Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Word Study: Sanctification

Leviticus 20: 7 -8: "Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you."

Romans 6:22: "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life." (ESV)

Sanctification, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary, means "the process of being made holy resulting in a changed lifestyle for the believer." Sanctification is a process where the end result is a holy, eternal life spent with the Lord.

How do we live a sanctified life? We must dedicate ourselves to being holy, to carry out the Lord's will, to follow Christ. We need to turn away from our sinful lifestyles and live a life consecrated to God.

Romans 6:22 speaks of fruit leading to sanctification. If we become slaves of God and imitate Christ, then, I believe, the fruit leading to sanctification is the fruit of the Spirit. "Love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22) are all of Christ's traits. As I write this, I am becoming more aware of the work of the Trinity - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - in the process of sanctification.

Sanctification is one of those words I have heard over and over in church rhetoric, but really never gave any thought to - until recently. I was speaking with a friend who is truly dedicating herself to sanctification. Listening to her talk about everything she's going through - sacrifice, self-control, dedication, and more importantly a closer walk with the Lord - made me think about my life. Am I truly a slave to God or am I serving my own purpose? Last week, I spoke about my season of pruning, and I feel this is one of those areas God is working on to bring me to a closer relationship with Him.

What are your thoughts about sanctification? Are you living a life consecrated to God or serving your own purpose? Please feel free to comment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Word Study: The Pruning Season

Ecclesiastes 3:1: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." (ESV)

I am entering a new season in my life. A time for me to cut back on my activities and focus even more on my children, particularly since I am homeschooling them. I am enjoying this new season - teaching and watching my children learn how to read, write, and add. I am overjoyed when I hear them recite their memory verses each week - sacred scripture to help them live their lives for the Lord.

I am a little hesitant about this season as well, because I know pruning is involved. Yesterday, we had our trees pruned. At first, I thought the tree-trimmers were trimming too much off of the trees, but once I viewed the end result, I loved it. No longer broken and unruly, they are healthy and nicely shaped. I know this is what the Lord wants for me. He wants me to be whole, and not broken; healthy, and not diseased. I'm a little hesitant because I don't want to feel pain. He's already bringing up past insecurities and rejections to the surface and I don't like the emotions accompanying them. But if this is His will, then so be it.

Jesus says in John 15:2 "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." I would rather be pruned and bear more fruit than to be "gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned." (verse 6).

Enter faith. I have faith in my Lord. I know He is pruning me out of love so that I may be productive for His purpose. How do I know this? Romans 8:28 says "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." Also, Philippians 1:6 says "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

I know in my heart this pruning is what is best for me. It will loose strongholds keeping me from His work and better prepare me for His purpose. I also know in those times of sadness, anger, and reflection, He will be there for me, comforting me along the way.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Word Study: Can You Hear Him?

1 Kings 19:11 - 13: "The LORD said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."

When Elijah heard the gentle whisper, he knew he was in the presence of the LORD. I'm not so sure I would have reacted the same way. I probably would have expected Him in the wind, the earthquake, and the fire because He is a mighty God.

Recently, my aunt, uncle, cousin and her husband stayed the night with us. As my aunt and I were talking, I could also hear my husband's conversation with my uncle a few feet away from us. I had to focus more on my aunt's quieter voice and block out the men's louder voices. I then realized I need to do the same thing with the LORD because He does speak in a still, small voice. I need to block out life's noises, such as politics, tv, or anything else distracting, and focus on Him.

I'll admit I haven't been focusing on God like I should. I've let life interfere. I've drowned out His voice with my own and as a result, I feel empty. The good news though is that He is waiting for me to turn my attention to Him. I can't wait to hear what He has to say.

What about you? Do you hear the gentle whisper or just the noise?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Lost Art of Rhetoric

As part of my English degree, I was required to take a course on Rhetoric. The professor had us review speeches and writings from the past and analyze whether or not they were effective. I took it as a quick summer class and really haven't thought much about it - until recently. defines rhetoric as "the ability to use language effectively; the art of making persuasive speeches." After watching clips of town hall meetings and the responses from our elected officials, I wonder if more could have been achieved with better rhetoric.

I understand many people are filled with concern for America and the direction it appears to be going in (for example: years of debt passed on to our children and grandchildren). I am as well. I also understand people are angry because they feel their voices are not being heard, or worse, ignored, by our politicians. I feel that way, too. We cannot give in though to the impulse of our anger. It is not effective speech when we confront our politicians with name-calling and finger-pointing. Once that starts, the politician will be offended enough not to listen. It is more effective to approach them in a calm manner and present them with the facts and concerns.

Now, as far as the politicians are concerned: they are not winning people over with their name-calling either. Referring to their constituents who disagree with them as "mobs" or "astroturf" or "un-American" only stokes the anger a lot of people are feeling. They are not a doing a good job of presenting the facts to Americans and calming their fears.

So, what can we do? Gather facts and write your representatives and senators with your concerns. Treat them as you would want to be treated - with respect. Use your right to protest - but peacefully. Also, vote. Finally, pray. Pray for our elected officials. Pray they will open their ears to their constituents and that they will turn away from corruption and selfish-deeds.

I wonder when history and rhetoric courses look back at this moment in time, if they will find any inspiring speeches spoken by a true leader ready to work with Americans instead of against them.