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Discipline, focus keep Christians ‘plugged in’ to God, Hemphill says

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Christians need to stay “plugged in” to God’s power, said Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Kenneth S. Hemphill, which requires focus and discipline in their personal lives.
Hemphill, in a Feb. 11 chapel message at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary, recounted that an active member of a church he pastored talked of not feeling in touch with the promises or the power of God.
“He said, ‘I know that there’s power in this book. I know those promises. My life has been like I can’t plug in. It just doesn’t seem to connect,'” and urged that Hemphill preach a sermon about how to connect to God’s power.
Just before the layman moved to another city, he told Hemphill he had been having an affair, and Hemphill was reminded of the earlier conversation about not feeling plugged in.
Hemphill drew on 1 Peter 1:13 to share ways Christians can stay “plugged in” to God. Referring to the apostle’s reminder to “gird your minds for action,” Hemphill said mental preparation is often a key in fighting the schemes of the devil.
“The reason many of us keep finding ourselves defeated by the adversary is because we weren’t prepared,” he said.
Echoing Peter’s words from later in the letter, Hemphill said Christians need to know that the devil is a roaring lion looking for someone to consume.
“It’s critical that we know what we believe,” he said. “Feed on the promises of God.”
Rather than girding up only to look good in the uniform, Hemphill said, “Gird up to prepare” for service.
A second way to stay plugged in to God is by staying “sober in spirit,” Hemphill said.
“It is shunning the intoxication of earthly things,” he said. “It’s keeping life in spiritual balance” and knowing where life’s priorities really lie.
As an example, Hemphill told the story of a professor who watched as a flight attendant dealt calmly and politely with an intoxicated and abusive passenger. When the trip ended, the professor asked the flight attendant for her name so that he could write a complimentary letter about her to the airline.
She responded that he did not need to do that because while she was employed by the airline, she worked for the Lord who empowered her to deal with the passenger, Hemphill said.
A third way to stay plugged in is for Christians to keep their hope on the grace that will be brought to them at Jesus’ second coming, Hemphill said.
“If an athlete would fix his gaze with sobriety for an earthly reward, what must we do?” Hemphill asked. “We must keep our gaze on the Author and Finisher of our faith.”
Though that is difficult at times, Hemphill said, Christians can rely on God’s promise in Romans that nothing can separate them from the love of God that they have in Jesus.
Finally, Peter’s letter urges Christians to be holy in their walk with God because God himself is holy, Hemphill said.
“Holiness is not just purity; it’s being set apart for God,” Hemphill said, adding that holiness means serving God and becoming like him.
“Do not allow the world to dictate,” he reminded his audience. “We’re passing through it. We’re pilgrims.”
Without purity and separation that comes from God, Hemphill said, nothing a person says or does will have any positive effect.
“If our holiness and our purity are not in place, there’s no power in preaching or teaching or counseling,” he said.
Hemphill lamented how easy it is to lose a hunger for the Word of God, which can help transform a person, and then asked, “How long has it been since you’ve had a hunger for God’s Word?”

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  • Cory J. Hailey