The Priority of Purity
We live in a highly sexualized society. Sex is talked about everywhere and anytime. This week I will be speaking to our congregation about Marriage and Relationships particularly about the ‘Intimacy of Sex’. I have never received as many emails or facebook messages before I did this series. It not only has many talking it has drawn a wide variety of visitors to our church who for some are visiting a church (except for weddings & funerals) for the first time. The topic of relationships is important and sex is a major issue for many. In a culture obsessed about sex is it any wonder there is so much confusion out there. It is amazing the number of people, even clergy, who fall to sexual temptation. Now anyone who has attended our Marriage and Relationship series will know I am not a kill-joy when it comes to sex. In fact God made sex but He did put some guidelines concerning purity around it so that it is both protected and elevated to it’s proper place in marriage. This blog will address this one area albeit briefly. Hope this is helpful for you.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 we are told straight out, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
God expects for you and me to live in sexual purity. You need to know how to possess your body in sanctification and honour; otherwise your body will possess you.
God has created a strong sexual drive that is an awesome blessing in marriage! But you know our sex drive can be like a river, it is so strong that sometimes it just wants to flow out of the banks and go somewhere it shouldn’t go.
We must learn how to possess our bodies in sanctification and honour, and live morally pure lives that bring pleasure to God. Here are three practical ways:
1. Avoid temptation.
2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee youthful lusts”. Avoid the very scenes or screens of temptation. Stay away when you know you might get in trouble.
2. Feed your spirit, not your flesh.
In Romans, we are told of the great war every Christian experiences, the war between our spirit and our flesh. Whatever you feed is going to be stronger, so make sure to feed your spirit. God’s Word is fuel for the soul. Fill up regularly and you won’t sputter and quit.
3. Rely on the Holy Spirit and His power.
If you will acknowledge Him and look to Him for strength, you will find He is a very present help in your time of need. God’s Spirit is fire for your soul. Let His pure Spirit be your power to be strong.
Make a commitment today to practice these three principles for purity. If you do, you will live in the sexual purity God desires.
For more teachings on Marriage and Relationships go to: www.bethelalive.ca
In your life, you will be hurt by others; sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. How you handle that hurt determines your happiness. When you bottle up hurt in your life and hold onto it, that is called resentment. If somebody hurt you years ago and you’re still holding onto it, it will poison your life. For your own health and happiness, you must learn to forgive.
The Bible says forgive and be forgiven. In fact, Jesus says, “If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (Matthew 6:15 TEV). They’re inter-related.
For your own sake, let go of the past. If somebody hurt you, let go of it, release them. That’s one of the values of prayer. It helps you unload. Forgiveness is the only way to get rid of the past. Forgive them and let it go. Get on with life. Forgiveness erases the videotape of that hurt memory that keeps playing over and over in your mind.
Today, my wife Sonja and I are celebrating our 7th anniversary. In my own marriage, the times I’ve felt closest to my wife, the times of most intimacy and oneness, have been times after an upset or blow up. We’ve worked the thing through, we’ve both confessed to each other and asked forgiveness, and we give our hearts to each other anew. The oneness that comes out of that kind of experience just can’t be explained.
When we let go of our hurts and release our hearts in forgiveness to others, we are reflecting the grace of our heavenly Father who forgave us and continues to forgive us. It means we’ve given God our love; we’ve given God our lives, and, in doing that, we reflect God and truly worship God.
I am amazed at how in 2009 that so many young people are fans of The Beatles. Perhaps the fact that The Beatles who wrote their hit song ‘Eleanor Rigby’ back in the 60s, could have been writing about people today. Especially the chorus: ‘All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?’ It’s ironic that in the so-called age of communication so many people are struggling with intense feelings of loneliness and alienation.
Luke 19:5-6 explains how He reached out to a ‘lonely’. “When Jesus reached the spot [where Zacchaeus was sitting in a tree], he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.’ ”
If you’re a Christian believer, you have within you the same Holy Spirit that empowered the life of Jesus, the most magnetic personality in history. That’s not to say that you’ll never feel alone – in fact, being a person of strong faith can sometimes make you very unpopular. However, learning to live like Jesus will also produce qualities that make you more interesting to other people. One key to building friendships is to elevate other people, just as Jesus did. The Bible says a great deal about honouring our fellow man. To honour people means to elevate them in your own eyes, to look upon them with respect. When you can show other people that you feel you can learn from them, you will have a better chance of winning their friendship. This is not manipulation. As a Christian you can make the other person feel important because you know that they are! They’re important to God. Avoid flattery, but pursue sincere appreciation and look for ways to offer positive words of encouragement. It will break down walls and make friendship easier.
Prayer: Lord, help me today to take a genuine interest in the needs and concerns of other people.’
We live in a wonderful yet often painful world. Nothing can totally isolate or insulate us from the disappointments and losses of life. Even good people sometimes experience bad things. In the midst of life’s struggles, we all accept that forgiveness is a good idea. Forgiveness, said one writer, is God’s antidote for bitterness, wrath and anger. But actually acting on that idea is another thing: forgiving is not an easy thing to do. Before we can learn how to be better ‘forgivers’, we need to recognize what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not giving approval to what someone else did to you. Nor is it excusing someone else’s mistakes, or trivializing the offense, saying that it doesn’t really matter. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean saying that your feelings are of no importance and it doesn’t mean that you commit yourself to a relationship with that person in the future. Forgiveness is not naive. It does not say ‘I was not hurt, you did not hurt me.’ Forgiveness is very honest. Forgiveness is not easy because it seems to run against every natural human emotion, every natural response. Naturally speaking, we will try to defend ourselves or even to fight back. Forgiveness requires that we move past those basic instincts to something higher.
Ephesians 4:32 ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (NIV)
We forgive not because we don’t feel hurt, or because we don’t have a right to feel offended. We forgive because it is the godly thing to do, and because God forgives us. No matter how great someone’s offense against you, your past offense against God is infinitely greater. And, thank God, he has forgiven you. Letting that awesome power of forgiveness and release run through your heart, like a river through a canyon, is the key to finding lasting peace and closure.
Prayer: ‘Lord, I know that forgiveness is not easy, and it doesn’t feel natural. But I choose to forgive, to allow your releasing power to flow through my heart and mind today. I release others from their debt, because you did that for me. Help me to be a forgiving person.’
Boldness is Beautiful!
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness is beautiful, there is power in it. There is a time to wait, the time of soul searching and heavy prayer. But there is also a time for action — for bold, courageous and determined steps into the unknown.
Acts 4:29 ‘Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.’
Boldness unlocks the power of God in our lives like nothing else, because boldness works to release the true power of our inner faith. Without faith we cannot find the favour of God; but without boldness we can never exercise our faith. Without boldness, favour is like a muscle that is never flexed. Without boldness, nobody will ever see the depth and the power of our faith in God — not even us. Faith demands more than giving mental assent to a course of action — it means more than simply saying, ‘Yes God, that seems like a good idea to me…’ Faith must have an outlet in action. Eventually, my faith in a word from God requires that I seize the opportunity he has put before me, without delay.
Sometimes, doors of opportunity are open for only a short space of time. If we fail to make use of them at the right time, they disappear. God is a gracious God and will often give us a second or even a third chance, but he wants us to learn the power of grasping God-given opportunities when they are first given. He wants us to learn the power of decisiveness, because it strips away all insecurity and double-mindedness. The boldness of faith breeds a mind of single focus, and a heart of gritty determination to succeed.
Prayer: ‘Lord, help me to learn how to act at the right time, with boldness. Help me not to delay when you have prepared a path before me.
Let me ask you a few things. Why are we most alive when we are pursuing a great dream? Why is it that we need a reason to live? Why do we need to feel that we are in some way unique?
Why is it that when we conclude our lives don’t matter, we lose the will to live? The maddening reality is that each and every one of us has been created with a soul needing to become – to become something – something better, something different, something special, something unique, something admired, something valued, something more than we are…
You are a unique creation made by God to live and not simply exist. Your soul longs to find its ultimate purpose. It will not rest until you do. Your soul craves destiny. Your soul desires. It always will. You were created as a creative being. You were made to grow, to dream, to achieve. Your soul is letting you know you come from God and your life is intended to be God-sized and God-inspired.