Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Take a Break? Free to Follow, Free to Rest – Purity 751

Take a Break? Free to Follow, Free to Rest – Purity 751

Purity 751 06/07/2022 Purity 751 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a group of palm trees on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale comes to us from a friend who enjoyed a long weekend getaway to the Lago Mar Resort and Club back on May 27th.  

Full disclosure, I did take some creative liberties with the photo by cropping out my friend’s resting feet at the edge of this photo in the shade of an unseen palm tree, to give their feet privacy?, and to highlight the natural beauty of God’s creation. 

Well, it’s Tuesday, and even though it is only the second day of the first full work week in the month of June, I was moved to spontaneously take a nontypical break from my normal morning discipline of exercise and instead caught a few extra z’s and some restless rest before my nonnegotiable time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.  

As we have committed ourselves of a lifestyle of walking in the Spirit we have chosen to be a disciple of Christ and that is a path that requires discipline.  If you didn’t know it, the root word of discipline is “disciple” and the root word for disciple is “student”.  So in our choice to be a disciplined disciple of Christ we have decided that we will seek to learn from Jesus and be determined to apply his wisdom to the way we live our lives.  

But unlike, the other “disciplines” of the world, our membership to the body of Christ is not based on our rigid adherence to a moral code or based on our performance, our adoption into the family of God is a product of God’s grace. It’s a free gift of love from the Creator of the universe and once you place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love or take you out of His royal family.  

We can do nothing to earn our salvation and status as a child of God and there is nothing we have to do to maintain it.   

What? Are you serious? I thought being a Christian was all about “doing stuff”, that if I become I become a Christian I inherit a long list of “gotta’s” as in:

“I gotta go to church”

“I gotta be good”

“I gotta read the Bible”

“ I gotta do this, I gotta do that” 

And I thought it included a whole list of “can’ts”

As in “I can’t do this or I can’t do that.”  

Unfortunately, this is how most people view being a Christian. Ignorance and some legalistic church cultures have led to this view but it’s an immature understanding of who we are in Christ and what being a Christian is all about.  This view of “gotta’s” and “can’ts” is looking at our Christian faith as a religion, not at what it actually is: a relationship with God.   

Unlike human relationships and memberships to certain worldly clubs or disciplines, our relationship with God is not performance based. It is not something that can be lost through our failure to perform . 

When God invites you into His family, it is with no conditions and it only requires your humble surrender to the Lordship of Christ. When we become Christians.  we stop relying solely on our abilities and decide to put our faith and trust in Christ to save us and to guide us through life.  

Our faith is an acknowledgement of the truth of who Christ is: the Messiah, the Son of God, and God the Son, and it includes our decision to follow Him.  Like the original Apostles call, we are invited to follow Christ, but we are still free regarding how we choose to follow.  

That’s the amazing thing about grace, it’s God’s unmerited favor to us and for us. Unmerited means we didn’t earn it and since we didn’t earn it we can’t lose it. Our position in Christ is steady.

But the harmony of our relationship and the peace we enjoy will depend on how much we abide in Christ and depend on how we relate to God.  

If we approach our relationship with God as a list of requirements and that is something that is based on our performance, rather than a relationship that is permanent and based on love, we will struggle with the acceptance of our identity in Christ and will be an emotional mess as we will cycle between anxiety, anger, and depression by trying to meet the perfect standards of attitudes and behavior that we feel we need to have in order to be accepted by God.  

But the thing is, we were completely accepted by God, the moment we placed our faith in Christ.    

If we are anxious, angry, or depressed about our performance as a Christian, we have wrongly taken God’s invitation to relationship and turned it into a religion where we separate ourselves from the Lord based on our performance.  

The joy of our relationship with God comes from knowing that we are free to follow Him in the way we choose.  

But the thing about being in God’s family is that you quickly discover that your old worldly ways and sins don’t really match up with who you are now in Christ and when we behave in our old ways it doesn’t feel right anymore and the more we push to stay in our old ways the more pain it causes us.  

When we decide to obey and follow God’s call on our lives, we begin to discover that the gospel is true, we really are new creations in Christ. But our old patterns of thinking and behaving, and the world, the flesh, and the devil, beckon us to stay in the darkness because those shadows are familiar, and the light of Christ is bright and good but when we approach it there is no place for our sins to hide. 

God sees us for who we are and loves us anyway. He loves us so much that He doesn’t us to stay in the confusion, ignorance, and pain of our sin and gently beckons us to trust Him and to come into the light of our new lives in Christ.  

But He doesn’t force us to go, and we are free to stay in the shadows even though God, and we, ourselves, know it would be better to go His way.   But God doesn’t force us to march in obedience to Him, Christ came to give us rest.  When we decide to follow Him, we discover that His burden is light because His path is the path of righteousness and blessings. 

The old adage of “choose to sin, choose to suffer” is so true. But the opposite is also true, when we choose to obey, we choose to prosper in the riches of God’s grace, mercy, and love.”

The amazing thing about grace is that, we don’t have to obey perfectly to receive the benefit of our relationship with God.  The more we put in the more we get out of our relationship with God but God knows us and realizes we are not perfect, so He allows us to follow Him at our own pace, and by God, He even gives us the option of taking a break! He will even call us to rest or to wait on Him.  

So this morning, as much as I thrive in my normal morning discipline of exercise, it was okay to rest. It was okay to take a break and to do so with the full assurance that God wouldn’t love me any less.   

I could have taken a break from my normal Bible study and prayers too, but I have come to know the benefits of drawing into God’s presence and while I am not 100% in anything I do, those means of communication with the Lord are about as “non-negotiable” as I can get.  They are something I simply don’t want to take a rest from, normally.

But guess what, sometimes I don’t sit down and do my normal prayers or read the Bible, and that’s okay too. Because I do it all to draw close to God, not to be accepted by Him. 

But I have to admit that there isn’t a day that passes where I don’t at least take a moment to thank the Lord for who He is or for what He has done in my life. Because of His grace, I know His love and His rest and that causes me to thank Him, and love Him a little more each day.

So, don’t beat yourself up for not following perfectly, or for not doing all the gotta’s, or for not forsaking all the cant’s, that God’s word indicates are a good idea or practice for His children.  We are not accepted by our performance.  

But keep walking and talking with God, because even though our acceptance, significance, and security as a child of the King is assured, the measure of the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives does depend on how much we are enjoying God’s presence, how much we are learning about Him, and how much of His wisdom we are applying to our lives.  

So take a break, take a rest. It’s okay. But after you rest, jump up and rejoice because God never leaves you and is always there waiting to walk and talk with you again,   


Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 3:10-11 (NLT2)
10  Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.
11  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

Today’s Bible verse talks of how, because of God’s grace, we can continue to build on and allow others to build on the foundation that we have in Christ.  

As Christians, the foundation of our new lives is faith in Christ alone! Our faith in Christ saves us and brings us into God’s royal family through the forgiveness of our sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.   We are new creations the moment we put our faith in Christ. That saving faith is a solid foundation that we can stand on from here to eternity, to infinity and beyond!

This passage in Corinthians describes the process of growth in our Christian faith.  With Christ as our foundation, we can build a life of a Christian disciple. We can allow others to teach us what they have learned from God’s word and from their walk of faith. We can allow them to help us build up our life as a Christian.  

So that is good news, and it indicates that we are to be in a Christian community where others can help and encourage us in our maturation. We are not in this by ourselves. We have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the word of God, and we have the body of Christ to help us build our lives as disciples of Christ.  

But as today’s verse also warns us, we have to “be very careful” and be discerning in who we choose to build on the foundation of our faith.   We must know the word of God for ourselves because the enemy would like to like to lead us astray and may send false teachers and counterfeit brethren into our lives to build lies into our faith.  

Christian cults, society at large, false religions, and those who push legalism or licentiousness are all out in the world looking to push us to extremes and would love to build lies upon our Christian foundation.  

Syncretism (the blending of faiths), the belief that there is more than one way to God, disrespect for God’s word, and moral compromises are all bricks that the enemy would love to put on top of our pure foundation of faith in Christ.  

So we must be very careful to reject what is false and only build up our faith with the wisdom that is confirmed by the word of God.

Hey, we are all works in progress and if we know the word of God we will know “what’s up to code” and what’s not. We can recognize counterfeits by being familiar with the real.  If we measure by the word of God twice, we’ll only have to cut once with the way we live our lives. And we can be assured that we are building on the pure foundation of our faith in Christ, with only that which is good, pure, and holy.



As always, I invite all to go to 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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

Ponder the Amnesty Offered to the Nations. Take a Retreat

The point of that fragmentary list is to simply illustrate whole populations living in rebellion against the true God and cut off from the only One who can reconcile them to their Maker. This means destruction for the unbelieving and dishonor to Christ. He owns this world, and the allegiance of every person is his right. Every soul and every state is his. Abraham Kuyper put it memorably: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ ” Christ has come into this mutinous world, which he made for his own glory, and paid for an amnesty with his own blood. Everyone who lays down the weaponry of unbelief will be absolved from all crimes against the Sovereign of the universe. By faith alone enemies will become happy subjects of an everlasting kingdom of justice and joy. Advancing this cause with Christ is worth your life.

No, you don’t have to be a missionary to admire and advance the great purposes of God to be known and praised and enjoyed among all peoples. But if you want to be most fully satisfied with God as he triumphs in the history of redemption, you can’t go on with business as usual—doing your work, making your money, giving your tithe, eating, sleeping, playing, and going to church. Instead you need to stop and go away for a few days with a Bible and notepad; and pray and think about how your particular time and place in life fits into the great purpose of God to make the nations glad in him. How will you join the great global purpose of God expressed in Psalm 67:4, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy”?

The Meaning of Your Discontent

Many of you should stay where you are in your present job, and simply ponder how you can fit your particular skills and relationships and resources more strategically into the global purpose of your heavenly Father. But for others reading this book, it is going to be different. Many of you are simply not satisfied with what you are doing. As J. Campbell White said, the output of your lives is not satisfying your deepest spiritual ambitions. We must be careful here. Every job has its discouragements and its seasons of darkness. We must not interpret such experiences automatically as a call to leave our post.

But if the discontent with your present situation is deep, recurrent, and lasting, and if that discontent grows in Bible-saturated soil, God may be calling you to a new work. If, in your discontent, you long to be holy, to walk pleasing to the Lord, and to magnify Christ with your one, brief life, then God may indeed be loosening your roots in order to transplant you to a place and a ministry where the deep spiritual ambitions of your soul can be satisfied. It is true that God can be known and enjoyed in every legitimate vocation; but when he deploys you from one place to the next, he offers fresh and deeper drinking at the fountain of his fellowship. God seldom calls us to an easier life, but always calls us to know more of him and drink more deeply of his sustaining grace.

Should I Go on Being a Pastor?

I try to take stock of my own ministry in this way. Every year at our church we have a “Missions Week.” I preach on missions; we have guest speakers. The challenge is given. People move toward missions, make commitments, and join the pre-missions nurture program. And every year I reexamine my life as a pastor at this church. I look at what I am doing in the light of God’s global purpose, and in view of the incredible spiritual darkness and misery of the unreached peoples of this earth. I ask myself, Is this the most strategic investment of my life for the sake of God’s purpose to make the nations glad in him? I ask my wife, “Noël, are you sensing any tugs to move closer to the front lines of the unreached peoples?”

Our church mission statement puts the world “spread” in the dominant position: “We exist to spread a passion for God’s supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” So I ask, Am I fulfilling this mission best in the role I now have? When the Lord calls me to give an account of my ministry in the last day, will I be able to say, “Lord, I stayed at Bethlehem because I believed I could be most instrumental there in accomplishing your purpose to make a name for yourself among the nations, and to gather your sheep from all the peoples of the earth”? When I can no longer say yes to that question, then my leadership here will be finished.

And You?

And so it is with many of you. Big issues are in the offing. May God help you. May God free you. May God give you a fresh, Christ-exalting vision for your life—whether you go to an unreached people or stay firmly and fruitfully at your present post. May your vision get its meaning from God’s great purpose to make the nations glad in him. May the cross of Christ be your only boast, and may you say, with sweet confidence, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 177–179.

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