Posted by: rcottrill | October 16, 2017

Take Time to Be Holy

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Words: William Dunn Longstaff (b. Nov. 26, 1822; d. Apr. 2, 1894)
Music: Holiness, by George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: William Longstaff was a friend and helper of both evangelist Dwight Moody, and of Salvation Army founder William Booth. He was financially well off, and supported Christian ministries with his money, as well as devoting time and effort to them.

One day, Longstaff heard a sermon by Griffith John, a missionary home to England from China. Dr. John spoke about the need for practical holiness, and the fact that it required a disciplined and committed life, over time. He called upon listeners to “take time to be holy.” It was that phrase that struck William Longstaff and he wrote this hymn about it.

You’ve likely seen it on a jar of coffee–the word “instant.” It tells us that, instead of having to wait some minutes for our coffee to percolate, we can simply add a spoonful of the granules to a cup of hot water and have a our drink immediately.

An instant is defined by the dictionary as a very short space of time, or a point in time that separates two states of being (e.g. the instant between life and death). There are things in our experience like that–such as the instant the first plane struck the World Trade Center in 2001. For many, that changed life forever.

Other things take longer. Trees don’t grow in an instant, neither does a baby. And many of us have come to the unfortunate realization that, just as we don’t get overweight and out of shape instantly, neither does dieting or exercise solve the problem in a flash. Following the decision to do something to improve our condition comes the need for discipline, and consistency in our behaviour, for many months to follow.

This kind of process is analogous in the spiritual realm to maintaining practical holiness. First, a bit of background. The word holy–along with other Bible words such as sanctified, hallowed, and consecrated–literally means separated or set apart. Usually separated from what is bad, and separated unto what is good, or set apart for God. A sanctuary is a holy place, and a saint is a holy person. (Same root word.)

God the Father is said to be holy (Jn. 17:11), as is God the Son, and the Spirit of God (Lk. 1:35). And angels called seraphim hover around the throne of God proclaiming:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3; cf. Rev. 4:8).

As applied to God the word holy means He is completely separated from what is impure, unjust, and untrue. And the Lord calls on Christians to live holy lives.

“As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (I Pet. 1:15). “He chose us…that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

None of us has arrived at a perfection of holiness in thought, word, or action, nor will we, until we go to be with Christ. But we are to aspire to be all that God desires, and there are two agents provided to assist us.

¤ One is the Bible. As the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father about His followers, “Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth (Jn. 17:17, Amplified Bible). As we read and study God’s Word, we learn what it means to live a holy life.

¤ The other Agent is the Holy Spirit, who both guides and empowers us to live a more holy, Christlike life, characterized as “the fruit of the Spirit” in us (Gal. 5:22-23).

Longstaff’s hymn talks about this in simple and practical terms.

CH-1) Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

CH-2) Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

CH-3) Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

1) What did you learn from your personal time of devotions today?

2) Do you have a written prayer list of people and ministries you pray for regularly? (If not, why not make one today?)

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal


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