This will be the last blog I plan on writing in 2015, so let me take this opportunity to pray the blessings of Almighty God upon you this Christmas season – from now and through the 12 days of Christmas. May your life be filled with a deep sense of the Lord’s presence and power!
2015 has been the year of vision for our congregation – and the Lord has certainly refined our vision—and even our makeup as a congregation—this year! We move forward knowing who we are with clarity of vision that is a pure gift of Grace.
I believe 2016 will be the year of Destiny, – as the Lord brings to fruition and fulfillment what He has so clearly spoken and shown us over the past 20 years, and especially this past year.
That brings me to the main point of this blog, which is to call us to prayer as we enter 2016. This call to prayer is based on this simple question:
Did Jesus come to save us or transform us?
The answer, of course, is “yes.” Jesus was born into the muck and mire of this fallen world to save us from our fallen state and to raise us to the exalted place of being Blood-bought Spirit-filled sons and daughters! But He came also to transform our lives from unclean to clean, from common to holy, from sacrilege to Sanctuary!
This call from God—this expectation of God—that we be Holy, as He is holy, is an awesome yet sobering or even frightening call. Most of us are dogged by feelings of unworthiness and failure, which cripple us. For some, “holiness” sounds like religion, as in hair in buns and rules about behavior. For others, “holiness” seems like an “add-on”, since being saved and going to heaven is “all that really matters…”
Holiness is not about religious rules, is not an add-on, and is not negotiable. Neither is it scary or difficult. Holiness is Emmanuel, Jesus, IN us by the Holy Spirit. Holiness DOES look like TIME spent with Jesus in prayer, Word, Worship, and in Life Groups. The Holy Spirit changes our habits, ideas, thoughts, and priorities; He unplugs our ears, opens our eyes, softens our heart, quickens our spirit and awakens our soul to the things of God—so that HE makes us holy!
So Jesus came to save us AND transform us. So what does the Lord expect from us in all of it? He wants us to: spend time with Him… take Him seriously…. obey Him… trust Him… believe Him. If He has called it “sin,” it is. He came to free us from it, not beat us up over it! If He wants to change our priorities or practices, it is ALWAYS for our good.
Holiness is Freedom, pure and simple. It is Salvation in the here and now. It is a good gift of grace. It is life, and that abundantly. It is healing and deliverance and restoration and redemption. Holiness is Jesus in our blood and sweat…and tears.
Joining me in prayer as we finish this year and enter the next that we submit everything we are to the presence of the Lord—giving Him permission to make us a Sanctuary—to make us Holy—in absolutely every area of our lives. It is His destiny for us as persons and as a People. Holiness is what makes Christmas merry and heaven real—right here and now!