31 Days of Purity

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day three:

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

We are all familiar with the ugly pattern of sin. You have just sinned again and you feel the weight of what you’ve done. You promise yourself you will never engage in that kind of sinful behavior again. You wake up in the morning with new resolve, but you just can’t shake the nagging feeling of guilt. But still, over time those feelings of shame and guilt begin to dwindle and fade, and as they do, so too does your resolve. Before you know it you have sinned again and the cycle starts anew. It is just like the Proverb says: “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). Apart from the grace of godly sorrow this cycle will continue. It is only when we are granted a godly grief—a grief that hates sin more than its consequences—that we will pursue lasting change.

Father, only godly sorrow will do. I want godly sorrow for my sin, so help me to see my sin the way you do. Rescue me from a worldly and self-centered grief that only produces more death. Deliver me to a grief that cries with David, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). I trust that through the finished work of Christ you meet my repentance with grace and forgiveness. Lord, I plead with you to give me the painful grace of godly sorrow and repentance, today and every day. Amen.

What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men)

Todays devotional was prepared by Mike Leake. Mike is associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, IN. He and his wife, Nikki have 2 children (Isaiah and Hannah). Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and regularly blogs at mikeleake.net.

 

Dr. David Rice

Five years ago today, my Dad, Rev. David Rice went to his final reward. When I reflect on his testimony, I am utterly amazed at sovereign hand of God in all of our lives. Born May 18, 1935 to Ernest Glen and Mary Elizabeth Rice in Patton Junction, MO, Dad spent the majority of his life serving the God he loved and the people of his various congregations.

His testimony begins on a Sunday in 1947, just before his 12th birthday when he was invited to the Temple Baptist Church of Detroit, MI where he heard J. Frank Norris preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was that night that the Lord saved him and Dad immediately became active in the church's youth department. Through these events, my aunt and both of my grandparents came to know the Lord and our family has never been the same since.

Dad attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO where he met my mother, Edith and they were married May 25, 1956. From there he pastored and ministered in churches in Florida, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas for over 30 years.  He founded two churches during that time: Fellowship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, FL (now Derbyshire Road Baptist Church in Holly Hill, FL) and Ambassador Baptist Church in Mount Morris, MI (now North Flushing Baptist Church in Flushing, MI).  He also served as the school administrator for Braeburn Baptist Academy in Houston, TX.

Dad retired from active ministry in 1990 due to declining health, but even during his retirement, he still traveled with me as an evangelistic team.  Under his ministry, over 50 people committed their lives to full-time Christian service: going on to become pastors, missionaries, and Christian educators.  He was instrumental in hundreds of people coming to a saving knowledge of Christ, and ministered to countless others as a preacher, teacher, counselor and friend.

He loved enjoyed making people laugh, and always had a kind and caring word for those he came in contact with.  An avid fan of baseball, he rarely missed a game on TV, and usually called at least one of us after big games. One of my great memories is calling and talking with him when our beloved Detroit Tigers clinched the 1987 American League East Divisional title, which sadly would be the last time the Tigers would make the playoffs in his lifetime. It is only fitting that the year he passed away, the Tigers actually would go on to become the American League Champions.

If asked what his hobbies were, he would quickly say it was his family.  If asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he would say being married to his best friend and three fine sons.  “Paw” also enjoyed having his grandsons around to play with and keep him young at heart. He measured his worldly wealth not in money or possessions, but in his family and friends.  Using this as a measurement, he left us as the richest man we will ever know.

Dad's favorite hymn was “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” which is a fitting tribute to a life well lived to the glory of God.

Come Thou Fount of every blessing tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of God's unchanging love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

There are so many things in this life that still remind me of him, but the greatest is the legacy of changed lives that the Lord used him to impact. I am so thankful that God saw fit to place me under the care of such a Godly and loving man.

My second CD is entitled “When I Get Home.” It just seems appropriate to quote the chorus of the title song.

I'll see you when I get home in the sweet bye and bye
And we'll walk along the streets of gold with angels by our side
And time will have no meaning there in a land of no “goodbyes,”
Oh it's good to know, I'll see you when I get home!

I can't wait to see you again Dad. I'll make sure to look for you … right after I see my Savior first!

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”Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – James 4:14

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” – 1 John 3:1-2

Statistics that I have come across estimate that anywhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people die each and every day. The problem with quoting statistics such as this is that numbers of this size tend to be rather impersonal and most of us have a difficult time actually comprehending the magnitude of how many people that these numbers represent.

This fact has been brought to light recently with the passing of a number of famous people, including Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, and even TV pitchman Billy Mays, but also in my own life. As I mentioned in my last post, our good friend Kathy Wilkinson went home to be with the Lord and caused me to ponder about our own mortality and how it relates to our understanding of the glory of God.

Well, a few weeks ago, one of my dearest friends in the world was hospitalized with what appeared to be a gall bladder problem. Ken Hankins, Pastor of Seven Lakes Baptist Church in West End, NC was my youth pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Madison Heights, VA where my Dad was pastor during my junior and senior year in high school. (Needless to say, we have been friends for a LONG time!) After a number of tests, the diagnosis has come back that they have found both pancreatic and liver cancer, both of which are very aggressive cancers, and the tumors are causing a stomach blockage which in turn has caused him to aspirate food leading to pneumonia. He is currently hospitalized in Charlotte, NC and when the doctors are able to get him stable and his lungs healed, they will send him home to spend time with his family, because there are no more treatment options. Please keep Ken, his wife and three daughters and their families in your prayers.

Ken has been a great friend for most of my life and I cannot think of a better way to honor our friendship than to honor our Lord by sharing the hope that we have in Christ. But in order to do that, we must first understand that to have a cause for hope, there must first be a cause for despair. Because of Adam’s sin (the theological doctrine of “Original Sin”) each and every one of us is born in sin (Psalm 51:5) and is an offense to God, who did not “set” the standard of righteousness, He IS the standard of righteousness. Everything He is and performs is, by definition, righteous. As the Almighty, Eternal, Holy God, He is totally sovereign over all or He is not God at all.

By the fact that He is Holy and Lord over all (whether we acknowledge that or not) He cannot tolerate sin in any fashion. Our nature is so foul to nostrils of God, He even compares our “righteousness” to “filthy rags” in Isaiah 64:6 (some have said that the term “filthy rags” in this particular verse could be translated as “menstrual cloths.”) If this is what our “righteousness” is to God, imagine what our sin is to Him!

God progressively gave us the law in His Word in order to exhibit the standard of His holiness and character (Gal. 3:24-25) and to illustrate that no matter how much we attempt to follow the law, we cannot meet the standard of holiness that He alone has set by His every existence and which is by definition, infinite. For example, if we lie to our child we suffer no immediate consequence. If we lie to our spouse, we sleep on the couch! If we lie to our employer, we get fired. If we lie to the government, we commit perjury and could go to prison. It is the same sin in each case, but the consequence is different due to the level of authority the one to which we lied has over us. It only stands to reason that if the one against whom we have sinned is the infinite standard, there must be an infinite consequence. This is why hell is not only reasonable it is assured for all those who do not measure up to God’s infinite standard. (Rev. 21:8)

It is at this point that many object and say “Well, my god would never send someone to hell. He is a god of love.” And they are absolutely correct, because their “god” does not exist and they have in fact violated the second commandment (Exodus 20:4). They have fashioned a “god” in their own image instead of acknowledging that they were created in the true God’s image.

What they do not realize is that through the progressive revelation of God’s character through the Scriptures, God has revealed that He is a God of justice and holiness (Gen. 17:1; Ps. 62:11; Jer. 32:17; Mat. 19:26; Rev. 1:8, Heb. 1:13; I Pet. 1:15-16; I John 3:3, 5; Rev. 15:4) and because He is just and holy, His character demands that sin must be punished. Since He is perfect by nature, He will not by fiat just forgive us. In fact, if He were to just forgive by fiat, He would be denying his own nature and that is not possible. There must be retribution.

God has laid out the case against us. In our natural state, we are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1b). This means we have no ability to come to God in and of ourselves. A dead man cannot act on anything by his own will. While we have the free will to choose our own particular means of sin, when it comes to salvation, our spirit is dead and is totally unable to make the right choice.

So there is only one verdict for us as lawbreakers. Guilty as charged and an infinite trespass, demands an infinite restitution. Only infinite punishment could be the sentence for our infinite transgression. The Bible is clear that the wrath of God abides on the children of disobedience. (Jn. 3:36, Rom. 1:18, Eph. 5:6, Col. 3:6, Rev. 14:10, Rev. 14:19, Rev.15:1, Rev.15:7, Rev.16:1)

So where is the hope?

It is here that the infinite, sovereign God of the universe implemented His perfect plan of redemption that He set in motion before the foundation of the world itself. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, born of a virgin (the sin nature is passed through the father), lived a sinless life, took on Himself the infinite punishment of all of our sin. Through the cross of Calvary, Jesus, the one who knew no sin, became the sin offering for us (I Cor. 5:21).

What does it take to satisfy the wrath of God? Only a perfect, infinite sacrifice, meaning that only God Himself could pay that price, which is exactly what took place at Calvary. What does it take to become a part of Christ’s reward? Repentance, which is a total forsaking of our sin, and total faith and trust in the work that Christ completed through the cross and His resurrection. (Eph. 2:8-9) Charles Wesley put it best when he wrote, “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my God shouldst die for me?” What amazing grace that the Creator would die for the created!

But the greatest news is
not only that He died in our place, but that three day later, He conquered death by rising from the dead! And now that He lives, we also can live through Him. (Eph. 2:1a) He has made us alive by His grace, through His gift of faith and not by our own works, so that we cannot be arrogant. As the redeemed we are the church, Christ’s bride and His just reward for His suffering! When I came to understand that as His bride, we are the reward for His suffering, it gave me a heart of gratitude for my Lord and Savior that I never had previously.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” John Piper has said that “God is most glorified is us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Our lives here are not about us. We have spent so much time trying to find our “purpose” in this life that we have missed the clear purpose in these simple statements. We are here for the glory of the Lord and for that purpose alone. Phillipians 2 tells us that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The question is when will you do that? Will you do it here and then eventually reap the benefit of the presence of God for all eternity, or will you do it later and spend eternity cursing His name in hell?

Pondering our mortality is a sobering exercise. It can lead us to despair if we have no hope in this life or it can lead to the peace of knowing that all that happens in both heaven and earth is for the glory of God.

Ken has been a faithful servant to our Lord and a wonderful friend to me. I pray for his comfort through this trial as well as for his “ultimate healing.” Mostly, I pray for Mary, his sweet wife as well as his three daughters. This will be hardest on them. Please keep them in your prayers, as they will be in mine.

Ken, you are going home soon and you will be free from the ravages of this pain and suffering. When you get there, be sure to go see Dad. I know he’ll be glad to see you! But most of all, you will finally bow on your knees and cry “Holy! Holy! Holy is the Lord God Almighty!” All I can say is what a wonderful place to be! My dear friend, “I’ll see you when I get home!”

 

“God is too wise to be mistaken,
God is too good to be unkind,
So when you don’t understand, when you can’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand, Trust His heart!”

– Babbie Mason & Eddie Carswell

God’s gifts don’t always come wrapped up in cute little packages tied with matching ribbon. Many times, He allows unimaginable pain and suffering, followed by deep excruciating grief. Such is the journey of a friend of Linda and I, Kathy Aldrich Wilkinson. We first met Kathy in 1987 when she and Linda worked together at Brentwood Records in Franklin, TN. Our friendship grew over the next three years as she went on to work closely with Spirit Bound, the group I joined in December of 1987. After moving to Texas in 1990, we lost touch with Kathy, but we thought of her often with fond memories.

In 2007, we found out through Joel Williams, Spirit Bound's manager, that Kathy was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and was not given a good prognosis. Since that time, Kathy has valiantly fought this giant, but sadly, on June 6, 2009, Kathy went home to be with her Lord, leaving her husband Rodney and children, Nathan and Lauren.

So many things come to mind when a dear friend suffers in this way. Many people question why such a dear person and her family has to endure this level of sorrow and pain. While there are no pat or trite answers, the Bible does offer great comfort to those of us left to live life here in this world. The Apostle Paul gave us great hope in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

— I Corinthians 15: 51-58 (English Standard Version)

One statement in Kathy's chronicling of her struggle stood out to me. “We thank the Lord that I've already beaten the odds given to me by the first doctor,” she said. “I believe God is keeping me here to care for my family and to share my story about Him.” Throughout the whole ordeal, Kathy exhibited the grace of God and is now enjoying the reward that her Lord purchased on the cross.

John Piper. a cancer survivor himself, wrote an incredible piece called “Don't Waste Your Cancer,” where he makes ten points as to why pain of this magnitude is a gift to be used for the glory of God. They are as follows:

1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.

2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.

4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.

5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.

6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.

7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.

8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.

10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

The bottom line is that we are not living for this world. If this world was the kingdom that the Lord spoke of, this level of suffering then makes no sense. By showing His grace even through trials, He gives us an incredible longing to be with Him. Last year, when Steven Curtis Chapman lost his 5 year old daughter in a freak accident, I wrote a post entitled “We Can Look To The Future ‘With Hope ‘” with a link to a tribute video to Maria Chapman where I mentioned that it was in the years prior to the accident that God was shaping Steven's theology in order to withstand this tragedy.

So for those of us that remain, if we have trusted Christ in repentance and faith, we will one day see the loved ones that have entered Christ's glory before us and will rejoice in His presence for all of eternity. In the meantime, we need to study His Word and build the rock solid foundation of Biblical theology, worked out every day through prayer and Bible study, and manifesting itself in good works, evangelism, and thanksgiving. It is then we will have our future secure “With Hope!”

(For another incredible journey through the pain of cancer, read the story of Andrew Mark who past away earlier this year from cancer. You can read his wife Grace's journal here.)

Steven Curtis and Maria Chapman

A friend of mine on Facebook sent me a message with this video attached. As many of you know, Steven Curtis Chapman lost his youngest daughter in a tragic accident. I cannot imagine the devastation they must be feeling, however, if you have listened closely to his music all of these years, you understand that long before this tragedy took place, God was working in the heart of Steven and laying the firm foundation of His Word in Steven's heart. It is so important that before any of life's trials come, we must have our theology set in stone. Steven, Mary Beth, and kids, please know that we love you and there are thousands of us praying for you! May the Peace of God keep your hearts and minds for now and until the time you see Maria's beautiful face again in the wonderful presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!