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!

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)

Trusting God

Spinning around and around, Annie, my daughter, and her friends whooped and hollered as I pushed the merry-go-round faster and faster. The fun and excitement would squelch any apprehension some of the girls had due to their first sleepover. It was my daughter’s ninth birthday. This would be her best party yet! Pizza and an outdoor movie would come next before camping under the stars in our backyard.

But as the spinning came to a halt, so did the girls’ smiles. Sadie was the first to speak. “I think I’m going to puke!”

One by one, the girls slumped down on the ground before coming to a unanimous decision. “Could you please take us home?”

What choice did I have? I’d be known as the barbaric mom by insisting they stay the course. I was sure the girls viewed me as a monster mom as they silently crawl back into our van. I did my best to mentally assimilate my words to their parents for the change of plans while hoping these pale-faced friends’ stomachs would settle soon.

While Annie and her friends laugh about that evening now, it was no laughing matter at the time!

All of us experience daily change of plans that stretch the most patient among us. But what about the big surprises that jolt our world? The unexpected diagnosis from the doctor, an unforeseen emergency, a financial crisis . . . the list goes on.

The temptation is to analyze the problem from every angle until we come up with a plausible solution. But what about the times when our circumstances spin out of control, making the bravest of us weak-kneed, sick to our stomachs and gasping for air?

Not to diminish problem-solving, or simplify the stress, pain, or need for support from others, but I believe the first step should be going to God in prayer. Because He is all-powerful, all-sufficient, and loves us more than we can imagine, we can lean in and put our full weight of trust on Him.

The following Bible verses are a few of my favorite passages that speak of the benefits of trusting God.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:6-7.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” Joshua 1:9

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you,” Psalm 9:10.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you,” Psalm 84:11-12.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

Do you have a favorite verse about trusting God, or experienced a time God helped you through a crisis?

Messiah in the Passover

It was a blessing to listen to Special Guest speaker, Scott Brown, at my parents’ church last Sunday. He did a wonderful job explaining the significance of the Jewish Passover and how it relates to the New Covenant with Jesus being our sacrificial lamb.

Scott Brown is a Jewish believer in Jesus who has been sharing the Good News of the Messiah with Jewish people since coming to faith in 1981. Raised in a traditional Jewish home in the suburbs of Washington D.C., Scott began his spiritual journey by moving into the woods and living a solitary life. It was there that a co-worker gave Scott a pocket New Testament. That little Bible launched a crisis of faith which eventuated in Scott’s salvation seven years later. Today, Scott and his wife, Marjorie, serve with Chosen People Ministries in New Zealand. They share the Gospel with Jewish people all around the world. You may check out their ministry here: Chosen People.

You will be directed to the beginning of Scott’s message if you scroll to the 25:30 mark on the bottom of the following video. . . . Shalom!