In this narrative, we find Zacharias and Elizabeth faithfully following the Lord and His ways. An area of lack remained in their lives despite this. Almost surprisingly, we discover that this lack was God-ordained! God had chosen this couple to bring forth John the Baptist–forerunner of Jesus–at just the right moment of time. Continue reading
Father God has given us each a free will. He has given us a beautiful choice to show love and honor to Him and others. Most often, we think we do this pretty well. Nonetheless, our hearts still contain impurities revealing self-focus and unhealed wounds.
Learned behaviors we thought were normal affect our daily lives. Ingrained habits plague us. We raise our voices at our children or siblings. We avoid those who rub us wrong. Or perhaps we find ourselves doing things to fulfill the need to be useful, or we assert ourselves wrongly to feel in control. Maybe we busy ourselves to avoid painful emotions.
Even in the many struggles we have, Father God is working to refine us into vessels of His love as we yield to Him.
We want to be ones who seek the heart of God, showing selfless love to all who we come near. Jesus confirmed this call. When asked about the most weighty of the Commandments, He said that loving God with all and loving others are the two from which all others stem (Matthew 22:36-40).
We realize our attempts to love remain tainted with self-serving. Showing love and honor is not automatic. Because of our tendencies toward selfishness and sin, we must seek to be intentional. We must be mindful of those around us.
If we ask, Father God will reveal ingrained behaviors and help us replace them with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We must seek to be a blessing in every situation. It will take allowing Him to show us the depths of our souls.
Key #1: It’s a Choice and Desire
Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” (AMP)
The Apostle Paul calls us to make a “decisive dedication” of ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and consecrated to God. He calls upon us to do so because of God’s great mercy and love toward us.
The first step in having a consecrated heart is in making the choice to live for God in this way. The best part is that God’s mercy toward us, His love poured out to us, enables us to love Him in return (1 John 4:19).
Hunger for God will fuel our choice and desire to walk this out.
Key #2: Intimacy with Jesus
Getting to know Jesus is the most essential endeavor of our lives. We cannot grow in friendship with God if we do not pursue our personal relationship with Him. This is an intimate knowing that cannot come through going to church once or twice a week or from being raised in a Christian home. It comes from alone time we set aside to spend with Jesus.
We get to know Jesus by talking to Him and allowing Him to talk to us. Fellowship and conversation with God grows our relationship with Him. He loves to speak to our hearts through impressions, words, and visions in our hearts as well as dreams and in other ways. It’s also very helpful to journal your prayers as well as what God says in response. This ensures you won’t forget what He speaks to your heart later on!
Key #3: The Word of God
Jesus, the Living Word, gave us His written Word to help us in renewing our minds. When we are seeking to follow His will above our own, we must know His Word, which will help us to know the difference between God’s will versus our own.
As we study and meditate on the Word, the Holy Spirit helps to renew our minds. Along with beholding Jesus in intimacy, we are transformed by this renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). We then begin to desire to be like Jesus in our loving, serving, and living more and more.
We also need to pray the Word. When we pray Scripture-based prayers, we can pray in alignment with God and know He will answer. The apostolic prayers, those prayed by the apostles in the New Testament, are a great starting place.
For example, Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17 that the believers would receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the intimate knowledge of Jesus. This is a great prayer to pray as we seek to grow in connection to the Lord.
Key #4: Affection-based Obedience
As we grow in God and knowing His heart, our love for Him will fuel our obedience. Desiring to obey Jesus out of love for Him is the most powerful form of obedience. We obey because we are lovers of God, not because we are fearful of punishment if we don’t.
Mike Bickle often says, “Lovers will always outwork workers.” Fear-based obedience will only take us so far before we burn out or want to give up, but when God’s love impacts our hearts, we will yearn to follow His commands to love Him and love our neighbors as ourselves.
“Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.” – John 14:23 (AMP)
Key #5: Accountability with Humility
Our openness to being accountable to our spiritual leaders and close family in Christ directly reflects whether we live with a consecrated heart.
When we love God, we will desire to be free from all that hinders love. We will want God to set us free from any struggle, sin, or bondage to the things of the world. This goes hand and hand with having humility and being accountable to our brothers and sisters. We know they can see things we may miss, and that God wants us to help each other grow and be encouraged.
We welcome the fire of His refining, even in the face of correction. When the correction seems off, we seek God’s heart for even an ounce of truth He may be revealing to set us free. Although we may be nervous about His refining fire, we ask Him to purify us anyway because we want hearts after His.
Above All Else
Those with consecrated hearts weep when He weeps, and rejoice when He rejoices. We want hearts that break for what breaks His, that are moved by the things that move His heart. All in all, we want to be friends of God and to live as His pure and spotless Bride, making His heart known in all the earth.
“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
That You, Lord, do not outright place us into the abundant place of blessing in our destiny right away is a thing of immeasurable good.
You first bring us to the wilderness. There You bring us to the end of ourselves and to the fullness of You. You test and humble us, equip and grow us–lest we fall hard and become prey to the temptations of success and blessing.
It is because of Your great goodness and love that You do this. You know what is best for Your children whom You love. Your banner over us is love! Your leadership is perfect! Your ways are just, true and right.
You want us to live for You and by Your living words of life, being led by Your Spirit alone. To do so more and more, to be deep calling unto Your deep, takes time spent growing in relationship with You. It takes time spent seeking the depths of Your Presence in the Holy of Holies by which we have access through the blood of Christ. It takes growing in hearing Your voice and obeying You. It takes patience, trust and faith in You.
You are good, so good. Your love for us is so deep. Your leadership of our lives is wholly right and truly perfect, laden with Your perfect love for us as You say, “I only want the absolute best for you. Will you trust me, My child?”
God has the very best for you. In hardship or trials, trust Him. In the pain of hope deferred, trust Him. In times of fear or failure, trust Him.
He sees you! He loves you! He has the very best for you!
At church our interim pastor shared from the letter to the church at Ephesus:
“…I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.“
My heart is heavy yet hopeful, knowing God will have His way with or without us. I can’t truly say what I’m feeling today is of me, because I too need God to change me tremendously, and think I could actually be feeling God’s own grief over us as a church! (I’m personally asking God to give me His heart and passion, and to continually show me my part in His purposes.)
This fall I had a vision in which I saw God touchdown on our church, and something like two shockwaves rushed out from it. One wave went out around the church itself, and the second went out through our city.
I feel God has said this is what He wants, but that this won’t be unless we humble ourselves and repent, fervently praying and seeking His face. This feels imminent!
If it doesn’t come I feel God is saying to us in even His indescribable grace and mercy:
“I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.”