The Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch – It’s the Holy Spirit, Charlie Brown! - Purity 547
Purity 547 10/12/2021 Purity 547 Podcast
Today’s photo of a misty morning, fog covered pumpkin patch in Johnsonville NY comes to us from yours truly as I simply had to stop on the side of the road to capture this October scene on the morning of the 7th day of the 10th month.
The fog wasn’t as thick as pea soup, but you can see that it was substantial as the pumpkin patch was covered in mystery and even the brilliance of the morning sun was shrouded by it. If you have been following the recent events in my life, you may also know that this pumpkin patch and the sun’s brilliance wasn’t the only thing shrouded in mystery on the morning of the seventh.
Although I may have been able to guess that the fog would clear and the sun’s brilliance would dominate creating a pleasant October day, at the time when I took this photo I had no idea that I was to receive information that would lead me to propose to my fiancé later the same day.
In the aftermath of joy, at her acceptance of my invitation to become my wife, my future life partner and I took some time yesterday to discuss how God had moved in each of our lives to bring us together and how we could have never guessed the far reaching consequences to decisions that we each had made months ago that would eventually lead to us meeting, becoming friends, and agreeing to marriage.
As two travelers on the path of Christian Discipleship, we had only intended to be faithful to God’s call on our lives individually seeking to serve Him and to know Him more. In our seeking the Lord, we met each other and as our initial impressions and misconceptions about one another were clarified so we could see the truth about who we each were, we realized that we were both the “sincere” Christians who could fulfill our mutual desires for a Christian spouse.
Not only did our recent paths lead us to one another for marriage, but the Lord was also working in both our lives to deepen and mature our faith in Him individually. In the preceding months, I was maturing in my faith by establishing and leading a Christian Discipleship Ministry, starting a podcast, and receiving healing and instruction about the pains of divorce and the contemplation of moving on.
At the same time, my fiancé was being drawn to trust in the Lord at a deeper level. She was challenged to step out of her comfort zone by going out of her way to seek instruction and to apply the things she “always knew” in her mind about the Christian faith at a heart or experiential level. Beyond reading a book or gleaning a few insights from a Bible study. she also learned about the truth of the Lord’s presence in her life by asking for and receiving the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. She also experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in her life to aide her through the Steps to Freedom in Christ to resolve personal and spiritual conflicts to help her to know experientially her freedom in Christ.
We both marveled over how the Lord worked in each of us individually and how he brought us together. We can now see how the “blessings” that we each experienced was the result of each of us choosing to “seek the Lord” through surrender and obedience to His ways and repentance from the things of this world that held us back.
We both recognized that the blessings didn’t come overnight and that our walks were a process of pursuing the Lord’s will for our lives and were marked by our individual desires to do His will with no expectation of specific results.
I pointed out that although my fiancé had received a supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence in her life, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Before she “received”, she had repented by making a decision to seek the Lord’s will for her life and to be faithful to follow where He led her. And after hearing about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, she researched what was said about it and most importantly “sincerely” asked the Lord to receive it. Shortly after her asking, she received.
Being October, I made the silly analogy that it was like Charles Schultz’ Peanut’s character, Linus Van Pelt seeking to have visitation from the Great Pumpkin. Linus’ Great Pumpkin theology stated that the GP only “rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is most sincere”.
Our seeking the Lord, our repentance, our obedience, and our faithfulness to preserve in “walking in the Spirit” and asking for the baptism of the Holy Spirit demonstrates our “most sincere” hearts for the Lord.
While I can’t codify or write a prescription for how you experience this encounter with the Lord’s presence, all the testimonies that I have heard, including my own, in which someone receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit have the common elements of:
1. Seeking the Lord (learning and sincerely seeking God’s wisdom and ways from the study of the Bible , and His presence in prayer and worship)
2. Repentance (turning from sin, or surrendering from habit that draw us from God, choosing to forsake the world’s ways for the spiritual path of Christian Discipleship)
3. Prayer (communing with the Lord in prayer and specifically asking to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, including thanksgiving, worship, and praise).
Beyond this, I point out that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is given as a sign that is to confirm our faith beyond any and all doubts and that naturally leads to an increased desire for sanctification and service to the Lord.
I like to be clear and point out that we are not running after experiences, we are seeking the Lord and His will for our lives. While we may have moments of intense peace, love, and joy in the Lord’s presence as we walk out our faith, the purpose of our walk is not “good feelings”. The Lord calls us to follow Him and leads us into “good works” that He has prepared for us to walk into.
So seek the Lord with a “most sincere” heart and follow the path that He guides you in. Generally, I would say the Lord will guide you to His word, repentance, and good works that will bring Him glory.
So keep walking and talking with God because even though we may not be “overcome by the Spirit” in a dramatic way every day of our journey, when we are faithful to follow the Lord we know that He will never leave us or forsake us and that because He is omnipresent, we are always living in His presence.
To see Him in our lives, we only need to look through the mist of the world’s lies and see the brilliance of the Son of God who saves all who put their faith in Him and who calls his disciples to experience the abundant new life that His sacrifice on the cross paid for.
(There is more content to help you walk out your journey of faith at MT4Christ dot org. You can also subscribe to the mt4christ247 podcast to hear this message, our discipleship classes, and our weekly Bible Study, on Apple, Google, Spotify, and Amazon Podcasts, as well as Audible and Podbean).
Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are:
Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT2)
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Today’s verse points to the individual responsibility of every Christian to obey the Lord with the simple desire to do that which pleases Him.
Today’s verse speaks of the integrity of the Christian disciple. The Philippians “always followed” Paul’s instructions when he was present with him, but he is clear to point out to them that just because he is “out of sight, and out of mind” it doesn’t mean that you stop obeying the Lord’s will for your life.
One definition of integrity that is thrown around Christian circles is that integrity is “doing the right thing when no one is watching.” In truth, because God is omnipresent and omniscient, Someone is always watching: God.
But the idea behind that definition of integrity, is the proving of the “sincerity” of our beliefs or Christian faith. Do you really believe what you say you believe or are you just “putting on a show”? When no one is watching, are your actions consistent with your faith?
But I always like to make sure that Christians understand that “doing the right thing”, even when no one is watching, isn’t necessarily going to confirm your faith.
“Doing the right thing” is great but are you doing it for the right reasons?
Today’s verse encourages us to “follow instructions” but it also points to our proper motivation: our relationship with the Lord. We are to have “deep reverence and fear” for the Lord which I would equate to “proper understanding and respect for the Lord”.
Deep reverence comes from properly understanding that God is who He says He is: the eternal, unchanging, all powerful, all knowing, loving, good, and holy Creator of all things.
Fear comes from respecting who God is and realizing that the proper response to Him as our Sovereign King, who graciously made a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Him, is obedience and love.
When we are in relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus as verse 13 says:
“God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Our “doing the right thing” is only a demonstration of our faith when we “do it for the right reason”: loving God, having the heartfelt desire “to do what pleases Him,”.
So as disciples of Jesus Christ, the buck stops here. We individually must “do the right thing” which is to obey the Lord’s instructions – not out of a fear of punishment – we have been forgiven and promised eternal life after all- but out of our desire to do what pleases God. We are motivated to keep walking in the spirit not to please men, or even with the hope to receive rewards, we surrender our lives to the Lord’s ways and service because we love Him.
So rejoice in the new life that was graciously bought for you, do what is pleasing to the Lord, and be assured that not only are you doing the right thing when no one else is around, you are doing it for the right reason, your love for the One who made it all and gave it all for you.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:
E. What Is the Progression of Courtship?
Kyle no longer feels nervous when he knocks on Jennifer's door. When her mother or father answers, he is invited in immediately—no longer an intruder who might steal away their little girl. Now his presence is welcome as if he were one of the family. For months on end, Kyle has earned an invisible emblem of honor by proving himself trustworthy. Likewise, Jennifer feels comfortable in his company, at ease and safe under his caring protection.
Progressing from acquaintance to friendship to something more has moved at a snail's pace...but both know this has been time well invested in their future. And now the time has come for the next step in their courtship. With the blessing of her parents, Kyle kneels down and takes Jennifer's hand in his...asking her to be his bride, for he knows the treasure he has found in Jennifer and...
"He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord." (Proverbs 18:22)
The primary difference between dating and courtship lies in the intent of the relationship.
For many, the dating relationship is driven by romantic connection for the sole purpose of enjoyment. Casual daters "try on" other people to see how well they fit—their looks, their personality, their style. Dating can sometimes be more centered on self. And while there may be awareness that marriage could be considered, the presiding purpose for casual dating is immediate pleasure.
In a courting relationship, both people understand that the purpose of the relationship is to consider marriage. Courting takes a long-term view. It's not simply a Christian way of dating, nor is there anything "casual" about the approach. Courting is best suited to those who are spiritually and emotionally ready for marriage—those who give sincere love—not based on emotion, but on devotion....
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9)
The Progression of Courtship
- Commitment to Christ
- Be confident of who you are in Christ: Your identity, love, significance, and security are in Him.
- Look for a mate among like-minded individuals, equally committed to Christ.
- Integrated Interests
- Serve the Lord in ministry, utilizing your God-given talents and gifts.
- See who works alongside you in ministry, serving in similar areas.
- Address Appropriate Areas
- Lay the foundation for relationship by ensuring your emotional healing from past pain.
- Prepare for building a relationship by developing spiritual maturity and godly character.
- Find Friendship
- —Acquaintance: Focus on being content in Christ and serving God as a single person.
- Refrain from emotional intimacy.
- Casual interaction is acceptable, but avoid one-on-one activities.
- —Casual Friendship. Participate in church activities with other individuals in group settings.
- Refrain from emotional intimacy.
- Share surface feelings but avoid one-on-one activities.
- —Close Friendship. Share God's vision, discover spiritual gifts, limit intimate one-on-one talk.
- Share deeper feelings but limit emotional involvement or attachment.
- Focus on external social activities instead of one-on-one intimate activities.
- Side hugs are acceptable.
- —Intimate Friendship: Engage in spiritual talk at its deepest, most intimate level. Discuss possibility of marriage and the purpose of courtship as related to your love for God. Discuss the need for spiritual accountability.
- Share your innermost thoughts, fears, failures, hopes, and dreams.
- Support each other in times of crisis, pain, and joy. Limit one-on-one emotional interaction.
- Side hugs and holding hands are acceptable.
- Acquire Accountability
- —Begin to become one spiritually, spending one-on-one time in shared prayer and in church.
- —Commit your courtship to glorify God and help each other grow in Christ.
- —Start pre-engagement counseling. Seek parental or godly counsel for accountability.
- Promising Purity
- —Discuss and document boundaries and limits of a pure relationship.
- —Increase one-on-one emotional time together.
- —Side hugs, holding hands, short kisses are acceptable. Limited cuddling.
- Entering Engagement
- —Continue becoming one spiritually through prayer, Bible study, church attendance; seek shared ministry opportunities.
- —Spend one-on-one time sharing deep emotional feelings through vulnerable communication.
- —Increase holding hands, light kissing and hugging (with caution), and nonsexual touching (not intimate areas).
As the relationship moves toward marriage, continue growth and maturity in becoming unified through prayer, Bible study, church involvement, and ministry. Relate at the deepest spiritual level. Make more and more decisions together as one in Christ. Set aside time each day to share feelings and reflect Christ's love....
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus." (1 John 4:16-17)
Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship