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Showing posts with label Suffering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suffering. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2024

He Walks With Me and He Talks With Me - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 35 - Purity 1308


He Walks With Me and He Talks With Me - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 35 - Purity 1308

Purity 1308 03/25/2024 Purity 1308 Podcast

Purity 1308 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a freshly installed mailbox on the edge of my property and a view of a late afternoon sun over Schodack Creek comes to us from yours truly as I took a moment to appreciate my hastily finished work and place where the Lord has brought me yesterday afternoon. 

Well, It’s Monday and March Madness is roaring like a lion and I am not talking about some basketball tournament, although that can be exciting too I suppose. No. I’m talking about the battle for the mind that happens when we receive and decide to answer that call from God on our lives to repent and to follow Him with the way we live, and I am talking about a schedule that is filled with work and freedom ministry. Every night this week I have something to do regarding the fight for our freedom in Christ and all although some may say my schedule is “madness” during freedom in Christ season, I honestly can’t think of a more worthy use of my time than encouraging others to repent and to find the abundant life that God makes available to us when we make the decision to surrender to his will sincerely and authentically. 

One of the criticisms that Christians face regularly is the accusation of hypocrisy, and I concur. Both before and after my decision to walk the path of Christian discipleship, I have had a problem with those “hypocrites in the church” – those “fake–blank” Christians whose lifestyles don’t seem to follow the Lord other than in superficial ways.  While I understand that we will never be perfect in our holiness, I always had a problem with our faith being “practiced” so inconsistently.  A cursory examination of our faith communities exposes vast Biblical ignorance, quasi-heretical superstitious beliefs, and moral compromise if not outright rebellion among the pews.  And while I can’t fix this very real image problem by pointing out the logs in my neighbors' eyes, I can do my best to take care of the log pile in my own eyes by choosing to examine my life for blind spots, seek the Lord’s help, wisdom, and insights, and to stay diligent in aligning myself with His holiness and in attempting to learn, grow, and progress in becoming more like Jesus.  God saved me through faith Jesus and the least I can do is try to honor his gift and return His love by choosing to follow Him and His ways for my life to best represent His kingdom.  ,

So immediately after getting saved, I sought to know God and His wisdom by reading His word which convicted me of my need to change my life to better represent the new creation I am in Christ. It’s been 14 years since I was “saved”, and it may have taken a while to get past the misunderstandings and misconceptions of what being a Christian was about, but the Lord was patient and led me into the peace, freedom, and joy that comes from surrendering to His will.  I’m not playing a “church game” or putting on a “good face” or my “Sunday best”, I’m trying to show my love for God, who is as real and as present as any person you know and talk with.  The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is inside everyone who has put their faith in Jesus – so God is with us – all the time and when you surrender your life to following Him, you understand just how present He is.  

And “He walks with me, and He talks with me” is an everyday reality and to finish that chorus – “And He tells me that I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known! (In The Garden chorus – Charles A. Miles - https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/In_the_Garden/)  

But the thing is, you can know that joy. We all can when we decide to believe in and follow Jesus. It’s Holy Week, so let’s press into our faith and decide to make this season of Lent the game-changer in our faith and in our lives.   And speaking of Lent…

It’s the thirty-fifth 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 of 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 35

And lead us not into temptation.

What is this?

Answer: it is true that God tempts no one, but we ask in this prayer that God would preserve and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice, and that, although we may be attacked by them, we may finally prevail and gain the victory.

This, then, is what “leading us not into temptation” means: when God gives us power and strength to resist, even though the attack is not removed or ended. For no one can escape temptations and allurements as long as we live in the flesh and have the devil prowling around us. We cannot help but suffer attacks, and even be mired in them, but we pray here that we may not fall into them and be drowned by them.

Biblical Wisdom

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Luke 22: 39-40.

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

·       If “no one can escape temptations and allurements,” how can a community of faith encourage and support people who are facing temptations and allurements?

A faith community can encourage and support its people to grow in sanctification by establishing a culture of freedom, recovery, and discipleship ministry in their churches. We should take the indictment of hypocrisy against the church seriously and establish a faith community where people can feel safe to take off their masks but where they are also encouraged not to stay in their sin, guilt, and shame and to do establish it based the love of God and the love for one another that He calls us to practice. Love not legalism, saintliness not sinfulness, and authenticity not insincerity should define us…  This is extremely difficult of course because the whole world system in which we were raised and in which we operate daily is built on lies and self-interest…   

·       Is God ever the one who causes us to suffer? Explain.

Yes, If we understand that God is sovereign we have to understand that the conditions of the universe – those cause-and-effect relationships of reality have been created by Him. Now, I am not saying that God is some malicious or evil entity – that’s Satan – but I am saying that God created the universe to encourage us to do what is right and so when we violate God’s “common knowledge” or break God’s moral law, we will suffer.  Adam violated the “sin rule” in the garden that brought death into the universe (a consequence of God for giving into temptation from Satan) and mankind has been suffering ever since. While we could blame Adam and Eve for giving in to sin, or Satan for tempting them,  we can also understand that the suffering that resulted was brought to us by God to cause us to see the error of our ways and to repent and surrender to His good and perfect ways.  And so we know that “all things” , even suffering, will be worked together for the good of those that love God, put their faith in Jesus, and who are called for His purposes. Otherwise, we will all suffer for eternity in Hell – the ultimate suffering brought to Satan and all who reject the Lord. So yes, God causes suffering for a purpose, to bring us to Him.

·       How can trials or temptations “prove” us? (See James 1:12-16).

Trials and temptations can prove us when we endure through them and remain faithful to follow the Lord despite them.  Not losing hope because of trials or not giving into sin shows the authenticity of our faith. We really do believe what the Lord says and show it when we obey His word no matter what the circumstances are.

Psalm Fragment

Save me, O Lord, from my enemies; I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. Psalm 143:9-10.

Journal Reflections

·       Have you ever felt God was against you, or at least absent? Write about the experience. How did you feel? How did you respond? What spiritual resources (or practices) did you have to help you through the experience?

Before being born again and in the early days of my faith walk where I was still in bondage to the sins of the flesh, I did feel that God was punishing me or that he had left me when I suffered. Thinking those things made me angry or depressed and I would respond by sinning. I would comfort myself in the ways I had learned from the world and that would make me feel that God had left me or hated me all the more. Thankfully, I was blessed with faithful men and women of God, Bible-believing Christians, who taught me the truth of my relationship with God and how I could have peace with Him and the assurance of His presence in my life by putting my faith in Jesus and by choosing to repent and to learn from God’s word and to follow His ways for living.

·       Describe a time when you fell into temptation. Reflect briefly on why you think that happened. Do you pray this petition each time you face “temptations and allurements”? If so, how does it work? If not, why not try it?

As I have struggled recently with my food addiction, I have given into the temptation to “go mindless” in my eating –giving into the flesh despite knowing that it goes against what’s good for me.  I have also sinned with foul language and in other ways that I should change. I unfortunately have not prayed that prayer when faced with the things that would tempt me to sin.  I think I will try it!

·       Have you ever, by prayer and supplication, been able to defeat temptation? If so, write about the experience and what you learned from it. If not, how do you imagine prayer and supplication might be helpful in resisting temptation?

Yes, I have been able to – by prayer and supplication – and surrender to the Lord’s will – and by leaning on His strength – been able to overcome temptation. As for writing about it, check out the blog – but my simple testimony is this – ask God for help each time you are tempted, and He will give you strength to overcome- be diligent in talking to Him and following Him progressively into freedom and victory – one day at a time.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you will continue to be kept from falling into sin and that you will be able to prevail against such temptations.

Lord, I pray for you to continue to help me to keep me from falling into the sins I have victory over and that you will lead me further into the victory, freedom, peace and joy that you have for me and that I will prevail against the temptations that cause me to stumble.  Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear heavenly Father, do not lead me into temptation. Save me in the time of trial and “let your good spirit lead me on a level path.”

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse comes from the section on Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

1 Kings 21:1-14 (NKJV)
1  And it came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel, next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
2  So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money."
3  But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!"
4  So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.
5  But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?"
6  He said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it.' And he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard.' "
7  Then Jezebel his wife said to him, "You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."
8  And she wrote letters in Ahab's name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth.
9  She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people;
10  and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, "You have blasphemed God and the king." Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die.
11  So the men of his city, the elders and nobles who were inhabitants of his city, did as Jezebel had sent to them, as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them.
12  They proclaimed a fast, and seated Naboth with high honor among the people.
13  And two men, scoundrels, came in and sat before him; and the scoundrels witnessed against him, against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth has blasphemed God and the king!" Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones, so that he died.
14  Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned and is dead."

Today’s verses fall under the nineteenth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

19. King Ahab’s unchecked covetousness finally drove him to murder.

Today’s verses tell the story of how an innocent man met his demise because of someone else’s greed and covetousness.   Both Ahab and Jezebel eventually met violent deaths for their wickedness of which Naboth’s murder was just one crime of many.  

When we covet we can be tempted to steal, kill, or commit adultery.  So be careful what you set your eyes on and what you put your heart’s desire on because that covetousness can cause you to sin and face similar ruin to that of Ahab and Jezebel. 

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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 24

“Their eyes were restrained, so that
they did not know Him.” – Luke 24:16

Spiritual Restriction. “Their eyes were restrained” (v. 16). They were not able to see. Their vision was limited or restricted by unbelief. The fruits of such spiritual restriction are sorrow (v. 17) and perplexity (v. 22).

Spiritual Revelation. “He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself ” (v. 27). After rebuking unbelief, this One opened the Scriptures to the two disciples. The weapon for unbelief is the Word of God. When unbelief is dealt with through opening of the Scriptures (see Heb. 4:12), there is a real heart experience – the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Recognition. “Their eyes were opened and they knew Him” (v. 31). “They knew Him.” This is the greatest height of spiritual existence. Paul aspired to it – “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10).

I am grateful, Lord, for Your living Word that restores my
vision and faith, and allows me to know You.[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, March 19, 2024

Take This Cup - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 30 - Purity 1303


 Take This Cup - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 30 - Purity 1303

Purity 1303 03/19/2024 Purity 1303 Podcast

Purity 1303 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the sun setting on the shore of the Atlantic comes to us from Bonnie Schultz who shared this scene from near her home in Navarre Florida on social media back on February 25th

Well, It's Tuesday and as the dust has settled on a mental health crisis in home I am praying to God to move all things together for good with my son, Brennan, who is suffering from depression, and thanking the Lord for the systems of authority He had moved man to establish that protect us from ourselves. Early yesterday morning while recording my podcast the state police and county sheriffs came to my home based on a tip they received regarding suicidal statements made from my IP address which caused me to escort Brennan to the local hospital to get a psych evaluation.

I wasn’t aware of Brennan’s suicidal ideation. After a few appointments with a therapist, I thought my son was getting the help he needed, and things were going to improve. But yesterday’s emergency first responder visit made me realize that I had assumed wrongly and really tried to impress upon my son, the need to get the help he needed.  So I delivered him to the hospital with the expectation that he would be admitted and treated for depression. But my son is 22 years old, an adult, and after he was medically cleared, he was discharged into the care of his older sister, Jeanette, who lives with her husband in Troy. 

As much as I question the wisdom of this move, I am hoping that the shock of the hospital visit and the care and support of his sister and his brother-in-law will be the beginning of positive changes for my son’s mental health.  Brennan stopped by yesterday to pick up some things and to let me know he was going to stay with his sister, and I wished him well.  He didn’t talk to me about this before he decided to do it and I can only assume that he is angry with me for taking him and leaving him at the hospital, but I honestly thought that was what he needed, inpatient care.  I don’t take suicidal talk lightly and my work and ministry schedule prevent me from being able to watch him continuously.  And as it is, even when we are home at the same time, my kids and I do our own thing. We give each other privacy and while that’s normally a good thing when there is the possibility of suicide, it’s a recipe for disaster. 

So I am not happy that my son was discharged but I’m glad that he is with his sister and brother-in-law who have a smaller home and who may be able to help him. I have offered my son the solutions I know that work, but he rejected them because my methods are Christian, and he is not walking with the Lord. That’s my personal help, okay – granted – but I also encouraged to go to his doctor to possibly get medication to stabilize and I forced the issue of getting help to the point he actually did see someone at mental health, but now this… and so I am surrendering my son to the Lord and the care of his sister because I know that I can’t fix him and I know that he will have to decide to get help or change the way he thinks and lives to effectively deal with this depression.   So I am letting go and letting God – knowing that I have not been a perfect parent and could have done more – but also knowing that I tried to help my son and now its time to allow him to find his way.

I often teach the men I minister to that we are to be “problem solvers” – doing every thing we can think to do to make positive changes in the situations that surround us – but I temper that with the reality that we may not be able to solve all our problems or that they may take a long time to see any progress, and in those instances we have to trust the Lord to guide things that are beyond our control.  So I have to wait and see and be ready to give whatever help I can and in the meantime I will thank God for all the good that I have in my life that goes beyond this current crisis. 

When we have a trial, if we aren’t careful they can easily become all-consuming – stealing our peace and joy and negatively impacting our lives – but if we keep walking and talking with God and doing what we can and what’s right according to His word, we can have peace even in the midst of troubles and trials.

So I will continue to do my daily spiritual practices that ground me in the truth of all that the Lord has done for me, and I will give thanks to God for all the people He has put in my life who offer their prayers, help, and love when things go south.  Yesterday, I was reminded how blessed I am with my wife, my family, and my brothers in Christ as I received support and prayers in this time of need.   And even when I was alone waiting for a phone call from the hospital that never came, I wasn’t alone. The Lord was with me and stayed with me while I foolishly relapsed on my food plan and regressed by comforting myself with candy and ice cream and watching secular TV and even though the stress of the situation caused me to do something foolish, the Lord didn’t abandon me and today I asked for His forgiveness and went back to the way He has taught me to stay in His presence and experience His peace – through my daily spiritual practices that focus on Him.

And despite this present turmoil part of that practice is to encourage to do the same – focus on Him – and we just happened to be in the best season for doing that – Lent and speaking of Lent…  

It’s the thirtieth 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 of 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 30

May your will come about on earth as in heaven.

What is this? Answer:

In fact, God's good and gracious will comes about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about in and among us.

So here also; although we have prayed for what is most necessary-  for the gospel, for faith, and for the Holy Spirit, that he may govern us who have been redeemed from the power of the devil- we must also pray that God will cause his will to be done. If we try to hold these treasures fast, we will have to suffer an astonishing number of attacks and assaults from all who ventured to hinder and thwart the fulfillment of the first two petitions.

Biblical Wisdom

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; And the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22: 39-42.

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 does holding fast to the treasures of the faith cause suffering and assaults?

Since the Fall of Man in the Garden, this world is ruled by the evil one and the world system that operates beneath the surface of things causes people to question, doubt, and reject the truth of God’s word. The spiritual forces of darkness and society at large will demonize those who choose to walk in the light with the Lord, tempting people to govern themselves and live independently of God, being consumed by their selfish and fleshly desires they will persecute those who stand in faith.  Christ teaches that we should expect persecution and suffering in this world when we follow Him because if the world hated Him it will hate us too.

·       Jesus prays to be spared drinking the cup of suffering but prays also that God's will be done. Why does the doing of God's will often involve so much suffering?

Doing God’s will often involves suffering because of the enemy. Ephesians 6:12 tells us our enemy is not flesh and blood and the spirit that rejects God’s holiness, purity and wisdom is demonic, and whether we oppose or join those forces, we will suffer attacks from them.

·       Luther states that “God's good and gracious will comes about without our prayer”. Why pray, then, that it be done “in and among us”?

We have free will and can foolishly choose to reject God’s plan for our lives – our sanctification – and suffer from the consequences of sin and being separated from God. God’s ultimate will comes to pass but to be a part of His kingdom and to reap the fruit of the Spirit, we must choose to follow it.

Psalm Fragment

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding,  obedient to his spoken word. Bless the Lord all his hosts, his ministers that do his will. Bless the Lord, all his works, and all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Psalm 103:19-22.

Journal Reflections

·       Have you ever felt you were suffering attacks from those powers or people that were trying to thwart the will of God? If so, write about what spiritual resources you were able to bring to the struggle. If not, what's best spiritual resources will you have if such an experience comes your way?

Since doing recovery and freedom ministry, I have felt I was being attacked by the spiritual forces of darkness that were trying to thwart the will of God. The best weapons against these attacks are prayer, faith, praise, and a lifestyle of Christian discipleship. Our surrendered lives in Christ is the whole armor of God that helps us overcome the enemy. Our faith is the resource we can bring to the struggle.

·       Have you ever, like Jesus, prayed to have the cup of suffering pass from you? If so, write about the experience. If not, imagine what such an experience would be like.

Oh yes, I have prayed for things to be taken away from me in the past and I would say that all the things that have afflicted me personally are gone now, for the most part, but to overcome them, I often had to suffer through them and grow through the suffering to be free. Alcohol addiction, sex addiction, broken relationships, getting a new home, food addiction, and now this struggle for my children’s mental health and well-being could all be said to fall within my “ministry of suffering”.

·       There are both joy and suffering for those who seek to follow God's will. Journal about the joy and suffering you have experienced in your faith life.

In all of those aforementioned sufferings, I experience the joy of triumphing over them, and I can’t control what happens in my son’s life, I will accept what the Lord brings and never forget the joy He has brought to my life on a daily basis.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you can be obedient to God's will despite suffering. Remember a friend or a member of your family who has suffered for the good, pray that they will be encouraged in their Christian journey.

Lord, I failed by giving into the flesh yesterday because of stress, help me to be obedient to Your will despite the suffering I am experiencing now. I pray for you to be with my son, Brennan, to bring into remembrance all the things he heard in the past when he went to church with me, use whatever means to draw him out of the darkness of what he is walking in and bring him back to the light and prayerfully into a life of faith and trust in Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that your will be done in me and in my life. Show me how to follow your way to the end.

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse comes from the section on Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

Proverbs 28:6 (ESV)
6  Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Today’s verse is the second of three passages of scripture that fall under the fifteenth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

15. Don’t wear yourself out to get rich.

Today’s verse highlights the importance of integrity – to do what is right even when no one is watching.  Wealth and unrighteousness don’t lead to happiness, without Christ, they lead to death, and the Bible tells us it is better to live a righteous life of integrity without riches, rather than have it all financially and to walk in darkness.  So let’s agree with God’s word and live lives of integrity and righteousness to give God glory.

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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: LUKE 19

“The Lord has need of him.” – Luke 19:34

The ass or even the colt was a beast of burden. It could carry valuable or valueless burdens. But on this particular occasion, the animal was required for the purpose of bearing a very important burden – the Lord had need of him. The Lord still requires beasts of burden – those upon whom He can lay important burdens. He says, “Take my yoke upon you” (Matt. 11:29), carry my burden.

Notice also how the answer of the disciples (or rather the Lord through His disciples) silenced those who tried to question their taking the colt. When the errand is a divinely controlled one, there is no stopping it. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

Lord, “Here am I, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)[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

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Myth of Good People, Dead and Suffering - Purity 1259

The Myth of Good People, Dead and Suffering - Purity 1259

Purity 1259 01/27/2024 Purity 1259 Podcast

Purity 1259 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a flock of geese or duck on an unknown lake on what appears to be a frigid sunrise morning comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this white, pink, and purple delight on social media back on around January 4th of 2021.  If this beauty is yours give us a heads up and we will give photo credit where photo credit is due by updating the blog after the fact. 

Well, it’s Saturday and even though I rather enjoy the upturn in temperatures and the soggy rain January we have received in upstate NY over the last few days, I can still appreciate the beauty that comes from chiller temperatures and the stillness of the near freezing conditions that seem to be part of the beauty of today’s photo. Those trees seem to be frozen and even the waterfowl in this photo are swimming, the snow on the shoreline of this lake reveals that it's still cold outside.  Today’s photo is a paradox of sorts where the elements seem to contradict one another – cold but not that cold, freezing but not frozen and that contrast has me thinking of the paradox of appearances and reality when man tries to take control over or craft a narrative around life that is more shadows and fog rather than actual facts causing us to question our experience of reality as we are tempted to “believe the lie” of accepting someone’s second hand report.  Sometimes the truth of the details is left out of the story people tell themselves and others causing us to accept an interpretation of reality that is more myth than truth, causing us to live in denial or unwittingly to believe a narrative that is more speculation or spin doctoring than real.

This phenomenon of dealing with the cognitive dissonance that comes from knowing the dirty secrets or actual facts of a situation and seeing people deceived by a sentimentalized or factually modified version of the events that portray people in a certain light  or that gives the impression of things being a certain way when they really weren't that way has really come to bear this week as I have been reading about the dangers of being deceived in Dr. Neil Anderson’s Discipleship Counseling and have seen people “telling tales” about certain people or certain events that aren’t necessarily true. 

The recrafting of reality is more common than you might think.  An example of this can surround when someone dies.  In our grief, the difficult or less than flattering details that surround the deceased are sometimes forgiven or forgotten as the fact of their departure causes us to not want to “speak ill of the dead”.  This can also happen when someone who is less than kind suffers a loss or tragedy that they are partially responsible for.  “Poor Joe” or “Poor Jane”  who have died or who are walking through trials and tribulations may not have been so “poor” – they may have been quite nasty in fact and they may have wittingly or unwittingly sowed the seeds of the bad fruit that has sprouted in their lives.  

While I don’t wish to kick anyone when they are down or to soil the reputation of those who have gone into eternity “too soon” –( it’s always too soon, right? Oh Poor Sam, was 91 years young.. seriously? – anyway..) , I think that we do a huge disservice to ourselves for accepting false images or ignore the facts of the case when suffering comes.  Instead of believing the myth of “only the good die young” or that people suffer the slings and arrows or outrageous fortune, I feel that we would actually be honoring the dead and suffering among us by keeping it real.  

Joe was somewhat of a jerk. He rejected God, did things his way, ignored common sense about life, and died in part by his own poor decisions.  

Jane may be suffering now but she too failed to follow the Lord, failed to do what was right, failed to forgive, ignore facts and common sense, failed to foster her relationships with love, and made selfish or foolish decisions that have led to her current trials and tribulations.  

Poor Joe and Poor Jane are truly poor – not because they are dead or are suffering – but because they were lied to – they believed that they could live according to their own rules and live independently of God – and now the testimony of their lives causes the discerning to realize just how untrue the story of their being “good people” really is.  If all I can say about someone after they have died revolves around their personal preferences, hobbies, and how they were “nice” or the “life of the party”, I shudder to think how they will fair at the judgment seat of Christ. If people’s obituaries fail to mention faith or Jesus as a part of their earthly lives, I fear they will be denied in heaven. 

Where do I get that?  From the words of Jesus.  He said in

Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV)
32  "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
33  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Yikes, makes you wonder about people whose obituaries talk about their sports teams, hobbies, and general disposition, or who just give a list of relatives but make no mention of our Heavenly Father or Jesus.  And perhaps more scary is the fact that people will miss that fact and think it was a “good obituary” when in fact it could be all the evidence we need to tell us that this departed person is most likely in hell.

Similarly, those who are suffering now may be more worthy of our critical discernment than of our sympathy. Their story of woe perhaps should be considered as a cautionary tale more than a tragedy.  The adage of choosing to sin, choose to suffer can be true in subtle ways that may not seem apparent to “good people”. 

I am listing a link OpenBilbe.info’s 100 verses about the consequences of sin (https://www.openbible.info/topics/the_consequences_of_sin) , on the blog today to remind us that we should attempt to be right with God, but beyond the verses that tell us that sin leads to death and separation from God, I want to share: 

James 4:17 (NKJV) which says
17  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

And

Galatians 6:6-9 (NKJV)
6  Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
9  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Now while this second passage points to eternal life through sowing to the Spirit, let’s not miss what it says about reaping what we sow in connection with the fact that it is sin to know what is good and choose not to do it.  The corruption we reap from a life in the flesh – a life lived according to our own rules, independently of God, not only has eternal consequences but can also point to the corruption of bad consequences and suffering loss in the world of the living.  While some of us may not be desperately wicked by relative standards, we when fail to obey the Lord’s ways for our lives – those loving, selfless, forgiving, righteous, and holy ways – we may very well reap a harvest of bitterness from our selfish choices. 

Death doesn’t erase the fact that people were sinful, selfish, or separated from God and neither does suffering loss or tribulations excuse the failure to heed God’s word or to walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Poor Joe” or “Poor Jane” should not necessarily be remembered fondly or sympathized with because of their few positive qualities in light of the reality of their lives of abject rebellion to and rejection of God’s plan for redemption and righteous recommendations for living.

I don’t mean to play the “blame game” but the “misfortunes” of those who fail to follow the Lord may not be so outrageous. And portraying worldly selfish people with no regard for the things of God in their lives as “good people”  in their death is not only a lie but is an active campaign against the gospel of Jesus Christ. While only God knows the eternal destinies of those who go into death, if someone’s life doesn’t confess Jesus before men, we can realistically expect that “Poor Joe” or “Poor Jane” are suffering in hell regardless of the sentimental platitudes that family and friends speak on their behalf.  

I know these are really cheery thoughts for a Saturday but deception is the game that Satan plays and when we fail to consider the truth of someone’s life or the suffering that results from a life lived apart from God and His ways, we join in league with the spiritual forces of darkness that would like to lull us to sleep and to believe the lie that “all dogs go to heaven” or that God accepts people based on their merits or through an all inclusive universal grace that puts the evil with the good and the godless with the faithful.

Our lives matter. Our choices matter. And while we shouldn’t accost the grieving with the hard truths regarding those whose dye has been cast, we shouldn’t believe the lie that those who lived without God on earth will be with Him in heaven for eternity.  

And likewise, while we shouldn’t disparage those who are suffering because of their failures to live a life that was blameless, we should encourage them to learn from their mistakes and lean on the Lord to guide them in the way they should go for the road into the future. 

Remember to challenge the “stories” that the world is telling you and to not only reject the lie that are being said, but be ready to tell people the truth and to do it with love.  

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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 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 Communication, Gossip, and Lying.

Proverbs 10:19 (NASB)
19  When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

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

5.     Be quick to listen, slow to speak.

Today’s verse tells us that there is a danger to saying too much. The more words we speak the more likely we are to say something that isn’t necessarily true. We like to tell our side of the story to support what we believe and in our zeal to support our narratives we may embellish certain aspects of a situation to paint things in a different light or we may choose to leave out certain details that aren’t flattering or useful to our agendas.   

So Proverbs tells us to restrain our lips to be wise.  One piece of advice regarding speaking that I recall from my walk through life – in other words I forget the source material for this advice or there are many – is to think before we speak and to ask ourselves some questions about what we are about to say before blurting it out.

Is what I am about to say: 

True? Helpful? Necessary? Or Kind?

If the answer to those questions is “No”, we should probably exercise our right to remain silent or ask ourselves what the consequences will be if we don’t speak and pray to the Lord to guide us in the way we should go.  

Many words may lead us into transgressions so examine what you “need to say” and rely on the Lord to show you when to remain silent or when to proclaim the truth with love.   

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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: MATTHEW 19

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give
to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and
come, follow Me.” – Matthew 19:21

The Lord's desire for this young man was that he might prove not only the good and acceptable will of God, but also the perfect will of God. “If you want to be perfect.” What then had the young man to do?

William Cowper had to say from a heart experience:

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.1

What the Lord wanted from this young man was not his riches so much, but the unreserved surrender of his heart and body. Instead, he chose the fleeting treasures of time in place of the pleasures of eternity. He denied himself the possession of eternal life for the temporary enjoyment of earthly riches.

Continue to remind me, Lord,
to strive for Your perfect will in my life.[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