Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The fear of the LORD ??
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ..."
It always bugs me when preachers quote Proverbs 1:7 and then say that this means to reverence God. What does that mean, anyway, "to reverence?" I think that whole concept is out of reach for most of us.
Now the opposite: we're told not to fear evil or the evil one. Does that mean we're not to give him reverence? No. It means we're not to be afraid of him.
What's wrong with being afraid of God anyway?
When I read of His appearance in Revelation and think of Him coming in judgment and I picture the possibility of me burning in Hell and the smoke of my torment rising up forever and ever, I am terrified. My heart is humbled in appreciation that He loves me and has released me from my sins by His blood.
When I think of the possibility of Him deciding to be against me - against my life, against my success, against my relationships, against my future, it scares me to death. I never want Him to be set against me. What more terrible opponent could a man have?
I Samuel 12:15
"If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers." How can any man survive if God's hand is against him? No matter where you swim, you'll be washed downstream.
When I think that He has the power, the authority, the right to do whatever He wants with my life: to bless me or to crush me, I am simultaneously afraid and filled with trust.
When I understand that were I to be unfaithful to my wife, that He would destroy my relationship with my wife and family, destroy my business, ruin my life - and that He can do that with just a thought, I am humbled into sobriety.
When I read about sowing and reaping, and then read that He is no respecter of persons, I understand that He has determined that I do not have a favored child status. I cannot begin to think that If I do evil, He will look the other way. If I do evil, evil will come upon me. I am afraid of the possibility of that happening to me.
Yes, I am afraid of God. At the same time I know I am His child: forgiven, cleansed, freed from law by grace, blessed, kept from sin. Blessed because He chose to bless me (I Peter 3:9). Kept because I have asked Him to keep me (Jude 24). I have asked Him to keep me because the alternative is way too frightening for me.
Without fear I would not reverence Him.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
" ... and what do you do?
We all want to be something.
When someone meets you they eventually ask "and what do you do?" In other words, "what are you?" or "what's your identity?" or "how do I categorize you?"
I am a small business owner. I am a father, a husband, a homeowner. Or I am a nurse, contractor, pastor ... etc.
Paul Tripp has a good segment in the Grief Share video about identity. "I am a depressed person." or "I am a grieving person." Grief or depression are not to be an identity. How different it sounds rather than saying "I am a depressed person," to say "I am a child of the King, born again unto new life ... and, by the way, I struggle greatly with depression."
Although he applies it to a negative identity, I need to apply it to a positive identity as well. Sure, I have my own company and I do surveys for non-profits. Yet my identity needs to be found in the Great I Am. "Who should I say sent me?" "I AM" was the answer. What is He? What does He do?
There's a multitude of answers: redeemer, savior, way, truth, life, provider, protector ... but the bottom line = His identity is I AM. God wants me to find my identity in Him, not in what I do. ("and you are complete in Him ...") What I do is secondary at best. What do I do? I seek to know God, and I also have my own company.
Blackaby says "He is far more concerned that you know Him than that you know your abilities. The world tells us to affirm self, God tells us to deny self. Your identity and self-worth are found not in your abilities, but in your relationship to Christ."
That's so hard for me to actually digest. It would seem so pious and hypocritical to answer someone's "and what do you do?" with: "I seek to know Christ, and I also have my own company ..." So, LORD, help me affirm that identity with You, knowing that the world would never take that answer the right way.
Well, I take that back - I think that, delivered the right way, in the right context, it could sound genuine and not phony. Maybe something like "You want the canned answer or the real answer?" "Real? - I seek with all my life to know Christ. For a living I do surveys for non-profits." I'll have to try that some time.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Now, This is the Life!
"We proclaim to you the eternal life."
John is not proclaiming a cure for death, or a program you can subscribe to, or even a result of having "saving faith." John is not writing about a path we can walk, upon which there is no death forever. Ne's not writing about heaven and the hereafter.
John is writing about the person of Jesus Christ - who is life indeed. He is life itself. Jesus does not give life, He does not dispense life, He is life.
Therefore John can proclaim in I Jn 5:12 that if I have the Son, I have the life. (This is not anarthrous "life" but "the life") John's writings are full of this statement. I Jn 1:2, 5:12, also in John 6:48, 5:26, 11:25, 14:6 and others.
To have Jesus = to have life. To see Jesus in the world this day = to see life. To know Jesus = to know life. To walk with Jesus = to walk in life. To love Jesus = to love life. The opposite is true, too: to hate Jesus = to hate life and embrace death.
Want to "live life?" Live Jesus. Embrace life? Embrace Jesus. That is why, for me to have life I had to be co-crucified with Him, co-buried with Him, co-raised with Him (Romans 6). When we see Him we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He really is.
Help me, Jesus, today, to walk with You, to see what You are doing, where You are going and where You are working in and around me, that I may participate in Your life today. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to respond. Today.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
He could bear their misery no longer
Judges says of the LORD "He could bear their misery no longer."
I am so thankful that God is in the midst of misery with us. That he bears it with us as long as He can stand it, and particularly as long as we can benefit from it.
But when He (and we) can bear it no longer, His heart of compassion can wait no longer and He flies to our side to bring deliverance.
I am reminded of my friend, Paul, who at the age of 85 said "I am thankful for suffering. The heart that hasn't suffered can't truly sing."
Thank You, God, for misery and for the deliverance from it. Who else do we have but Thee who can care for us and who is so mighty to deliver? None.
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