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Archive | Embraced by Holiness

The Great Exchange

Great ExchangeKyle McDonald dreamed of owning a house. He didn’t want to spend any money; he wanted to trade for it. So, inspired by the childhood game “Bigger and Better,” the 26-year-old Canadian man put his sales job on hold to focus on the trading game.

Kyle started by offering one red paper clip on Craig’s list. Soon, two young women who thought the game was fun traded a fish-shaped ink pen for Kyle’s paper clip. The pen became a whimsical doorknob, which became a camping stove, which became a generator.

The trading game was off and running so Kyle started a website. The traded items continued to get bigger and better and included things like a snowmobile, a recording contract, and an afternoon with Alice Cooper. One year and 14 trades later, Kyle traded a speaking part in a movie for a key to his very own house with the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan. (For more on Kyle’s trade)

Kyle got a house for no money. All it took was twelve months and one red paper clip. That’s a pretty good trade. But I know of one trade much “bigger and better.” Jesus willingly makes this trade with all who will receive it.

Before this trade, we are in an eternally desperate situation. We are sinners, separated from God. We deserve nothing but death and eternal punishment. We can do nothing about it ourselves. We can’t be good enough to earn heaven. We can’t work hard enough to purchase eternal life. We are without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12). (How to know Jesus)

But God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16, NIV

Jesus makes this eternal life possible because He takes what we deserve and gives us what only He can give.

Here’s a sample of how we benefit in this glorious exchange:

  • Jesus took our punishment and gave us His peace (Isaiah 53:5-6).
  • Jesus took our eternal condemnation and gave us eternal life (John 3:16-18).
  • Jesus took our death we earned and gave us justification (Romans 4:23-25).
  • Jesus took our sin and gives us His righteousness (1 Peter 3:18).

Only Jesus’ sacrificial death is sufficient to provide our eternal salvation. His life satisfied our death penalty. His shed blood makes our forgiveness possible. His life given for our life. What an incredible exchange!

Have you experienced this great exchange? If not, why not today? If you have, tell us what amazes you most about what Jesus has done for you!

This story was taken from Kathy’s newest Bible study, “Embraced by Holiness.”

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3 Steps to Encourage Holiness in Others

holinessAre the women in your church living holy lives? Are your Christian friends and family members striving to be holy? More than half may not even be trying. God can use you to encourage holiness in the lives of those you influence.

A Sad State

According to a survey by The Barna Group, 54% of American Christians either don’t think God wants them to be holy or simply don’t know.

This statistic merged with real life a couple of years ago when the novel “50 Shades of Grey” hit the NY Times bestsellers list. Women – Christian women included – gobbled it up. Women in my church and your church were reading and talking about a book classified as erotica.

In fact, the wild popularity of erotica books and movies with young moms and housewives coined a new term – “mommy porn.” And many Christian women bought into it all.

Many Christians don’t even think it’s a big deal. In fact, you may be wondering if it really matters.

Why Holiness Matters

Over and over in the Bible, our holy God calls His people to holiness. “But, just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” 1 Peter 1:15. This call is echoed through numerous New Testament writers to God’s people throughout history. We must not only heed the call, we must encourage others to heed it as well.

This call is for our good and God’s glory. A holy life not only sets us free from the bondage and consequences of sin (Romans 6:22), it also paves the way for deep intimacy with God (Psalm 15:1-2). As we live holy lives, reflecting God’s character to the world, we become bright lights pointing a dark world to Christ (Matthew 15:14-16).

Three Steps Toward Holiness

Those of us in leadership should be leading the charge to holiness, urging those we influence to live holy lives. How can we do that? Here are 3 steps in the right direction.

1. Tell Them Why – Tell why they should be holy and why they would want to be holy. Teach about it in Bible study. Use what’s happening in our culture and current events to bring it into everyday conversation. For instance, the movie of version of “50 Shades of Grey” will release in February 2015. This event will provide a great discussion starter.

2. Show Them What – As leaders, let’s model holiness. Show them what it looks like in a believer’s daily life. “Holy” doesn’t mean self-righteous or judgmental. Just set a humble, but holy example.

3. Teach Them How  – Instruction in holy living should be an element of every discipleship, mentoring, and accountability relationship. Teach them to identify sin in their lives and get rid of it. Help them spot areas of weakness and vulnerability so they can protect themselves from temptation.

If you are a church leader, women’s ministry leader, mentor, teacher, or parent the holiness of God’s people under your care is your responsibility. Tell them why, show them what, teach them how. For their good and God’s glory.

Is holy living emphasized in your church? If so, in what ways?

 

Kathy’s newest book, Embraced by Holiness: The Path to God’s Daily Presence, helps readers discover a deeper intimacy with God through a life of holiness. This six-week, interactive Bible study explores why believers should pursue holiness and guides readers through practical steps to pursuing a holy life.

 

 

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Creation Sings God’s Glory

My husband and I recently returned from a week on the island of St John in the US Virgin Islands with some dear friends. Our two families have vacationed together five or six times over the last twenty years. But last week, just the four of us finally got to spend some relaxing time together.

I was the early riser in the bunch. Each morning I had the wonderful luxury of sitting on the deck with my Bible, study material, and a cup of coffee. I read God’s Word and looked out at the ocean. It was marvelous!

Bible time St John

The study book under my Bible is Beth Moore’s “Children of the Day,” which I’m studying with the ladies of my church.

One morning I was reading from “Embraced by Holiness” – I’m currently leading this study with our small group at church. As a storm quickly passed by in front of me, I read these words from Week Two, Day One, about how God reveals His holiness through creation:

Before the stars dotted the heavens and the waves crashed on the shore, God existed in all His holiness. Divine, perfect nature with only the Triune God as witness. Then He spoke, and His majesty burst forth in visible wonder. He splashed His glory across the skies and spread His power in the ocean depths.

Now all creation lifts a clear, unbroken chorus of praise to its Creator. Since the beginning of time, what has been made testifies to the unlimited power and worthiness of its Maker. Nature beckons us to seek God, bidding us turn our eyes and hearts to the Creator. It is beyond comprehension that this powerful, majestic, holy God desires us to know Him. And yet He does.

storm

Creation summons us to know and worship the Creator. The storm did indeed remind me of the power and glory of God. It was Psalm 19 lived out before my eyes:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Psalm 19:1-3, NIV

Coincidence? Hardly. God used the storm to reinforce this lesson in my heart and mind. But, He didn’t stop there. He continued to press the lesson, to make His glory known to me that morning. As I read Psalm 19 and watched the end of the storm, a rainbow begin to form. As it brightened, splashing its spectrum of color across the sky, a second bow joined it! Oh, how I wish my phone photo could do justice to the actual sight.

double rainbow 2

This phone pic does not show it well, but if you look to the left of the bright rainbow you can see a hint of the second!

I was torn between standing and watching and running to wake everyone in the house. In the end, I spent a few moments praising God for His power and glory and then shooting up the stairs to drag my husband to a window. What a glorious morning!

Have you heard Creation’s songs of praise? What are some things in nature that quickly draw your thoughts to the Creator and foster praise?

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Our Standard for Holiness

holinessWhat is your standard for holiness? When we compare ourselves to the culture or the people around us, we can come out looking pretty righteous. However, when we compare ourselves to the Holy One who, it’s a different story.

One Woman’s Story

Life changed dramatically for Janet after her divorce in the late 1970s. As a young, single mom she had to venture out into both the work and social worlds. Unfortunately, instead of clinging to the truth Janet knew from childhood, she conformed to the culture, which taught to “do what feels right to you.” Janet spent the next 17 years doing just that.

“I didn’t think I needed God. I thought I could handle things just fine by myself.” In the process, Janet wandered further and further away from God.

After 17 years of wilderness wandering, Janet attended a revival. During the altar call, the pastor asked a question God used to rip off her spiritual blinders. “If you died tonight, are you ready to meet God?” She was not.

Janet caught a glimpse of the holiness of God that night and knew the way she was living her life did not please Him. She knew her disobedience had consequences, but God also reminded her of His forgiveness and grace. He had been waiting for her to return. “God pines for His prodigals to return to Him. He never gives up. That day when I experienced His call to me to return, I sensed Him standing with open arms ready to give me a big hug.”

Overwhelmed with repentance and humility, Janet knelt in prayer to give her life back to God. “I told Him this prodigal girl had returned and I would go wherever He led.”

What’s Your Standard for Holiness?

God is the epitome of holiness. He alone determines what holy is. He is our standard for holiness. Not the culture. Not the people around us. Not even Christian leaders. God alone is the standard.

When we allow His holiness to shine into our lives it can be humbling. The light of God’s holiness reveals our sin like a UV light reveals the blemishes and sun damage on our skin. No rebellious behavior, wrong motive, or selfish attitude can hide from God’s holy brilliance.

Yet, thankfully, when God reveals our sin and calls us to repentance, He forgives. He stands with arms wide open, ready to embrace the repentant sinner. Ready to transform us by the light of His holiness.

Has God ever reminded you of His holiness to convict you of a sin in your life? How did you respond?

This post is adapted from Kathy’s 6-week Bible study, “Embraced by Holiness.”

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Famous Last Words of Jesus on the Cross

Famous Last WordsDarkness shrouded the city at noon. Even the sun mourned the imminent death of the Son. Although physically crucified by the hands of Roman soldiers, Jesus went to the cross willingly, in obedience to the Father. The Jewish leaders, their mock trial, and Governor Pilate were all just tools in God’s hands.

No one could take Jesus’ life without God’s approval. Jesus had the authority to not only lay down His life, but to take it up again (John 10:18). No one took Jesus’ life. He gave His life as act of obedience to His Father. Jesus’ last words on the cross accentuate this truth.

Jesus death, Jesus dying on Cross, Jesus' crucifixion

Jesus on the cross

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46, NIV

Submitting to God

Jesus completely submitted His life and death into the Father’s hands. Jesus’ obedience provided the way of salvation for you and me. Jesus’ death provided forgiveness for our sins and opened a way for us to enter into God’s presence. Jesus’ last words on the cross have significance for every person who has ever lived. Because He was “obedient to death” (Philippians 2:8) we can have life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16, NIV

Trusting God in every situation

Jesus fully trusted the Father. He walked in complete obedience – all the way to the cross. He trusted God with the process and the pain. He trusted God with the reason and the result. He committed Himself to the One worthy of trust.

Is there a situation in your life right now you need to commit to God?

What is it hardest to trust God with?

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