Holiness

 

“May the God of peace make you holy in every way” ~1 Thess. 5:23

        “Are you sanctified?” bellowed the animated preacher, pointing and sweeping his hand in a grand gesture to the church. “Are you sure? Are you holy? If you have any doubts you better come down to the altar and pray your way through! God is not happy with any fence sitters tonight. He means business and you better mean business too. You got to be sanctified to make God happy and get a golden key to your heavenly mansion,” said the sweat-drenched pastor as he walked to and fro among them, satisfied with the response to his fear-packed message.

       Terrified and confused people flocked to the altar, crying and begging God for the elusive sanctification, fearing they might miss the golden key awaiting those who have achieved sanctification [holiness].

Contrary to his threats and confusing statements, God was not happy with him or his misguided sermon. Believers do not receive sanctification as a result of fear or condemnation. To be accurate, this very emotional and dramatic pastor should have proclaimed, “Your faith has made you whole and you are all sanctified (made holy) by the Holy Spirit!” Let’s see what God’s Word has to say about our sanctification/holiness.

        Romans 6:19  I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

        1 Cor. I:30-31  God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.

        1 Cor. 1:2  To you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        1 Cor. 6:11  You were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

        1 Thess. 5:23   Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 17:17-19  (Christ’s prayer to God) Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

        2 Thess. 2:13  As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.

        Hebrews 10:10  For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

        Romans 15:16   I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.

        Sanctification/holiness is not something we can beg God for at a church altar. Sanctification is a gift from God as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Although a gift, God requires our involvement to make choices for purity and holiness. But fear not, it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to follow through on our Christ-like decisions.

       

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God’s Will

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What Is His Will?                                    
Most of us, either openly or secretly, struggle with finding God’s will for our lives. Sometimes, based partly on the influence of our more emotional brothers and sisters in Christ, we long for, no, expect an audible voice answering our plea. But what if we already know His will? What if He has clearly revealed His will for our lives?
First, let’s strip away theological meanderings, traditional liturgy, and false expectations. Let’s prepare the soil of our hearts and minds for a new crop; plow up the crusty surface of misunderstandings and misconceptions to reveal the pliable and rich soil of our hearts…ready to receive His direction — to know His will. Lo and behold, bits and pieces of this deep mystery (or so we think of it) rise from His written word, the book of absolute truth— there all the time!

  •     Romans 12:2  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Sounds so simple and yet, as we all know, so very challenging; “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.” Lord I want to give up, walk away from, the world and all its trappings but…it is so difficult. It is right there all the time, waiting to pounce on me and drag me back into the mess of wanting to be liked and wanting stuff.

After I spend time reading the Bible and praying I feel spiritually strong, able to repel my own selfish desires and the Devil’s attacks. Then a friend calls with an invitation to coffee. I accept and as I arrive at our favorite coffee place, I see him standing by a shiny new car, my favorite model. “What do you think?” he says, grinning widely.

What do I think? I think I want your car— should have your car! Envy leaps upon me and holds on tightly. My mind is racing, and not toward the Lord. How can I buy one? Desire has not only planted seeds but they are the quick-growing variety and have sprung up to full size. My pulse quickens, I begin sweating, I’m ignoring my friend. And now, worse yet, I dislike my friend for having this beautiful car. Oh, what a fool I am— “copying the behavior and customs of the world.”

If following God’s will depended on me the result would always be like the one above. Thankfully, the second part of that sentence in Romans 12:2 says, “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Heaving a great sigh of relief, we can see it is Him who transforms our thought patterns, revealing His perfect will for our lives.

  •     1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

  •     Ephesians 5:15-17  Be very careful then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

    I find encouragement and excitement in knowing that not only has God revealed His will to us, but has given us His Holy Spirit to come alongside and comfort. We are truly prepared to walk this walk and know His will for our lives. And we can also pray for each other to see His will for our lives, according to the following verse:
    
    Ephesians 1:15-17  For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Casual

She described her boyfriend as casual. He was shocked and disappointed. In his mind, he had been relaxed and willing to defer emotionally to her feelings which, if he were totally honest, could be described as over-the-top.

Casual. Really? She might as well have said, lethargic or indolent. Why was he so upset by this, he wondered? And then he remembered, it was the Bible quote from the Book of Revelation,  “I know what you have done, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. But since you are lukewarm and not hot or cold, I’m going to spit you out of my mouth.” He shuddered at the recollection. Have I become lukewarm he wondered? via Daily Prompt: Casual

Thought Life

 

 

“What he thinks is what he really is.”  Prov. 23:7

Most everyone who knew Michael enjoyed his company. He was an excellent supervisor, a mature elder, a gifted city-league ball player, a charitable man, father and husband of one wife. Michael was the kind of guy people would line up to toast at his funeral. Most men envied him and many women secretly wished their husbands had some of his traits.

But who was Michael…really? His secret thought life was not exactly parallel with his exterior. Over the years Michael developed resentment at not being selected as the Vice President of his corporation and he harbored a simmering bitterness. The same was true in his church life. He spent more than ten years at his church before being selected as an elder. This was definitely not right or fair, he thought, casting the blame on his pastor who he knew was responsible.

And so it went for Michael, finding fault with people and companies who he blamed for various insults and rejections. His thought life was his secret refuge, a place that allowed him to get even. His thought life was also building a wall between himself and the Lord. “After all, the Lord could have given me the desires of my heart,” he thought.

Michael frequently retreated to a secret thought life in which he was superior, the winner, the smartest and best. The problem with living like that is–it is not real. It is a false life that leads us away from actual life and its challenges. And for a Christian, real life is built on their faith in Jesus Christ and forgiveness of sins, not promises to give material possessions and power.

What do you “think”? Are you building a secret thought life that gives you the pleasure and gratitude you “think” you deserve? Satan is the father of lies and is willing and able to help you along that road. He did remind a hungry Jesus that He could turn stones into bread!

John 5:39-40  You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

Rom. 12:2-3  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

1 Cor. 8:2-3  Those who think they know something really don’t know as they ought to know. But the person who loves God is known by him.

1 Cor. 3:18-20  You should not fool yourself. If any of you think that you are wise by this world’s standards, you should become a fool, in order to be really wise. For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God’s sight. As the scripture says, ”God traps the wise in their cleverness.” (Job 5:13).; and another scripture says, ”The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are worthless” (Ps. 94:11).

Eph. 3:13-21  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored. When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Many people have written books that promise riches through positive thinking. Why do you suppose so many books and celebrities talk about the same idea? Because there is truth in it. A kernel of truth that says whatever you think you will walk in. If you think you are a loser, that is how you will live. Your life will manifest circumstances to convince you it is so.  

As a Christian, it is essential that we think on Jesus Christ and his promises so our life will reflect the light of God. See Phil. 4:8-9. Think on these things!

 

 

Am I Generous?

 

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.  Ecc.5:10

 

Two business graduate students from an Eastern college decided to experiment with the generosity of people across the United States. They traveled as two young men who’d lost all their money and needed help getting to their destination. Their sole purpose was to see if they could determine, overall, which economic level was the most generous; poor or rich.

            Like most of us, they had been raised with the idea that rich people, for the most part, are not generous; that they tend to grab for more and don’t have time for those down on their luck. These two students were embarking on a nationwide trip to take firsthand notes.

            After three weeks and several hundred meetings, meals, handouts and job opportunities, their discovery actually fortified the idea that the rich are not as generous as the poor. They were stunned as people with barely enough to get by were the first to help them, giving freely of food, money and a place to stay the night!

            The higher up the economic ladder they went the more suspicious and less generous they found people to be. Most often these people expressed the idea that they should take care of themselves. Rarely did they meet a person of wealth who offered them lodging.

            If these two young men came across our lives what would be our response? Would they leave our lives touched with the generous love of the Lord, filled with food, clothing and a place to stay? Or would we be found on the list of those not willing to reach out with help?

            Matt. 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

            Matt. 6:1-4  Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

            Luke 6:30-31  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Prov. 3:27  Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
      when it’s in your power to help them.

Lining our lives up with Jesus shatters our worldly ideas and dreams. He takes us beyond the rules and liturgy of the Pharisees into a world of personal responsibility and servanthood. He led the way by showing Himself as a servant instead of the Lord of all the world. Jesus did what His Father in heaven required of Him and that is what He expects of us.

Nothing Can Separate Us!

“Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” ~Romans 8:38

 

There are some sections in the Bible that, by themselves, are an all-encompassing assurance of God’s unchanging, unfailing love for all who call upon Jesus as Savior. The Book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 31-39 is one of those sections. Simple, yet complex; powerful yet tender; adamant yet understanding. This section of the Bible will fortify and solidify our faith in a powerful, loving God who has promised to always love and protect us…as He guides us into eternity with Him.

Romans 8:31-39 ~What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself.

34 Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven.

35 Who then can ever keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because he doesn’t love us anymore? And if we are hungry or penniless or in danger or threatened with death, has God deserted us?

36 No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day—we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; 37 but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. 38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.

How Fickle

“And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in every thing He might be preeminent. ~ Col. 1:18

Father, do I live in the deeply rooted knowledge that You control everything? In this verse are a few of Your true characteristics, the very fibers of Your being: You are the beginning, the conqueror of death, You exist in everything, and nothing is outside of You. I place my hope and trust in all manner of fickle things such as medicine, science, money, and myself.

Lord, there is nothing on this earth that protects me but You. If You reign over all things and have set a course for my life, then You are my sole protector and protector of my soul. Lord, help me turn to You with the “little” things: What present should I give a friend or loved on? Should I volunteer for that event? Is it right to stay late and get ahead of my work? All these decisions I take into my own hands because they seem so insignificant, yet You purchased my life with Yours; therefore, nothing is insignificant to You.

Father, reveal to me the fickle things that I place trust in and help me turn to You with my “little” prayers and questions. When storms arise, the little moments and short trials secure my trust in You. Thank You that You are steadfast. Thank You that You are not fickle and You cannot deny Your holiness and justice, or compassion. Amen.  ~Prayers for an Anxious Heart