Dec 31, 2016

Christmas Break - "God 'REST' ye Merry Gentlemen"!

Holy Spirit revealed this short devotional message, as I was on Christmas break from work. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, God is still there. God is not the God of chaos but of peace. When we need to stop and 'rest', God is there. He is the "I am" for whatever we need. At the Christmas season, people get burdened down and weary very quickly and don't know what to do. Some get overwhelmed with emotion and it can lead to meltdowns or breakdowns if they let it get too far, and sometimes even worse. The cost of items at Christmas time for presents, dinners, family outings, travel expenses, accommodation costs, food costs, etc and the family dynamics/relationships can lead to even more times of chaos and unrest. At times like these when we let stress get its foot in our 'door', we can call on the name of the Lord and He will save us. I am so thankful that our God is there at the mention of His name.

Sometimes, however, I find that when I rest, I am more tired. When I have a nap in the middle of the afternoon for example, I am then awake later in the night, and have trouble falling asleep, so I end up going to sleep later than desired. But, we must remember that 'rest' is good for our bodies physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Even God rested. (Day 7 of creation) It says in the Bible that God gives His beloved rest (Psalm 127:2), and that God never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). So we can leave all our problems in His hands, and He's got everything in control.

As Christmas 'vacation' is coming to a close, and a New Year is close at hand... (less than 24 hours and we will be in 2017 - Lord willing of course) take this time to make a commitment to God, to grow in relationship with Him. End the old year, and start the New Year with a BANG. "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT) Ask God to forgive you of your sin, and take a step in the right direction. I pray that you will make this important decision to let Him be Lord of your life. Then you can lay all your worries at the feet of Jesus and 'rest in Him'. It's NOT religion its a relationship.

In Exodus 33:14 it says, "The Lord replied, 'I will personally go with you, _______________ and I will give you rest --- everything will be fine for you." The space actually contains the name of Moses in the NLT version, so I took his name out so that you can declare this verse and put your own name in! It's just another promise from the Bible that you can claim and declare in your own life.

"Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!' Psalm 55:6 NLT

Be blessed to be a blessing,

Awe-full or Awful... I wonder where our wonder went...

This 'study' and blogpost has taken a couple turns from where I began... originally it was going to be a post on the 'Fear of the Lord' as I didn't really have an acceptable answer to give to our Junior Youth group at church about a month ago. We had discussed the fear of the Lord, and they all thought it was to be fearful or afraid, but I was explaining it was a reverent fear, like a holy respect, and that answer was ok for the time, but a couple mentioned they still didn't get it. So I have put it off, but have been reminded by Holy Spirit to 'study' this topic for myself as well. Because I can have a faith to believe it, but I do need to know why I believe it, so that I can reveal it to the next generation as well, so they can then share the truth with others too. Good leaders lead people who lead people... Good teachers teach people who teach people...

However, through the study of 'fear' and 'reverence' came along the words 'wonder' and 'awe' which took me down a whole other path or 'bunny trail'. (and it has taken a bit to finish this blogpost)

Starting out, the definition of 'fear' is; (taking the definitions apparent for this study, not the view of being afraid)
reverential awe, especially toward God:
* a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful
* profound reverence and awe especially toward God

We don't actually fear God out of the emotion of 'being afraid' (as in Adam and Eve's example in Genesis 3:10, they hid in 'fear' of God because of their shame. They did honour Him as God, but they were terrified of what was going to happen. They could no longer stand in God's presence because of their sin, and they felt shame. We are to 'fear' Him out of respect and reverence for His character, His holiness, and His love. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), which is why we are not 'afraid' if we walk in His love.

We have the 'fear' of eternal separation from Him. We, in our sin, cannot truly enter into His presence, nor can He enter ours fully. (This was another topic of discussion at Jr Youth, so the two answers will tie in nicely together). His presence is with us daily, and Holy Spirit walks with us and guides us in our daily journeys. However, the manifest presence of God (as in the account of Moses at the Burning Bush, or on Mt. Sinai) cannot fully come into glory. We need to understand how much God hates our sin. We need to 'fear' His discipline in the case that He is the 'loving father wanting to discipline us if we walk in disobedience', not the 'scary judge waiting to punish us because He knows we have done wrong'. Too often we do not 'revere' WHO God is. We need to show Him the respect and honour that He deserves. He grants us so much in His grace, that we don't even deserve, yet we even struggle to give him one hour a week.

Here are some verses regarding ''fear of the Lord" and "awe"...
Proverbs 1:7 -"Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."

Psalm 111:10 - "Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!"

Psalm 34:9 - "Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need."

Proverbs 8:13 - "All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech."

Jeremiah 5:22 - "Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence? I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set."

Psalm 119:38 - "Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you."

Proverbs 2:5-6 - "Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lordand you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding."

Acts 9:31 - "The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers."

Psalm 128:1 - "How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways!"

Proverbs 14:26-27 - "Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a refuge for their children. Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death."

Ephesians 5:21 - "And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

1 Peter 1:17 - "And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as 'temporary residents'.”

Psalm 118:4 - "Let all who fear the Lord repeat: 'His faithful love endures forever'."

Proverbs 19:23 "Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm."

Deuteronomy 10:12; 20-21 - "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul... (v.12) must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone. He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes." (v 20-21)

Deuteronomy 5:29 - "Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever."

Hebrews 12:28-29 - "Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire."

To fear is to;
  • Respect
  • Obey
  • Submit to Discipline
  • Worship in Awe - reverential awe
To be in Awe is:
A reverential state or condition of the mind and heart that results in a respectful fear or genuine wonder.

Hebrew word (one of them) is 'yare' -- to fear, be afraid, to revere, stand in awe, to have a deep respect/honour

reverence -- to approach cautiously
awe -- to take a step back

Are we AWE-FULL or are we AWFUL? Where did our WONDER go? Have we become too complacent in our walk with God? Do we experience a loss of mystery or a neglect of His divine nature/character? Are we over familiar with God, Jesus and/or Holy Spirit? Do we have Man-centred worship? Are we a part of casual or complacent environments? Have we let our selfish pride step in and seek to glorify ourselves instead of glorifying God in all that we do?

We need to put aside our selfish & fleshly pride and come back to the Father with the awe and wonder of when we first became saved. However, now we have more faith to believe that God will do what He says He will do. Although God's miracle power is still a mystery to us, we can understand more about His divine nature. We need to cast off complacency, and seek His face. He is a God deserving of our worship and praise. He is worthy of our obedience, and above all worthy of us (as a whole), as a creation that was made to praise Him. We can no longer live in a casual environment, knowing that God has it all in His hands, so we just go about our daily lives. We need to be in AWE of the wonderful things that He does for us. (Especially the things unknown to us!)

It has been said that we need to come to the Father with a 'Childlike faith', this is one full of awe and wonder. It is one that cannot be explained, as by science or anything else. We just believe because it is. 
Beth Moore in 'To Live is Christ' said "When her daughter was frightened of a thunderstorm, she pointed out the verse which declares the Heavens reveal the glory of God. When another storm occurred, her daughter ran to the window, 'Mommy, God's really showing off today'!" Once the truth was revealed to her by her mother, the little girl was no longer 'afraid', but was now in 'awe' of what God was doing. We need to allow God to reveal His truth to us, so that we can be in 'awe' of what He has done, and will continue to do.

The first time the church was 'in awe' is found in Acts 2:42-27; "All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved."

The 'church' was formed from the first believers in the Upper Room found in Acts 1 and 2. Unfortunately, some of those present in the Upper Room grew casual and complacent. Maybe they had 'work to do', or they had 'other things to get to', or grew bored and tired of waiting. They didn't remain in 'awe' of what God was going to do. Jesus had made them a promise that He would send the comforter, Holy Spirit to come and guide them and be with them in His absence. The ones who grew tired of waiting left and didn't receive the promised gift at that time. However, the ones who were in the room received the gift and more that day. They grew in faith and in numbers. Because of their faith, a 'deep sense of awe' came over them all and they performed signs and wonders (as Jesus had promised them previously as well, that they would do even greater things than He). WOW!

Is this what the church today is lacking??

Why are we seeking after the 'signs and the wonders' instead of the one who creates/performs them? Why do we seek the 'healing' instead of the 'Healer'? Why are we seeking after money and finances, instead of the 'Provider'? Why do we seek after created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised? Romans 1:25 says, "They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshipped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen." Too often we get stuck in the world and start to believe what it is saying instead of going to the Truth. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Too often we let the worldview come into play, and they try to leave Jesus out. They say things like 'he is just an ordinary man like Elijah or Moses', or he is 'just a prophet like Mohammed'... but we need to remain in "awe" of the truth, of the One who was, and is and is to come. We need to seek the "I am" alone. He was, is and is to be the ONE that we need. The one and only true God.

Embrace the WONDER again! Make your life AWE-FULL not AWFUL!

Be blessed.

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