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Showing posts with label Speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Speech. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Need Peace? Abide in Christ – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 13 - Purity 1286

 

Need Peace? Abide in Christ – 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 13 - Purity 1286

Purity 1286 02/28/2024 Purity 1286 Podcast

Purity 1286 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of winter-denuded trees and a frozen lake comes to us from yours truly as I decided to ascend the playground and capture this scene at Thompson’s Lake State Campground while on my lunch yesterday in East Berne NY.  I was in the area and had never been to the park, so I decided to “come and see” what it had to offer. The campground was quaint, empty, and quiet, and even though it was the offseason caused me to imagine brighter days ahead and it caused me to appreciate the freedom we have to travel and the freedom God has given me in Christ which gives me the capacity to appreciate my life and find peace just about anywhere.   But there is a secret, to find the fruit of the Spirit, you have to walk in the Spirit, and to know the peace of God, you have to draw your attention away from the things that would cause you to forget who you are in Christ, and you have to actively choose to “abide in Christ”.   Jesus us told us who to reap “much fruit”, said: 

John 15:3-5 (NKJV)
3  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit and if we don’t have it, we aren’t abiding in Christ. So don’t forget to abide with Christ by giving thanks, remembering who you are in Christ, and walking and talking with God every day. 

Hey, I get it – our world, our jobs, our family, our relationships and our problems can demand our attention and cause us distress, but when we ground ourselves each morning in our faith through a daily spiritual practice we set the foundation to approach each day with strength, wisdom, and joy.  So let’s draw close to God, it’s the season of Lent and it’s the most wonderful time of the year to “repent and believe the gospel”.

It’s the thirteenth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walk through Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 13

YOU ARE NOT TO BEAR false witness against your neighbor.

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything we do in the best possible light.

God wants to hold in check whatever is done with the tongue against a neighbor. This applies to false preachers with their blasphemous teaching, to false judges and witnesses with their rulings in court and their lying and malicious talk outside of court. It applies especially to the detestable, shameless vice of backbiting or slander by which the devil rides us. Of this much could be said. It is a common, pernicious plague that everyone would rather hear evil than good about their neighbors. Even though we ourselves are evil, we cannot tolerate it when anyone speaks evil of us; instead we want to hear the whole world say golden things of us. Yet we cannot bear it when someone says the best things about others.”

Biblical Wisdom

For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. James 3: 7-10

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds, a few minutes, or 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

 

Questions to Ponder

·       Why is the damage the tongue can do so destructive to human society?

Words can hurt and cause division among us. They can be used to spread lies, draw us into temptation, fuel hatred, and insight violence. Evil words usually lead to evil actions and destructive consequences. Thus the tongue can do a lot of damage to our human society.

·       What is there about us that delights in gossip, yet at the same time, we cannot bear to be gossiped about?

Gossip is secret knowledge and the more shocking or shameful the news of someone else’s failures or shortcomings the more we can take secret delight over their pain.  The gossip feels superior to the one’s being gossiped about because “we know your secret” and “I would never do that” (or at least not get caught!)  That feeling of being superior and being able to judge our neighbor as less than is known by the gossip, so when the tables are turned and we discover that others are talking about us, we get angry because we know we are being judged as “less than” by them.   

·       What resources might faith and the community of faith bring to bear in the struggle against “the tongue” and its capacity for evil?

The faith community should use the resource of the word of God to bear in the struggle against the tongue and its capacity for evil. Scripture is full of directives regarding the ways we speak that direct us to always speak the truth in love and to not speak ill of others.  If we are living according to God’s word, we would be aware of the tongue's capacity for evil and be taking steps to crucify that unruly piece of the flesh to the obedience of Christ.

Psalm Fragment

Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. Psalm 52: 1-4.

Journal Reflections

·       Reflect on a time when you felt betrayed by the false, careless, or malicious speech of another. How did you feel? What did you do? What role did faith play in your response?

Since coming to faith in Christ, I recall several instances where I was denigrated or insulted because of my faith. Those comments always hurt but I have learned to respond to them through the grid of my faith which causes me to reaffirm my self-worth according to who I am in Christ and it causes me to realize that these people who speak ill of me “know not what they do” which causes me to forgive them and to pray for them to know the Lord. It’s not always easy to do this but the Lord helps me to see the truth behind the attacks I receive.

·       Do you have difficulties taming your tongue? Reflect on times you may have hurt someone by false, careless, or malicious words. How did it make you feel? What might you do to repair the harm done?

I do have difficulty taming the tongue.  My problem is foul language when I get frustrated or angry.  I also have been careless with my dealings with others who need help by being confrontational or encouraging beyond their capacity to receive.  I can give too much teaching or try to bring too much conviction at times or suggest that someone can do more than they are currently able to do and that has caused some people I have dealt with to get upset. When this happened in the past, I felt terrible and would seek their forgiveness. My good intentions went astray as I pushed others too far without realizing it.  I have tried to repair the harm done by easing back and continuing to try to help. In most cases, I was able to maintain relationships with the people involved and we ended up both growing in the process.

·       Write down some specific steps you will take to “tame” your tongue.

 

1.    Awareness – we need to record the severity and the frequency of our verbal transgressions.  We need to know how bad and how often our tongues get out of line.

2.    Accountability – we need to ask for help from the others in our lives to help us remember our goal to tame the tongue and encourage us to change the way we speak when we mess up.

3.    Stronghold Busting – We need to meditate on Scripture that addresses the areas of where our tongue goes astray and pray to the Lord, each day, to help us to repent of our verbal transgressions. 

4.    Celebrate Progress – We need to track our progress and celebrate our growth. We have to acknowledge our victory and maintain our freedom.  

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray for those in your own life whose untamed tongue has hurt others that they may learn to be silent when speaking is hurtful or does no good.

Lord, we pray for the many people in our lives whose untamed tongues have hurt others, that You would cause them to see the error of their ways and that you would bring them into a deeper relationship with You that would encourage them to put away lying, foul speech, gossip, or slander and learn to speak the truth in love or to remain silent. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear Lord, keep me quiet and careful in my speech so that I only speak well of my neighbors and friends and work to uphold their reputations.

Amen.

 

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

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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 verse 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 Conscience.

Hebrews 10:22 (NIV2011)
22  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Today’s verse falls under the seventh and last point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Conscience.

7. A guilty conscience can be cleansed.

Today’s verse assures us that the way to be cleansed of a guilty conscience is to draw near to God with a sincere heart – a heart that sincerely trusts in Jesus.  Forgiveness of sins only comes through Jesus and is the only way that we can have our guilt taken away.   So when we sin and feel guilty, we need to confess it and abide in Christ – live with and for God in the harmony that comes from obedience– to enjoy the benefits of conscience that has been cleansed and remains clean.  

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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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

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

EVENING READING: LUKE 2

“[They] supposing Him to have been
in the company …” – Luke 2:44

Herein is seen the folly of supposition. Concerning things that are spiritual, such supposition is fatal.

From a parental point of view, it was folly on the part of Joseph and Mary to merely suppose that the Lord Jesus was in the company. No wonder it meant their sorrowing for Him later.

But from a spiritual point of view, it was even worse. To merely suppose that Christ is in the company is spiritual defeat and sorrow. Three days His parents lost Him – three days the disciples lost Him. The third day He arose.

O then, not to suppose, but to know Him and
the power of His Resurrection. Amen.[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


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

One Change, One Turn Leads to Another - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 7 - Purity 1280


One Change, One Turn Leads to Another  - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 7 - Purity 1280

Purity 1280 02/21/2024 Purity 1280 Podcast

Purity 1280 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of what appears to be a large “hump” of rock and roots raised and ripped into two over strange vegetation comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene of a supposedly alien landscape while waiting to experience flight on the back of a Banshee yesterday during my visit to “Pandora” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Although James Cameron’s 2009, Avatar won Oscars for cinematography, art direction, and visual effects and now is put on display at Disney World, its visual effects could not suspend my disbelief enough not to notice its pantheistic worldview or make me like it. Apparently, my dissenting opinion isn’t unique as other internet scoffers have labeled the most successful movie of all time to be irrelevant and overrated. Shots fired. As visually stunning as Avatar is it couldn’t make me swallow the “Mother Nature vs Imperialistic Man” plot involving intergalactic opportunists oppressing 9 feet tall Blue indigenous pagan people group. Not a favorite, the ride was fun though.

Anyway, I repent of watching Avatar, renounce its pagan worldview as false, reject its profane language, violence, and lust as sin, and cancel any permission the enemy may have had in my life because of watching it or by visiting its attractions at Disney World. I cast out any spiritual forces of darkness that may have gained ground in my life because of my associations with it, in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Oof, that felt good. Well, now that I repented of Avatar, I have to announce that I may have finally turned a corner in coming back to the path of self-control and food plan sanity as I today, even though I am still on vacation at Disney World, am committed to making one change that prayerfully leads to going back to my balanced regulated life of healthy eating that has put me in the best physical shape of my life- I am renouncing Disney World’s hot cocoa….

Here at the Port Orleans French Quarter Resorts, I have unlimited beverages and one of the offerings is Disney’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa which is automatically mixed and brewed via a dispensing machine. It’s delicious! But as I have learned that a Keto food plan leads to my optimal health, it really can’t have a place in my life and so even though I will be at Disney World today and for some of tomorrow, and could continue to indulge myself with its chocolate sweetness,  I am making the choice to “give it up for Lent”.  Yup, I’m going back to sanity slowly but I’m coming back knowing that “one turn – one change – can lead to another.  One small change from a life in the flesh is a victory for the life in the Spirit and can lead to more victories and complete freedom.  So we make this one small change and pray that it will cause us to make more and be completely free from sugar bondage in a couple of days when I return to NY and back to normal.  Well, it’s the season of repentance and so we repent and will continue to do so. And so let’s also continue with our 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther.

It’s the seventh day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walkthrough Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 7

YOU ARE NOT TO MISUSE the name of your God.

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God's name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.

With the words, "You are not to take the name of God in vain," God at the same time gives us to understand that we are to use his name properly, for it has been revealed and given to us precisely for our use and benefit. Therefore, since we are forbidden here to use his holy name in support of falsehood and wickedness, it follows, conversely, that we are commanded to use it in the service of truth and of all that is good-for example, when we swear properly where it is necessary and required, or also when we teach properly, or again, when we call on God's name in time of need, or thank and praise him in time of prosperity, etc.

BIBLICAL WISDOM

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7

SILENCE FOR MEDITATION

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds or 1, 5, 10, 15 minutes or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

 

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

     Read Exodus 3:13-15. What is God's answer to Moses at the burning bush when asked to give his name? What kind of name is that?

God tells Moses that His name is “I AM”. When Moses asks God what he is to tell about the God of their Father has sent them the Lord replies “I AM WHO I AM”, which honestly makes me think of the cartoon character Popeye, “I y’am what I y’am and that’s all that I y’am – I’m Popeye the Sailor man”  -  but unlike Popeye, God is more than just a mere man. God is the self-existent creator of all things. His Name of “I AM” is pointing to that fact – He IS and Always Was and Will BE – and HE Created all things – and Thus HE and His Name are to be highly exalted.

     In what ways does your community of faith use God's name "in the service of truth and of all that is good"?

My community of faith, the body of Christ, uses God’s name in the service of truth and all that is good through prayer and in all the instances where our words or actions exalt the Lord, share the good news of Jesus Christ, or give God glory. Today’s context is the spoken word so, to be in the service of truth and of all that is good, Christians should not use God’s name in disgust or as a curse, should be true to their oaths and in the promises we make, and be honest, encouraging, and edifying in our speech.

     How might a community of faith actually "misuse" God's name?

A community of faith may misuse God’s name by using it to prop up man-made religious traditions or by using it to control or manipulate others to meet our man-made agendas.  We can misuse it when we make an oath by it and fail to fulfill the conditions of the oath.  We misuse it when we utter it in frustration or disgust.  We misuse it when we use it to judge or curse someone else.   Honoring God’s name is a commandment because we tend to abuse it.  

PSALM FRAGMENT

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord! Psalm 148:13-14

JOURNAL REFLECTIONS

     Meditate on the proper use and misuse of God's name. Make a list in your journal of the ways you properly use God's name. Make another list of the ways you misuse God's name.

I properly use God’s name when I give thanks, praise Him, point others to Jesus, and assure others of His love for them. I misuse God’s name when I fail in my Christian Walk, try to “fix” people, or utter it in frustrating times.

 

     Write a statement in your journal indicating your commitment to increase the proper uses of God's name and to decrease the misuse of God's name in your words and actions.

Lord, I pray to be more self-controlled in my speech, to increase the proper use of your Name,  and to decrease the number of times I misuse Your Name. Help me to see the errors of my ways regarding Your name and help me to turn from them.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

     We use God's name properly when we "call on God's name in time of need, or thank and praise him" when things are going well for us. Are asking, thanking, and praising God daily "spiritual habits" for you? If so, describe your experience with them. If not, why not work them into your life?

I am happy to report that asking, thanking, and praising God daily are spiritual habits that I practice.  They are a part of my daily spiritual practice that begins in the morning and continues throughout the day. The instances of my misuse of the Lord’s name have greatly decreased when I made these practices regular habits in my life. With that said, I am still a work in progress.

 

PRAYERS FOR THE LIFE OF FAITH

Call upon the Lord to help you use his name properly so that those who hear and see you may come to know God better.

Lord, Help me to use Your name properly so that those who hear and see me may come to know you better. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord Jesus, teach me the holiness of your name so that when I call to you it is always to ask for help or to thank and praise you and never to curse.

Amen

 

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

 

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

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 Conscience.

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV2011)
15  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
16  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

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

1.         Keep a clear conscience.

Today’s verse reminds us that we represent the King and that the best way to do so is to keep a clear conscience by doing what is right according to God’s Word.  We are to have “good behavior in Christ” and when we do those who would speak maliciously against us won’t have much to say.  The reason for our hope is Christ and He is to be the catalyst to a righteous Christian life. Our love for our Savior and the power of the Holy Spirit makes a righteous, pure, and good life possible and as we walk in it, our conscience is made clear. When we confess and repent our sins, we are made right with the Lord and have harmony with Him and can confidently walk through this life knowing that we are living in God’s will for us – in our sanctification.   So keep a clear conscience by following Jesus with the way you live. 

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

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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

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

EVENING READING: MARK 12

“And the common people heard Him gladly.”
– Mark 12:37

These were the people who recognized and enjoyed the ministry of the Lord Jesus. A little further down in this same chapter, the Lord admonishes and denounces the Scribes and Pharisees, for though they appeared to be religious or godly, they were absolute hypocrites. The common people were those who not only recognized their need for teaching and healing, but also realized that the Lord Jesus could meet that need. Therefore, He says, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matt. 9:13).

Surely, it is to the common people that the Lord would have me go. If He could mix with sinners and publicans, surely it is for me to do likewise.

Embolden me Lord, as I seek to share
Your Word to those whose path I cross in
my daily comings and goings.[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

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Faith “Making” God or Idols - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 6 - Purity 1279

 

Faith “Making” God or Idols - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 6 - Purity 1279

Purity 1279 02/20/2024 Purity 1279 Podcast

Purity 1279 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun shining bright over the Dockside Diner, while its rays transform a fountain into a blazing cross-like flower and create a light pathway on surface of Echo Lake, comes to us from yours truly as I took a moment yesterday to capture this scene and to bask in the sunshine after two days of rain, while on vacation on planet Disney World since Friday.

While it may not be a “whole new world”, it is different reality down here, and while I have enjoyed the fun Disney World has to offer, and even had a real moment of appreciation for how Walt Disney’s vision has positively impacted generations, I am struck with melancholy when I realize that the world broken by sin can’t be saved by “just our imaginations” or our hopes and dreams  or even our best efforts and that as wonderful as this place is in some aspects it is quite terrible and perhaps even sinister in others.  Beyond the materialism and selling of potent potables, merch, toys, and thrills for circumstantial happiness, the concepts and symbols that hold the spirit of anti-Christ are at times hard to ignore. For example, dragons are a symbol of the enemy and there are lots here.  

But instead of rallying against the EVIL today, I will focus on the good and realize that this place was created for people to come to have some fun and express their love for one another by sharing their experiences together and remembering more innocent times from their childhoods.  And when I see the love that parents have for their children and families have for each other, it gives me hope that they may already know the love of the Lord or one day could.   The evil and the harsh realities of the world can’t be escaped from, but they can be overcome through the love of God that is found when we put our faith in Jesus.  So with that hope, we seek to draw closer to the Lord in the season that prepares us for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, Lent.

It’s the sixth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walkthrough Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 6

YOU ARE TO HAVE NO other Gods.

What is this?

Answer: We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

A "god" is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. As I have often said, it is the trust and faith of the heart alone that make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true one. Conversely, where your trust is false and wrong, there you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. Anything on which your heart relies and depends, I say, that is really your God.

BIBLICAL WISDOM

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God... Exodus 20:1-5a

SILENCE FOR MEDITATION

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds or 1, 5, 10, 15 minutes or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

     How is it possible that our faith and trust can "make both God and an idol"?

I don’t like that phrasing, “make both God and an idol” when it is removed from the overall context of Luther’s statement because nothing we do “makes God” – He is self-existent and completely holy (set apart, different) but as Luther points out in his previous statement to “to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart” and what we put our faith in – whether the One True God revealed in the pages of the Bible or some other created concept or thing becomes “our god”.   So faith in Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – makes the One True God of the Bible “our God” while faith in Buddha, money, ourselves, our families, our job, or any other false religion makes those things “our god”, small g, – or more accurately “our idol”.  While our faith makes something “our personal God (big G) or god/idol ( little g), it doesn’t make God who He is.

     What are some of the things (idols) our culture encourages us to place our faith and trust in?

As I included in my list above, our culture encourages us to put our faith in ourselves, our families, our jobs, our money. My western society tends to distrust or deny the supernatural, so self-sufficiency is the biggest idol in my culture here in the United States. Governments, political parties, individual philosophies, institutions, and corporations are a close second.

     We are instructed to both "fear" and "love" God. In practical terms, what do you think it means to fear God? To love God?

To fear God is to respect Him and His wisdom and power, and quite frankly to really fear the judgment He will bring to those who are not safe in Christ.  To love Him is to know Him and the fact that He is good, righteous, just, and holy, and that beyond those attributes is His love for us. To Fear and to Love God is to know Him, to Trust Him, and to Obey and Follow Him.

PSALM FRAGMENT

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; they make no sound in their throats. Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them. Psalm 115:4-8

JOURNAL REFLECTIONS

     God wants to be in relationship with us. Describe in your journal how you experience your relationship with God at this time.

I experience my relationship as my constant companion through life. I blog, pray and read His word each day to stay in His presence. I pray to talk to Him. I try to obey what His word instructs us to do and try to encourage others to seek Him.  I spend my days “walking and talking to God” because I have known His love and experienced His presence. He never leaves us, but you have to spend time with Him to know He is there. My relationship with God defines who I am.

     Write about how the fear and love of God work themselves out in your daily life.

The fear of the Lord causes me to want to do what is right. The love of the Lord gives me the motivation to continue to do it.  Only His love would change a rebel like me and because He first loved me and has demonstrated and revealed His truth and love for me, I now try to abide in His Presence every day.

     It has been said that "the human heart is a factory of idols." In your journal, describe any idols that have been manufactured in your own heart's factory. What kind of "worship" do they demand of you? What would you need to do to be free of these idols?

My self-sufficiency is still a big idol. Although some self-sufficiency is unavoidable because  the world demands we work and support ourselves,  I will often not seek help because I think I can do things “by myself” but God often humbles me to reveal how inadequate I am in myself and I now more readily will admit when I can’t do something and need help.   Food is still an idol as well, as a part of me still wrongly associates food with comfort or pleasure and has demonstrated my lack of self-control over it during this vacation. I will be in full repentance mode when I return back to normal, thanks be to God.

PRAYERS FOR THE LIFE OF FAITH

Pray for yourself, your family, and your friends that they will put their faith wholly in the one true God and put away all their idols.

Lord, I pray that I, my family and friends will all put our faith in You, the One True and Only God, and put away all our idols. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, cast out those idols in my heart that captivate me and draw me from you. Give me the faith to put all my trust in you alone. Amen.

 

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.)

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

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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 verse comes 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 Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

Proverbs 15:4 (NASB)
4  A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.

Today’s verse is the second of two passages of scripture that fall under the fifteenth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

15.     A word aptly spoken and a wise rebuke can be very helpful to others.

Today’s verse reminds us that life and death lie in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) by giving us the analogy of a soothing tongue being a tree of life, whereas a “perverse” tongue being one that crushes the spirit.  According to MacArthur’s commentary – perverse here means to “wound” or “break”, thus, to destroy one’s moral.  And that’s how negative words crush the spirit they take away our hope.  So speak soothing words of truth that will guide others to submit to God and to have the hope of life eternal that comes though faith in Christ.

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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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

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

MORNING READING: MARK 11

“Have faith in God.” – Mark 11:22

The writer to the Hebrews says, “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” (Heb. 11:6).

It follows then that without this faith, it is impossible to earn the Divine attestation: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17, emphasis mine), or “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).

Faith, in the sense of the above text, is not an attribute of God, but His essential nature. Therefore, only those who are partakers of God's divine nature are possessors of it. Moreover, it is increased as Christ (who is God's nature) is formed in me.

Lord, increase my faith. I believe, help my unbelief.[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