The heavenly Father has a grand plan for the life of every person, and it can be summed up with the word sanctification. If you have never been certain of the term’s meaning, you are not alone—many people are unclear about its definition and application. However, believers should understand it because the word applies to them.
In its verb form—sanctify—the term means “to make holy” or “to separate.” So when something is sanctified, it is separated from its former common usage and is dedicated for sacred purposes. The Old Testament mentions a number of things that the Lord sanctified: He made the seventh day holy, set aside the Levite tribe as priests, and even consecrated places like the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle (Gen. 2:3; Num. 3).
The heavenly Father still sanctifies people today. Before a person places faith in Jesus Christ, he or she is spiritually dead and, in fact, an enemy of God (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:10). But the moment the choice is made to trust in Jesus Christ, sins are wiped away, and the individual is adopted into God’s family—set apart as a child of God, with a sacred purpose. This means believers aren’t here to chase after personal gain but are to serve the Lord and bring Him honor and glory.
As members of God’s family who are called upon to reflect His glory, believers are referred to as “saints.” We’re given this moniker—which shares its root with sanctification—not because we live sinless lives, but because we live a life consistent with the One we represent.
Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 1-3
Read: Exodus 4:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 120–122; 1 Corinthians 9
Who gave human beings their mouths? . . . Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak. Exodus 4:11–12
My nerves fluttering, I waited for the phone to ring and the radio interview to start. I wondered what questions the host would ask and how I would respond. “Lord, I’m much better on paper,” I prayed. “But I suppose it’s the same as Moses—I need to trust that you will give me the words to speak.”
Of course I’m not comparing myself with Moses, the leader of God’s people who helped them escape slavery in Egypt to life in the Promised Land. A reluctant leader, Moses needed the Lord to reassure him that the Israelites would listen to him. The Lord revealed several signs to him, such as turning his shepherd’s staff into a snake (Ex. 4:3), but Moses hesitated to accept the mantle of leadership, saying he was slow of speech (v. 10). So God reminded him that He is the Lord and that He would help him speak. He would “be with his mouth” (as the original language translates, according to biblical scholars).
May my words today build up someone for Your glory.
We know that since the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God’s Spirit lives within His children and that however inadequate we may feel, He will enable us to carry out the assignments He gives to us. The Lord will “be with our mouths.”
Lord Jesus, You dwell with me. May my words today build up someone for Your glory.
As God’s people we are His mouthpiece to spread His good news.
“‘Which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?’” (Matthew 6:27).
You can worry yourself to death, but not to life.
Dr. Charles Mayo of the renowned Mayo Clinic wrote, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry.” We live in a day when people worry about how long they will live. That’s a harmful practice because you can worry yourself to death, but not to life.
In Matthew 6:27 Jesus said that worry cannot “add a single cubit” to a person’s life span. A cubit was the distance from the elbow to the tips of the fingers—about eighteen inches. He was saying, “Which of you by worrying can lengthen your life?” Exercise and good health can help you function better while you’re living your span, but you can’t worry yourself into a longer life.
The quest for living longer is not new. In the early sixteenth century, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set out to find the fountain of youth, a spring whose waters had the power to restore youth. Although no such fountain exists, there is something far better: a fountain of life. Proverbs 14:27 says, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.” By fearing the Lord you will experience life to the fullest and not worry. Proverbs 9:10-11 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.” I believe the Lord has sovereignly determined each person’s life span—He has designed how long you will live. And He gives you the gift of life because He wants you to enjoy it to the fullest by fearing and obeying Him.
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise the Lord that you may enjoy life fully by fearing Him.
For Further Study
According to John 10:10, why did Jesus come?
I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12
Some things are best communicated face to face. A proposal for marriage, a job interview, a mentor relationship, family time, explaining an issue, or showing appreciation all thrive in a one-on-one relational environment. Fear tends to force us away from direct engagement with people. We sometimes avoid human contact because of overwhelming insecurity, fear of rejection, or busyness. The season of face time with family evaporates unwittingly. They are off with friends, attending college, and then married. Just as the song says, “The cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon. Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon. When you coming home, Dad? I don’t know when, but we’ll get together soon. You know we’ll have a good time then.”
Calendar time daily, weekly, monthly and yearly with those you love. Invest time and money in face time with your son, your daughter, your spouse, your parents, and your friends. Face time is when you see the fear in their eyes and extend the encouragement to continue. Face time allows your smile to shine a ray of hope across a discouraged heart. Face time is your opportunity to discuss those hard issues and to be sure the sincerity of your love is not missed. So, show up and love them in person. Most important, you need face time with your heavenly Father.
By faith, the eyes of our soul need to gaze at God. If we chronically miss coming alongside Christ, we burn out in our own strength. We desperately need face time, by faith, with Jesus. We need His affirmation and love; we need His instruction and correction; we need His warm embrace, face to face; we need His discernment and wisdom. He can give us all of these, at any time. Our Savior is spontaneous for our sake. Christ is on call for His children, but we still need structured time with Him. It is imperative that we instill in our lives the discipline of daily face time in prayer and engrafting God’s Word into our minds and hearts. Regular face time with God in Scripture is what transforms our thinking with truth and keeps us from being changed by the lies of lazy living.
And the city was pure gold, like clear glass. . . . And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:18, 21
Historically, gold has been the most valuable store of wealth and the most malleable. It can be hammered so thin that it actually becomes transparent. Gold reflects yellow and red light, allowing green and blue light to pass through its transparency.
Recommended Reading: Revelation 21:18-23
Perhaps that is a clue to why the New Jerusalem will be made of gold “like clear glass.” Since the glory of God will provide the light for the city, and the Lamb of God will be its light (Revelation 21:23), perhaps the transparency of the golden city is what allows the light of God to shine throughout its gigantic dimensions—a cube 1,400 miles on each side. It is not just the transparency of gold that accounts for it being the substance of the city but its worth. The image of the city as a golden city is another way of saying it is the most valuable place on earth.
It is a shame that so many on earth pursue wealth that will pass away, when an eternal city of gold is theirs for the believing. Don’t confuse temporal with eternal value.
In the streets of that new Jerusalem above, none shall ever complain that others have too much, or that they themselves have too little.
Thomas Brooks, The Crown and the Glory of Christianity
Read-Thru-the-Bible: Ezekiel 13 – 17
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity….– Psalm 94:12-13
According to Exodus 13:17, When Pharaoh let the people go, God led them not by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer (emphasis added). There was a shorter route, but God took the Israelites the long, hard way on purpose because they were not ready for the battles they would face. He continued to work with them during forty years of wandering, waiting for them to get to the point where they could praise Him in their adversity.
God will continue dealing with us until we learn how to stay peaceful in the storm. Nothing shows our spiritual maturity more than staying calm when our circumstances are not calm. Stability is a sign of maturity, and the more mature we are, the more God can trust us with His power and blessings.
Power Thought: I have the power of God to remain calm in adversity.
From the book the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.
“Jesus Christ, the Son of God–isn’t one to say ‘yes’ when he means ‘no’. He always does exactly what He says. He carries out and fulfills all of God’s promises, no matter how many of them there are and we have told everyone how faithful He is giving glory to His name” (2 Corinthians 1:19,20).
From Genesis to Revelation the Word of God contains thousands of promises which we as believers in Christ can claim. We are reminded in Matthew 28:18 that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him, and in Colossians 2:2,3 that God’s great secret plan now at last made known is Christ Himself; that in Him lie hidden all the mighty untapped treasures of wisdom and knowledge, “For in Christ there is all of God in a human body; so you have everything when you have Christ, and you are filled with God through your union with Christ” (Colossians 2:9,10).
So make a list of all the promises of God that apply to you, and claim those promises in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. For “He always does exactly what He says. He carries out and fulfills all of God’s promises.” Begin to live supernaturally by drawing upon the supernatural resources of God, claiming His promises by faith.
Bible Reading: II Corinthians 1:15-19
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I refuse to live the typical Christian existence. I want my life to be characterized by the supernatural, so by faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I will claim those promises which will enable me to live supernaturally as a testimony that I serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Read: Jeremiah 36:1-32
So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them. Jeremiah 36:32
Judgment came against Jehoiakim not simply because he acted foolishly in burning the Scriptures but because of the condition of heart which that action revealed. This is given to us in one flaming sentence in Verse 24: Yet neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words, was afraid, nor did they rend their garments. These men had lost the fear of God. And when a nation or a people or an individual loses the fear of God, they are on their way to destruction. For the fear of God is based upon the sovereign power which he exercises in life. These men were shown to be stupid and senseless men who had lost their sense of reality entirely, because they had lost the fear of God.
There is one great fact everywhere revealed — in Scripture, in history, and even in nature — which has been called the law of retribution. That is, there is an inevitable consequence for doing wrong, and there is no way to escape it. Even an atheist, who does not believe in God at all, must admit that when he examines the laws of nature he is faced with the conclusion that you either obey the laws of nature and live, or disobey them and die. And man is helpless to change that. We are in the grip of forces greater than we are, and everything on every side testifies to this. That is why we learn respect for the laws of electricity. You do not fool around with 10,000 volts of electrical potential, thinking you are going to make up the laws as you go along. You had better find out what they are first, for you disobey them to your peril and death.
Read: Luke 22:39-46
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. (v. 39)
Mountains are frequently mentioned in Scripture. Often they are holy places. Mount Sinai. Mount Hermon. Mount Tabor. Mount Zion. The Sermon on the Mount. The Mount of Transfiguration. And the Mount of Olives. Consisting of three connected summits, the Mount of Olives overlooks Jerusalem from the east. For millennia it has had olive groves.
Luke doesn’t explicitly mention it, but both Mark and Matthew report that while on the Mount of Olives Jesus went to a place called Gethsemane—a small field with a grove of olive trees (Gethsemane in Hebrew means olive oil vat). John in his Gospel (18:1) calls it a garden and from that reference this special place has heretofore been called the Garden of Gethsemane.
Luke tells us that Jesus “came out and went, as was his custom,” so he must have known this mountain quite well, spending considerable time in its olive groves. Judas certainly knew where to find Jesus when he came to betray him. So it is not surprising that in seeking a place to pray—an agonizing prayer of blood, sweat, and tears—Jesus went to the olive grove on this mountain. Jesus chose, on his last night, to pray in the company of trees.
O Lord, giver and lover of trees, hear our prayers, however painful or faltering or awkward they may be. In your mercy, hear us in our time of need.
Author: Steven Bouma-Prediger
“And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ–everything in heaven and on earth.”—Ephesians 1:10
I was carrying my five-year-old granddaughter Lucy some time ago. We were upstairs in our house, and I tucked her under my arm, walking in an exaggerated way that shook her up and down. She loves that. I always give her a choice,
“Do you want to go down the stairs the regular way, or the fun way?” Of course she always picks the fun way. At the bottom of the stairs I set her down, and she looked up at me. “Papa,” she said, “will there be stairs in heaven?”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t know. Why do you ask?”
“Because,” she replied, “I want you to carry me down the steps of heaven the fun way.” Will I be carrying Lucy up and down heavenly stairs someday? Will she be carrying me? I don’t know. But I do know we’ll be having fun together, as Lucy grows up and places her faith in Jesus Christ, and we both look forward to heaven. God’s ultimate plan is to bring heaven and earth together. He will not abandon His creation; He will restore it.
In Acts 3:19–21 (NIV), in the midst of an impromptu evangelistic sermon in the temple courtyard, Peter declared: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”
He will restore the lives of His sons and daughters.
He will restore our bodies. He will restore our very planet. He will bring all things in heaven and earth together under one head, even Christ, according to Ephesians 1:10.
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?” (Isaiah 40:28a)
Tired and sleepy! Has your mom ever described you that way, or warned you that you will be tired and sleepy if you do not get your nap for the day? Many people are tired and sleepy all the time because they do not sleep enough! Some people seem to need less sleep than others. But everybody – firefighters, nurses, teachers, football players, preachers, moms, dads, kids, and even the President – has to get at least some sleep! No matter where people live – in America, Mexico, the UK, Australia, China – everybody sleeps. Why? Because God made us that way.
Do you think God ever gets tired and needs to sleep?
Well, let’s think about it. When people do a lot of things like working outside or shopping all day, they get tired and fall asleep right away at night. God does do a lot of work every day. So it might make sense to us to think of Him to getting tired and needing to sleep. But there really is only one way to find out whether or not God has to sleep, and that is to see what the Bible says about it. And guess what? The Bible does say something about it. Let’s take a close look at today’s verse:
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not [in other words, He doesn’t get tired], neither is weary?” (Isaiah 40:28a)
The next verse says:
“He giveth power to the faint [those who get weary]; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”
So, the Bible says God does not get tired. That’s right. God never sleeps. And on top of that, He gives strength to the weary! That is amazing. How does He do that? He is God; and, because He is God, He is very powerful. In fact, He is the Source of all strength.
Read JOHN 3:1–8
Seventeenth-century Puritan pastor John Owen noted that the Bible teaches with regard to the Holy Spirit “that he will come unto us, that he will be our comforter, that he will teach us, lead us, guide us; that he spoke of old in and by the prophets, that they were moved by him, acted by him; [and] that he ‘searcheth the deep things of God.’” Therefore, “we must acknowledge the Holy Ghost to be a substance, a person, God; yet distinct from the Father and the Son.”
Spiritual rebirth is a work of the Holy Spirit, made possible by the Son, and planned and presided over by the Father. The entire Trinity is integrally involved in the work of salvation. We’ll conclude our study with five days to focus on this topic, beginning with today’s reading in John 3 and then moving beyond the Gospels to explore more fully the Trinity’s roles in redemption.
Jesus spoke to Nicodemus of the necessity of being “born again” or “born from above” or “born of the Spirit” (vv. 3, 5). His explanation of what this means involved the entire Trinity. Spiritual rebirth is a requirement for entering the Father’s kingdom. It is a work of the Holy Spirit (vv. 5–8). And the Son knows how it all works because He accomplished it via His death and resurrection.
The phrase “born of water and the Spirit” likely indicates a natural birth (water) then a supernatural birth (Spirit). In verse 6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh” (natural) but “the Spirit gives birth to Spirit” (supernatural). He, as only God can, changes death (where natural birth inevitably leads) into life. The wind metaphor in verse 8, in addition to highlighting God’s glorious sovereignty and mystery, reminds us of His creation and life-giving breath (see Gen. 2:7).
APPLY THE WORD
The Gospel of John intentionally echoes and builds on the opening chapters of the book of Genesis to reveal more of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When you have time for additional Bible study, read the first three chapters of Genesis and the first three chapters of John, and make notes about themes you see repeated.
Have you ever met someone who you are sure you’ve met before, but you can’t remember when or where? Then all of a sudden, it comes to you and you say, “I know you!” You recognize the person. You remember where you met. That’s a little bit like it is with God. You go along living your life day after day, then something happens that seems familiar. All at once you know. This is God at work. God has come to help.
What do you know about God? Where have you learned what you know? God’s Word is the best place to learn about God. When we know God’s Word, we get to know him too. We learn he is a good, kind, loving God who expects certain things from us. His Word also builds our faith and strength in him. It’s not hard to trust and believe in him when we know him. So get acquainted with God in the pages of his Book today.
Dear Lord, I want to know more about you. I want to recognize you when you speak to me. I want my faith in you to grow stronger. I want to love you more. Amen.
TO GENIA GOELZ, who had asked Lewis for a prayer in her struggle to believe: Lewis’s prayer for a daily increase in obedience and faith.
18 March 1952
Don’t bother at all about that question of a person being ‘made a Christian’ by baptism. It is only the usual trouble about words being used in more than one sense. Thus we might say a man ‘became a soldier’ the moment that he joined the army. But his instructors might say six months later ‘I think we have made a soldier of him’. Both usages are quite definable, only one wants to know which is being used in a given sentence. The Bible itself gives us one short prayer which is suitable for all who are struggling with the beliefs and doctrines. It is: ‘Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief.’6 Would something of this sort be any good?: Almighty God, who art the Father of lights and who has promised by thy dear Son that all who do thy will shall know thy doctrine: [John 7:17] give me grace so to live that by daily obedience I daily increase in faith and in the understanding of thy Holy Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack
“‘Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?’” (Matthew 6:26).
If God provides for the birds, how much more will He provide for you.
I can imagine our Lord standing on a hillside in Galilee, looking down over the beautiful north end of the sea, the breeze rippling across the water, the sun bright in the sky. The people were all gathered at His feet. As He was speaking to them, some birds might have flown across the sky.
Our Lord gives life to every bird of the sky and also sustains each one. He doesn’t say to the birds, “I have given you life; now you figure out how to keep it.” And birds don’t get together and say, “We have to come up with a strategy to keep ourselves alive.” Birds have no self-consciousness, no cognitive processes, no ability to reason. But God has given them an instinct so that they have a divine capacity to find what is necessary to live. God doesn’t just create life—He also sustains it.
In Matthew 6:26 Jesus asked the people, “Are you not worth much more than [the birds]?” He was arguing from the lesser to the greater. No bird was ever created in the image of God or designed to be a joint-heir with Christ throughout eternity. Jesus was saying, “If God sustains the life of a bird (the lesser), don’t you think He will take care of you (the greater)?” God’s provision, of course, is no excuse for man’s laziness. A bird has to work for its food, and you have to work for yours. That’s because God has designed that man should eat bread by the sweat of his face (cf. Gen. 3:19). If you don’t work, you don’t eat (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10). Just as God provides for the bird through its instinct, so God will provide for you through your effort.
Suggestions for Prayer
When you see the birds of the air, remind yourself of the Lord’s teaching, and thank Him for His faithfulness to you.
For Further Study
Read Psalm 104, which tells of God’s care over all His creation.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.
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Sanctification is the process God uses to conform believers to the image of His Son. The writers of Scripture used word pictures that speak of the Father’s shaping work in the life of His saints. Isaiah, for example, compared the Lord to an artist making pottery: “We are the clay and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand” (Isa. 64:8). These are some of the tools He utilizes to mold and perfect His creations:
The Bible. The psalmist described God’s Word as “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). The Holy Spirit illuminates what we read so that we can come under conviction and grow in our faith.
The Church. As part of Christ’s body, we learn of God’s ways from the pastors and teachers who have been called to minister. The Father also calls His children to fellowship together (Heb. 10:25), in part so He can use them in each other’s sanctification process. Not only that, but there are Christians at church who will encourage their brothers and sisters in times of trouble or hold them accountable when they miss the mark.
Suffering. God freely offers us solace and help during times of difficulty, but He also uses our painful circumstances to shape us. When we submit to Him, we emerge from our struggles looking more Christlike than ever before.
From the moment a person places trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s transforming work of sanctification will be ongoing throughout his or her life. As children of the King, we should long to glorify our Father by faithfully reflecting Him. To do that, we must yield to His tools of sanctification.
Bible in One Year: Lamentations 3-5
Read: 1 Peter 2:9–12 | Bible in a Year: Psalm 119:89–176; 1 Corinthians 8
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. 1 Peter 2:9
While delivering a well-publicized speech, a respected leader and statesman got the attention of his nation by declaring that most of his country’s honorable Members of Parliament (MPs) were quite dishonorable. Citing lifestyles of corruption, pompous attitudes, unsavory language, and other vices, he rebuked the MPs and urged them to reform. As expected, his comments didn’t go well with them and they dispatched counter-criticisms his way.
We may not be public officials in positions of leadership, but we who follow Christ are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). As such, our Lord calls us to lifestyles that honor Him.
We honor God’s name when we call Him our Father and live like His children.
The disciple Peter had some practical advice on how to do this. He urged us to “abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (v. 11). Although he didn’t use the word honorable, he was calling us to behavior worthy of Christ.
As the apostle Paul phrased it in his letter to the Philippians, “Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). Indeed, these are the characteristics of behavior that honor our Lord.
Lord, when we are honest with You, we understand how often we fall far short of honorable behavior. We know how much we need You. By Your Spirit, help us replace any selfish thoughts, words, and actions with things that please You and draw others to You.
We honor God’s name when we call Him our Father and live like His children.
The apostle Peter wrote this letter to encourage Jewish and Gentile Christians in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) who were going through severe trials and suffering because of their faith in Jesus. Peter says that for the Christian, trials and suffering are inevitable and to be expected (1 Peter 4:12), although often unreasonable, unjust, and inexplicable (2:19–20). But these difficulties can be valuable to the believer and therefore glorifying to God (1:6–7). Although they are universal, they are certainly temporal (5:9–10). Peter calls us to rejoice in our trials because we participate not only in Christ’s suffering but also in His glory (1:7; 4:13).
Noah Webster was a crusading editor, essayist, and orator well-acquainted with the soapboxes of the early 1800s. He was deeply troubled at the state of language in America and certain that the current system of instruction would eventually arrest the spread of literacy. Rules for spelling, punctuation, and pronunciation—if at all present in the classroom—were incongruous with everyday spoken language. Many words were spelled in different ways, utilized with different meanings, and pronounced with great disparity—all of which were considered acceptable. “[W]hile this is the case,” Webster warned, “every person will claim a right to pronounce most agreeably to his own fancy, and the language will be exposed to perpetual fluctuation.”(1)
In this mess of word and meaning, Noah Webster set out to write an expanded and comprehensive dictionary of the English language, hoping to standardize American speech, spelling, and comprehension. In order to document the etymology of each word, he learned twenty-six languages and studied in various countries. His dictionary contained seventy thousand words, twelve thousand of which had never appeared in any earlier published dictionary. The project took twenty-six years to complete.
Though he never lived to see even a fraction of the impact, Webster’s influence on the study and reform of language in America was profound. For a nation in want of grammatical consistency, Webster illumined the great substance of words and the import of preserving their meaning and heritage. It is perhaps a light we should more often fear to lose; the meaning of words can be darkened in obscurity even to the point of being lost, though still uttered.
In his work, Simply Christian, N.T. Wright traces the etymology of the name of God. He mentions a confusion not unlike the muddle that troubled Webster, and he calls for a return to understanding the words oft on our lips. Wright explains, “[A]ncient Israelite scruples, medieval mistranslation, and fuzzy eighteenth century thinking have combined to make it hard for us today to recapture the vital sense of what a first-century Jew would understand when thinking of YHWH, what an early Christian would be saying when speaking of Jesus or ‘the Lord,’ and how we might now properly reappropriate this whole tradition.”(2)
Day and night they never stop saying ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 4:8
The holiness of our heavenly Father cannot be completely comprehended by the human mind. His purity burns so brightly, it lights up the eyes of our faith. The dross of our sinful deeds melts in the presence of His pure character. Just as Moses took cover in the cleft of the rock as God passed by, so we take shelter in the refuge of our Savior Jesus to be able to handle the glory of our great God. His name is above all names, not to be spoken in vain, but evoked in humble adoration.
John describes a 24/7 majestic worship experience. Similar to Isaiah’s famous imaginary of reverent angelic beings (Isaiah 6:1-5) locked onto adoration of God, so each person of the Trinity is praised as absolutely holy and worthy of all glory and honor. The Lord God Almighty who was, and is and is to come is 100% perfection in His pure love and affection! We seek Him alone in worship, none other is worthy of our radical devotion—our worship resonates forever.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
Our heavenly Father’s holiness is not a standard, but the standard of sinless perfection. Though we will never achieve perfection in this life, His Holy Spirit continues to perfect our faith and character to become more like Christ’s. As children of the Holy One we are set apart to be holy as He is holy. However, be careful not to fall into the ‘holier than thou’ attitude trap. Sin is never comfortable in the presence of purity. We are only a channel for the Spirit to convict the hearts of those we love on behalf of Jesus. Thus, we pray for His holiness to shine through us.
Therefore, we pray the prayer of Jesus when we keep holy the name of our heavenly Father. We are friends with Jesus and we partner with the Holy Spirit, but we are submissive children of our Father, the Most High–our great and glorious God. We bow now in individual preparation for the day after our death when we pray with all in glorious acclamation. Can you taste and see His holy aura in your reverent worship of your heavenly Father? In prayer, by faith, esteem His holy name!
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I bow down in the glory of Your holiness. Break my heart for what breaks Yours.
Application: What songs of praise cause me to lift my heart in adoration of God’s holiness?
Related Readings: Isaiah 52:13; Daniel 7:14; Acts 2:33; 1 Peter 1:15-16
And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
A Senate committee in Canada recently considered a bill to provide greater regulation of prostitution in an effort to thwart human trafficking. A young man testified before the committee. He was a male prostitute who worried the bill would infringe on his rights. He told the senators, “I don’t need to be saved, and all my friends who are in the sex work industry don’t need to be saved.” He said his line of work was “not negative. It’s just a way to make a living.”1
Many people today don’t think they need to be saved. They’ve become accustomed to the darkness and are determined to stay there. As someone said, “The biggest challenge in getting people saved is first getting them lost.”
In John 16, Jesus said it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin. As you share the Gospel through life and lip, pray for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to come upon those for whom you’re burdened. Learn to pray: “Lord, open their eyes so they will open their hearts to You.”
We cannot convict men of sin.… But He can. He can make a single word enter the heart like a barbed arrow.
- B. Simpson, in The Names of Jesus
1Tonda MacCharles, “I Don’t Need to Be Saved,” The Star, September 18, 2014, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/09/11
Ezekiel 9 – 12