Pray for Purity

Are you ticklish? My Uncle Joe was terribly ticklish under his arms. When I was a little girl, I just couldn’t help myself. When he least expected it, I’d sneak up and give his underarm a little poke, and he’d jump and say, “Uh-uh!” It’s a wonder that the poor man still liked me. Pesky little stinker, I was!

Satan’s a pesky stinker, too. He sees our tender spots and just loves to poke at ’em. He knows those “favorite” sins we can’t seem to kick. He notices when we’re at our weakest, and he pounces with temptations customized just for us.

In her book, Fervent, Priscilla Shirer puts it this way:

The moral compromise. The unhealthy habit. The enticing addiction. The allure toward sexual impurity. Do you think their uncanny ability to show up when you happen to be exhausted or hungry or lonely is just coincidence? Don’t you detect some design at work in the timing, the placement, the package?

Precision, personalization, and persistence. He’s always scouting for what Luke’s Gospel describes as the “opportune time” (4:13)—the moment when a well-placed temptation is most likely to be its most irresistible.

He tried it in the wilderness with Jesus and failed, but he knows we’re not Jesus.

He’ll keep picking and prodding and parading shiny sin things in front of our faces until the day we die. More than anything, Satan wants to interrupt our intimacy with God because when we’re tight with Jesus, we start to talk like Him and act like Him and love like Him.

The devil’s strategy is to make us believe impurity is, well … normal … that nobody’s hurt if we keep a few forbidden things on hand and enjoy them from time to time. No big deal. But if we were steadily engaged in fervent prayer—with our strategy counteracting his strategy—we’d see in a snap that unrighteousness is not “no big deal.” It’s a house of horrors.

Unrighteousness disrupts our peace. It scares away any lasting sense of rest and contentment. It spoils what could otherwise be enjoyable. It complicates experiences that were meant to be nothing but pleasures and blessings. We can’t knowingly create this kind of an environment—the kind that invites the devil to make himself at home—and then blame God for whatever sense of distance we may feel from Him (Shirer).

As I read this chapter on purity, all kinds of Holy Spirit bells started going off. I sat down with my journal and asked the Lord to show me my tender spots. He reminded me of my “pet sins” I can’t seem to shake, and He warned me of the issues that some people can handle in moderation but I can’t. He also gave me insight on some temptations Satan will surely try on me in the future as a “single again” woman.

I want to live a life of purity, and the best way to find the power to do that is to pray.

Lord,

Thank you for being on my side. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; [You] have come that [I] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).

Lord, keep me alert to the enemy’s schemes. I don’t want to be his sucker. 

Jesus died so I can live a life free from sin’s shackles, but so often I wrap those shackles around my neck like jewelry.

Forgive me, Lord.

Like Paul, I find myself saying, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15 NIV). 

I want to do right, Lord. You know I do.

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank [You] God! The answer is in Jesus Christ [my] Lord” (Romans 7:24-25 NLT).

“He Himself bore [my] sins in His body on the cross, so that [I] might die to sins and live to righteousness; by His wounds [I am] healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV). Might means maybe. You give me the choice. Help me choose right living. Help me choose to be healed and whole and pure.

“His divine power has given [me] everything [I] need for a godly life through [my] knowledge of him who called [me] by his own glory and goodness” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV). Keep me on my knees in prayer and with my face in Your Word, so I can have every weapon in Your arsenal at my disposal. It’s mine for the taking, yet so many days I lay aside my armor and let Satan run roughshod over my resolve.

Help me “stand [my] ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of [Your] righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14 NLT). 

Help me spot and use the escape routes You promise to provide when I’m tempted. “The temptations in [my] life are no different from what others experience. And [You are] faithful. [You] will not allow the temptation to be more than [I] can stand. When [I am] tempted, [You] will show you a way out so that [I] can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).

Help me “walk by the Spirit, [so I] will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NASB).

And Lord, when I stumble and the enemy says, “You’ve really done it now,” help me remember that “my flesh and my heart may fail, but [You are] the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26 NIV).

In the name of Jesus who died for me, I pray for purity, AMEN

Do you want to “strategize your obedience as diligently as the enemy is strategizing those temptations”? Grab a copy of Priscilla Shirer’s prayer battle guide, Fervent. God is using it to help me be wise to the enemy’s wiles. 

 

 

 

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Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus

My thoughts are a little on the flighty side these days. In any given minute, my mind will scroll through at least a dozen topics, so when I embarked on my study of the word “thoughts,” this verse in Hebrews gave me pause.

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, who we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest” (Hebrews 3:1 NIV).

Fix my thoughts? Mercy, that’s like holding down a sugared-up toddler on a trampoline! Seriously, I think my focuser is broken.

And there I go again making it about me.

Fix your thoughts on Jesus. There. That’s better. When I make it about Jesus, this verse seems more doable.

As I dug into this verse, I loved seeing how other Bible translations worded the phrase.

  • ” … consider Jesus” (ESV).
  • ” … take a good hard look at Jesus” (MSG).
  • ” … think carefully about this Jesus” (NLT).
  • ” … take note of Jesus” (NET).

In his exposition of Hebrews, Alexander MacLaren said, “The root of weakness lies in the neglect of that solemn and indispensable duty to consider Jesus, in patient contemplation and steadfast beholding.”

The man may be long-dead, but his words ring relevant for today. I am at my weakest when I allow my mind to be all over the place. I can’t afford not to consider Jesus.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the word “consider” in a thesaurus.

Here are just a few of the synonyms: contemplate, deal with, examine, scrutinize, study, inspect, meditate, ruminate, and mull over.

Here’s the thing about those words. They all indicate prolonged, uninterrupted attention-to-detail. You can’t contemplate or meditate in the five minutes between make-up and breakfast.

I remember the day I moved into my apartment a couple years ago. The leasing agent gave me an inspection form on which I was supposed to note anything that was wrong with the apartment. She advised me to be thorough in my inspection so I wouldn’t be charged later for repairs that were already needed before I even moved in.

I started at the front door and examined that place as if my life depended on it. I wrote down every cracked tile and every squeaky cabinet. I noted every snag in the carpet and every dent in the wall. When I turned in my inspection sheet, that leasing agent had no doubt what was wrong with apartment 2011.

When I inspect Jesus, no matter how hard I look, I won’t find even one fault, and the only blemishes I’ll find are nail scars. I’ll find a love that won’t quit. I’ll find unwavering submission to God. I’ll find a power strong enough to heal the sickest and raise the deadest. I’ll find  patience and passion, joy and justice, hope and humility, faith and forgiveness.

I think I’d best get busy.

Lord,

You are an awesome sight. Perfect in every way. Perfectly holy. Perfectly loving. Perfectly worthy of my constant attention. 

I struggle to make my thoughts be still. 

The more I gaze upon Jesus, the more I’ll know Him, the more I’ll love Him, and the more I’ll be like Him.

I have so far to go, Lord. Right now, my mind flits from thought-to-thought like a honey bee on a mission.

Change my mindset, Lord. Cause every flittery thought to land on You.

When I think of loved ones, remind me that You love them more than I do.

When I think of ones who hurt me, remind me that Your grace is for them, too.

When I think of  my to-do list, remind me to leave room for divine appointments.

When I think of my finances, remind me that Your account never gets overdrawn.

When I think of the past, remind me that Your mercies are new every morning.

When I think of the future, remind me that You are already there.

Fixing my thoughts on Jesus and praying in His name,

AMEN

Do you have strategies you use to keep your thoughts fixed on Christ? I’d love to hear them. Share your strategies and struggles in the comments. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the book, Hunting Hope here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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