Holiness: My One Word 2017

holiness

As I finished my Chronological Bible reading for 2016 with the book of Revelation this morning, I was overwhelmed by God’s holiness and perfect orchestration of His majesty.  Over the past few months I have struggled with this nagging concern that I miss the bigger picture of God’s holiness. The book of Revelation drove this bone marrow deep.

After my reading this morning, I knew My One Word project  for 2017 would center on “holiness.

Learning, searching His Word, praying… yes…I want to know more of His holiness this year.

The My One Word Project by Ashcroft and Olsen

What does it mean to choose a word for a new year?  I prayerfully select a  word that I feel the Lord is drawing my attention toward. Maybe it’s an area of my life or my heart in which He wants to prune or shape. Maybe it’s a need He wants me to recognize and He desires to fill with Himself. It may be something about Himself He wants to reveal to me.

The Lord and I choose a word, and I toss the list of  New Year’s resolutions away. I want God to form my character at a deeper level, a sustainable level this year.

I doodle the word…I pray over the word…

I search Scripture for the word. When is the word used? Where is it used in the Bible?  How is it used?  Who is uses it? Why is it used in the context it is?

Word studies…Hebrew and Greek…

Selecting a word demands greater focus for me. It requires intentionality.

The word “holiness” will become the lens through which I examine my heart and my life for an entire year. The book My One Word by Ashcroft and Olsen has been a tremendous tool over the last couple of years. The goal of the My One Word project is ultimately a transformed heart.

My One Word journey this year is holiness.

According to Ashcroft and Olsen, “The aim is for you to use your one word to get into a focused posture and remain there while you depend on Christ. Change is possible. Focus is required.” I am focussing on God’s ability to do in me what I cannot do for myself.

Holiness… In Hebrew, quadosh… Greek, haigos

The following quote from Art Lindsley  sits on my heart as I think about the Lord placing this word before me this year. “One of the most important attributes for understanding God and ourselves is God’s holiness. When we catch a vision of God’s holiness, we can regard many things in our lives as holy. When we lose a sense of God’s holiness (as many have), then we lose the realization that anything is holy or unholy. In this latter case, we also lose a sense of our own sinfulness, our need for God’s grace, and the desperate plight of our culture.” 

My prayer is for a greater realization of what is holy and what is unholy. My prayer is for a deeper need for Him in my day, in my life…and wisdom.

Did you have a word for 2016? My word this year was JOY!

What is your 2017 word?

 

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My ONE Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen

1 Corinthians 13: Christmas Style by Sharon Jaynes

sharon-jaynes

Sharon Jaynes is one of my favorite Christian authors. Her words are Holy Spirit inspired and honest. She possesses a love of God’s Word that compels others to dig in deep. I had the great joy of being on the book launch team for her book Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe in 2013, and  I have been a devoted reader of hers since. I wanted to share something of hers with my Christmas readers today…This is Sharon Jaynes at her best! Visit this post  in its entirety at Crosswalk.com … “One Thing God Wants You to Know  This Christmas.” 

Slow down…enjoy His presence…Share His love…

1 Corinthians 13: Christmas Style

“If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, on that starry night in Bethlehem. I am still amazed at Your great love for me. May I never lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas, but celebrate Jesus’ birth with joy! Help me to give as You gave—with love.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.”

Merry Christmas!

Prince of Peace

prince-of-peace

December 24

It’s Christmas Eve and this night above all other nights of the year speaks of the hope and promise of peace like no other. And yet for many, peace is elusive. This year has been a horribly divisive year for our communities and our country.

All one has to do is scroll through Facebook to see that the “hope” and “promise” of a presidential election did not bring peace for many.

Disease strangles families and threatens any semblance of peace.

Cities with names like Aleppo, Mosul, Berlin, Orlando, and Paris fervently, continue in their search for healing and peace.

The increased suicide rate in our country reminds us that many search for some peace but many never find it.

 

   “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

   And the government will rest on His shoulders;
   And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus promised people peace but not as the world offers it. This peace only He can give. He came to restore not just peace that ends hostility, but the restoration of relationship between God and his much loved children. Physical safety and political harmony do not necessarily reflect what our  Prince of Peace offers.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” John 14:27

Peace is a person. His name is Jesus, and He came to be peace for us all.

Heavenly Father, stir up the good news of Christmas in hearts today. Pierce the world’s darkness with the Christmas story, our salvation story. Never have we needed Your joy and peace more than now. Thank You for the gift of Jesus, our Immanuel, the Word made flesh. Forgive us for forgetting that Your love never changes, never fades, and that You will never abandon the purpose for which You came. You came to restore! You came to save us from our sinful condition, and to give us eternal life, the joy of relationship with a holy God. Your birth—and Your death—sealed Your promise to us forever. Amen.

 

 

Lamb of God

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“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

This is the name. This is one that completely rattles me…every…time.

The name Lamb of God referred to Jesus as the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin.

In Marty Machowki’s book, The Ology, he writes, “While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving God’s law from God Himself, the Israelites camped at the foot of the mountain, were already breaking God’s law by worshipping an idol. Rather than destroying his people then and there, God provided a way for the people to get rid of their sin. God gave his plan the name atonement, which means to cover over. God’s plan involved killing an animal instead of the person who sinned.

Killing an animal might seem like a harsh way to handle sin, but God wanted to send an important message: Everyone who sins owes God a life. Remember God’s hard and fast rule that sin brings death? Someone has to pay for sin. Either we pay with our life, or someone else takes our place. There is no other way.”

In order to understand the name, Lamb of God, we must understand the sacrificial system in Scripture, and that it was instituted by God Himself to prepare the hearts and minds of His children for the coming of Christ.

Everything…every single thing…about the system pointed to Jesus and the cross. Everything.

While the idea of a sacrificial system might seem strange and grizzly to us today, the concept of payment or restitution is something we do understand.

The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that our sin separates us from God. We also know the Bible teaches we are all sinners and none of us is righteous before God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we are separated from God, and we stand guilty before Him. The only hope we can have is if He provides a way for us to be reconciled to Himself, and that is what He did in sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross. Christ died to make atonement for sin and to pay the penalty of the sins of all who believe in Him.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to fulfill and abolish the  sacrificial system. He  died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, for all time. Through faith in His sacrifice and His blood we have salvation.

Let’s not lose the wonder and awe of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. This a crucial part of the Christmas story, of our Christmas story. Immanuel, God with us, came to redeem us…

Forgiveness, costly grace, and eternal reconciliation… 

Jesus, Lamb of God, there is no way to ever humanly thank you for removing my sins. I deserve the wrath of God, but You took that punishment for me and gave me Your righteousness. May my life be Yours alone. Set me apart for Your glory…Amen.

 

Son of Man

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December 22

Mark 10:45   “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The description “Son of Man” was a Messianic title. Jesus is the One who was given dominion, glory,  and a kingdom. When Jesus used this phrase, He was assigning the Son of Man prophecy to Himself. In the Gospels, Jesus refers to Himself at least eighty-one times as Son of Man.

Upon hearing this title, the devout Jews of His day would have been intimately familiar with the phrase and to whom it referred. They would have immediately remembered the Old Testament reference in Daniel 7:13-14.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” 

On a simple level, while the name Son of God refers to His deity, Son of Man refers to His humanity. Jesus means to communicate both. The phrase “Son of Man” indicates that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised and that He is truly a human being.

“Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
    even death on a cross! ” Philippians 2:6-8

What could possibly motivate Jesus, fully God and yet, fully man, to enter our physical existence and experience the joy and heartbreak of being human without sin?

What could cause Jesus to literally empty Himself of all glory, while still retaining His deity, and submit to the humiliation of becoming a human?

Love…

There is nothing more beautiful. Truly…

God, invisible, glorious and untouchable took on human flesh. For us.

Throughout His life on earth, we see exquisite glimpses of the humble service by this man who was fully God. Because Jesus bowed low, we are called to bow low in humble service as well. Who is God calling you to serve today?

Jesus, Son of Man, You laid aside Your glory and majesty to take on the life of a humble servant. I am humbled and ashamed as I consider the ridiculous value I place on my comfort and my desires. Forgive me for the pride in my heart and my desire to be better than or more important than others. Please give me a servant’s heart and teach me to serve others joyfully. Amen.

Resurrection and Life

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John 11:25 “ I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”   

Resurrection and Life

There is an incredible amount of truth to unpack in each name of Jesus. Resurrection and Life is no different.

In Jesus, we find the power of life and death. Throughout Scripture we see this power unleashed. It’s incredible to think about the fact that Jesus spoke the world into creation. That’s simply too marvelous for pitiful human words. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. In Psalm 139:14, we read that He knit our bodies together in our mothers’ wombs, and we were fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. In the New Testament, we see Jesus healing the sick and dying and speaking life into dead bodies. Then Jesus shattered death’s hold on His creation when He offered Himself as the final sacrifice. He conquered death by entering it and shattering it from within. He rose from the dead without requiring anyone’s intervention…Hallelujah!

Yes, the power of life and death are in Jesus!

As ones who believe in and follow Jesus, we are now resurrection people, and we live in that reality. We will never die. Truth!

We have hope for the future, yes, but we have hope for today, as well. This is a game changer. Our mindset shifts, and it should influence our relationships and every aspect of our lives today.

Lord, You are the resurrection and the life. You shattered death’s hold over us. Our world is still torn by sin and destruction, but You rule. Your Word is the final word. One day, there will be no more sorrow, suffering, and death. Until then help us to live as resurrection people, and may we be a sweet aroma of life to a dying world. May others see You in us…Amen.

Lord of Lords

lord-of-lords

December 17 –

“And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16

Studying the name Lord of lords has been quite convicting. I realize that far too often I have called Him Lord from my lips, but I have not treated Him as Lord of my life. The title of lord is a position of authority, and it represents  someone who has the power to exercise absolute dominion over all his realm. For Jesus, His realm is all of creation. The Word of God describes Jesus as the head of the church, the ruler over all creation, and the Lord of lords and King of kings (Col. 1:15–18; Rev. 3:14, 17:14).

Charles Stanley writes, “The realm of Christ’s reign covers everything that happens in heaven and on the earth. No one—not even those who deny His existence—can be free of His rule or outside His sphere of authority. Although Satan tries to convince us that liberty is found in doing what we want, true freedom is acquired only through submission to Christ’s loving lordship. Even death cannot release anyone from the authority of God’s Son. He is Lord of both the living and the dead.”

How often do we call Jesus, Lord, but then we allow Him little, if any, influence over our daily lives? We make decisions, both big and small, based on our own thoughts and desires.

By virtue of who He is, Jesus deserves complete authority of our lives, but He will not impose that lordship on us. For now, it is our choice to willingly acknowledge Him.

But…

One day, “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).Bank on it…

The beautiful thing is when we submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ, we are in marvelous hands…perfect hands. He is not motivated by greed or pride like human lords or bosses, but He is good and righteous in all His ways. He desires the best for us. His will is always best.

I want  you to prayerfully consider this today:

Is Jesus Lord over ALL of your life? Does He have complete control of your relationships, schedule, finances, career, dreams, and time?

What, if anything, are you holding in your hand behind your back?

Hiding it from Him does not work…I know this.

Unclench those sweaty little fingers…release it to Him.

Jesus, Lord of lords, I know that there are pockets of my life I have a tendency to hold back from Your lordship. Teach me to humble myself before you in all things. Be Lord over all of my life. All I am and all I have is Yours…Amen.

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