Thursday, January 10, 2013

Be Holy

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“But just as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all you do; for it is written:
“Be holy, because I am holy.”” 1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV1984

When you read this verse do you instantly pull out your mental check list of do's and don't of what it means to be a good Christian? I think we often approach this verse as if it were a prescription that if we just follow it completely and exactly we will be acceptable and valued.

We are to to be like little children, we imitate Jesus. We see what he does and how he acts in various situations in the Word and we try to duplicate them in our own lives. I don't think holiness is supposed to be a check list, I think it is more caught than taught, it rubs off on us as we spend time with Jesus. As we spend time in the Word and quiet time praying and thinking about the Word and being in God's presence we are transformed.  I can hear you already "I know I should spend more time with God...." then the list of excuses why you don't.  When you are in love with someone finding time to be with them is generally not a problem. You think about them day and night. You can't wait till the next time you can be together. You hang on their every word. You want to find out more about them, what they like and don't like, what they think about various subjects. You want to find out how we are the same and how we differ. Have you ever seen how couples or friends even who have known each other for a very long time know how the other will respond and finish each others sentences. They know what makes each other feel safe and secure and what makes them feel loved. How do you think relationships get that way? It does not happen for people who don't have time for each other. It happens as you spend time together, the same is true of your relationship with the Lord.
Psalm 34:8
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

So rather than get in to a big guilt trip about how you should spend more time with the Lord, lets start with what you do and begin to build upon that. You come here to read these posts, they point you to the Lord, they challenge you, they encourage you. They remind you that we all struggle and I try to share how I work through things on my journey to follow Christ.  (At least that is my hope as I write them.) So perhaps this is one of the ways you are feeding your Spirit. Maybe you mull these thoughts or verses over during the day.

I was talking to a new believer recently and she wanted to know how to read her bible. I told her to read till something jumped out at her and then spend time thinking about that part. Maybe even memorize that verse or verses. On days when you have more time - read more. In this devotional I am using the Bible Gateway verse of the day as my starting place for each post. I read through some of the attached commentaries. I think about other verses that I know that I am reminded of. I think about it and pray about it but mostly I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. I try to take the focus off of my limitations and what I need to do to be good enough and trust that the Lord is in the business of transformation and all he needs is a willing heart.

John 14:26
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

So as far as holiness is concerned. I can take 1000 showers and scrub with the harshest soap and do my very best to live right be righteous, only to discover that my very best is like filthy laundry.
One becomes holy through their association with the Lord. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to teach us, and remind us of the things the Lord has said. God does the transforming - He alone makes us holy. Not our good works, or our good intentions or even our good behavior. 

Luke 12:11-13 (NIV1984)
11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

It is God's desire for us to be holy - and the things that belong to him become holy because they belong to him. To be holy is to be set apart for sacred use. That is what he does with us. He saves us, then he sets us apart for sacred use in His plans and purposes. 

Lets look at the accompanying verses in 1 Peter 1 

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

It say that we should prepare our minds for action. If you were a soldier preparing for battle or a runner training for a big race, or a student preparing for an exam you make choices that show your resolve to reach the goal of being prepared. Your time is not spent on frivolous things but you use your time wisely because you know you only have a limited time to be as prepared as you can to be ready to engage in the actual test, race or battle. In the case of the soldier their preparation may save their life or the lives of others. Athletes and musicians train and practice over and over till a skill becomes part of muscle memory. They work and work till it is perfected and then they practice it over and over till it becomes part of them. When the trial or performance comes there is added adrenaline and nerves but they have trained so they step into the ring and they do what they have trained to do.    

For us as believers we need to know the Lord and His word. We need more than a kindergarden knowledge of God to be able to tackle the problems we face in our world and in our day to day lives. You don't get that by endlessly watching the tv or playing internet games. Often in this journey with the Lord we don't even know what skills we will need. For myself I have tried to take every advantage to learn and practice as many skills as possible. I want to be an able worker for the Lord so I have made choices to spend time with Him. I have made choices to study his word. I have put myself in situations that stretch me that are a bit more than I think I am able to accomplish. Then I trust that the Lord will help me to grow and to be prepared to be used by him. 

In the story of the prodigal son - do you notice that the Father did not go out searching for the son. He watched and waited but as soon as he saw him coming down the road he runs to meet him. He dresses him in the best robes, puts the family ring on his finger and tells the servants to prepare a big feast. It is the same with us - when we make an effort to return to the Lord - he runs to meet us. He wants to help us but he is a gentleman and won't step in where he's not invited. It all starts with a willing heart. A heart that has turned from its own plans and purposes and wants to follow the Lord's plan and design, that person, that willing and hungry heart - the Lord will run to meet. Holiness happens when we decide we want what the Lord wants - that we would be set apart for his plans and purposes. He does the transforming work but we must be willing to follow Him step by step.  

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