Have you experienced or observed a disaster or catastrophe that caused you to weep, mourn, wail, grieve, or despair—one so great that you will describe it to your children and grandchildren? Circle any you have experienced or observed up close or write another:
CRIME, DROUGHT, EARTHQUAKE, EPIDEMIC, FINANCIAL COLLAPSE, FLOOD, HAILSTORM, HURRICANE, OIL SPILL, PLAGUE, RIOTS, SHATTERED RELATIONSHIPS, TERRORIST ATTACK, TORNADO, TSUNAMI, VOLCANO, WAR, WILDFIRE
Crises are appropriate times to gather with God’s people for sacred assemblies, just as they did in Joel’s day. But actually, God wants us to celebrate sacred assemblies in such a way that we never stray far away from Him. These assemblies can be times of renewal, worship, festival, and rejoicing. Any time we gather to meet with God is a sacred assembly. If we do the ongoing spiritual work required by the Lord, we will not need an emergency sacred assembly as the people did in Joel’s day.
God wanted the people to prepare themselves to meet with Him in Joel’s day, so He commanded, “Consecrate the assembly” (Joel 2:16, NIV). We see a similar command in Exodus 19 when God explained to Moses that He was coming down on Mount Sinai to give the Ten Commandments: “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and conse-crate them’ ” (Exodus 19:10, NIV). Consecrating God’s people is an important action for a spiritual leader to undertake when preparing them to meet with God or to renew their covenant relationship with Him.
In both Joel and Exodus, the Hebrew word for consecrate means to make clean; to purify; to sanctify or to set apart from the common, profane, or unholy.
✍ Read again the definition of consecrate above and write a brief definition in your own words.
Moses required the people to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual relations. Though being physically clean can be valuable, moral, mental, and spiritual cleansing is the more important preparatory task.
❍ Pause to think about the kind of cleansing you may need morally, mentally, and spiritually to be prepared to meet with God.
Another concept expressed by the word consecrate comes from the combination of two different Hebrew words. Together they can mean to fill the open hand. Here’s the idea. Imagine a priest standing beside the altar in the temple with his hands open to receive an offering from you. Once you place your offering into the priest’s hands, it is consecrated to God. It is dedicated to Him for His purposes. It no longer belongs to you but to God. It is holy because God is holy.
As you think about your need to be consecrated, keep this idea of consecration in mind also. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1, HCSB).
Imagine Jesus Christ seated on His throne with open hands to receive your life as an offering, a sacrifice, one that is holy and pleasing to Him.
Which of the following words best describes the kind of life offering you want to bring to your Lord and King, Jesus Christ? Place a check beside those words.
□ arrogant □ clean □ evil □ holy □ humble □ immoral □ impure □ loving
□ obedient □ pure □ selfish □ ungodly □ wicked □ surrendered □ faithful
If you avoided words like arrogant, immoral, impure, selfish, evil, ungodly, and wicked and checked most of the others, you have the right desire for a consecrated life. This week I want to help you prepare your life to be an offering like that—one that will be pleasing to Christ.
❍ God desires a consecrated people. Will you agree to work through this consecration process this week so your life will be a pleasing offering to Him?
□ Yes, I want my life to be pleasing and useful to the Lord.
□ No, I have no interest in pleasing the Lord or giving myself to Him.
□ Allow me to think about it. That’s a serious decision, isn’t it?
❋ PRAY to Christ about your desire and willingness to present your life to Him as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to Him. If you are hesitant, invite the Lord to reveal to you the benefits and importance of a consecrated life.
❋ PRAY And ask the Lord to help you prepare this week so you will be ready to assemble with other believers as a people who are holy and dedicated to the Lord.