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Archive | The Fear of God

The Danger of Plenty

PlentyFew of us in America have real need. Yes, I know some do go hungry and some have no roof over their heads. But that is the exception. The vast majority of us have all that we need. In fact, many of us have far more than we need. We have plenty.

And that in itself is a problem. Plenty can bring more serious trouble than need.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses warned the children of Israel about the danger of plenty before they entered the Promised Land:

11 “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.  Deuteronomy 8:11-14, NLT

After 40 years wandering in the wilderness and depending on God for every bite of food and drink of water, the Israelites were about to settle into a land of abundance. Yes, the wilderness had been a physically difficult place, but this land of plenty would bring unique spiritual dangers. Moses points out four specific dangers in Deuteronomy 8:11-19.

4 Dangers of Plenty

  1. Forgetfulness – When we aren’t forced to depend on God for our daily physical sustenance, we tend to forget Him. We fail to remember that God provides everything, even our ability to work and make money to purchase all the things we have.
  2. Pride – Not only do we forget God’s provision, we begin to think we have done it all ourselves. We become puffed up and prideful in our plenty.
  3. Disobedience – When we have forgotten God and become full of ourselves we begin to do anything and everything we want. We do it our way and give no heed to God’s commands.
  4. Idolatry – Once we have forgotten God, something else will assume His rightful place in our lives. Whether money, job, recreation, another person, or ourselves, we will worship something.

How can we avoid the danger of plenty? Moses tells us that too. In one word, we must “remember.” Remember God’s past provision. Remember God’s equipping for work. Remember God’s rightful place as the one, true God who deserves our worship.

Have you ever fallen prey to plenty? What were the results?

Suggested reading:

“Forsaken God: Remembering the Goodness of God our Culture has Forgotten” by Janet Thompson

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Wisdom: Why, Where, and How

WisdomI’ve been reading through the Bible book of Proverbs during my morning quiet time. Written almost 3,000 years ago by Israel’s king Solomon, the wisdom found there is just as relevant today. This collection of proverbs or “wise sayings” encourages us to seek God’s wisdom and apply it to our lives.

Sounds good right? But you may have a few questions. Like:

  • Why should we want wisdom?
  • Where do we find wisdom?
  • How do we gain wisdom?

Guess what? This book of wisdom answers all those questions too.

Why Wisdom? 10 Reasons We Should Want It

Benefits of seeking wisdom and acting wisely are woven through the book of Proverbs. I could have listed many more, but these 10 are reasons that were mentioned repeatedly:

  1. To increase knowledge (Proverbs 1:4)
  2. To find purpose for my life (Proverbs 1:4)
  3. To get guidance (Proverbs 1:5)
  4. To know God better (Proverbs 2:5)
  5. To rest in God’s protection (Proverbs 2:7)
  6. To find the right course of action (Proverbs 2:9)
  7. To escape the consequences of sin and folly (Proverbs 3:25, 33)
  8. To find favor with God and other people (Proverbs 3:4)
  9. To develop discretion (Proverbs 5:2)
  10. To please God with my life (Proverbs 8:35)

Where Do We Find Wisdom?

We won’t find wisdom in textbooks or on the Internet. We won’t find it in the leaders of the world or your favorite talk show host. There is only one source for wisdom:

“For the LORD gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Wisdom belongs to God (Job 12:13). He created it (Proverbs 8:22). If we desire wisdom we must go to Him to receive it.

How Do We Gain God’s Wisdom?

God is the source of wisdom, but how do we receive it from Him? Where do you start? Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding.”

Okay. Sounds good, but what does that mean? What does it look like?

Godly “fear” is an attitude that recognizes the power, authority, omniscience, and total transcendence of God. This recognition fosters trust. We trust that everywhere He leads is right and every path He guides us down is the best one for us. We will listen to His guidance. We will follow His lead and obey His instruction. Thus, we will walk in His wisdom.

Godly fear leads to godly wisdom. Want to be wise? Fear God.

Wisdom. Want it? Great benefits for life come from fearing Him who is the true Source of wisdom.

What are you doing today to either seek or apply God’s wisdom?

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Compromise at the National Cathedral

National CathedralLast Friday, in the name of “religious unity,” several hundred Muslims gathered in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. to pray. The Muslim call to prayer echoed off walls built in the name of Christ. There in God’s house, they spread prayer rugs on the floor and invoked the name of Allah.

The more I contemplate this, the more heartsick I become. Today as I looked at photos and read articles I felt as though I’d been punched in the gut. Think about this for just a moment:

Devoted followers of Mohammed recited Muslim prayers in the same sanctuary where a Cross hangs. And they were invited to do so.

This event is nothing short of sacrilege. By definition it’s idolatry – the worship of a false god. Franklin Graham put it like this:

It’s sad to see a church open its doors to the worship of anything other than the One True God of the Bible who sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth to save us from our sins,” said Graham.  “Jesus was clear when He said, ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6).

I believe that in our communities, in our nation, and around the world we must work together with people of all faiths, races, and creeds. We must show love, respect, and kindness to all. But Christians cannot compromise on the Truth revealed in Jesus Christ. Especially in His Church.

There is but one Lord (1 Corinthians 8:6). And His name is Jesus. There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Salvation is found in no one else. Jesus Christ is God Himself revealed to mankind (John 1:14).

To allow prayers to a false god in a Christian church is an act of idolatry. The event last Friday was an affront to our living God. And the leaders of the National Cathedral sanctioned it. Don’t think for a minute that the Muslims who prayed in the Cathedral are tolerant of our Christian belief that Jesus is Lord. They hold fast to this creed: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.” On this they will not compromise.

If you think I’m making too much of this, maybe you should consider if you’re taking it too lightly. I feel strongly that Christians in America should take a stronger stand for Christ. The tide has turned in our country and we have a choice. We can drift with the current or we can hold fast to our Savior.

 

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Fearsome Distinction

Before-His-ThroneThe following story is an excerpt from “Before His Throne: Discovering the Wonder of Intimacy with a Holy God.” Find out more about this 9-week, in-depth Bible study through the book of Malachi. Newly available: 10-Session DVD teaching set for the study!

It was Thanksgiving weekend. I was flying from my home in Calgary, Alberta, to visit my brother and his family in Idaho. As usual, I was running a little late for my flight. Check-in and security check went fairly quickly, so I was feeling good about making my plane until I rounded the last corner and entered the area for US Customs and Immigration. All six lines were backed up past the doorway. There was no way I would make my flight, having to wait in lines like those.

After standing in line for a few minutes, I had moved ahead just enough to notice this glorious little sign way off to the right. It read, “US citizens only,” and a big, bold arrow pointed to a wonderfully short line. “US citizen – that’s me!” I thought. While I happily hurried to the short line, I was careful not to gloat. I made it through customs in about five minutes, leaving behind several hundred frustrated Canadians. I made my flight and had a wonderful holiday.

I can imagine that every Canadian going through US Customs that morning felt that the special treatment given to US citizens was unfair. I even felt that way, though it did stop me from waving my US passport. I guess the bottom line is this: The United States Department of Homeland Security has established guidelines for entering the Unites States. If you want to get in, you have to do it the prescribed way. If that department wants to distinguish between US citizens and non-citizens, it has the right.

In the book of Malachi, God also made a distinction between two groups of people – those who had committed to fear Him and those who did not fear Him.  God has the ultimate right to make distinctions.  After all, He is God.

Those who feared the LORD talked with each other and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored His name. “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

Malachi 3:16-18

The Bible teaches that “fear” is a positive attitude and the proper response to our holy God. The lives of people who truly fear God are characterized by repentance, submission, obedience, and worship.

The Bible also consistently teaches that God recognizes those who fear Him and chooses to bless them.  Here are just a few of God’s promises from the Psalms to those who fear Him:

  • He confides in them (Ps 25:14)
  • He bestows His goodness on them (Ps 31:19)
  • His eyes are on them to delver them from death (Ps 333:18-19)
  • He is their help and shield (Ps 115:11)
  • He fulfills their desires, hears their cries, and saves them (Ps 145:19)

This promise from Psalm 147 is my personal favorite:

 The LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.

Psalm 147:11

 What has been your impression about “fearing” God? Positive? Negative? Why?

 Note: If you’d like to know more about what it means to fear God and what it looks like in daily life, check out the 9-week, in-depth Bible study, “Before His Throne.” 
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You can be God’s Treasured Possession

Monday Minute in the Word, devotionalAs my husband’s fortieth birthday approached (it’s been a while!), I spent several months putting together a scrapbook to commemorate the milestone. I asked Wayne’s mom to send baby pictures, and I contacted his friends from childhood and early adult years to send photos and greetings. He loved the gift!

In the book of Malachi, the people who chose to fear God, also made a special book – or scroll – to record how they felt about God. Here’s the account:

16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. Malachi 3:16-18, NIV

These God-fearers were a remnant within a remnant, just a portion of the people God brought back to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. They made a conscious choice to take a stand for God and honor His name in the midst of a culture that was simply going through the motions of religion. Sound at all familiar?

God responded with pleasure. He inclined His ear to their commitment and claimed them as His “treasured possession.” He made a promise to spare them when He comes in judgment.

Scripture presents “godly fear” as the proper response to our holy God. Here’s some other promises found in the book of Psalms God makes to those who fear Him:

  • He will confide in them (Ps 25:14)
  • He will bestow His goodness on them (Ps 31:19)
  • His eyes will be on them to help them (Ps 33:18-19)
  • He will treat them with compassion (Ps 103:13)
  • He will be their helper and protector (Ps 115:11)
  • He will fulfill their desires, hear their cries, and save them (Ps 145:19)

And this is only a sampling of the blessings promised to those who fear God. Have you ever made a choice to fear God? Do you long to be God’s treasured possession?

Let’s talk: Do you fear God? What does it mean to “fear God?”

Note: If you’d like to learn more about what it means to fear God, take a look at Kathy’s Bible study “Before His Throne.” Purchase now on Amazon. Watch a video introduction to the study on You Tube.

 

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Monday Minute in the Word – God is…

There’s no better way to start the week than by filling up with God’s Word. So each Monday morning join me here to take a brief, but reflective look into a passage of Scripture.  

It amazes me that the Creator God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. Although our finite human brains cannot comprehend all that God is, we can study what God has made known to us about Himself.

We can deepen and enrich our relationship with God through a better understanding of His nature. As we grow in our knowledge of Him we will respond with greater worship, trust Him more fully, and love Him more completely. Let’s get started this morning by considering the four Bible passages that tell us “God is…”

3”But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”   John 4:23-24, ESV

Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29for our God is a consuming fire.   Hebrews 12:28b-29, ESV

5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.   1 John 1:5, ESV

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.                 1 John 4:7-8, ESV

What four descriptions do the biblical authors use in these passages to help us understand God’s nature?

  • God is Spirit. He is not confined by time or space. He is not limited by the physical realm. God cannot be defined by the same stuff we are.
  • God is a consuming fire. We sinful humans tend to take God too casually. He is holy, righteous, and just. He is worthy of not just our worship but also our obedience.
  • God is light. The Bible often uses “darkness” to depict sin and “light” to depict righteousness. God, who is transcendent in holiness is completely and totally righteous. There is no speck of sin in Him.
  • God is love. God is the originator and giver of love. God doesn’t merely “love.” Everything He does is an expression of His perfect love.

Take a moment this morning to contemplate the nature of God Praise Him for who He is.

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WORDS OF FAITH

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Nos dunt nit inisi bla feum delesse dio exeril el ute magna facip er ipisisi. Accumsan eu facil ullan vulla feugue do enis. Na feugiam irit acipit volobore veraesed er adigna cor sustrud delit ver sustinit vel ut nit inibh eu feuisisis.Eu facidunt atem ipit in utat nostion el dolore mincili quatue tionsequat. Ut lan er in hent wisl et accummy nos dunt nit inisi bla feum delesse dio exeril el ute magna facip er ipisisi. Accumsan eu facil ullan vulla feugue do enis. Na feugiam irit acipit volobore veraesed er adigna cor sustrud delit ver sustinit vel ut nit inibh eu feuisisis eu facidunt atem ipit in utat nostion el dolore mincili quatue tionsequat.

Ut lan er in hent wisl et accummy nos dunt nit inisi bla feum delesse dio. Accumsan eu facil ullan vulla feugue do enis. Na feugiam irit acipit volobore veraesed er adigna cor sustrud delit ver sustinit vel ut nit inibh eu feuisisis eu facidunt. Ut lan er in hent wisl et accummy nos dunt nit inisi bla feum delesse dio exeril el ute magna facip er ipisisi. Accumsan eu facil ullan vulla feugue do enis. Delit ver sustinit vel ut nit inibh eu feuisisis eu facidunt atem ipit in utat nostion el dolore mincili quatue tionsequat. Ut lan er in hent wisl et accummy nos dunt. Na feugiam irit acipit volobore veraesed er adigna cor sustrud delit ver sustinit vel ut nit inibh eu feuisisis eu facidunt atem ipit in utat nostion el dolore mincili quatue tionsequat. Ut lan er in hent wisl et accummy nos dunt nit inisi bla feum delesse dio exeril el ute magna facip er ipisisi. Accumsan eu facil ullan vulla feugue do enis. Ut lan er in hent wisl et accummy nos dunt nit inisi bla feum delesse dio exeril el ute magna facip er ipisisi. Accumsan eu facil ullan vulla feugue do enis. Na feugiam irit acipit volobore veraesed er adigna cor sustrud delit ver sustinit vel ut nit inibh eu feuisisis eu facidunt atem ipit in utat nostion el dolore mincili quatue tionsequat. Continue Reading →

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I certainly don’t deserve it

Daniel is one of the most godly and upright men we read about in the Bible. He never wavered, even through the most difficult of circumstances. When Israel, his homeland, was invaded by Babylon, a teenage Daniel was enslaved and taken far away from his home to do the bidding of King Nebuchadnezzar. Yet Daniel remained committed to obedience, even when faced with the lion’s den.

I’ve been reading through the book of Daniel in my quiet time. In chapter nine, Daniel is now an old man. He survived the takeover of the Babylonian kingdom by the Medes and the Persians. His people have endured exile now for seventy years – the amount of time Daniel understood from Scripture to be the length of their discipline from God.

Daniel began to mourn and pray and petition God to intervene on behalf of His people. Now here’s the part that really struck me.

“We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” Daniel 9:18-19

From a human perspective, if anyone “deserved” for God to hear and answer his prayer it would be someone like Daniel. But because he had an inkling of the awesome greatness of God, Daniel was humble. He recognized his sinfulness – especially in comparison to the holiness of God. Continue Reading →

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Got Wisdom?

gold-barsMankind is capable of tremendous things. We can put a man on the moon – and beyond. We can harness the power of the wind, split atoms, clone living beings, and many more incredible things.

Thousands of years ago, God’s servant Job pondered this same thing. He saw the men of his day enter the depths of the earth and return with gold and gems and he was amazed. Yet, he noticed that with all their ability they could not mine wisdom. Continue Reading →

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Pink Scooters and Big, Yellow Dogs

I took our not-so-small, black Chihuahua for a long walk recently. About 3 pounds overweight, Harley needs all the exercise I’m willing to give him. He does well at all the dog walking basics. He stays right at my side, keeps the pace I set and rarely stops to sniff at a fireplug or lamp post.

But this particular day something spooked him. About two blocks into our walk, Harley not only came to a screeching halt, he dug his heels in (or whatever dogs have) and refused to budge. Looking ahead I spotted the object of his fear – a kid-sized, pink scooter in the middle of the sidewalk. I tried to encourage him with soothing comments, but his rump remained on the concrete. Then I combined pulling on the leash with some not-so-soothing comments. But Harley still wouldn’t move. I ended up carrying him around the scooter while he climbed me like a tree. Continue Reading →

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