When I was asked to give a talk on this subject, I said to my wife "I feel like a hypocrite already". She asked why ? She reminded me that We could never hope to rival the degree of righteousness to which Jesus was entitled. Our task is to follow Him and do His will. Aaah yes, once again she was right. Rather than concentrating on how far short we all fall from the ideal - we should instead (I suggest) be concentrating on improving our love relationship with Jesus and inturn upon doing His will, during our whole lifetime.

Be Pious. When I first heard that term, I thought: "what"??

Piety has nothing to do with having the attitude of the stereotypical Pharisee. Instead, Piety is a life in total connection and communion with God. My name is David Simpson and the title of my talk is: Life in Piety.

"Life in piety" suggests (or should be) an attitude governing your whole life. It is not and does not center on acts, practices, religious routines or observances. The aim of Piety is NOT to become PIOUS, but instead to enjoy a full and open relationship with God. God's blessings shall flow and will be evident. They are a natural consequence of doing His will and living as He has instructed. Trusting in Him and doing His will, will allow God to "give us all things". see: Romans 8: 32. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" A life in piety is what we live when we CHOOSE a relationship with God as being OUR life's priority.

Usually at this stage of the talk a drawing is introduced which serves to illustrate a life in grace. The drawing I use is of a three legged stool with each leg representing: Piety, Study and Action. Our life under God's grace will not be complete and keep us upright, without each of these three legs being in their correct position. I should mention at this time: piety is NOT limited to a narrow religious aspect of one's life. It is living our life in today's world, using our life as a demonstration of Christ's attitude and example. See: Phil 2: 5-11 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So what I am describing to you is not an airy fairy or even blindly devoted or fanatical worship of something which we call "God". What I am describing is willingness to enter into a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus.

Jesus relationship with God the Father was not just an important part of his life. It was his life. All he did centered upon that relationship. See: John 7: 16 and Matthew 11: 27 Jesus answered "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me." And Matthew 11: 27 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Jesus is aware of our thoughts and motivations and he can personally identify with our feelings. He too was at one time human. 1 Cor 2: 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Highs and lows are experienced in every human relationship. John 11: 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.What I'm saying is: He cares.

The characteristics of any Christian's relationship should be honesty and authenticity. We share our feelings and attitudes with those whom we call friends and Jesus wishes to participate in that dialogue. See: 1John 5: 14-15. This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know he hears us - whatever we ask - we know we shall have what we asked of him. In an authentic relationship we not only share honestly, we share ourselves and what is most important to us. God gave us His best, the life of His only son, even before we chose to come into a love relationship with him. I try to give Him my best, in return. And that is all He asks.

So, how or what is the best way to follow through with building such a vital and rewarding relationship? I will outline 6 points to you which I think are the best ways to go. - Prayer - Scripture - Meditation - Worship - Communion - Spiritual direction/guidance Many of these are interlinked and are done simultaneously. As you know, prayer is the act of personally relating and sharing with God - heart to heart. We cannot hide anything from God and he does rejoice in hearing our prayers. See 1Timothy 2: 1-4 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

At times when you least feel like praying, maybe that's when you should be alone and pour you heart out to God. It's not like he won't understand. Take a look at how great king David did it: See Psalm 17: 1-3 Hear O Lord my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer - it does not rise from deceitful lips. May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing. I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. In 1Thessalonians 5: 17-18 Paul says: "pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I suggest the goal of prayer is for it to become "habitual", or in other words - part of your lifestyle.

The second point was: Scripture. Scripture describes and reveals to us the heart and mind of God. Through learning and contemplating Scripture, God's witness and His Spirit teaches and nourishes us. How often have you heard a Christian say: You know I read that bit from the bible the other day and something completely new hit me in the face! (or words to that effect..) You know, at my house there is always so much going on, it is difficult to read and study, let alone contemplate scripture. I have three energetic children. Often amongst the rush and confusion in the morning particularly, it is hard enough finding where my bible got temporarily moved to - in order to have my morning coffee, so I can read today's bible verse and comment before my ride to work arrives. The pace of today sure has picked up speed, I reckon. Maybe that underlines even more the extra effort I should make to seek the nourishment I can receive from God's word.

When I find myself thinking like this, I have to again ask myself: what are my priorities? Maybe I should get up earlier - I dunno. It's not always as easy as reading a list of things to do, and having done that expecting everything to then come together. But we can ask (or pray) for help - I know I do.

Meditation. Meditation is focused listening to God. this may be through prayer or Scripture reading, or both. By the time I get home from work it's usually about 7:00pm. My wife Kaye has had a long day with Joshua, our energetic 4.1/2yr old and the girls (Prue & Molly aged 11 + 9yrs), are becoming tired and a bit short tempered. Now is not a good time for them to help with tea, apart from setting the table. Is now a good time for my meditation? No - Iv'e got to update my home computer with the email for the day and talk with Kaye about whatever. And I might find time to quickly log on and see if there is any more mail. Then it's tea and the kids to bed - provided we aren't having small group over at our house, or girl guides is on, or it's choir practise, or we are having someone over for dinner, or there are those phone calls or..

Being silent and listening, becoming prayerfully centered on Jesus, is the purpose of meditation. Nowerdays it's just the arranging and planning of your life so that private time with God can occur, but it's worth doing.

Less TV or Internet, or cutting it out all together allows more time for God. That's my solution - fatigue permitting

Worship. (one of my most favorite things) Worship is the celebration of God's activity in our lives can be one of the loudest times we proclaim "Christ is Lord". I find the louder and more joyous my worship, the happier I become. During this time we praise God, confess our sin's, proclaim God's Grace and truth. I think back to the various ways it was expressed in the Psalms: Ps 7: 17, Psalm 9: 1-2 and so on.. It's great to read them with an attitude of praise in your heart and sing them to yourself as you read. Psalm 7: 17 17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 9: 1-2 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Communion. Communion is a celebration which we take part in. We eat the bread and drink the wine (as Jesus instructed), in a joyful yet solemn thanksgiving remembering we are restored brothers and sisters who are now members of God's family. I suppose communion is the truest form of Christian worship. Jesus said in Luke 22: 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

Spiritual Direction This is a relationship with another person who is also a practicing Christian. Often this person may be an elder, a pastor or priest. Of course friendship and trust are experienced but also in this particular relationship spiritual guidance is also offered. Gaining Christian council providing a view perhaps from a different aspect, can often be really helpful.

Qualities of a Life in Piety: - Awareness - Desire - Action - Direction - Naturalness - Courage - Joy As we expand our relationship with Jesus, on our Christian walk, we naturally grow in sensitivity or awareness of God's hand, (His influence or presence) in everyday life. A desire for a life in piety is powered by the fire of God's love in our hearts. See how Paul expressed this in Ephesians:- 3: 14-19 For this reason I kneel before the father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derive its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and how deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Having said all that does not mean to say that by following the steps I have outlined will somehow make you a superman or absolutely impervious to the darts of the evil one. We are flesh and we live in a fallen world. But it is certainly the right way to go to move forward in our individual Christian walk.

Referring to Paul again, a man who was so holy, who had such prayerful and intimate communication with God - have a listen to just how difficult that remarkable fellow found living life as a sinner:- Romans 7: 22-25 For in my inner being I delight in Gods law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! A life in piety is a whole life committed to practicing a relationship with God. It does not make us god or physically separate us from the world.

Action. (One of my personal favorites) As you may be aware, growing closer with God allows his love and compassion to change us and for His love to radiate from us - affecting others. A life in piety bears fruit in action See:- James 3: 17-18 and Romans 8: 28-31 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. Romans 8: 28-31 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? And so again I refer to 1John 5: 14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know he hears us - whatever we ask - we know we will have what we asked of him. This the point I am trying to drive home. If we pray, study and work on our relationship with Jesus, it indeed becomes more than just a relationship - it is revealed to be a partnership. A partnership ordained and arranged by God.John 15: 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. And: John 17: 15-18 "Father, I don't ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don't belong to this world, and neither do I. Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me." Remember we are his hands and feet, let's play our part.

Direction. A life in Piety is focused on God, the Alpha and Omega. Jesus knew he had come from God and was returning to God. See John 13: 3 As we live in the love relationship offered by God, we are given direction. Remember that we are citizens of heaven waiting to take up our gracious entitlement. What a privilege it is to be used by God.

Naturalness OR being NATURAL. God know us better than we may be ready to admit. He knew us before we became Christians. He doesn't want us to Separate ourselves from society and reality, living some type of religious life style or way. He wants us each for who we are and for the unique knowledge we each have and can contribute to building and participating in the body of Christ.

Courage and Joy A life in piety cannot help to exhibit the inner security and outward joy found when living in a love relationship with Jesus. Freed from fear and filled with love we can serve the Lord motivated by our love and gratitude for him instead of out of a sense of duty.

So a person who is living in such a personal love relationship with Jesus displays: awareness, desire and illustrates action. This person has direction, is natural in appearance and to talk with and faces life with courage. If one was to describe his appearance, you may say joyful.

The pious life is a whole life committed to practicing a relationship with God. Devotional practices, signs and wonders, experiences of God are not ends in themselves. They are not the purpose of living the way I have suggested. They are a groundwork for an evolving process where Christ becomes alive in, preparing us to become partners in Christ's ministry. See Matt 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


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