31 Days of Purity: The Local Church

Day 14

29
You are not an echidna! 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The New Testament knows nothing of the lone Christian—the man who claims to be a believer but who deliberately or carelessly allows himself to drift from the local church. Every Christian is dependent upon the local church and we neglect it to our peril, for it is in the church that we powerfully experience the means of grace God gives us—the Word, prayer and the sacraments. In addition to these, we have the benefit of Christian friendship and fellowship. We cannot thrive or even survive without all these gracious provisions. Neither should we expect to.

It is also within the church that we uniquely experience the joy of imitating Christ in putting aside our own desires in order to love and serve others. And so, my brother, don’t simply go to church: be the church. Be an active, serving, participating member of your church. Do not expect that you will be able to put sin to death or to pursue holiness without the local church.

Father, I am grateful for the gift of the local church. I am grateful that through the church I am able to experience those wondrously ordinary means of grace. I am grateful that you led me to my church, and I pray that you would help me to commit to it more and more, that I would love the people you bring there, that I would have deep and meaningful friendships there, that I would faithfully serve your people by stirring them up to love and good works.

PS: Church times today are 9:30am and 6:00pm. Just saying.

31 Days of Purity: Humility

Day 13

15

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5).

Humility does not come easily or naturally. We think far too highly of ourselves, of our virtues, of our tendencies, of our ability to resist sin. Yet time and again the Bible tells us that God has a special affection for the humble. God turns his back on the proud in order to lavish his grace on those who are humble. In fact, God will actively oppose the proud just as he actively blesses the humble. Few things expose us like our inability to turn away from sin and our lack of desire to do what is right. Therefore few things offer us better opportunity to turn to the Lord in humble dependence.

God is actively for the humble. God desires to pour out his blessings on the humble. As you put off the sin of sexual impurity, and as you put on the virtue of sexual integrity, humble yourself before God. Pray for a heart attitude like that of the Lord Jesus Christ who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (from Phil 2:5-11)

Father, I humbly confess that I cannot win this battle on my own. I am too weak. I am too drawn to what is evil. So, as much as I am able, I humble myself before you. I ask that you would remind me of the humble Savior, who took on flesh for me, who obeyed the law for me, who went to the cross for me, who bled and died that I might have life.

31 Days of Purity: Trusting the Promises of God

Day 12

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No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Our God is a promise-making and promise-keeping God. What he says, he will do; what he offers, he will provide. One of his great promises is that he is with us in the midst of our temptations. Even in those times when Satan custom-crafts a temptation suited perfectly to our desires, even there–especially there–God promises that he is with us and that in his strength we can endure. All we need to do is take hold of what he offers.

The premise of 1 Cor 10:13 is that we sin because we choose to. We are responsible agents. The Devil did not make us do it. He tempted and we bought it. We chose to.

God does not promise that you will not be tempted or that you will not be tempted beyond your natural ability to resist. But he does promise that he is with you right there in the temptation and that, if you look to him and take hold of his promises, you will be able to resist. When the temptation comes, take hold of his good promises, take hold of his kind mercy. With his help you are able to endure every temptation without sin.

Father, I pray that you would help me to arm myself with your promises. Let me fill my mind and heart with your Word so in that moment of temptation I can be like Jesus and meet every trial, every temptation, with your truth. I know I will be tempted today and every day, so let me believe that you will provide a way of escape for every single temptation I face. I am too weak to rely on myself. Please teach me to rely on you, to trust in your promises. For your promises are true and good.

31 Days of Purity: The Joy of the Lord

Day 11

22

This day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:9).

Holiness and happiness are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. Holiness produces true happiness, and true happiness strengthens holiness. The proof?

In Nehemiah 8, God’s people had rightly mourned over their sins. But there came a point when their weeping went on too long and too deep, and God said through Nehemiah, “This is a holy day. Therefore let it be a happy day.” The logic is inescapable. Happiness is not only compatible with holiness, it is an essential part of it. Without happiness, holiness is incomplete. Indeed, it is no longer holiness.

But what kind of happiness are we talking about? Nehemiah defines it as “the joy of the Lord.” It is a joy that comes from God and is centered in God. God gives it and God is it.

And as if we needed another reason to pursue, accept, and enjoy the happiness of holiness, Nehemiah adds the motive: “For the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Holy joy, Christ-centered joy, strengthens us. It produces defensive and offensive strength. It powerfully protects us from evil and it empowers us to fight for good. Holiness, happiness, and hardiness. A blessed trinity from the Blessed Trinity!

Ever blessed God, You are so holy and so happy. Help me to believe that my greatest happiness is found in holiness, and that happiness, true Christ-centered happiness, is my greatest help to holiness. Increase my joy in Jesus that I may increase my strength to resist sin and fight for purity. Amen.

31 Days of Purity: Freedom in Christ

Day 10

 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)

Sin enslaves. It promises joy and life but delivers only deeper and deeper levels of captivity. Freedom from sin and its ugly consequences seems like nothing more than a mirage or an empty promise when, time and time again, you present yourself to sin as its obedient slave. You hear yourself saying things like, “I just can’t help it” or “I tried but couldn’t do it.” The enemy will do everything in his power to convince you that you are enslaved to sin. He will do all he can to make you believe you are powerless to conquer it.

There once was a slave who was treated very badly by his master. From morning until night he would be yelled at, commanded to do this and that chore, chided for the smallest omission, harried at every point. The shouting and abuse disturbed the whole neighbourhood.

One day, the next-door neighbour of the slave-owner knocked on the front door and said, “I want to buy your slave. How much?” A price was agreed and the slave packed his meagre possessions and moved next door.

At sunrise the next morning, shouting and yelling was heard coming from the bedroom of the former slave owner. “Where’s my breakfast? Where is that lazy slave?” The slave heard the commotion and began running back next door, feeling guilty and scared. But before he could leave, his new master said, “Hey, you’re mine now. You don’t have to obey his commands anymore. He’ll yell and scream for a while, but you’ll get used to ignoring him. Go back to bed.”

If you are in Christ you have been set free from sin’s enslavement. You no longer have to live in your own strength—you can now live in the strength of another. The power of sin has been broken in your life. The Son has set you free from your slavery. And now he invites and commands you to live in the joy of that freedom. Be free!

Father, thank you for setting me free in Christ. I confess that far too many times I have presented myself as an obedient slave to sin. I have failed to take hold of the freedom Christ has won for me; I have crawled back into my prison cell and back into my chains. Yet I know and believe that sin is no longer my master. Convince my heart that I belong to you and that sin no longer owns me. Help me to live in the freedom that Christ has purchased for me.

31 Days of Purity: Spiritual Friendship

Day 9

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Christian Friendship: a gift and a responsibility

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Friendship is a great gift from God. Spiritual friendship, a friendship shared in Christ, is an even greater gift. Proverbs assures us that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (17:17). A brother is born for the times when we are going toe-to-toe with our sin, battling hard against it, committed to putting it to death. In such times we need friends to pray for us, to support us, to speak truth to us, to speak the gospel to us.

Sin thrives in darkness. When we find ourselves tempted by sin, or up to our neck in sin, our tendency is to run and hide from others, especially from friends. Our guilt makes us run from accountability and friendship. Don’t do that. See the godly friendships that God has given you as the gifts that they are. As you battle against sin and as you battle for sexual purity, invite a friend into your struggles. Invite him to pray with you and for you, invite him to ask you deep and difficult questions, invite him to travel with you on this journey. And when these 31 Days of Purity are completed, that friendship will only be getting underway.

Father, I pray that I will pursue and value biblical accountability and genuine friendship. This life is too difficult to do on my own. So I pray that you would grant me that friend, that he and I would be knit together, unashamed, each looking out for the other’s good. And I pray that I will be the kind of friend who loves at all times and the kind of friend who is there for my brother in times of adversity. Amen.

31 Days of Purity: Satisfied in Christ

Day 8

25

Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12-13, ESV)

There is a vast difference between drinking from a fountain of living water and drinking the stale murky waters of a broken cistern. No thirsty man in his right mind would turn down the cool, refreshing water from a flowing stream to drink from a muddy, filthy cistern. A broken cistern will never satisfy his thirst. He might take a small and tentative drink from that broken cistern if this is all that is available. But it is not. The people addressed by Jeremiah 2:12-13 are rejecting living water in order to embrace lifeless cistern water.

This is the foolish choice that we make whenever we pursue satisfaction in the broken cistern of sexual impurity. If we are to find freedom from sin and live in purity, we must learn anew where we can find true satisfaction and true refreshment. The Lord must transform our foolish hearts so that instead of craving cistern water, we pursue deep and lasting satisfaction in Christ.

Father, I thank you that one day, “I shall behold your face in righteousness”. And I thank you that on that day “when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15). I pray that while I wait for that day that I would grow in my satisfaction of Christ. Change my heart in such a way that I seek to find satisfaction in him. Renew my mind so that I see broken cisterns for what they are. Create in me a heart that pursues satisfaction in Christ.