Labels

Showing posts with label Romans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romans. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Breathtaking Moments of Beauty and Their Connection to the Divine - Purity 1237

Breathtaking Moments of Beauty and Their Connection to the Divine - Purity 1237

Purity 1237 01/02/2024 Purity 1237 Podcast

Purity 1237 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a work of art displaying the first light of dawn transforming a gray world with its life-giving light comes to us from our friend in the UK, Philip Hand who also shared the following poem as he fondly remembers the people that God put in his life to touch his heart.  Philip Hand writes:

Day Dream

“In my perfect daydream, I'd often escape and sit by the waters of a beautiful lake.

Surrounded by all the amazing people I've met,

the ones you love and never forget.

Shining as diamonds in my memory like the stars on a crystal-clear winter night.

Delicious, ambitious, witty, and wise, these are the ones that usually surprise.

Sweetest memories as dreams in my mind; precious people in the landscape of life.

Breathtaking beauty as our moments entwine; existing forever in our moments divine.”

Well, It’s Tuesday, the second day of the new year and as touching as Philip’s poem is about fondly remembering the people that have passed through his life, whose memories he can reflect on to find joy in the present moment, I love Philip he subtly reminds us all, not just about the brevity and value of our lives and our relationships, but how these breathtaking beautiful moments with the people we love, that we will never forget, are all a gift from God.

Hand’s final word is “divine” which means “from God” and as my purpose in this blog is to point to the “big picture” and the “good news” of life, I have to remind everyone to give their thanks to the One who gave us our lives, who gave us our friends and loved ones, and who gave us all the days (the good and the bad) of our lives.  For the good memories we have, for all the love and happiness we have ever known, we should thank God. 

And if we reflect on the breathtaking beautiful moments of our lives and how quickly they seem to pass, we should go to the Lord to ask the “big questions” about this experience of life. Where have my departed loved ones gone? Is there life after death? How will my life be judged? How can I find peace with God? How can I experience more beauty and life? What happens next? What happens after my breathtaking moments end? What happens after death?”  

The good news is that God loves us, wants us to know the answers to these questions, wants us to live with Him in breathtaking moments of beauty forever,  and made a Way for us to do so.   God spoke to the patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets to let us know He was real, present, powerful, good, and holy and that He would send someone to make His message crystal clear.  Although the Old Testament scriptures point to salvation through faith alone, God’s plan was to give us a clear object that we could put our faith in: God the Son, Jesus Christ.  

Jesus answers all the questions of life and death. He preached about judgement and hell for those who choose to serve themselves and reject God’s love and wisdom and He spoke about paradise – a good place – heaven for those who put their faith in and choose to follow Him.  

So as we appreciate the lives we have been given and the loved ones we have known, let’s not get lost in the remembrance of the beauty and forget to look at the “big picture” and to thank the One created it all and let’s demonstrate the love we have for what God has given us by seeking to have peace with Him and to adopt His ways for living.

It’s a new year, so let’s remember fondly those who are no longer with us and show our appreciation for those still here, but let’s also seek to thank God and to enter into the abundant life that He has for us, here and forever after, by placing our faith in Jesus and telling everyone we know how their breathtaking moments of beauty can carry on forever.  

Let’s let the light of His truth and His love shine in and drive out the darkness. Let’s let His creative power, make us new and give us the peace, love, and joy that never fades away. Let’s appreciate the life we have been given and seek God’s Truth, Way, and Life – in and through faith in Jesus Christ – to experience the abundant life He has for us to live.

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

For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)
31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 Today’s verses fall under the ninth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

9. If God is for us, nothing can separate us from his love.

Today’s verses point to the safety and security that we have when we put our faith in Jesus.  Philippians 3:20 tells us that we are citizens of heaven and Paul’s words in here Romans seek to expound upon just how sure and secure that citizenship is. Nothing in death or life, or in the supernatural realms can separate us from God’s love.   And even though, the early church faced persecution and death for their faith in Christ, “Sheep to be slaughtered”, the Lord gives us this message to assure us that we need not fear and that we are more than conquerors through Christ. 

Christ told Martha in

John 11:25-26 (NLT2)
25  … “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
26  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

Martha was shown this to be true with the resurrection of her brother, Lazarus. 

And even though Jesus was crucified and died, He rose again to show that He is who He said He was. Jesus is God and Paul and the Apostles witnessed His life after death and they share the message that God’s love for us – saves us and preserves us from death its self. 

So do not fear man, or death, because God’s love will keep us all safe and even though we may die, we will live and experience being citizens of heaven, and rulers with Christ for evermore because of the wonders of His love – the love we can never be separated from.

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

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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

JANUARY 2

Do Not Worry about Tomorrow

Possessions delude the human heart into believing that they provide security and a worry-free existence, but in truth they are the very cause of worry. For the heart that is fixed on possessions, they come with a suffocating burden of worry. Worries lead to treasure, and treasure leads back to worry. We want to secure our lives through possessions; through worry we want to become worry free, but the truth turns out to be the opposite. The shackles that bind us to possessions, that hold us fast to possessions, are themselves worries. The misuse of possessions consists in our using them for security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. In the strictest sense, however, possessions are intended only for today. It is precisely the securing of tomorrow that makes me so insecure today. “Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matt. 6:34b). Only those who place tomorrow in God’s hands and receive what they need to live today are truly secure. Receiving daily liberates us from tomorrow. Thought for tomorrow delivers us up to endless worry.

I have had the experience over and over again that the quieter it is around me, the clearer do I feel the connection to you. It is as though in solitude the soul develops senses which we hardly know in everyday life. Therefore I have not felt lonely or abandoned for one moment. You, the parents, all of you, the friends and students of mine at the front, all are constantly present to me.… Therefore you must not think me unhappy. What is happiness and unhappiness? It depends so little on the circumstances; it depends really only on that which happens inside a person.

Bonhoeffer’s final Christmastime letter to fiancĂ©e

Maria von Wedemeyer, December 19, 1944

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:31–34[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 YouTube 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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 82–83.

 

Monday, January 1, 2024

Following God and All Things for Good - Happy Anniversary, My Love - Purity 1236


Following  God and All Things for Good  - Happy Anniversary, My Love - Purity 1236

Purity 1236 01/01/2024 Purity 1236 Podcast

Purity 1236 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of people waiting online for a New Year’s Eve Improv Comedy performance comes to us from yours truly as I decided to capture a quick self of the Mrs. and myself on the last night before our anniversary or and the beginning of a new year.  Happy New Year everyone, and Happy Anniversary, my love! Happy Anniversary TammyLyn. 

Well, It’s Monday and even though I begin the new year in a place I would have never suspected I would be, in a quaint B&B on the shores of the Franklin Falls Flow Pond outside of Bloomingdale in the Adirondacks, I am not surprised by the company I am in as TammyLyn and I made a vow to be together for the rest of our lives as man and wife, even if we decided to do so in an unorthodox way at the beginning.  Due to the circumstances of our former lives, TammyLyn and I decided to be “married, two households, but I can say that we are closer now to realizing the dream of being together in one place, permanently, than we have ever been before, and I am more in love with TammyLyn than I was yesterday. 

I know that may sound clichĂ©, that “ I love you more today as yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow” but I suppose that’s why that song by Spiral Staircase was a hit in 1969, the more we spend time with someone and the more our love for them has the potential to grow, and with TammyLyn, perhaps because I thoroughly believe that she is the answer to my prayers and a gift from God to me, the potential for the growth of my love for her seems to be infinite. There seems to be no end in sight of how much I love to TammyLyn and  even know I don’t completely know the specifics of God’s plan for my life, I am convinced that part of my purpose in life is to love her as my beloved wife from here to eternity, and if I’m allowed to, beyond.  

Our story has the makings of a Hallmark Romance movie and even though it may seem over the top and hard to believe because of how we met and the things we have seen and done together,  it’s a true story. It is a testament to our faith in God and demonstrates the truth of Romans 8:28 as both TammyLyn and I have experienced how God works things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.   Our purpose to follow Jesus and to try to live as God would want us to live and even though we didn’t even know each other at the beginning of 2021, our mutual love of the Lord and intention to be faithful Christians was the catalyst that put us on the collision course where our lives would meet and we would never be the same, in a good way, again. 

In 2021, I decide to launch a Community Freedom Ministry at my local church and TammyLyn decided to grow in her faith. If neither one of us is faithful to those decisions, we never meet, we never fall in love, and we never marry.  But God called us and drew us to follow those calls on our lives and join our purposes to help each of us to grow and receive the love we so desperately needed. While the only one who completes us is Christ and God stands at the center of our marriage, TammyLyn and I would agree that we compliment one another well and even though we are both far from perfect, God knew how perfectly His love could draw us together and make us one.  

So I am not only celebrating the new year today, but I am also rejoicing over my marriage to TammyLyn and thanking God for giving us the opportunity to move through another year as man and wife.  Thank you Lord for the life and love you have given us and thank you TammyLyn, my love, for faithfully following the Lord’s call on your life, for loving me, and for deciding to walk with me as my wife for another trip around the sun.  

If anyone is looking for dating advice or looking for advice on finding your soul mate all I can do is to encourage you to do what TammyLyn and I did, follow the Lord faithfully, seek to know Him more, don’t compromise by giving into your fleshly desires, and stay committed to loving God first and allowing Him to guide your path.  It may lead to marriage, it may not, but the love that God has for you is more than enough to see you through the rest of your life here on earth, and just may lead your path to join with someone else that God specifically made for you.  

It is my prayer that all who read or hear this message have the happiest of years in 2024, and that you stay faithful to following the Lord through the next 365 days to see how God can move all things together for your good when you answer the call and pursue the purpose that He has for your life.  

TammyLyn and I are simple people who did that and now our lives have come together into an amazing journey of faith, hope, and love.  Keep walking and talking with God and come and see what the Lod has for you.

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

For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

Romans 8:28 (NASB)
28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

 Today’s verse fall under the eighth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

8. God works all things together for our good.

Today’s verse proves God has a tremendous sense of humor and destiny. I did not look ahead and plan out my message for the first of the year and arrange just the right verse for the circumstances I am going through, I didn’t know that I would paraphrase Romans 8:28 in my comments but God did.  God knows everything and God’s word is true. He sees the end from the beginning and is moving the events forward in space and time to fulfill His purposes and today’s verse tells us that God’s plan is for good – for those who love Him.   That’s the key here, guys.  

Our relationship with God isn’t some game or something we can skillfully manipulate for personal benefit. Life isn’t as simple as – if you want good do good, while that works to some degree there is a major problem with that idea – us! Without God we wouldn’t know what good is!  And if we think we know what is best, we are wrong and we will eventually suffer from doing things according to our ideas of what’s best. 

God’s ways are higher than our ways and destiny is crafted by Him.  While we can manipulate circumstances to some degree to have happiness, God is playing the long game – the big game – the eternity game – and the only way we have a good outcome in eternity is to have God on our side and the nature of God doesn’t afford us to just form an alliance with Him for our benefit. To know God is to love Him for He is love.  All good things flow from Him and thus our experiencing the truth of Romans 8:28 is based on our love and God’s call and purpose on our lives.  Without God calling us out of the darkness, we are headed for destruction.  Without our love for Him, we would question, doubt, and resist everything that God is working together for our good.  

So thank God that you know Him and His goodness and be faithful to follow all those things that he is putting together for your good. His plan is best, and it leads to the good of all who love Him, so follow Him and watch His good plan play out all the days of your life.

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

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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

JANUARY 1

At the Beginning of a New Year

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This saying, which is found in a broad variety of lands, does not arise from the brash worldly wisdom of an incorrigible. It instead reveals deep Christian insight. At the beginning of a new year, many people have nothing better to do than to make a list of bad deeds and resolve from now on—how many such “from-now-ons” have there already been!—to begin with better intentions, but they are still stuck in the middle of their paganism. They believe that a good intention already means a new beginning; they believe that on their own they can make a new start whenever they want. But that is an evil illusion: only God can make a new beginning with people whenever God pleases, but not people with God. Therefore, people cannot make a new beginning at all; they can only pray for one. Where people are on their own and live by their own devices, there is only the old, the past. Only where God is can there be a new beginning. We cannot command God to grant it; we can only pray to God for it. And we can pray only when we realize that we cannot do anything, that we have reached our limit, that someone else must make that new beginning.

New Year’s Text:

If we survive during the coming weeks or months, we shall be able to see quite clearly that all has turned out for the best. The idea that we could have avoided many of life’s difficulties if we had taken things more cautiously is too foolish to be entertained for a moment. As I look back on your past I am so convinced that what has happened hitherto has been right, that I feel that what is happening now is right too. To renounce a full life and its real joys in order to avoid pain is neither Christian nor human.

Bonhoeffer to Renate and Eberhard Bethge,

written from Tegel, January 23, 1944

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

2 Corinthians 5:16–17[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 YouTube 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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 80–81.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Armor of God & Personally Resisting Satan – Wisdom from Dr Neil Anderson- Purity 1235

 

The Armor of God & Personally Resisting Satan – Wisdom from Dr Neil Anderson- Purity 1235

Purity 1235 12/30/2023 Purity 1235 Podcast

Purity 1235 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of an extreme close-up of flipside of my “Armor of God” coin comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene of one of my favorite Christmas gifts on Christmas Day in the afternoon to be sure that all the pieces of armor were listed, or more accurately how they were listed. Bible translations vary and I wanted to see how each piece of armor was presented.

For instance, while we can extrapolate the “shoes” or as my coin presents, the “sandals of the gospel of peace” from verse 15 which says in  

Ephesians 6:15  “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”

But we have to realize that Paul was making an analogy here and all of the “pieces of the armor of God” were pointing to Jesus and the various aspects of our life of faith in Him that are “covered” by our Lord and Savior.  Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase of the Bible really makes this clear by removing Paul’s analogy altogether!  His interpretation for

Ephesians 6:13-18 (MSG)
13  Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet.
14  Truth, righteousness,
15  peace,
16  faith,
17  and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them.
You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon.
18  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long.
Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Love it or hate it. Peterson’s interpretation may leave you cold by stripping off the “armor” analogy” but it does stress that those “pieces” of our relationship with God – Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation, are more than words and need to be applied – aka lived, and God’s word and prayer are the weapons we use to fight our battles.   You may hate Peterson’s paraphrase. I’m not sure that I like it myself, but it does point to authentic faith and the simplicity of discipleship. 

“Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation, are more than words. Learn how to apply them!

I hear that.  But if you don’t, read the version of the Bible that inspires you to put those aspects of your faith into action in your life. Peterson’s only human and is doing his best to paraphrase God’s word to encourage those who need to see it from a different point of view.  We can forgive him because even though you may like or hate Peterson’s Message the Holy Spirit has used it to lead people to Christ and reinvigorate their walk or reveal truth they didn’t see. 

Peterson’s only human and just like my “Armor of God” coin’s engravers – their hearts were in the right place, and they did their best. And even if a close examination reveals that their engraving work was less than perfect (It looks like “Helmet of Silvation”?  “Breastp;ate of Righteousness”?  “Ephesians S:13-17?” to me) or Peterson’s paraphrase feels less than divinely inspired, we can appreciate that they were both pointing us to faithfully following the Lord.  And in the end, it is not up to someone else perfectly pointing us to God that will make the difference in our walk of faith.  After we know Jesus as Savior, We have to choose to make Him the Lord of our lives and take responsibility for how we follow Him and how we fight the spiritual forces of darkness that oppose us.   

Yesterday, Freedom in Christ Ministries sent out this short devotional by Dr. Neil Anderson, and I feel compelled to share it on the blog this morning because of its wisdom and truth and because I believe Anderson’s message may point some of us to take a more active role in fighting the enemy.  

“PERSONALLY RESISTING SATAN

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:14)

Paul instructs us to make no provision for the flesh. What if we do? We are told to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. What if we don't? James 4:7 admonishes us to "resist the devil and he will flee from you." What if we don't resist him? Is he required to flee from us if we don't take our stand against him? No, if we don't resist him, he doesn't have to go. We have the assurance of God's protection, but we must assume our responsibility to personally resist Satan.

Ephesians 6:10-17 outlines the armour of God which believers are instructed to put on in order to "stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (verse 11). But if we go into battle without some of our armour, are we impervious to getting wounded? No, if we fail to cover ourselves with the armour God has provided, we are vulnerable. James 4:1 reveals that the source of our quarrels and conflicts is the pleasures that "wage war in your members." Paul instructed, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts" (Romans 6:12). The world, the flesh and the devil are continually at war against the life of the spirit within us. But what if we don't fight back? Will we still be victorious over the pleasures and lusts that strive to reign over us? No, they will control us if we remain passive.

Choosing truth, living a righteous life, and donning the armour of God is each believer's individual responsibility. I cannot be responsible for you, and you cannot be responsible for me. I can pray for you, encourage you in the faith, and support you, but if you go into the battle without your armour on, you may get hurt. As much as that may be a matter of concern for me, I still cannot make those decisions of responsibility for you. Those choices are yours alone.

Loving Father, thank You for investing Yourself in me. Equip me to graciously invest myself today in ministry to others.”

Neil Anderson

 

So for the second time this week, the Armor of God has made an appearance on the blog and I get the impression that the Lord is encouraging all of us to “suit up” in our faith and enter into the new year by choosing to follow the Lord into battle and to take personal responsibility to do our part to seek out new challenges and to win new victories in the year ahead.  

2023 was a breakthrough year for me in terms of winning the fight against my food addiction but the battle goes on. I can’t get complacent now. Although I have made significant steps forward with my physical health the only victories that matter are the ones that last. I have a new measure of freedom and self-control over the flesh but that must be increased and maintained.  And just because I will continue to engage in that fight, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t seek to win in other areas of my life.  

At year's end the Lord has blessed me beyond belief with the sale of my former home, and I am literally going to Disney World! But if I want to avoid being overcome with the weight of financial burdens like I have in the past, I have to learn that my “consumption” problem wasn’t only in the areas of food in 2023, and I have to repent of my “retail therapy” ways.  So we will be taking on my tendency to overspend and buy things I don’t need for 2024.   

I was also humbled this year by failing to accomplish something I had thought was going to be my mission in life, being a certified Deeper Walk Prayer Minister and having the hope that I would come to be a part of that ministry as part of my purpose in the future.  But I was told I “overwhelm” people and I failed to be certified on time. Currently, it is unclear whether or not I will accomplish certification in the future, but either way the experience of failure and rejection that I went through this year made me realize that I shouldn’t make idols out of organizations or people in the body of Christ and that whatever my purpose is in God’s kingdom, it is doubtful that it will just be handed to me by someone else.  Whatever my purpose is God will direct me to it and quite frankly, THIS may be all there is. 

And if “This” (my ministry of “encouragement” through my blog, podcast, YouTube Channel, and serving FICM as a CFMA and Online Course Leader, and serving my local church in Recovery Ministry, and living a surrendered life a of disciple of Jesus Christ with my faithful and loving Christian wife, TammyLyn) is it.  I can live with that.

God has saved me and set me free. Whether I ever enter into full-time ministry or not,  will be up to Him to determine in the future. But in the meantime, my life is an unbelievable blessing of peace, love, and joy and even though I don’t always know where this path of Christian Discipleship will take me, I will just keep on walking and talking with God knowing that His plan for my life is better than anything I could have imagined. So I’ll just trust in Him and see where it goes.

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

For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verse comes from the section on Comfort.

Romans 8:18 (NASB)
18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

 Today’s verses fall under the seventh point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

7. The sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the coming glory.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reminder that earth is not our home, God’s kingdom is, and that the suffering we endure now is only temporary.  

This is a very appropriate piece of scripture to receive at year’s end as many of the sentiments I see shared on social media testify of hard times, difficulties, and losses experienced in 2023.  So Paul’s words can be taken as an encouragement for better days ahead in 2024, but in reality some of our problems can take longer that 365 days to walk out of, ask me how I know, and just because the date on the calendar changes doesn’t mean everything is going to be “just ducky” in the new year.  

However, if we are in Christ, we always have hope.  We have the hope of life everlasting in God’s kingdom and because God is for us, and He is moving all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, we can hope for freedom, rescue and deliverance!   While we should do our best to do what’s right and take personal responsibility to fix the mess we are in, we should do so with the Lord by our side because He will help us when we ask Him for help.  He can bless us in ways we could never imagine or He could just give us the strength to persevere but no matter what we are suffering we can rejoice that the sufferings we are experiencing are a light affliction compared to the glory that we will experience with God in His kingdom and hope for good things to come here on earth in the meantime.  

So let’s move forward into the new year, facing things realistically but praying unceasingly for the Lord to guide and bless our path.

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

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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

DECEMBER 30

Beside Your Cradle Here I Stand

A verse is going around repeatedly in my head: “Brother, come; from all that grieves you / you are freed; / all you need / I again will bring you.” What does this mean: “All you need I again will bring you”? Nothing is lost; in Christ everything is lifted up, preserved—to be sure, in a different form—transparent, clear, freed from the torment of self-seeking desire. Christ will bring all of this again, and as it was originally intended by God, without the distortion caused by our sin. The teaching of the gathering up of all things, found in Ephesians 1:10, is a wonderful and thoroughly comforting idea. “God seeks out what has gone by” (Eccl. 3:15) receives here its fulfillment. And no one has expressed that as simply and in such a childlike way as Paul Gerhardt in the words that he places in the mouth of the Christ child: “All you need I again will bring you.” Moreover, for the first time in these days I have discovered for myself the song, “Beside your cradle here I stand.” Until now I had not thought much about it. Apparently you have to be alone a long time and read it meditatively to be able to perceive it.… Beside the “we” there is also still an “I” and Christ, and what that means cannot be said better than in this song.

When God’s Son took on flesh, he truly and bodily took on, out of pure grace, our being, our nature, ourselves. This was the eternal counsel of the triune God. Now we are in him. Where he is, there we are too, in the incarnation, on the cross, and in his resurrection. We belong to him because we are in him. That is why the Scriptures call us the Body of Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:8b–12

DECEMBER 31

The Joyous Certainty of Faith

On the basis of God’s beginning with us, which has already happened, our life with God is a path that is traveled in the law of God. Is this human enslavement under the law? No, it is liberation from the murderous law of incessant beginnings. Waiting day after day for the new beginning, thinking countless times that we have found it, only in the evening to give up on it again as lost—that is the perfect destruction of faith in the God who set the beginning once and for all time.… God has set the beginning: this is the joyous certainty of faith. Therefore, beside the “one” beginning of God, I am not supposed to try to set countless other beginnings of my own. This is precisely what I am now liberated from. The beginning—God’s beginning—lies behind me, once and for all time.… Together we are on the path whose beginning consists in the fact that God has found his own people, a path whose end can consist only in the fact that God is seeking us again. The path between this beginning and this end is our walk in the law of God. It is life under the word of God in all its many facets. In truth there is only one danger on this path, namely, wanting to go behind the beginning. In that moment the path stops being a way of grace and faith. It stops being God’s own way.

I believe that God can and will bring good out of evil, even out of the greatest evil. For that purpose he needs men who make the best use of everything. I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us to resist in all times of distress. But he never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on him alone. A faith such as this should allay all our fears for the future. I believe that even our mistakes and shortcomings are turned to good account, and that it is no harder for God to deal with them than with our supposedly good deeds. I believe that God is no timeless fate, but that he waits for and answers sincere prayers and responsible actions.

“After Ten Years: A Reckoning Made at New Year 1943”

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:28–30[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 YouTube 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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 76–79.