Last week I felt led to write about the importance of sanctification in order to experience God's incredible presence, provision, and protection in the new year. In the story of Exodus, we learn of this concept spoken first by Moses, and then by Joshua as the Israelites were led out of slavery in Egypt and then through the wilderness towards their promised land. You see, it's usually in our area of great discomfort, or in a seemingly hopeless situation, that God requires His people to stretch their faith further than ever before. He often needs to grow and mature us so that we can fully appreciate and nurture the blessing waiting on the other side. Although God always provided, it wasn't always in the exact way that the Israelites were expecting. The Israelites were not used to walking great distances or depending on God for daily bread and guidance. They didn't like how long it was taking to reach their destination and not knowing when they would reach it. They were used to routine. Seeing only in the present, they even expressed a desire to return to a place of slavery by reminiscing about the free fish, pots of meat, and other plentiful food Egypt provided while they were slaves (Numbers 11:5, Exodus 16:3) and bluntly stated, "Let us appoint a leader to take us back to Egypt (Numbers 14:4)!" What about you? Have you ever felt that way? Like you just couldn't see the benefit of what you were going through? Just like the Israelites, we can have a tendency to desire the unhealthy familiar instead of go through the process for positive change and blessings in our lives. When we choose to "consecrate" ourselves, however, we are setting into motion a shift in our thinking as well as in the spiritual realm. We are getting God's attention through our obedience to humble ourselves in a way that exalts Him. There are three extremely effective ways we can do this:
1. Fasting--The bible is very clear about how some things only come by praying and fasting (Mark 9:29). There are many people who fast solely for health purposes, but fasting for the Lord is is simply about saying "no" the flesh and "yes" to God. Every time you crave your usual meal or snack, you are reminded to depend on God. This is important because it shifts our focus from physical food to spiritual food that nourishes us like no other meal can. But fasting is simply starving if it isn't combined with prayer and reading God's word. As Jesus clearly states in Matthew 4:4, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." We need to hear what God is saying in order to experience our breakthrough!
2. Tithing--We can also consecrate ourselves by tithing. You may be wondering, "What does money have to do with sanctification?" Well, just like fasting, tithing is acknowledging that God is Lord over ALL of your life. He is the one who gives you everything, including money and the ability to attain it. It therefore honors Him when you give (consecrate) the "first fruits" of your income back to Him. It also demonstrates the faith you have in Him to bless the remaining 90%! And faith is God's love language! Without it, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).
3. Applying--Nothing is more important than God's word. It is life and healing to your flesh. It is sharper than a double-edged sword. No matter what you are facing or how you are feeling, you can find guidance and comfort when reading it. But that won't last very long unless you actually apply it to your life! Have you or anyone you know ever complained about someone who was "so smart" but just wasn't living up to their full potential? Don't be that person! Knowledge needs to be applied in order to see the results you want and need in your life.
There is so much God wants to do for you and through you. All He needs is yielded vessels, willing to be be different; to be set apart, so that His purposes can be fulfilled. What you do today matters for your future. "Consecrate yourselves today, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you!" (Joshua 3:5)