Thursday, January 28, 2010

Holy Fear

If God is all-loving, why does the Bible say that we are to fear him? Unfortunately, the typical answer is that the fear that is referred to in the bible is something akin to 'Respect'. That response is not only incorrect but harmful as it limits what actually should be a very healthy and natural response when both sinner and saint are confronted with the awesome and powerful God of the universe.

Even worse is to equate the God that needs to be feared as an 'Old Testament' God as if we now have a different God or as if the New Testament is all about love but no fear. If so, we have to deal with a number of verses in the New Testament that deal with the same subject:

"Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King." (1Peter 2:17)

"Don?t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."(Matt 10:28)

"But I will show you the One to fear: Fear Him who has authority to throw people into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the One to fear!" (Luke 12:5)

"He spoke with a loud voice: 'Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."(Rev. 14:7)

So what exactly does it mean that we are to "Fear the Lord"? The Fear of the Lord is a Holy Fear that for the believer is essential in living a life that is holy and pleasing to God. The fear of God that is taught in the New Testament is that which caused the early church to grow (Acts 2:43&47 and "fear came upon every soul...and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."

For the unbeliever, the fear of the Lord is a powerful force that will often lead to true repentance. The fear of judgment, the consequences of sin both here on earth as well as for eternity has lead to an appropriate response which is to repent and turn to God and salvation.

For the believer, a healthy fear of God protects us from many unholy influences and temptations. This healthy fear is a dread of offending a holy and all-powerful God in whom we have entrusted our lives.ˇIt is not a fear of condemnation as the Bible clearly tells us, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1), but of disappointment and ultimately an understanding that God's mercy protects us from many but not all of the consequences of our sins.

For the believer, our God deserves both our worship and our fellowship.ˇIn order to have fellowship with a Holy God we need both the sanctifying work of Jesus Christ as well as our obedience.

The sacrifice has already been paid. It's now time to resist temptation and sin and submit our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Creating Margin

If you want to have a life, you need some margin. For too many of us, our life has been so jammed with things, both good and bad, that we have absolutely no margin and as a result no life.

I just came back from a short 3-day vacation with the family. Because it was short we spent literally every minute with each other. The first night we went out to eat and I was amazed that there were families, that looked somewhat like ours, except instead of talking with each other, they were all on their iPhones and Blackberrys and clicking away at the keys.

Perhaps they had something important to say or something really special to share like, "@ a table and ready 2Eat".

People define margin a number of ways. For me, when I think of margin, I think of those slide puzzles that have either numbers or maybe a picture. The objective is to rearrange all the pieces so that it makes sense. The catch is that in order to play the game, one of the pieces has to be missing. It creates room or margin for the other pieces to move around.

To me, margin is that which is required in order for all the other pieces of my life to work. I need margin in my day to be able to get from one place to another or one appointment to another without running like a maniac. I need margin in my finances so that at the end of the month, I have some money left over for possible emergencies. I need margin in my week so that I get an opportunity to spend time with my family and friends.

What piece do you need to take out of your life in order to create some margin and get a life? It's not about priorities, it's actually about saying, "no" to some good things as well. Financial margin happens when we make a decision to not buy something in order to have a little left over for emergencies. Margin in your daily schedule appears when you say "no" to the additional invitation or meeting or activity.

Create a little margin and take back your life.

"What is repentance and is it required for salvation?”

The concept of repentance is often misunderstood.  While repentance definitely means to feel sorry for a previous action, to decide ...