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Friday, March 29, 2024

Sad Friday? - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 39 - Purity 1312

Sad Friday? - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 39 - Purity 1312

Purity 1312 03/29/2024 Purity 1312 Podcast

Purity 1312 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a moody sunset dusk, or the first rays of sunrise, over an unknown lake comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this brooding or hopeful scene on social media on or around April 19th, 2021.  If this somber yet beautiful photo is yours, give us a heads up and we will update the blog to give you the photo credit you deserve.  

Well, It’s Good Friday, Thank God and Thank You Jesus, and I shared today’s photo because it has a solemn feel to it, if it is a sunset, but at the same time I realized that this could be a sunrise and if that’s the case the story is different, darkness is being dispelled by the first light of day as the sun will rise over the horizon and bring the hope and light of a new day over all the land. Because of that duality of perspective I thought the photo was a good visual representation of Good Friday as this is the day we remember how Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sin, so it was a dark day, but now that we know His sacrifice was necessary and He didn’t stay dead – He was resurrected and proved that He is God, we can recognize the although the day of Jesus’ death was dark, the light of the world was soon to be revealed.  As much as we should appreciate the pain and suffering that Jesus suffered on our behalf, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it too much because God wants us to rejoice in the resurrected life that we are able to share in since Christ died and rose again.  Some say “It’s Good Friday… but Sunday’s coming” and while I get it, that’s true, the higher truth is that Resurrection Sunday has already come and we don’t have to necessarily go through an emotional rollercoaster of guilt and sadness each year to prove we understand what Christ had to suffer through or to prove we are a devout and religious Christian.  I would say crying and being sad on Good Friday is fine if it comes from a sincere heart, but if you are living like a fool and a slave to sin all the other days of the year and only “come to God” during Easter and Christmas, you may be putting on a show and are missing the abundant life that Jesus died for you to experience.  

Our faith is not about religious observances or ceremonies and periodic sacraments. Our faith is about a relationship with the living God, believe me when I tell you that you will be moved to tears – of joy and sorrow – when you pick up your cross and follow Him.  You will be crying on a lot more days than “Sad Friday”.

I mean seriously…Do you reserve today for weeping over Jesus and then spend the rest of the year lost in the world system that opposes Him?  

Anyway, if that’s your tradition – or sincere spiritual practice, it is the appropriate time for it, the season of Lent.  We shouldn’t take Christ’s sufferings lightly but if your life is mostly “normal” or secular and not defined by your faith, let me encourage you to go deeper in your walk with the Lord after this season of Lent. And speaking of Lent…

It’s the thirty-ninth 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 39

What sins is a person to confess?

Before God one is to acknowledge the guilt for all sins, even those of which we are not aware, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. However, before the confessor we are to confess only those sins of which we have knowledge and which trouble us.

We are to confess our guilt before one another and forgive one another before we come to God and ask for forgiveness. Now, all of us are debtors to one another; therefore we should and we may confess publicly in everyone's presence, no one being afraid of anyone else. For it is true, as the proverb says, “If one person is upright, so are they all”; no one behaves toward God or the neighbor as he or she ought. However, besides the sum total of our sin, there are also individual ones, when a person has provoked someone else to anger and needs to ask for pardon. Thus we have in the Lord's Prayer a twofold absolution: both our sins against God and against our neighbors are forgiven when we forgive our neighbors and become reconciled with them.

Biblical Wisdom

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5: 23-24.

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

·       Do you think confession is about guilt and shame or about grace and freedom? Explain.

I think it is about both! We should have genuine guilt and shame about our sins but that should drive us to confess it so we can experience God’s grace and freedom.  Of course, freedom requires repentance- we don’t just “sin confess, sin confess” – we are to let our guilt and shame – and the grace we receive to drive us to make a decision to submit to God and resist the devil and make the daily conscious decision to stop sinning in the ways we have in the past.  Only when we ask God to help us to stop sincerely and make ourselves accountable to God, ourselves, and others to make a permanent change can we experience the freedom that God wants to live in. 

·       Why does a relationship with God and our relationships with others need both confession and forgiveness in order to thrive?

Our relationships with God and man require confession and forgiveness to thrive because we will make mistakes and we need to be honest to God and others when we mess up and seek their forgiveness.  Of course, we also must be sincere in our efforts to repent because otherwise we are abusing our relationships – saying one thing but doing another – in essence making each confession another sin as our apologies mean nothing if we refuse to change.  So confess and seek forgiveness but make your relationship with God and man thrive by being sincere to make a change so you don’t need to confess and seek forgiveness for the same thing again.  

·       Does your community of faith place too little, enough, or too much emphasis on confession and forgiveness in both our relationship with God and in our human relationships? Explain.

I go to a seeker friendly church and all the messages are positive and often encourage us to forgive as we have been forgiven. There is little or no emphasis on confession.  Quite frankly although the messages call us to be followers of Jesus and are biblically sound, there seems to be an unspoken policy to “keep your sin to yourself” or to “mind your own business” as certain sinful lifestyles are not called out as sin within our church.  And before you condemn my church… I would say that most churches operate under the same policy.  Pastors don’t tend to preach about things that will offend people that will empty the seats.  Calling out heterosexual couples living in sin doesn’t usually get any mention at all nor does sex outside of marriage get highlighted too much.  So no, pastors calling people to confess doesn’t usually come up too much…. because there is a lot to confess.

Psalm Fragment

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24.

Journal Reflections

·       The daily practice of confession and forgiveness with both God and others can be seen as a regular practice that builds our relationship with God. If this is a spiritual habit you presently are following, write.about its impact on your life. If you are not following this practice now, why not give it a try?

Yes, while I don’t confess like Martin Luther did when he was a monk, I do keep short accounts with the Lord by confessing any known sin and asking for forgiveness regularly, if not daily. This practice of living in the presence of the Lord gives me peace – when I say walking and talking with God – that’s what I do – I talk to God throughout the day and continually seek to be with Him and right with Him.  It makes life an exciting spiritual adventure and I recommend it to all – get on the path of Christian discipleship and walk in the Spirit.

·       Remember a time when you knew you needed to ask someone for pardon. What did you do? What were the consequences?

When I went through recovery in 2015, I did my amends and sought the forgiveness of everyone for anything and everything I had done in my life that offended them or caused them pain. It was a humbling experience and while I am sure that there may be some people I have hurt that didn’t get the news of my ammends – because they were absolute strangers to me that I met in a drunken fog or time and distance has separated us – I made every effort to ask forgiveness.  I even posted to social media to ask forgiveness.  But the amazing thing was that there was really no response, people had either forgiven me already or had forgotten or didn’t realize the things I had done or didn’t care.  It taught me that my drama wasn’t the center of the universe and that people had moved on. The truth was I didn’t have many relationships that were deeply personal and didn’t really try to hurt people in the past, so the offenses weren’t very deep because the relationships were pretty shallow.  It taught me humility and gave me peace.   

·       Journal on a moment in your life when you experienced reconciliation with another through confession and forgiveness. What did you learn from the experience? Has the learning stayed with you as a guide?

As I confessed, I didn’t really have deep relationships that needed to be reconciled at the time of my amends. Since then I haven’t really been separated from anyone because of sin on my part, except for my ex, I suppose and while I asked for and received her forgiveness early in the days when we mutually decided to divorce, I won’t be reconciled to her in terms of our marriage. Our decision to divorce was a final one and while I have forgiven and hold no animosity toward her, we are not getting back together.  She refused to walk with me into a life of faith in Christ and we have decided to go our separate ways.  That experience has taught me that forgiveness and reconciliation – or  the reestablishment of a relationship– can be two different things.  

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you will be given the grace and courage to ask forgiveness when it is necessary and that the other would have the grace and courage to forgive you.

Lord, I pray that I will be given the grace and courage to ask forgiveness when it is necessary that whoever I offend would have the grace and courage to forgive me. Amen.

Prayer For Today

Lord Jesus, I long for reconciliation with (name). Lead me and guide me so that I have the grace both to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.

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 Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

Ecclesiastes 5:8-17 (NLT2)
8  Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy.
9  Even the king milks the land for his own profit!
10  Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
11  The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

12  People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13  There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver.
14  Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children.
15  We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16  And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind.
17  Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

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

23. Riches are meaningless; wealth is fleeting.

Today’s verses highlight the impermanent nature of wealth and of our lives and should not drive us to despair but should encourage us to invest in God’s kingdom.  Ecclesiastes tells it like it is, but we shouldn’t miss the lesson that all that is fleeting should draw us to the One who doesn’t change and who calls us to live, through faith in Jesus, with Him forever.

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

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: JOHN 4

“The man believed the word.” – John 4:50

Here is certainly a good example of expectant faith. The Lord simply said to him, “Your son lives” (v. 51) and he believed the Word. The result was that his son was healed.

This is the source of real spiritual blessing – namely, believing and claiming the promises of God. There must be expectant faith, however. James says, “Let not that man [who wavers in the prayer of faith] suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7). Expectant faith is the key to the verse which says, “Ask, and you will receive” (John 16:24).

O Lord help me, I pray, to believe Your Word
even as this man did. 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

 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Moving Out and Moving On - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 38 - Purity 1311


Moving Out and Moving On - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 38 - Purity 1311

Purity 1311 03/28/2024 Purity 1311 Podcast

Purity 1311 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of green grass, a winding path, and a stand of trees near the shore of what I suspect to be Lake Ontario comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this scene on social media on or around May 23rd, 2021. If this beauty is yours, give us a heads up and we will update the blog to give you the photo credit you deserve after the fact.

Well, It’s Maundy Thursday, and tonight I will lead one of the men from the Freedom in Christ Course through the Steps to Freedom in Christ. While any day is a good day to go through that prayerful repentance process, I have to admit that choosing the day when we remember the night that Jesus humbled himself to wash the Apostles’ feet is a good choice as this man will seek to be washed clean of any spiritual or personal conflicts from his past that he has been carrying and he will be able to walk into Resurrection Sunday knowing that he has renounced the lies and defilements of this corrupted world and fully committed himself to his identity in Christ and following Jesus.  

When we decide to get right with God and choose to walk in the Spirit with the rest of our lives, the joy of our new life in Christ is palpable but at the same time, we should also realize that there may be tough roads to travel ahead because of our decision to walk the way of Jesus.  You might think that the decision to “do what’s right according to God’s word” and to attempt to live a righteous and holy life would be applauded, but if we look at the life of Jesus, we can see that some people will hate us for it. If people hated Jesus who was without sin, they will probably oppose us too – in fact Jesus told us they would. In

John 15:18-19 (NKJV) , where Jesus said:
18  "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

When people are living a fleshly or sinful life and don’t have a relationship with the Lord, our Christian witness can cause people to dislike us. People don’t like the idea that they aren’t living as they should, and some will vehemently rebel and oppose any attempts on our part to encourage them to “get right with God” or even to “do what is right”.  

Yesterday, my son decided to move out of my home. He doesn’t have any visible relationship with God as he stopped going to church when I left that decision up to him. Recently, he quit his job and has been suffering from what looked like clinical depression at times but I think it is just a depressed state because he doesn’t know what to do with his future, he didn’t prepare himself for it, and his situation demands that he work to support himself, but he doesn’t want to work.  The answer to his problem is the cause of his problem. Working would give him the means to support himself and thrive but he doesn’t like it.  So he quit. He needs to work but work depresses him. But the fact that he doesn’t have any money depresses him also. It’s a really “double bind”.  Having to work bums him out but not working doesn’t solve the problem.  In January, he stopped working and I gave him 60 days’ notice to get a job or to move out of my house. I wanted to motivate him to “do what was right”.  But after much drama and no action, my son decided to move out of the house because I ordered him to clean up his act by getting a haircut and to get a job.  The haircut was the deal breaker.  Although my son will periodically cut his hair cut short because I basically told him to do it, he decided to move out and move in with his sister.  So before the 60 days was up, and even though I was willing to give him another 30 to get a job, Brennan moved out.  

And although I don’t like the way things transpired, I have peace about Brennan hasn’t living right and he is free to continue to live the way he chooses but it doesn’t have to be under my roof.  He was destined to move out someday and someday was yesterday.  I still love my son and wish him well and pray he will make good choices, get a job, and support himself.

 We can’t control anyone and all we can do is try to encourage them to do what we know to be right and let them make their own decisions.  Brennan’s problems are his problems, and he will have to figure out how to solve them. I release him to the Lord and the care of his sister.  

Well, it’s Lent - the season of letting and letting God and drawing close to Him and asking him to take our burdens. And speaking of Lent…

It’s the thirty-eighth 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 38

What is confession?

Answer: Confession consists of two parts. One is that we confess our sins. The other is that we receive the absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the confessor as from God himself and by no means doubt but firmly believe that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.

(As to Confession) I refer to the practice of confessing to God alone or to our neighbor alone, asking for forgiveness. These two kinds are included in the Lord's Prayer when we say, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Indeed, the entire Lord's Prayer is nothing else than such a confession. For what is our prayer but a confession that we neither have nor do what we ought and a plea for grace and a joyful conscience? This kind of confession should and must take place continuously as long as we live. For this is the essence of a genuinely Christian life, to acknowledge that we are sinners and to pray for grace.

Biblical Wisdom

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1: 5-10.

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 confession the “essence of a genuinely Christian life”?

Confession is the essence of a genuinely Christian life because it involves our acknowledging that God’s ways are good and holy, and we have deviated from His ways and separated ourselves from His presence – and so we confess to be made right with God and to restore the harmony of our relationship with Him. We will all invariably make missteps on the path of Christian discipleship and so we will need to confess our faults and come back to God’s good graces continually as we attempt to walk with Him.

·       Why do we need to be exhorted and encouraged to confess our sins either to another or to God alone? What is the role of the church?

We need to be exhorted and encouraged to confess our sins because the tendency is to hide our shame, guilt, and continue to stay in our sins.  When we confess to God or other Christians we not only admit that we “did it” we are agreeing that God’s ways are right and that we will try to walk in them.   The church’s role – the body of Christ- is to encourage us to walk by faith and to make us accountable to do so – to provide support, instruction, and fellowship to help us to live a Christian life.

·       The reading from 1 John points to our ability to deceive ourselves when it comes to sin. How does our culture encourage such self-deception? How can we learn to avoid such self-deception?

Our culture encourages self-deception by either denying that there is anything wrong with what we are doing or that Jesus’ blood gives us a license to sin. The best way to avoid such self-deception is to know and live by the truth of God’s word and to make ourselves accountable to God and a trusted Christian or group of Christians to do so.

Psalm Fragment

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5.

Journal Reflections

·       Meditate on the word “confession”. What feelings does it evoke in you? Do you resist the idea or embrace it as a positive spiritual practice? Why?

The word confession used to evoke feelings of fear, guilt, or shame as “confession” in the Catholic church meant going before the priest and getting “punished” with penance to be clean. It gave one a real sense of “being in trouble”. But now I know that I can confess my sins and not be punished.  Confession is the means by which we get right with God and reestablish the harmony of our relationship.  So I don’t fear it. I embrace it and keep a short list of things to confess by doing it on a continual basis. It’s a positive spiritual practice because it gives me peace.

·       Meditate on the Lord's Prayer and then journal about how this prayer can be used as a daily experience of confession and forgiveness.

The petition to “forgive us our debts” or sins can be seen as a confession. God knows what we have done so we don’t necessarily need to list our transgressions to receive a measure of peace when we sincerely pray the Lord’s Prayer.

·       Meditate on what it means to “walk in the light”. Have you ever experienced light breaking over your soul after an experience of confession and forgiveness? If so, describe the experience and what you learned from it.

Walking in the light means forsaking our sin and living according to God’s will. I have experienced the joy and peace of God’s light and I have learned that God’s ways are the best ways to live by, regardless of the opposition we may face from the world for it.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you will learn to live in daily confession and forgiveness so that you will be able to walk in the light with Christ.

Lord, I pray that I will continue to live in daily confession and the forgiveness You give me so that I will increasingly walk in the light with Christ. So help me God, Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me. Teach me to revel in your grace.

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 Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

2 Kings 5:19-27 (ESV)
19  He said to him, “Go in peace.” But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance,
20  Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
21  So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?”
22  And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’”
23  And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi.
24  And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.
25  He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.”
26  But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants?
27  Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

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

22. God chastised Gehazi severely for his covetousness.

Today’s verses teach us that our greed and lying can have far reaching effects that could curse us and our descendants. While Gehazi’s fate is immediate, we too could be cursed by carrying the leprosy of covetousness and deceit and suffer from it all the days of our lives and that in turn could be taught to our children who pass it on to the next generation.

Having to look over your shoulder because of the lies you have told or having to satisfy your greed continually is a burden that will cause us pain and so we should learn to always be honest and to be content with what we have.

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

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: JOHN 3

“God does not give the Spirit by measure.” – John 3:34

It is quite obvious that the reference here is to the Lord Jesus Christ. But nevertheless, this is God's principle – He never gives by measure. He so loved that He gave His only begotten Son. He did not spare His Son. If He did not spare, it follows that He does not give by measure. For in giving His Son, through Him He now freely gives me all things (not by measure!).

The question of the “measure,” however, is governed by the life of the believer. Paul speaks of Christians who were not able to receive the meat of the Word because of carnality. The human vessel can only be filled in so far as it is emptied. The Lord was “The Empty One” for He emptied Himself (See Phil. 2). Therefore, the Spirit was given to Him without measure.

Lord, I empty myself entirely that I may be
filled to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit.[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, March 27, 2024

Beyond Pleasure-Dome – Escaping Snack Culture - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 37 - Purity 1310

 

Beyond Pleasure-Dome – Escaping Snack Culture - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 37 - Purity 1310

Purity 1310 03/27/2024 Purity 1310 Podcast

Purity 1310 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of green fields and an old grain silo, with the Hudson River in the distance, under pleasant blue skies, comes to us from yours truly as I captured this seen during a “worship hike”  at Harrier Hill Park in Stottville NY back on June 5th, 2021. 

Well, it’s Holy Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday, the day we are to remember that Judas Iscariot made a pact with the Jewish authorities to betray Jesus – a dastardly deed for sure but one that was used for His purposes to save all who would one day put their faith in the Christ, the one who suffered and died an unjust death to pay for our sins. Regardless of the outcomes though betrayal is something we don’t easily forgive and something we would be wise not to forget.  

When people betray us, it teaches us an important lesson about human nature and relationships, and it instructs us to be wise and discerning about the company we keep. If we have associates who reveal that they lie, steal, or cheat in different areas of their lives and that they are morally a little shady, we shouldn’t be surprised if they lie, steal, or cheat with us. 

But it is not just people that can betray us, we have relationships with the objects of our addictions. Alcohol and drugs and I had an exciting romance and even though I knew from the start they weren’t good for me; I ignored the truth about them and got in deep with them and wasted years of my life trapped in a toxic relationship with them. But the Lord called me out of the darkness of my life without Him and it caused me to see the bondage I was in, and eventually, led to my freedom.  

Similarly, I have had a long-standing relationship with food that has not always been healthy – my addictive tendency to overindulge was unchecked and it resulted in my being overweight, and technically obese – let’s call it what it is -for most of my life.  I believed the lie of “yummy in my tummy”, “comfort food”, “time for a snack”, “fat and happy”, and I “just can’t control what I eat” for most of my life.  Those slogans were my reality, but they didn’t have to be, and the lie was that I was powerless to live any other way. 

Since I have fighting food addiction in earnest over the past year, I have had various eye-opening paradigm shifts that reveal the dysfunctional relationship with food – the latest being that I have been a “slave to preference” – (I want the food that tastes good – I can’t control myself when I eat the food that tastes good – ouch – a painful admission when it hits the heart – it really is an addiction) and that I live in a corrupted world system that I have come to think of as “snack culture” – which supports and dispenses that false belief that we can’t be satisfied with just the three traditional meals of the day and that we NEED small mini-meals between meals to survive or thrive and that pushes for the concept of “food for pleasure” or food for comfort.  

While these ideas and concepts certainly exist, the paradigm-shifting realization that I have come to understand is that they are not necessarily true:

I don’t NEED meals between meals.

Food may not have been designed to be COMFORT.  Isn’t the Holy Spirit the COMFORTER?

It is not necessarily true that PLEASURE should come from food. – a preference for sure but not a fundamental truth – which is proven by the subjectivity of those preferences – there is no inherently “good food” – tastes vary so one man’s delight is another man’s aversion.  “Good food” is a lie…. Wow. 

But one of the concepts that was brought home to me for a short time that I have rediscovered is the idea of “Food is fuel”. The Optavia plan sells this idea along with the LIE of snack culture -  as they prescribe 5 snacks and 1 meal a day… because they run with the lie that WE MUST eat throughout the day… We must, huh? And even though they try to teach self-control by staving off hunger with a “snack” every 3 hours, they don’t teach any wisdom about what you eat and instead design calorie control versions of sweet treats or normally carb-laden snacks… They basically teach that you don’t have to change what you eat (as long as you buy our expensive especially engineered version of the foods you like) and just have to change the amounts and ways you eat. The plan actually works but it is financially taxing, and I found it not to be sustainable because of the cost and the realization that although I was losing weight I wasn’t learning anything.  

So I’m changing my mind again to remember that food is fuel and that I don’t NEED “GOOD FOOD” – those tasty treats that I lose all control over when I eat them. 

Freedom from the object of our addictions comes from eliminating them, not allowing them into our lives.  Its sucks to learn that you can’t drink alcohol like others can, but the alcoholic comes to the realize. n that they can’t drink and maintain sanity or peace for long. 

Similarly the food addict has to look at the object of their addiction and start to eliminate the things that keep them in bondage and cause them to lose control.  Joyce Meyers was wrong when she told you to “Eat the Cookie and Buy The Shoes” if you are a food addict or shop-aholic.  You can’t “give yourself permission to lighten up” if you are an addict and want to be free. 

Instead, we have to “present our bodies as living sacrifices to God” (crucify that flesh- we have control over it) and “be transformed by the renewing of our minds”. We have to see and  think differently and expose the deceptions and temptations around us and choose to walk a different way- The Way of the Spirit – that is defined by its peace, joy, patience, and (oh yes) self-control.  

If you lose control with certain things… that’s the flesh… and even though we have the freedom to do as we please and as  

1 Corinthians 6:12 (NKJV) tells
12  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

We shouldn’t be controlled by our preferences to the point we lose control.  We have to go beyond “Pleasure-dome” and not be in bondage to the desires of the flesh. As

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) tells us, we are to:
1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

There is no better time to stand in the freedom than we have in Christ than right now, the season of Lent, and speaking of Lent:

It’s the thirty-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 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 37

Amen.

What is this?

Answer: That I should be certain that such petitions are acceptable to and heard by our Father in heaven, for he himself commanded us to pray like this and has promised to hear us. “Amen, amen” means “Yes, yes, it is going to come about just like this.”

The efficacy of prayer consists in our learning also to say Amen to it- that is, not to doubt that our prayer is surely heard and will be answered. This word is nothing else than an unquestioning word of faith on the part of the one who does not pray as a matter of luck but knows that god does not lie because he has promised to grant it. Where there is not faith like this, there also can be no true prayer.

Biblical Wisdom

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5: 13-16.

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

·       What is the difference between praying “as a matter of luck” and praying as a matter of faith?

Praying as a matter of luck is impersonal and selfish usually, whereas praying as a matter of faith is earnestly seeking the Lord and His presence to know His will for our lives – petitioning in a personal way that accepts no for an answer.

·       Why is faith necessary for true prayer?

If you don’t really have faith in a God who cares, you are just making wishes. If you don’t know God is real, you are magically thinking.

·       Is God a liar if your prayer does not appear to come true? Why or why not?

No, God is not a liar, The word tells us that in Numbers 23:19.  His “blessing” us in the way we think we should be blessed should not be a condition of our faith in God. His ways are higher than our ways and His knowledge is perfect. We can earnestly pray for things that would destroy us or things that are unwise or unhealthy or that are sinful. Trusting in God means that we trust Him to do what is right even if we can’t understand it. All things will be revealed to be a part of His grand design and we need to accept that we may not always get what we want but it doesn’t mean that God is a liar or is not in control.

Psalm Fragment

But truly God has listened; He has given heed to the words of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me. Psalm 66:19-20

Journal Reflections

·       Meditate on the word “Amen”. What do you understand by the word? What feelings does the saying of this word after prayer evoke for you?

To me, I think Amen means – “Yes, I agree.” With God or with someone who speaks something that is true- Amen? (Do you agree?” I feel that the Amen affirms our faith and trust in the Lord and His wisdom and ways. It gives me peace knowing I can trust in and surrender all things to Him and His care.  

·       Journal about how you understand the “efficacy” of your prayers. Make a list of prayers that you know have been answered and note how they were answered. Be specific. Were they always answered in the way you hoped or expected?

My prayers have been answered so many times. For Freedom, for a new home, for healing, for purpose, for a faithful Christian wife.  My prayers have been “efficacious” – as they produced a desired outcome – but not all my prayers were answered in the ways I had wanted. The answer to some has been “No.” and I feel that with others I have been told to “wait” or to keep going. And that’s okay too.  

·       Remember a time when your prayer was answered in a way other than how you had hoped. Write about the experience. What did you learn?

I wrote a book once based on the preaching of a local pastor who agreed in principle to have it published. I prayed for that outcome and was over the moon when I got that initial response. I thought I was on my way to being a published Christian author and that would elevate me into a life of full-time Christian service!  But shortly after his acceptance, the pastor demurred because of the vast copyright issues and permissions we would have to pursue because he quoted so many other sources in his preaching.  The conversation about publication just abruptly ended and shortly after this, I noticed a determined effort by this pastor to acknowledge the sources he used when he preached. I may have been used by God to bring conviction, maybe, but I still think it would have been a good book to encourage people to seek the Lord… but I have moved on, and that pastor is essentially retired. I grew in the process all the same.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you can say Amen to your own prayers, trusting and believing that God will grant your prayer.

Lord, I pray that I can say Amen to my prayers – that I can trust and believe that you will grant the petitions that I make when they don’t go against your will for my life.  I pray for you to turn things around in a certain area. AMEN and AMEN!

Prayer For Today

Dear Jesus, you are the Amen of my prayers. Help me to believe truly in your word and in the promise of God that our prayers will be answered.

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.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NKJV)
17  Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls--
18  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19  The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

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

21. Habakkuk was content with God’s way and trusted him even when things looked very hard.

Today’s verses instruct us to REJOICE in the Lord regardless of outcomes, to never let go of the joy of our salvation, and to find our strength and guidance from God. This passage is a disciple's anthem really. I WILL FOLLOW YOU LORD – NO MATTER WHAT- and I WILL REJOICE IN YOU!.  When we have a covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus, we really have everything we need. We have life eternal and the grid of our faith if properly understood and practiced – and our heart connection to the Lord – can help us to persevere through and or overcome all the troubles of life.  Our salvation means everything, and it should be a continual source of joy and inspiration for our lives. So press into the joy of your salvation and receive the strength and joy for living that God has given us 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.

EVENING READING: JOHN 2

“Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” – John 2:17

The Lord Jesus is the perfect example in all departments of life. With that fact in view, it is instructive to notice His perfect behavior in reverence for and interest in the House of God.

In light of the above verse, it would seem that His holy zeal burned at its highest when the House of God was the object of particular interest. Of course, His Holy zeal always burned at its highest. But it is the phrase “Eat me up,” that makes one use comparative language. John Nelson Darby translates it “Devours me.”9 What a zeal He had for the interests and work of God's House.

Father, give me a zeal for Your house
like Your blessed Son's. 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