CONSECRATE THE PEOPLE – PDF Download
“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelaiton 2:1-7)
The resurrected and glorified Christ sent a message to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2. He commended their hard work, their endurance, their intolerance of evil, their stand against false teachers, and their patient endurance of hardships. But He had one thing against them: they had abandoned their first love for Him. What is the condition of your love for your Savior and Lord?
Jesus gave His disciples a guide by which to measure their love. He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words” (John 14:15,24, HCSB). Obedience to God’s commands is the best measure of your love for Him.
❍ If God measured your love by that standard, what would He conclude about your first love for Christ? Check one.
□ I love Him, because I faithfully obey His commands.
□ My love for Him isn’t what it needs to be, because I do not always obey His commands.
□ I don’t love Him much, because I frequently fail to obey His commands.
I’m afraid most of us would have to check b or c, and we would receive the same message from Christ that Ephesus did: “You have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4, HCSB). If that is true of you, you can respond the way Christ commanded the Ephesians: remember, repent, and obey. Consecrate yourself by returning to your first love.
❍ Take time to remember; then repent and obey. Write a journal entry for the following on separate paper and share it with others.
❍ Recall your salvation. What did Jesus save you from? How much has He forgiven you? How is your life different because of Christ? What good things has the Lord done for you?
❍ Reflect on times when you have walked more closely with God. How have you experienced His love and nearness more deeply than you do now?
❍ Think about Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, on which He clearly demonstrated His love for you.
❍ Recall the ways and times you have walked in victory over sin and in obedience to Christ. Repent and do those things again. Return to your first love for Christ.
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.
“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land Consecrate the People to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly.” (Joel 1:14; 2:12,15-16, NIV)
Probably, the reason you are reading this booklet is that a spiritual leader has asked you to prepare for a sacred assembly or a time to renew your covenant commitments to the Lord. Sacred assembly may be a new term for you, but the concept is ancient. In Scripture:
Sacred assemblies were occasions for God’s people collectively to worship Him, to repent of personal and corporate sin, to remember His special blessings on them, and to anticipate future blessings. The prescribed sacred assemblies (or holy convocations) for Israel included the Sabbath (Lev. 23:3) and seven other days of sacred assembly: the first (Passover) and seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:4-8), the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost, Lev. 23:15-21), the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:23-25), the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:26-32), and the first and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:33-36).
Sacred assemblies were times for God’s people to confess and repent of their sins. They were times to renew the covenant relationship with the Lord and return to Him in faithful love and obedience. They were times for worship and sacrifice, feasting and fasting. Even with these regular opportunities to renew fellowship with God, His people tended to depart from Him and from obedience to His commands. Spiritual leaders knew that the sacred assembly was a time for corporate repentance in the face of God’s righteous judgments.1
During the days of the prophet Joel, a great swarm of locusts brought devastation on the nation. This was a time to weep, mourn, wail, grieve, and despair. Joel asked, “Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors?” (Joel 1:2, HCSB). This was such a great catastrophe, future generations would talk about it with their children and grandchildren (see Joel 1:3). This time of great national disaster caused the prophet Joel to shout:
Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land Consecrate the People to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly” (Joel 1:14; 2:12,15-16, NIV).
Desperate times called for desperate measures. In their distress the people were ready to cry out to the Lord for help. The prophet knew a sacred assembly was the appropriate time and way to turn to the Lord.
Many sense our nation is at a desperate time that calls for desperate measures. How many disasters have we experienced lately that have been some of the worst in history—the kind we will describe to our children and grandchildren? At times like this, God’s call to us is “Return to Me.” On the occasion of one sacred assembly during King Solomon’s reign, God made the following promise.
If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles
The healing of our land is waiting on the repentance of God’s people. So is the healing of our marriages, families, churches, and cities. Sacred assemblies are appropriate times and ways for people, families, churches, cities, and nations to return to the Lord. Now is the right time for us to declare a holy fast, sound the alarm, and call a sacred assembly. Now is the time for us to return to a right relationship with God.
Now is the time to renew our covenant commitments to Jesus Christ. We dare not rush into the presence of a holy God unprepared. God commanded Joel to consecrate the people. I’ve prepared this booklet for you to prepare yourself for a time of sacred assembly.
❋ PRAY that the Lord will help you prepare this week to enter His presence.
1. Claude King, Come to the Lord’s Table (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2006), 4.
“They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood. They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves. Therefore the LORD was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance.” (Psalm 106:37-40 NIV)
I long ago concluded and am evermore convinced that the atrocity of abortion has ensured for our nation an impending outpouring of divine retribution. Since our Supreme Court dehumanized the unborn and legalized abortion 38 years ago today, 51 million babies have been exterminated in these United States. This amounts to about 1.5 million abortions a year, 3,600 a day, 151 an hour, and 1 every 24 seconds.
Our country loses more casualties to abortion each year than it has lost in all of its previous wars combined—the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the war in Iraq. While much is made today of the casualties our country has suffered in Iraq, there is a conspicuous silence in our land over the fact that more defenseless unborn children die everyday in America at the hands of abortionists than the total number of soldiers who have died at the hands of Iraqi insurgents since the start of the Iraq War.
If we were to execute one American for every unborn child aborted in America since the Supreme Court legalized abortion 33 years ago today, we would wipe out the equivalent of the combined populations of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
To imagine a nation with so much innocent blood on its hands escaping divine retribution is truly a preposterous proposition. It is made even more preposterous when one considers the incurring of divine hatred by “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:16-17) and the kindling of divine wrath against any nation “polluted” by the “innocent blood” of its own sons and daughters (Psalm 106:37-40).
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34)
It is estimated that 10 million black babies have been aborted since the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. This translates into a 35% reduction in the population of today’s African American community. With 1,452 black babies being aborted daily in America, with abortions in some African American communities now outnumbering births 3-to-1, and with 43% of all black pregnancies in America today ending in abortion, there appears to be no end in sight to the dwindling of our country’s black population.
No organization in America has championed abortion rights more than Planned Parenthood. What few people know, however, is that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a racist who advocated abortion for the purpose of reducing the black population. According to Sanger, “Negroes” were “mentally inferior” and “a menace to the [human] race.” Thus, she advocated abortion as a way to reduce the black population. As the above statistics on abortion in the African American community prove, Margaret Sanger’s diabolical plot appears to be coming to pass right before our very eyes.
Instead of continuing to mistakenly see Planned Parenthood as a partner in the reduction of poverty and other problems in the African American community, blacks need to wake up to the fact that nothing is posing a greater threat to their population than Planned Parenthood clinics in inner-city communities.
“…and a little child shall lead them…” (Isaiah 11:6)
The Thomas More Law Center defends pro-life groups who attempt to inform America about the horrors of abortion by dragging larger-than-life banners behind airplanes. These banners, flown up and down crowded tourist areas, show dismembered aborted babies. Many protest that they are offensive and should be outlawed. Even some within the pro-life movement feel that they harden hearts against the cause.
Do pictures of emaciated bodies of Jews stacked up like cord wood displayed at holocaust museums harden people against Jews and turn them into Nazis? How about exhibits of blacks being lynched? Do the membership roles of the KKK swell after people see these pictures? The mini-series Roots, as well as Steven Spielberg’s motion picture Schindler’s List, were designed to show the realities of chattel slavery and extreme prejudice masquerading behind the mask of “duty.” In fact, both Jews and blacks want children to see these stark and horrifying images. Prejudice and hate are bred early, and so are justice and mercy.
Some argue that pictures of aborted babies are too shocking for young children. I disagree. It’s possible that their trauma might shock their pro-abortion parents into reality, as the case of Jean Staker Garton proves.
Mrs. Garton tells a story from her “pro-choice” days. According to her, she was putting the finishing touches one night on a slide presentation. One of the slides showed a graphic image of an aborted baby. Her body had been dismembered by a curette, the long-handled knife used in a D & C abortion procedure. With the bloody image still on the screen, Jean turned and realized to her horror that she was not alone. Her youngest son, unable to sleep, had entered the room. He asked his mom a simple question: “Who broke the baby?”
This child knew what he had seen. Afterward, his mom became a pro-life advocate and now spends her time trying to end what she once promoted. Maybe it’s time for more children to awaken more Americans with the same question. Let the banners fly!
Devotion taken from an article by Gary DeMar.
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.” (Proverbs 5:4-5 NIV)
The New York Times recently reported that judges are putting “up potentially insurmountable roadblocks to the use of lethal injections to execute condemned inmates.” According to the Times, judges are increasingly finding that lethal injections cause condemned criminals to suffer “agonizing executions.” Thus, judges are beginning to insist that medical doctors oversee executions. According to Dr. Jonathan I Groner, a professor of surgery at Ohio State University, the judiciary’s growing insistence that physicians supervise executions by lethal injection will render such executions in the future “difficult, if not impossible to perform.” This, Dr Groner argues, is due to the fact that doctors are prohibited from participating in executions by their Hippocratic Oath and the American Medical Association’s code of ethics.
Can someone explain to me why the Hippocratic Oath and the American Medical Association’s code of ethics prohibit doctors from overseeing the execution of a mass murderer, but not from terminating the lives of unborn children or helping the old and infirm commit suicide? While there is no shortage of doctors willing to perform abortions nor any lack of support for physician assisted suicide in today’s medical profession, doctors willing to oversee the execution of a Zacarias Moussaoui are supposedly as scarce as chicken’s teeth. Why?
How come lethal injections administered in physician assisted suicides produce “peaceful deaths,” but constitute cruel and unusual punishment when administered to a death row inmate? Why do doctors have no problem with the gruesome performance of a partial birth abortion, but balk at putting murderers to sleep and then administering a drug to stop their hearts? I’ll guarantee you that an executed murderer dies a far more humane death than did his victim or victims, not to mention a far more humane death than a partially delivered baby dies when its head is stabbed with scissors so that its brains can be sucked out and its skull collapsed.
Maybe some doctors took a “Hypocritical” Oath instead of the Hippocratic one. How else can you explain their willingness to participate in infanticide and euthanasia, but refusal to oversee the execution of a criminal whose heinous crime clearly demonstrates a total disregard for the sanctity of human life? Perhaps, it is that disregard for the sanctity of human life that leads pro-choice doctors and Dr. Kevorkian wannabes to empathize with condemned death roll inmates. If such is the case, then it’s not hypocrisy; it’s just down right scary.
“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)
I’m confused; the United States Supreme Court has ruled that when it comes to physician-assisted suicide, states have the right to regulate the practice of medicine and the licensing of doctors. States can permit doctors to help terminally ill patients commit suicide by prescribing for them lethal doses of medication. Yet, this same Supreme Court denies states the right to regulate medicine and the licensing of doctors when it comes to abortion. Although states can permit doctors to end the lives of the terminally ill, they cannot prevent doctors from taking the lives of the unborn. Why are States’ rights only recognized by the Supreme Court in cases involving the termination of life, but never in cases involving the preservation of life?
When it comes to abortion, we are told by the pro-death crowd that life is shrouded in such mystery that no one knows when it really begins. Thus, all criminality is removed from the taking of an unborn child’s life because of our uncertainty over life’s inception. Yet, when it comes to euthanasia, this same crowd strips away the shroud and sees no mystery to life at all. According to them, life undoubtedly ceases prior to one’s becoming old and infirm; thus, the unconscionable extermination of the old and infirm is a merciful act of a compassionate society. How, one wonders, does the pro-death crowd get away with arguing against itself at both ends of life? At one end it cloaks life in mystery in order to hide the crime of abortion; at the other end it strips the cloak away in order to convince us of the compassion of euthanasia?
When James and John requested permission from Jesus to command fire down from heaven to consume a village of Christ-rejecting Samaritans, our Lord rebuked His hot-tempered disciples by warning them: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56). Perhaps, there is no better indicator of the spirit that has seized our nation than the current culture of death being advocated by our society and adjudicated by our Supreme Court. It is not the Holy Spirit, but the most unholy of spirits, that inspires a culture of death. Whereas Christ came so that men may live, the devil, who has been “a murderer from the beginning,” always comes to “kill and destroy” (John 8:44; 10:10).