God, Make Me Holy
Thankfully, we live in an era where God, in his grace and mercy, has made a way that through Jesus we can approach his throne with confidence and boldness. Jesus is our High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us. As our priestly representative, he bore in his body the brunt of God’s holy wrath for our sin and our perpetual un-holiness. And by his sacrifice, we can stand before God and not be consumed. By his blood, we are made holy.
Enduring Truth // Leviticus 10:1-3
Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” Aaron remained silent.
I imagine if we had been front row witnesses to this terrifying scene, we would have done as Aaron did: Nothing! He couldn’t speak. All he could do was stand there in stunned silence, trying to comprehend what had just happened to his sons. Imagine in the twinkling of an eye seeing your loved ones incinerated by the holiness of God. Imagine trying to come to terms with a loving God who had just revealed his holiness in the most dreadful way imaginable; who had just demonstrated in reality what he had been warning his people about verbally: not to take his holiness lightly.
As I read this story I realize how much I long to behold the glory of the Lord—but only on my terms. However, this sobering story makes me wonder if could I really ever gaze upon God’s holiness and not experience the Nadab and Abihu effect. I seriously doubt it. This cautionary tale is an unforgettable and sad reminder that God is holy and demands holiness from his people—especially from those who minster before him in particular as representatives of his presence to his people.
Not only is it a sad reminder, it is a unforgettable reminder: We must not take God lightly or treat the holy as common. To anyone who saw what happened to these two priests, this would be an object lesson they would never forget. When God chooses to make a point, he truly makes a point!
Thankfully, we live in an era where God, in his grace and mercy, has made a way that through Jesus we can approach his throne with confidence and boldness. (Hebrews 4:16) Jesus is our High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us. As our priestly representative, he bore in his own body the brunt of God’s holy wrath for our sin and our perpetual un-holiness. And by his sacrifice, we can stand before God and not be consumed. By his blood, we are saved. By his stripes, we are healed.
God help us, short of the Nadab and Abihu experience, to never forget the undeserved privilege of knowing Jesus and inexpressible honor of being the receiving end of his sacrifice when he was made our sin offering. God made a point in Jesus’ death, and what an unforgettable point it was!
Now even though through Christ’s substitutionary death we are invited to come boldly into God’s holy presence, let us temper our confidence before God’s throne with humble gratitude that we are standing in a place that in all reality should seal our death sentence to receive grace instead of fire. We don’t deserve to be there; we deserve the punishment of Nadab and Abihu. Yet through Jesus, we are declared holy and thereby approach the throne of a holy God as his holy people.
Truthfully, for reasons polar opposite of Aaron’s, all I can do is stand before God in stunned silence—but not in terror and grief, but in thankfulness and gratitude.
Holiness is a very big deal to God. Though he may not deal with our un-holiness the same way he did with Nadab and Abihu, thankfully, it is no less important to him that we walk before him as his holy people. Here is a prayer that I am offering today—you may want to join me in it: “Almighty God, you are holy. That’s what the angels around your throne cry day and night; the citizens of heaven who fall before your throne offer up a continual cry of “holy”. The essence of your being is holiness. But I confess, I don’t come close to comprehending your holiness; I take it for granted; I affirm it in the ‘Christian-ese’ that I have learned to speak. But I really don’t get it. Father, help me to develop a greater appreciation for the truth, “Among those who approach me, I will show myself holy.” I am aware that I tolerate some unholy things in my life—and I want to rid myself of those—but I’m also sure that there are some things that I don’t even realize that are unholy. I suspect that Nadab and Abihu didn’t deliberately violate their calling—most likely they were just too casual in approaching you. I don’t want to be too casual, to treat sin lightly, to take my relationship with you and my calling to stand as a priest before you flippantly. Father, teach me to be holy; destroy in me anything that could destroy me. Purify me and make me holy to the highest degree in my daily, hourly, moment-by-moment walk with you.”
52 Simple Prayers for 2018
If you have received Christ as Savior, you were baptized BY the Holy Spirit into God’s family forever. But since you believed, have you been baptized WITH the Holy Spirit—drenched, saturated, overflowing? Have you received that promise of the Father? If not, in whose power are you trying to live the Christian life? Ask for the gift. Wait for the baptism. And by any means necessary, receive the drenching of the Holy Spirit.
A Simple Prayer for Spirit-Drenching:
God, drench me with the Holy Spirit. Fill me to overflowing with your love. Saturate me with your presence. Cleanse me with your fire. Enable me with your power. Equip me with your gifts. Transform me into what you want me to be. Let my life continually spread the frangrace of you wherever I go. For your glory alone, I ask in faith and with gratitude in advance for the promise of drenching in the Holy Spirit.
Lean Into The Great Rescuer
Each of us has an area where we do what we shouldn’t and don’t do what we should, and like the Apostle Paul, we cry out in exasperation, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” That’s the question, isn’t it: who will rescue me since I don’t have much of a track record of self-rescue? The answer, Paul discovered, was the Great Rescuer: “Thanks be to God—it is through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Enduring Truth // Romans 7:15,19,24
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do… For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice… O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Huh? Did you catch that? Paul had a convoluted way of saying something pretty straightforward, which was simply this: “I do what I shouldn’t and I don’t do what I should—man, am I in trouble!”
Can you relate to Paul? I sure can. He was in a wrestling match with sin, and sin was whupping up on him. It was frustrating because Paul knew what he shouldn’t be doing—yet he was drawn to sin like a mouse to a cheese-laden trap.
Let me ask you this: Where are you most vulnerable to temptation? What represents your cheese-laden mousetrap? Maybe it’s a whole container of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey®—perhaps you are an overeater. Maybe you are a sucker for anything that says, “Red Tag Sale”—perhaps you are an overspender. Maybe it’s an adult site on the Internet—perhaps you’ve got a compulsion for porn. Perhaps it’s alcohol or drugs or gambling or gossiping or griping.
Each of us has an area where we end up doing what we shouldn’t and don’t do what we should, and we throw up our hands and cry out in desperation, “What a sicko I am! Who will rescue me from the Chunky Monkey®?” That is the question: who will rescue me since I don’t have a track record of self-rescue?
Jesus will! That’s what Paul said in Romans 7:25, “Thanks be to God—it’s through Jesus Christ our Lord!” When Jesus died, he broke the power of sin, so it no longer has a hold on us. Through the power of the resurrection, Paul says in I Corinthians 10:13 that God has provided a way out from under every temptation:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Did you catch that? Your battle with temptation is winnable. The last part of the verse says, “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out.”
That’s good news. There’s always an escape route—always. When you’re tempted, God himself will provide a way out; he will make a way. God has provided a door—but I must look for it and walk through it!
What are those escape routes?
One way of escape is to immerse yourself in Scripture. Psalm 119:9 & 11 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
That’s how Jesus battled temptation in the wilderness. Every time the tempter came at him with something that would tear him away from his Father, Jesus came back at Satan with the truth of scripture. There is no more potent weapon against temptation in your life than in reading systematically, meditating daily, and memorizing strategically God’s Word.
Another escape route from temptation is to become accountable to another believer, especially for your particular weakness. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We need to bring our temptation into the light of accountability to other people—as difficult as that may be.
Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” You would do yourself a huge favor by finding someone with whom you can be accountable for your weakness.
And yet another way out is to ask God to deliver you daily from the tempter. Jesus taught us to pray a daily prayer that acknowledges both our weakness and our need for divine power in this area: “Deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13) As simple as that sounds, the amazing thing is, God hears those prayers. And he provides a way out.
Who will rescue you from this body of death? As Paul says in Romans 7:25,
“Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.”
Memorize Romans 7:24-25, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
God’s Got A Plan
There is nothing random about God; nothing is left up to chance. The God of the Bible is the sovereign Lord of the universe, and is ruling over the details of history to bring about his perfect plan. What may seem like happenstance or coincidence, God has foreordained, caused, or permitted in his perfect will. Coincidence is simply a sovereign act of God for which he chooses to remain unseen, a miracle for which he prefers anonymity. God is in control of all things, and that includes your life.
Enduring Truth // Matthew 2:5,15,18,23
For thus it is written in the prophets…
The birth and life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, was not the product of random events. It was the direct result of prophetic fulfillment. Thus the phrase linking Christ’s life to Old Testament prophecy is repeated four times here in this second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.
Those details of Jesus’ life had been laid out in the mind of God from eternity past and had been written down in the inspired utterances of the prophets of old hundreds of years before Christ was born. The fulfillment of scores of prophecies in minute detail of the birth, life, death, and resurrection Jesus leaves us with a pretty amazing track record of prophetic accuracy…leaving no doubt that those prophecies detailing his second coming will most certainly be fulfilled, too.
There is nothing random about God; nothing is left up to chance. The God of the Bible is the sovereign Lord of the universe, and is ruling over the details of history to bring about his perfect plan. What may seem like happenstance or coincidence, God has foreordained, caused, or permitted in his perfect will. Coincidence is simply a sovereign act of God for which he chooses to remain unseen, a miracle for which he prefers anonymity.
God is in control of all things, and that includes your life. David wrote in Psalm 139:16,
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
God’s Word invites you to live with amazing confidence today, knowing that he is in control of all things, including even the smallest details of your life. Therefore you can say, “all things will work together for my good and his glory.”
Offer this prayer of confidence to God: Lord, I will live confidently and expectantly this day, and this year, knowing that my life is a part of your greater plan. Take over my life completely, and may every detail of my existence serve your purposes perfectly and bring great glory to your name.”
52 Simple Prayers for 2018
Do you ever feel guilty about the brevity of your praying? Do you feel like you’re short-changing God by shooting up “quickie prayers.” Let me relieve your guilt: Whether they are long or short, God loves heartfelt prayers. A “quickie prayer” is still a prayer, so just pray it, and let God be God.
A Simple Prayer for Immediate Help:
God, at this very moment I am in deep trouble. I am facing challenges that will quickly overcome me without your immediate intervention. So I offer up a quick prayer for your help. I don’t know what to do, but you do. So I call upon you in my distress. And in advance, I thank you for your ASAP help.