Ready to Revere

The idea of fearing God is not a popular concept in the American church. So much so that many church leaders have watered down God’s truth, trying to make it appear less daunting and more appealing to the masses. But the Hebrew word for fear means: Be afraid . . . anxiety caused by approaching danger.

When we recognize this truth, we realize there is a power that is greater than us and can overcome us in an instant. This should check our hearts and make us tremble, at least for a moment. And yet, this powerful, loving God wants to have a relationship with each of us. How much does He long to save us from death, the consequence of our sin, and give us abundant life instead? To the point that He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, for everyone who would accept His free gift of forgiveness and salvation when He died on the cross.

In the Hebrew context, fear isn’t an emotion word, but rather an action verb where recognition of something (God’s power, majesty, holiness, forgiveness, goodness, judgment) causes specific action. Fear isn’t meant to stay in our hearts, but rather worked out in reverence toward God through a manifestation of worship. Godly fear is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). Other action words defining godly fear include: Hating evil (Prov. 8:13), satisfying (Prov. 14:27), and sanctifying (Ps. 19: 9).

Continuing in the book of Malachi, Pastor Cliff Purcell shares a heartfelt message. Warning: This is not an easy passage to digest, especially for pastors, which this portion is directed toward. But this section also contains truth for all of us who are Christ followers. You may listen to his podcast here: Ready to Revere (Oct. 7, 2018).

Return to Respect

How do you view God? Does He seem distant and unconcerned about what people do in this life? Or does He appear more like a stern judge with a giant gavel in His hand than a loving, merciful shepherd? It’s true, our “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). But He is also a perfect Father who loves unconditionally. His passion is for a right relationship with us, not for revenge, as some might interpret the book of Malachi. Even though God’s people neglected worship of Him and failed to live according to His will, God’s first words to them was: “I have always loved you,” (Malachi 1:1).

Eventually the world will crumble, and only God’s kingdom will last (Hebrews 12:27-29). Only those who follow Christ will withstand the sifting and shaking. But no matter what happens here, we can be confident when we place our trust in Jesus Christ, seek and follow Him. We can shake off worries because He loves us and promises to supply the needs of His children.

So how does one seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness? I won’t lie, it is work. I’ll be the first to admit, not only do I need this reminder, but also need accountability and discipline to follow through with practical application.

We fill our thoughts with His desires and promises by reading and meditating on His Word. When we daily persist in prayer, His Holy Spirit helps us turn to Him first for help. By asking the Holy Spirit to fill us, He enables us to obey and serve God. When people, goals, objects, and other desires push God away from His rightful reign in our lives, we need to confess this to Him, then realign our priorities. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit not only births the desire to integrate God’s character, but also constantly works to transform us more and more into His image as we surrender to Him.

God alone is worthy of our full respect and worship. He deserves the rightful reign in our hearts. When we give up our selfish desires and seek to honor Him by putting Him first, He fills us with His love, joy and peace.

If you have been following Pastor Cliff Purcell’s podcast series from the book of Malachi, here is another great message: Return to Respect (Sept. 30, 2018). Have a wonderful week!

Remember. Return. Rehearse.

God originally chose the Jews, through whom He planned to save and bless the entire world. But all who believe in Him today—Jews and Gentiles—are vessels in which He wants to share His hope. When we ask Jesus to be our Savior, the new life He gives us is our pure offering to Him.

How does God want to use you to make His name great among the nations? His mission begins in our homes and neighborhoods. But we must also work and pray for God’s mission worldwide.

God didn’t mince words as He spoke through his prophet in the Old Testament book of Malachi. How does this message relate to us today? Listen as Pastor Cliff Purcell shares the Word of God: Remember. Return. Rehearse. (Sept. 23, 2018).

 

Ticktock

Sometimes I think I’m younger than I am. (No, I’m not sharing my age!) Exercising, helping out with Young Adults Sunday School class, and having my own teenagers certainly brings zest and a sense of humor (minus the crazy pull-my-hair out moments!) But neither my kids—nor the mirror—lie: My glory days of youth can only be glimpsed through the rearview mirror.

Like it or not, we can’t slow down the clock.

As I read the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy I’m reminded of the consequences of our choices. God reminded His people that in order to ratify His agreement they must choose the path of obedience. While seeds of rebellion reap severe calamity, a personal decision to obey would reap benefits in their lives. Likewise, our choices determine our outcomes. When we choose to follow God, we’re not the only ones who benefit. Our relationships with others also reap the benefits. But choosing to abandon God’s ways not only harms ourselves, but also those around us.

In a prayer, Moses reflects on God’s dealings with His people (Psalm 90). He remembers that God is completely unrestricted by time as he contrasts His eternal nature with man’s frailty. I like The Message translation of vs. 12-17:

“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—and treat your servants with kindness . . . . Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. Make up for the bad times with some good times; we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime. Let your servants see what you’re best at—the ways you rule and bless your children. And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!”

(bible.com)

When God Tells The Truth

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” ~Psalm 25:5

Although the ancient book of Malachi in the Old Testament was written about 430 B.C., its message is still relevant today. The prophet Malachi was a post-exilic prophet to Judah, along with Haggai and Zechariah. While Haggai and Zechariah rebuke the Jews in Jerusalem because they failed to rebuild the temple, Malachi confronts the people with their neglect of the temple, along with their profane false worship.

The book of Malachi bridges the Old Testament and New Testament and is four chapters short. The literary style uses powerful questions by God and his people. If you haven’t already read this book, I encourage you to do so as you evaluate the focus of your life and depth of devotion to God. Although this book might make us squirm as it confronts people’s sins, it is also steeped in God’s grace: forgiveness, hope and restoration.

In the following podcast, Pastor Cliff Purcell sets the stage for God’s message in Malachi. You may find it here: When God Tells the Truth (Sept. 9, 2018). Blessings!