Monthly Archives: January 2014

Set Apart as Holy

“You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all otherĀ  people to be my very own.” Leviticus 20:26

Today I finished reading Leviticus. Throughout this book, I kept seeing verses related to being holy. For example, in addition to the verse above, Leviticus 20:7-8 says, “So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I, the Lord, am your God. Keep all my laws and obey them, for I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” Leviticus 11:44 and 19:2 also contain a similar message.

I’ve thought about God’s holiness throughout the day today. And since I tend to like to think out loud, I thought I’d write a little bit about what I’ve been thinking (not at all in a preachy kind of way – this is obviously something I’m wrestling with myself!). What does it mean or look like to live a life that is “set apart” or “holy” for the Lord?

I’ve been wondering if there are there any rules or regulations from the Old Testament that we’ve dropped in the name of the New Covenant that we maybe shouldn’t have? I see things like ‘permanent regulation’ and wonder why we don’t follow it today. I love that Jesus’ blood covered our sin once and for all – I firmly believe we don’t need additional blood to earn God’s forgiveness. I also am grateful that the New Testament speaks about grace rather than the heavy burden of rule upon rule.

Yet, my question still remains: how should we live our lives to honor a holy God? Chapter 26 of Leviticus talks about blessings for obedience and punishments for disobedience. It struck me that God said He would punish the people for their sin seven times over, and then it said “if you still refuse to obey and remain hostile” (vs. 23), another punishment seven times over would come. Later it said “if you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile” and listed even more punishments (vs. 27). Eventually, though, God said the people would humble themselves and confess their sins and He would remember the covenant with them.

As I read through this book, I thought about my own sin. šŸ˜¦ Do I treat the Sabbath as holy? Do I treat God’s Name as holy? Do I follow what God asks me to do? What can I do to live humbly before God? How do I treat my life and my body as sacred before Him? As Paul says in the New Testament, while everything may be permissible, not everything is beneficial. My goal for today (and going forward, of course) is to think about what I’m doing and what I’m eating. Am I living as holy, set apart for God? Am I treating myself as the temple where God dwells and therefore honoring God with my body, particularly in what I eat? Am I treating my time as sacred? Am I doing things that would please the Lord (including the sometimes seemingly “mundane” tasks of being a mom, wife, etc) or am I being selfish and treating holy things as common?

What a challenge! I fall so short of the glory of God! But, is there one area where I can try to do a better job of honoring God, showing Him respect and acknowledging His holiness?

How about for you? Is there anything that God has been speaking to you about? How can you live as holy and set apart by God as His child?

Dear Father, we are honored to be your children. You are so holy and worthy of our respect, adoration and praise. Lord, we humbly confess that we have treated holy things as common, including our bodies and our time. We have been unfaithful to You and even ignored Your promptings at times. Lord, we deserve punishment, but we ask that the blood of Jesus would cover our sin. Please help us change direction, focus our attention on You and remember Your holiness when we make our decisions. May we live our lives as set apart and holy because we are Yours. Thank You, God, for all You do for us. Thank You for the blessings for obedience and thank You for your love and just punishment when we disobey. May our lives glorify and honor You. Please make us healthy and thin for Your purposes. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

 

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What’s Your Motivation?

This is the time of year that people are making resolutions to do better. The idea of a fresh start with a new year gives us all inspiration and hope that we can become better people, accomplish our goals and fulfill new dreams if we make a plan and vow to stick with it.

But as the year goes on, how do we daily stick with it? What do we need to do to make the end of the year as exciting as the beginning? In other words, how do we keep the momentum going?

One verse I read several days ago has stuck with me, and I’m sharing it in hopes that it will help you, too.

To give you context, the Lord had just lead the Israelites out of slavery and He was giving Moses the Ten Commandments. The people had purified themselves for worship (Exodus 19:14) and were standing at the foot of Mount Sinai where they saw God descend on it in the form of fire and the whole mountain shook with a violent earthquake (Exodus 19:18). The Bible says, “When the people heard the thunder, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear” (Exodus 20:18). They told Moses to tell them what God told him but they feared that they would die if they spoke with God directly (20:19). Moses’ reply was what has stuck with me. He said, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come in this way to show you His awesome power. From now on, let your fear of Him keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:20).

What a simple and yet profound thought – allowing our fear of the Lord to keep us from sinning.

If you’d ask me to name ten miracles that God performed, I could respond easily. If you believe the Bible to be true, then you know that He flooded the entire earth to destroy sinful people, that He shut the mouths of lions to save Daniel from being eaten, that He didn’t allow three Hebrews (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) to burn in the fiery furnace, that He sent plagues to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from slavery, that He parted the Red Sea so His people could cross on dry land, that He provided manna from heaven so His people could eat in the wilderness, that He healed barren women (like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Hanna), that He created the entire earth, that He allowed our Savior to be born of a virgin, and that He raised Lazarus back to life. These are only ten of the hundreds of documented miracles in the Bible. I believe every one of them are true and I am in awe at the power and majesty of God.

So, why does my fear of Him not keep me from sinning?

Honestly, I almost didn’t write this post because I didn’t feel worthy. As I mentioned before, I read this verse days ago. I’ve thought about it ever since. When I want to overindulge in eating, why does my fear of God not stop me? When I want to do something I know to be wrong, why don’t I let the fear of God keep me from sinning?

It should. It needs to be my main motivation if I’m going to stay on course this year. So, I start with a repentant heart. I ask God to remind me of who He is – His awesome power and His glory. And I’ve been fervently praying that my fear of Him will allow me to keep from sinning. I’ve begged for His help!

I’ve seen God’s power displayed in my life. And I’ve read in the Bible the consequences for sin. Adam and Eve were forgiven, and yet they reaped what they sowed. They were kicked out of Eden, they were forced to work the land for food, and women were given more pain in childbirth. While God promised a Savior to rescue them from sin, there were still irrevocable consequences for their behavior. Even in the twelve tribes of Israel, while there were three brothers older than Judah, Jesus came from his line because the older three had sinned against their father and not received his blessing. While their lives may not have looked all that different from their behavior, there were greater consequences for their sin than they even realized at the time.

So, where does that leave us? Personally, I want my life to be the best it can be. I want to leave a legacy for my children. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I pass from this life to the next. So, I’m trying to allow my fear of God to keep me from sinning. I’ll admit I’ve screwed up royally lately in this area (more than I’m willing to publicly share). But, that said, if humbly sharing what I’m trying to work on will enable one person who reads it to keep from doing even one sin because of their fear of the Lord, then it was worth writing, even if I am the unworthy writer.

So, what is your goal? What are you working on doing better this year? Whether it’s getting healthy, being less angry with your kids or conquering a different sin in your life, when the going gets tough and the temptation grips you, think “From now on, let your fear of Him [God] keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:20b).

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for being a holy and worthy God. You are awesome in power and You’ve shared the stories of Your greatness and majesty with us. May we have a close relationship with You. May we know You in all Your splendor and holiness. May we be so close that our fear of You keeps us from sinning. Please forgive us of our past where we have made poor choices and disregarded this fear. We are sorry for our lack of respect and self-indulgence. Blood of Jesus, we ask You to cover our sin that we may again approach the throne of grace. We thank You for the opportunity to try again. May our lives and how we live honor and please You. May we be healthy and thin for Your glory, serving nothing or no one but You alone. In Jesus’ powerful and precious name we pray, AMEN!

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