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).

 

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!

Second Chances (Jonah 3)

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’” –Jonah 3:1-2

Jonah 3 is a glorious reminder of God’s grace and mercy. You may read Jonah 3 here: Bible Gateway.

Although God’s deliverance of Jonah involved a fish vomiting him out (Jonah 2:10), he was given another chance to fulfill His purpose. And though Jonah’s heart remained callous in going to Nineveh, he must have been filled with awe that God would still choose him to be the first missionary to a pagan people.

The Bible contains many second chance stories. Here are a couple of examples of God gracing individuals with His mercy.

Aaron

Aaron—Moses’ brother—may have seemed to spend more time on the sidelines compared to Moses. But God still had a high calling on his life. He not only served as Moses’ mouthpiece before Pharaoh, but also served as a pillar of support. When Moses became weary, Aaron helped hold up his hands in prayer as the Israelites waged war against the Amalekites.

While Moses received God’s instructions on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 28) of Aaron’s garment design and his consecration, things began to sour back at camp. Exodus 32:1-5 tells of the Israelites’ rebellion. Moses must have been shocked, but God knew of their rebellious theatrics all along. However, God still gave Aaron a second chance by allowing him to serve as Israel’s first high priest. He would be mediator between God and His chosen people. (The Great Discipline highlights the consequences of those who chose to remain in rebellion, along with the fate of those who returned to God.)

Sarah

God gave Abraham’s wife, Sarah, a promise: She would become a mother of an entire nation of people through her own son. Although Abraham and Sarah displayed extraordinary faith in God by leaving Ur to go to an unknown place, the news that she would birth a son in her old age—after years of infertility—resulted in laughter. After waiting 10 years, Sarah decided to help God out by offering Abraham her maidservant Hagar. The result? An illegitimate son, Ishmael, was born. Although God would still bless Ishmael, the chosen seed belonged to another. Heartache and stress resulted from their decision to forge ahead of God’s time table. But God still blessed Sarah by enabling her to give birth to the promised son (Gen. 17:17-21).

Hopefully you are on track with God’s plan and not slipping down the slide of rebellion as Jonah did, (or dodge God’s directive(s) like I’ve done before). Although there are consequences for our disobedience, I’m so glad God is a second-chance-giver. Yes, He is the Great Judge, but He is also the Master Mender, Beauty-for-ashes Exchanger, and Hope Healer. Restoration is ours when we return to Him. Do you recall a time when God gave you another chance to fulfill something He asked of you?