Monday, November 14, 2022

Rest and War - Fleeing and Pursuing


Let's go back to Ben Stuart this morning.  I always find it interesting how God puts things in your path at specifically the right moment.  

Phil. 3:13-14, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - AMEN!

"The spiritual life is a movement away from ways of thinking and ways of living that promote isolation from intimacy with God, and it’s to promote ways of thinking and ways of living that promote intimacy with God—movement away from some things and towards others. Do you see it?

Paul said it this way in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (NASB). Do you hear the two parts in that? I flee some things, and I pursue other things. It’s one movement but two parts.

Old school theologians had a word for each of these parts. The movement away they called mortification. There are certain ways of thinking and ways of living that I now mortify; I kill. They are not meant to be part of my life anymore. And there are other ways of thinking and ways of living that I’m meant to vivify. They called this vivification. There are other ways of living I want to cultivate; I want to help bring to life. There are things I want to kill, and there are things I want to revive and allow to flourish: away and towards.

If we were going to use gardening imagery, we would say this is the pulling up of weeds; this is the planting of grass. If we were to use dating imagery, we would say vivification is taking my wife on dates, sharing with her my heart, and listening to her heart, pursuing intimacy together. Mortification would be I don’t yell at her, I don’t date other women—there are certain things I don’t do.

Now, let me clarify in this moment. What I’m not saying is, “Well, the devil is over here, and God’s over here, so get on the God side, folks.” That’s not what I’m saying. That makes it sound like God is waiting over here for you to get your act together. But that’s not the gospel. When you come to Christ, God says, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you” (see Hebrews 13:5). He will always be near you.

And yet you can feel far away. My wife will never leave me, and yet there are moments where—if I have not done the work to cultivate intimacy with her—though we are physically close, we can feel far away. And this is the spiritual life for the Christian. God is with you. But now, we must work to uproot ways of thinking and ways of living that just don’t fit into our lives anymore—they isolate us from intimacy with God. And it’s to cultivate, to move towards, ways of thinking and ways of living that promote the intimacy with God we were made to enjoy. This is the movement."

Pastor Ben asks a few questions.  Good questions for myself to ponder as I move through a new period of death and resurrection:

  • What are some things you are putting to death as you follow Christ? What are some things that you are bringing to life as you grow in Christ?  (I am putting to death hiding from family, friends, and my [now ex-] partner.  Hiding the battles I have.  I am planting the seed for growth in Christ [further growth] as I try to stay transparent with my struggles and allow Jesus to work through me.)

  • How does the truth that God is always near you encourage you to pursue intimacy with him—even when you feel far away?  (I'm not sure I've ever felt "away" from God, but I have felt "away" from those closest to me.  Yes, there are things I can do to move more toward the middle - that much is obvious, right?  But to pursue intimacy with another [on an emotional level] is to put them first, make lifestyle changes, and remain open and honest.)

  • How can God’s Word and his people help you move towards godly ways of thinking and living?  (We should always stay in God's Word; it is normal to go in and out of reading.  Ups and downs.  But to keep your center and your grounding, God's Word and a good inner circle of friends and family that share your beliefs is required.  As I am making my way through this new phase of life, I am humbled by the support my girlfriends have stepped up and shown.  Advice, good works, and companionship.  Truly humbled.  Surrounding yourself with God's people keeps you on track and extends hands to help when you do stumble and slip in a valley.)
2 Tim 2:22, "Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

Heb. 13:5, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

What do you need to move away from and what do you need to move toward?  What things do you need to mortify, and what things do you need vivify?  What is killing intimacy and what needs tending so you can move back toward intimacy?

Good questions to ponder this morning for sure.

Happy Monday my friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment