Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Fear of the Lord

The Bible says there is only One Person we need to fear. If we feared Him, we would not be afraid of anyone else, nor what they could do to us. I think I have had this backwards all of my life. Instead of what the Proverb writer wrote in Proverbs 1:7:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I have feared man, their opinions, their reactions. And I have wrestled with this weakness:

Pro 29:25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

Jesus had some strong words about fearing the Lord:

Mat 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Now that is Someone to fear. Only God has the ability to do that. Men can slander you, torture you, imprison you, even kill you, but they cannot separate you from God forever if you have rejected His Son.

What do we have to fear from man if we are Christians? They could take us away to prison, but that will not separate us from Christ's love. No, not according to my Bible in Romans 8:35-39. They can kill us, but according to II Corinthians 15:54-57, Christ has taken the sting of death away. They can condemn us, but there is no condemnation according to those who are in Christ Jesus in Romans 8:1. They could accuse us of all our past sins, but those have been buried in the depths of the sea in Micah 7:19.

So then, why should I be afraid of men? Men's opinions change from minute to minute anyway. They may like you one day and despise you the next. But God remains the same forever, as He tells in Malachi 3:6. He created you, He delights in you. He is the One Constant in this rapidly changing universe. Everything that appeared permanent in my life has come to pass, as the Preacher shares in Ecclesiastes. That book used to make me sad, but now gives me cause to rejoice. Because something far, far greater is waiting for us one day, when God calls us Home.

The trap for me has been people pleasing. When you people please, you aren't happy, because you are enslaved to what other people think of you.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psa 141:4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice wicked works With men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

If Anyone is Willing.....

When I was a teenager, I knew that I had received Christ's forgiveness for my sins, but I didn't know too much about the character and attributes of God. That made for one young believer who asked for things but was often lacking in faith, as is described in James 1: 5-8.

It says clearly in James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

The next verses go on to say we must not doubt because "he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind."

verse 7 continues "For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double minded man unstable in all his ways.

I was seasick a lot back then.

I didn't understand the righteousness and justice of God. All I had to go on was what I saw all around me. People looked downtrodden all around me. I heard about the masses of people groups who supposedly had never had a chance to hear the good news. I heard about the horrors of World War II and the concentration camps. I thought about my poor uncle out on the family farm. Why wouldn't he be open to hearing about Jesus? Why do people's hearts get hardened?

I asked my older sister. I cried to her, actually, while we were both struggling college students, looking for who we really were. She tried to pat me on the back and told me, "I'm sure that God is worried more for Uncle _____ than you are."
She was right. I didn't understand that God truly loved my uncle. That He had paid the ultimate price for him. It wasn't God's fault if my uncle was disinterested, or at least appeared that way to me at the time.

My lack of faith really hindered me in thinking about all those situations. One day, all those questions hit me with a vengeance.


God is just. He had to do something about the sin problem. So He did in sending His beloved Son to bear the trillions of sins of every single person on the face of this earth. Talk about being unfair. If it was unfair, it was unfair to Him, not us.

"For He made Him who knew no sinn to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in HIM." II Corinthians 5: 21

I HAD to find out the answer. I could not "justify" in my puny human mind a God that would not give us the gift of free volition. Once again, God gave me a verse that has been a lifesaver for me. It is this promise from Jesus in John 7:17. I like how it is rendered in the KJV.

"If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak it of Myself." (John 7:17)

This verse tells me if I choose with my will to know Him, then God will do His part to get His Word to me! Hallelujah! God sees with His omniscient Presence and He looks at every man's heart. If He sees a blip of faith, He will send the gospel to that person! No matter where they live, God is faithful.

That one verse saved me from an evil anthropology professor who nearly destroyed my faith during my stay at the university. He laughed at any of us who believed in God, and made me question everything I'd ever been taught. That was in the mid eighties. How much worse is it now. Think of thd kids going to schools now, even going to some Christian, (yes, you heard me right) schools, where the faith is subtly being denied.

God rescued me that day. I know, I was a rather "odd" person to have that kind of question about God in the first place. But it forced me to think about who God was. It forced me to realize that I, sadly, did NOT know Him. I still have a long way to go. But I do know that He is a loving God.(I John 4:8) He will not refuse anyone who is searching for HIM.

I love that one of the very last verses of the Bible again tells any one who is still looking for their ultimate need to be satisfied to come to Christ.

Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

In other words, as long as you are alive, there is still time! Come now, don't delay one more moment.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Lord is in this Place

Well, its welcome to the New Year and to new ways of thinking. I know I sure need them. How about you?

Its been said it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Last time, I talked about my friend Judy Seligman teaching women that we do not have receive every thought that comes into our heads. The battle is in our minds.

I was tested on this again the other day. I found myself in deep discouragement. I am in the midst of a huge project that I suddenly thought seemed overwhelming. I allowed this little voice to suggest it was all of my own plans, that God was not in it, it was just me, thinking I could do something. I was all alone.

That day, I had been extremely tired. I had not had my time in the Word as I usually do, so I was an easy target. Nor did I exercise, which helps in these dark, short winter days.

It is amazing that in just the regular habit of reading through the Word, one can find answers for problems without even looking for a special verse. The next morning, when I sat down to read my next portion in the Word, I found my answer, and I wasn't even looking for it.

Jacob had been on the run from his brother Esau after he stole the birthright from him as the story is told us in the book of Genesis. Jacob, whose name meant "supplanter," because he didn't believe God's promise that he would inherit the blessing, deceived his father Isaac by pretending he was Esau and giving him food that Isaac thought Esau prepared. Yet the Lord still went with Jacob. He still gave Jacob, the supplanter, the promised blessing, and changed his name to Israel.

In Genesis 28, he dreams of a ladder reaching all the way to heaven, and God promises him descendants as the dust of the earth, that through them all families of the earth would be blessed (verse 14).

"Then Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.'" (Genesis 28: 16)

Right there, in that verse, I found my answer, "The Lord is this place." He has not forsaken me, He will not abandon me.

The Lord is in this place. The Lord is my Good Shepherd, He doesn't lead me somewhere and then leave me, laughing as He watches me squirm.

The Lord is in this place. He knows I am but dust. He knows how frail I am, how I need His Word to combat the lie that tempts me to quit.

The Lord is in this place. I did not know it. He knows how many breaths I have taken, and how many I have left.

If He has been there with me all along, why would He leave me now?

"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU."

So we may boldly say:

The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear.

What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13: 5-6

Next time you're tempted to quit, ask yourself, like I should have, "Just WHO is telling me this?" If it is a condemning, harsh, critical voice, you can bet it's not God.

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)