Posts Tagged ‘Sanctify’

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—Etymology

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.

Anima Christi

“Soul of Christ, Sanctify me…”

What a great prayer. Oh how I long for completion and unity with Christ. It is a marvelous thing to be in relationship and conversation with the Living God. Thank you, O LORD, for your Spirit who indwells and works in your people; drawing them ever closer to You, the One who saves.

Search for the LORD and his strength; continually seek his face—Psalm 105:4 Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me. You speak in my heart and say ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor turn away your servant in displeasure.—Psalm 27:10-12

I love the confidence and assurance that God gives to his people, those who decide to push aside anything that would hinder their walk with him. While it seems that much is uncertain, God assures that He is the certainty we can trust…

You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God—There never has been, and there never will be. I, yes, I am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done. (Isaiah 43:10-13)

I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along paths you should follow… Even now, be free from your captivity! The LORD redeemed his servants, the people of Israel. They were not thirsty when He led them through the desert. (Isaiah 48:12-21)

As I journey through life, I see literally thousands of opportunities to tear my gaze from God’s leadership and guidance in my daily living. With so much that seems scary, fragile, uncertain, risky, and unknown it is a much safer bet to take few risks…to take control and make things happen under my own power or through my own ability. Truthfully, my power and my actions are the greater risks. While I don’t know the plans for my life, God does know them (Jeremiah 29:11). I don’t know the potential pitfalls that lie before me…but He does. God desires that I trust Him implicitly. I love knowing that I can trust Him to teach me what is good. I love the confidence of knowing that His paths are the ones I should follow. And, I love that even though He may lead me through the desert, I will never be thirsty for as long as He leads. Sanctify me, O LORD, Sanctify me.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me

Body of Christ, save me

Blood of Christ, inebriate me

Water from the side of Christ, wash me

Passion of Christ, strengthen me

O good Jesus, hear me

Within Thy wounds hide me

Separated from Thee let me never be

From the malicious enemy defend me

In the hour of my death call me

And bid me come unto Thee

That I may praise Thee with Thy saints

Forever and ever

Amen

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