WRAP UP of Purity for Today’s Christian Woman

Wrap Up Purity for Today's Christian Woman

Does purity really matter? That’s the question we considered this month. As we said when August was just getting started, “If we’re going to talk about God’s truth, we have to talk about Purity for Today’s Christian Woman.”Wrap Up Purity for Today's Christian Woman

We hope the Bible study tools this month have challenged and helped you as they have us. Before the month slips away and we turn the page on the calendar, let’s wrap up with a look back at resources to help us apply truth to our need for living pure, holy lives.

Purity for Today’s Christian Woman WRAP UP

We hope this month helped you know what God has to say about our purity. Our team loves to share tools and resources for personal growth and for use with others in your circle of influence.

May God be glorified as we live more holy lives to reflect Him to the watching world in our homes, places of work, neighborhoods, and communities!

Holy habits for everyday life

Holy habits everyday life

We’re already practicing holiness, to one degree or another. People might say you’re “all in” when it comes to letting God’s holiness drive your habits.  Others might say you’re one of those who keeps God’s holiness and your habits in separate categories.

But what does God say? Does He leave it up to us to decide how holy we want to be, practically speaking? Or does He gives us any kind of a picture to show us how holiness looks in the everyday life of His followers?

The first part of Ephesians spells out our identity in Christ; the second illustrates how that identity matters. As we change who we were, contrast who we are, and imitate who the Father will always be, our new holiness in Jesus changes everything.

Holy habits everyday life

Holy habits due to change

Do you describe your dietary choices with words like “vegan, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, or sugar free?” A lifestyle change impacts how we spend, what we talk about, what decisions we make, and how we think. A lifestyle change is no small choice … if it’s authentic.

True followers seek “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

No one follows Christ without making a genuine change. Ephesians 4:22-32 shows us how a life of loving the Holy One requires putting off our old self and putting on the new. Old habits like lying, sinful anger, stealing, corrupt talk, and unforgiveness have to be put away. Like cleaning out Twinkies when we choose to go sugar free, past routines fall away as we take on holy habits in their place. True followers of Christ Jesus change.

Holy habits due to contrast

Sports seasons inspire fans to bring out team flags, wear jerseys, do cheers, and follow players. Devotees don’t follow every team; just their own. They may be aware of others, but they don’t buy into others. Real followers want their loyalty to be known. It’s the same for real Christ followers, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8)

Instead of continuing to let darkness reign in our practical life, new life in Christ means the light of the Lord shines into every area of our personal everyday. The fruit of the Spirit within us comes out in how we talk to customers, discipline of our children, respond to hardships, solve financial problems, react to our mate, view our computer screen, deal with family relationships, see our culture, choose reading material, conduct our sexual life, participate in our local church, and get dressed daily. God’s light where darkness once reigned shines into every crack of our lifestyles.

The contrast brought by Christ can’t help but create holy habits where darkness once reigned.

Holy habits due to imitation

Reflection reveals the authenticity of our admiration. After all, isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery? A child’s mimicry on Fathers Day shows how much they watch, idolize, and strive to follow dad … or not. God’s unchanging holiness only requires a change in those who call Him “Abba,” Father. Our imitation brings Him praise.

For the children of God, holiness in practical living is the only believable response to the Father. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Ephesians 5:1-2).  Our growth in practicing holy living reveals the genuine nature of our adoption as sons of God.

Before we joined God’s family through Christ’s holy sacrifice, we were “sons of disobedience.  When our father was the Devil, we imitated him. Once we’re adopted into God’s holy family, covered in a righteousness not our own, our Father is God, and we imitate Him through obedience. Like a child who grows older, revealing more and more of their father’s nature in the way they look, talk, walk, smile, laugh, and do life, so a child of God imitates the heavenly Father in holiness more and more.

A child of God has changed, lives in contrast to the world, and imitates the Father through holy habits in practical ways in everyday life.

Would you be willing to pray this prayer?

Father, You are my Father. I want to imitate You, like a genuine child who reflects Your nature. Would you make me alert to practical areas of my life where I need to mimic You more? Help me see where I’m acting more like the old me than the new me. Show me how to apply holiness in all of my life habits.

New beginnings start with history

new beginnings start with history

Based on reliable information, I was destined to be a real hell-raiser. But before I could grow up to write a long, empty, broken history, God spared me and drew me to Himself. Like many others who began a relationship with Jesus as a child, I don’t have many sordid tales to convince you I was on the path of destruction. Maybe you have a testimony of early salvation and you’ve struggled with how to tell a story of life change and new beginnings that seems rather dull compared to those of dramatic transformation.

Look no further than your own family history for the answer to your dull dilemma.new beginnings start with history

With the ease of accessing information, there has been a resurgence of interest in genealogy and family history. God can use this to reach people! Online sources like Ancestry.com have taken away the barriers of discovering our ancestors. Author George Orwell spoke truth when he said,  “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”  Without looking at our history, both recent and far, we fail to shape a solid case for sin. As we uncover our lineage, we trace the pathway of the footsteps we were destined to follow.

Who were you on track to become before you began a new life in Christ?

Out of a love for history and a longing to connect with family, I began a search for my history, hoping to find something noble and redeeming.  What I found was evidence left to me by generations back to the late 1500′s. Instead of a long line of saints, I found a yearbook of lost, empty, broken, lives. I needed a new beginning.

I was not only born to “look” like them, but to LIVE like them.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, emphasis mine)

I know we’re all born as sinners and destined to die because of it, but my family history proves I was born onto a trajectory that set me on a course for vices like alcohol, anger, and abuse. I had no hope of being a fine, upstanding citizen on my own. You?
When God intervened in the life of my parents and then in my life, He saved me from a future that was as sure as my history. He washed me, changed me, and declared me righteous because of what Jesus did. He is the God of new beginnings. Only Jesus can change the course of a life.

Praise God He can and does change the course of lives every day!

So, what’s in your story? Who were you destined to become?

New Beginnings Series - donotdepart.com

Bondage broken after 18 crippled years

crippled woman set free

If you’re bent over, all you can see is the dirty ground, the earth from which we came. It would be hard to lift your eyes and look up with hope if your view excludes the faces of people, the landscape, or the horizon. Even work would be mostly out of reach, not to mention community life and relationships, without the ability to look into the eyes of another person or reach forward with purpose.crippled woman set free That’s how we meet one unnamed woman in the Gospels.

Bent over for eighteen years, the crippled woman of Luke 13:10-17 had been “kept bound” by Satan himself. Unable to even straighten up, she waited at a house of worship, a synagogue. When Jesus came to her synagogue on a Sabbath day and saw the woman’s condition, he set her on a path to change the course of her life.

Freedom from bondage

On that day, the woman long bound by Satan was unbound.

The Devil is a supplier of sickness, a developer of diseases, and an ambassador of affliction. He loved taking a woman made in the image of God and twisting her with an infirmity as a trophy of his bondage. But then Jesus saw her, called her forward, and said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Jesus laid his hands on her and right away her gnarled spirit-bound body straightened up. Right away, she praised God, because that’s what a genuinely unbound woman does.

Staying in bondage

On that day, a religious ruler long bound by tradition stayed bound.

The Devil has planted the sickness of legalism in the hearts of the religious ruler and his friends. Though not visibly bent in body, their hearts were gnarled by their regard for rules. As quickly as the freed woman stood to her full height in praise, the synagogue ruler was overcome with indignation, blurting out rebuke to the Healer for healing on the Sabbath day. Instead of a declaration of worship, he responded by defending the same hollow tradition that was unable to free the woman during any of her bent up, eyes down, infirmity ridden eighteen years. Jesus rebuked him in return, allowing the crowd to hear His heart for setting captives free. Instead of lifting up His opponents as He had the crippled woman, “all his opponents were humiliated” (v.17b).

The Devil despises the image bearers of God, but Jesus came to “free captives”(Isaiah 42:6-7) from the bondage of the Enemy. Has the supplier of sickness, the developer of disease, the ambassador of affliction bent you down physically, spiritually, or emotionally? Do you feel like all you can see is the dirt of the road you walk? Are you finding it hard to lift up your eyes and see a hope-filled future?

Jesus sees you, calls you, and wants to free you from what the Enemy is using to bind you. What do your shackles look like? He is the true Bondage Breaker who can take a gnarled heart or twisted relationships or a downcast life and raise them up for His glory. Ask God to unbind you and help you walk in newness of life. Let yours be the next voice to praise Him, because that’s what a genuinely unbound woman does.

Has God given you freedom from bondage in your life? Leave a comment and share a praise.

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Wisdom for today … still calling

Wisdom for Life

The Bible isn’t the only book of wisdom. Around the globe, men have reached for other books claiming to be the source of wisdom, also known as “skill in godly living.” When biblical wisdom literature was recorded, scribes of parallel cultures and kingdoms also penned their words and stories. But when we talk about biblical truth, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16).  God’s book self identifies its content as inspired by the one true God, and that makes its wisdom unique and essential.

When we refer to biblical Wisdom Literature we include five books:  Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. The righteous, the wicked, and the true God play the main parts in these books, revealing the limits of mankind’s wisdom and the necessity of fearing of God to prosper and find peace. In the times their words were written, voices opposing God’s ways called out from ancient streets peppered with a plethora of gods, but today voices call out from media screens, digital highways, steel framed cities and hand held gadgets. The tug of war for how we live hasn’t changed, but in many ways, the appearance of “righteous” and “wicked” has. Some may assume, then, the Bible doesn’t speak to life today, but Wisdom Literature’s concrete teaching matters as much now as when Job scraped his oozing sores.

Keys to unlock the 5 Wisdom books:

  • Job – This book addresses the same questions asked today:  Can we trust God? Is He good? Where do we find real comfort? The relatable character’s story takes place outside of Israel. Ultimately, we can put our faith in the sovereign God.
  • Psalms – Not all of these songs written for public worship fit in the “wisdom” category. Divided into 5 books, the Book of Psalms likely began as personal expressions of emotion, adapted for congregations. This book gives shape to our intense feelings about life in pursuit of God. Basic Old Testament themes like the fall of man, the One God, and the covenant relationship come to life here.
  • Proverbs – This collection of wisdom makes it clear that to be skillful in godly living, we must fear God and walk His way in everyday life. Practical truths show what a restored life with God looks like in our behavior, producing a joyful, useful life. Wisdom is available to all, and we discover it by comparing the wise man, the foolish man, and the simple man.
  • Ecclesiastes – This is a book for our day; Ecclesiastes explores trusting in God while living in a messed up world. Poetic devices help organize these proverbs into clusters with a plot line about the unfolding of a  quest for a good and satisfying life. This could be written in our day.
  • Song of Solomon – Intimacy stirs up emotion, and this book of love poetry is no exception. With a variety of opinions on its interpretation, some treat it as an allegory of God’s love for Israel and others as a picture of Christ’s love for the church. Authorship is not certain, but we agree that it’s a love story. There’s no doubt this poetic book demonstrates how God’s ways are the pathway to delight.

In the New Testament the Book of James and some of Jesus’ own teaching also qualify as “Biblical Wisdom Literature,” but these five Old Testament books form the collection commonly known as Wisdom Literature.

Today, as in days of old, “fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7) but wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the market she raises her voice,” (Prov. 1:20).  Wisdom asks, “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” (Prov. 1:22). It’s hard to hear the call of wisdom in today’s world, but our children, families, and world are desperate to understand and apply skill in godly living that leads to a relationship with God and His peace.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:22)

What evidence do you see that people desperately need biblical wisdom?

Click here for the printable Wisdom Bookmark to accompany our study of Wisdom Literature.