Purity 387 04/08/2021 Purity 387 Podcast
Today’s photo of a pathway to the wide-open spaces of a beach in Onslow, North Carolina comes from a friend’s February vacation. I love the way the photo invites us to experience the tranquil serenity of the beach below and to explore the areas that are unseen up and down the coast.
As is my habit I love to show pictures of pathways on Thursdays because I will be teaching a discipleship class tonight. I love encouraging people who have decided to deepen their walk with God by examining their experiences and by applying the principles of their identity in Christ to their lives.
When we realize that our faith in Christ was meant to not only secure our eternal destiny but was intended to give us the power to overcome, we can really experience the presence and peace of God as we go through this life. Despite our pasts or what consequences of it that we are dealing with, when we turn toward God and decide to follow His lead, we can lead a victorious life of an overcomer and take our hurts and use them to help others to see the power of a discipled life and to experience it for themselves.
The world’s narrative is dominated by a perspective of fear and suspicion but when you follow the Lord you are comforted and empowered by knowing that He is in control of the events of history and that He provides a way to find peace regardless of the state of the world.
So take that invitation to the wide-open spaces that God wants to lead you to. His ways are higher than our ways and when we discover the wisdom and peace that is found through trusting Him, the only regrets we will have is that we didn’t follow Him sooner.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
Today’s verse comes from a long list of directives that will guide the one who follows them into living a Christian life. Romans 12 urges the reader to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God, in verse 1, and to renew our minds to God’s way of thinking in verse 2. The text then provides practical advice to us in how to do those two things. I highly recommend that anyone who wants to live a Christian life to read Romans 12 in its entirety and to pray for the strength, wisdom, and patience to live according to its advice.
Today’s verse highlights three activities, attitudes, or disciplines that the Apostle Paul advises should be a part of a Christian’s life:
1. Rejoicing in Hope - One may think “why should I rejoice?” or “what should I hope for?”
Well, as a Christian, we should have cause to rejoice continuously from the fact that we have been personally selected by the Creator of the Universe to know Him and His truth and to dwell with Him forever. We have victory over death itself! We also have been given the power to overcome our sins as well. So there is plenty to rejoice about.
2. Being patient in tribulation - Our faith is Christ based, which means that our faith could be said to be Truth based because He is the way, the truth, and the life.
We believe in some supernatural spiritual things that defy the normal conceptions of logic, like a virgin birth and the dead being raised to life, but we also believe in reality.
Sometimes we will not receive what we hope for, especially if those things depend on other people or the favorable circumstances beyond our control. We may also face hate and resistance because of our faith or just because people will choose not to like us. This verse doesn’t say “if tribulations come”. It basically acknowledges that tribulations will be a part of our lives.
So although the things we may want and the treatment we receive from others are outside of our realm of control and tribulations will come, the one thing we can control is how we respond to them. Patience points to the ability to wait or to endure. Our faith faces the reality of hardships in life and responds with patience. So how can we be patient?
Again, our patience is not to be grounded in our ability to grin and bear it, it is to be grounded in the truth that we know God is aware of what we are going through and that He will be with us through it all. The way we can be patient is fueled by our constant communication with God, which leads to:
3. Continuing steadfastly in prayer - Prayer is our way to communicate with God.
Christians shouldn’t just hope for things and situations. They are called to bring their requests to God in prayer. The answers and the outcomes depend a lot upon what we are asking for, our level of maturity, and how we are walking with God but regardless of that God wants us to ask Him to demonstrate our trust, dependence, and active relationship with Him by praying to Him.
Beyond petitioning the Lord for what we want for ourselves or others, our prayers should be a continuous stream of conversations with the Lord. Whenever we are “by ourselves”, we can turn to the Lord and speak to Him about our day. Even if others are present, we can still communicate with Him in silent prayer because He can hear our thoughts and we have open lines of communication with Him through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
So keep walking and talking with God. Read the rest of Romans 12 to see how you are doing in other areas of your walk with God. No matter how you are progressing, remember that just knowing that the God is with us always can give us the reasons to rejoice, to hope, to be patient, and to pray.
I invite all to mt4chritst.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we begin to share from Dr. H. Norman Wright’s “Experiencing Grief”. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Wright’s books for your own private study and to support his work:
Pain and Denial
With any loss comes grief, and a companion of grief is pain. The pain of grief can be overwhelming. It's like a visitor who has overstayed his welcome. There will be days when you want this experience to be history. As you look around, you see the sun and billowing clouds. You wonder how it can shine like this while you have so much despair. How can life continue its steady progress in coming and going? How can flowers bloom and people laugh while your heart has broken? And as grief continues, the more you feel that things will never get better. But they will. Oh, they will.
We are not immune to pain, but we resist its intrusion. There are several ways we use to do this. Some fight the pain through denial. We say, "No, it isn't true" or attempt to live our lives as though nothing has happened. When you hear about the death, your first response is often, "No, that's not true. Tell me it isn't so! No" or, "You're mistaken." You're trying to absorb the news, and it takes time to filter through the shock. This is normal. You're trying to make sense of the nonsensical. But some continue this process, and that's what we call sensible. When asked how they are doing, their response is always, "I'm doing just fine," instead of honestly saying, "I am really hurting today." Denial can lead to even greater losses. The author of A Grace Disguised said of those who are unwilling to face their pain that "ultimately it diminishes the capacity of their souls to grow bigger in response to pain."
Grieving is moving through several levels of denial. Each stage brings home the reality of the loss a bit deeper and more painfully. We accept it first in our heads, then in our feelings, and finally we adjust life's pattern to reflect the reality of what has occurred. There is a price to pay for prolonged denial. The energy that must be expended to keep denial operating drains us, and in time we can be damaged emotionally, delaying our recovery.
Denial is used to block out the unthinkable, but it brings with it the fear of the unknown since you are denying the reality of what happened. As denial lessens, the pain begins to settle in; and as it does, the fear of the unknown diminishes. Denial is a cushion. It may help for a while, but then it turns against you, and you may need to ask yourself, "Is this keeping me from moving forward in my life?"
When I was in high school in the 1950s the song "The Great Pretender" was released. Many in their grief take on this role as they attempt to act as though they are handling everything well. You may feel you have to keep up pretenses or your former schedule. You don't. And you don't need to be afraid of upsetting others. Right now your attention needs to be focused on your life.
Some deal with this pain by bargaining, indulging themselves, or venting anger. But all of these are ways of attempting to deflect the pain. Gerald Sittser said, "The pain of loss is unrelenting. It stalks and chases until it catches us. It is as persistent as wind on the prairies, as constant as cold in the Antarctic, as erosive as a spring flood. It will not be denied and there is no escape from it." The psalmist knew this, "I weep with grief; my heart is heavy with sorrow" (Ps. 119:28 TLB).
Will the Scriptures help you with your pain? Yes and no. "The scriptures are not a medicine cabinet, filled with prescriptions to take the edge off of life. They are about a God who, during his most painful experience on earth, refused the wine mixed with myrrh that was offered him."
It helps to deal with your pain a little bit at a time. Don't try to accomplish too much, for there will be times when you'll need to take a break from your grief.
God bless you all!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship