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USA Southern Territorial Weekly Devotional

Growing Deeper Together

April 19, 2023


It's A Command


Leviticus 19:1-2; I Peter 1:13-25 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT (Written by Rick Raymer, Major)

I grew up in a drug–infested, beer–drinking, gun–toting neighborhood. Yet, in the midst of that environment,  God had His hand upon my life. I remember driving down a two–lane road one night after drinking and doing other drugs. High as a kite, I came to some railroad tracks. I drove my car onto the tracks without seeing the oncoming train. Just as I made it to the other side, I came to an abrupt stop as the train passed within inches behind me.

Another time I was drunk and drove my friend’s van into our neighborhood’s community swimming pool. I managed to get the door open and climb out. Drunk as a skunk, I fell into the water. I sloshed my way onto the concrete poolside before I passed out. It’s a wonder I didn’t drown. When I woke up, I was in the hospital.

Years later, I was driving home after Christmas toy shop distribution at The Salvation Army in Albany. My twin brother David was with me. This time I was sober and in love with God, but I fell asleep at the wheel and flipped the car. I was thrown into the middle of Highway 75. An 18–wheeler nearly ran me over. Without a driver, the car kept going. David stayed in the passenger seat until the wheels came to a stop at the bottom of the hill.

On any or all of these occasions, I could have been killed. But God had other plans for my life. I know He was looking out for me. With all the wrong influences that surrounded me in my childhood, I could have ended up so differently.

Naturally, it was easier to do wrong than right. I could have continued down the road to destruction. I certainly started out that way. Yet God protected me, and through His Holy Spirit, I overcame the bad habits of drinking; smoking cigarettes and marijuana; using hash and cocaine, and foul language; lying; being sexually immoral, and so much more—all because I yielded to the pull of Jesus, who drew me to repent and say yes to following Him.

Overall, the good influences in my life outweighed the bad. Just as Jesus made a way for me and turned me back to Him, He can make a way for you. Here’s a chorus I have sung since I was knee-high to a grasshopper:

I know the Lord will make a way for me,

I know the Lord will make a way for me.

If I live a holy life, shun the wrong and do the right,

I know the Lord will make a way for me.

I strongly agree! Do you want to live out this life of holiness? If you do, then I challenge you to claim this attribute that God talks about in

Leviticus 19:1 (NLT

The Lord also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the entire community of Israel: You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.’

One of Jesus’ closest followers, the Apostle Peter, wrote: But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’ 1 Peter 1:15–16 (NLT)

‘Be holy’ is a command - In these verses, God says holiness isn’t an option; we must be holy because He is holy. Yet many Salvationists and Christians in general stop short of pursuing this second blessing. If all our soldiers and officers pleaded with God to sanctify them, our movement would be so much more powerful; we would be set apart for greater service and usefulness. Being holy simply means that you and I, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can rise above sin and live a life that is completely sanctified.

When you and I become holy, 
our whole outlook on life changes. The way we perceive others is different. We no longer look at them through our eyes but through God’s eyes. His desires really do become ours. Before we experienced this holy life, things were more about us:

What am I going to get out of this relationship? What’s in this for me? But after seeking and receiving holiness, our focus changes. Instead of everything always being about us, we begin to put our own exaltation aside. Rather than always asking, What’s in it for me? We begin to ponder how to help Him win the world to His Son, Jesus Christ.

In considering the question, “What is holiness?” We find this definition:

The word ‘holy’ has taken quite a semantic beating through such sayings as being stuck up (‘holier than thou’) and pedantic usage in popular culture (‘Holy Socks, Batman!’).

Popularly we may suppose that ‘holy’ means ‘morally good.’ This is only part of the meaning, however. Holiness implies goodness, but goodness is an interactive part of holiness. If we sum up the core meaning of holiness, it is not ‘good’ but rather ‘set apart’—and, therefore, good. … Holiness is itself a drawing of a boundary around that which is uniquely associated with God. —J.P. Holding

Holiness is uniquely associated with God because God is holy, and He wants to impart His holiness to His children. There are those who would argue that we will only have this attribute in Heaven, but I’d rather side with God on this issue and simply seek to be what He says we can be. You and I were made to be holy, and Peter says, “Now is the time.” On this side of Glory, it is possible for each of us to be holy, or God would not have commanded us to be so. Being holy is possible by rejecting the world and what it has to offer and allowing Jesus to permeate the very core of our hearts and minds each day.

When we claim the blessing of a clean heart, we begin to live like Jesus. “Holiness is a deep desire to be more like Jesus,” says Captain John Sikes (a retired Officer and faithful soldier of the Greensboro, NC. Corps) When we live that way, he says, “ … it bubbles out of our every ounce of life that we are, as we serve, share, and love unconditionally.”

The presence of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, should make a significant difference in our lives. When we are first saved, a radical transformation often takes place, and people see big changes in us. Likewise, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, people should be able to see that something extraordinary has happened to us.

Give some thought about this as we go through this week and come back next week as we pursue Holiness.


(Today's devotional comes from the book Living Holiness Out Loud in The 21st Century by Major Rick Raymer. This book can be purchased through Trade South.)


All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory, and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. We make this prayer in Jesus Christ's name, amen. (I Peter 1:3-7)



Just as Jesus made a way for me and turned me back to Him, He can make a way for you and those you do life with. Take time this week to make a way to help those in your sphere of influence to draw closer to the Christ of Calvary.

"Sin does not leap upon us fully armed. It steals in through a look, a swift, silent suggestion or imagination, but love and loyalty to Jesus will make you watchful and swift to rise up and cast out the subtle enemy. Do this and you shall live, and live victoriously." (you used this April 5 as well)

                                                      - Samuel Logan Brengle, Commissioner

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Rick Raymer, Major
Territorial Spiritual Life Development Officer/THQ Chaplain
USA Southern Territory
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