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Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts

Monday, November 14, 2022

Would You Stand Up and Walk out on Me? - Purity 888


Would You Stand Up and Walk out on Me?   -  Purity 888     

Purity 888 11/14/2022   Purity 888 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Buffalo’s Electric Tower decorated in Red White and Blue Lights and Washington Street Illuminated by street lights comes to us from yours truly as I stopped long enough to capture this scene before making my departure just before 4 am on Saturday morning.  Even though I was raring to go, I try to be intentional about appreciating the journey as I go and in that still early morning silence it was as if the Holy Spirit Himself told me to stop and take one last look around before I hastily departed the trip that I felt God had called me to take.   

Well, It’s Monday again, and yes it is back to life and back to the reality of work life again but that’s a good thing, as much as we enjoy our week end get a ways, vacations, and impromptu mission trips,  the vast majority of our lives are spent doing the things we need to do to provide for ourselves and our loved ones and it is the place where if we are walking in the Spirit we will necessarily find peace and joy, just living as Christian disciple’s in our “normal lives”.  

Don’t get me wrong, I was positivelyecstatic over my latest adventure on the road.  With Wednesday evening’s walk through the downtown streets of Oswego, Thursday’s jaunt along the Coast of Lake Ontario and stop in Niagara Falls before my hostel stay in Buffalo, and culminating in volunteering at the Evening with David Jerimiah on Friday night, I really got a small feel of what it was like to live the life of a “beat writer” like Kerouac as I took time to appreciate the journey as much as appreciate the purpose of the journey. 

And I guess that where I and Kerouac would have parted ways, my meandering journey had a meaning and purpose beyond the journey itself.  To paraphrase the quote from Dan Akroyd in the Blues Brothers: I was on a mission from God.   

In 2010, I was saved quite unexpectedly by a radio gospel message spoken by a preacher I didn’t know and who I thought I would have fun mocking.  But the joke was on me as I came to understand the gospel of grace for the first time in my life that fateful Friday in March.  The message was the forgiveness of sins without works through faith in Jesus Christ.  And the messenger was David Jerimiah.  

So earlier this year when I heard about his upcoming tour and event in Buffalo, that just happened to be on Veterans Day, I felt the call to go and serve the ministry that delivered the message that saved my soul.  

And as the Lord would have it, my role as a volunteer seemed to come “full circle” as I who was saved by a David Jerimiah message was given the opportunity to serve as an “altar counselor” – a person who would greet and pray for others, like me, who heard the truth of God’s call on their lives and either made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior or felt called to come forward and rededicate their lives to Christ.  

I talked about my experience of serving as an altar counselor in the opening minutes of yesterday’s Bible Study with the Cincotti’s “For Such a Time as This” (https://youtu.be/WpN-j-I8C58) so if you want to here about it, I am including a link to the video on YouTube on the blog today.  

It was a very joyous and humbling opportunity and I felt honored to serve there but there was one moment that happened before David Jerimiah completed his message and invited people to come forward that I will never forget. 

Before the altar call and before the musical performers started singing “Amazing Grace”, David Jerimiah preached a message based on Jesus’ Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24 & 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, where Jesus prophesied about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and what we commonly know as the end times.   Jerimiah’s teaching on this subject can be found in his latest book “The World of the End”. Jerimiah’s message was biblically sound and sought to encourage the audience that even though current events may seem chaotic God was still in control and He had a plan to make things right that would come through the eventual return of Jesus Christ.  

I literally had a front row seat for the message and was impressed with Jerimiah’s simple but hopeful teaching of what can be a frightening subject.  I didn’t find his delivery or subject to be condemning or off putting at all.     

However, about midway through Jerimiah’s message I noticed something.  As I watched Jerimiah’ message from the right side of the Key Bank Center Arena, I saw a couple in the seats on the left side, stand up and walk out.  And then I saw two other people walk out. And a group of three. Then I saw more leave.   It wasn’t a mass exodus or anything but I would say that I observed approximately 15 to 20 people head for the exits with there coats on and seemingly no intention to stay.  

The evening with David Jerimiah up to this point was filled with music and general positive messages regarding the Christian faith but when Jerimiah preached from the word of God from Christ’s end times prophecies people left as if to say: “I don’t want to hear any of “your” end times preaching!”

I also saw this. I saw an older couple, presumably married, and when some people started leaving the husband stood up as if to say “I’ve had enough, we’re done here.”  But the wife remained seated. She didn’t move and although her husband stood for more than just a moment, she basically ignored him until eventually he just sat down again.   Can you say “unequally yoked”?   

You see David Jerimiah wasn’t speaking his end times message, he was reading and explaining the word of Jesus Christ, you know that guy who is the TRUTH, the Way, and the Life?   

And to get up and walk out this rather basic interpretation on the words of Christ, really has to make you wonder about the spiritual destiny of someone. 

They could stomach the worship music and general niceties of Christianity but when a message that was proclaimed that spoke of the urgency to believe and to follow Jesus suddenly the show was over.  Their “religious tolerance” had reached it’s limits.  

You see David Jerimiah wasn’t telling anyone how to live their lives or telling people who to vote for, He was telling people of the desperate need that every man, woman, and child had to make Jesus their Lord and Savior in light of Christ’s words.   That’s it.  Jerimiah basically encouraged his audience to not be afraid of the chaos of this world, to put their faith in Jesus, and to trust in the Lord.   

But that was too much, because even though he didn’t say it, people know that if you put your faith in Jesus there is an expectation to be changed, to become like Jesus, by following His example in how we live our lives.  

Any gospel that tells you that tells you nothing needs to change when you put your faith in Jesus denies what Jesus Himself and what the whole counsel of God says.  

But apparently you don’t even have to preach about repentance, for some all you have to do is point to the exclusivity to save or the belief that God will intervene in the course of history to have His will be done “on earth as it is in heaven” to send people to stand up and walk out.  

Now I realize that there could be very good reasons why some of people these left. I could even imagine that some of these people wholeheartedly identify themselves as Christians.  But among all the reasons and a categories of possibilities I can cut it down to a few.  

1. They are actually a follower of Jesus Christ and they had other matters to take care of that demanded their immediate attention.  Hey, some times you got to go, sorry pastor.  I’ll buy that book, tell my friends and family to put their faith in Christ to follow Him because we are in some dark time for sure!”  

2. They may identify as a Christian culturally, or know Christians,  but they don’t have a relationship with the Lord.  They think Christianity is nice but don’t might believe that the Bible isn’t all true, don’t believe Jesus is God, or find other things in scripture like the call to sanctification or the end times to be highly questionable.   They have no sense of assurance of salvation and suspect that religion just might be a game.  Their “faith” doesn’t have a part of their lives or doesn’t have a priority in them.

3. Or they don’t believe - they were dragged along for the ride and although they suffered through the worship music, they couldn’t stay a minute more after the Bible got brought out!  

That’s basically it. I think. Those who actually believe. Those who are along for the ride but don’t really have faith. And those who know they don’t have faith.    

It gives me no pleasure to think about those who would walk out if they should fall into the latter two categories.  In fact, when I saw those people leave I got a chill as I imagined the worse: that these people’s departure was a concrete example of their rejection of Jesus Christ in the starkest demonstrative way.   I can imagine Jesus singing Joe Cocker’s old song about His friends:

“ What would you do if I sang out of tune? 

Would you stand up and walk out on Me?” 

Well some people, I don’t know which ones, got up Friday night at Key Bank Center in Buffalo and showed that they are no friend of Jesus by getting up and walking out on Him.  

All I can say to that is that I hope a seed was planted. I hope that David Jerimiah’s preaching of the word of God disturbed them enough that they think about what Jesus said and it causes them to investigate the word of God for themselves.  

Because as someone who got up and walked out of church on more than one occasion in my life, I know that as long as we live there is still hope for those who blatantly reject Christianity.  As we walk through life and go through trials and suffer loss, there is the potential we will seek the meaning of our existence and we will instinctively ask God to reveal Himself to us. 

And I know that even the most worldly sinner, can find the Truth when they humbly ask God for His help.  

So for those who know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and who are living with the hope and peace that go beyond understanding, share the good news.   Keep walking and talking with God and demonstrate how good God is by living righteously and by caring for others.  

And if you are not sure, or don’t have faith, I won’t preach but I would encourage you to investigate the spiritual matters of life and ask God to reveal Himself to you, because the word that you may not believe, tells us that if we seek the Lord with all our hearts we will find Him. 

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

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

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

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Simplicity of Carefree Life

But where is the boundary between the goods I am supposed to use and the treasure I am not supposed to have? If we turn the statement around and say, What your heart clings to is your treasure, then we have the answer. It can be a very modest treasure; it is not a question of size. Everything depends on the heart, on you. If I continue to ask how can I recognize what my heart clings to, again there is a clear and simple answer: everything which keeps you from loving God above all things, everything which gets between you and your obedience to Jesus is the treasure to which your heart clings.

Because the human heart needs a treasure to cling to, it is Jesus’ will that it should have a treasure, but not on earth where it decays. Instead, the treasure is in heaven, where it is preserved. The “treasures” in heaven of which Jesus is speaking are apparently not the One Treasure, Jesus himself, but treasures really collected by his followers. A great promise is expressed in this, that disciples will acquire heavenly treasures by following Jesus, treasures which will not decay, which wait for them, with which they shall be united.[204] What other treasures could they be except that extraordinariness, that hiddenness of life as a disciple? What treasures could they be except the fruits of Christ’s suffering, which the life of a disciple will bear?

If disciples have completely entrusted their hearts to God, then it is clear to them that they cannot serve two masters. They simply cannot. It is impossible in discipleship. It would be tempting to demonstrate one’s Christian cleverness and experience by showing that one did know how to serve both masters, mammon [wealth] and God, by giving each their limited due. Why shouldn’t we, who are God’s children, also be joyous children of this world, who enjoy God’s good gifts and receive their treasures as God’s blessings? God and world, God and earthly goods are against each other, because the world and its goods reach for our hearts. Only when they have won our hearts are they really what they are. Without our hearts, earthly goods and the world mean nothing. They live off our hearts. In that way they are against God. We can give our hearts in complete love only to one object, we can cling only to one master. Whatever opposes this love falls into hatred. According to Jesus’ word, there can be only love or hate toward God. If we do not love God, then we hate God. There is no in-between. That is the way God is, and that is what makes God be God, that we can only love or hate God. Only one or the other option is possible. Either you love God or you love the goods of the world. If you love the world, you hate God; if you love God, you hate the world. It does not matter at all whether you intend to do it or whether you know what you are doing. Of course, you will not intend to do so, and you will probably not know what you are doing. It is much more likely that you do not intend what you do; you just intend to serve both masters. You intend to love God and goods, so you will always view it as an untruth that you hate God. You love God, you think. But by loving God and also the goods of the world, our love for God is actually hate; our eye no longer views things simply, and our heart is no longer in communion with Jesus. Whether it is your intention or not, it cannot be otherwise. You cannot serve two masters, you who are following Jesus.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 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 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” (Matt. 6:25–34).

Do not worry! Earthly goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry. But in truth, they are what cause anxiety. The heart which clings to goods receives with them the choking burden of worry. Worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries. We desire to secure our lives with earthly goods; we want our worrying to make us worry-free, but the truth is the opposite. The chains which bind us to earthly goods, the clutches which hold the goods tight, are themselves worries.

Abuse of earthly goods consists of using them as a security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. But the goods are intended only for today in the strictest sense. It is our securing things for tomorrow which makes us so insecure today. It is enough that each day should have its own troubles. Only those who put tomorrow completely into God’s hand and receive fully today what they need for their lives are really secure. Receiving daily liberates me from tomorrow. The thought of tomorrow gives me endless worries. “Do not worry about tomorrow”—that is either cruel ridicule of the poor and suffering, whom Jesus is addressing, of all those who—in human perspective—will starve tomorrow if they do not worry today; it is either an intolerable law that people will reject and detest or it is the unique gospel proclamation of the freedom of God’s children, who have a Father in heaven, who has given them the gift of his dear Son. Will he not with him also give us everything else?

“Do not worry about tomorrow”—we should not understand that to be human wisdom or a law. The only way to understand it is as the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only those disciples who have recognized Jesus can receive from this word an affirmation of the love of the Father of Jesus Christ and liberation from all things. It is not worrying which makes disciples worry-free; it is faith in Jesus Christ. Now they know: we cannot worry (v. 27). The next day, the next hour is completely out of our hands’ reach. It is meaningless to behave as if we could worry. We can change nothing about the conditions of the world. Only God can change the conditions, for example, a body’s height, for God rules the world. Because we cannot worry, because we are so powerless, we should not worry. Worrying means taking God’s rule onto ourselves.

Disciples know not only that they may not and cannot worry, but also that they need not worry. It is not worry, it is not even work which produces daily bread, but God the Father. The birds and the lilies do not work and spin, but they are fed and clothed; they receive their daily share without worry. They need the goods of the world only for daily life. They do not collect them. By not collecting they praise the creator, not by their industry, their work, their worry, but by receiving daily and simply the gifts God gives. That is how birds and lilies become examples for disciples. Jesus dissolves the connection between work and food, which is conceived in terms of cause and effect apart from God. He does not value daily bread as the reward for work. Instead, he speaks of the carefree simplicity of those who follow the ways of Jesus and receive everything from God.

“Now no animal works for its living, but each has its own task to perform, after which it seeks and finds its food. The little birds fly about and warble, make nests, and hatch their young. That is their task. But they do not gain their living from it. Oxen plow, horses carry their riders and have a share in battle; sheep furnish wool, milk, cheese, and so on. That is their task. But they do not gain their living from it. It is the earth which produces grass and nourishes them through God’s blessing.… Similarly, man must necessarily work and busy himself at something. At the same time, however, he must know that it is something other than his labor which furnishes him sustenance; it is the divine blessing. Because God gives him nothing unless he works, it may seem as if it is his labor which sustains him; just as the little birds neither sow nor reap, but they would certainly die of hunger if they did not fly about to seek their food. The fact that they find food, however, is not due to their own labor, but to God’s goodness. For who placed their food there where they can find it?… For where God has not laid up a supply no one will find anything, even though they all work themselves to death searching.” (Luther) But if the creator sustains birds and lilies, won’t the Father also feed his children, who daily ask him to do so? Shouldn’t God give them what they need for their daily lives, God, to whom all the goods of the earth belong and who can distribute them according to God’s own pleasure? “God give me every day as much as I need to live. He gives it to the birds on the roof, how should he not give it to me?” (Claudius).

Worry is the concern of nonbelievers, who rely on their strength and work, but not on God. Nonbelievers are worriers, because they do not know that the Father knows what their needs are. So they intend to get for themselves what they do not expect from God. But disciples are to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This makes clear that concern for food and clothing is not yet concern for the kingdom of God, as we would like to understand it. We would like to consider performing our work for our families and ourselves, our worrying for food and a place to live and sleep, to be the same thing as striving for the kingdom of God, as if striving for the kingdom took place only in the context of those concerns. The kingdom of God and God’s righteousness are something entirely different from the gifts of the world that are to come to us. It is nothing other than the righteousness about which Matthew 5 and 6 have spoken, the righteousness of the cross of Christ and discipleship under the cross. Communion with Jesus and obedience to his commandment come first; then everything else follows. There is no blending of the two; one follows the other. Striving for the righteousness of Christ stands ahead of the cares of our lives for food and clothing, or for job and family. This is the most exacting summary of everything which has been said before. This word of Jesus, like the commandment not to worry, is either an unbearable burden, an impossible destruction of human existence for the poor and suffering—or it is the gospel itself, which can make us completely free and completely joyous. Jesus is not speaking of what people should do but cannot do. Rather, he is speaking of what God has granted us and continues to promise us. If Christ has been given to us, if we are called to follow him, then everything, everything indeed is given us with him. Everything else shall be given to us. Those who in following Jesus look only to his righteousness are in the care and protection of Jesus Christ and his Father. Nothing can harm those who are thus in communion with the Father; they cannot doubt that the Father will feed his children and will not let them starve. God will help them at the right time. God knows what we need.

Jesus’ disciples, even after having followed him for a long time, will be able to answer the question, “Were you ever in need?” with “Lord, never!” How could they suffer need who in hunger and nakedness, persecution and danger are confident of their community with Jesus Christ?[1]

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

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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), 163–168.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

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

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

Purity 872 10/26/2022 Purity 872 Podcast

Good morning,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

Woman – concludes

 

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

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

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

Jesus’ body was crucified. The apostle says of those who belong to Christ that they have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). Thus, the fulfillment of even this Old Testament commandment becomes true only in the crucified, martyred body of Jesus Christ. The sight of that body, which was given for us, and our communion with it provide the disciples with the strength for the chastity which Jesus commands.[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 126–127.

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Story of My Life - Purity 842


 

The Story of My Life  - Purity 842

Purity 842 09/21/2022  

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a dusky but multi-hued sunset somewhere along River Road in Easton NY comes to us, I believe, from my wife and Christian podcaster, TammyLyn Clark, who captured this scene three days after our wedding back on January 4th of this year. 

After a hiatus of a few months, TammyLyn released the 24th episode of her Ask, Seek, Knock Podcast yesterday, declaring “I’m back” in which she explained the course of her life since her last episode.  I am sharing the link on the blog today, https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-5qznz-12cadef if you would like to give it a listen. No spoilers of course, but I was impressed and feel that it is provides another piece of evidence demonstrating TammyLyn’s faith and the reason why I simply had to make her my wife. 

You have to forgive me but this morning I have the song “The Story of My Life” by the defunk boyband, One Direction, in my head, and have to expel it! The lyrics say:

“Written in these walls are the stories that I can't explain
I leave my heart open but it stays right here empty for days
She told me in the morning she don't feel the same about us in her bones
It seems to me that when I die, these words will be written on my stone

And I'll be gone, gone tonight
The ground beneath my feet is open wide
The way that I been holdin' on too tight
With nothin' in between

The story of my life, I take her home
I drive all night to keep her warm
And time is frozen (the story of, the story of)
The story of my life, I give her hope
I spend her love until she's broke inside
The story of my life (the story of, the story of)”

(https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/onedirection/storyofmylife.html)

 

And it goes on… Pretty deep for a boy band right? Anyway this song about the cycles of love and break up, with its timeless – frozen -  moments of bliss and the sadness when love runs its course, came up in my memory this morning, not because I am lamenting over my love life, but because I was just overcome with the sense of sheer amazement over all the twists and turns that have transpired over the various chapters and episodes of my life. 

In reflecting over the course of my life and the journey as I grew up and tried to figure out who I was, all the while demanding personal satisfaction to every whim of desire, and the resultant brokenness of disillusionment with the American dream, the pains of addiction and traumatic losses before coming to Christ, and now the rather substantial course of life in the Spirit as I have increasingly surrendered to the upward call of Christ and moved away from all I was to become the person I am now, I thought to myself: 

“Wow! My life could be a miniseries on Netflix!”  

And the more I think about it, I don’t that is vanity.  In terms of drama, we have lived quite the continuing “story arc” with its exposition, rising action, climaxes, falling actions, and resolutions as we have been on this journey of faith, meaning, and purpose for 50 years now!  

As compelling as some of the episodes of my life before Christ may have been with its misadventures, all that action – the romance, the comedy and the tragedy, would have been for nothing.  It would have been like what Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, where with everything falling apart and hearing of his wife’s death, Macbeth says:

“Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

(Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of Shakespeare (p. 110). Latus ePublishing. Kindle Edition.”). 

And why would it have been like that?  Because I didn’t know the truth. I was operating on limited knowledge and lies that world tells us, like “life is meaningless”.  

But that is not the truth. Our lives have meaning and purpose, but few find it.  

The Creator, God, made us for a reason: to know Him and to make Him known.  

He sent Christ to save us and to “redeem” our lives because they were headed for destruction.  So that’s a climax: Finding Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,  but brother this isn’t a movie or even a Shakespearian play, this is an ongoing saga of life in the Spirit that doesn’t end.  

God has called us from here to eternity and when we know we who are in Christ we know the meaning of our lives and the next thing is to play the part of a Christian, to know and to discover our continuing purpose in Christ.  

Our purpose includes our sanctification and helping others to come to know the Lord and to discover their meaning and purpose in Christ.  

In the 12 years since coming to Christ, there has been ups and downs, victories and losses and whole string of characters as I have followed the Lord’s call.  

Before coming to Christ, I spent a lot of time in a basement, alone,  entertaining myself with alcohol, drugs, video games, music, sports on tv, and movies.  If you did a movie or tv series of my life back then it wouldn’t need a big cast or elaborate sets. You could even do it as a play, like a Shakespearean tragedy, where I could do soliloquy after soliloquy as I pondered life’s meaning, lamented over its disappointments, but found no answers other than to feed myself with circumstantial happiness.  

But the Lord pulled me out of that life of loneliness and despair and has taken me to places I would have never imagined in that basement in the woods and He has introduced me to a multitude of people from all over the world as I have followed Him.  

If anyone ever tells you that the Christian life is boring, I can tell you that they either don’t know the Lord, or they haven’t answered His call to surrender to His will and to follow Him.  

Last night, I told the men in the Freedom in Christ Course that if they want the fruit of the Spirit in their lives or if they want their freedom in Christ there is great hope for them.  But I told them that their faith won’t grow unless they do their part in their relationship with the Lord.  

Last night’s focus verse was

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)
6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him
.

From this I pointed out that if they wanted to please the Lord they had to have faith, to believe He is, and that He would reward their efforts to seek Him.  

I encouraged them to build their faith by choosing to believe the truth of God’s word and to apply it to their lives. I encouraged them to read the Bible, to pray, and to join a local body of believers – a church – where they could, learn ,worship, grow, and serve.  

If you want to be rewarded with the fruit of the Spirit in your life, you have to act on your faith and follow where the Lord leads you.  

So let’s start another episode of the ongoing saga, of “Life in the Spirit with _____ (insert your name here) and see what kind of drama develop and unfolds as you keep walking and talking with God.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT2)
13  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Today’s Bible verse assures us that the temptations we face are not unique and we can rely on the Lord to escape negative consequences of sin because He will show us a way out.  

Hey another thing I advised the men last night was to turn from their sin. If we want harmony with God and the fruit of the Spirit in our lives we can not rest on the Lord’s forgiveness and “inevitability of sin” and just flounder around in the “sin-confess” cycle, we have to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil to say no to sin and to claim victory as those who have been resurrected to new life with Christ.   

Let’s stop patting ourselves on the back when we fall into sin and instead repent of them. Romans 8:3 tells us we are free from sin, so let’s live it by targeting those problem sins and leaning on the Lord’s strength to over come them and repeat them no more.  This is possible with God but we have to believe it is true and show our belief with the way we live our lives.  

Today’s verse tells us the God will show us away out of our temptations and sins.  But we have to follow Him and look for the way He wants us to go. And if we do that we can endure and have the victory and freedom over sin that has given us. We can the abundant life that Christ came to give us.  

______________________________________________________________________

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 Two

The Call to Discipleship - Continued

This brings us already to the middle of the story of the rich young man.

“Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these, what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions” (Matt. 19:16–22).

The young man’s question about eternal life is the question of salvation. It is the only really serious question there is. But it is not easy to ask it in the right way. This is made evident by the way the young man, who obviously intends to ask this question, actually asks a quite different one. He even avoids the real question. He addresses his question to the “good master.” He wants to hear the opinion, advice, the judgment of the good master, the great teacher, on the matter. In doing so he reveals two points: First, the question is really important to him, and Jesus should have a meaningful answer to offer. Second, however, he is expecting from the good master and great teacher a significant response, but not a divine order with unconditional authority. For the young man, the question of eternal life is one which he desires to speak of and discuss with a “good master.” But right away Jesus’ answer trips him up. “Why do you ask me about what is good? No one is good except the one God.” The question had already betrayed what was in his heart. He wanted to talk about eternal life with a good rabbi, but what he got to hear was that with his question he was in truth not standing before a good master, but before none other than God. He will not get an answer from the Son of God that would do anything else but clearly refer him to the commandment of the one God. He will not get an answer of a “good master,” who would add his own opinion to the revealed will of God. Jesus directs attention away from himself to the God who alone is good, and in doing so proves himself to be the fully obedient Son of God. But if the questioner is standing directly before God, then he is exposed as one who was fleeing from God’s revealed commandment, which he himself already knew. The young man knew the commandments. But his situation is that he is not satisfied with them; he wants to move beyond them. His question is unmasked as a question of a self-invented and self-chosen piety. Why is the revealed commandment not enough for the young man? Why does he act as if he did not already know the answer to his question? Why does he want to accuse God of leaving him in ignorance in this most decisive question of life? So the young man is already caught and brought to judgment. He is called back from the nonbinding question of salvation to simple obedience to the revealed commandments.

He tries a second attempt to flee. The young man answers with a second question: “Which ones?” Satan himself is hiding in that question. This was the only possible way out for someone who felt himself trapped. Of course the young man knew the commandments, but who should know which commandment is meant just for him, just for right then, out of the full number of commandments? The revelation of the commandment is ambiguous and unclear, says the young man. He is not looking at the commandments. He is instead looking at himself again, his problems, his conflicts. He retreats from God’s clear commandment back to the interesting, indisputably human situation of “ethical conflict.”[31] It is not wrong that he knows about such a conflict, but it is wrong that the conflict is played off against God’s commandments. The commandments are actually given in order to bring ethical conflicts to an end. Ethical conflict is the primordial ethical phenomenon for human beings after the fall. It is the human revolt against God. The serpent in paradise put this conflict into the heart of the first human. “Did God say?” People are torn away from the clear commandment and from simple childlike obedience by ethical doubt, by asserting that the commandment still needs interpretation and explanation. “Did God say?” People are made to decide by the power of their own knowledge of good and evil, by the power of their conscience to know what is good. The commandment is ambiguous; God intends for people to interpret it and decide about it freely.

Even thinking this way is already a refusal to obey the commandment. Double-minded thinking has replaced the simple act. The person of free conscience boasts of being superior to the child of obedience. To invoke ethical conflict is to terminate obedience. It is a retreat from God’s reality to human possibility, from faith to doubt. So the unexpected now happens. The same question with which the young man tried to hide his disobedience now unmasks him for who he is, namely, a person in sin. Jesus’ answer does this. God’s revealed commandments are named. By naming them, Jesus confirms anew that they are, indeed, God’s commandments. The young man is once again caught. He hoped to evade once more and reenter into a nonbinding conversation about eternal questions. He hoped Jesus would offer him a solution to his ethical conflict. But Jesus lays hold, not of the question, but of the person himself. The only answer to the predicament of ethical conflict is God’s commandment itself, which is the demand to stop discussing and start obeying. Only the devil has a solution to offer to ethical conflicts. It is this: keep asking questions, so that you are free from having to obey. Jesus takes aim at the young man himself instead of his problem. The young man took his ethical conflict deadly seriously, but Jesus does not take it seriously at all. He is serious about only one thing, that the young man finally hears and obeys God’s command. When ethical conflict is taken so seriously that it tortures and subjugates people because it hinders their doing the liberating act of obedience, then it is revealed in its full godlessness as complete disobedience in all its insincerity. Only the obedient deed is to be taken seriously. It ends and destroys the conflict and frees us to become children of God. That is the divine diagnosis the young man receives.

The young man is subjected to the truth of God’s word twice. He can no longer avoid God’s commandment. Yes, the commandment is clear and has to be obeyed. But it is not enough! “I have kept all these from my youth, what do I still lack?” With this answer the young man will still be just as convinced of the sincerity of his concern as he was previously. That is precisely what makes him defiant against Jesus. He knows the commandment; he has kept it, but he thinks that it could not be the whole will of God. Something else has to be added, something extraordinary, unique. He desires to do that. God’s revealed commandment is incomplete, the young man says in his final flight away from the true commandment, in his last attempt to retain his autonomy and to decide good and evil on his own. He affirms the commandment, and launches a frontal attack against it at the same time. “I have kept all these, what do I still lack?” Mark adds at this point: “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (Mark 10:21). Jesus recognizes how hopelessly the young man has closed himself off from God’s living word, how his whole being is raging against the living commandment, against simple obedience. He wants to help the young man; he loved him. That is why he gave him one final answer: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me!”[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), 69–72.