Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God

I don’t know if anyone still comes here to read this blog or not.  I’ve pretty much let it go and simply post a link or picture or something from time to time.  This has been my longest absence so far from posting anything very relevant.  But, God has been working on me for more than a year now, had me out in the woodshed a good lot of that time actually, so I hope to record here some of the fruit that has come out of that, from having received the rod of the Lords correction, so-to-speak.  I’ve had a pretty big adjustment to my previous way of thinking and things that used to matter a great deal to me have grown much more dim, becoming but dust and ashes in my sight.

Over the years since we’ve lived here in northern Wisconsin I’ve had a certain level of anxiety after having picked up and moved my family to a way of life previously not experienced by any of us.  (On a side note; God delivered me this year from that anxiety)  I had no idea what I was going to do to make a living up here.  Oh, I had thoughts on what I wanted to do, but what you want to do and what makes enough money are often times two different issues altogether and money has always been an issue. 

So after having leaped into so many new things (for us) from raising crops and animals to becoming entrepreneurs by necessity I have many, many times felt totally incompetent and inept, so I have often prayed to God for more wisdom.   And nearly every time I prayed that prayer I’d remember God’s word “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10.  But, that theme, especially for the better part of this year, has really been hitting home with me.  The fear of the Lord IS the beginning of wisdom, it truly is.  Have you ever had those kinds of lessons where if you didn’t know better you’d think there was some kind of conspiracy out there to give you a certain message?  It’s like every sermon you hear hits on that theme, every article or book you read hits on that theme, everywhere you go it seems the theme, whatever it might be, jumps right out at you.  For me this year it’s been “the fear of the Lord”. 

I’m in the process again, for the third time in my life, of reading the entire bible all the way through.  Actually I do things backwards a lot of times and I started with the New Testament and first read it all from Matthew to Revelation.  Now I’m in the process of reading through the Old Testament, I’m currently in the book of Numbers.  But, again all through it I’m seeing the call to “fear the Lord”.  It’s there woven all throughout the bible.  Not necessarily a fall on your face trembling as if you are going to die fear, which it can be that of course, but a high and holy reverence, a holy fear, a healthy respect. 

All throughout the bible both Old Testament and New we are told to “fear the Lord”. 

In Jeremiah 32:40 God even says that He will put the fear of Himself into His people so that they will not turn away from Him.  “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. “

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”  Psalms 111:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  Proverbs 9:10

And Jesus said “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “  Matthew 10:28

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Hebrews 12:28

“Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”  Revelation 14:7

“And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.”  Revelation 19:5

If you are looking for it this command to “fear God” can be found all throughout the bible from beginning to end.

And to further burn this theme into my heart soul and mind I had a terrible dream back around spring of this year.  I had a very real dream in that I had obviously died but, had gone to a hell like place instead of heaven.   I won’t go into detail here but, the main thing that I was extremely aware of was that it was “eternal”, a place of utter hopelessness and despair with no hope ever for any kind of pardon or parole, forever and ever and ever.  In that place the name of Jesus held no power or hope, it did absolutely no good to call out His name and it was terrifying and eternal.   Forever is a very, very long time.  After I woke from this horrible dream I had a hard time shaking it.  Kelli sat with me for hours that night as I related the horrors of that bad dream.   As we talked I was highly aware of the lost condition of so many people around me, family, friends, neighbors and people in the community. 

As Kelli and I sat up that night I kept getting pictures in my mind about the lost condition of the whole world.  One picture I told her, “It’s like everyone in the world is seated on a speeding train on tracks that are on a downhill run which end abruptly at the edge of a very steep cliff.  The train is barreling toward certain destruction, but most of the people inside are fast asleep and dreaming.  A man is dreaming about a ball game, a lady is dreaming of a nice little tea party, they’re all dreaming about their hobbies and pleasures of life fast asleep completely unaware that certain destruction is just moments down the track as the train hurtles along faster and faster.   The only way to be saved from certain death is from a life line that’s being lowered down from an invisible hand.  The life line represents Jesus.  All that the people have to do is wake up and take ahold of the line and they will be lifted to safety.  Some do and firmly grasp the life line/Jesus and are whisked up and away, off of the hurtling train, but most prefer to stay sleeping, all warm and snug deep in dream land, having no inclination what so ever that certain doom is coming their way, which is approaching closer and closer and closer by the second."  That dream affected me profoundly. 

Many people do not believe in heaven or hell.   Others believe only in heaven and not hell, with hell being just too horrible of a reality to contemplate.  But Jesus himself warned about it plenty, even saying that it would be better to pluck out an eye or chop off a hand than for the whole body to be thrown into the eternal torment of hell.  If there wasn’t a hell why would Jesus even have had to die for our sins in the first place?  To reiterate what Jesus said, “…but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “ Matthew 10:28  The Word teaches that it is indeed real without a doubt.

In light of these things it’s helping me to see more clearly at least one of the reasons why America is disintegrating into such a sad moral abyss.  People don’t fear God anymore, simple as that.  You can’t fear what you don’t believe in, which is one thing that the public school system has done a fine job in accomplishing in America’s youth.  “We came from apes” they say.  “There is no God”, they say.  And now we have things like “black Friday” where people act exactly like the animals they believe they are. 

But even in the modern church it seems most people don’t have a reverence for God anymore and have very little fear or respect.  “God is love” that is written plainly in the scriptures, but he is also a “consuming fire” and that second part is so often overlooked in modern American churches today where Jesus it seems is everyone’s “buddy”. 

I was born in 1963 and grew up with that kind of “lukewarm” perspective of the Lord.  I knew Christian kids that would willingly and knowingly sin then say “now let’s ask Jesus to forgive us”, not much fear of God in that kind of thinking.  For lack of a holy reverential fear of the Lord I did many things I’m not proud of as a “Christian” kid growing up. 

The modern American church should tremble at the abominations being committed by so called professed “Christians” today.  It was bad enough when I was young, it’s only gotten exponentially worse since then.  Very few of us have an understanding of what it is to have a holy reverential fear of Almighty God.  Today it seems there is very little difference between Christians and the World.  This is one of the main problems of why we have people willing to maim or kill just to save a few bucks on some new electronic gadget, what a shame! 

We recently had to endure the song and dance of the latest presidential election here in America.  I for one didn’t get very worked up about it because I understand that this country is too far gone to put any hope in any of the political parties.  Salvation will not come from the government and it never has.  In my view, we don’t have a top down problem anymore; it’s a bottom up problem.  Americans have become so far removed in their consciousness of God that we don’t deserve Godly leaders.   In this country we’ve forgotten God!

We have to ask ourselves, what’s at the forefront of our minds.  What do we think about all the time, making money, our jobs, the latest scores at the ball game, going fishing, hunting?  How about the latest and greatest brand new electronic gadget that people are willing to maim and kill for? 

But things are getting tight here in America; people might have to give up that second or third vehicle, that second or third house even.  We have customers that are now having to give up their second homes because they can’t afford to keep two anymore.  I’m not against prosperity by the way, not at all, I’m just making a point of all the myriad of things that take precedence over God.  All these things take preeminence in our heart, soul and mind and a relationship with God is relegated to someplace WAY down the ladder.

It’s true that criminal elements have taken over our governmental institutions, many years ago, but they are waxing worse and worse just as the rest of society.   In this country the salt has lost its savor, the Christians have fallen asleep and have become lukewarm.  This is the reason in my opinion for the downfall of America. 

It’s easy to point the finger at everyone else, but it really has to start with us.  We need revival, but it has to start with the one we see in the mirror.   We need personal revival before we will ever see it in our communities much less our governments.  We need to individually fall on our faces before a Holy God and repent of our sins, of which are piling up to heaven.   We’ve forgotten God because we are fast asleep with everything but the Lord at the forefront of our imaginations.  The salt has lost its savor.

 The American church needs to wake up before it’s too late; maybe it’s already too late.  But God is long suffering.  He is patient not willing that any should perish.   But at some point the door on the Ark got shut and only the ones safe inside survived the coming flood.  A “flood” is coming and we need to be in the Ark which is Jesus.  But we have to wake out of our stupor in order to get safely inside.  We’ll never find it while we live out our days sleep walking like some kind of “zombies”.  Not one thing in this world is more important than ours and our loved ones eternal souls.   Forever is a very long time. 

Until Next Time           

Friday, November 23, 2012

What Child Is This-Don and Wendy Francisco, Jerry Palmer