eternity

Sanctification

We often seek a “right now” word, from God. Whether through preaching, teaching, reading, praying, or listening, a current and meaningful message is being sought. Many times, those messages are not really new at all, just more relevant than the last time we heard them.

As a child I remember many preachers, evangelists, and pastors preaching and teaching on the subject of sanctification or being sanctified. The vague memories I have (consider most of these memories are 20 years or more in the past) seemed to have more to do with holiness and salvation than actual sanctification. While I do see and understand the similarities and the direction the message was going, I can not say I remember any of those messages really “hitting the nail on the head”.

It is not my intent to undo any message, critique another’s sermon, nor undermine anything written, said, or heard. Instead, I hope to add to and hopefully broaden, if just a bit, the message of being sanctified. One of the difficulties when approaching this subject, is defining the subject. The word “sanctification” has several meanings which are similar, but distinct. Sanctification means to “set apart”, “make holy”, “make sacred”, “set free from sin”, and “make conductive to spiritual blessing”.

John:17:19: And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Ephesians:5:26: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

1st Peter:3:15: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

In those phrases and verses you can see a very general picture with very separate details. For the purpose of this writing I will focus on being “set apart”. Once you have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ the process of being sanctified begins. It is the process of being separated from the world (worldly ways) and dedicating yourself to His purpose for you. You can see how easily a message or teaching could go from sanctification to a message of holiness. Sanctification is an ongoing process, for we fight the flesh by the Spirit and this battle is fought until His appearing or our death.

Being sanctified, or set apart, is not a painless process. When we begin our separation from worldly ways and worldly lusts, it is not easy. The best analogy that comes to mind is “old habits die hard”. We are creatures of habit, and often lazy in spiritual matters, I speak from experience. We lose old friends, we refrain from going to old places (bars, casino’s, parties where drugs and alcohol are prominent), we truly begin a new life and that isn’t easy.

Today, I believe, the true church is being further set apart from the world. The refusal to call out sin or call a sin “sin” has become normal to many churches, while the true church confronts sin and shines the light into dark places. Homosexuality has been allowed to creep into the church as “acceptable” and even deemed worthy to become leaders within the church. Yet the true church proclaims the Word of God, stands firm, and declares sinners must repent. Many churches teach worldly prosperity, money, and worldly riches. The true church continues to teach “seek ye first the kingdom of God”, charity, and denial of self.

As these things continue to come against the church, and you as part of the church, it may get painful. The more you stand for what God has to say, the more you will be criticized, labeled as ignorant, or as an extremist. The more the world changes, the further the church will be separated from it. Keep this in mind:

Luke:12:51: Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
Luke:12:52: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Luke:12:53: The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Luke:12:54: And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
Luke:12:55: And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
Luke:12:56: Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
Luke:12:57: Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?

Sanctification is ongoing for the church. I will close with this: There is coming a “setting apart” where we will leave this world, be it by the grave or that trumpet sound. Once we are truly set apart from this world and from this flesh we will be with our Lord Jesus and serve Him eternally. Seek Him, seek His will, and be ready, for we could be “set apart” in a moment, in the twinkling of the eye!

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A moment

Things happen, often quickly. The term “moment” comes to mind in defining the instant things come to pass. For example, the moment my son was born I became a father. While it is true that pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, there comes that span of time which changes everything.

Our lives change in moments, yet, the moments move by swiftly and never return. Moments become memories, a small amount of time that stands out. A moment is a snapshot, a picture, a detail, a happening, a culmination. It’s easy to think of moments as being precious, tender, and innocent. For example, graduations, marriages, births, and achievements turn into moments.

Just as there are good moments, there are also bad moments. Vehicles wreck, causing various tragedies, in a moment. Heart attacks happen in a moment. Lives are saved and lost in a moment. On September 11th, 2001, our country was changed in a moment. The gravity of this small span of time we know as a moment should not be taken lightly. Our lives are made up of moments, we are remembered in moments, and ultimately all the time we are given, is but a moment.

As we go forward in our lives, there are moments yet to come. There is one specific moment I live in hope of:

1st Corinthians:15:51: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1st Corinthians:15:52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

I hope to not sleep, but to be changed, in that moment, that twinkling of an eye. Every day I have, I live expecting, hoping, longing, looking for that moment. For those who are ready, whether they sleep (euphemism for being dead) or live, this moment is one of promise, glory, expectation, and eternal joy.

For those who are not ready, this is the moment, an exact and coming point in time, where everything (and I do mean everything) will change. Families will be torn apart. Worldliness and wickedness will dramatically increase. Hope will be hard to find. Uncertainty will remain and all that was, will never be again.

Just as we live, there is a coming moment, where we will either be changed or we will die. Can you imagine standing before Almighty God, the Righteous Judge, and being shown every moment, every opportunity you were given to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and refusing? Seeing those moments in your life when you could have said “yes” to the Master, but believing you had time? Deciding, you were too embarrassed, you were too prideful, you just “weren’t ready” or you’re “too busy” living your life? Thinking, you didn’t want to change your life, you were afraid what someone else would think, you may lose out on something you wanted or had?

We don’t know when our last moment will be, nor what our last moments hold for us. We have no promise of time. Things happen, often quickly. Take a moment, this moment, and call upon God, ask Jesus to forgive your sins, come into your heart so that He can present you faultless to God the Father. It only takes a moment, and it will be, in eternity, a priceless moment, the greatest moment of your life. The moment of salvation.

Love without rejection

If you have spent any amount of time reading and understanding the Bible, is there any doubt the most important theme is love? Not our love, but His love. Too often we think carnally, we think worldly, we think about ourselves first. We consider our love.

Our love is secondary. His love is first, His love is greatest. It is His love that surpasses our understanding, exceeds our expectations, and gives more abundantly than we can reason. His love stretches the span of time, generation after generation, reaching from the beginning of time throughout eternity.

The love we have to offer is measured by our time, which is not infinite. Our love reaches, but within bounds. When we offer love, it is sometimes with measure or restriction. Often, we love with condition. Unfortunately, we also fail to offer love out of fear or rejection. It is here where the love of God shines brightest. His love knows no fear. His love was given, poured out from the cross at Calvary.

Today His love is still calling out to “whosoever will”, any who will accept it. His love still beckons to show its strength, breaking the strongholds of sin, mending the broken-hearted, cleansing away all unrighteousness. There is no love like God’s love. No other love can do, and no other love will do, what God’s love can.

Why do I love God? I love Him because He first loved me.

1st John:4:19: We love him, because he first loved us.

He loved me when I was not worthy of His love. He loved me when there was no reason to love me. He loved me despite who I was, and all that I had done. Here is a small nugget of truth: Because He loved me first, there was no fear of being rejected by Him, because He died for me there was no doubt of how much He loves me. He has shown His love for me through Jesus, because He loved me first, all that was needed on my part was to accept His love.

It is because of His love that I submit myself to Him, His Word, and His Spirit. All that I am or will be, all that I do or will accomplish is only because of His love.

He has not only done this for me, He has done this for all who came before me and after me. The best news is this: He has also done this for you! If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, His love is there and all it takes is your acceptance. The greater your sin, the greater His grace, and the greater His love is. It is my sincere hope and prayer, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, that you will not let this day pass without considering and accepting His love for you. Today is the day of salvation, there is no promise of tomorrow. Let the love of God give you life, eternally. He is calling, will you answer?

Numbered days

We have no promise of tomorrow. For some, tomorrow will not find them among the living. So often we take our days for granted. There will come a tomorrow that, we too, will not be found. This is a certainty.

Our life here will end one day, maybe soon. My grandfather had a saying: “Short time here, long time gone”. The older I get, the more I understand, the more I see that to be true.

We live in expectation of tomorrow, in preparation for tomorrow, as though tomorrow is owed to us. Yet, not one of us know what tomorrow holds. Those who have come to the knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior, however, understands that He does indeed hold tomorrow. James says this:

James:4:14: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

We are here for a little while, then we vanish away. What is eighty, ninety, or even a hundred years in the context of six thousand years? Of eternity? It is nothing more than a moment. Some days seem long and full of labor, yet those days are here and gone quickly, never to return. We race through time toward an appointment and a promise that will be kept:

Hebrews:9:27: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Every day is another step closer to our appointment with death. After death, there is judgment. Some are racing toward their reward, others are racing toward damnation. For those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus, judgment is for their reward. Those who have declined a relationship with the Messiah have no hope, they will be appointed to wrath, a lake of fire, an eternity of suffering.

Once you leave this life, there is no second chance. We all have loved ones, family members, friends who do not yet have a right relationship with Jesus. Time is short. Let every day we have on this side of eternity be that second chance to reach out, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to touch the hearts of those around us. Let today be the day of salvation. Tomorrow may be too late.

Forsaken

There is not a time the passion of our Savior should be far from our lips or minds. As Easter approaches, it presents yet another opportunity to contemplate the crucifixion. It is the very foundation of Christianity and deserves far more thought than a holiday weekend.
As I look to the cross in scripture, in prayer, and in meditation I see love far beyond my worth. The broken body of a loving Savior hangs bleeding. Blood, sweat, and tears pour from the spotless Lamb who suffered this shame so that we, if we will accept, would be made worthy of eternal fellowship with Him.

From that cross these words are cried out: “Matthew:27:46: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

My Savior, Jesus Christ, from His cross felt forsaken. The only begotten Son of God felt the separation from God that sin causes. For a moment, the sin of mankind was upon the only One who could take it away. It is a punishment not fit for a King, but one He gladly took that you would not have to. It is not only a worthy thing to know and remember, but one which must be etched into our very being. For a good man, some would dare to die – Romans 5:7, yet God loved us while we were yet sinners – Romans 5:8. While we are in this flesh we cannot understand the love which God has toward us, but we must honor Him in honest pursuit of trying to attain that knowledge.
For those that choose to deny Christ as their Savior I wonder if those words echo throughout Hell eternally. What a fearful thought that one would scream in eternal torment “My God, why have you forsaken me”, knowing the answer. Let us make a declaration to proclaim God’s love to our friends, family, and whosoever will listen. The consequences are too great not to give our very best. God gave His best and we should do no less. To Jesus be the glory, for He is truly worthy!

Sufficient

The following verse has been on my mind for several days and is my favorite verse. The verse is found in 2nd Corinthians 12:9: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. This verse was a topic in one of the daily devotionals I read, which led to this writing.

The first part really finds a home in my and every other Christian’s heart. “My grace is sufficient for thee”. These words spoken to Paul about two thousand years ago have echoed through the ages and are as strong today as the time they were spoken. His grace is sufficient for me, for you, and for all those who will call upon Jesus to be their Savior. That is grace on a scale our frail minds cannot fully understand. I know how much sin His grace covered and still covers for me and it has been multiplied by all those who know Jesus as Lord. Amazing grace indeed!

Then we see the next part which says “for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. Do we think about His strength? We as humans are weak. When we, in our weakness, find ways to quit, give up, or give in, He gives us strength, hope, peace, love, joy, and determination. When we find ourselves at the brink of defeat, He declares we are “more than conquerors”. We do not do that of ourselves, we should not take credit for what He does. It is Jesus that has allowed us the strength to accomplish all things to His glory. Even in, what we perceive as, the weakness which is death, His victory is made perfect in that we move from this life to eternal life. How perfect is His strength!

This life is full of trouble. This world is full of distress and worry. Everyone comes to a point, more than once, where going on seems too hard. According to this verse we should begin to glory in these things. In this kind of weakness, Jesus shows up and with His strength we move on. We do not move on of ourselves, we move on that He be glorified. What we cannot do ourselves He will do for us. Let us glorify Him, for He is the way. It is during these times the power of Christ is upon us. As we accomplish those things we thought we could not, as we do those things we do not want to do, it is His power that is upon us. He is always showing us that His grace, strength, and power are more than sufficient, not only for me but all those who call Jesus Christ their Lord.  To Jesus be the glory, for He is worthy!