Day 28: Holiness
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14 Today, I give all thanks for holiness. For with it, we shall "see"God. When God gave me this year's themes of thanks, they came to me so rapidly in a semi-awake-semi-dream state, I had to wake myself up to get a pen to write them down, so I wouldn't miss or forget a theme. For most of the themes, God told me which life experience He wanted me to write about and gave me the format with which He wanted me to develop the theme. As I saw the word "holiness" appear before my spiritual eyes and wrote it down, I begin to think "uh, oh! How in the world will I give thanks for this theme? Why is God going to do me like that and expose ALL my business to the world again?" Interestingly enough, I didn't receive a complementary life experience to talk about with the theme. This translated that I was going to be very exposed and vulnerable and have to talk about a "deep" personal experience(s) in ways in which I was not readily volunteering and very reluctant to share. I looked up the definition of holiness. The dictionary says that holiness "refers to the condition of something or someone that is set apart." The term holiness applied to human beings refers to one's purity of heart or disposition, sanctified affections, piety, moral goodness, but not one's perfection. It went on to say that holiness is that which is separated to the service of God. It is sacred and hallowed or consecrated to God for or to his worship. After reading those definition, I felt a little more at ease to know that holiness was not about me being perfect, but it was about my willingness to be consecrated or set apart to be used by God. I am no where near perfect so the thought of even writing about holiness is/was daunting. Christ says that he is coming again for His bride, the people of God or the Church, without blemish or stain. In order to have no blemish or stain, one has to be holy or consecrated for God's worship. This means that the scrutiny and exposure of one's character, how one lives, and one's moral attitudes and behavior are always on display and verified. I love God. I also love and have loved to read and study the word of God (the Bible) since before I can remember and have always tried my best to follow what it says. My attempts to live according to what it says have failed miserably. I have lied. I have gossipped. I have not always been a good stewart of things God has given me. I have hated in my heart. I have been jealous of other people. I have engaged, unconsciously, in idolatry by being prideful. I have stolen. I have fornicated. There is probably a whole host of other sins I can add to this list. Yet, I still find myself thirsting after God, wanting to be more like Him, running towards Him and begging Him for forgiveness and His mercy so that I can still be a vessel used by Him for worship and for his complete glory. One of my biggest struggles years ago was with fornication and lust. I discovered just how much I really liked to have sex and did not want to stop. As one who loves the Lord and reads the Bible daily, when I got to the scriptures that mentioned abstaining from sex before marriage and not being a fornicator, I ignored it or justified in my interpretation why those scriptures weren't referring to me. Honestly speaking, I justified my sin because I knew that I couldn't kick the habit. I tried over and over again to stop. In my struggle with these issues, I did everything I could possibly do to address them. Yet, nothing worked. And as one who repeatedly encountered defeat with these issues, I gave up on addressing the concern. I thought in my mind, "God will excuse this one sin." I kept doing the will of God, ministering to people, praying, studying the word etc. until one day, as I was walking and talking with God, I had a Peter moment. God asked me, " Melissa, do you love me?" This was not the "phileo", brotherly love, about which he was asking me. God asked me if I "agape," unconditionally, sold-out, willing-to-be completely-set-apart love, Him. With tears in my eyes (even now), I said "Lord, you know I agape love you." His reply was, "then why are you not obeying me?" In that very instant, the word fornication flashed before my eyes and I could feel the stain of its effects on my heart and how disappointed I was with myself for not obeying and pleasing the very One I so desperately wanted to please. He continued, "my sheep know me and obey me. I can't use you for the purpose I have for you or bring you into a deeper place with me if you continue doing this." It broke my heart to hear God say that he couldn't use me like I was. It actually broke me until I was uncontrollably wailing. From a humble poster in my heart, I said, "God, I want to be used by you, but I can't stop this by myself. You know I've tried. I really need your help and for you to take away the desire from me to do this." God answered the prayer of my heart. Finally, the bondage was broken and the desire left me. With the cutting away of that sin, God has taken me to such a deeper place in Him. He has used me for his worship and glory in some of the most powerful ways. Now, He calls me friend and reveals His heart and his secrets to me. My intercessory prayer life has magnified and God gives me what I ask for in prayer. Additionally, God has imparted giftings and callings that I never had or operated in before. He also can trust me with all of the people He brings into my life. I wish I knew or felt like I could bring him my shame before that honest moment with Him, because, unknowingly, I was missing out on knowing so much more of Him and falling so much deeper in love with Him. Life with God since that moment has been incredible. God has been faithful in keeping me from all those many years ago and I can report that those issues have not been an issue in my life any more. Prayerfully, they will never be. (Pray for me concerning my other issues!) My walk with God has not been all roses by any means. If anyone tells you that once you give your life to Christ you will not have any problems, they are lying. But life is different when God's hedge of protection is upon you, God calls you friend and His child, and all of His promises to you are "yes" and "Amen" (so be it). As I give thanks for holiness today, I hope you too will give the resistant struggles in your life over to Christ and ask Him to help you overcome them. I pray that you open your heart and are willing to let God come in. He is waiting with open, loving arms. God is waiting to hear your answer to His question, "Do you love (agape) me?" If your answer is yes, be prepared to be wooed and mesmerized by the new deeper walk you will have with God. If your answer is "no," because you are not quite comfortable with the unconditional, sold-out dedication yet, don't worry. God can meet you where you are. He is willing to still love you unconditionally even when you are not quite ready or sure about loving him back. He will prove Himself to you and still pursue you, being a complete, gentleman (or gentlewoman) to respect all your wishes. Love ya, Have a great day of thanks!