5 Minute Daily Devo · Essay · Let's Talk About Purity

For God So Loved The World

Cross

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB

It has been a long day, but it’s all okay because tonight I’m making tacos! Just kidding, tacos are not fixing anything except stopping my stomach from growling.

It has been a long day, but it’s all okay because God loves me and He takes care of me through everything. Sounds like a Sunday school answer, but I mean it down in the depths of my soul! I hope I never get over it and I hope I don’t become content to keep it locked up inside myself.

I’ve been really busy, and I still have a lot of reading/researching I want to do for my next, slightly longer post on purity.

So, for today, I planned to find a verse that went along with what I said yesterday. I’ve been thinking about it this afternoon, and I just felt convicted about this verse.

I mean, this is the verse that everyone knows. I usually think of it as “the Sunday school answer,” but this is Jesus explaining the story of God’s love for mankind!

I don’t know if I could find a better verse to tell you simply about God’s love for you. God loves you so much that He wants to pursue a relationship with you even though it cost Him a great price.

Let’s re-examine the verse “everyone uses.” Let’s look at it with fresh eyes. You are loved by the God of the universe! What a huge claim we can lean on!

—Liz

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Essay · Let's Talk About Purity

What You’re Worth

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NASB

If purity is about “much more than not having sex outside of a biblical marriage relationship,” then why do we emphasize it so much when we talk about purity?

I think this verse gives a pretty accurate answer. Purity is hard when it comes to any kind of sin; but, when it comes to sexual immorality, it will drag you down in ways that other sins might not.

But, before I go too much into that, I want to tell you like I frequently need to remind myself of the fact that we were bought at a price. Our freedom was purchased by Christ and no expense was spared.

When it comes to this particular kind of sin, I think–at least I know this is true for a lot of women–it often comes down to feeling valued. It’s easy to reach for another person to make you feel valued when you feel alone and unloved, but that’s not going to give you a lasting feeling of worth. Especially when it’s not in the right kind of relationship, and, honestly, even when it is the right kind of relationship it might not.

Trying to find your value in the eyes of a fellow imperfect human is always going to be disappointing at one point or another.

People will always fail us, but God never does. 

When I find myself earnestly and obediently seeking God’s will, pursuing a relationship with Him, and spending time in His word, I begin to see my worth in His eyes.

It breaks me. How could He love me like that when I mess up so much? How could I be worth that much to Him? But, His word tells me it’s true. His love for me is so great I can’t wrap my head around it. His desire for a relationship with me made Him say “I’ll take your place. I’ll take all your sin. I’ll die for you so that you can be forgiven.”

What?! Who does that for their enemy? That’s who I was before He saved me because God cannot tolerate sin, and I was stained by it down to my core. (If I’m not convincing you of what a big deal that is, just watch this video. It moves me every time I see it.)

That’s why I pursue a lifestyle of purity. I was bought with a price. I want to live out my faith because of the mercy God has shown me, because I want to share with others that “Hey! you are valued by a perfect God too!,” and because I want to be an example for other believers.

When I fix my gaze on Christ, I remember how He paid the ultimate price for my salvation.

I see that I am worth that much to Christ.

It makes me more and more aware of the abundant life He wants in fellowship with me, and at that point, sin and immorality are revealed for what they truly are. Destructive lies sown by the one who wants to steal, kill and destroy–who wants to rob me of the joy I have in fellowship with my God because, since God has bought me at a price and claimed me as His own, Satan cannot snatch me from His hand.

Today, I’m telling you: flee immorality because you were bought at the ultimate price. You are worth so much to Christ! Don’t buy into sins that will only bring you heartache and will never satisfy you, but cling to the One who has called you precious, valued, and loved beyond measure.

–Liz

5 Minute Daily Devo · Essay · Let's Talk About Purity

Transformed and Renewed

Romans 12-1

 

When it comes to living out a lifestyle of purity, this verse is especially challenging. It calls for me, as a believer, to walk in complete obedience to God and in a totally different direction from the rest of the world.

If you don’t think that’s hard try to do it perfectly for a day.

However, this verse also tells us part of the “key to success”–for lack of a better expression–in accomplishing that. I’m supposed to be “transformed by the renewing of [my] mind.” That takes place in earnestly seeking God’s presence through reading God’s word, through prayer, and, frequently, through godly counsel from other believers.

When I get that right, when I allow God to transform me and renew my mind with His presence, I can follow in obedience and in purity because I am better able to discern His will through His word and my growing relationship with Him.

Take a look at your heart and your faith. Have you allowed God to transform you and renew your mind? Are you conforming to the world instead?

You are only one step away from that transformation and renewal. What’s holding you back?

–Liz

Essay · Let's Talk About Purity

Defining “Pure”

To kick this off, I want to start with something really fun. What is it? you may wonder in excited anticipation. It’s definitions! Hurray!

Okay, it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but I’ve learned that in any text you’re working with you often have to dissect the terminology the author uses. The same word can mean very different things to different fields.

I’m going to take baby-steps, here. First baby-step: defining things.

In a regular, old dictionary (I actually googled it, but I think that still counts), “purity” is defined as: “freedom from adulteration or contamination; freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature.”

In the Oxford English Dictionary “purity” is: “the state or quality of being morally or spiritually pure; sinlessness; freedom from ritual pollution; ceremonial cleanness; innocence; chastity,” and so on.

It’s a state of being separate from contamination, or things that make something unclean.

Throughout the Bible, purity is depicted as existing in a state just like that—set apart from the sinful/impure things of this world. Many those verses deal with sexual immorality, but that’s not the big picture.

Let’s go back to the verse I posted yesterday.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

I decided to look up some of the Greek to dig deeper. So, here’s what I found about this verse almost word by word (if you’d like to check out where I got my translations you can follow the links for each word, and this link for the whole verse. Also, I’m not a Greek scholar. If you see that I’ve made a mistake here, feel free to message me about it!):

“Blessed”

This is the word “makários” which “describes a believer in enviable (“fortunate”) position from receiving God’s provisions (favor)—which (literally) extend (“make long, large”) His grace (benefits).

“Pure”

Something that is “spiritually clean because purged (purified by God), i.e. free from the contaminating (soiling) influences of sin.”

“in heart”

This figurative use of “heart” refers to “‘the affective center of our being’ and the capacity of moral preference (volitional desire, choice…); ‘desire-producer that makes us tick’…i.e. our ‘desire-decisions’ that establish who we really are.”

“for they shall see God”

Which means “to be admitted into intimate and blessed fellowship with God in his future kingdom.”

So, altogether: Blessed are those who are separated from the sinfulness of the world down to the affective center of their being, because these people shall be admitted into intimate and blessed fellowship with God in his future kingdom.

But, don’t miss that God is the source of that blessedness because of His huge outpouring of grace and His action in purifying us.

Obviously, combing all those definitions into one sentence is slightly overwhelming and a little clunky (but hopefully I’ve helped make a little more sense of this verse!).

It can also be overwhelming when thinking about putting that into practice.

“How do I stay separate from sin down to the center of my being?!”

It begins with our belief in Christ. Take a look at 1 John 3:3:

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

For those who believe in Christ, who follow Him, and have their hope fixed on Him, we can be considered pure because of the sacrifice He made for us—because He has covered our unrighteousness with His righteousness.

I also looked up the words in this verse, and “just as He is pure” really caught my attention. When John says this, he’s stating that we can be like Christ just as He exists in a state of being pure. This phrase “is pure” was compared to when Jesus said “I am the way” or “I am the light of the world” (John 14:6; John 8:12)  Who He is is pure, just like God is love (1 John 4:16). Wow!

There will be times we make mistakes, but His blood has paid for all our transgressions, and through His righteousness we can also be pure before God.

Now, there’s still the matter of living out our beliefs here on earth, which we’re going to get into in the coming days in discussing purity, but this is where it starts.

Being pure down to the center of ourselves is something only God can initiate because we are totally ensnared to sin until we come to Him for salvation. We can only be pure by accepting Christ who paid the debt for our sins.

But what an awesome gift salvation is, and how blessed are the pure in heart!

—Liz

 

5 Minute Daily Devo · Let's Talk About Purity

The Pure In Heart

What does it mean to be pure in heart? There are a lot of different views on what it means to be pure, and on the idea of biblical purity. It’s a difficult subject because—I’m going to take a little leap here—everyone struggles with this to some degree. Since this month is when we typically focus on “True Love Waits” at my church, I want to take a look at what it means to be pure every day.

Honestly, it is so much more than just being abstinent until you’re married. It’s more than remaining sexually pure; and, because Jesus sets the standard at perfection, we’ve all failed in some way because we are imperfect human beings.

That doesn’t mean that our life shouldn’t be marked by a lifestyle that pursues this biblical standard of purity. It’s hard, to be sure, and even as a Christian pursuing purity you will stumble; but, it is possible through Christ to live a life that gets closer and closer to what God desires for us.

By God’s grace and perseverance through Christ, we can run the race diligently!


 

Today, I’ll simply start with this verse:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

And I’ll start this series with a question:

What do you think Jesus means when He says: “the pure in heart”?

–Liz

5 Minute Daily Devo

…And The Mountain Peaks Are His

“Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. The depths of the earth are in His hand, and the mountain peaks are His. The sea is His; He made it. His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”

Psalms 95:1-6 HCSB

The same God who formed the mountains took His time to create us! I am in awe of this display of His craftsmanship. What an awesome God I serve!

—Liz

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Who Are We Fighting?

One of the people who works with the praise band in our church says this verse pretty often. And, often it’s hard for me to hear.

I’m generally very non-confrontational. I hate telling people they’re wrong. But, I can also be fairly passive aggressive, and my actions and face show what I’m really feeling when things aren’t going my way even if my mouth never utters: “I don’t like this.”

I get angry with people in a way that’s not productive (or healthy), because passive aggressively simmering in a corner is not necessary when you can “confront” someone in honesty and love to try to work things out (not to mention those times I just need to be more flexible).

If you think a band never fights you are probably mistaken 97% of the time (even Christian groups!). There’s often a lot of strong feelings when you get multiple creative, musical people in one group. Sometimes the way you think something should go, or sound is not the way another member of the band thinks it should go, and that can be frustrating! It can start a lot of bitterness, and in some cases it can break up a band.

Being part of a band has really taught me the importance of having a disciplined prayer life and an attitude of decreasing so Christ can increase. We aren’t supposed to fight each other, or be passive aggressive. I have to be humble and learn to listen to the Holy Spirit instead of my own wants and plans.

The context of this verse is Paul describing the armor and weapons we have to fight spiritual battles—because that’s where I should direct my fighting! I’m fighting against sin and “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” NOT my brothers and sisters in Christ.

As you go through your day and the days to follow, remember who we are fighting against and who we’re fighting for! And, look to Ephesians 6:10-20 to start to understand how to fight the good fight.

—Liz

5 Minute Daily Devo

Remember the Deeds of the Lord

I wrote about a verse from this chapter earlier in the week, but today I want to talk about the chapter more as a whole. Today the verses seemed to click, and as I continue to read from Psalms in my devotions I keep saying “me too!” in my mind.

This chapter is about the psalmist’s struggle with anxious thoughts. I so identify with questioning God like he does. “What if God is done showing mercy?” “What if…? What if..? What if…?”

I think those questions are even more of a struggle to a believer because you have been forgiven for all your sins, and sometimes it’s hard to let go of the economic reasoning we use probably 80% of the time to determine who earns our forgiveness. When it comes to God’s mercy no one *NO ONE* deserves/earns that forgiveness.

Sometimes I find myself sleepless and full of anxious thoughts about things like this and any other thing I could possibly be anxious about.

So what does the psalmist do? He focuses on God instead of his anxious thoughts. He says in these verses “okay, what I’m resolving to do in order to deal with these thoughts is to focus on who my God is.”

Though we may face adversity, God is still the same God who parted the sea, and God is still love.

When you feel anxious try taking this approach of focusing on God’s character to remember who really has control of the situation.

—Liz

5 Minute Daily Devo

Let Worry Go

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So, today the devotional that I’m reading on YouVersion kind of felt like getting hit in the face. But, like a good, needed slap to the face, you know?

Worry is not good for anything. It’s terrible for your health, it wreaks havoc on your mental health, it adds dysfunction to your relationships, and it is poison to your walk with Christ. Short version: worry=bad.

So, why do we worry? Why do I let my imagination run wild thinking about all the things that could go wrong in every situation? I mean, why am I so good at imagining horrible possibilities and dwelling on them? Ultimately, it comes down to lacking trust and discipline in my thought life (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 even describes how we are to “[take] every thought captive to obey Christ”).

(Now, I totally get that some people suffer from anxiety or other mental illnesses that involve worrying–or maybe your worries have transformed into something bigger like a mental illness–but don’t fall into the lie of believing that’s something you can’t recover from. It’s hard! Some days it may feel impossible, but even if no one else does, I have faith that you can get through it! You will have bad days, but you don’t have to stay stuck in it)

When we have the right kind of trust, placing utmost confidence in the God who loves us and promises to be with us, those worries start to dissolve. That takes a lot of work!

These verses say: “through prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” When we come to God with the things weighing on our heart and lay them down before Him through “prayer and petition” we can give thanks knowing that, regardless of the situation, His will will be done.

Once we let go and let God be God and we come to a place of unfettered trust in Him, we get to a place where “the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” We stop allowing our worries to quench the peace God has for us when we surrender to Him.

But, again, that’s far from easy. It takes practice and discipline. It takes a lot of “prayer and petition with thanksgiving,” but what a great goal to work towards! That’s working on maturing and growing in our faith and deepening our relationship with God.

Don’t let worry keep you paralyzed! Start now in turning your worries over to God and trusting in Him.

Where in your life do you need to lay things in God’s capable hands and trust in Him?

–Liz


 

If you’re interested in checking out the devotional you can go here and start reading!

5 Minute Daily Devo

Speak Life!

James calls for strict discipline when it comes to the tongue. In his book he talks about it multiple times: The tongue is a small part of the body, but it has the potential to do a lot of good or a LOT of bad.

The tongue is like a rudder that directs the whole ship. No wonder we should be disciplined in how we talk if the tongue has this kind of influence on our direction.

In this verse he even goes so far as to say that religion without controlling what we say is useless. Ouch! That’s a hard truth to hear! I definitely need to work on the way I speak—maybe most people can relate.

I shouldn’t be saying idle words or words that tear others down, I need to be speaking life into people! That doesn’t mean I should always say nice things about someone, but that I should be an encouragement and talk to people with the value God has for them in my mind.

How can you work to be more disciplined in controlling your words? And, how can you lift others up today?