Friday, July 17, 2020

Set Apart For God

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” – 1 Peter 2:9-12

 I woke this morning with a thought on my mind. Circumcision of my heart.  That is the way most of these devotions start. A thought, a chance encounter, a word from someone. Then I have to settle down and listen. That is true for all of us.  The Spirit speaks and we must focus our attention on the speaker.  It can be difficult to get someone’s attention.  Have you ever been talking to someone and they are constantly check their phone -  as if there might be someone more important than you that wants to communicate with them? The world is demanding our attention – we are tyrannized by the urgent and often miss what is important.  We don’t really listen to people – and when we do – we are merely waiting for our opportunity to talk. What we have to say is so much more important than anything they might want to say.  We step on each other’s conversations because of it.  We disrespect each other and don’t even see it as disrespect.

So the Spirit seems to speak to me early in the morning – when I rise – before I plunge into the issues of the day.  When I can hear His voice above the din of the day. I am reminded of the time when the Lord spoke to Samuel – woke him up actually –

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you did call me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for Your servant hears.’” – 1 Samuel 3:8-10

Oh – perhaps you don’t think that you are anything like Samuel. That was then when God was speaking directly to people.  God speaks to His children to, still; by His Spirit through the Word, prayer, other Christians, and circumstances.  The problem is that we are not listening. 

The word for today for me and perhaps for you is this.  We have been set apart by God – sanctified by the Spirit through faith in Jesus.  Our hearts have been circumcised.  Changed forever. Once circumcised – you can’t undo that. Like the amputation of a leg or arm – you are no longer the same. We like to think that we are like everyone else – but you are not. You have been set apart.  Your identity is in Christ and no longer in the world – the natural things.  Our faith defines who we are – not our country – not our financial position – not our education level – not our accent – not even our lineage.  But it is so difficult to set those things aside.  How we live as Christians very often is dependent upon what is going on around us in this natural world and is not shaped by our faith and God’s revelation of our new life in Christ.

"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Like the story about the new pastor who preached the same sermon for the first 5 Sunday’s. One of the members asked if he did not have other sermons to preach. The Pastor answered, “Yes, but I will preach this sermon until you receive and obey what God is telling you to do.”  I have to catch myself – not judging pastors because of their eloquence or lack of it – their ability to alliterate (use the same letter for the first word in their sermons points). But I should be listening to what the Lord has to say through them.

Like Samuel, I, we, should be saying – “Speak Lord you servant is listening.”

We have been set apart for God’s purpose – not for the comfort the world offers.  Each day, we must commit to service, to seek the Lord, to listen for the Lord’s voice.  Dr Henry Blackaby said, with respect to hearing God, “Hearing God is not really the problem.  Obeying Him is the problem.”    

Church – it is time – The world needs you to Be the light!

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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