Braving the Storm - Representing the Kingdom by Showing Up - Purity 624
Purity 624 01/10/2022 Purity 624 Podcast
Today’s photo of the ice covered shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego NY underneath a light blue and pink sky of morning comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography as Rocco Saya is once again out and about and braving the chilly weather to capture scenes of God’s creation.
It’s Monday again and the local forecast in my neck of the woods calls for below freezing temperatures for the next few days which may leave some of us with the desire to just stay inside and not go out there. But as providers for ourselves and our families we will brave the cold and get out to do the work that provides for our needs and wants.
Yesterday, in Easton NY, we awoke to a glazing coating of ice covering everything and sleety rain that made me question whether or not I should go to church or just catch our service online. But as someone who had on average a 45 minute commute 5 days a week for nearly 25 years I have experience in driving in northeast winters and know what to do: go slow and be careful. So my wife, stepdaughter, and I headed out and quickly discovered the way we were headed hadn’t been properly salted yet as an oncoming driver warned us that just down the hill from where we were headed there was a car off the road whose driver was warning them to not come that way as the road was a sheet of ice.
I have been reading through Proverbs lately and that wisdom and my experiences has taught me to heed a warning. So we turned around and went to the main highways to get to church and found the way to be less icy and made it to church in time to catch the last song of worship before the pastor’s message.
The crowd was a little smaller than usual, but I was impressed by the number of people that “braved the storm” and brought themselves to the in-person service even though our church provides online viewing of services. This fact demonstrated to me how we, as Christians, value community and how we wish to honor the Lord by showing up to his corporate gathering no matter what the weather is like.
The Pastor reported that the first service had four new attendees and it reminded me of the importance of being faithful and showing up. My wife reported that after our service she witness a child who must have been a new attendee to the 10:30 service, tell their parents that they “liked this church!” and wanted to come back again. If the church was closed due to the weather those 4 new attendees from the first service and this child who delighted over what they found at our church would have left and may never have come back again.
The church was open because that’s just what Christians do: they are faithful to worship the Lord and show up to work for His glory.
It all reminds me of Charles Spurgeon’s testimony of his salvation. Spurgeon got saved because of a snowstorm and the grace of God, of course. As a 15 year old Spurgeon grew up in a Congregational church but believed he was lost to the fires of hell because of his sinful nature. One winter day his path to church was diverted by a snowstorm and seeking shelter from the storm he ended up attending a Methodist service where the regular pastor had been prevented from attending. An unknown substitute lay preacher stepped into the pulpit and read his text—Isaiah 45:22—“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.”
“Spurgeon’s Autobiography records his reaction:
“He had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed—by me, at any rate except his text. Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, ‘That young man there looks very miserable’ … and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, ‘Look! Look, young man! Look now!’ … Then I had this vision—not a vision to my eyes, but to my heart. I saw what a Savior Christ was.… Now I can never tell you how it was, but I no sooner saw whom I was to believe than I also understood what it was to believe, and I did believe in one moment.”” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-29/spurgeons-conversion.html)
Spurgeon walked out of that service and back into the snow a Christian and he would go on, with the Holy Spirit’s anointing, to win countless souls for Christ and became known as “the Prince of Preacher’s” And the Lord used a snowstorm and a substitute lay preacher to bring the word of salvation that made it all happen.
Spurgeon knew he wasn’t right with God, but he hoped for heaven, so he went through the motions of going to his regular church where he was deaf to the gospel, but God knew his fear and used a snowstorm and a church that preached the message of salvation through faith in Christ alone to save him and many others.
So brave the storm and keep seeking the Lord and keep showing up to represent His kingdom and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You never know when the Lord will direct your path in a way you didn’t expect or if He will ask you to step in to serve in someone’s place to be used by the Him to do a work that will bring someone out of the fires of hell or that will give God glory.
So bundle up if it’s cold out there and remember that wherever you go God is with you and wants you to get to know Him more and seek His purpose for your life. So keep walking and talking with God because he can change things from “just going to the motions” to something wonderful when you least expect it.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.
Today’s verse reminds us that God gives us right standing with Himself by Himself, meaning through grace and the work of Jesus Christ.
That means we didn’t earn our salvation and we can’t earn our salvation. Our right standing with God only comes through our placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
That is great news because that means no one can accuse us of “not doing it right” or that we have failed to do something to be a Christian. While there will be many things that we can and will do on the path of Christian Discipleship that will show ourselves and others that “I really am a Christian!” those Christian disciplines don’t make us a Christian, our faith in Jesus Christ does.
“Does that mean I don’t have to do anything?!” Yes, it does.
But if you have been forgiven of all your sins and have been granted eternal life in God’s kingdom, you shouldn’t want to “do nothing”.
If your heart towards the Lord would lead you to just keep on living your life for yourself without pursuing the faith that gave you salvation, you should question who it is you believe in. Do you believe in Jesus, or do you believe in yourself?
Christ never asked anyone to believe in Him. He called people to follow Him. So if we are not following the Lord’s call on our lives to know His word and His will for our life we should wonder if we really are “in this thing” called Christianity.
If you don’t produce any fruit, the enemy and the world will accuse you of not being a Christian.
Now if you have put your faith in Christ, those accusations don’t change your standing with God but instead of making you fear your salvation they should motivate you to follow the Lord so that you can have the assurance of your salvation and find your purpose in His kingdom.
Accusations are one of the enemy’s weapons to make us unfruitful Christians and to torment us. Our best defense against the accusations of the enemy is to endeavor to represent the Kingdom of God by learning what God’s word says and by applying it to our lives. The more we walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and live a Christian Disciple’s life the more we will see how the enemy’s accusations are meaningless because we are covered by Christ’s atonement on the cross and we are actively following Him.
So if someone accuses you of “not doing it right” or says your sinful ways prove you are not a Christian, tell them that it is only by Christ that you are saved and that although you may not be perfect you are a child of God because of your faith in Jesus and you are in the process of leaving the darkness of this world behind and are following Jesus to be more and more like Him.
Our walk isn’t about perfection, it’ about progress, and its about putting your faith in and following the one who is perfect: Jesus Christ.
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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.
BEGINNING STEP THREE
Let me encourage you to ask God who it is that you need to forgive and then I will explain what forgiveness is and how you can do it. In the following prayer, all you are asking for are the names of the people you need to forgive.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the riches of Your kindness, forbearance, and patience, knowing that Your kindness has led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). I confess that I have not extended that same patience and kindness toward those who have hurt or offended me. Instead I have held on to my anger, bitterness, and resentment toward them. Please bring to my mind all the people I need to forgive in order that I may do so. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
MAKING THE LIST
When you have finished praying, write down on a piece of paper every name that comes to your mind. About ninety percent of the time, mother and father are mentioned first. The first few names that come to your mind are usually the people who contributed to your greatest source of pain. Some may be tempted to think, “There isn’t anybody I need to forgive.”
That is highly unlikely since we have all suffered at the hands of someone else. Write down the names that are coming to your mind right now. The Lord wants you to live a liberated life in Him, but you can’t if you are bound to the past in bitterness. He has commanded you to forgive for your sake, so He will bring to mind both the people and the events that you are chained to in unforgiveness. When you forgive, you set the captive free, only to realize that you were the captive. Who are the relatives you need to forgive? Teachers? Employers? Friends? Co-workers? Church leaders?
DEALING WITH SELF AND GOD
The two most overlooked names are “yourself” and “God.” In many cases, anger toward self or God is greater than anger toward any other person. The devil capitalizes on our ignorance of God and His ways and on our irresponsibility by pummeling us with thoughts such as God isn’t going to help you. He doesn’t love you. How can you be a Christian and do the things you do? Look how weak and helpless you are. People who struggle with such thoughts are angry at themselves and/or God, and are disillusioned by the Christian life.
The concept of “letting go” of anger, guilt, and condemnation toward self is something many have never considered. Those feelings are rooted in our failure to understand God’s cleansing and forgiveness. Only God can forgive our sins, which separate us from Him, and He has. But we need to forgive ourselves for our failures, for letting God down, and for hurting others. Otherwise we believe the subtle deception that we must atone for our own sins.
Believers paralyzed by condemnation are being victimized by the accuser of the brethren (Satan), or by their own faulty consciences, rather than the truth of God’s grace. The latter is psychological guilt based on years of performance-based living and legalistic religious beliefs. These kinds of people live as though Christ’s death was not sufficient to cover their sins. You can hang on the cross if you want to, but it won’t do you any good. The Apostle Paul warned us when he said, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in selfabasement.”67
You are not being presumptuous by forgiving yourselves, because you are not accomplishing forgiveness from God. Only God can forgive our sins through His Son. Forgiving ourselves is actually receiving forgiveness from God. Forgiving ourselves is saying in effect, “Lord, I believe that You have forgiven me and cleansed me of my sins. Because of Your great love and grace—not because I deserve it—I choose to no longer condemn myself when You have forgiven me. I receive Your forgiveness and cleansing.”69
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship