October 19, 2017

Set Apart

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Back to our first love, nothing between us
Back to Your heart, to the start of it all
Where we found You

Out of the ashes, into the fire
You are refining our hearts in the flames
Of Your presence

Set apart for our God above
Set apart for the One we love
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours

Sacred and holy, Your name is worthy
Jesus, awaken our hearts now to be
Your revival

Everything for You alone
Everything to make You known
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours

And oh, how great You are
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours
We are Yours

Worship Central
songwriters: Ben Cantelon, Luke Hellebronth, Nick Herbert, Tim Hughes

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We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did
what God wanted Him to do by sacrificing His body once and for all…this chief Priest (Jesus) made one sacrifice for sins,
and this sacrifice lasts forever.
Hebrews 10:10-12 (GW)

What does it mean to be set apart? I looked at dictionary.com and found these definitions:

  • Set” is to place in some relation to something or someone
  • To be “set apart” is defined: to reserve for a particular purpose, or to cause to be noticed

As Christians, we are set into relationship with Jesus Christ through His sacrifice. He has called us to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15-16).

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV

That is, to be dedicated to God and not to the things of this world.  If we are “set apart for the One we love,” we are reserved for a particular purpose.  That purpose is to worship and serve Him.

And so, dear brothers and sisters,
I plead with you to give your bodies to God
because of all He has done for you.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship Him.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,
which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2

When we are set apart for God, we will be noticed because our lifestyle looks different.  We think differently, talk differently, and act differently than those around us who don’t have that relationship.  We make God our first love, focusing on our relationship with Him, allowing Him to refine us, and in our lives making Him known to others.

As I listen to this song, I’m singing and praying these words.  As we are coming into the Easter season, I think many of us are searching our own hearts.  God is holy.  We, as His children, are set apart for His glory.  But we are human, and we fail in our own efforts to be worthy of that place in His family.  Sometimes in the crazy busyness of this life we forget our first love (much as the church of Ephesus did, read Revelation 2:1-7.)  The exciting thing about being one of God’s children, is that when we repent, and come back to our first love, God is waiting “to be found” so He can refine our hearts.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for Himself.
The LORD will answer when I call to Him.
Psalm 4:3

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations…

Deuteronomy 7:6-9

These verses thrill me because we are a part of “…to a thousand generations.”  God loves us so much that through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, He set us apart to be His holy people.  What amazing grace!  Now it is our turn to lay down everything for Him alone.  It’s time to allow His Holy Spirit to refine our hearts, and to be set apart for God’s glory.  It’s time to come back to our first love, and give everything to Him, for He is worthy.

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Dear God, thank You for Your great love and sacrifice for us, Your children.  As we worship with this song and Your Word, we rededicate our lives to be holy, set apart for You.  Through Your Holy Spirit, please help us to set aside the things of this world, and allow You to refine us so that we may be witnesses for the sake of Your glory.  In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.

CHRISTLife — ThirtyFive: Delighted In, Favored, and Honored

cl delighted in favored and honored

Hadley, my two-year-old granddaughter, recently spent a week with me.  And, yes, I pampered her as all grandmothers do their grandchildren.

Like most women, Hadley enjoys a bubble bath at the end of a day and I was happy to oblige her.  One night, along with the rest of the bath toys she likes to surround herself with, I tossed a crown into the tub that had been used for decoration on a birthday cake.  As she soaked in the bubbles, the crown floated past her.  She grabbed the crown, placed it on her head and said:

I’m a Queen.

Oh, the imagination of a child!  How quickly Hadley had made the transition from being a little girl surrounded by bubbles and toys to wearing the title of Queen!  Just for fun, let’s play an imaginary game.

Suppose you were standing outside the palace gates of a king. As you stood there at the gates, your attire looked something like this:

  • you were clothed in filthy rags of whining, coaxing, self-pity, anger, resentment, revenge
  • you fought for your own rights and pushed your way through life
  • you always tried to borrow from others the kind of love you desperately needed
  • you rummaged through garbage pails looking for scraps of self-realization
  • the life of a pauper was your lifestyle

As you stood outside the palace gates in your filthy drab, you heard the king beckoning someone to come to him and be his bride.  You look around to see who he is calling, but there is no one else standing at the gate at this time.  And then you hear him issue the call again.

You look up to the window where he stands, your eyes meet his gaze, and say:  “You can’t mean me—why I’m just a pauper.  I’m not good enough for you. And my appearance, well, I am not the prettiest woman in the world.  I wouldn’t be a very good helpmate either, because I am just so dumb.  One of my teachers in school told me I would never amount to anything, and she was right, I didn’t; I’m just a failure.  No, I can’t marry you; I’m just too unworthy to be your bride.  But, thanks for asking anyway.”

Without another word spoken from the king, he stretched forth his hand beckoning you to come into his arms.  This time, you caught a look of love on his face that you had never ever seen on another.  It penetrated into the very depths of your heart and you at last realized that, “Yes, he wants me!”  You accepted his proposal, you were quickly ushered into the palace to be with him, and he placed a crown on your head.  Instantly, your life took on a new identity with the king in the palace.

Oh, my dear friends, this is no fairy tale, it is for real.  It is a story about YOU and ME, and how quickly we transitioned from our pauper state into a place of royalty when we accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.  Oh, yes, we became the Bride of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  You now stand daily in His presence and—

  • He sees you as His gift that He delights in—Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 62:4
  • He takes pleasure in you—Psalm 149:4
  • He rejoices over you with gladness and singing—Zephaniah 3:17
  • You captivate His heart—Song of Solomon 4:9
  • You have favor in His sight—Psalm 84:11; Exodus 33:12; Psalm 4:3; 5:12
  • He honors you by making you royalty—Revelation 1:6; Romans 5:17

Enough said!  Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will just go fill my bath tub with bubble bath, light a candle, turn on the praise and worship music, and hop into the tub with my crown on. Just like Hadley said: “I’m a Queen!”

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Let us pray: Father God, I thank You for rescuing us out of our pauper state through the shed blood of Your son, Jesus, into a place of royalty. I am overwhelmed when I read in Your Word how much You delight in me, how much You favor me, and bestow honor on me as Your queen. May we all wear the crown and title in a way that will bring honor and glory to Your name by fulfilling the purpose for which You created us to be. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

16 Day Love Challenge: Chapter 10 – Love Does Not Delight In Evil

Our chapter today was a tough one for me to write. I think it is the most vulnerable I allowed myself to be in this book. I was nervous sharing it because of what I admitted. If you haven’t read it yet, go read chapter 10, Love Does Not Delight In Evil and come back.

16daylovechallengenodelightinevil

Can you remember a time when my story was a reflection of your heart?  I think as we grow in our walk with God we should have the same desire David did when he asked God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”  (Psalms 139:23-24).  But sometimes the search reveals more than we want to know.

The day God revealed my heart I realized that I had lost sight of wisdom and chose to delight in evil…and it was ugly.  I was so ashamed of myself and yet I could not bring my heart to make it right.  My rights were at stake.  I felt I had a right to be “right!”  Then I read Psalm 139 and realized this isn’t even close to David’s heart—or God’s.  Every time I read this passage I missed a very important truth that I needed to understand.

“God already knows my heart!”

King David was asking God to search his heart, however the purpose wasn’t for God to find out what was going on. The purpose was so God could reveal David’s heart to him. God is omniscient!  He knows everything about us.  Nothing is hidden from Him because He is everywhere.  He is here with me, guiding me as I write to you.  And He is with you, speaking to you as you read.   Admittedly though, the following verses cause me to fear God in a respectful manner and bring great comfort to me.  They are a source of refreshing water to my dry and fearful soul.

Where shall I go from Your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from Your Presence.  If I ascend to heaven, You are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.

Psalms 139:7-12

I love this quote from Renee Swope’s book, A Confident Heart. She said, “God uses conviction lovingly, to show us our sin and lead our hearts to repentance. He does this to draw us away from destructive behavior that hinders our relationship with Him and others. His desire is to bring us out of the darkness of sin and back into the light, so that we can walk with Him in the freedom of forgiveness and the confidence of His love.”

I pray you will take today’s Love Challenge to heart.  God wants to reveal any wickedness that is residing within us for the purpose of transforming us. We can’t change something if we don’t know it needs to be changed, right?   His goal is that we would become an outward reflection of His inward Glory.  God’s inward Glory has a profound effect on our outward appearance.  The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; Her clothing is woven with gold” (Psalms 45:13).  This is another verse for you to consider. The inward glory of the King’s daughter originates in, and is the result of, her calling and being set apart for Him as royalty: “But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly” (Psalm 4:3).

God won’t reject us because we’ve made bad choices today.  We are His daughters and He loves us with an everlasting Love. Don’t be satisfied to walk with a heart that delights in seeing others hurt because they hurt you.  Though we fail, we know that we can find comfort in God’s Word.  No matter what we do or the choices we make, He is with us!

Father, thank You for Your loving heart to guide and direct us.  Help us to recognize when You are convicting us.  Lord, give us the courage to not only see the sin in our hearts but to repent and change.  Thank You for the Cross and the loving way You defend us.  Help us to recognize that You are not the source of condemnation but of forgiveness and love.  In Jesus name… Amen!