The Importance of Purity

God gave man and woman the joy and pleasure of sexual relations within the bounds of marriage, and the Bible is clear about the importance of maintaining sexual purity within the boundaries of that union between man and wife (Ephesians 5:31). We take this to extremes, outside of marriage and it causes all sorts of troubles. The secular world’s philosophy of “if it feels good, do it” permeates our culture to the point where sexual purity is seen as archaic and unnecessary.

Let’s look at what God says about sexual purity.

You should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 7).

This passage outlines God’s reasons for calling for sexual purity in the lives of His followers.

We are “sanctified” and for that reason, we are to avoid sexual immorality.

  1. The Greek word translated “sanctified” means literally “purified, made holy, consecrated [unto God].”
  2. As Christians, we are to live a purified life because we have been made holy by the exchange of our sin for the righteousness of Christ on the cross and have been made completely new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
  3. Our old natures, with all their impurities, sexual and otherwise, have died and now the life we live, we live by faith in the One who died for us (Galatians 2:20).
  4. To continue in sexual impurity (fornication) is to deny that and doing so is, in fact, a legitimate reason to question whether we have ever truly been born again.
  5. Sanctification, the process by which we become more and more Christlike, is an essential evidence of the reality of our salvation.

We see the necessity of controlling our bodies.

  1. When we give in to sexual immorality, we give evidence that the Holy Spirit is not indwelling us because we do not possess one of the fruits of the Spirit—self-control.
  2. All believers display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) to a greater or lesser degree depending on the length of time they have walked with God.
  3. Uncontrolled “passionate lust” is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), not of the Spirit. So controlling our lusts and living sexually pure lives is essential to anyone who professes to know Christ. In doing so, we honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

We know God’s rules and discipline reflect His love for us.

  1. Following what God says can only help us during our time on earth.
  2. By maintaining sexual purity before marriage, we avoid past emotional entanglements that may negatively affect present relationships and marriages.
  3. Further by keeping the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4), we can experience unreserved love for our mates, which is surpassed only by God’s enormous love for us.

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Dealing with Disasters in Life

Kim is visiting her mom in weather-torn Alabama. I assume that many of you watched last week the story which unfold as killer tornadoes swept across the southern states. Don’t forget about the deadly fires that consumed millions of acres and destroyed lives in Texas.

Here’s the question, one which most Christians wonder about, but are sometimes afraid to ask: “God, where are you in all these catastrophes? Couldn’t you have simply spoken a word to still the tornadoes and quench the fires?”

And then there is THE question behind all others: “If God is all-powerful and loving, then why didn’t He stop the tragedies from happening? So He must either not be all-powerful, or not loving, end of story.”

When people experience calamity and heartbreak, is that the end of their story? Consider a man named Job in the Old Testament. He endured an onslaught of disasters that would have driven most people to despair. Try to put yourself into his world as you read about the tornado of adversity that stormed through every area of his life; he lost his business, family, future, kids, (check it out in Job 1:13-16). He was having a very bad day.

Things continued to spiral downward following these events. Job lost his health, was accused by his friends of being the sinner responsible for his losses, and though he valiantly kept his faith through nearly all the ordeal, the haunting questions about God’s goodness and love consumed his thoughts:

“How I wish we had an arbitrator
to step in and let me get on with life—
To break God’s death grip on me,
to free me from this terror so I could breathe again.
Then I’d speak up and state my case boldly.
As things stand, there is no way I can do it” (Job 9:33-35).

In effect, Job is saying, “God, I’d like to meet you in court so you can stand trial for not stopping the disasters. Either you are not all-powerful or not loving, so which is it?”

Much to Job’s surprise, God answers with a hurricane force series of questions that all fit under the category of “Are YOU talking to ME, Job?” It’s not that God was being cruel or evasive, but the answer to our question lies in another question, which is, “Is God in charge or not?”

The answer is a resounding YES, God is in charge! And because I can hold on to this truth like a ship’s mast in a violent storm, I can be sure that by allowing trials in my life He is acting in the most loving way possible for my ultimate good. It is not only possible but absolutely true that our all-powerful God allows tribulations because He is forming us into Christ’s image and has to tell a story of His love for the world, and the salvation of humanity.

That’s why He boldly declares this truth:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

When we are walking through the storms of life and feel like innocent victims in this broken, fallen and sometimes evil world, it is easy to only be aware of the pain and loss, but we can trust and be certain that above the dark clouds is a loving Father who will redeem all evil and reshape it into His perfect plan.

Remember also that pain and trial are instruments that God can use to reach people who are far from Him. As C. S. Lewis brilliantly stated:

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

God is all-powerful and loving. Let’s trust in His plan and share the most powerful and loving message ever proclaimed, the Good News about Jesus Christ, the One who will “wipe every tear from our eyes and make all things new!” (Revelation 21:4).

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Surrendering Control

This is one of the critical evidences that one is an authentic follower of Jesus; do you just believe the right stuff about Jesus, like you have your ticket to heaven, or do you genuinely desire to conform to His image. Do you allow the Holy Spirit control over your life, including your decisions, your ambitions, your marriage, your family, your leisure time?

Quotes:

Do we have any inner resources at the moment when we are accosted by the Holy One…? Immediately our credentials of independence vanish, and we cease to carry ourselves with the swagger of the executive who knows what’s up and has all under control; we become aware of innate poverty, our next-breath dependence, and a numbness that invades the roots of our littleness and realness. — Brennan Manning

God plays a game with the soul called, “the loser wins;” a game in which the one who holds the poorest cards does best. The Pharisee’s consciousness that he had such an excellent hand really prevented him from taking a single trick. — Evelyn Underhill

Top 10 Ways to Relinquish Control:

  1. Make frequent use of Jesus’ prayer, “Not my will, but Yours.”.
  2. Meditate on Jesus’ attitude in Philippians 2:1-18, being a servant, humble and obedient.
  3. Read Roy Hession’s book, The Calvary Road for a new perspective on brokenness and surrender. (Get the Book)
  4. Make a habit of not making important decisions alone.
  5. Live by a schedule that allows for spontaneity and reflection.
  6. Experiment with fasting one day a week for a month.
  7. Make a list of potential addictions in your life.
  8. Ask your best friend if you have any controlling habits.
  9. Commit yourself to not motivate people through guilt.
  10. This month give away both some money and some time.

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Leaders and Bosses

Men, some of you guys are the boss, and I suppose the rest of you have a boss, but have you ever considered what the Bible teaches about the two. It appears that Scripture addresses the issue of leadership more than just being a boss. I guess the contemporary application of slaves and masters (Ephesians 6:5, 9, Colossians 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18) may resemble the employee/employer relationship, but I sense that Jesus would rather have leaders more than bosses. Many who think they are leading are really just lording over other people (Mark 10:42).

I think that many people confuse leadership with power and control. We tend to believe that a person in a position of authority or someone with a title has their position or title due to their leadership qualities. But, in many cases there is no connection between a position and that person’s leadership ability. Just having a title does not make someone a leader.

Years ago I taught a pastoral ministries course on leadership at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia and emphasized that leadership is all about influence. Everyone has the ability to influence others, no matter where you are in the organization. There is a huge difference between being a boss and being a leader. I recently read the following:

  1. The boss drives group members; the leader coaches them.
  2. The boss depends upon authority; the leader on good will.
  3. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.
  4. The boss says “I;” the leader says “we.”
  5. The boss assigns the task, the leader sets the pace.
  6. The boss says, “Get there on time;” the leader gets there ahead of time.
  7. The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.
  8. The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how.
  9. The boss makes work a drudgery; the leader makes it a game.
  10. The boss says, “Go;” the leader says, “Let’s go.”

– Author unknown

So, as you consider those over whom you have influence, how can you be a better leader?

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