First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Consecration Sunday, November 17, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Joshua 3:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
The Scripture passage we just read from Joshua chapter 3 tells us that the Israelites were on the threshold of the Promised Land. This is the moment they have been waiting for generation after generation. God has promised them a land and their ancestors carried that promise around in their heart. They went through slavery in Egypt. They were delivered from that slavery by the mighty hand of God and then spent 40 years wandering around the wilderness, the desert. In Joshua chapter 3, they are on the edge of the land that God has promised; they can see it. It is right across the river, but that river is at flood stage. There are no bridges. There are no boats. There is no safe place to fiord this river because of that flood stage, and yet they are at the edge and God is saying to them, “This is your land. I am going to take you in.” God’s promises are about to be fulfilled.
But I want you to particularly notice Joshua 3:5 because that is the theme for this Sunday. “Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” They are right on the edge of the land. They are ready to grasp the promise that they have been carrying around in their hearts for hundreds of years and then Joshua goes around to all the people; not just the leaders, all the people and says to them, “Consecrate yourselves.” It's a word to everybody. What I find interesting here is that Joshua is going around and talking to people and he is not saying “check your shields and sharpen your swords because we are going into battle.” That would be a logical thing to say at this particular place in their history, but he is not. Instead, there is this issue of consecration, “consecrate yourselves for the Lord is going to do some amazing things among you.” Consecrate yourselves, what does that mean?
The Meaning of Consecration
Most of us don’t use that word very often in daily conversation. What does it mean to “consecrate” yourself? The word “consecrate” here in Joshua 3:5 is the Hebrew word “kawdash” — it means to be “holy”, to be set apart; sanctified. The word it comes from, “kadosh”, is the word the angels who minister around the throne of God cry out day and night: “kadosh, kadosh, kadosh”: “Holy, holy, holy.
And because God is holy, He commands His people to be holy. In Leviticus 11:44 God told the people of Israel, “Be holy, for I am holy.” He says the same thing in Peter 1:16, reinforcing that in both Old and New Testament, God’s desire is for us to be consecrated, to be set apart, to be dedicated for His service; to be His own in the world. Consecration is separation from anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God.
Friends, the Lord promised in Joshua 3:5 that when we consecrate ourselves, He will do amazing things among us. The job is not done. The world is still on Jesus’ heart and that means that God will act. God is going to act among us. We have seen Him do it before and He is going to do it again in new ways. So we need to be ready. Are we ready?
As your Pastor, I always pray for this congregation to be the church that Jesus Christ died to make us, nothing less. God has a calling for us that is much too wonderful for that. And so, we need to be ready. We need to be consecrated. So, let’s think for just a few minutes about what it means to consecrate ourselves. Let me suggest three things:
First: Consecrate your Time
We live in a very busy culture. Everyone is busy. This is an incredibly busy culture. Think of how often we use our busyness as an excuse for things that we don’t do in our spiritual life. I am too busy to read the Scripture. I am too busy to pray. I am too busy to serve. May be God is calling you today to make some tough decisions and radical changes so that you consecrate your time. You may need to say no to some things at home, or at work, and at the same time, you may need to make a bigger room for God in your time. Make yourself available to the things that God are calling you to do and see what difference this is going to make in your life.
Second: Consecrate your Money
I do not get to speak much about money. I leave that to our Trustees and the wonderful people who manage our finances. But let me tell you very briefly. Consecrating our money is a sign of a consecrated life. In other words, there is no real consecration without the consecration of our bank account. This is lip consecration.
The Lord never said how much you should give to the Lord, but if we follow the direction of the Old Testament, we are to tithe, i.e. give to the Lord a tenth of our income, and this is just the starting point. Consecrating our money is one way to say to the Lord that we do care about His Kingdom. The New Testament calls us to give generously and give cheerfully. We have been given much, and as Jesus said in Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
Third: Consecrate your Gifts
You are all gifted. Yes, you heard it right. Each one in God’s family got at least one gift. I am sure most of us got more than one gift. We’ve got to consecrate our gifts. God has given us those gifts to use them in our personal lives, in our work, in our families, but those gifts are also given to us by the Holy Spirit to build the Kingdom of God NOT our own kingdoms.
God wants to use our gifts for things that bring specific glory to Jesus Christ in the church, in the workplace, out on the street, in another country, God wants to use your gifts. Are we learning what they are and are we making them available to God, consecrate your gifts!
Friends, the equation in Joshua 3:5 is easy, yet challenging. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” God is going to do amazing things among us. I am convinced of it, not because we are worthy, not because we are skilled, but because God is faithful to His promises. But we do have a responsibility to consecrate ourselves, to be prepared, available, ready to use when this happens, to be in the right place facing in the right direction with our eyes and hearts open, ready to respond, ready to follow. Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you. Let’s get ready. Amen.