Tuesday, June 23, 2009


"Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:2-3 (NIV)

Sanctification is an interesting word that Christians hear, hopefully, all the time. But what is it really, and do we understand its true meaning? Nelson's New Christian Dictionary defines sanctification as an act, process, or experience of consecration and purification by which a person is made holy and acceptable to God through the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit. It also involves separation from the impurities and pollution of the world and a renunciation of sin. The Greek word for sanctification is hagiasmoas which is a "state of purity." All that being said, sanctification is basically being set apart by God for His good works and service to Him. Once you are sanctified by God, you are no longer a slave to sin and the impurities of this world.

Before Christ, God chose the people whom He sanctified by sending the Holy Spirit upon them and their adherence to the Law set them apart. David wrote "know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him." (Psalm 4:3) God could also take away His Holy Spirit, therefore turning one back over to the sins of the world. He removed His Spirit from Saul when he sinned against God and replaced him with David as king. After David sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband killed in battle, he knew that his actions were unacceptable to God. His repentance recorded in Psalm 51 is indicative of the fear he held that God would remove him from His favor. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me." (Psalm 51:10-11)

After Jesus came to Earth, He died and rose again in order that He would defeat death and it would no longer control those sanctified through Him. Paul writes to the Galatians "are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (3:3) The ideas of Christianity and sanctification were fairly new to the Galatians, who were traditionally a pagan, non-Jewish group of people. The ideas of being "set apart by God" was very appealing to them but they were being confused by the Judaizers of the day telling them that they must abide by the Law of Moses to be sanctified. Paul wanted them to understand that they could not be sanctified through human measures but only by the Holy Spirit, and that is why God sent Christ to die in the first place. For if we could be sanctified by our works, there would be no reason for Jesus to have come to Earth.

Romans 8 says "therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." (1-4) This is the ultimate understanding of sanctification, that we are dead to sin through Christ and alive to God through the Holy Spirit. We must live according to the Spirit in us and not according to the worldly definition of what is good. For our "righteous acts are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:4) and the only good in us is the Holy Spirit which was placed there by God through Christ.

This is sanctification, that we are set apart by God Himself as His elect so that we may do His good works here on Earth and live eternally in His glory. We are free from the bondage of sin and the death, inherent in a life not sanctified by God.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." Psalm 103:13-14 (NIV)

As we approach Father's Day, I pondered just what being a father is really all about. I once heard a preacher say that we often interpret God in the image of the father we grew up with. If our earthly father is absent, we often find God to be absent. If our earthly father is unavailable, we struggle with God's constant love and availability. If our earthly father is a loving and kind leader of our family, we will find God to be loving, kind and approachable. And so it goes, that God is everything our earthly fathers should be, and our earthly fathers are what we perceive God to be unless we understand the unattainable magnitude of God our Father.

Fathers are protective. They keep us from harm and make sure that we are taken care of in our everyday needs. In Genesis 35, Jacob set out on a journey and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them or harmed them. There are more occurrences of God's protection in the Bible than can be written about here. His constant provisions of food, shelter, clothing, good harvests, prosperity in times of famine and want, and on an on...a good father is protective of his children.

Fathers are generous providers. A father would give all he has to his children to make sure they are never in want for anything. In Genesis 31, Jacob's flocks are increased in spite of Laban's plot to cheat him out his labors. No matter how obscure the offspring of the flocks Laban promised to give to Jacob, somehow the Lord always made sure of Jacob's prosperity. And so it goes from beginning to end, God was always providing for His children who love Him.

Fathers are counselors. A father will counsel his children in the way they should go. David counseled Solomon on his deathbed to be a good man and ruler and to love God. "As David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying 'I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. Keep the charges of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies...'" (1 Kings 2:1-3)

Fathers love God. The ultimate test of the father in the Bible probably comes when God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, after he waited so long to have a child. Abraham obeyed God and took Isaac out to slay him as a burnt offering to God, but the Lord stopped him and sent a ram in Isaac's place. How deep a father's love runs for his child, but his love for His Holy God must run deeper. God understood how painful that sacrifice must have been for Abraham, for He later sent His only son to die for the transgressions of humanity. How undeserving we are of this Father's love.

Fathers are teachers and disciplinarians. Ephesians 6 says "father, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (4) The ultimate gift an earthly father can give is the understanding of God and His amazing sacrifice and love for the human race. The writer of Hebrews says it like this, "Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirit and live!" (12:9) Rules and guidelines are given to us as children of God and children of men. We should take this information and live by it so that we may prosper on earth and understand that our actions will lead to either destruction or life everlasting.

Fathers are very important. They are protectors, providers, counselors, teachers, disciplinarians, and they love us beyond measure. We owe our earthly fathers our respect and love, and we owe our Heavenly Father our eternal fear and praise. Isaiah writes of the coming Messiah "he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (9:6). We have an Everlasting Father sitting upon His throne in Heaven who is preparing a place for us. He wants to protect and provide for our every need. He counsels and teaches us through His Word. He disciplines us with the Holy Spirit when we are out of His will and He loved us enough to send His only Son, our brother Christ, to die for us that we may live and reign with Him forever. Tell your earthly father Happy Father's Day and how thankful you are for everything he has done for you and don't forget to tell your Heavenly Father, too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I AM the WAY

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 (NASB)

Why does society think that the idea of Jesus as the only way to Heaven is bad? It thinks that God is selfish by providing only one way. My question then is why is one way so bad if you know what it is? Seems we can buy books and CDs and watch television shows to tell us about how to do something and that is not bad. If you opened a cookbook to get a recipe for a dish and there was only one recipe, would you curse the writer of the book for only giving you one way to prepare Chicken a la King? If you then added ingredients that were not part of the recipe, would you expect the same dish to come out of the oven?

For further reflection, let's say you were traveling to an island for vacation. This was touted as the most beautiful place on earth and there was only one bridge available to get you to it. Would you curse the town on the island for only building one bridge or would you take the one bridge to get to there?

The same is true for Heaven, there is only one road. Jesus is our bridge to Heaven. He laid down his life on the cross to establish that roadway for us to get to that beautiful place with streets of gold where He has gone to prepare mansions for each of us. (John 14:2) Why would you not accept His gift of grace and accept the offer to live eternally in a beautiful place? Does the idea of "having to" worship God seem unfair for the glory of eternal life?

It seems Satan would have us to believe these days that we are all good and worthy of going to Heaven, if we so deem ourselves better than the next guy. Since when did God make this a competition to compare ourselves to other humans? He never gave us the life of a "regular old human" as our precedent, He sent us a sinless lamb to be slaughtered as our benchmark. Since we can never attain those standards, we must accept His grace. We are constantly feeling as though we "deserve" so many things in our lives: civil rights, the right to choose and live as we please, the right to say what we want, and on an on. Why then, is it so hard for us to accept that we are given the most wonderful gift in the world yet we refuse to accept the giver as having good intentions. Why is it that God is so unfair if He asks you to accept His gift to you as truth? Is it because He only sent one gift and we were expecting a huge party full of gifts from which to pick and choose? Would we be so bold as to refuse the wedding gift from the Father of the Bridegroom?

These are just some things to consider for today. We must begin to understand the joy of worshiping a God which we were created to worship anyway. Being a servant to the Almighty is a much better job that being a slave to Satan and sin.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Faith and Works

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." James 1:22 (NASB)

Sometimes I wonder about some of the Christians who are always in church and involved in activities, yet they really do not know much about what they believe or how to support it. So many believers rely on the truth that Christ came to live and die for their sins and they are saved through His selfless sacrifice. (John 3:16) But believing that Jesus died for you and you will be saved is just the beginning, yet it is the end for so many people. The Bible goes on to say that true Christians will learn and understand Jesus's teachings and abide and live by them daily. Jesus said "therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to the wise man who built his house on the rock." (Matthew 7:24) We may have learned as children in church about the house built on the rock versus the house built on sinking sand. We even sing about it in hymns today. Jesus goes on to say in Matthew, "everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." (7:26) If you have ever watched the Weather Channel in hurricane season you know how foolish it is to build your house on the sand. No matter how deep the pylons are driven into the sand, the houses that rest on the beach always end up getting completely annihilated by the terrible storms. These are the "storms of life" which will erode and destroy your belief system if you do not build it on the teachings of Jesus, which is the Bible.

So we know that we are supposed to read and learn from the Bible, but what does it say we are supposed to do with our knowledge? James writes "even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, 'you have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works'." (2:17-18) We know that we cannot "work" our way to Heaven, for the Jesus said himself "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) But our faith must lead to the desire to do good works, being selfless and humble before God and man. James writes "pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (1:27) So we should want to work because of our faith, not to secure our place in heaven.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Desires of Your Heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

What are the desires of your heart? Is it filled with desires for good or for bad? Whatever they are, be assured that the Lord will either fulfill the good ones or will allow you to fulfill the bad ones on your own. If we delight in the Lord, we will long to be pure in heart and righteous before Him. But Satan will make sure that we remember the evil desires of our hearts, even after our salvation is assured. John MacArthur writes "Satan will take all the garbage out of your past and try to drag it back through your mind so that you relive it." (The Vanishing Conscience) And the book of Romans says "for although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen." (1:21, 24-25) Jesus preached against the evil of the sinful mind. He told the Pharisees that they were as whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside but filled with uncleanliness and rotting flesh on the inside. (Matthew 23:27-28) The sins of our hearts are as bad or worse than the sins of our action, for they have no accountability other than God and our own conscience. MacArthur writes "do you realize that the difference between a sincere, Spirit-controlled, devoted, godly, obedient Christian and a defeated, weak, struggling Christian is what takes place in the mind?" (The Vanishing Conscience)

So what fills the mind of a godly and devoted Christian? The Bible says clearly that a true Christian delights in the Lord and the ways of Christ. Second Timothy says "flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2:22) Matthew Henry writes "the more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil. The keeping up the communion of saints, will take us from fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness." (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary) We must be ever reminding ourselves of how our actions and our thoughts are affecting our personal relationship with God. If we are as the Pharisees and "appear" to be holy yet our minds are filled with sinful thoughts, we are as guilty as the one who openly and publicly sins. Peter writes "but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord." (1 Peter 3:15) If we set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts as well as in our minds, we will flee from all transgression. Our goal should be "keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:16)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Charges to Believers

Here are a few "charges" to Believers that God put in the Bible. May these be reminders of His grace and mercy and our responsibility to praise Him daily for our great rewards.

"But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now." (Joshua 23:8)

Do not stray from the Lord's ways, he will guide you daily on His path and lead you in the way you should go.

"So be very careful to love the Lord your God." (Joshua 23:11)

Let us not take God's love for us for granted. We must be very careful to remember that He is constantly providing for our needs and we are to be ever praising Him. Would you receive the greatest gift in the world and not say "thank you"?

"Sing to the Lord, you saints of His; praise His Holy Name." (Psalm 30:4)

Lift up your voice in praise and in song to God. He delights to hear your voice and wants to spend time with you each day, establishing a close and personal relationship with you.

"Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!" (Psalm 32:11)

May we rejoice in our salvation and praise God continuously for all His gifts and provisions. Sing unto the Lord, for He doesn't hear your earthly voice, He hears the voice of one of His children calling out to Him with thanksgiving and praise.

I hope you will find some joy in these verses today. I am always reminded of God's goodness and grace when I read the Bible's charges to be joyful and grateful for His gifts! Praise His Holy Name!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Lord will Provide

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV)

We have all heard the old expression, "God will provide," but have you ever really considered it to be true in your life? Have you ever just leaned back and thought about all the serendipity and divine interventions that you have noticed, let alone the ones you haven't? More and more lately, I have noticed the Lord's hand in all aspects of my life and in the lives of others as well. He truly will provide. Psalm 37 says "the days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty." (18-19)

There are many instances in the Bible of God's provision. The provisions of manna and quail to the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, the protection given to Daniel in the lion's den, the protection given to David from Saul's evil schemes, rain for the crops, water for the people, the parting of the Red Sea, and on and on it goes. The Bible is a veritable broken record of God's provisions to His wayward and sinful creation. Jesus said "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (Matthew 6:25) God also uses other believers to provide for each other in times of need. Paul wrote "this service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." (2 Corinthians 9:12) Remember that as many times as God provides for you, He is also using you as a provision for others' needs. If we are selfish and accept God's gifts but do not pass them on in favor, He will discontinue our blessings.

But our ultimate provision is our salvation available through Christ. We are lost in a sinful world with no will of our own and God extends His mighty hand to us that we might take it and walk with Him. The blood of Christ covers us and allows for communion with the Almighty. The Bible says "for we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." (2 Corinthians 2:15) Do not takes God's gifts and provisions for granted as achieved on your own. You may gain many riches in the world, but only He can make you truly peaceful and truly filled. Jesus said "what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36)

We were watching a show the other night on TV called Earth 2100. It was focused on the environment and what the people of the earth should do to protect it from disaster by the year 2100. They kept mentioning all these disasters and changes that were going to occur if we didn't change our evil ways of handling our planet. By the year 2100 the earth was virtually destroyed and nearly uninhabitable. I turned to my husband and said, "they left one thing out...God." God made this world for himself and for man, and He will return again one day to reclaim it and remove theevil and the damage we have done.

There are those who believe that global warming and environmental issues are the Devil's way of drawing our attention away from important Christian issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the like. I personally believe it is God telling us to remember that He can turn, and in many instances has turned, us over to this world of sin. We must be careful what we do with His creation. The sins of man will be accounted for at the end, but our earth is the only home we have until the glorious appearing of our Lord. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of God's provisions and resources. Meanwhile our ultimate goal should be to spread the gospel of Christ. So let's all remember that yes, God will provide, as long as we are using His gifts for His glory. But once we begin to abuse them...well, let's just don't...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


"But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'" Genesis 3:9 (NIV)

From the beginning when God created the Heavens and the Earth, He chose man to be his special creation in his own image. From Adam until now, God wants a relationship with man. He never intended for creation to be filled with sin, but in order for man to have free will, it had to be made available. Otherwise, we would be emotionally void of choice and would be like the animals. After Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God banished them from the garden. "And the Lord God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.'" (Genesis 3:22) Before the fall, Adam and Eve would have happily lived in the Garden of Eden taking daily walks and communing with God forever. But after the introduction of sin and knowledge, they now had a choice between good and evil and could easily choose the latter. Since God cannot tolerate sin, man was banished from His presence.

But our God is a God of Grace and He does not long to see us suffer. "For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" (Ezekiel 18:32) For as evil as we are, we have this amazing capacity to commune with the Holy God. And above that, He actually wants us to! He has given us the ultimate gift in His Son, Jesus Christ. We now have a way to get back into the presence and glory of God our Father. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.'" (John 11:25-26)

We who trust and obey in the Jehovah God, Creator of the universe, will now be allowed to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. So we will certainly see increased suffering and sin in our world right now, for it is controlled by Satan himself. But if we believe in Christ and choose to follow His way here on this earth, we will go on to live in a place where there is no more suffering and pain. James wrote, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (4:14) Since our time here is short, but the promise of life with the Father is for eternity, wouldn't we want to make sure that no matter what happens tomorrow, we are sure of where we will be when this earthly life comes to an end? May we seek God here on earth with all our hearts, and get just a brief glimpse of our eternity. His grace is magnificent and beyond comprehension, but it is ours for the asking if we lay down our lives and follow Him.