Beyond the “Church Game” – Daily Spiritual Practice - Purity 959
Purity 959 02/06/2023 Purity 959 Podcast
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Today’s photo of Harley running free over the white farmland tundra underneath the blazing February sun comes to us from yours as I decided to “let him go” as we made our way up Waite Rd just before noon on Saturday. The sun may have been shining but don’t light that bright light fool you! Just like the devil can be disguised as an angel of light, this past Saturday afternoon may have had clear skies and sunshine but I can assure you that the suns rays did little to dissipate the polar vortex like cold that had descended across the land that sent the temperatures below zero degrees.
Well, it’s Monday again and I am happy to report that the cold spell that started Friday and lasted throughout the day on Saturday lifted yesterday with temperatures in the high 30’s. And it looks like that’s where we will stay, temperature wise, for today, even though I am currently 156 miles away from where I would usually find myself at the beginning of another work week.
Yup, like Willie Nelson, I am “On the Road Again” as my employer has sent me to Syracuse NY to learn a new set of skills for work and in case you are curious, no, I didn’t volunteer for the trip.
So, It’s “training day”, I guess and this morning I am extremely grateful for the my daily spiritual practices of exercise, prayer, Bible study, and writing this blog as these disciplines start my day off right and they are the only thing that is familiar as I find myself in my new home for the next 8 business days.
Really? Not 10 days, as in a full two weeks of training?
No, let’s have him travel back home, in the middle of the week at the end of the work day on Wednesday and have him return to two days of his regular work on Thursday and Friday!
Pardon my questioning the scheduling of this assignment. I’m sure it makes perfect sense to someone. Apparently 1 week of training isn’t long enough but a full two weeks would just be insane!
Anyway, it is in the times of changing circumstances and in the moments of stress caused by the cognitive dissonance of trying to figure life out, that our relationship with the Lord and the spiritual practices of the path of Christian Discipleship in which we adide in His presence are proven to be the most important thing about us. Our relationship with God and the ways we draw close to the Lord confirm who we are by reminding us of “whose we are.” And when we know “whose we are”, we instinctively become aware “what we do” because we follow the example of Christ and do what the word of God says.
As I have stated before on the blog, when I became a “born again” Christian back in 2010, I had a deep desire to be authentic in my faith and sought to know God more and to live my life according to His desires, according to His will – not my own. And as hard as one might think that it is to live a Christian life in these modern times, I discovered that it is surprisingly simple, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy.
From my liturgical Christian background, I knew that Christians went to church but that’s really all I knew and I knew that wasn’t enough. I had played the “church game” in my former life and although there were a few times throughout my life that I would say my faith was probably genuine, for the most part I would say I was a member of a religion more than I was in a relationship with God. Religion was cold comfort because it was powerless to change me and so I experienced a lot of guilt, shame, confusion, and anger when I used to play the “church game”.
So when I finally heard the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and made the decision to put my faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, I knew that “church” would not and could not be all there was to my new relationship with the Lord. I also knew that my old liberal church, with it’s homosexual clergy – a fact, would not be a part of my new life in Christ. So until I found a conservative “church where the Bible was taught” I was on my own. And frankly, I wasn’t ready to run out into some fundamentalist cult where the religion was just a different flavor of the day.
My faith in Christ was something new but I decided that I would be very discerning in how I followed the Lord because I didn’t want just another “church game”, I wanted to be a “real Christian”.
From those early days of my “born again experience”, I knew that I had to know God more. I had a deep desire to read the Bible and I did, dusting off the Bible that I had received when I was confirmed as an Episcopalian and highlighting all the passages that caught my attention. If I was going to walk by faith I knew that I knew that I needed to know the Bible for myself.
It turns out that this approach was recommended by nearly every “bible believing evangelist” that I was becoming familiar with through Christian radio and podcasts. My initial research revealed that the basics of a Christian life beyond worshipping at a church and doing good works, included regular, if not daily, Bible Study and prayer.
So even though they were new practices to me, I began praying, reading the Bible and tried to live by what I learned.
It turns out that “this is it” – this more or less is what encompasses a Christian life: Talking to the Lord in prayer, Reading the Bible, and doing what it says. Like I said it sounds pretty simple, but actually doing it and doing it consistently is where we learn to grow as Christians. Biblically, the Apostle Paul summarized what we are to do in
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We are to present our bodies for God’s service – to actually surrender ourselves to God and to live for Him – and we are to change the ways we think, by renewing our minds with God’s wisdom, His word, and to be transformed – our new lives will be different as we seek to do God’s will increasingly and progressively as we go.
At first these practices can be hard to establish as we really do have to renew our minds to the habits themselves and to the Lord’s ways of thinking and living, to live in the context of the kingdom of God and to dwell in the Lord’s presence.
However, with time, our daily spiritual practices become a part of our regular routine and we discover that they are actually quite effective to cause us to be transformed and to allow the fruit of the Spirit to flourish in our lives.
So this morning, even though I am a “fish out of water” in having to adapt to “hotel living” and being in a strange environment for work, I arose and immediately went to my daily spiritual practices even though the landscape was different and I needed to make some modifications to how I did them in my temporary home.
I running a little late but I “got ‘er done” in terms of physical exercise, prayer, and Bible study and am now finishing this report that I hope will encourage anyone who listens or reads this message to either establish or to continue in your “quiet time with God” each morning because it is through these practices that we draw close to our heavenly Father and live out our identity in Christ.
So, keep walking and talking with God. This is not a church game and the more you walk with Him and draw close to Him through a daily spiritual practice you will discover that the Christian life is something you can really live and that when you keep following the Lord the transformation is real too.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Proverbs 25:11 (NLT2)
11 Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.
Today’s Bible verse speaks of the loveliness of timely advice.
There is a saying that you hear at airport that says “if you see something, say something”. In the post 911 world of global terrorism, we have to be on guard against the threat of terrorist attacks by keeping our eyes open for anything suspicious or out of the ordinary that may indicate that something is not right. If we see something, we should say something because it could be a matter of life and death!
The timely report that saves someone’s life is beautiful because it prevents tragedy.
In medical circles, a regular check up can reveal a disease, that if caught early, can be cured. So if we suspect something isn’t “right” with ourselves or our loved ones we should say something and get it checked out.
Likewise in the spiritual realm, when we see someone living without Jesus in their life or someone who is far from God in the way they live, we should say something.
Our encouragement to others to put their faith in Christ may save their souls.
Our encouragements to Christians to repent and follow the Lord may rescue them from bondage.
So let me encourage you to say the “awkward thing” and encourage others to come to Jesus and to follow the Lord in the way they live. We never know when our words will be “timely advice” but we have to trust that the Lord wants to use us to do His work on the earth. So if you feel moved to speak, speak because like today’s verse tells us “timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in silver basket” to those who need to hear it.
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 A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN REPROBATION continues
Second, the doctrine of Reprobation does not mean that God refuses to save those who earnestly seek salvation. The fact is that the reprobate have no longing for the Saviour: they see in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. They will not come to Christ—why then should God force them to? He turns away none who do come—where then is the injustice of God fore-determining their just doom? None will be punished but for their iniquities; where then is the supposed tyrannical cruelty of the Divine procedure? Remember that God is the Creator of the wicked, not of their wickedness; He is the Author of their being, but not the Infuser of their sin.
God does not (as we have been slanderously reported to affirm) compel the wicked to sin, as the rider spurs on an unwilling horse. God only says in effect that awful word, “Let them alone” (Matt. 15:14). He needs only to slacken the reins of providential restraint, and withhold the influence of saving grace, and apostate man will only too soon and too surely, of his own accord, fall by his iniquities. Thus the decree of reprobation neither interferes with the bent of man’s own fallen nature, nor serves to render him the less inexcusable.
Third, the decree of Reprobation in nowise conflicts with God’s goodness. Though the non-elect are not the objects of His goodness in the same way or to the same extent as the elect are, yet are they not wholly excluded from a participation of it. They enjoy the good things of Providence (temporal blessings) in common with God’s own children, and very often to a higher degree. But how do they improve them? Does the (temporal) goodness of God lead them to repent? Nay, verily, they do but “despise His goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering, and after their hardness and impenitency of heart treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath” (Rom. 2:4, 5). On what righteous ground, then, can they murmur against not being the objects of His benevolence in the endless ages yet to come? Moreover, if it did not clash with God’s mercy and kindness to leave the entire body of the fallen angels (2 Pet. 2:4) under the guilt of their apostasy still less can it clash with the Divine perfections to leave some of fallen mankind in their sins and punish them for them.
Finally, let us interpose this necessary caution: It is utterly impossible for any of us, during the present life, to ascertain who are among the reprobate. We must not now so judge any man, no matter how wicked he may be. The vilest sinner, may, for all we know, be included in the election of grace and be one day quickened by the Spirit of grace. Our marching orders are plain, and woe unto us if we disregard them—“Preach the Gospel to every creature.” When we have done so our skirts are clear. If men refuse to heed, their blood is on their own heads; nevertheless “we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are a savor of death unto death; and to the other we are a savor of life unto life” (2 Cor. 2:15, 16).
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My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ), her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)
“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”
Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 108–109.