How to Serve God with Godly Fear

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken,
let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably
with reverence and godly fear. Hebrews 12:28

Have you knelt before the Lord … buried your head in your hands and cried out to the Lord? Perhaps it was after you read a passage in the Bible that completely overwhelmed you with the sense of God’s holiness and your utter sinfulness. Maybe there’s a devastating illness in your family, and you cried out to the Lord. Or you are overwhelmed by an unexpected blessing that is so big that it could have only come from the Lord.

What do you think this man is praying about? Whatever it is, he is praying with reverence, with humility, with respect to God Almighty … with godly fear.

Continue reading How to Serve God with Godly Fear

Are you truly free?

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 2 Corinthians 3:7-8

The second time Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, his face shined because he had spoken with God.

The Israelites now had the Law. James wrote that if one commandment was broken, the entire Law was broken. God gave the Israelites a way to cover their sins–the sin offering, an offering of unblemished bulls, lambs, goats, doves, or pigeons. There was also a provision if the Israelite could not even afford a pigeon.

Jesus was the only man who was able to keep the entire Law. Jesus became our unblemished sacrifice. This Son of Man who knew no sin was beaten and nailed to a cross, and the sins of generations past, present, and future were placed upon Him. Jesus paid the price of the world’s sins.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:15-18

The veil hid the glory of God. A veil hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the temple. When Jesus released His Spirit and died, the veil ripped in two from top to bottom, and believers gained access to the Holy of Holies, gained direct access to God.

When Jesus recruited followers, He said, “Follow me; learn of me.” Jesus told the rich young ruler to go and sell all that he had, give the money to the poor, and follow Him.

In Jesus, there is freedom. Freedom from being a slave to sin. Freedom to approach God in the most intimate manner possible. Freedom to meditate on the Lord’s glory. Freedom to be transformed into His image. Freedom to be what God formed you to be … His poem.

Are you truly free?

My prayer for you

Glorious Father, thank You for giving us freedom in Jesus. It is amazing that You, Creator of the Universe, have given us direct access to You. You have given Your Son, Jesus, as the Perfect Sacrifice to pay the price for our sins, all we need to do is turn to Jesus and follow Him. Thank You, Father, for giving us complete freedom in Jesus.

 

 

Is God asking you to step into the unknown?

River2Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. … And it shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above shall stand in one heap.” Joshua 3:11-13

Camping, circling in the wilderness for 40 years.

Stepping into the Jordan River, waters standing in one heap.

Walking on dry land.

Carrying the ark of the covenant to the middle of the river.

Scurrying past the ark of the covenant and the priests.

Reaching the Promised Land.

Returning to the middle of the Jordan.

Heaving stones on shoulders.

Remembering God’s work.

Creating a memorial.

All the Israelites who had escaped Egyptian slavery and crossed the Red Sea on dry land died in the wilderness, except for two, Joshua and Caleb. The Israelites born in the wilderness lived under the coolness of God’s cloud by day and the warmth of God’s pillar of fire by night. They ate God-supplied manna and drank God-supplied water. All they knew was the provision of God.

Now was the time for the priests to take up the ark, put their feet in the water of the Jordan and walk out to the middle. The Israelites scurried to the other side, the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey and inhabited  by giants.

Forty years earlier, Moses led their parents across the Red Sea on dry land into the wilderness. Now, Joshua led them on dry land to the Promised Land.

The Israelites had a choice that day. They could stay in the land they knew, or they could obey God and step into the unkown–with the promise that God was with them and would provide for them. They chose to step into a land where they would encounter battles, a land where they would work to eat, a land impossible to possess without God, a land of promise with God.

Is God asking you to step into the unknown? He’s with you. Jesus promised never to leave you or forsake you. God showed the Israelites the path they were to take in faith, and He will do it for you.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

My prayer for you:

Provider of all that is good and right, please guide us into all that You have planned for us, for we know that Your plans for us are filled with eternal pleasure and joy. Empower us to step out in faith, so that through Your great strength and power, we will point others to You.

Meditating on God’s Word – As Important to Us as to Joshua

rocking chair“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

After Moses died, God gave the Israelites time to mourn in the wilderness, then He said to Joshua,

“Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. … Only be strong and very courageous; …This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua 1:2-9

By meditating on the Law, the Word of God, and obeying all that is written in it, Joshua was promised success. If we were to read the complete story of Joshua, we would see that he had success when he obeyed God. Sometimes, he did not go to the Lord for direction, and he failed. Even with that very clear direction from God, Joshua was unable to obey completely.

That’s why we need Jesus. He was the only perfect man, the one and only man who kept the Law in its entirety. He was the only man who was qualified to take our sins upon Him and pay the price of that sin–death on the cross. Because He became sin and hung on that cross for us, we can look to the cross, and cling to Him for forgiveness of our sins, past, present, and future. God looks at us through the blood of the cross and finds us clean, calling us His sons and daughters. As sons and daughters, we are heirs to the kingdom of God and eternal life with Jesus.

This gift is free, and yet, it costs us everything. When we unwrap the gift, we unwrap our lives and bare ourselves to Jesus. He becomes Lord of our lives and gently transforms us into the people He intended us to become from the foundation of the world.

Our responsibility? To surrender our lives to Him, to learn of Him, and to abide in Him.

The Bible contains His love letter to His followers. Through His Word, we learn how much He loves us, and we gain practical insight in sojourning through this world.

What we learn is that meditating on His Word is as important today as it was in Joshua’s day.

Jesus prayed to the Father:

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17

If God’s Word is truth and we are sanctified (purified and consecrated to God) by truth, we must study this Living Word that is

“sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Paul writes:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Philippians 4:8

My prayer for you:

Abba, Father, You dwell in all the universe, for You are its Creator. In You we live and move and have our being. In You, we find truth, salvation, and all that is pure and holy. Grant us, dear Father, the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we meditate on Your Word, Your truth, Your holiness. We are so amazed at Your love. Thank You, Father.

Pain, sleeplessness … 5 tactics from Psalm 77

My soul refused to be comforted…
You have held my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak. Psalm 77:2b-4

Have you experienced pain so deep, so intense that you could not be comforted; you could not sleep, and you had no words to express your pain? I’ve been there. I’ve cried out to God and wondered if He heard me.

I’ve asked like the Psalmist, “Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?” Psalm 77:9

During those nights of pain, I turned to the Psalms to help me refocus. There are five tactics that I learned from the Psalmist that brought hope to a hopeless condition.

  1. Remember the past. “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” Psalm 77:11 As I focused upon past storms in my life, I was able to see God working in my marriage, in my work, and in my family.
  2. Think about the meaning of the past. “I will meditate on all Your work, And muse on Your deeds.” Psalm 77:12 I thought about those times that God had moved, and I meditated on how those times had prepared me for what I was facing with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  3. Refocus from the pain to God. “Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.” Psalm 77:13-14 I moved from thinking about my problems and thought about who God is, awesome in power and wonder-working.
  4. Praise the Lord. “Your way was in the sea And Your paths in the mighty waters, And Your footprints may not be known. You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Psalm 77:19-20 Although I sometimes do not recognize the footprints of Almighty God, I can trust that He is there, leading me by the hand as He led the Israelites in the time of Moses and Aaron.
  5.  Rest in the Lord. Although the pain was still with me, I often would be able to rest in the Lord and find sleep. Sometimes, I could even see a slight rainbow in the storm.

My prayer for you:

Our Heavenly Father, You are the God of all Comfort, and You are the Great Shepherd who leads Your people. Comfort Your people as only You can. Provide great peace and restore their souls and bodies as they remember Your awesome works and think about what Your works have meant in their lives. Turn their focus upon You, and graciously bring them to praise You for who You are. Finally, Father, bring rest to their souls and restoration to their bodies. Breathe upon Your people Your perfect peace, a peace beyond all comprehension. Thank you, Father. You are an awesome God!

Please share how God has worked in your storms and the tactics that you use to gain peace.

Freedom in the cross – Are you limiting God?

“And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21:9

Right after God delivered Canaanite cities to the Israelites, the Israelites complained against Moses and God.

“Why have you brought us up from the land of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” Numbers 21:5

First, they said there was no food; then they said they hated the food. The manna that God rained down from heaven each morning, six days a week, was like coriander and honey wafers.
Everywhere they went, God provided manna and water for them, and one time, He provided quail.

I like variety, too. I think I might complain if I had only bread and water to look forward to day after day, even if the bread was sweet. But …

The manna pointed to the Messiah.

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” John 6:48-51

Because of the Israelites’ complaining, God sent fiery serpents to bite and kill them. Once the Israelites started dying, they recognized that their complaints were sins and confessed to Moses, requesting that God remove the serpents.

Moses made a bronze serpent and attached it to a pole and told the Israelites to look upon the bronze serpent and they would live. They had a choice – they could ignore the serpent and die, or they could look upon it and live.

In the Bible, bronze represents judgment. The serpents represent sin. Moses constructed a structure that represented their sin judged, and it brought healing, life, to their bodies and saved them from the wrath of God.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:14-16

The serpent on the pole pointed to Jesus on the cross.

Jesus, who knew no sin, took our sins upon Him. Everyone who looks upon Jesus and believes that He is Lord will be saved from the wrath of God and enter into eternal life.

“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

The cross also points to Jesus our Healer.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Even though I had read these verses many times, I did not equate the cross with healing, only salvation.

I grew up in a Midwestern Methodist church where I learned that the gifts of the Spirit and miracles were for the early church but not for today. Yes, God is able to work miracles and does on occasion, but for the most part, I was taught that He chooses not to provide miraculous healings.

The Bible says that God does not change, that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

I read through the Gospels and Acts and wondered why there were so many miracles and healings if miraculous healing is not something for today.

As I unlearned what I had been taught, I discovered a more compassionate Jesus. This Jesus came to die on the cross to pay the price for my sins, but on His journey to the cross, He stopped to teach, to heal, to raise the dead, and to eat with sinners.

I could retell the miracles of Jesus, but before I decided to remove the boundaries I had placed on my understanding of my Savior, these stories were only head knowledge.

It took over a decade of fibromyalgia to meet Jesus as my Healer. The head knowledge that Jesus is present with me today, became spirit wisdom, and I absolutely know that He is with me and is my sustainer today. What freedom there is when we remove the boundaries we have set for our God! He is so much bigger.

What healing!

My prayer for you

Gracious Father, You abound in patience and mercy. Our Savior and Healer, thank You for increasing our understanding of You. Please show us when we limit You and draw us to an understanding of Your fullness of grace, mercy, and love. Thank You for loving us and dying on the cross for us.

How are you limiting God?