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31 Days of Purity
March 16, 2014

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 sixteen:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

In the heat of the battle for purity, sexuality can feel like a burden and a curse. We might even find ourselves wishing that God had made us asexual beings, or that he would just take away all those feelings and all those desires. Yet we know that God is a loving Father who looks upon his people with kindness. Far be it from this Father to give us something that is bad for us!

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul addresses some of the sexual immorality among those people. He rebukes the church for this immorality, and gives them this command: Glorify God in your body. This is a command he gives to the married and to the unmarried. Our sexuality has been entrusted to us as a gift from God. We serve as faithful stewards when we use it only in the ways God intends. For those who are married, that will mean regularly and joyfully enjoying sex with your wife; for those who are unmarried it will mean regularly and joyfully denying yourself those physical desires. In either case, it is God who owns our bodies, not us; it is God who owns our sexuality, not us. My brother, be a faithful steward of what God has entrusted to you. 

Father, you tell me that I can and must glorify you in my body. I believe that you have given sexuality to me as a gift. I may not always understand why you have done this because it does not always feel like a gift. But I do understand that you are good and kind and that you love me. I pray that I would be a faithful steward of this gift, that in that final day you would look at how I have stewarded this gift and say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


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).

31 Days of Purity
March 15, 2014

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 fifteen: 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The New Testament knows nothing of the lone Christian—the man who claims to be a believer but who deliberately or carelessly allows himself to drift from the local church. Just as the wolf will prowl outside the flock of sheep, looking for the one that strays from the shepherd, Satan prowls the church, looking for the people who stray from Christian fellowship. Every Christian is dependent upon the local church and we neglect it to our peril, for it is in the church that we powerfully experience the means of grace God gives us—the Word, prayer and the sacraments (or ordinances). We cannot thrive or even survive without them. Neither should we expect to.

It is also within the church that we uniquely experience the joy of imitating Christ in putting aside our own desires in order to love and serve others. And so, my brother, don’t simply go to church: Be an active, serving, participating member of that church. Do not expect that you will be able to put sin to death or to pursue holiness without the local church.

Father, I am grateful for the gift of the local church. I am grateful that through the church I am able to experience those wondrously ordinary means of grace. I am grateful that you led me to my church, and I pray that you would help me to commit to it more and more, that I would love the people you bring there, that I would have deep and meaningful friendships there, that I would faithfully serve your people by stirring them up to love and good works.


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).

31 Days of Purity
March 14, 2014

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 fourteen:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV)

God’s Word cuts and cuts deep. This kind of cutting doesn’t always feel like a blessing to those who are living in impurity. It hurts. It convicts. It wounds as it penetrates our hearts and exposes our sin. God’s Word lays us bare before Yahweh. But it also strengthens and sustains. God’s Word is the weapon that He wields (and that we wield) in our fight against impurity. It is through His powerful Word that mountains melt like wax. It was through His powerful Word that your heart came alive. And it will be through His powerful Word that our impure hearts will be transformed into the likeness of His Son.

If we want a passion for God, it will only come through a passion for God’s Word. If we want to be rescued from the land of scoffers and the counsel of the wicked, then we’ll want to position ourselves under God’s Word. It is here that our delight in God will grow. Therefore, let us pray that the Lord would give us an abiding passion for His Word.

Father, we thank you for your Word. Though it slays me I know that it also restores me. I know that naturally I do not have a passion for your Word. I will not drift into reading and meditating upon your Word. I certainly will not naturally treasure it. But through your Spirit the Word will be a delight to my heart. So, God I pray that you would incline my heart to you. Give me an abiding passion for your Word, a passion unlike any I have known before. Use your Word to conquer my sin and unbelief. 


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.

March 13, 2014

The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, is meant to be an ongoing crusade that will continue for many generations. Situated on the same property as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the library opened in 2007 and is neither a museum nor a memorial. Rather, it is an extension of the evangelistic ministry that Graham carried out for so many years. The building, notable for its giant cross-shaped door, is meant to expose visitors to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Among the many items it houses is an unusual and fascinating relic of Graham’s famed 1957 New York Crusade—a prayer wheel. And this, Billy Graham’s prayer wheel, is the next (and second to last) of the twenty-five objects through which we are exploring the history of Christianity. 

Billy Graham played a crucial role in the emergence and definition of Evangelicalism as we know it today. Evangelicalism emerged as a reaction to the belligerent Fundamentalists whose desire for doctrinal purity led them to separate from other Christians. Where Fundamentalists were primarily concerned with pure doctrine, Graham and other Evangelicals were far more concerned with conversions and cultural impact. “They wanted not only to win the world for Christ, but also to rejuvenate conservative Protestant intellectual culture and earn the respect of the secular intelligentsia. These were the core aims of organizations like the National Association of Evangelicals (founded in 1943), Fuller Theological Seminary (1947), the Evangelical Theological Society (1949) and Christianity Today (1956)” (source).

A key part of Evangelical strategy was the evangelistic crusade. History will remember Billy Graham as the greatest of the crusaders, and no crusade was more important than the one in New York in 1957.

New York CrusadeThe New York crusade was originally planned to last 6 weeks, beginning May 15, 1957. However, by the time it came to an end, it had lasted for 16 weeks, nearly three times longer than planned. Over that time Graham preached at 114 services and rallies, 98 of them in Madison Square Garden. But the impact carried far beyond New York City. Beginning on June 1, the final hour of each Saturday evening service was broadcast nationwide by ABC and the response was overwhelming, with an estimated audience of 6.5 million viewers. While 18,000 people were experiencing the crusade live in Madison Square Garden, millions more were watching it on television. From this point onward, television would be a major component in every crusade.

The crusade ended at last with an open-air sermon on Sunday, September 1 at Broadway and 42nd Street. Between 60,000 and 75,000 packed the nearby blocks to hear Graham preach on the unknown God. And then, at last, the crusade was over.

Graham’s New York crusade had generated massive crowds, but also massive waves of critiques. Liberal Protestants were bothered that Graham’s kind of evangelism was not concerned with social justice, but only with conversions. Meanwhile, Fundamentalists, led by Bob Jones Sr., were concerned that Graham’s ecumenism led to a diluted message and opened the possibility that converts would be sent not to sound churches, but to Catholic or Liberal churches. Graham continually insisted that he would accept support and assistance from anyone, as long as they did not hinder his message. This crusade marked the final break with many of his Fundamentalist supporters and Evangelicalism’s final distancing with Liberalism.

31 Days of Purity
March 13, 2014

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 thirteen:

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5).

Humility does not come easily or naturally to sinful people like you and me. We think far too highly of ourselves, of our virtues, of our tendencies, of our ability to resist sin. Yet time and again the Bible tells us that God has a special affection for the humble. God turns his back on the proud in order to lavish his grace on those who are humble. In fact, God will actively oppose the proud just as he actively blesses the humble. Few things expose us like our inability to turn away from sin and our lack of desire to do what is right. Therefore few things offer us better opportunity to turn to the Lord in humble dependence.

God is actively for the humble. God desires to pour out his blessings on the humble. As you seek to put off the sin of sexual impurity, and as you seek to put on the virtue of sexual integrity, you must humble yourself before God. Do this by admitting your tendencies toward sin and do this by freely owning your inability before God. Do this, above all, by looking to Christ who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Father, I humbly confess that I cannot win this battle on my own. I am too weak. I am too sinful. I am too drawn to what is evil. So, as much as I am able, I humble myself before you. I ask that you would remind how much I have to be humble about. I ask that you would remind me of the humble Savior, who took on flesh for me, who obeyed the law for me, who went to the cross for me, who bled and died that I might have life.


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).

31 Days of Purity
March 12, 2014

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 twelve:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

31 Days of Purity
March 11, 2014

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. Day eleven comes courtesy of a guest writer: David Murray.

This day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:9).

Holiness and happiness are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. Holiness produces true happiness, and true happiness strengthens holiness. The proof?

In Nehemiah 8, God’s people had rightly mourned over their sins. But there came a point when their weeping went on too long and too deep, and God said through Nehemiah, “This is a holy day. Therefore let it be a happy day.” The logic is inescapable. Happiness is not only compatible with holiness, it is an essential part of it. Without happiness, holiness is incomplete. Indeed, it is no longer holiness.

But what kind of happiness are we talking about? Nehemiah defines it as “the joy of the Lord.” It is a joy that comes from God and is centered in God. God gives it and God is it.

And as if we needed another reason to pursue, accept, and enjoy the happiness of holiness, Nehemiah adds the motive: “For the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Holy joy, Christ-centered joy, strengthens us. It produces defensive and offensive strength. It powerfully protects us from evil and it empowers us to fight for good. Holiness, happiness, and hardiness. A blessed trinity from the Blessed Trinity!

Ever blessed God, You are so holy and so happy. Help me to believe that my greatest happiness is found in holiness, and that happiness, true Christ-centered happiness, is my greatest help to holiness. Increase my joy in Jesus that I may increase my strength to resist sin and fight for purity. 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).

Today’s devotional comes from David Murray, a pastor, professor, author, and dear friend. He blogs at HeadHeartHand.

March 10, 2014

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 ten:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Sin enslaves. It promises joy and life but delivers only deeper and deeper levels of captivity. Freedom from sin and its ugly consequences seems like nothing more than a mirage or an empty promise when, time and time again, you present yourself to sin as its obedient slave. You hear yourself saying things like, “I just can’t help it” or “I tried but couldn’t do it.” The enemy will do everything in his power to convince you that you are enslaved to sin. He will do all he can to make you believe you are powerless to conquer it.

There is just a grain of truth in what our Accuser says: In your own strength you are, indeed, powerless. But if you are in Christ you have been set free from sin’s enslavement. You no longer have to live in your own strength—you can now live in the strength of another. The power of sin has been broken in your life. The Son has set you free from your slavery. And now he invites and commands you to live in the joy of that freedom. Be free!

Father, thank you for setting me free in Christ. I confess that far too many times I have presented myself as an obedient slave to sin. I have failed to take hold of the freedom Christ has won for me; I have crawled back into my prison cell and back into my chains. Yet I know and believe that sin is no longer my master. Convince my heart that I belong to you and that sin no longer owns me. Help me to live in the freedom that Christ has purchased for me.


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.

The False Teachers
March 09, 2014

A few weeks ago I set out on a new series of articles through which I intend to scan the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—to examine some of Christianity’s most notorious false teachers. Along the way we will visit such figures as Arius, Servetus, Fosdick, and even a few you might find on television today. We continue this morning with a false teacher who has at least 15 million followers in the world today, many of whom have undoubtedly knocked on your front door. His name is Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith

Joseph SmithJoseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. When he was a child his family moved to Palmyra in western New York where there was a lot of revivalism and religious fervor due to the Second Great Awakening. The wild enthusiasm and the many denominations present confused Smith and he was uncertain of what to believe and how to worship. As he writes in The Pearl of Great Price: “In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.”

In 1820, in this time of confusion, Smith read James 1:5 which instructs those who lack wisdom to request it from God. He immediately withdrew to a wooded area near his home to pray for wisdom and it was at this point that he recalls having a vision of a pillar of light coming down from heaven and God the Father and Jesus his Son standing above him in the air. Smith asked them which of the denominations or sects were right and which he should join. He was told that all of the denominations were evil and corrupt.

It was at the time of this experience that Smith became convinced he had been called as God’s prophet. On September 21, 1823, while praying in his room, he received an angelic visitation. This angel, named Moroni, told him that he had been chosen by God for a great work. He told Smith about a book written upon gold plates that had been buried alongside the Urim and the Thummin of the Old Testament. Smith immediately found this book, and, using the Urim and Thummin, translated it, and published it in 1830 as The Book of Mormon. This was the same year that he formally organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A commanding and gregarious figure, Smith began to amass followers. As the movement grew, it migrated west, in large part because their teaching was not welcome in most places and was often opposed with threats of violence. Smith moved first to Ohio, then to Missouri, then to Illinois. As the movement grew, it required more and more revelations, and Smith received them as need arose. These revelations continued until his death and were compiled into a book referred to as the Doctrine and Covenants.

There was strife within the Mormon church, and in the spring of 1844 it led to threats of violence between Smith and others in the town of Nauvoo, Illinois. The governor intervened and imprisoned Smith until he could stand trial. Before this could happen, though, an armed mob stormed the jailhouse where he was being kept, and Smith was shot and killed while trying to escape through a window.

False Teaching

The heart of Joseph Smith’s false teaching was that he put his own authority over the authority of Scripture. He added his own revelation to the Bible’s revelation and took it upon himself to identify and correct what he claimed were errors in Scripture.

31 Days of Purity
March 09, 2014

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 nine:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Friendship is a great gift from God. Spiritual friendship, a friendship shared in Christ, is an even greater gift. Proverbs assures us that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (17:17). A brother is born for the times when we are going toe-to-toe with our sin, battling hard against it, committed to putting it to death. In such times we need friends to pray for us, to support us, to speak truth to us, to speak the gospel to us.

Sin thrives in darkness. When we find ourselves up to our neck in sin, our tendency is to run and hide, especially from friends. Our guilt makes us run from accountability and friendship. Don’t do that. See the godly friendships that God has given you as the gifts that they are. As you battle against sin and as you battle for sexual purity, invite a friend into your struggles. Invite him to pray with you and for you, invite him to ask you deep and difficult questions, invite him to travel with you on this journey. And when the 31 Days of Purity are over, that friendship will only be getting underway.

Father, I pray that I will pursue and value biblical accountability and genuine friendship. This life is too difficult and I am too sinful to do this on my own. So I pray that you would grant me that friend, that he and I would be like Jonathan and David, knit together, unashamed, each looking out for the other’s good. And I pray that I will be the kind of friend who loves at all times and the kind of friend who is there for my brother in times of adversity. 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).

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