Fear the Lord and Live

Fear the Lord and Live

In the Scriptures, the fear of God is used in a positive manner. There are a plethora of examples wherein fearing God is beneficial. Here is a smattering: “The fear of the Lord is clean” (Psalms 19:9). It is wholesome and for our good! “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalms 111:10). Fear of the Lord can bring about obedience. Consider Hebrews 11:7: Noah, because of his faith, “moved with godly fear, [and] prepared an ark for the saving of his household.” God has mercy on those who fear Him (Luke 1:50). “The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will be satisfied” (Proverbs 19:23).

Overcoming Fear – Part 2

Overcoming Fear – Part 2

That is God’s recipe for replacing worried thoughts with good thoughts. The thought is a temptation, and God has given us the ability to decide whether we are going to take that thought and form it into worry and fear, or if we are going to reject that thought and think about what is true, what is honest, what is just, what is pure, etc. Whenever you catch that temptation to worry coming to your mind, reject that thought, lock it up, don’t imagine more details of it, don’t scare your body into a fear reaction. Instead, identify something that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or well spoken of.

From Dust to Dust

From Dust to Dust

Whatever accomplishments I might have achieved, whatever possessions I might have owned, whatever status I might have attained, even my reputation — those things won’t fit inside my urn. Nor do those things define me in the eyes of God. He is not impressed by the awards hanging on the wood-paneled walls of my paid-off house in this upscale California suburb. Even my new iPhone 12 Max Pro with 128 GB of memory does not raise His eyebrows.

Acceptable Risk

Acceptable Risk

How do we treat others who do not conform to our point of view? Maybe we feel we are taking the high road by wearing a mask. The common reason is, “You wear the mask for the sake of protecting people around you.” However, is it worth risking our souls to speak evil of our neighbors because they do not accept our understanding of good? “Meatheads refuse to wear a mask.” On the other hand, we may feel that freedom is at stake, and that the risk factor of disease is being amped up by people who want the world to be under their control. Therefore, we refuse to wear the mask. Do we not risk our souls if we revile others who do not share our point of view? “Sheeple” is a common expression of scorn from such (which ironically, is an attempt to cow others into submission).

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear

Whether it is the virus, politics, or something else, the temptation to worry is always present. If we can no longer function effectively because we are imagining all kinds of terrible things happening, then we need to take the advice of our heavenly Father. If your thinking is causing you to feel hopelessness and despair, who do you suppose is encouraging those thoughts? Not God. God is the God of hope (Romans 15:13).

The Church and The Truth

The Church and The Truth

The church that Jesus built is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). This means it upholds the truth—the truth found in the word of God (John 17:17). The church does not do this by ignoring the truth, or by misinterpreting it. Rather, the church upholds the truth by accurately interpreting it, teaching it, and practicing it. In this way, the church ensures that the truth is held up for all—sinner and saved, alike—to behold and believe.

The Gazelle of Joppa

The Gazelle of Joppa

Personal evangelism may be the strongest avenue by which we can influence our friends and neighbors to come to the Lord. In a world filled with darkness, that has been conditioned to ridicule the Lord, people still respond to love. Tabitha gave herself in service and love, and the result was that many came to the Lord. She left a lasting impression on all of those around her and we must do the same. We must be like Tabitha and express our love for the Lord and our neighbors in all that we do. When we do this, we will shine forth as a city that is set on a hill and those around us will “glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

Lest we make the sort of mistake Moses himself made in Egypt, the messages in Exodus 2 includes that oppressed people shouldn’t be oppressed, they deserve deliverance and justice, but at the same time oppressed people are not inherently innocent or better than the people oppressing them. In the words of the Israelite antagonist oppressing his fellow slave, we hear an echo of Sodom. Victims and victimizers both alike are sinners and need the mercy and grace of God and divine instruction to order their lives. We’ve all been “straying like sheep” and all need to turn to “the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).

The Singing of Jeshurun

The Singing of Jeshurun

“The Song of Moses,” which was to be rehearsed and memorized by Israel, tells of the rebellion of the nations against God, and of his selection of Abraham to build a new nation, a people belonging to himself. That new nation was to be upright – Jeshurun – having the very character of God himself. Instead, when Israel prospered by the grace of God she rebelled in her prosperity, becoming the image of the fallen nations rather than the image of God. “Jeshurun grew fat and kicked.” How often does prosperity lead to (or at least contribute to) pride, stubbornness, selfishness, moral failure, and worship of gods that are not God? Unfortunately, prosperity and rebelliousness often go hand in hand. Israel is by no means a unique example of a people who were upright in their dependancy upon God in trials, but then “grew fat and kicked” while enjoying the blessings of prosperity. Selfishness and godlessness, envy and conflict, tend to grow and flourish when people are blessed with prosperity. Prosperity offers no assurance of peace and harmony and goodwill among humans and certainly no assurance of obedience to God.

What Does the Lord See?

What Does the Lord See?

As we look back at the last year, what has this done to our churches? Are we stronger or are we weaker? Has our faith increased or has it been weakened? Has our love abounded to one another or have we allowed the divisiveness of the world to creep into our hearts? The point of the exercise isn’t to encourage criticism. I’m not suggesting we assign some sort of grade or rating to our congregations. I don’t believe any of us has the discernment or information to make this kind of a judgment — we cannot possibly see what Christ saw to judge those congregations. But what we can reflect on is our own behavior, and the question we can ask ourselves is how have our actions impacted what Christ would see if He looked at our congregation as He did with the congregations in Asia?