Hi everyone. Rob here.
On Sunday at church we were holding a Baptism Day Out. We had gathered at church for the testimonies of 6 young people, then we were heading to our world-class Hamilton Gardens and the mighty Waikato river for the baptisms and a picnic lunch together. But obstacles were arising. Our church administrator and husband were sick so last-minute details as well as our key musician were missing. The message about having communion hadn’t got through so nothing had been prepared. One of the baptises had lost someone close to her the previous night. There were spots of rain. People seemed uncertain about what was happening and I was feeling increasingly agitated as I scrambled together some last-minute fixes. Then it occurred to me (eventually): THIS ISN’T US!
Of course. 6 young people making vows and enacting a powerful symbol of dying to sin and coming alive to God in Christ was fiercely opposed by Satan, our enemy. Sure, I’d been aware of the possibility of the enemy’s opposition, but incredibly naïve about the certainty of that opposition. I had prayed prayers of protection but not wholeheartedly. I had given the day to God with my words but I had not truly consecrated the day.
As I’ve been praying this year I have been using the word ‘consecrate’ a lot. It’s largely an Old Testament word related to temple rituals. So we read about a consecrated temple; consecrated priests, consecrated garments and bread and people. Consecration is the giving over of someone or something to God for his purposes and to receive his presence. We see the word in a New Testament context in 1 Timothy 4:4-5.
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
The context of these 2 verses is the appearance of false teachers who have been preaching celibacy and abstaining from certain foods in order to be right with God. Paul wholeheartedly rejects such teaching and essentially says it’s not about what you eat or do, but how you go about eating and doing. His approach is that all of life belongs to God because everything God created is good. Therefore, give to God your whole life – your eating, your marriage bed, your working, your thinking and so on. It all belongs to God so give it over to him through prayer, receive it with thanks and it is then consecrated to God – that is used for his purposes and ready to receive his presence.
So this is what I’ve been praying. Father I consecrate this holiday to you; this car journey; my kids and their classrooms; Kiley and her heart for others; myself and my speaking, my sharing, my planning and so on. Kiley and I are off to Sydney for a friend’s wedding in a few days so I’ve consecrated that time away.
I was inspired by the time I was in the States and went rock climbing with some of John Eldredge’s team in Colorado. Alex, the guy leading us prayed over our time together. He consecrated the safety gear, our conversations, our minds and our hearts. The prayer reflected the thought in 1 Timothy; that what we were doing, fun as it was, was a kingdom of God activity. We had given ourselves over to God to be used for his purposes and to receive his presence.
It’s a challenging and inspiring thought. Challenging in that, do we? Do we consecrate our holidays, our dinners out, our dinners in, our walking and talking, our work, our leisure to God for his purposes and to receive his presence? What we’ve tended to do is separate out God-stuff from ordinary stuff. We pray at church and before a home group study or a quiet time but when we receive our flat white or go out for a game of golf?
So on Sunday I prayed a prayer of consecration over the church. We stood against the enemy and gave the day and ourselves over to God so that we would be used for his purposes and be ready to receive his presence. The day became a day of joy. The agitation was lifted. The sun shone and it was beautiful. I learned a valuable lesson about the power of consecration and I pray that as we practice this we would receive more of God’s power, love and joy in our lives.
Grace and peace everyone.