People Get Ready!

kneelingprayer“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.  Do not make yourselves unclean . . .” Leviticus 11:44

When God prepares a people for a great move on His part, He always calls them to repentance – confessing and turning away from sin, and consecration – setting oneself apart exclusively for the Lord. Prior to the exodus out of Egypt, the people were to cleanse their houses and anoint their doorframes with the blood of a Lamb.  By this they ridded their homes of impurities and were set apart from the Egyptians who would suffer the wrath of God.  Just before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, the Israelites were commanded to consecrate themselves “for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5).  Often King David ordered his men to consecrate themselves the day before a great battle.

All four gospels note the calling of John the Baptist who was sent to “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him” (Mark 1:3).  In the first-century world, before a king came to visit one of his cities, the call would go out to level the roads on his path.  John was also calling for “straight paths” before the coming King, but it was a call to repentance and consecration.  It was a call for the people to prepare their hearts for the Lord.

Christians have pleaded with God for a great move of His Spirit in the United States.  We want God to “do amazing things among us.”  But are we hearing the call to prepare the way for Him?  Am I heeding the call for repentance?  Am I carefully examining my life for habits, desires, laziness, distractions and selfishness that serve as a quiet rebellion against God?  Are we consecrating ourselves unto the Lord?  Are you willing to let go of everything, no matter how attractive or comfortable, that draws your heart away?  Are you getting rid of everything that that compromises your testimony and drags you into the world?  What T.V. shows, movies, music, magazines, and websites need to go to make your heart ready for the Lord?  What attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, rights, and worldly influences do I need to turn from in order to be used for the Kingdom of God?

I believe God is getting ready to do a great work in the world.  But it will require people who are willing to set everything aside to join Him.   That means whole-hearted devotion to Christ and an unwillingness to compromise with the world.  I also believe a great battle is coming in this nation; the lines have already been drawn in our culture and our courts.  Only a people with pure, consecrated hearts will be able to stand firm in the face of it.   

Beloved, are you willing to set ourselves apart exclusively for Christ?

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Ancient Paths

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.            Jeremiah 6:16

Though God had called them to be His own people, rescued them time and time again, provided, protected and cared for them, and blessed them with His presence in the Temple, the people of Israel had rejected Him, disregarded His laws and worshiped pagan gods and their own pleasures.  At one time they were God’s holy and righteous nation, but slowly, in seemingly insignificant ways, a drift away from God had been taking place.  You know – a small compromise here, a tiny little concession there – just to get along, to make living among others of different beliefs a little easier.  Before long, they discovered that they had drifted far from the ways of God – and right into captivity. Psalm 74 is written during that captivity.  The writer Aseph, a servant in the Temple of the Lord, grieves the presence of the enemy in God’s holy Sanctuary. Verse 4 says “[The enemy] have set up their own standards for signs. And in verse 9 he says, “We do not see our signs.” (emphasis mine) The people could no longer see the signs (the root meaning of “signs” is “a line of measure”) that the Lord had given them, they were lost and confused, and easily draw into captivity without them.

We would like to believe that we are a wiser people in this “age of enlightment,” people who would not be so easily drawn away from the truth, but human nature really hasn’t changed very much.  We are still a people adrift in compromise, concession and a desire to “go along to get along.”  The Christian Church today has drifted dangerously away from the moorings of the truth.  We have slowly, imperceptibly allowed the world to influence the church’s beliefs and standards, and we have allowed the heart of the church to become cold to God, His Word and His ways.  The church has been taken captive by the world, and we didn’t even realize it was happening.

Least we forget, the church is you and I.  And if the church has been taken captive, it is because you and I have been taken captive as well.  If the church has drifted, it is because you and I have drifted. The church is not where we go, it is who we are.  The church is not the buildings, nor the Pastor and leadership.  The true church is every person who claims themselves to be a Christian.  Notice I didn’t say “religious” or “a person of faith,” but those of who have identified with Jesus Christ; who have accepted His death on the cross as the atonement for sin and His resurrection as the promise of eternal life.  I mean those who have chosen to live by His truth, His teachings and His example.  If the church is to turn back to God, it will only happen when Christians turn away in repentance from worldly influences, deny our selves the pleasures of sin, and seek God’s face in whole-hearted devotion.  The church – you and I must turn our hearts back to the Lord.

Jesus’ half- brother Jude, in his epistle, called believers in Christ to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (verse 3)”  His is a call to return to the basic tenants of the Christian faith, the words, ways and truth of Jesus, and to stand firm against every false teaching.  How can we know what those tenants are?  By studying God’s Holy Word and an old article of faith, called “The Apostle’s Creed.”  Every Lord’s Day, in churches all around the world, people of God still recite the Apostle’s Creed, as an Affirmation of our Faith and a reminder of the foundation on which the Christian Church was built.  The Apostle’s Creed is not just for the church, it is a very personal statement of faith for your life and mine.

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God the Father Almighty

Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

Born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Crucified, dead and buried;

He descended into hell

The third day He rose from the dead;

He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit;

The Holy catholic* Church;

The communion of saints;

The forgiveness of sins;

The resurrection of the body;

And the life everlasting.

* or “universal”

We will begin looking at this ancient creed in a series of Thursday devotionals over the next few weeks, understanding its original message and its application for Christians today. Please join me in studying the “Deeper Roots” of our faith.

Remember the lament of Aseph, the Temple Servant?  Though the enemy had set up their own standards in the Temple, Aseph knew where his salvation and his loyalty lay.  In Psalm 74:9 he says, “Yet God is my King from of old, who works deeds of deliverance.” Aseph knew that only by keeping his heart devoted to God and to His ancient ways and words, would he be delivered from the hands of the enemy.  His deliverance is our deliverance too.  Only through faith in and wholehearted devotion to Jesus Christ, who is “the same, yesterday and today and forever,” will His church, His people – you and I – be delivered.

Ancient of Days, Your Name, Your Word and Your ways are eternal and timeless. You are the God who is, who was, and who will forever be.  Teach me to walk in Your ancient ways.  Amen