The Attribute of God We’ve Forgotten

If there’s a way God is most thought of these days, I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not holy. First off you can’t turn the TV on without hearing his name misused. Nor can you walk down the hallway at school or buy Christmas tree ornaments for that matter. (Yes, I saw “OMG” on a Christmas Tree ornament last year. After gasping in sheer revulsion, I ran for my life in fear of the store going up in flames.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 19:9-25
Key Verse: “You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments.” Nehemiah 9:13


Then there’s the flippant way we talk about God. (As though he owes us something.) The lax way we approach God. (As though it ain’t no thing.) And the general way we feel about God and His word. (Most days we could take it or leave it.)

But God, He is holy. Set apart. There is none like him; perfect in goodness; flawless in righteousness. A consuming fire, He is to be worshiped with reverence and awe (Heb. 12:28-29). Dwelling in unapproachable light, God is so holy it is unsafe to just barge into his presence. The only way to enter is to be holy thy self. “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:3-4a). A feat accomplished only in Christ.

So when God announced to Moses that he was going to come down on Mt. Sinai and meet the people – there was some serious preparing to do. For two days they got ready. Verse 14 says they washed their garments and Moses consecrated them. How? It doesn’t tell us. Perhaps by offering sacrifices on behalf of the people. For without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb. 9:22)

Furthermore, they were to abstain from sex and anyone, young or old, who even touched the edge of the mountain was to be killed. It was serious stuff. God’s presence was not to be taken lightly.

Then on the morning of the third day, “there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled” (v. 16). Even the mountain trembled at God’s arrival (v. 18) and smoke went up from it like a kiln, “because the LORD had descended on it in fire” (v. 18).

Consequently, when Isaiah had a vision of God sitting on the throne, “the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke” (Is. 6:4). Then later when John got a glimpse of God’s throne in Revelation we find out, “From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings, and peals of thunder” (Rev. 4:5).

So I don’t think the thunder and lightning was there just for effect. God himself had descended on the mountain. Shrouding himself in smoke so the Israelites would not be consumed in the presence of His glory.

And when the Israelites heard the trumpet blast they didn’t pat each other on the back saying, “Hey cool! There’s God!” No, they were terrified. And so was Moses for that matter (Heb. 12:21).

So terrified in fact, the people told Moses, “Hey from now on, why don’t you just go up and talk to God and then let us know what he says. Deal?” (My paraphrase.)

Which in turn, pleased the LORD. “They are right in all they have spoken. Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments” (Deut. 5:28b-29a). Why was God pleased?

Because reverence for God determines the godliness of our response.

To set apart Christ as holy (1 Peter 3:15) is to determine that His honor and glory come first. God’s holiness is everything. It’s why we do what we do. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Just as Leviticus 19:2 says, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

So to disregard the holiness of God is to disregard all reason for godly living.

Which is where I think we’ve gotten off track. No longer is God esteemed as he should be. If He were, we’d uphold his commands as invaluable. We’d respect His words. We’d fear the God who is able to save and destroy. Like a student under the watchful eye of a head master, we’d do what we’ve been told, instead of weeding through the stuff we like and rejecting the things we don’t.

To revere God is to fear God. Not in the sense of being afraid because we know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), but to be in awe of Him. To tremble in the wake of His vast glory, as Israel did the day they saw God descend on Mt. Sinai.

He is still the same God today as He was then. Just because we’ve been declared holy by the blood of Christ and allowed to enter God’s presence, doesn’t mean God is any less holy. It simply means He is kind. And merciful. And abounding in love to a thousand generations. Nonetheless, that’s the temptation, isn’t it? To bring God down to our level.  To diminish His excellency.

We’re quick to forget we haven’t been invited to the throne through any means of our own. We’re on the guest list because of Christ. God owes us nothing, yet we owe him everything.

He is still untouchable. He is still to be feared. He is still to be praised. Honored with our mouths and respected in our homes. Yet where has the reverence gone? Why has the adoration subsided?

Oh that we might fear God as Israel did the day they heard His voice and saw the mountain quake at His presence. For we too have heard His voice. Not audibly of course, but in our hearts, the day he called each of us to repentance.

And He is with us. His presence a promise we can hold fast to. Yet He is still God my friend. Holy and awesome, there is none like Him. “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you think God’s holiness is lost or upheld in the church today? What about in the home?
Why should God’s holiness motivate us to live upright and obedient lives?
What choices have you made to honor God as holy?

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Why I Don’t Live However I Want To

Some would say we’re strict or maybe even legalistic because my husband and I don’t drink alcohol. Nor do we sit in the bar section at restaurants or go to R rated movies or work in the fields on Sundays.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 7:1-7
Key Verse: “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)


We’re careful to say the least. Not because I’m sinning if I drink a beer or sit on a bar stool or buy a ticket to an R rated movie. (Sorry we’re not going there today. And FYI these are our prayerful personal convictions. I’m OK if they’re not yours.)

But we’re careful because we bare the designation Christian quite loudly. At home, at work, out and about in the land of the living. (A place I don’t always get to with littles still at home with me.) But when I do make it out the door, I just might be the closest connection my neighbor, be it the person in line behind me, or the young couple sitting next to us at The Cheesecake Factory, has ever had with God. The first line of offense in a battle for lost souls.

Ambassadors for Christ as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20. That’s how we think of ourselves and we want to do well in representing our Savior.

Moses had a similar set up. As God’s representative, he was the closest connection Pharaoh had ever had to the LORD Almighty. In fact, “The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet” (v. 1). Phew! No pressure, huh.

Actually, for Moses it was probably more of a relief than anything else, considering Egyptian Pharaoh’s thought of themselves as deity. One among many, but a god no less. Thus, when pharaoh spoke he never did it directly, he had a representative speak on his behalf.

So giving Moses the same arrangement not only put him on a level playing field, it was a power play Pharaoh recognized. And what’s so great, is in time, God beat Pharaoh at his own game. Giving more power to Moses, a mere shepherd, than Pharaoh ever had.

But as God’s representative it wasn’t his position Moses needed to worry about. It was his obedience. Twice in the first ten verses of chapter 7 we’re told Moses and Aaron “did just as the LORD commanded them” (v. 6 & 10). Because as God’s ambassadors there was no other way.

Just think for a moment, if Moses and Aaron had said and done whatever they wanted, what kind of picture might they have painted for Pharaoh of this God he didn’t know. A god made in their own image? A god not worthy of much respect? A weak god? A fearful god?

Considering the world’s view of God today, I’m just wondering if we’ve painted, by our improv and misguided temper and impatience and lack of restraint and indifference and otherwise sluggish spirituality, a grossly inaccurate picture of the LORD God Almighty.

One with lots and lots of smeared paint. The kind you tilt your head one way and then the other and think, “Well my four-year-old could have painted that.” (Sorry art people. I mean no disrespect.)

But as God’s representatives have we given the world a clear picture? Or have we smeared the lines beating the drum of 1 Corinthians 6:12, that all things are lawful for me in Christ, though maybe not always beneficial.

It’s for freedom Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1). Yes, indeed I totally agree. Yet, freedom in Christ is not freedom to live however we want, it’s freedom to live exactly as He wants. In righteousness. In relationship. In ready obedience to a holy God.

Basically, it’s freedom to live in such a way that reflects the character of God. So the world will see Him in us and fall on bended knee declaring, “I want that too. A relationship with the unbelievably amazing God who made me too and died for me too and loves me too. The one I see in you.”

So God said, “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Just as he told the Israelites, “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45).

Because they [Israel] had one main job to do – show the world who God is. “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor” (Is. 49:3). By living by Him, for Him, and through Him. A “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).

And the church? The same job. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

But what are we proclaiming? His excellencies or our own? Peter goes on to urge believers in the same passage to “abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul.” Keeping our conduct among the gentiles honorable. Why? So they might see God in us and glorify Him.

So we live carefully. Hopefully above reproach, though nowhere near perfect. Doing our best to live uprightly in an upside-down world. Seeking daily to show the love of our good Father. By example. By self-control. By setting my rights aside. With a smile. A thank you. A patience not of myself. A helpful hand. An answer of hope.

Offering our whole bodies “as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (Rom. 6:13, NLT). Because the last thing we want to do is smear the image of God in the mind of an already struggling soul.

Who needs to see a holy and righteous God who set not only His rights aside, but the splendor and glory and majesty of heaven, to hang on a cross for us – for them.

Therefore like Moses I seek, or at least try, (though some days I’m a blubbering failure) to do and say just as God’s commanded. Whether it’s easy or costly or fun or unfair. Living not however I want, but as God wants. Since He, for some marvelous reason, saw fit to make me His ambassador. (Oh the wonder of it all.)

May we today and everyday carefully consider our job as His representatives.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What does it mean to be an ambassador of Christ? In what way, by what choices, are you seeking to reflect the biblical character of God?

Our Problem Isn’t the Government, It’s Holiness

I admit, I’m fearful. As a mother with four young children I’m deeply concerned about the future of this nation and what it holds for my littles. More than anything I want Christianity to be the religion our country holds closest to and the foundation we still stand upon.

But it’s not anymore. Biblical values are no longer the driving force behind societal right and wrongs. We gave that seat to political correctness and women’s activism quite some time ago.

Not that I don’t think men and women are created equal. Not that I don’t think women should have rights. We do and we should. But something’s gone terribly wrong in our society. And instead of facing the music. Instead of digging in to see where we may have gone wrong, fessing up to mistakes, and seeking to make it right, we just blame the government.  

Who is absolutely at fault, don’t get me wrong. We have leaders leading us in just about every wrong direction. Upholding lifestyles of immorality as good and normal. Passing abortion laws under the pretense of women’s rights instead of advocating a beautiful thing called adoption. Making decisions they have no right to make.

And it makes me want to scream. To get in the face of these so called wise people and tell them a thing or two about what I really think of them and their plans to steal the freedom of my children and belittle life.

So I yell at the TV and pray. Asking God to do something. To intercede. To bring revival. To protect me and my comfortable life. To work in the hearts of those in authority. Or remove them or replace them or keep them from putting in place rules and regulations that might hinder my lovely little existence.

Which is not wrong. We need to be praying, especially for our leaders. But I think we’ve forgotten something. (Or at least I had.) Something not necessarily easy, but important. And undeniably vital to the heartbeat of God.

I think we’ve forgotten holiness.

The setting apart of God’s people for righteousness. 1 Peter 1:15 says we are to be holy as He is holy. We are to conduct ourselves in such a way that matches the character of He who indwells us. For we are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” saved to proclaim the excellencies of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). Yet what do our attitudes and actions and apathy most often proclaim?

We pray and then we go back to conformity. We ask, but then we go sit in front of the TV. Watching shows that take God’s name in vain and uphold sex outside of marriage and praise divorce and normalize weak men and applaud aggressive youth.  

We uphold Friends as one of the best sitcoms ever and post pictures of ourselves devouring reruns when almost every episode includes sexual immorality. We get more excited about the comeback of Gilmore Girls than we ever have about the coming of Christ.

We play video games that kill and we brag about it. We engross ourselves in murder mysteries and the nightly news, instead of engrossing ourselves in God’s word. Teaching our kids it’s ok to toe the line. To watch sin and laugh at it and be a part of it as long as it’s just on TV or with a gaming controller.

Which has me wondering, why would God ever want to move on behalf of such an apathetic people? A people who profess his name on Sunday’s but haphazardly throw him on the shelf Monday through Saturday. Who sit and laugh at the stuff he hates. Who live in a constant state of inconsistency. Who say they are Christians but could care less to uphold what Christ actually says.

We seek His intervention, but we don’t seek His Word. We covet His action, but we don’t covet His attributes.

Yet it’s holiness that moves God to act on behalf of his people and always has been. When the Israelites obeyed the LORD, God protected and prospered them. But when they profaned his name and acted in wickedness, God rejected them.

Not that he wanted to, but in holiness he had to for they refused to obey. “My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey” (Jeremiah 32:33, NLT).

God desires obedience. The cross didn’t change that. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).

Beloved, it’s holiness that moves God. When his people choose to do that which is honoring to him, he can’t help but respond. It’s our sin that keeps him quiet. Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Listen! The LORD’S arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God” (NLT).

Our sins.

Yet the LORD encouraged Israel with this, “I have swept away your sins like a cloud, I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free” (Is. 44:22, NLT).

Return to Him! Not just in word but in deed. In holiness. In righteousness. The government has nothing on God. His presence alone “brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness” (Is. 40:23).

But why would God act on behalf of a people who live as though they care nothing for him? Profaning not only his name, but his holiness.

Yes, we can pray. Yes, we can ask God to heal our land but without a return to holiness, without a whole hearted seeking of God and a good riddance to the sin we’ve let infiltrate our daily lives for far too long , I sincerely wonder at the outcome.

“This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:26 NLT  

I can only imagine what God might do if we – his people – asked for the old, godly way, and walked in it. It starts with us friends. It starts with us.

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