Woe, Woe, Woe

Anne Graham Lotz describes a time her parents, Ruth and Billy Graham, agreed to a television interview in their log cabin home.  Ruth did what every woman would do in her situation – she began to furiously clean her house!  The old log cabin home was polished, washed, waxed, and dusted!

The morning of the interview, Ruth confidently greeted the talk-show host and crew at the front door, then led them into the living room.  The crew transformed the room into a TV studio with huge lights and multiple cameras.  As the host positioned Billy and Ruth on the sofa, Ruth was serenely poised.  Looking about the room, she saw it was absolutely spotless.  Even all the equipment didn’t mar the polished, washed, and dusted beauty.

cobwebsWhen the director yelled, “Lights, camera, action,” the cameras rolled and the huge television lights turned on.  In horror, Ruth looked around her “spotless” room!  She saw cobwebs in the corners of the old logs, soot in the fireplace, and dust bunnies under the table![1]

[1] Adapted from Anne Graham Lotz, I Saw The Lord (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2006), 99-100.

You know where this is going, don’t you?  Under ordinary lighting, our lives look pretty good.  We compare ourselves to those around us and think we’re not only ok, we’re better than most.  But then, whoosh, on come the bright lights and through God’s Word or His Holy Spirit, we not only get a glimpse of God and His holiness; but also we see ourselves as we really are.

Those lights came on for Isaiah one day at the temple in Jerusalem.  In Isaiah, chapter six, he describes seeing the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.  Above the Lord stand the seraphim, and one seraph calls to another saying,

Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory!  Isaiah 6:3

The Hebrew word translated “holy” is “qadosh”.  I heard Randy Marshall describe its meaning as two-fold.  The first is “a unique superlative”.  Something that is better than best – something that is truly . . . awesome.  We don’t get this, because we think the latest I-Phone or a perfectly cooked steak is awesome.  “Qadosh” is the idea that He and only He is awesome.  The second meaning of “qadosh” is brilliant beauty.  There is a beauty about God that these worshipping angels adore.

In the Hebrew language, if a person wanted to place emphasis on something he used the word twice.  By repeating “holy” three times, the seraph proclaims God to be the unique superlative, of the unique superlative, of the unique superlative.  There’s the beautiful, then the brilliantly beautiful.  He is the most brilliantly beautiful of the brilliantly beautiful.  This is the only attribute repeated this way in Scripture.  An I-Phone or steak is not awesome.  He is awesome.

Isaiah’s response?  He said, “Woe is me, . . . (Isaiah 6:5a).  Isaiah recognizes and deeply mourns his sin.  A seraph flies to Isaiah, touches his mouth with a burning coal, and says, “Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” (Isaiah 6:7b)  Friend, a holy, holy, holy God atoned for your sin and removed your guilt through a merciful, merciful, merciful Savior.  I think I can accurately say His plan for our redemption is pretty awesome too!

About the Writer
Joni passionately enjoys sharing what she learns in Bible study with the ladies of Refresh and Refresh@Night.  Her days are best described as comfortable chaos – filled with grandchildren, a sweet mom-in-law, study time, and unexpected changes in plan.  She’s a frequent flyer to Pittsburgh for fun and cold weather chaos with her transplanted grandchildren in the north.  All of this is far from the bon bons and leisure time her husband imagines her daily enjoying!

Only By Jesus Grace

Because it is written ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY’ (I Peter 1:16)

Are you a pretty good person?  Do you try to good things?  Are you kind to people?  Have good intentions?  Would you go so far as to say you are holy?  Yikes!  That seems like an impossible standard.  All people have hang-ups and struggles, but isn’t the best we can do is try to love others and be the best we can be?

Being a “pretty good person” is not God’s standard – perfection is.  That’s hard for us to grasp because in this fallible world we have convinced ourselves that good efforts are the standard.  Pride has blinded us into believing we are good enough.

Holy GodBut God’s truth is “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) and God is “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our heart” (Hebrews 4:12b) and knows, even when we won’t admit it to ourselves, that we are selfish and broken.  Yet, He still loves us.  Miraculously, holiness is still possible through the greatest gift the world has ever known – Jesus.  God loved us so much that He sent His son to die in our place (John 3:16).

This is AMAZING news!!! God has rescued us!  We don’t measure up, but can stand in the presence of God and be righteousness because Jesus died on the cross (Romans 5:8-11).  I marvel at the fact that I stand holy before God.  It is an undeserved gift.

Acknowledge that you fall short on your own and need the perfect Savior.  Stop living the lie of trying to be good enough on your own and rest in knowing that you follow the One who is holy.  Be Holy through Him.  And one day in heaven stand before the throne of God as it is proclaimed:

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD THE ALMIGHTY WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME . (Revelation 4:8b)

About the Writer:
Caroline Moore is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing.  God has given her a heart for encouraging other women.  She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

I Can Only Imagine the Holiness of God

How can we describe or even fathom the holiness of God?  Our God is so good, pure, unique, righteous, and separate from the world; it is hard for us to imagine his holiness. His perfection in holiness is incredibly humbling and can sometimes be terrifying in comparison to my sinfulness. The Holman Dictionary defines holiness as being “set apart, sacred, referring to a characteristic of God”.

Isaiah the prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 740 B.C. gives us a glimpse of the holiness of God on His throne in his vision.

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,

‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ (Isaiah 6:1-3)

In the verses that follow, Isaiah immediately realized how very unworthy he was, as we all are, to do anything for Him because of the uncleanliness we all have within us.

Like Isaiah, I am so very unworthy of fellowship with a Holy God, because of my sinful nature (Romans 3:23).  Only through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and thHope in Gode blood of Christ am I forgiven. Even though I have accepted Jesus gift of grace, and know my debt of sin is paid once and for all (sins of all my past, present, and future actions); there are still times I sin.  Like having a cloud hanging over me, my relationship (not my position) with a Holy God is damaged.

In his book, When Forgiveness Doesn’t Make Sense, Dr. Robert Jeffress explains this process as “judicial” and “parental” forgiveness.   He goes on to explain judicially or legally God has forgiven us, we are His children and nothing we can do will ever change that relationship.  However, when His children disobey, there has to be admission of sin in order for reconciliation or the close relationship to be restored

How do we develop and maintain a relationship with a Holy God?

When I think of my inevitable future meeting with a Holy God someday, verses from the song, “I Can Only Imagine”, from Mercy Me comes to mind.

“I can only Imagine,
What it will be like
When I walk by your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face is before me. . . . .

Will I stand in your presence?
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing Hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine. . . . .”

About the writer:
Beverly has been an educator, administrator, and educational sales representative, Sunday school teacher, and mentor; but most importantly is a wife, mother, and grandmother with a passion for sharing Christ.

Holiness of God

I have to be honest; I have been putting this blog off for as long as possible.  I believe this is the fourth deadline I am coming upon as I sit in my cube writing.  I love writing, but I have been lost in a sea of uninspiration for months now, and I was not sure how to get over it.  I walked into work this morning (I work in the Women’s Ministry of First Baptist), and I went straight to my cube and said (inside my head) “well, let’s blog today…”

I opened up the email, which was asking for my blog, to find the title for my month. Yet again I was blown away by the consistency of God in my life.  You see, this whole semester I have found myself in the book of Ephesians.  I have taught from this book more than a couple times, and if you have needed advice in the last few months I have sent you to the book of Ephesians.  If I have been lost I found myself reading from…the book of Ephesians.

The character of holiness of GodGod is found in the word holiness.  What stands out the most to me about the holiness of God is that in all his set apartness, his sacredness, his transcendent-ness; He is still personal and passes this holiness on to us as believers.

In (Ephesians 4:23-24), Paul is calling the church at Ephesus to take off their old selves and put on their new selves created in the image of God.  There are two words that greatly stand out to me from these verses.  The first word is RENEWED. And in this passage it is a present passive verb.  I had to look up what that meant.  It means that something is happening to the main character (US) but something else (GOD) is performing the action.  We are not renewing ourselves, prais the Lord.  God is renewing us.  When we look at it through the lens of our new selves created in the image of God; the way we think, feel, act all changes because we are now seen as a daughter of the most high God.  We are created in his likeness.  His likeness.  He is renewing us to be more like Him!!

Before we get to the second word I need to have a moment of truth–up to this point I have never opened my Strong’s concordance.  I bought it at a yard sale thinking:  1)maybe one day I will want the Greek or Hebrew translation for words in the Bible, and 2)looks like this would look cool on a coffee table, thank you Pinterest.  I used it when prepping to look up the word holiness referred to in this passage. The definition of holiness really blew me away. Strong’s defines it by using the phrase ‘human statues; it is our divine human character’.  Holiness is in our bones when we are living in our new selves.

The thing that stands out to me as I learn more about the Holiness of God is that God is passing all this on to us, as believers. What strength, courage, and hope is found in knowing that we are considered holy because God is Holy!

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days in seminary classes, spends her afternoons interning with First Baptist Dallas Women’s, spends her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest, challenging the worldly norm of a 28 year old.