Times of Refreshing & the Perils of a Parent’s Unconditional Love- Purity 708
Purity 708 04/18/2022 Purity 708 Podcast
Today’s photo of a somewhat heavenly blue sky with a multitude of cumulus clouds over a farmer’s field and distant tree line comes to us from yours truly as I captured this site while out enjoying a country side Easter stroll with my canine friend, Harley.
I have gotten in the habit of letting Harley off of his leash because I delighted in seeing his unadulterated joy in running over the country fields and he had proven himself to be obedient by returning to me when called. So lately, I would just walk with him on for a short while and then would stop him, hold him by the collar for a moment, take his leash off, and then release him with an enthusiastic “Go!” and Harley would fly across the fields along Waite Road and I would encourage his progress by calling out “Run, Harley, Run.” And when Harley began to stray too far in the distance or if I saw him begin to eat grass, I would call out to him to come back to me, and he would obediently come back to walk beside me. I enjoyed letting Harley have his freedom and he had really proven himself to be true blue in his obedience.
Until, yesterday! Now don’t worry. Harley didn’t run away. In fact, Harley remained true blue in his obedience to return to me when called. But yesterday he decided to exercise his freedom in ways I didn’t anticipate. Yesterday, while running through the fields, Harley found some cow manure and for reasons that can only make sense to a dog decided to roll in it.
On other occasions Haley would roll in the fields but when I saw this behavior I would call to him and he would return to me and he would come back to me a little dusty and dirty but the results were never too bad. But yesterday, he lingered in an area of the field where I couldn’t observe what he was doing and he ignored my initial commands to return. I had gotten all the way back to the house and called out almost half a dozen times before Harley responded by running back to me. And then I realized he was covered in “mud”. It had rained the night before so I figured it was mud but when I brought him into the house the smell told me otherwise. So Harley got to spend a good deal of Easter Sunday outside and will be getting a thorough cleaning some time today, I would imagine.
Yup, I only do weekends at my countryside home, and the task of cleaning up the mess will fall to my wife, who graciously is taking care of her daughter’s dog for the next three years while she will be serving in the Marine Corp.
A mother’s love knows no bounds and will accept all types of burdens in the name of love.
TammyLyn’s love for her kids was on full display yesterday as she went to great lengths to not only make a massive Easter Sunday feast and a prodigious Easter egg hunt, but also created individualized scavenger hunt type clues that lead to each child’s Easter basket. TammyLyn even created one for me!
Prior to yesterday, I had suffered from a mighty case of Easter Humbug as I had always been triggered by seemingly pagan symbols, the Sunday-best pageantry, and the lukewarm expressions of faith on display that reflected religious tradition and familial obligation more than a real relationship with God through genuine faith in our Resurrected Savior. But Sunday morning I decided to do an somewhat intensive study of the Resurrection in the Scriptures and somewhere along the way the Holy Spirit showed me that the hoopla around the holiday – the baskets and the plastic eggs filled with candy, represented the love that parents had for their children and how the parent’s love was a reflection of God’s love for us that was demonstrated in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
But unlike a parent’s “unconditional love” that will selflessly serve and sacrifice for people who will selfishly take and not give, and that and that will love, forgive, and accept sometimes without correction. Parents take on all types of burdens for the ones they love and sometimes just surrender to cleaning up the eventual messes that will come as the ones they love so much fail to listen to the lessons they try to impart.
Just like Harley ran off with his freedom and rolled around in the muck and mire, sometimes our children can choose a path of rebellion or compromise that will continually lead to calamity and suffering. Although we are to love our children, the word of God teaches us instruct them in the way we should go but we can’t make them go the way they should go. They have free will and if they roll around in filth we can’t stop them.
And even though we may continue to love them and accept them regardless of the mistakes and messes they make. There will be great consequences to pay if they don’t learn from their mistakes and change their direction.
I thought about Jesus’ crucifixion and the thieves on the cross next to Jesus and how they each must have had parents who loved them regardless of their crimes. On one hand we have the thief that represents Christians, the one who saw Jesus for who He was and asked to be made part of his kingdom. That’s a great story and I’m sure that thief’s parents would have been proud of their prodigal son’s decision to repent in the final hour.
But what about the other thief’s parents?
I would imagine they still loved him and they could have probably told you of some of the good things they had done in life before getting tried and executed. The parents might even blamed the government for not helping their child to change. They probably could have excused the thief’s mocking Jesus as misunderstanding drawn from ignorance. But no matter how much parents of the mocking thief loved him, their unconditional love and support was not enough to save him.
In my extensive study yesterday, I came across
Acts 3:19 (NKJV) where Peter said:
19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
And was struck by the injunction that Peter didn’t say “just believe” He said to repent. And not only were we to have our sins blotted out, we were to have times of refreshing that comes from the presence of the Lord. That points to a new vibrant relationship with the Lord and the turning away from our worldly ways to the abundant life of purity that only the presence of the Lord in someone’s life can make possible.
I was also struck by Jesus’s words to Peter in:
John 21:19 (NKJV) Jesus
19 … said to him, "Follow Me."
Easter is over. By the end of the week the candy will most likely be gone and the eggs and baskets will be put away until next year. The obligation to “go to church” and “put on your Sunday best” as been met, or it hasn’t.
But now we can decide, just how much we believe and how much we want of Jesus.
The words of Peter and Christ Himself tell us there is more to the Christian faith than “just believing”. Times of refreshing await those who choose to stay in the presence of the Lord and who decide to follow Christ all the days of their life.
So I encourage you to keep walking and talking with God, the love poured out for you only matters if you receive and decided to stand it in by living according to the wisdom and ways of the One who offers to set you free.
You can go where ever you want and roll around in the dirt of the world if you choose, but the Lord invites you to walk with Him to learn that His yoke is easy and His burden is light and that there are times of refreshing available in His presence.
Today’s Bible verses comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT2)
19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Today’s Bible verses reminds us of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in all believers and that our bodies, souls, and spirits have been purchased by the Lord at a high price.
Christ died for us. That’s a fact. God’s beloved Son laid down His life so we could have peace with God and so we could live with Him forever. The forgiveness of our sins and the cost of life eternal was significant.
Today’s verse reminds us of that and it also reminds us that when we put our faith in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit, we belong to God. By accepting the gift of God’s grace, we are adopted into His family, become a part of His kingdom, and become His prized possession. Christians belong to God. We do not belong to ourselves.
So it matters what we do with our bodies. That body you have belongs to the Lord and we are not to use them to violate God’s instructions for use or that would defile us or dishonor the One who made and saved us.
The preceding passages of scripture before these verses warn about sexual immorality and these verses tell us that we are not free to just do whatever we want with our bodies. These verses tell us that our bodies, that have been purchased at a great price by the Lord, are not to be defiled and should be used to honor the Lord. We are to be holy as God is holy.
Beyond, sexual immorality these verses should cause us to honor God with our bodies by being good stewards to them by avoiding harmful or addictive substances and by keeping our bodies physically fit?
Why? Because we have been bought and paid for by the Lord and our bodies should be pure and used to further Hs kingdom. We are to share gospel and do good works as long as there is life in us and thus we should do our part to stay healthy to serve the Lord. The good news is that by being good stewards to our bodies we not only will be able to us them for the Lord’s will, we will also enjoy the benefits of not suffering for our poor choices.
So, rejoice that the Holy Spirit is in you and honor God by honoring the body He gave you through healthy living and by using it to do good works and to tell others about the grace, mercy and goodness of our Heavenly Father.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org 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.
The Crystal-Clear Reason for Living
The Bible is crystal-clear: God created us for his glory. Thus says the Lord, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:6–7). Life is wasted when we do not live for the glory of God. And I mean all of life. It is all for his glory. That is why the Bible gets down into the details of eating and drinking. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We waste our lives when we do not weave God into our eating and drinking and every other part by enjoying and displaying him.
What does it mean to glorify God? It may get a dangerous twist if we are not careful. Glorify is like the word beautify. But beautify usually means “make something more beautiful than it is,” improve its beauty. That is emphatically not what we mean by glorify in relation to God. God cannot be made more glorious or more beautiful than he is. He cannot be improved, “nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything” (Acts 17:25). Glorify does not mean add more glory to God.
It is more like the word magnify. But here too we can go wrong. Magnify has two distinct meanings. In relation to God, one is worship and one is wickedness. You can magnify like a telescope or like a microscope. When you magnify like a microscope, you make something tiny look bigger than it is. A dust mite can look like a monster. Pretending to magnify God like that is wickedness. But when you magnify like a telescope, you make something unimaginably great look like what it really is. With the Hubble Space Telescope, pinprick galaxies in the sky are revealed for the billion-star giants that they are. Magnifying God like that is worship.
We waste our lives when we do not pray and think and dream and plan and work toward magnifying God in all spheres of life. God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. In the night sky of this world God appears to most people, if at all, like a pinprick of light in a heaven of darkness. But he created us and called us to make him look like what he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God. We are meant to image forth in the world what he is really like.
Does Being Loved Mean Being Made Much Of?
For many people, this is not obviously an act of love. They do not feel loved when they are told that God created them for his glory. They feel used. This is understandable given the way love has been almost completely distorted in our world. For most people, to be loved is to be made much of. Almost everything in our Western culture serves this distortion of love. We are taught in a thousand ways that love means increasing someone’s self-esteem. Love is helping someone feel good about themselves. Love is giving someone a mirror and helping him like what he sees.
This is not what the Bible means by the love of God. Love is doing what is best for someone. But making self the object of our highest affections is not best for us. It is, in fact, a lethal distraction. We were made to see and savor God—and savoring him, to be supremely satisfied, and thus spread in all the world the worth of his presence. Not to show people the all-satisfying God is not to love them. To make them feel good about themselves when they were made to feel good about seeing God is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors.
Pathological at the Grand Canyon
The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves. And each of these rare and precious moments in life—beside the Canyon, before the Alps, under the stars—is an echo of a far greater excellence, namely, the glory of God. That is why the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).
Sometimes people say that they cannot believe that, if there is a God, he would take interest in such a tiny speck of reality called humanity on Planet Earth. The universe, they say, is so vast, it makes man utterly insignificant. Why would God have bothered to create such a microscopic speck called the earth and humanity and then get involved with us?
Beneath this question is a fundamental failure to see what the universe is about. It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself. And he says it for us to learn and enjoy—namely, that he is infinitely great and powerful and wise and beautiful. The more the Hubble Telescope sends back to us about the unfathomable depths of space, the more we should stand in awe of God. The disproportion between us and the universe is a parable about the disproportion between us and God. And it is an understatement. But the point is not to nullify us but to glorify him.
Loving People Means Pointing Them to the All-Satisfying God
Now back to what it means to be loved. The idea has been almost totally distorted. Love has to do with showing a dying soul the life-giving beauty of the glory of God, especially his grace. Yes, as we will see, we show God’s glory in a hundred practical ways that include care about food and clothes and shelter and health. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Every good work should be a revelation of the glory of God. What makes the good deed an act of love is not the raw act, but the passion and the sacrifice to make God himself known as glorious. Not to aim to show God is not to love, because God is what we need most deeply. And to have all else without him is to perish in the end. The Bible says that you can give away all that you have and deliver your body to be burned and have not love (1 Corinthians 13:3). If you don’t point people to God for everlasting joy, you don’t love. You waste your life.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship