Tag Archives: holiness

Proverbs 29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4

“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”  1 Thessalonians 2:13

Sometimes I treat the Bible like a coffee table decoration. I may read through the words as if they were nice theories or a self improvement project or gloss through the difficult passages and patronize them by passing them off as antiquated and therefore, irrelevant. God’s word is far too powerful to remain in the box that I attempt to keep it in. In reading the Word, God invites me to sit with him, wrestle with my questions and doubts and dance with hopes and dreams. All these things I lay before God in the light of his Word.

God’s Word asks me if I truly believe that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness? Do I really, REALLY believe that Christ died on the cross and physically rose from the dead so that I might live? When the truth of Jesus Christ sets in, I awaken from my stupor and the world changes; I change. His resurrection brings light and joy into unexpected places.

Following Christ is not a quest to be a better person or to find fulfillment; those things might happen, but they are not the end. God wants something much greater, wilder, and more beautiful for me; He wants holiness.

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God who gives the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8.

Holiness is the odd combination of laying aside my idea of righteousness to accept that of Jesus and leaning forward in gratitude to live the life He has called me to. It means being transformed by his love into the his likeness. It’s being willing to let go of my ego long enough to be able to take risks and believe that God’s power will win the day. A holy life focuses on God and not man’s ability to get things right or wrong.

The people that I know who live holy lives are “clothed in strength and dignity” that comes from God and isn’t stuffy and judgmental. Quite the opposite. They are people who can laugh and have grace for themselves and others. Think of the woman in Proverbs 31. Knowing and living the truth of the Gospel opens the door for the Holy Spirit to do that kind of work in ordinary lives.

Lord, I believe you are who you say you are. Help me when unbelief slips in. Keep me focused on you today. Holy Spirit, please be at work in and through me today. Amen.

Kathy (Klueh)

From the archives. Originally published June 17, 2016.

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Numbers 3-5; Hebrews 12

It is March. I am entering a third month of six where I purposed to make changes in my life after a (last) year that took a physical and emotional toll. While some big things were accomplished (yay!) in February, I noticed the smaller, daily goals weren’t always met. Why was that? I was too tired. I was too busy. I just didn’t care. I thought for a long time about perseverance and endurance and following through.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1, NLT)

I knew I needed to be mindful of the things and thoughts that were tripping me up. I looked up scriptures for direction and encouragement, keyword: training. I found a verse that surprised me. In my pursuit of the practical, visible things, I had nearly neglected to consider the spiritual, eternal ones.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12:2a, NLT)

Oh, if I look to the wrong reward, how far off will I be from the true mark? Lord, I seek your kingdom.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:14-15, NLT)

It is March, and I press on, my grip renewed.

11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. (Hebrews 12:11-13, NLT)

Thank you, Father.

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire. (Hebrews 12:28-19, NLT)

I praise your name.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 19; Psalm 56-57; Isaiah 8-9:7; James 2

Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish and on which no yoke has been laid.  You shall give it to the priest Eleazar, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Numbers 19:2-3 NRSV

The Old Testament has quite a few rituals recorded there that God demanded as part of His desire to reveal His authority and His holiness.  I could never get a handle on them all but as I got older, not only do I get them, but I under the new covenant I see what we have been given through Jesus.

 

But the Old Testament also gives us promises.  I love those promises – they are hope to me whenever I read them and those hopes are real because of Jesus.

For you have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life. – Psalm 56:13 NRSV

Even on Sunday morning, as our church started a series on the Apostles Creed – I was reminded that God is the ultimately authority and is holy.  While He is also a generous God who gave us Jesus, and because of Jesus we can call Him, Abba Father, I am to remember that He is my Father and with all the authority and holiness that comes with that.

 

But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread – Isaiah 8:13 NRSV

 

So my walk has to be holy too.  I get now why Jesus called us to be perfect and holy.  In the little things, they matter, because God matters and what I believe about God matters. In my fund-raising ministry I might be tempted to favour those with more wealth, but God calls me to obey Him.

 

My brothers and sisters,[a] do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? – James 2:2 NRSV

Lord, I want and need to show my world that deep inside, not just on the outside, I am a follower of Jesus.  I know that when I made the decision to follow You, I invited you to change me from the inside out.  There is no way I want to fake my decision, to act my way through my faith – I want to be real.  I need you Father to help me, I need your strong-arm to guide me and I need your wisdom to teach me.  May those who look on my life say that You really matter to me.  For Your glory and Your honour I pray.  Amen

evanlaar

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Leviticus 20; Psalm 25; Ecclesiastes 3; 1Timothy 5

“I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. 

God has done this so that all should stand in awe before him.” Ecclesiastes 3:14

Of all days on the Christian calendar, this is the day to let our jaws drop and stand in awe of the mighty work of God on our behalf. It was from His holiness that the supernatural power of His love overcame broke the chains that sin and death held us prisoner. “Up from the grave he arose,” says the old hymn. The Resurrection changes everything.

I need Easter to remind me of the fundamental truth of my life. All that I am is fundamentally tied to the Resurrection. It is the air I breathe. Without it, I am a vapor that is here one moment, gone the next. With it, I have the joy of knowing that whatever comes my way in this life, I belong to Jesus. I am his and he is mine. His work for me is complete, while his work in me continues

“Consecrate yourselves therefor and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statues and observe them since I am the Lord, I sanctify you.”  Leviticus 20:7-8

Lord, from your beauty and holiness, you call me to follow you. You are the Spring rain that falls;  you have cleansed and forgiven me of my sin. You are the coolness that revives what is weary and broken. You bring the freshness of a new day dawning. Your Resurrection bursts through the sorrow, pain and isolation of Good Friday to birth light and life and the song of Easter. Praise you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your love endures forever.  Amen

klueh

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Habakkuk, 2 Corinthians 7

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. 2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT.

What defiles the body?

What defiles the spirit?

I’m nearing the thirty-day mark of an eating plan that was designed to reset my body and not only reveal to me the situations that sparked cravings, but the foods themselves that had a tighter grip on my will than I ever imagined. So, what defiles the body? Have I thought very often about how I treat and use my body? What does my lifestyle suggest of my faith?

In conjunction with this thirty-day plan, I’ve come off a summer of stress and big change to enter a school year of big change and stress. Nearly daily there’s some situation or another that’s like a shoulder bump off course. (I’m not kidding how many times I’ve felt a prompting to “eat the cookie” to temporarily soothe my frazzled emotions.) These situations that can either bring out my best or my worst. What of my thoughts? What of my attitude? Can these defile the spirit?

These past few weeks have been a time of reflection about habits and attitudes, about past and future, about where I put my faith. When Paul speaks of cleansing, he gets my attention. His statement flows from parts in 2 Corinthians 6, so I look there too for perspective. He tells of his hardships, and a few I can relate to. He speaks of unions (between believers and unbelievers/God’s temple and idols). He calls our bodies temples of the living God, and these are His promises:

“I will live in them
    and walk among them.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
    and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
    and I will welcome you.
18 And I will be your Father,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
    says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 16-18, NLT

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Father, I’m so thankful to be aware of things that were clouding my mind and clouding my heart. I’m so grateful for the bumps and stresses too, because after each one, I feel as though I could hear Paul saying, “What are you going to do? Are you going to take the cookie or take His Word?” Thank you for loving me so much you didn’t want to leave me where I was, but instead welcome me to you, calling me daughter.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 24-25; Psalm 81; Hebrews 9

“Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.  Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land.  Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.”  (Leviticus 25:17-19)(NIV)

“How-to for Living with the Holy”

The whole of Leviticus reads like an instruction manual.  It’s dry, and a bit tedious, full of regulations and infinite detail.  But the level of instruction makes perfect sense when read with the realization that God was taking up actual, physical residence with His chosen people.  The Israelites could not make simple adjustments in their lives to fit God in.  Rather, they had to re-structure the entire framework of their lives – changing everything from what they ate, to the specifics of sex, cleanliness, law and worship – to guarantee the Almighty’s predominance among them.  Much like workers at a nuclear power plant, extreme caution and assiduous detail were required in communing with the Most High.  In fact, in chapters 24 and 25 alone, God reminds his people no fewer than 4 times that “I am the LORD your God.” This verbal refrain served to illustrate that God, through His regulations, was setting his people apart for a purpose, and that each ordinance was to be met with the solemnity required of co-habitation with the Living God.

So serious were these regulations, that those who broke them (intentionally or otherwise) were punished – sometimes by death.  Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu (chapter 10) were an example.  Then, there is the brief tale of the man with an Egyptian father and Israelite mother who cursed God during a fight with an Israelite.  This uncharacteristically narrative passage in Leviticus gives names and specifics, and ultimately, an extremely harsh punishment: “’Say to the Israelites: If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death’” (Leviticus 24:15-16).  To this day, observant Jews protect themselves from the unintentional invocation of God’s wrath by never writing His name, substituting it for “G-d” instead.

In this narrative, it is as if God is saying, “I have rescued you.  I have provided for you.  Now, you’re going to do things my way.”  There is a perfect, nearly poetic equity in this.  This was (and is), as the Israelites were reminded, not a golden idol, not a fictitious deity, not a man-made creation, but a vibrant, powerful, and mighty God.  Living with Him meant towing the line.

It seems we get away with an awful lot these days.  This, I suppose, is a function of in living in a post-New-Testament world, wherein Jesus has become our representative to God (taking the place of the high priest), has cleansed the source of contamination in all of us (our sin nature), has taken the place of any animal as the ultimate sacrificial offering.  There is no pillar of cloud above the Tent of Meeting to tell me when to get up and move, and I am not struck dead upon the utterance of a curse (I won’t admit how many times I’ve been thankful for this).  But in reading Leviticus, I have a new respect for God’s holiness and intent.  Yes, there are a great many rules, many of which are incomprehensible in a life eased of regulation by the lightness of Grace, but the fact of God’s power and his purpose remains unchanged.  Let us not forget we have been set apart, and though this may result in temporal difficulty and short-term discomfort (I Peter 3:14-16), it is the smallest price to pay for the ultimate gift: a chance for co-habitation with the Almighty for the rest of eternity.

Sarah

Excerpts from a post originally published February 10, 2009.

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Judges 6; Acts 10; Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

But Peter said, “No, Lord! I have never eaten food that is unholy or unclean.”

But the voice said to him again, “God has made these things clean, so don’t call them unholy!” Acts 10:14-15 (NCV)

He said, “You people understand that it is against our law for Jewish people to associate with or visit anyone who is not Jewish. But God has shown me that I should not call any person ‘unholy’ or ‘unclean.’ Acts 10:28 (NCV)

Peter began to speak: “I really understand now that to God every person is the same. In every country God accepts anyone who worships him and does what is right. You know the message that God has sent to the people of Israel is the Good News that peace has come through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lord of all people! Acts 10:34-36 (NCV)

Interestingly enough, my husband and I were recently discussing whether or not God redeems what is considered ‘unholy’ by man.

Our oldest daughter was given kolusu, sterling silver anklets with little bells on them, by her uncle according to Indian custom. Though she didn’t wear them much in the US, she has been wearing them non-stop since we arrived back in India, which is great because I can locate her much easier when she is playing. I mentioned today that I would like to also get a pair for our younger daughter, to help stimulate her desire for walking, and maybe even a simpler pair for myself (I always loved the idea of wearing anklets).

My husband continued the conversation by saying that these anklets are not only an Indian custom, but also a Hindu tradition, allowing one of the gods to enjoy the sounds of the bells and to also keep the devils away. I countered by expressing my belief that God is the creator of bells and what the enemy may try to steal for his purposes is redeemed again by God. Our exchange ended with a “to be continued.”

I was impressed today by Peter’s understanding of the redemption in Christ in regards to people, concerning the laws of Moses. It is so easy for me to judge someone based on external appearances, customs, behaviors or choices that differ from my own. It is easy for me to deem something ‘unclean’ or ‘unholy’ because my opinion differs; and it is easy for me to throw random, out of context Bible verses at the ‘problems’ to try and make them go away or change. But my judgments of things is not God’s judgment of things; and it is not even my role to make judgment in the first place (James 4:11-12; Romans 2:1-4).

Jesus exemplified this revolution by consistently associating with those that the people and the law considered ‘unholy’ and ‘unclean’-tax collectors, homosexuals, lepers, prostitutes…the demon possessed, diseased individuals like the woman with the issue of blood, and those who had died-all those walking in sin, no matter how big or how small the sin.

He wasn’t concerned with their current state of uncleanness. He knew that their personal experiences of His Agape love would change their hearts forever. He knew that He was planting seeds in their hearts for the future. He knew they were simply diamonds in the rough. He knew that they were children of God who had not yet realized their true identity, and therefore had not yet been ‘cleansed’.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross changed everything. He brought redemption and restoration of hearts into countless lives. His resurrection, His gift of grace fulfilled the law and made holy what was once unholy through belief in Him. What an amazing inheritance, what an incredible birthright for God’s sons and daughters, those who know Him personally, and those whose eyes have yet to be opened.

Yesappa, Open the eyes of my heart and allow Your love to enter in a deeper way, Your agape love for Your people, the redeemed and those who have yet to give themselves to You. Help me walk in love and not judgment. Give me Your compassion for Your children and help me bring Your Light into their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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