else knows about it. Abraham comes down from the mountain with Isaac, just as he went up, but everything has changed. Christ came between the father and the son. Abraham had left everything and had followed Christ, and while he was following Christ, he was permitted to go back to live in the same world he had lived in before. Externally everything remained the same. But the old has passed away; see, everything has become new. Everything had to go through Christ.

This is the second possibility for being a single individual, namely, to be a follower of Christ in the midst of the community, in nation and family, in land and property. But it is Abraham who is called to that existence, Abraham, who earlier had gone through the visible break, whose faith became the role model for the New Testament. It is all too tempting for us to generalize this possibility that Abraham had and to understand it as a matter of law, namely, by applying it directly to ourselves. Then we would say that this, too, is our Christian existence, to follow Christ while possessing the goods of this world, and in this way, to be a single individual. But it is certain that the path of being led into an external break is easier for a Christian than that of bearing in hiddenness and faith a secret break. Those who do not know this, that is, those who do not know it from scripture and from their own experience, are surely deceiving themselves along the other path. They will fall back into immediate relationships and lose Christ.[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), 95–98.