Posts Tagged ‘Sanctification’

Let the Spirit Control You


Lent.32—Let the Spirit Control You

Readings: Psalm 32 Romans 8:6-11 

Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. And Christ lives within you…the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. (Romans 8:6, 9-11)

I continue my reflection today on this passage from the Letter to the Romans on the Spirit-controlled life. I am overflowing with praise, wonder, and thanksgiving… What an amazing gift God through Christ has given to his children, the very Spirit of the Godhead to dwell within a man. The Spirit who completely rewrites the law of my heart. The Spirit who completely washes depravity from my mind and even my nature. The Spirit who assumes control over all aspects of my life as I have obediently surrendered it to Him. The Spirit who mysteriously alters, and modifies every feature and nuance of my being to make it more reflective of the nature of the True Son, Jesus. This is what the Spirit is doing in me. O. My. Blessed. Holy. GOD. If it were not happening to me, I could not believe it is real…but it is happening and it is real.

Amazing Grace. Amazing God.

A Psalm and a Prayer

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure! (Psalm 32)

O God our Father, renew our spirits and draw our hearts to thyself, that our work may not be to us a burden but a delight; and give us such love to thee as may sweeten all our obedience. Help us that we may serve thee with the cheerfulness and gladness of children, delighting ourselves in thee and rejoicing in all that is the honor of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pursue Godliness While You Wait

Pursue Godliness While You Wait: Week 1 of Advent [02DEC2013]

Readings: Psalm 1, 2, 3, ◊ Amos  2:6-16  2 Peter 1:1-11  Matt. 21:1-11

The Philokalia—Vol.3: Forty Texts on Watchfulness, St. Philotheos of Sinai

We wait for our Lord and the Light of his coming, but a watchful wait is never passive. We live in the timeline of the Lord’s final coming. We look back historically with an eye to the prophets, learning the rich truths of God’s redemptive work as it has been revealed through history and the written word of the Holy Scriptures. We also personally experience the spiritual coming of Christ with confessional agreement and acceptance of the atoning redemptive work of salvation through the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit of God. But. We watch and we wait…still. The Kingdom is here, in us and among us, but not yet in the full. We watch and we wait for the final coming of Jesus.

Scripture and the saints who have journeyed before us teach that our wait is not passive. We engage in attaining and developing the virtues that make us more Christ-like.

“…for godliness is perfection that is never complete.” St. John Klimakos

One of the hallmarks of my Christian tradition is the doctrine of entire sanctification or the pursuit of Christian perfection. There is considerable debate among the traditions about what these terms mean and how they are lived out along the way of the Christian journey, but despite the differences of doctrine there remains the tension of the Scriptures themselves, which demand from us a response. For instance, what does a Christ-pursuing believer do with the words of the apostle Peter that follow here below:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

“I have given them the glory you gave me..” Jesus (John 17:22)

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. (2 Peter 1:3-9 NLT)

Clearly, the instructions and exhortation of Peter imply that our wait is an active involvement in the process of sanctification and Christian virtue. The words “Make every effort…” are difficult to interpret in any other way. Certainly, none of this work of godly perfection is done on our own or in a void; God is the Chief Architect and enabler, Peter has made this clear in the qualifying statements in the first section of this passage of text. We ask for God’s assistance, He enables and empowers.  We pray and we wait for God to come. Each and every moment surrendered to God is wholly filled with the over-flowing grace and fullness of his presence. We wait. We surrender. He comes. He gives.

“Tell the people… ‘Look, your King is coming to you.'” (Matthew 21:5)

Psalm and a Prayer

O the joys of those who delight in the Law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the river bank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Lord help me to be fully alive to your holy presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours. At this moment, Lord, I turn my thoughts to you.

O Lord, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. 

Lent 2013: Devoted Things

Lent 2013

Devoted Things

Readings: Psalm 55 ◊ Hebrews 5:1-10  Joshua 7—17  John 4:1-26

O LORD, open my lips ~ and my mouth shall declare your praise. Blest be the LORD our God, ruler of the universe ~ Now and always for ever and ever.

Delight in the Lord’s teaching and study it night and day ~ Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

My heart and flesh cry out for the living God! O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.

I was reading today from the Book of Joshua and had my attention grabbed by these words that follow:

“I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you… Sanctify yourselves. There are devoted things among you; you will be unable to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” -Joshua 7:12-13 NRSV

I suppose there is a need for context here. The story that takes place in this account from Joshua is this; Israel had crossed over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. God had instructed them to take over by force the towns and nations of the people who occupy the land. One of the instructions to Israel had been to keep the gold and silver for the treasury of God and to destroy (burn up) all other things.

The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction… As for you, keep away from the things devoted to destruction, so as not to covet and take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel an object for destruction, bringing trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord. -Joshua 6:17-19 NRSV

Achan, one of the fighters for Israel, kept some of the booty from the battle of Jericho.

But the Israelites broke faith in regard to the devoted things: Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things; and the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites. –Joshua 7:1 NRSV

Now, in this case, I believe the devoted things were the items that had either been set aside for destruction or set aside for the LORD’s treasury—this is how the narrative reads. There is obvious application for us even if we stop here. God had given instruction and there was willful disobedience. Achan had been deceived by the lust of his own eyes and the greed that burned within him led him to succumb to an act that sinned against God. Achan’s sin against God had repercussions that extended beyond just himself; his sin affected the lives of his household and the lives of the people of his entire nation. And there are more applications I’m sure with a literal interpretation, but there were some ideas that came to me beyond a “first look” at Achan’s sin and this is where I started to fixate a bit on the word “devotion.”

When I started doing some exploration into the root meaning and eytomology of the word devotion, I found that it was steeped in pious or religious application. Regarding the use of the word in the original language, Hebrew, (charam) is associated with many religious uses; devotion, ban, exterminate, dedication, consecration, sacred, sanctuary, and temple are just a few of the mentioned applications (click the link for more examples).

Devoted / ha·che·rem  from  charem / (Hebrew) Strongs 2764a ::: definition—devoted thing; devotion; ban


devotion (n.)

Early 13c., from Old French devocion ”devotion, piety,” from Latin devotionem (nominative devotio), noun of action from pp. stem of devovere ”dedicate by a vow, sacrifice oneself, promise solemnly,” from de-“down, away” (see de-) + vovere ”to vow,” from votum ”vow” (see vow). 

In ancient Latin, “act of consecrating by a vow,” also “loyalty, fealty, allegiance;” in Church Latin, “devotion to God, piety.” This was the original sense in English; the etymological sense, including secular situations, returned 16c. via Italian and French.

Perhaps it is just the way my mind works or maybe it has to do with the way we have incorporated the word (devotion) into our language today, but I started to think about how easily we are distracted by our devotions… And, I’m not talking about those devotions where you sit down for a few minutes to pray or read a short passage of Bible verse. I am considering the other things in our lives that consume our energy and attention, the things and activities that steal our devotion from God. So much of our time, energy, resources, and attention is devoted to making money, purchasing objects, pursuing activities that steal us away from the real object of our devotion, God. We pay homage to Him; perhaps we offer Him a tithe (tenth) of our income (after tax of course) and we give Him a couple of hours on Sunday of our undivided attention (it is undivided isn’t it?), and occasionally we’ll participate in one of the annual community outreach thingies. This counts as devotion doesn’t it? By comparison, a car, house, or credit card payment gets far more devotion from us than does our God… in many case.

The question that I think I’ve been fixated on today is, “Where is my devotion or what is my devotion?” I think we can take a closer look at the first-person application with Achan’s sin and make a comparison that strikes a little closer to home for us. In the case of Achan, he took things that were supposed to be set aside for the use of God and perhaps extended to the community of God’s people. He thought only of his own selfish desire. By thinking only about himself, his actions isolated and excommunicated him from the community… ultimately to the point that it caused his death. Are we guilty of this? Maybe I haven’t stolen God’s gold… or have I? Am I enamored by the “purple robes” I see others wearing? What might those “robes” look like in our contemporary society? I think the application really isn’t as far removed from us as I might have originally thought. Perhaps my fixation is not such an extrapolation or reach after all. I wonder how much we might be devoted to ourselves instead of devoted to God.

When the sin of Achan affected the community, Joshua, as their leader, went before God and fell prostrate before Him. He began to cry out and plead for God’s assistance and mercy. God responded by telling him to “Stand up! Why have you fallen upon your face?” and instructed Joshua to tell the people to “Sanctify yourselves” (Joshua 7:6-12). Perhaps in the midst of our misguided devotions today we need to take a step back from the harried lives we lead and “set ourselves apart” by renewing and realigning our devotion. Sanctify yourselves and your devotion for you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Devotion.

“I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you… Sanctify yourselves. There are devoted things among you; you will be unable to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” -Joshua 7:12-13 NRSV

The only “devoted thing” that belongs in my life is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Any other “devoted thing” will cause Him to be with me no more. Sanctify yourself. Yeah. That’s what he said.

Holiness, Epiphany, Glory Manifestations… Oh My!

Holiness, Epiphany, Glory Manifestations… Oh My!

Readings: Psalm 36:5-10  Isaiah 62:1-5  1 Cor. 12:1-11  John 2:1-11

“Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed His glory; and his disciples believed him.” (John 2:11)

“For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5)

Chewing on some serious bread here: “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5). I realize the metaphor extends to the primacy of the community, the universal church and all who are called into that great assembly, although I cannot help but consider how this plays out in my personal commitment to the Bridegroom (Christ Jesus) and as a part of “the Bride” (Church) myself. How consecrated (solemn dedication) am I? What does my dedication look like in my daily life? I think about how I look with love, appreciation, adoration, and delight over my wife, Laurie, and think about how God looks over His Bride, the Church… and me. Yes. Praise Him. Amen.

Prayer for the 2nd Sunday following the Feast of Epipany

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your word and sacraments,, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reign one God, now and for ever. Amen

Miscellaneous Thoughts from 20JAN2013

I sat in on Bob G’s class today in church and still cannot get the ideas of holiness, sanctification, spiritual formation, and any other euphemism that describes what it means to become Christ-like out of my head… I just keep on thinking about this and take a moment to put down some of my ideas here.

Jesus, as the living personification of God (John 14:7-9), is our model for what it means to “imitate God” (Ephesians 5:1-2) and “Be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16). The Bible teaches us that our attitude or minds should be like Christ; “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5-7).

  • Begin with an attitude of complete humility
  • Maintain a mindset of openness
  • Choose your will to be completely surrendered
  • Determine that you will be unconditionally obedient

I believe that Scripture teaches us the Christian journey will not begin in earnest without this process (listed above) and attitude of mind/heart being implemented first (see John 12:24-26, Luke 14:25-28, Mark 9:35). In my opinion, the most distinctive “outworking” of this selfless and surrendered humility is found in the apostle’s definition of love (1 Corinthians 13).

13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

More to come.

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