A Heart that Is Set Apart for God
The Lord has been impressing upon me lately to consider writing an article on being "set apart for God." I asked a few of my co-workers what they thought it meant and here are a few of their thoughts.
To be set apart means that God has His hand on you for a specific purpose. He'll use other people to get you on track, in addition to dreams, visions, and that "still small voice" of God. A scripture that would fit nicely with this is Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Another shared that it means to be marked by God for a particular purpose. He guides our lives differently than it might have been had we not submitted to His call. And even though it may appear that we are not in ministry, we are marked by God to minister in the day to day living. Because He has set us apart, we are already walking into our destinies.
We will feel a pull away from people and things that distract us. Even though we may feel as if we are put on a shelf and forgotten, we have been set apart for the call of God on our lives. It is during these times that we will find ourselves spending quality time with God as He molds and makes us into His image. He will build character in us so that when it is time to go on the frontlines, He knows we will be ready. He will be able to trust us with what has been appointed for us to do. Jesus said, "Come out from among them and be ye separate." II Corinthians 6:17
Matthew 22:14 says, "For many are called, but few are chosen." It is as if we can picture Jesus standing in the middle of a very busy, dusty, Middle East marketplace, not even aware of all the disruption going on around Him. Instead He is intently holding up and examining select pieces of fruit. After deciding on His choice, He gently places them one by one in a basket cradled in the crook of His arm, close to His side.
One sister in the Lord spoke of a lesson she learned with the fruit in her lunch bag. As she took out the beautiful, crimson-colored nectarine, she began to cut the fruit before she ate it. To her great surprise, she found that it was totally rotten on the inside. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to her and said that this fruit is symbolic of what some Christians are like. They are beautiful on the outside but the inside tells a different story.
She felt a check to make sure that she was clean before the Lord. God has chosen us to do a work for Him and we need to be "set apart", chosen to do a work for the King. He has anointed us and equipped us to be used for the advancement of His kingdom.
Yet another one shared with me that to be set apart means to be made holy, consecrated to Him. Christians are given a special role in life to serve Him. We are transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. We are strangers to this world's system. Instead of thinking and acting like the world, we are set apart from this more common way of viewing and living life and are given a different purpose, which is to serve God and become more like Jesus. You could say that we are separated from worldliness and given new purpose in Jesus to be used by God.
Personally, I agree with all of the above. In my 50 years of living on this earth, I have spent 43 years as a Christian. From the very beginning I have felt called to be separated unto God. My desires were to please God. I did not always succeed, but my heart was for God.
If I get off track, God always gently guides me back onto the path He has chosen for me. First Thessalonians 4 tells us that we should live a life pleasing to the Lord. In verse one Paul is encouraging us to live it even more than before. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 instructs us to love our Christian families and Christians around us. He exhorts us to love them even more.
First Thessalonians 5:6 says, "So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control." Verse 8 says, " ... We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet."
Verses 13-22 give us these insights. Live in peace with each other, warn those who do not work, and encourage the people who are afraid. We should also help those who are weak, be patient with everyone, be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to do what is good for each other.
Further instructions are to always be joyful, pray continually, give thanks for whatever happens, do not hold back the work of the Holy Spirit, do not treat prophecy as if it were unimportant, but test everything. Keep what is good and stay away from everything that is evil.
Do you get the point by now? If we are set apart to do the work of the Lord, then we will not have time to get into trouble; especially if our hearts are set on pleasing God. We should be working on being full of the fruit of the Spirit and telling people about the message of the Gospel of peace. That alone is a full-time job.
And as Paul ends II Thessalonians, "Now may the Lord of peace give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you."