A Heart That Is Set Apart for God
The Lord impressed upon me to consider writing an article on being “set apart for God.” I asked a few of my co-workers what they thought it meant and here are a few of their thoughts on the meaning of being set apart for God:
- God has His hand on you for a specific purpose. He’ll use other people, dreams, visions, and that “still small voice” of God to get you on track.
- To be marked by God for a particular purpose. He guides our lives differently than it might have been had we not submitted to His call. And even though it may appear that we are not in ministry, we are marked by God to minister in day to day living. Because He has set us apart, we are already walking into our destinies.
- We will feel a pull away from people and things that distract us. Even though we may feel as if we are put on a shelf and forgotten, we have been set apart for the call of God on our lives. It is during these times that we will find ourselves spending quality time with God as He molds and makes us into His image. He will build character in us so that when it is time to go on the frontlines, He knows we will be ready. He will be able to trust us with what has been appointed for us to do. Jesus said, “Come out from among them and be ye separate.” II Corinthians 6:17
- It is as if we can picture Jesus standing in the middle of a very busy, dusty, Middle East marketplace, not even aware of all the disruption going on around Him. Instead He is intently holding up and examining select pieces of fruit. Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” After deciding on His choice, He gently places them one by one in a basket cradled in the crook of His arm, close to His side.
- God has chosen us to do a work for Him and we need to be “set apart”, chosen to do a work for the King. He has anointed us and equipped us to be used for the advancement of His kingdom. Once, I began cutting a beautiful, crimson-colored nectarine I brought in with my lunch. To my surprise, it was totally rotten on the inside. The Holy Spirit led me to know that this fruit is symbolic of what some Christians are like —beautiful on the outside but the inside tells a different story. I felt a check to make sure I was clean before the Lord.
- It means to be made holy, consecrated to Him. Christians are given a special role in life to serve Him. We are transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. We are strangers to this world’s system. Instead of thinking and acting like the world, we are set apart from this more common way of viewing and living life and are given a different purpose, which is to serve God and become more like Jesus. You could say that we are separated from worldliness and given new purpose in Jesus to be used by God.
Personally, I agree with all of the above. In my 50 years of living on this earth, I have spent 43 years as a Christian. From the very beginning, I have felt called to be separated unto God. My desires were to please God. I did not always succeed, but my heart was for God.
If I get off track, God always gently guides me back onto the path He has chosen for me. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul tells us that we should live a life pleasing to the Lord. In verse one, Paul encourages us to live it even more than before. A few verses later, 1 Thessalonians 4:9 instructs us to love our Christian families and Christians around us. He exhorts us to love them even more.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:6,8 Paul says,
“So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control. … We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet.”
Later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:13-22, we get these insights: Live in peace with each other, warn those who do not work, and encourage the people who are afraid. Help those who are weak, be patient with everyone, be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to do what is good for each other.
Further instructions are to always be joyful, pray continually, give thanks for whatever happens, do not hold back the work of the Holy Spirit, do not treat prophecy as if it were unimportant, but test everything. Keep what is good and stay away from everything that is evil.
If we are set apart to do the work of the Lord, then we will not have time to get into trouble; especially if our hearts are set on pleasing God. We should be working on being full of the fruit of the Spirit and telling people about the message of the Gospel of peace. That alone is a full-time job.
And, as Paul ends his letters in 2 Thessalonians 3:16,
“Now may the Lord of peace give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”
“New” is an Exciting Word!
By: Bob Christopher, crosswalk.com
all like new things and want new things.But when it comes to the weightier matters of life, “new” is a scary word. Embracing something new on this front means change. It’s a break from the comfort of the status quo, or the way we’ve always done things. “New” ushers us into the unknown and unfamiliar, and we’re not sure what to expect.
It’s hard for us to change, to let go of all that is familiar and comfortable. We resist with all our strength and might. This is just part of our human nature.
That was the Israelites attitude after they gained their freedom. They wanted to go back to what was familiar. But they couldn’t. Their only option was to move forward to the land God had promised them, but their fear of the unknown turned their eyes back to Egypt, back to slavery.
That’s why the gospel can be a frightening proposition. Spiritual birth ushers us into the new. Ready or not, here it is:
- A new life (Romans 6:4)
- A new identity (John 1:12)
- A new self (Ephesians 4:24)
- A new heart (Ezekiel 36:26)
- A new covenant (Hebrews 9:15)
- A new command (John :34)
- A new way (Romans 7:6)
You might not know what this new life in Christ will look or feel like. At first, it may feel a little awkward or strange. Like the Israelites, you may look back to your old life, especially when you feel down or blue or when you are going through a tough circumstance. At those times, Satan will do his best to make you think your old life was pretty good.
It is time to let go of the old, to stop looking back, and to embrace the new.
There is nothing to fear. Jesus Christ is with you. He will never leave you. This means freedom for you, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). The “new” that Christ has for you is better than anything you could ever dream or imagine. And besides, you can’t go back! Once you are in the light, you can’t go back to darkness. Once you have been set free, you will never be a slave to sin and death again. Once you cross over from death to life, the only way is forward is in the newness of life.
Let’s Get Wild
By: D. Leon Pippin, cbn.com
Super Bowl Sunday. A bad time to visit my friend who had been ill for several weeks. As I entered his hospital room, I heard the television. Thunderous cheers swallowed up my greeting when more than 78,000 fans screamed and stomped their feet over a touchdown.
I raised my voice, “Hey, Jim. Sounds like an exciting game.”
“I guess so. Just something to watch.”
“If we could only get that excited about God. Wow.”
“Leon, do you think all those people get bothered about God like you do?”
“People get excited about things they like.”
“What did you say?”
“The crowd yells and screams and spills beer on everybody around them because they love football.”
“Jim, you’re a philosopher. That’s it!”
“That’s it! They get wild — because they love football.”
“So, my dear friend, if we loved God that much, we … what, Jim?”
He just smiled and half-laughed.
After my visit with him, I read Psalm 41 and discovered something about the psalmist. He was passionate about his God:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1 NIV)
He hungered for a taste of God’s presence. That intense craving for God is what C. S. Lewis called an “appetite for God.” (Reflections on the Psalms, p. 51).
The psalmist’s longing for God intensifies. First, he calls him, “God,” then, “the living God,” and finally, he begs to see “the face of God.” David shared that Super Bowl fervor. He was wildly bothered about his God.
When it comes to football, all my family are Super Bowl fans. I asked my grandchildren why they loved football so much.
One said, “All the rough and tough stuff, especially the tackle.”
Another one, “The physical stamina of the players.”
Another added, “I like to see them pile on top of each other, like a human pyramid.”
My family also gets excited about playing the game, Catch Phrase. One night when playing, one of my words was “Hail, Mary.” I gave enough clues for my team to get “Mary,” and then I gave the clue, “Signal for a cab.” My team guessed it. Then the family filled “our stadium” with spontaneous “touchdown” roaring laughter.
I sat there dumbfounded till my young granddaughter said, “You don’t get into football much, do you, Papa? ‘Hail, Mary’ is when a quarterback in the last few seconds of the game throws a pass to several receivers in the end zone.”
Not to be outdone, I said, “Oh, so football is a religious game!”
When I went to see Jim later, he was sitting up in bed. Not watching TV, but reading a Bible.
“Leon,” he said, “I finally got bothered about God.” He had come to faith in Christ. And everyone in the hospital knew it. He shared his decision with a nurse, read the Gideon Bible, and tried to convert his physical therapist. No doubt about it. He had become wild about his God.
Three months later, the Lord took him home.
I miss him. We’d been friends for more than 10 years. Jim’s words haunt me – Do you think other people are bothered about God as you are?
I found myself answering out loud: “No. Jim, unfortunately, they’re not.”
But suppose 78,000 Christians started shouting about a “spiritual touchdown” the ‘Lord had done in their lives. If we did, maybe others, like Jim, would see something in our lives to make them want to get wildly bothered about God.
Rejoicing in Darkness – Streams in the Desert – February 6
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him (Psalms 66:6).
It is a striking assertion, “through the floods” (the place where we might have expected nothing but trembling and terror, anguish and dismay) “there,” says the Psalmist, “did we rejoice in him!”
How many there are who can endorse this as their experience: that “there,” in their very seasons of distress and sadness, they have been enabled, as they never did before, to triumph and rejoice.
How near their God in covenant is brought! How brightly shine His promises! In the day of our prosperity we cannot see the brilliancy of these. Like the sun at noon, hiding out the stars from sight, they are indiscernible; but when night overtakes, the deep, dark night of sorrow, out come these clustering stars–blessed constellations of Bible hope and promise of consolation.
Like Jacob at Jabbok, it is when our earthly sun goes down that the Divine Angel comes forth, and we wrestle with Him and prevail. It was at night, “in the evening,” Aaron lit the sanctuary lamps. It is in the night of trouble the brightest lamps of the believer are often kindled.
It was in his loneliness and exile John had the glorious vision of his Redeemer. There is many a Patmos still in the world, whose brightest remembrances are those of God’s presence and upholding grace and love in solitude and sadness.
How many pilgrims, still passing through these Red Seas and Jordans of earthly affliction, will be enabled in the retrospect of eternity to say–full of the memories of God’s great goodness–“We went through the flood on foot, there–there, in these dark experiences, with the surging waves on every side, deep calling to deep, Jordan, as when Israel crossed it, in ‘the time of the overflowing’ (flood), yet, ‘there did we rejoice in Him!'”
“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the door of trouble for a door of hope: and she shall sing THERE” (Hosea 2:15).