|Exodus 33:12-23||Psalm 99||1 Thessalonians 1:1-10||Matthew 22:15-22|
Kingdom Principle: Worship & Service are a response to the King’s Presence (not a demand for it)
When Holiness is equated with perfection and moral supremacy the Church becomes filled with Holy Cows to which others point and say “How Cow!” This declaration is reverence or repulsive…. Either way; it declares I don’t want what you have. Further, no one other than a “calf” (Ex. 32: 4) and those outside of the church ever wants to become a Holy Cow. However, when Holiness is identified as being touched by God, setting you free from the pain, suffering and condemnation of the world –a Holy Christian becomes a distinguishing mark as one who has been set apart finding favor with God. This favor is a gift from God and can be given away to all who seek it.
Holiness is a gift which we cannot earn, but we can express it and share it.
Holy Christians worship & serve out of an abundance and overflow, or we have nothing to give as an act of offering. (You can’t give what you don’t have.) Holy Cows are not sacrificed they themselves become worshiped. One challenge of the church today is that holiness has become an obstacle or hurdle for un-believers to overcome, rather than an invitation to which we all profess we have been given as a gift.
Below are many sets “buzz” words are expressed in the Kingdom of God. Some might equate holiness with being able to define, demonstrate and disciple other to do the same, however the Kingdom is a paradox explained through a wild mix of parables and metaphors. And while each of these words has value, none has the ability to bring Holiness to your life.
Good & Evil, Right & Wrong, Rule & Reign, Heaven & Earth, Power & Authority, Grace & Mercy, Blessings & Curses, Peace & Prosperity, Presence & Provision, Servant & Leader, Tests & Temptations, Sufferings & Pain, Control & Comfort, Humility & Hospitality, Credibility & Character, Confidence & Conviction, Calling & Commission, Forgiveness & Freedom, Obedience & Submission, Favor & Flow, Prayer & Purpose, Fear & Wisdom, Confession & Repentance (The temptation to feel elite if you can define and demonstrate these words, maybe even add a few, is why there are so many Holy Cows in the Church.)
Overall – These words are filled with potency to transform the lowliest of lives into the redeemed Gifts of God. You can read these themes through-out the Scriptures, you can track them through this blog, you can sit in your church all your life, but if you miss this next line, it may amount to nothing:
You are loved by God, for he has chosen you! (1 Thess 1:4) It is this which sets you apart and makes you Holy!
No amount of knowledge, skill or resource can match the simple truth of God’s love for humanity. This love is selective and directed not by chance but by decree from the Almighty King. It is this decree which makes it a gift, yet it is a gift that must be opened and received. For when the power of the Spirit moves on our hearts, a deep conviction wells up in those whom God is calling, in this way we respond by turning away from idols, worship and serving the living and true God. Our faith is made alive as we wait upon the day which we will be united with the Glorious and Resurrected Son – Jesus – the King of the Kingdom.
And all this is not because you or I made it happen, rather it is as an act of love from the One who rules and reign the Kingdom and has invited us to be rooted and established with him in love. (Eph 3:14-19) What shall we say then – Nothing-Other than the LORD our God is Holy! And at the same time we declare that we who were once enemies of God, the worst of sinners in this world have also been made Holy by the coming of his Presence to overcome all that stands against us. The Holy Presence of God moves us to be Holy, and in this Glory is given to the King. (1 Peter 1)
This type of advancement is divine and is truly beyond us… yet because of it we are moved and filled to fulfill our destiny. Moses discovered his destiny;
- from wandering in the desert –to- standing before a burning bush;
- from running as an outcast –to- becoming the deliverer;
- from tending sheep –to- leading millions;
- from acting fearful –to- beaming radiant and feared
- from being known by God –to- knowing God!
And yet… he still cried out:
- God, will I walk with you always….!?
- Teach me your ways…!?
- Show me your Glory.!?
This sounds like the cries of many of us today, and yet we don’t see our lives as impressive or as set apart like that of Moses. What Moses had was intimacy with the King, but I don’t think Moses knew of it in this way. God loved and chose Moses; therefore Moses was welcomed and invited into the Presence of the King. God loves and chooses you… do you imagine you have intimacy with the King? Moses had favor with God– which others often see more clearly that we do ourselves. In this blog it has been put for that we too can and ought to have favor with God. Do you want favor? If so, read this first.
Paul has a confidence and conviction that surpasses most any other figure than Jesus in the Bible. It is from this place that Paul declares “follow the pattern I have set before you” (Philippians 3:12-4:1) This pattern was not a book Paul wrote, it was not a discipleship pathway or plan… rather is was the pattern that the God writes on the hearts of those whom he chooses and loves. Paul is not advocating for us to become Holy Cows based on a program or discipleship pattern. Rather, God outlined this pattern for Moses in its most tangible form – the Tabernacle. (Exodus 35-40, is the answer to Moses’ questions to God- see above) God sent Jesus to be the very Tabernacle (pattern) for the whole world. (John 1:1-14) Thus the pattern is none other than to come to the Father through the Tabernacle. (Hebrews 9) It is for this reason that Paul can say to the Thessalonians – “You have become imitators of us and the Lord, and a model to all the believers.” This model is one of transformation from ungodliness to holiness. God described it to Moses in this way, “Make this tabernacle and all its furnishing exactly like the pattern I will show you” (Ex. 25:9) Then God says I will meet with you between the Cherubim (Angels who guard God’s Holiness) in innermost part of the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, above the Ark of the Covenant. Here I will give you all my commands for the Israelites. (Ex. 25:22) God it is not building or requiring a model of perfection, for that was the model that the Pharisees were advocating, rather it is a pattern of being perfected in relationship with the One who rules and reign. This relationship is the pattern and it is expressed in being upright not uptight.
Jesus our model and tabernacle and invites us to dwell and abide with him so that we might see the Face of the Father. (Heb. 8:1-6) We are not to look to the faces of “man” to find our identity, security or purpose, rather we know that we are God’s chosen and loved, and therefore we have been set apart (made holy) to demonstrate his Glory, through our worship and service.
- Do you struggle to believe that you are set apart in this world?
- Do you try hard to fit in with others or to be uniquely different by the Lord’s decree?
- When others point out what makes you different does it make you doubt who you are or build your confidence?
These questions help indicate if other’s are noticing God favor you have in life? Favor is not a bonus feature like an eared gold star – read hear to be reminded of what favor is… Favor is the mark of a Holy Christian. And Holy Christians know they are set apart, they do not expect to fit in, rather they find comfort in the unique desire and destiny as given by the Father.
The principles and patterns outlined as word pairs at the opening of this post either help to reveal this favor or restrict it from flowing. Favor is not given in exchange for Worship & Service, rather Favor is a distinction, a mantle that you wear as you are worshiping and serving. Favor is not something that you possess. Rather it possesses you at every moment you move in the Kingdom. The most intriguing aspect of the Favor of God is that it is more noticeable to those outside the Kingdom… (This is not to say that those within the Kingdom do not notice, but it is either attributed to God and therefore Glory is given, or it is a source of jealous and contention and rebuke is given.)
Therefore: if you confirm you have the favor of the King, go and be in relationship with people who do not know the power of God and are now walking in the rule and reign of the Kingdom. It may take time to build trust and relationships, but rest assured, those who do not know the King will declare with their lips (either in praise or disgust) you are different – Set Apart even. If you are not different, then you are one of them… this then will lead us to ask a different set of questions.
The King will pour out His favor upon you, not for your benefit (for you lack nothing in Him) but for those rather to display the power of God to those around you. Then the question truly becomes, not “Do you want more favor?” rather “To whom do you want God’s favor to be revealed?”