Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sunday Morning Sanctification

This is note-form of my Sunday time with God on a morning when our home church will not be meeting.[1] I was free to focus on whatever new things Father was doing without thinking of my usual responsibilities for getting ready for our church fellowship.

I share this as encouragement for you to consider how your morning time with God can be a very real and personal encounter with God’s word and his Spirit so that you know what God is speaking to you about, you can see what he is doing in your life and around you, and you have responded to your heavenly Father with an affirmation that you are setting out to put his words into practice.[2]

The note-form of this post may also give you a sense of how you could share your morning journey with your fellowship of believers.

Prelude: so much turmoil to work through to have a genuine experience of “the peace of God, which surpasses understanding”![3]

Start: how to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue” when faith is taking a beating, insecurities are pounding against the shore of my heart (so to speak), and virtue feels like the most overwhelming obligation I have ever faced.[4]

Consideration: why not remind myself what comes before this to help my sluggish mind tell the truth to a weary heart for the encouragement of a parched soul?[5]

Gift of grace: “in the sanctification of the Spirit”.[6]

Journey: in-between, “the foreknowledge of God the Father,” and, “obedience to Jesus Christ,” is, “in sanctification of the Spirit”.[7] Wow! Between what the Father has determined for my life in his foreknowledge, and what Jesus is calling me to live in my obedience to him, is the personal activity of the Holy Spirit to sanctify me into the image and likeness of my Savior. THAT is where grace wants me to look before my faith can obey Jesus’ will!

What God is saying: what he calls me to do to make every effort to supplement my faith with virtue is not dependent on me; it is dependent on the sanctifying work the Spirit is doing in me. My part is to join a work in progress.

What God is doing: sanctifying me by his Spirit in such ways that my experience of this sanctifying work of the Spirit feels bigger and greater to me than my efforts to sanctify myself with virtue (and everything else Peter lists[8]).

How I am joining God in his work: I am (present continuous) consciously relating to the specific works the Spirit is doing in me for my sanctification in order to take the next step of making every effort to supplement my faith with virtue.

Conclusion: I feel like I have just read a chapter in which the gist of the story is made clear (it’s about the Spirit’s sanctifying work before it’s about my participation in that work), and now I will turn the page to the next chapter where the personal details of my maturing in Christlikeness become very real and personal as I pour my heart into attaching to the specific things the Spirit is doing.

Whenever I share these things, I am aware that there must be at least one person out there who would gain encouragement from adding my sharing to their own. Perhaps you needed this reminder from God’s word that, whatever God is calling you to do right now in “the obedience of faith,”[9] the Holy Spirit is supremely ahead of you working sanctification into your life in a real and personal way.

With that in mind, is there something you have felt the word and the Spirit leading you to do that you can now say “yes” to because you see that he is already doing that work in you?

Perhaps Paul’s words would make this clear:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.[10]

Notice that, even though Paul refers to us working out our own salvation with fear and trembling before reminding us that God works in us “both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” he means it works the other way around. The key word is “for”. In other words, we do our work because (for) God is already working.

Today’s focus simply encourages us that, whatever our heavenly Father is working in us “both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” his Holy Spirit is already sanctifying us to that end. By faith, let us join them in the personal specifics of their will and work right now.

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] One of the benefits of being a home church is the freedom to adjust to things that are going on in our families so that we can meet at different times or places, and in different ways than usual.
[2] Matthew 7:24-27 shows the wise and foolish builders who both heard the words of Jesus but only the wise man put those words into practice. James would give his “Amen!” to this by reminding us that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17), and, “as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). Just remember that we are saved by grace through faith without works so that our faith is made alive to now do the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10 again).
[3] Philippians 4:7 (context: Philippians 4:4-9)
[4] For a few weeks, our home church has been focusing on II Peter 1:3-11 where Peter first reminds us that God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” and then calls us to “make every effort to supplement your faith” with the qualities of “life and godliness” that make us increasingly more like Jesus. This week’s focus has been on what it looks like for me/us to, “make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue…”
[5] Everything in the Christian life begins with whatever God is doing by grace that we are called to attach to by faith (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Many people who grew up in the church developed a “works-based mindset” that focused on what we “do” in the church far more than who we “are” in Jesus. Dysfunction in homes can produce trauma that teaches us to always focus on what we are supposed to do to keep the peace rather than how we live as the beloved children of God. I often need to look at the things God is calling me to “do” and remind myself that everything I do flows out of everything God has done and is presently doing. Jesus’ word-picture of himself as the vine and us as his branches makes this clear (John 15:1-11). I must always know what Jesus is flowing into my branch before I will be spiritually healthy within my own soul so I can then flow the same things into the lives of others.
[6] I Peter 1:2 (context: I Peter 1:1-2). There have been a lot of things going on that so easily tempt a mind to worry and fret. I always encourage people to begin our time with God admitting to God how we are really doing as deeply as we can identify it. We then have the added blessing of discovering how personally God will speak his word into our hearts regarding those very things.
[7] “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (I Peter 1:1-2).
[8] II Peter 1:5-7
[9] Romans 1:5; 16:26
[10] Philippians 2:12-13

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