Holiness of God – Isaiah 1:16-17

Wash And Make Yourself Clean

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

Washed White

During times of thanksgiving and remembering the birth of our Savior, we must not forget why He came – we have need to be cleansed from our sins.  God has washed our sins in the lifeblood of His Son, whom He sent two thousand years ago, to cleanse us of unrighteousness and place upon our shoulders His positional righteousness in place of our sins.  The Great Exchange permits us to approach God in His throne room as children and heirs to the kingdom. When we give gifts and feast on food without remembering why the Savior was born, we do Him a great injustice, turning the remembrance of the holy day of His birth into a commercialized endeavor to feel good about ourselves.

Stop Sinning

God implores us to stop sinning.  Acknowledgement of wrongdoing without a change of heart is merely being sorry we were caught.  True repentance calls for two actions above and beyond the mere acknowledgement of wrongdoing – a turning away from the behavior that we now claim is abhorrent to us, and a turning towards the One who has redeemed us from our wickedness.

Learn Lawfulness

The Son of God never once sinned.  In everything He did, He honored God the Father and did His will perfectly.  We too are challenged to learn the will and ways of God so that we may learn to do good.  If we don’t know what is good, how can we do it?  The law merely points out that we are sinners.  But it also provides insight into the attitudes of the heart and shows us the expectations of a loving God eager to see us walk in righteousness before Him.

Judge Justly

God has repeatedly stated in His word that we are to seek justice.  We are to ensure that all who come before the courts of law are to be treated with the utmost of respect, and to receive what God would have happen – that justice would occur.  Justice is meted out with mercy and grace where appropriate so that it does not become the blunt object of abject horror that merely seeks the letter of the law and ignores the spirit of the law.

Defend the Distressed

Is justice served when those who are oppressed are ignored?  God greatly desires that the oppressed be helped as well.  Whether being harangued by people or governments, we are to intercede when people are oppressed.  Justice demands that each person be permitted to live their lives without oppression or the threat thereof.  When this is not done, we risk the wrath of the One who will take up the cause of the oppressed and ensure that the ones responsible are brought to justice.  And justice will be done, if not in this life, then at the great white throne seat of judgment.

Help the Helpless

In remembering the Son, we are to remember that He championed the cause of those who had no representation.  The people who were helpless before the law and courts in the day of the prophet Isaiah, as well as our Savior, were widows and orphans.  With no one to help them, they were often ignored – or worse – taken advantage of by ruthless people.  We are to take up their cause, for if we do not, God will take up their cause at our great peril:

49 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

In this season of joy, let us remember the reason for the season, and bow down before the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who rightly deserves all glory, honor, power, dominion, and worship.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What steps am I taking to ensure that justice is being done?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a just judge, and cannot allow evil in Your sight.  Forgive me for my sins, and help me to see what I can do to ensure that justice is being done for the oppressed and the helpless.  I earnestly ask that You intercede in the affairs of my country’s government and instill within the people who have been placed in authority over us a proper sense of justice, that they would honor and glorify Your name as Your representatives in authority of Your people, for everything and everyone in the universe is Yours to do with as You will.  Bring about the change of heart needed in government so that You would be honored in the manner in which they conduct themselves.  Purge us of the evil that has infiltrated and obscured the workings of justice, and shine forth Your perfect light in such a way that those who shroud themselves in darkness would tremble and flee before the perfect light of Truth.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessing of God – Psalm 24:3-6

We Need a Generation That Seeks After God

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Washed White

In order to stand before God, we need to have clean hands and a pure heart.  Only God can give those to us, and only because His One and Only Son delivered to Him who sits on the throne in Heaven His perfect, sinless blood as the atonement for our sin.  And when the blood of Jesus is applied to us, we are washed white as snow.

We have been greatly blessed that Jesus died for us.  Prior to Jesus being born in the flesh, all who were faithful to God waited with ‘bated breath in anticipation for the time when they would be see the fulfillment of their faith and be able to reap the benefit of it.  We have it now, and rejoice in it – hallelujah!

Tactical Trust

It is important to have trust, but even more important where we put that trust.  Many people trust in different things:

  • Money
  • Spouse
  • Government
  • Themselves
  • Familial Ancestry
  • Occupation
  • False gods
  • Lucky charms
  • The creation itself (or things found in it)
  • and the list goes on and on…

We have been blessed to be able to know God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is Him that we place our trust.  Trust in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ is like building a house on sand next to the ocean.  When the waves come, it will erode the sand and wash the house away.  But Christ is the Rock of our Salvation, and any who build on Him builds upon a firm foundation that stands strong like a fortress when the day of trial comes.  Trusting in anyone or anything except God alone is idolatry.

Benevolent Blessing

When we are blessed by God, we receive His full blessing:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

God seeks to bless us, and desires for us to have His full blessing.  Just as good fathers seek the welfare of their children, God our Father seeks so much more our benefit, and blesses us.   He also provides for our requests:

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Victorious Vindication

It is only through Jesus Christ that we are vindicated before God.  No work, however mighty, will make us any more acceptable to God.  Because of our sin nature, everything that we touch and do is stained with the wretched reek of sin. It is the blood of Christ that makes us acceptable to God; nothing more, and nothing less.  And when we accept Christ’s victory as our own by accepting Christ into our heart through acknowledgement of our sin and asking God to forgive us by allowing Christ to have complete reign in our lives, we are vindicated in the eyes of God.

It is only when God, through His Holy Spirit, empowers us and guides us to do His work for His purposes that the stain of sin is removed, for it is God Himself who works through us and in us to complete the work.  Then it pleasing to God, because God Himself authored it and brought it to completion.  Since God has done this, all glory belongs to God.  Who then can claim credit for what God has done through us as their own?

Seek the Savior

When we seek the face of our Savior, we humble ourselves before Him.  We must come with clean hands and a pure heart.  So when we seek, we seek with repentance, throwing ourselves on the mercy of a tender-hearted God who is full of grace and whose mercies renew every morning.  And when we seek Him, we will find Him.  God rejoices in and blesses those who seek Him as He desires to be sought.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I seeking God’s face as He desires me to seek Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, let my heart rejoice in my salvation!  May I seek Your face with confidence, knowing that the blood of Christ has washed me clean.  Father, forgive me all of my sins.  Reveal to me anything that may impede me from approaching You, for I greatly desire to be in Your presence.  Father, please forgive our wicked generation of their sins.  I confess the sins of this nation to You, for I sin with them, and am in need of Your forgiveness.  Turn the hearts of our people to You.  Help us to greatly desire to come to You for help.  Remember – act divinely upon the behalf of – all who are in offices of leadership over us.  For when we have Godly leader, the people will follow.  And when we have evil leaders, people will follow as well.  Help us to have Godly men and women over us that we may rejoice in the direction that they lead us.  Help me to seek Your face every day, and sit at the feet of Jesus through prayer and Your Word.  Tune my heart to Yours, that my desires would be for what You desire.  And bless me now, Father, with all that I need to accomplish Your Gods as I completely submit to Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Psalm 51:17

Worship God in Truth and in Spirit

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

Spiritually Spent

The attitude of our heart is very important in Worship.  Worship is not only about praise, but also about humility in brokenness.  When we go to worship God, we need to do so in truth and in spirit.  Worship originates from our desire to commune with God on His terms.  David shows us that we should come to God with a spirit of contrition when approaching Him after we have sinned.

When our hearts are not right, our worship isn’t right either.  Even when we overcome great odds, and we are at a spiritual peak, we need to be careful that we approach God with humility and reverence.  But David was in a spiritually dark place.  He had molested Bathsheba; he tried to get Uriah, her husband, to have relations with her, so that her pregnancy with David’s son would be covered up; and when Godly Uriah did not follow David’s instructions, David had him murdered at the hands of his enemy.  Yet David was a man after God’s own heart.  He always came back to God.

Hygienic Hands

In Psalm 24, David notes that clean hands are required to come before God.  His hands were covered in the blood of murder and molestation.  David realized that he wouldn’t be able to worship God correctly until he had been cleansed of his unrighteousness.  In our modern society, grace appears to be emphasized over holiness, rather than in balance with it.  Perhaps if more time was spent policing our behavior than leaning on God’s grace when we mess up, we might have a better handle on the holiness of God.  And while God is merciful and graceful, we are told that we shouldn’t sin to bring more grace to bear upon us.

Healthy Heart

David also noted that we need a pure heart.  When we humble our hearts toward God, He will lift us up.  He will restore the joy of our salvation.  He will tenderly bring us back into right relationship with Himself.  And He will draw close to us.  It is then that we can properly worship God in Truth and in Spirit.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  When I come before the Lord to worship, am I coming with clean hands and a pure and humble heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me of my sins.  It is in brokenness of spirit that I come before You.  You are Holy, Holy, Holy, and cannot stand sin and unrighteousness.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me, that I will shun evil and love Your commands.  Help me to overcome my sin nature that I may greatly desire righteousness and truth.  I fail all the time, Lord God, but You are faithful to forgive and seek to restore me.  Help me to be more mindful of my actions, thoughts, and speech, that I would live in the positional righteousness that You have provided for me.  Show me my sin, for it blinds me to it.  Help me to overcome it, for I am more than a conqueror in Christ.  This I ask in the precious name and blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Deuteronomy 6:5

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Worship comes from the heart.  The Bible says in Matthew 15:18-19,

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

God said,

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Our biggest issue is that we have a heart problem.  When our hearts become hardened by sin, we turn away from what is right.  Jesus said that we are to worship in Spirit and truth.  But when our hearts are hardened, we cannot do that.  When we are saved, God takes care of this issue:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

It is up to us to make sure that we don’t harden our hearts after we have been given this precious gift.  But even if we do, God is faithful to forgive us when we come to Him in repentance.  When we come in repentance, we can ask that God give us clean hands and a pure heart.  When we cry out for a pure heart, we should also ask for a spirit that is wholly dedicated towards God.  With clean hands, a pure heart, and a right Spirit, we can confidently approach God in worship.

Worship Him today as you were intended to.  Let nothing come between you and God.  And God will richly reward you with Himself.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, and cannot be in the presence of evil.  Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned against You and You alone.  Give me clean hands and a pure heart that I may worship You in truth and Spirit.  Wash me clean with the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to turn from sin and turn towards You.  Prepare my heart as You did when I first came to know You.  Soften it from the hardness of sin, and may my entire being rejoice in Your presence.  Strengthen me this day, and help me to resist that which so easily ensnares me.  Help me to offer up my life as a living sacrifice to You so that it will bless You.  May all praise, glory, honor, strength, and dominion be Yours forever and ever.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Holiness of God – 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

God takes things very seriously. When Moses struck the rock twice to bring forth water after God had told him to speak to the rock, it cost him a blessing – going into the Promised Land. But God still held Moses in high regard – Moses appeared with Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Do we take the things of God as seriously as He does?  Notice the observation by Paul that some of the believers were weak and sick and had fallen asleep (their bodies died) because they were taking communion without discerning the body of Christ.  If you believe this to be the case for you, read James 5:14-16 and be obedient to the Word of God to resolve the issue.

God calls Himself Holy in His Word time and time again.  Here are three instances:

The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (carm.org) defines Holiness as:

Holiness is a quality of perfection, sinlessness, and inability to sin that is possessed by God alone. As Christians, we are called to be holy (1 Pet. 1:16). But this does not refer to our nature. Instead, it is a command of our practice and thought. We are to be holy in obedience (1 Pet. 1:15). God has made us holy through His Son Jesus (Eph. 1:4, 1 Pet. 2:9).

Holiness is being set apart FROM sin, and set apart TO God.  So, let us take some time today to set ourselves apart to God.  When we do that, we will be setting ourselves apart from sin.  Let us take some time before we take communion to discern whether we are in the faith.  Cry out to God to show you any sin in your life; acknowledge what He shows you (if anything) and repent.  Then, with clean hands and a pure heart, we can confidently take communion in joyful celebration!

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are Most Holy.  We fail to even begin to recognize how Holy You are.  You have told us in Your word that if we saw Your face, we would perish.  Help us to grasp the extent of Your Holiness, so that we can rightly discern ourselves as the Body of Christ.  Prepare our hearts for holy communion.  Forgive us our sins.  Cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Instill within us such a sense of Your presence that we are better able to humble our hearts before You.  You take this so very seriously; please help us to do the same.  Please do not discipline us in Your anger, but renew your mercy, for we are in desperate need of it.  Thank You, Lord God, for Your faithfulness in all things.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?