Reactions is Pastor Seth’s message for the new year. Jesus is going to move in power in 2019, how will you react?
Joshua Chapter 7
The story is a sad one. Somehow, Achan wasn’t fully prepared to be consecrated. It cost him and his family their fortunes, their standing with God, and their lives. Ironically, their desire to better their life in their own way, conflicted with God’s command to do it His way. It often does.
God’s way was to burn to destruction everything that they had found in Jericho. But the faith of the people of Isreal faltered due, in part, to the sin of stealing that which had been devoted to destruction. Clearly, Achan could see no reason to destroy perfectly good items from Jericho. God on the other hand, calls this “a violation of covenant.” The results? Defeat in battle, the removal of God’s blessing, and the fearful lack of faith.
Consecration is the word that is used here to describe these devoted things; they are God’s. To do with them, in a way that violates God’s purpose for them, is destruction for you and I. We must honor the Lord with what He has laid claim to. How can I ask God to bless my spending if I refuse to obey His commands for my finances? How can I ask God to bless my weekend, if I choose to spend it without regard to the worship of God? How can I ask God to bless my body when I engage in sexuality outside my marriage?
To be consecrated, is to be under obligation to God’s way. The world would tell us that these are not big deals, these little disobediences. Even some in the church would declare God as a God of grace and mercy, and somehow forget what He feels in Joshua 7. Achan found out the hard way.
The Consecrated Soul is a life that invites the blessing of God. It is a living challenge to God’s blessing and it is the kind of life that God loves to bless. Here we are God, consecrating ourselves to Your Purpose, Your Plan, Your Way. We will follow You. Give us victory over our enemies, and confidence in the face of the fight, for we are Your people.
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua
There is a little secret that takes a while to learn. Everyone serves someone. The Rich Oil Barren must serve his estate to preserve the wealth from the greedy clutches of thieves, hangers on, taxes, etc. The poor indigent migrant serves his employer and thus, provides for himself a meager wage. So it is in the spirit realm as well. Those who refuse to consecrate themselves to God are, in fact, making a choice. In so limiting their dedication to God they are limiting their blessing. God cannot bless us beyond our dedication. He has unlimited blessings for you, but your devotion and consecration are the bottleneck.
Joshua cannot make the decision for the people he is leading. He can challenge them to a lifestyle of consecration; he can prod and point, chastise and counsel, but each individual must make his own decision to consecrate themselves. Devotion to the Lord is a choice.
Yet, the leader of Israel is also a leader of his own home. He has made a decision that he will free himself from the bondage to false idols by cleaning his house and exercising his spiritual authority over the home. For Joshua, this no doubt, involved his wife and children, but it also involved the servants and guards in his employ. Joshua’s consecration was a contagion that would spread through the household.
When the Consecrated Soul stands before the invisible forces of darkness and light and declares that this house will serve God alone, he is making a declaration to Heaven and earth. The Consecrated Soul is declaring that God’s blessing is enough for him, that his ways will conform to God’s ways and that there is an exclusivity to the relationships in his home. Have you prayed, even declared over your home and family, the devotion and consecration of all that God has blessed you with?
Today, anoint the doorposts of your home with oil, lay hands upon your children and your children’s children, and stand in the role of your authority in Christ, to declare it…”as for me, and my House…”
“Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” Exodus
Each of us is in possession of something. We hold it in our hand. Often it has become so familiar to us that we don’t notice it. For some of us it has become who we are. It is good for God Himself to ask us what it is that we are in possession of. We have many things which we are holding that the Lord would use. There are motivational giftings (Rom 12.3-8), spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12.7-11), and time, talents and treasure (Mt. 25.14ff) that the consecrated person must first recognize as having been given to him or her for the Kingdoms use.
After recognizing the source of the gift entrusted to us, we must surrender it to the Lord. Here is where so many have faltered. They believe that God’s blessing is for them and their families. There is a temptation to think in terms of being the recipient of the blessing only. But we are God’s workmen. The Consecrated Soul sees these blessings, gifts, talents and treasures as merely passing through our hands on to others. We limit God’s purposes if we become the terminal end of God’s blessing, rather than being yet another link in the pipeline of God’s grace. For the Consecrated, the gifts are for sharing.
There are many sobering verses that warn us regarding our accountability for the treasures in our hands. How we apply them will indeed, be judged (1 Cor. 3.13). But the Consecrated Soul, while aware of this truth, is not at all bothered by the dedication of what is in their hand, for they know that it is their great privilege to be used as a channel of God’s blessing. There is personal blessing to be the first hand witness of God’s miraculous presence, His outstanding healings, His divine provisions, and a hundred other testimonies that the Consecrated Soul sees first hand. This glory is incomparable and remains unknown to those who refuse the Spirit’s invitation to draw nearer to God in consecration.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15
Consecration is an act of surrender. Past, present, and future; all are surrendered into the hands of the Almighty for the consecrated man or woman. It is the recognition that “our life is not our own.” In so saying, we are giving all that lies ahead of us to God and His divine providence, but we are also giving all our past, as well. In this act of consecrationed surrender we are healed from what we once were. We are never required to carry it along, like so much rotten garbage, and we are free to pursue the future.
Each day we begin with praise and worship. This is the “sacrifice of praise.” To be sure, some days it is more of a sacrifice than others, nevertheless, it is the willful act of giving thanks to Him “who holds the key” for our present and future. Scripture prescribes that the praise be continual. Oh, that God would free our minds and loose our tongues to be continually in praise; there is no one more deserving of our praise!
So what does the Consecrated Soul praise God for? We praise Him for His tender way of leading us into a deeper walk; and we praise Him who is perfect for receiving our imperfection; and we praise His Good Purpose, which is our privilege to both live out and minister to others. We Praise and thank Him for these and a thousand other things. All this is a part of our surrender to the King of our Lives. Have you praised Him today?
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. 1 Samuel 1.27-28
The story of Hannah’s miracle baby is a glorious one. She had been barren, unable to have a child on her own. After crying out before the Lord, she miraculously conceived a child, successfully delivered the baby, and nurtured the child through the weaning process (about three years). She named him Samuel-“heard of God”.
I can only imagine that now as she presents the child to the Lord’s service, to live and dwell in the temple as a child of the High Priest Eli that it must have torn at her heart to give up the answer to her fervently prayed prayers. It seems that God does this frequently. Abraham was challenged to put his Son on the altar on Mt. Moriah. He, too, was forced to find the faith to look beyond the discomfort of totally surrendering his child to God. Here, Hannah has committed her son to God’s service. Samuel will never be like all the other children, he is a servant of the Lord. He is consecrated.
As a result of this consecration, he hears the voice of God, he sees God answer prayers miraculously, and foretells events which only Heaven could orchestrate, and, eventually, becomes the prophet of whom it is testified “not one word of his mouth fell to the ground.” In other words, Samuel’s prophecies were fulfilled- every one of them, every time, in every circumstance. This is said of no other man or woman of God!
While Samuel’s mother initially was the source of the consecration, Samuel had to continue in the consecrated life, in order to grow into the man of God that would be held in a high estimation, by both man and God. This year we are revisiting our standing before the Lord. If we want more from Him, it will demand more consistency from us. Let us consecrate ourselves in 2018 to the service of God, and let us recognize here, at the beginning of the year, that many have made a start down the road of consecration, but fewer follow through to the end.
Think about Hebrews 12.1-4. We are called to run a holy race and need to cast off what hinders us and the sin that entangles us. Take time to thank God for His holy calling and then live a holy life.
Read 1 Peter 2.1-12 It is our responsibility to rid our lives of sinful attitudes and actions. We are dead to sin but we need to live like it. Take time to ask God for greater understand of the flesh and our call to be holy.
Meditate on 1 Peter 4.1-11. We are to be done with sin but it will mean suffering. Take time to thank God for Christ’s example and then follow Him.
Think about 1 John 2.28-3.6. Our hope in Christ is to motivate holy behavior. Take time to worship God because He is Holy and has made us holy in Christ.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:5-11 (ESV)
The cross that took the life of our Savior now distributes that divine life to all who believe and are baptized! Indeed, Christ’s life was not taken but broken willingly and distributed equally to whosoever will come to Him! Because of that gift we become “partakers of the divine nature” and “empowered to bear witness”. We are no longer bound to the old life of our sinful selves, rather we are filled with divinely empowered life. Death itself has no dominion any longer over our spirits, all fear of death has been removed. Our thinking has changed, we are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ.
Because of Christ’s cross we have access into the heavenly places, we have every spiritual blessing in Christ. We have been forgiven, our sins justified, and our redemption secured! We have become his children, his workmanship, his property! We are overcomers in Jesus, because of the Cross!
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:26-43 (ESV)
William Barclay wrote of the Horror of the cross.
There was no more terrible death than death by crucifixion. Even the Romans themselves regarded it with a shudder of horror. Cicero declared that it was “the most cruel and horrifying death.” Tacitus said that it was a “despicable death.” It was originally a Persian method of execution. It may have been used because, to the Persians, the earth was sacred, and they wished to avoid defiling it with the body of an evil-doer. So they nailed him to a cross and left him to die there, looking to the vultures and the carrion crows to complete the work. The Carthaginians took over crucifixion from the Persians; and the Romans learned it from the Carthaginians.
Crucifixion was never used as a method of execution in the homeland, but only in the provinces, and there only in the case of slaves. It was unthinkable that a Roman citizen should die such a death. Cicero says: “It is a crime for a Roman citizen to be bound; it is a worse crime for him to be beaten; it is well nigh parricide for him to be killed; what am I to say if he be killed on a cross? A nefarious action such as that is incapable of description by any word, for there is none fit to describe it.” It was that death, the most dreaded in the ancient world, the death of slaves and criminals, that Jesus died.
The routine of crucifixion was always the same. When the case had been heard and the criminal condemned, the judge uttered the fateful sentence: Ibis ad crucem, “You will go to the cross.” The verdict was carried out there and then. The condemned man was placed in the centre of a quaternion, a company of four Roman soldiers. His own cross was placed upon his shoulders. Scourging always preceded crucifixion and it is to be remembered how terrible scourging was. Often the criminal had to be lashed and goaded along the road, to keep him on his feet, as he staggered to the place of crucifixion. Before him walked an officer with a placard on which was written the crime for which he was to die and he was led through as many streets as possible on the way to execution. There was a double reason for that. There was the grim reason that as many as possible should see and take warning from his fate. But there was a merciful reason. The placard was carried before the condemned man and the long route was chosen, so that if anyone could still bear witness in his favor, he might come forward and do so. In such a case, the procession was halted and the case retried. (emphasis added)
He died for us.
47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” – Luke 22:47-48 (ESV)
It is interesting that two stories are back to back in the gospel of Luke. Both having to do with the topic of disowning Jesus. A closer look today will help us understand better how to own Jesus.
The first of the two stories is recorded above. Judas is easy to despise. He had the advantages of a disciple. He knew Jesus personally, intimately. He knew him well. Yet he was not fully connected to Jesus’ heart. So pretending intimacy he came to betray Jesus. With the irony that the symbol for intimate adoration was the signal to arrest Jesus, he disowned him. Later he would regret this act of disowning him. He actually takes his own life because he cannot get over the fact that his betrayal begins the process of the crucifixion.
The next story is the story of Peter’s disowning Jesus. He continues to follow Jesus after others have fled. From a distance, he must know the outcome of these events. But a young girl calls him out. She tells it like it is and he is forced by his determined self preservation to lie and disown Christ. He too, is weeping in agony after the fact. But he returns to the risen Christ and is forgiven and empowered to be a witness for Jesus.
There are many ways that we can disown Christ. Some by the things we do and say. Some by the things that are left undone. Some because of their disappointment with God. Some because they are safeguarding their reputation. Jesus was very direct, “if you deny be before men, I will deny you before my Father in Heaven”. (Mt 10.32-33)