Friday, May 20, 2016

Do we Take Our Purity Seriously?

Oh great. Another article on purity. 

I know, I know. I am sure you're tired of hearing about it. 

But this goes so much deeper than our sexual purity. Purity in the life of a Christian flows into everything we do and think. 

I was just thinking recently that many of us don't take purity in Christ that seriously. Or understand what it means for that matter. We make too many compromises. We don't allow God to refine us.

I am guilty of this. I think in one way or another, we all are. 

Purity, whether we want to face it or not, is a complete, and full surrender to God. Do we ever take into account what that really means?

We surrender our hearts. 
Everything we do stems from where our hearts are. God asks us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. (Matt. 22:37.) Our hearts EXIST for God. Our hearts SEEK God. Our Hearts praise Him continually. Our hearts revel in His steadfast love. It's emotional. Our hearts become like clay. We love Him so much that we are willing to do EVERYTHING in our power to please Him! (John 14:15.) 

After what He did for us, why wouldn't we?

We surrender our minds. (Phil. 4:8. Prov. 23:7. Isaiah 55:7-9.2 Cor. 10:4-5.)
Purity of our minds is probably one of the most important. Our thoughts hold so much more power than we give them credit for. 

Philippians 4:8 (my favorite verse) talks about the purity of mind: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (emp. added)

It may not seem like it, but the things we feed our minds are important. I know for me, there was a time that I made compromises that  affected my mind in a negative way.
I have come to see now that it really does matter! Why make it harder for ourselves by filling our minds with things contrary to God's word? Jim Morrison once said, "Whoever controls the media, controls the mind."

I think we take for granted just how true this is. The more we see something, the more numb we become to something. The more we see it, and are entertained by it, the more silent support we give to sin. Whether it be premarital sex, partying, using people, lying, etc. We all know that this is sinful. (Romans 1:32.) Our society is obsessed with sin, and it is going to do anything it can to glorify it on our screens.

All sin starts with a thought. If our minds are filled with the world's garbage, how can we expect to make Godly choices? I am speaking from experience. I don't want my mind to be filled with things not becoming for a Christian.

We surrender our Bodies.
There is a reason I put this after surrendering our minds. We can't even begin to think we can surrender our physical bodies if our minds don't surrender first. 

Our bodies are the temple of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19.) They are to be used for His glory.

Purity doesn't happen by accident. Purity happens with concrete, clear, decisions. It's about surrender. When you say you want to be pure it should be the most important thing in your life. (Next to your actual relationship with God.) This means you are going to strive for it with everything in you. This means going the extra mile (or more) just to do what God has commanded you. No compromises. No excuses.  Is it easy? No. 

I am not perfect. I have made dumb mistakes. But I have found that this is what God wants for us. In order for God to really make us what we need to be, we must choose to go above and beyond. This is taking up our cross. (Luke 9:23.)

Purity takes effort, support, and time. If you have made mistakes, you can come out of it. It may be difficult, but you can. In our world, it may seem almost impossible. But that which is impossible with man is possible with God. (Luke 18:27.) Never forget that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Heart of Worship Tuesday: How Great Thou Art!

Recently on Netflix, I have been watching the Planet Earth documentary series. I am very fascinated by the natural world. Seeing and learning about the world that God has created is incredible.

When I see that incredible footage, or see those things in person, it takes my breath away. 

The other day, I got to see a tiger and a white tiger up close. They were such beautiful animals. When I learn about ecology and how every living thing has a purpose, it causes me to praise God. When I see the images of the crystal caves, canyons, and massive mountains, I am humbled. When I sit underneath the night sky, I want to reach up and fly among them. I feel God’s presence so strongly.

Sleeping Bengal Tiger-photo by me

White Tiger-Photo by me

I see God’s fingerprints everywhere I go, even if it is just walking my dog outside. I love watching the birds, busy bees, and beautiful butterflies. I love blowing the seeds off of a dandelion. My heart skips a beat when I watch a summer thunderstorm. It is also these little things that remind me that God created this world. I am truly not in control.

I am sure this feeling of awe is what led Swedish Pastor, Carl Boberg to pen this now famous hymn. It says that one day, Mr. Boberg was out walking around when a thunderstorm blew in. After the storm, he stood by the bay, he heard church bells ringing. It was so peaceful. It led him to write a poem called O Store Gud. (O Great God). Later, Stuart H. Kine found the poem and translated it into English. (1)  I am so glad he did.  This song perfectly describes the feeling of awe towards our creator.

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
They pow’r throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee,
How great thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee,
How great thou art! How great Thou art!”

The second verse is similar:
“When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze!”

Have you ever stood on top of a mountain or maybe even a plateau? How did you feel looking down and out at everything around you? You feel small, don’t you? This is God’s way of saying, “Hey! I am here! I did this!”

Romans 1:20 says, “For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

We know God exists because of the natural world around us.

David also noted in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above displays His handiwork.”

Another way we have awe for God is in the things He did for us. The next verse says this:

“And when I think, that God His son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.
For on that cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin.”

Can you imagine it? God sent the only son He had to die. Recently at a youth rally for girls, one of the speakers gave a hypothetical scenario to illustrate this. Let’s say the whole world is getting sick and dying from an illness of some sort. A doctor comes to a mother and says, “The cure is in your son. He can help millions of people. But, we will have to take his life to get it.” The speaker said in the case of her son, she wouldn’t do it. 
God did what so many parents probably couldn’t do, give up their child. I think that fact is hard to grasp. Jesus is God’s son. God had to let Him suffer so we could be saved.

And, what are we really? We have done nothing since the beginning but mess up over and over again. We pushed away and killed the prophets that God sent to us. We ignored His word too often to count. We murder people. We are cruel to others. We look to things other than God to fill the void in our heart.

We killed a perfect man, the Son of God. God’s son. We have an infinite number of strikes against us. We are totally, and completely unworthy! Yet, somehow, God loves us anyway. He wants us to love Him too. He gives us a way to be saved, if we will so choose it.

And if we accept God’s love through submission to His word and seek Him, how amazing will Christ's return be!

“When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, ‘my God how great thou art!’

Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ, having been offered to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those eagerly waiting for Him.”

Matthew 24:44 says, “So you must be ready. For the Son of Man comes at an hour you do not expect.”

Jesus is going to come back. The question is, are we ready? When we see Him, is fear going to be our hearts? Or are we going to be filled with joy knowing that our savior is here to take us home?

I know for me, I want to be filled with joy. If you aren’t, why? Have you not obeyed the Gospel and given your life to Christ? Are you living a life of sin that God wouldn’t be pleased with? Are you just not convinced of your salvation? Look to God's word. Or if you need guidance, contact me, and I will help you find the answers you need.

Either way, we all need to make sure we are ready. It should be a day that gives us joy when we think about it I want to be excited about Christ’s return. 

"How Great Thou Art", Sung By Karns Church of Christ
(This gives me chills!)