Posts Tagged ‘ Fear the Lord ’

VerseD: Proverbs 3:7

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:7, ESV

Do not assume you know more than God or that He lacks understanding. Realize your need for His grace and forgiveness, that His way is right, and that your life is in His hands.

VerseD: Psalm 2:11

Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling.
Psalm 2:11, NASB

God is so much more powerful than we could ever imagine, and holier than we could ever understand.

Realize how your sin has affected your relationship with Him, and you will tremble before Him. Realize how His grace has saved you, and you will ever remain in awe of Him.

VerseD: Isaiah 29:13

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
Isaiah 29:13, ESV

Do not worry about what the majority says, and traditions can be good. But if anything contradicts His Word or leads people into temptation and sin, it is our fearing men and their teachings.

We must rely on the Word of God.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things …

As the book of Proverbs is finally “all commentaried out”, go catch some of the final wise words this week at Proverbial Thought!

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Psalm 119:37, ESV

I made a covenant with my eyes . . .
Job 31:1, NIV

A couple of weeks ago, I announced through Facebook that my wife and I were cancelling our Netflix and Hulu accounts.

This decision had very little to do with what we watch. We try to be rather discerning in what we watch because we do not want to let too many immoral and/or blasphemous things in our minds if we can help it.

Rather, the decision came after a comment made by one of seminary professors.

While working through the book of Acts, we were discussing whether Christianity was a threat to the Roman Empire. My reply was “Technically. I mean, look at when Paul got upset with the girl with the Serpent spirit and cast it out of her in the name of Jesus. The people who were making money off of her fortune-telling were suddenly out of a means of income.”

The conversation then focused on how Christianity messed with the economy of the Empire. This is because makers of idols, workers in pagan temples, and even tour guides around cities with temples would lose business throwing off the entire economy of entire cities if not the entire Empire.

Then the professor made this comment: “Imagine if Christians still gave up all of their idolatrous and ungodly pursuits. How many Christians pay for pornography in our society?

My initial thought was “I’m glad that is not us!” (Caitlin and me)

Then some conviction set in.

How much have Netflix and Hulu used their profit to produce shows or movies that glorify sex and nudity?

How much have Netflix and Hulu used their profit to produce shows or movies that mock or blaspheme Christians and God?

At first I tried to justify having these accounts:

How many Christian-based things do they show?

It is not like I watch those things!

Netflix especially comes in handy working in a school, for both my wife and me!

I found myself getting angry that I should have to give up something.

Why was I angry and finding such a need to justify my actions if I was doing nothing wrong?

More than anything, I needed to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

So, instead, I turned to my classmate and said “I am not very happy with the professor right now.” We then laughed about my silliness.

Most people I talked with about it went through the same justifications. A couple of them even said I was being too legalistic.

To combat that, a) I am not saying everyone needs to cancel Netflix and Hulu. This is a personal conviction. I certainly will argue for others to let go, because how much do we really need Netflix, Hulu, and television in general? This is especially true when we consider how useless most television is, how ungodly most television is, and how much God and Christians are blasphemed and mocked. b) We still occasionally watch TV. We enjoy being entertained as much as anyone, and not everything on TV is bad for us. c) We will still go to some movies (Speaking of which, The Lego Movie is rather fantastic in a purely entertaining vain!), for through this we might still be able to show Hollywood what kind of content we prefer while supporting some local businesses (or at least our friends who work at local businesses.

More importantly, though, is that we want to not only obey God in our lives but push others toward Christ by refusing to be a part in causing others to stumble:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where

“‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Everyone will be salted with fire.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Mark 9:42-50, NIV

We both felt that our continued subscription to these businesses supported content that could cause others to stumble or even be led astray. We would rather not have these forms of entertainment and be closer to Christ than have to have our conscience troubled if what we are doing is moral and godly. Christ and other people are more important than our temporary enjoyment.

How many things in our lives do we devote too much of our time and money to instead of focusing on loving God and people?

In our culture of instant gratification, pleasure, and stuff, how often do we unplug, sacrifice, and get quiet?

What Love Do You Have?

Today I offer part two of the devotional time from the recent trip to the Desperation Youth Conference. Again, it has been adapted for the blog.

This devotion is taken from 1 Kings 3.

Have you read that?

Good.

Seeking Wisdom

Many Bibles title that chapter “Solomon Asks for Wisdom” or something like that.

I now invite you to read the entire book of Proverbs. (You can also head over to Proverbial Thought for some excellent commentary!) If you do not read it all right now, I understand.

Solomon made the right choice. Wisdom is the ultimate thing you can get. If Proverbs 8 is compared to John 1, we understand that Jesus Christ is the Wisdom of God.
Wisdom helps us understand what God is doing in our life: Wisdom guides us to God; Wisdom helps us understand when the Holy Spirit is working in us or God is working in our circumstances

The usual theme for this passage is Solomon’s wisdom shining through.
It is a good example. Imitate Solomon in this regard!
But this is not the theme of our lesson today.

These two women are prostitutes. This helps explain why they were living together, they both had children, and there are no fathers mentioned.
In a previous devotion we discussed crazy things: Things that happen to us, things that we hear about hapening to others, and things God calls us to do. Imagine being labeled a prostitute, kind of like being called a slut in school or the workplace. Everyone knows you have this reputation. Would you be willing to go before anybody, let alone a king, to fight for your rights if everyone thinks you are practically worthless?
These women going before Solomon would be like school bullies going before the principal saying one stole the other’s stolen lunch money. Society did not look very highly on them! This is a crazy or even silly situation (at face value).

The real point of this devotion, however, is this:
What is your most favorite thing or person?

Would you … could you give that thing or that person up? Would you be willing to let your worst enemy take it? Would you be willing to let your girlfriend/boyfriend go to another person? Would you give up your child?

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:37-39

One of my favorite definitions of hate is that it means you love something more than another thing.

And the Wisdom that leads us to God, is Christ Himself. If you claim to love Jesus Christ, are you willing to give up your life for Him? Do you love Him enough to give up your life?

Just like prostitute who cried out to let her baby live with the other woman if it would spare his life, are you willing to say “Lord Jesus, take my life and do with it as you will!”?

Fearing God

Last year, I wrote on why I fear God. This past weekend I saw a video from Francis Chan on the topic, and I realized I did not finish my thought last year.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

I mentioned last April that fearing the Lord includes respect and awe at His Holiness and Awesomeness. This is true and necessary.

We also need to understand what it means to respect. In that post I had a picture of a man sitting on the edge of canyon wall. I think this image can adequately demonstrate the need for respect. Ask any rock-climber, highrise construction worker, bungee jumper, deep-sea diver, hang glider, or any other dangerous profession/activity, and (the honest ones) will tell you that you must respect the danger. If you forget to respect the danger, you are that much closer to death (because you can make a mistake that will cost you).

This is the other part of fearing the Lord we must remember. God is ultimately the One who has power over life and death and everything in between and beyond either end. Many have taken the verse from Mathew 10:28, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell,” to mean God is the One who should be feared.

“Die in your sins, and suffer in Hell,” is how many preachers have put it throughout history.

Let us not forget God is also the One with the wrath!

This is all very important and must be remembered. However, this is not my focus, today.

If you were to look up the phrase “Do not fear …” in the Bible, it is used every time the Lord or one of His angels appeared. Most of the time, the people who were approached were relatively good people. Why would they have to be told to be unafraid?

Here is my take on this:

  • Many times, these guys show up unannounced and out of nowhere! Here you are, sitting by yourself, doing work or minding your own business, when FLASH! “HELLO!” That would be pretty freaky, man! I know I would need to be told to calm down!
  • These people were always given pretty big news, and that can be over-whelming. Imagine you are hanging out at God calls you to sacrifice your son. Or you are preparing the ingredients for bread, and God calls you to lead an army to overthrow conquerors. What if you were sitting quietly and then told you would have to raise God’s Son? You have been going along attacking people, and now you get the word from the Man Himself that you are now going to be a leader of these people. Scary prospects.
  • I think this one is the real crux of the matter, though: Imagine you are sitting there when a perfect being with amazing power and radiating holiness arrives. You will immediately become aware of how imperfect, not powerful, and offensive you really are. Daniel was a righteous man, blessed in all he did. When the angel Gabriel showed up, he fell down in fear. Afterward, he felt ill for days. Isaiah was taken before God, and he was instantly aware of his sins, crying out how unworthy he was. Saul/Paul was confronted with the Lord and was so over-whelmed that he called himself “the worst of sinners.” (There is an interesting dialogue about this phrase over at 3-Fold-Cord)

To go back to my original analogy, we must remember that we are dealing with Something rather intimidating: God. Therefore, we have to remind ourselves of Who He is. If we approach God as merely our friend, it is like acting blasé about a cliff-face and slipping due to carelessness. Carelessness and a lack of proper fear and respect can be fatal. So it is with God.

Any thoughts? Have I over-stepped my bounds, not gone far enough, or do you think I am right on the mark? Have you learned anything about the fear of the Lord?

Scared Running

I jumped

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

God can scare me. I have admitted it.

Verse one up above I have greatly enjoyed for years. Verse two has been offered to me several times as a consolation of my fears in doing many things. “If Jesus can confront death on the cross, you can do surely do this!”

Quite frankly, that has rarely helped. One thing that has crept into my thoughts many times is “Yeah, but He was and is God!” It almost feels unfair to be compared to Jesus sometimes!

What has been of comfort to me is, instead, the entire preceding chapter.

Chapter 11 has frequently been called “The Faith Hall of Fame” for the list of very human (read “flawed and sinful like me … I mean, like I”) people in history who were persecuted for and/or overcame fear/obstacles by their faith in God.

They are the examples of those who do not “shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39, even though I know this introduction to the next chapter is referring to believers!).

I used to be terrified of heights. This meant that, even though I desperately wanted to for the sheer excitement, I was afraid to jump off of perfectly good cliff into some perfectly cold water (see the picture above). Based on that picture you should be able to tell by my body not being on any firm surface that I have indeed jumped off of at least one cliff.

There are two things that “made me do it.”

  1. I saw other people – some people I would say I trust – jump off first … and not die.
  2. After they jumped, I jumped.

The thing about number one is that I saw the empirical evidence to help convince me it was not necessarily deadly. The thing about number two is that I knew I could never know if what my eyes saw was true unless I experienced it.

Application?

I have read about these “Heroes of Faith” who demonstrated their belief and trust in God. Millions, perhaps even billions of people have believed that these people truly demonstrated their faith. God blessed them in some way and they are seen as righteous.

How else do I show people I trust God if I do not follow their example? If all I say is I want to jump off of the cliff, all I want to do is live a life honoring God, where is the proof?

I might be scared, but if I say I believe “God is for us” and “nothing is impossible with God” then I must demonstrate it or be a liar and a hypocrite.

Ouch.

I still sometimes fail, but He is greater than my fear. Hokey? Maybe, but whenever I follow His call, He proves it. When I fail, I prove how much I deserve His grace!

Do you ever get scared to the point you cannot move forward? Do you worry? Do you fail?

At least I am not alone, but remember: He strengthens us with His Holy Spirit and with each other.

Lean on me. Or some other person with the faith you feel you lack.