Is Holiness a Puzzle? And If so, what is the missing piece?

Jesus is the missing piece to be holy

Leviticus 21 What does it mean to be holy in an unholy world? It means that we stand apart from that which is profane. It means that we see ourselves as saved by His grace and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. It means we are to ask ourselves if we are partnering with those who do not believe. It means we are to come out from among them and be pure, which seems like a strict order as we move and live in a godless society, but so did Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, Ruth, and Jesus.

So back to our question: what does it mean to be holy?  It means that we are to remember that we are part of the priesthood of believers only because of the gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It means what God gave Aaron and the High Priest as a standard applies to us in our present age. We do it when we present Christ as His ambassadors and implore them to be reconciled to God in the same way we were. It means that we mirror Christ in our walk and talk, and we can only do that when we know God. We know His character, His motives for our holiness, His standards of purity and righteousness.

God has said over and over: you should be holy because I am holy. You are my people, and thus you stand before an unholy world. The question before us is; are we a holy separated people?  Only through Jesus can we have the missing puzzle pieces of purity, righteousness, and honor.

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving

God gifts men/women to do the work of the ministry

Exodus 36 to 38 That phrase was coined in the early ’20s to sell Victor Radios, but, in reality, chapter 36 shows us the gift that keeps on giving. God is the one who gifts each person. He gifted the artisans to build the Tabernacle, but He also gifted the people with a willing heart to give to the work. No matter where God has placed you, you have been equipped to do the work of the ministry.

Thinking through all that the supervisor Bezalel had on his plate, he must have learned quite a bit in Egypt. We wonder what his “job” was there. In Exodus 5, we read “The Israelite foremen.” Was Bezalel one of those who learned how to direct a crew that would be under him to build? Where did he learn the working in gold? Did he learn it back in Egypt and now wondered how God was going to use him? That’s how I think. God and I have a conversation: I tell God, “don’t waste this,” use me in your work with the skills you have given to me. What do you say to God?

My father-in-law, was one who could “see” how something was made. If something broke, he would always say, if someone built it, then someone can fix it. He could study a broken piece and could see beneath the outer to the inner and then repair it or rebuild it into a new piece. He passed that on to DA, and he is always saying to me: if someone designed it, then someone can fix it. Both my father-in-law and my husband were/are amazing.

My own Dad didn’t live long enough for me to really understand his gifts, or for me to appreciate them, but he had an inner gift of tenderness that he passed on to me. He could see where a heart was hurting, and he could reach out to fix that broken heart. Unfortunately, his gift was short-lived, and the one person he needed to reach most, he was not able to. I can’t wait to get to heaven and talk to Bezalel and Oholiab and rekindle that relationship with “Grandpa Floyd.”

The people gave willingly and had to be restrained finally. Do I give voluntarily, or do I hold back and wait? God has blessed us. Are we giving willingly and without thinking about the amount or the gift but only that it is being used for God’s kingdom work?

Perhaps you don’t see yourself as a Bezalel or a Oholiab, but only see yourself as a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.[Ps 84:10] God can use your talents wherever He has chosen.  All He asks is for a willing heart.

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God’s Ways are Higher!

Obey God

Genesis 47 and 47 Back in Genesis 12, God told Abram: “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.” [Gen 12:1] Abram obeyed, but then he went took a detour in Egypt. Neither time did he ask God, nor did he set himself and his family aside from the Egyptian culture. There is wisdom in those events when you reap what you sow. Abram sowed seeds of disobedience and he reaped the fruit of sin. Before you set out to “go down” to Egypt, consider how you are to live. We are to be a witness to God’s faithfulness, but we are not to cohabit or marry an unbeliever for “what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever.” [2Cor 6:15] 

Years later, Joseph found himself in that land yet was faithful to Yahweh while many were not. Thus, when he instructed his family to come “down” to Egypt, he wisely separated them from the temptations they might face. 

If God should send you into “Egypt,” are you prepared to separate yourself from the culture and cling to holiness? God gave Moses a principle about the Nazarenes. They were to “be separated and holy to the Lord” [Num. 6:8]. That same principle is for believers as well. Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing.” [2Cor 6:17] 

Why is God so clear on this subject? It is because His ways are higher than ours. [Is 55:8-9] His plans are not to harm you but to give you a future filled with hope. [Jer 29:11]

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Sin & Righteousness

Judah vs Joseph

Genesis 38-40 We have seen the shame of Jacob’s sons. They are jealous, envious, and hateful to their younger brother Joseph. They scheme and finalize a sale of him to the Midianites. Ever willing to go the extra mile to cover his guilt, Judah leaves home, so he doesn’t have to see his father in his continual mourning state. You can run away, but at some point, you can be sure “your sin will find you out.” [Num. 32:23] Judah “went down” to his BFF’s home. Whenever we see that phrase, we can know Satan is at work behind the scenes. What better participant than Judah, who despised his inheritance much like Esau. As Satan seeks to undermine God’s plan by escalating the price, God will have the last word in His providential care of His own. Tamar is God’s tool to reveal to Judah that another is more righteous than he. That must have been a blow to his ego! Years later, we will see how God will use that truth to break his spirit, so stay tuned for the rest of the story. 

In between this ego-driven story of unrighteousness, we are given the picture of God’s righteous servant Joseph. Although imprisoned falsely, he states what every believer should say when Satan tempts. “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” [Gen 39:9]

What is God teaching us through these two men? [Job 23:10] But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. and “Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked” [Prov 13:6]

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Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Trust God one step at a time

Genesis 22 to 24 When you face a test of your faith and find yourself wavering, return to the story of Abraham. God in His providence tested Abraham’s faith over and over, yet he failed—how like us! Finally, God gave Abraham the hardest test ever; go and sacrifice your only son as a burnt offering on Mt. Moriah—a three-day journey from where he was. We do not see Abraham questioning nor asking for wisdom to understand the why’s.  Abraham was not like the waves of the sea as they ebb and flow. [James 1:6] Instead, he was like Paul’s description: steadfast and immovable. [1Cor 15:58] After many failures, Abraham’s faith could trust in Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides), and thus “he was ready to offer up his only son.” [Heb 11:17]

 As Abraham and Isaac and the servants traveled, we wonder what his thoughts were—but the scriptures are silent. Instead, Abraham faithfully went about his business as if today was not any different than yesterday. That is how God orchestrates our days; today will be much the same as yesterday and tomorrow. The only inkling Abraham had of what lay ahead was what he told Isaac: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” [Gen 22:8]

Do we trust God in the hard and easy times as Abraham did?

He is a model for us in trusting God to provide all of our needs.

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Eyes of Faith Or???

Eyes of faith

Genesis 12 to 15 How would you rate your obedience level? Are you a 10 or less? Abram is on a fast track learning curve to knowing what obedience requires when asked to leave his home, his father, and go to a land that He would show him.  For his obedience, God promises he will father a great nation and more. In addition, others will pay the price for blessing or cursing him. As incredible as this is, Abram fails to follow the first step of leaving his kindred and father’s house. How often does God give us a simple step, and we fail to follow it to the letter! We often say I will trust Him when I see x, y, z. The truth is, we are afraid of that first step because we are not seeing with eyes of faith. A good reminder: “in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.” [Ps 56:11] God asks us to obey whether we can see ahead or not; that is what trust is all about.

We often ask how God can ask us to leave an elderly parent or something else. So we have to stop and ask why God wanted Abram to do that. God often asks us these simple yet hard steps to see if we will trust Him to be our total provision. We have to decide: will we trust God who knows the end from the beginning? Do we not think God would have provided if Abram had obeyed?

Are you willing to step out and trust God to be meet all of your needs?  

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You are a Living Stone

Believers are living stones

Advent Series #19 1Peter 1& 2  “Living Stones.”

Do you live in a place where you and your faith are secure? Since most do not, James and Peter address the pilgrims who have left Jerusalem and need reassurance. Both authors remind the believers that they are chosen, elect, and set apart by the Holy Spirit.  They have been ransomed, sprinkled and born again with the blood of Christ. They recognize it was He that offered His body to be sacrificed that they may take part in the resurrection to come. They also recognize that this life is a temporary transition to the eternal, just as Jesus promised. Thus, the persecution they are facing is temporary, and their lives transitory. All NT authors point to this fact: you are to be holy because God is holy.

Peter likens believers to stones chiseled by the trials and tribulations in this life. They were in the quarry but were taken and placed side by side to build the house of God.  The cornerstone is Christ, chosen, and precious.  The world stumbles over His message and His person, but the believer sees himself as part of the temple of God,  part of a holy nation, a people of his own for one reason: to proclaim Jesus Christ to a darkened world.

We may not have seen Christ or heard His audible voice, yet we can know that we are building the house of God that will outlast this earthly existence. 

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Do You Need Godly Wisdom?

Seek wisdom

Advent Series #18 James 3 “Speak and Do”

Recently our church lost not one but three pastors, which has left a void along with the recent pandemic lockdowns. Like “Pastor” James, our church is seeking to keep the ties to the flock. This letter is chock full of wisdom to the dispersed regarding the tests they are sure to experience.

Satan would like nothing better than to destroy the flock through our tongues. Therefore, James encourages choosing wise words because the tongue is a deadly evil and needs the gift of self-control. There is a principle here; we can either draw listeners close to the Lord or drive them far from Him just by the words we choose as well as our countenance that is revealed behind the words. He reminds them not to forget the mirror example. You can see who you are in the mirror, but it is up to you to take heed to the image you see. 

Knowing what to say and how to say it requires wisdom. If you need or want wisdom, all you need to do is ask God in full faith and He will provide the answers you are seeking. Twice he reminds his audience that true wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical.

Today listen to how you are speaking as well as how you respond. Ask yourself if you are quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Remember, if we are merely listening but not applying, then our faith is futile and without merit.

If you are still in need of help try reading C.S.Lewis’ book: The Screwtape Letters in which he crafts a dialogue to show how Satan strategizes to fool and to disarm the believer.

C.S.Lewis wrote a book on how Satan works. Along with James we can learn his strategies so we can be wise

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“Preparing to Be a Sweet Aroma”

Be that sweet aroma to all today

Advent #16: Hebrews 11 to 13

Christmas is soon to be upon us, and we are busy with preparations. We are busy with baking and preparing that one special meal to be shared with family and friends. But how are we doing in the area of personal diligence as we busy ourselves in the kitchen? Are we monitoring our intake or when we stand on the scales do we stand with mouths agape. We drag out our old wardrobe of the past and fail to keep our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit, in proper alignment. Instead of correcting our errors, we become fainthearted, and as James says, we walk away and forget what we have been shown! Are we being diligent not just with our physical but our spiritual minds as well?

The scriptures are clear. We are to be a sweet aroma of life to life. We can start by making a list of those things we are grateful for and be that sweet aroma amongst a dark and fallen world. This reminds us of the words of Paul: “So then, dear brothers and sisters stand firm. Do not be moved! Always be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work. Know this Beloved, “your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” [1 Cor 15:58]

What is your goal this year? Is it to be counted among the faithful in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11?

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Stand Firm!

Stand firm, remain faithful

Advent #13 Hebrews 1 to 4 “Remain Faithful!”

The author of Hebrews, who may be unknown to us, is not unknown to the Father. He extols the virtues of our Savior to those who were facing persecution. He reminded them that Jesus is better than the angels, better than Moses, better than the Priesthood, better than Joshua, better than the Law so stand firm! Therefore, take heed lest you lose heart and fall irreparably. Stand firm is our admonition; stand firm in the midst of persecution; stand firm in the midst of accolades. Remind yourself of the children of Israel who sold their faith because of fear and wandered around the desert wilderness for 40 years.

We must follow the admonition of the author to review the blessings of God that He has bestowed upon us and cling to them and the message of hope. God’s lovingkindness was poured upon them and yet they refused to obey. May we not be so but rather be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord.

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