Sunday, October 15, 2017

Be Holy Like God Is Holy—Say what?! (Part 2)

Be Holy Like God Is Holy—Say what?!   (Part 2)

Let’s talk some more about being holy, picking up in 1 Peter 1:16, “because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.”

Being a good Jew, Peter knew the Torah and knew God had spoken these very words, recorded in Leviticus 11:46, 19:2, and 20:7. Now after years of struggling to keep the Law, Peter had the answer to holiness and was passionately sharing the Good News with others—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This doesn’t mean we’ll never falter and sin again. We still have human weaknesses and will commit sins along the way. But as followers of Jesus, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit. He helps us discern right from wrong and gives us strength and courage to choose to do God’s will.

When we do sin, He helps us know we’ve done wrong and encourages repentance. We need to be quick to repent, receive God’s forgiveness and move on, allowing those episodes to be growing experiences.

With that in mind, let’s back up to verse 14. “As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

Consider “former lusts.” Old habits die hard. Having victory over sins we hate to love is an important aspect of maturing in faith.

As Peter said, “in your ignorance: these former fleshly desires were a part of your life—maybe even a part of your identity. People don’t instantly loose the desire for sinful habits when they get saved. And many times we’re involved in activities that we don’t even realize are sinful or we just don’t realize they interfere with our spiritual growth. This is ignorance—it is not knowing or lack of understanding.

Once we know what’s right in God’s eyes we’re then responsible to do it. That knowing what’s right comes from reading and studying God’s Word and from sitting under sound Bible preaching and teaching. Some people avoid Bible study because they don’t want to know all God’s truth. One needn’t think this will slip by our omniscient Heavenly Father, who knows the thoughts, desires, motives, and intents of the heart of every person. We’ll all be held accountable for what we do and should do.

Don’t think this teaching isn’t getting my attention. I’m studying this for myself as much as for anyone else. Typing and posting it causes pause for me as much as anyone else.

This all sounds a bit harsh—like God is a big ogre, standing over, watching our every move, ready to clobber us when we commit an infraction. (An ogre, according to folklore, is a man-eating giant.)

That’s truly not the case. He’s a loving Father who wants the best for each of His children. He desires to correct us and steer us onto the right path. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

We cannot do this in our own power. The reality is we must be daily—minute-by-minute—connected to our Savior, Jesus, if we want our best outcome. His Holy Spirit comes to reside in each of us when we get saved—that is, born-again. We’re given superpowers. That’s not to say we can fly or leap over buildings or pick up a house.

But with the Holy Spirit in us we can have the mind of Christ, our desires can be changed from self-focused to God pleasing desires, and we can overcome sin by allowing Holy Spirit to direct our thoughts, words, and actions. It’s our choice. We have free will to do things God’s way or our own way. Our own way is typically selfish, likely unwise, and very possibly influenced by demonic entities.

When we are born-again, in that moment we’re made clean—purified from all sins we’ve ever committed. Yes, all. Take a deep breath and think about that for a moment.

The shed blood of Jesus washes over and through us, removing all past sins. It’s an amazing supernatural work of God. Sin must be punished and Jesus took on the punishment for all mankind.

We each have a choice then—to believe in Jesus and receive His gift of grace and forgiveness or to reject His offer. Free’s our choice.

Those of us who say, “Yes,” to Jesus are then washed clean and are given His pure robe of righteousness and sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are made holy, as He is holy.

We therefore are at peace with God, through Christ. As we reach for Christ-like holiness, we must be mindful that Jesus is our example of holiness, never looking to another person to emulate. I recommend we all read through the Gospels and learn Jesus.

As we learn of Him, trust Him more each day, depend on His Holy Spirit indwelling us, and pray we can live beyond the limitations of our humanness. And we can be confident that when we do falter and commit a sin, He stands ready and quick to forgive when we repent.

I want to end with this thought: we can never pray too much. Prayer is key in all things. We must talk to God continuously and listen for Him to speak back through His Word, through His Spirit to our spirit, and through other people. Pray without ceasing and remember God has made a way for us to be holy.
Your comments are welcome.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford

Friday, October 6, 2017

Be Holy Like God Is Holy—Say What?! (Part 1)

Be Holy Like God Is Holy—Say What?! (Part 1)  

Today I want to continue in 1 Peter, Chapter 1. In writing to followers of Jesus, the Apostle Peter gave instructions on righteous living. Referring back to my blog post of August 30, 2017, we see Peter extolling the people to: 1- Gird up the loins of their minds—bracing up to take action. 2- Be sober—that is be watchful and self-controlled. 3- Rest in the hope and grace abundantly provided by the revelation of Christ Jesus in our spirits and lives. (1 Peter 1:13)

From Pinterest
With that in mind, let’s carry on. Peter’s exhortation and his sentence continues on to where the rubber meets the road. Verses 14-15: “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

WOW! God is calling us to be holy like Him. We need to not freak out and loose heart at this appeal. Peter knew God and knew human nature. He was very familiar with his own weaknesses. Don’t think for a moment he had no recollection of denying Jesus three times on the night Jesus could have used his support the most.  

This is why we need to equip ourselves to be faithful followers of Jesus. Look again at the words of Peter. 
Let’s review the earlier part of this chapter and see the progression:
Through God’s mercy we were born again (v.3) → into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus (v.3) → to an incorruptible, undefiled, everlasting inheritance (v.4) and are kept by the power of God (v.5) though, for a short time, we’re grieved with trials (v.6) but our genuine faith, being tested, is more precious and more lasting than gold (v.7) giving praise, honor, and glory to Jesus who we love though we’ve not yet seen Him (v.8) receiving the result of our faith—salvation of our souls (v.9) of which the prophets foretold, that the grace would come to us (v.10) and revealed beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow (v.11) and for us the ministering of those preaching the Gospel by the Holy Spirit, sent from Heaven (v.12) so we must gird up the loins of our minds, be sober, and rest our hope fully upon the grace of Christ (v.13) being obedient children not returning to our past sins as ignorant sinners but as He who called us is holy we should be holy in all our behavior (v.15) because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Notice, we began this journey as a result of God’s great mercy—that is His amazing grace and love for us in that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Then in the end we come to mature faith, aiming to be holy as He is holy.

It’s true that the moment we are born-again all our sins are washed away and we stand clean and without the stain of sin. But then as we continue living we commit sins because we still are human and have weaknesses. As we grow in knowledge and understanding of our Lord, we become more like Him and sin less often and less egregiously.  This is the process of being sanctified and equipped to live according to God’s will. In meditating on these verses it appears that the keys to being holy are five-fold:

1- Have genuine faith. Without genuine faith the desire and revelation of the value of obedience to God is simply not there. The person whose faith isn’t real will have no, or very little, yearning to follow the teachings of Jesus nor will they seek to obey Christ at all costs. Basically that person lacks passion for God and His ways.

2- Gird up the loins of our minds. We need to continuously renew our minds with God’s Word. The Word goes through our minds to get into our spirits and becomes a part of who we are. The essence of Christ becomes the essence of ourselves when we feed on and digest Scripture. We’re then girding up, strengthening our minds and wills, discarding hindrances and burdensome weights that stand in the way of freely running the race Christ sets before each of us. 

3- Be sober. This comes as we gird up the loins of our minds. We’ll become more mindful and will be cautious to recognize the wiles of the devil. The charms of Satan are his deception, trickery, and trap setting. We must be sober and watchful to avoid his crafty plans for us. And we need to soberly follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

This narrative may sound quite serious and void of fun but, while it’s definitely serious, it is surely not void of fun. When we follow Christ we’re embarking on a life adventure which we probably would never have imagined for ourselves. It will likely include more thrills and pure joy than we thought possible for our one small life. That’s because we’ll be doing our own part in God’s cosmic plan for His huge created universe. Oh, the far-reaching results of one person’s abandoned life of service to the Savior is beyond our imagination. Look at Billy Graham, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Mother Teresa.

4- As we do the above, we can rest in living hope, trusting our Lord with the results through Jesus Christ. 

5- And, as Peter warned, we need to be careful not to fall back into any old bad habits or former ways from when we were ignorant of Jesus and His desires for us. That would be plum stupid.

So these things we are to do to honor and obey our Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as obedient children, not conforming ourselves to former lusts, as in our ignorance; but as He who called us is holy we can also be holy in all our conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

As we learn of Him, trust Him more each day, and depend on His Holy Spirit indwelling us, we can live beyond the limitations of our humanness. In my next blog post we’ll continue looking at the “how to” of being holy and overcoming the temptations of falling back into our former sins.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nothing But a Blade of Grass

Nothing But a Blade of Grass                        

What do a weaver’s shuttle, a shadow, the wind, a vapor, a runner, a flower, and grass all have in common? Respectively—(Job 7:6), (1 Chronicles 29:15; Job 8:9), (Psalm 78:39), (Job 4:14), (Job 9:25), (Job 14:2), (Psalm 102:11; Isaiah 40:6).

The Bible mentions each of these things in metaphors to describe the brevity of life on earth. Truly, we are here today and gone tomorrow. Even if we live to be 100 years old, compared to eternity, that’s just a drop in a bucket.

We really are like a flower or blade of grass that’s vibrant today but withers tomorrow.

James encourages us to use our time wisely because it’s going to run out before we know it. “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life like? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14 NKJV). In the New Living Translation: “like the morning fog—it is here a little while, then it’s gone.” 

In Sunday’s sermon our pastor elaborated on this topic describing how we must get ourselves in alignment with God if we want to make the best of the brief time we have on the earth. 

If you’ve ever had the skeletal system of your body or the tires on your car out of alignment, you have a firsthand idea of the importance of being in proper alignment. 

Pastor’s springboard for his message was Matthew 6:33. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

In order to have our lives in proper alignment we must follow the instructions of this passage. When we seek God’s ways above all else in all areas of our lives then all things we need will be provided. This is a promise from Jesus Himself. He spoke these words to His followers while teaching how to live according to God’s ways in order to have the abundant life our Creator desires for each of us.
Pastor Hal went on to say that when our hearts are not spiritually aligned with God it causes unnecessary wear on us. Just like when our tires are out of line, it’s costly. 

Living in righteousness is alignment in living and this alignment begins with seeking God over all else. This is single-mindedness. 

Pastor quoted George Barna, of the Barna Group: “When individuals are single-minded in their devotion to God, their commitment to His ways and His principles become much deeper, much more intense. Once they have made a serious commitment, then the peripherals don’t matter much.”

God sees us from two perspectives—where we currently are and where we could be. He also sees our lives on this earth as temporary and is more concerned about our eternity than our present. We should be more concerned with our eternity as well. After all, in this life we are but a passing shadow. It is our preparation for life after the grave.

Looking at life through God’s lenses:

1.    God sees our lives on earth as temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18; James 4:14; Colossians 3:1-2; Ephesians 2:6).
2.   God sees our lives on earth as vessels to reflect His glory (Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 42: 8).
3.    God sees our lives as having purpose (Ephesians 1:18).

So do this:

1.    Pray first (Proverbs 8:17; Psalm 5:8). Give God the best part of your day—seek Him early.
2.   Make each day count (Ephesians 5:15-18).
3.    Remember who you are and who you represent (Colossians 3:17).

“A spiritual man is not a man born again, but a man born again and walking in alignment.”  -Watchman Nee 


Let’s get our lives in alignment with God’s standards we see in His Word and let’s each be the spiritual man Watchman Nee talked about.

Much of this post came from the sermon of my pastor, Hal Adams, last Sunday, September 10, 2017.  If you wish to experience his sermon titled “Alignment and God,” in its entirety just click on this link:   I believe you’ll be blessed by it.

Thanks for stopping by. Your comments are welcome.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford