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A Big, Big God

3 Jan

IMG_704519 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Proverbs 3

Reading this today, my heart swells  with how big my God is. It’s so easy to cram him into a little corner…but he brings the refreshing dew to our lives. And sweet sleep. He laid the foundation of the earth.  He.  He.  He.  Not me, me, me.

God: The Strength of My Heart

10 Oct

The other day I wrote about Psalm 90:11 which discusses the fear of the Lord.  Let’s take a look at the verse 12 today.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12 KJ

The meanings of the first phrase in Hebrew are self-evident, but the second phrase has some interesting shades of meaning:

The word apply, or bow’, means to lead in, to carry in, bring in, gather, and cause to come.  The word gather reminds me of something that is fragmented, like our heart which needs to be united to totally fear the Lord about which I wrote about the other day.  It sounds like we need a sheepdog to herd the fragments of our hearts together to be able to apply them to wisdom.

The word heart includes all of the innermost parts of us–our minds, our souls, our consciences, our emotions, and our wills.  It is incredibly easy for these parts to fragment, isn’t it?  This verse says that we can apply our hearts to wisdom when we learn to number our days due to our fear of the Lord.  It seems that the fear of the Lord is key to so much.

I can only relate this to the way I felt about my dad.  I respected him totally.  I had him on a pedestal.  I didn’t want to do anything to make him think less of me.  And so I worked and worked hard to gain his approval.  He loved me either way–but I still worked due to fear that I would lose His approval.  I tend to approach God the same way–with work.

Then I read the following verse and I gave a sigh of relief:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever.  Psalm 73:26

God is the fragment gatherer.

Fearfully Trustworthy

26 Sep

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name. Psalm 86:11 NAS

I’ve been stuck on this verse for several days–stuck on the whole idea of fear of the lord and my/our need for it.  Teach me your way has a very active feeling to it–to throw, to cast,  to shoot, to point out, show, to direct, teach, and instruct.  You almost get the idea that the Lord takes us by the shoulders, turns us toward the correct path, and starts us down it.

David makes a promise in the second line that if the Lord will direct him, he will walk in that direction–the direction of truth.  I love the meaning of the word truth–firmness, faithfulness, truth, sureness, reliability.  The idea isn’t simply walking in the truths of the Lord, but in following the path because he is so faithful and true.  Can we promise the same?

It is the idea that my heart is fragmented and in need of being united that stops me dead in my tracks because of course it is true.  It’s David’s heart-cry to have a unified heart.  To fear, or yare, God is to fear, be afraid, to stand in awe of, be awed, to reverence, honour, and respect Him.  If my heart were unified, I would deal with the flesh quickly and decisively.  I would never fear the opinion of others.  I would put Him first in all my doings.

Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk and live in Your truth; direct and unite my heart [solely, reverently] to fear and honor Your name. Psalm 86:11 AMP

A Fearful God

20 Sep

We are cleansed!

11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. Psalm 90 NKJ

I’m not “getting” something in the syntax here.  It seems to be saying that our fear (reverence) of God is somehow connected to His wrath.  So I’m looking at the amplified, which tends to be my explanatory Bible version:

Who knows the power of Your anger? [Who worthily connects this brevity of life with Your recognition of sin?] And Your wrath, who connects it with the reverent and worshipful fear that is due You?

Thomas Goodwin, who is known as the readable Puritan, has this to say, “You have souls that are able to comprehend vast fears and terrors; they are as extensive in their fears as in their desires, which are stretched beyond what this World or the creatures can afford them, to an infinity. The soul of man is a dark cell, which when it begets fears once, strange and fearful apparitions rise up in it, which far exceed the ordinary proportion of worldly evils (which yet also our fears usually make greater than they prove to be); but here, as to that punishment which is the effect of God’s own immediate wrath, let the soul enlarge itself, says he, and widen its apprehension to the utmost; fear what you can imagine, yet still God’s wrath, and the punishment it inflicts, are not only proportionable, but infinitely exceedingly all you can fear or imagine.”

Some of us have a tendency to think that God winks at sin.  But no, His anger against sin, his wrath, is mammoth.  We reverence his purity which is the impulse behind his wrath.

John Bunyan answers the question, “Who knows the power of your anger” this way:  None at all; and unless the power of that can be known, it must abide as unspeakable as the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.

All of this is cause for great rejoicing, because we were cleansed of sin when we received Christ as our Savior.  Oh, indeed, the love of Christ is limitless when looked at through this lens.  What a miracle that we receive Christ’s righteousness.

Fearing the God of Compassion

2 Sep

As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:13

This morning we listened to a message online where the three main points were taken from the book, Your God is Too Small, by J.B. Phillips.  There are three misconceptions we tend to have about God:

1.  God is a policeman,

2.  God is a parental hangover–in other words, we tend to think of God in the same way we think of our earthly father, and

3.  Since God is perfect, we set up absolute standards for ourselves (which we can never satisfy and which are a menace to us as they lead us into bondage).

Thinking about which of the three is my most active area of misconception, I would have to say that it is number 3.  Sure, my image of my father affects my image of God, but I know that I am constantly striving to meet impossible standards I set for myself in my life.  When I read the verse from Psalms 103 the other day my pride reacted–I don’t like to be pitied.  After hearing the message today, I looked up the word “pitied” in my online helps and found that it means “compassion,” which in turn means “a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for other people’s suffering or bad luck and a desire to help.”  Fearing God means to have reverence, worship, and awe toward Him, while some definitions add hating sin.

If you add all this together in what turns out to be a combination of the New International Version and the Amplified Bible, we come up with this:  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who reverence and  worship Him.  I need Him to know me in all my ugly self-sufficiency.  I need God to do a work in me so I can rest in Him and stop laboring.  I am so grateful that He cares enough to do this.

Andrew Murray says we need to say, “‘I never, by any effort, can take hold of God, or seize this for myself; it is God must give it.’  Cherish this blessed impotence.  It is He who brought us out, who Himself must bring us in.  It is your greatest happiness to be impotent.”

There is a definite cognitive dissonance here between what I believe (that only God can do–anything) and how I act.  I act and react as if I could do all of this Christian life on my own with just a leetle bit of help.

What misconception tends to pop up in your life?

(By the way, Mike’s Crocodile Dundee adventure [see last post] was pretty mundane, although very nice.  They drove to a village and had dinner with a number of pastors and their families.  Mike shared from the Word and the pastors are quite excited about Bible College.)


Fearlessly Forgiving 2

26 May

If You, Lord, should keep account of and treat [us according to our] sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with You [just what man needs], that You may be reverently feared and worshiped.  Psalm 130:3,4

“There are four different words for forgiveness in the Bible–three Hebrew words and one Greek.  The first Hebrew word means “to cover”–like using a rug to cover the dirt on your floor.  The second word means “to lift and take away”–which happens when you remove a stain from a carpet.  The third word means “to pardon” or “to wipe the record clean.”  The fourth word means “to let go” or “to send away,” as when you release a prisoner from jail.  When you put these words together, you get a graphic picture of forgiveness.  God covers our sins, He removes the inner stain, He wipes our personal record clean, and then He releases us from our guilt so that we are set free.”  –Ray Pritchard in The Healing Power of Forgiveness

We won’t be able to truly forgive others until we see how thoroughly and completely and sacrificially God has forgiven us.  Exult in your cleanness today.  Exult in your perfect record!

Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up ~ Winston Churchill

11 Apr

This morning God took His scalpel to me and I responded by prostrating myself on the floor in repentance and empowerment.

Ok, back up a step.  You see, I’d ignored Winston Churchill’s and God’s instructions to fight the good fight.  To never give up.  We’re told in Nehemiah 4:14:

I looked [them over] and rose up and said to the nobles and officials and the other people, Do not be afraid of the enemy; [earnestly] remember the Lord and imprint Him [on your minds], great and terrible, and [take from Him courage to] fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.

I had stopped taking courage from our great and terrible Lord regarding a family member and was experiencing extreme lethargy in my prayer life as a result.

God is great (all the time) and terrible, which means to be feared, that we should stand in awe of Him, and that He is to be  reverenced, honored, and respected.  And this God empowers us to FIGHT.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:18-21

Never, never, never, never give up.  Fight the good fight!

The Fear of the Lord is Life

13 Feb

First Flower

Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises.  Proverbs 19:23 MSG

The fear of the LORD leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble. NIV

The fear of the Lord leads is life.  Life, or chay, means living and alive such as the greening of vegetation, the flowing of fresh water, the lively activity of man, and the reviving we find in springtime.  I grew up in northern Illinois, and I think only people who have lived through such winters can truly understand the joy of the coming of Spring.  Maybe here in Ecuador we could relate it to the first rain after dry season, but I can well remember the joy of seeing the ice begin to break up on the creek and the first little crocus poking through the snow.

The fear of the Lord brings a full life.  The Hebrew word here means fullness and satisfaction.  When we fear the Lord we are focussed on Him and know that He’s on the throne.  He fills us with every spiritual need.

The fear of the Lord gives a serene life with no nasty surprises.  Does this mean that we won’t have trouble?  If that’s so, I don’t think ANYONE has ever lived in the Fear of the Lord!  According to Matthew Henry, this means:

Spiritual Safety: They  shall not be visited with evil; they may be visited with sickness or other afflictions, but there shall be no evil in them, nothing to hurt them, because nothing to separate them from the love of God, or hurt to the soul.

I like the idea of “no nasty surprises.”  Events may happen in our lives that surprise us, but if we fear God we know that nothing is a surprise to Him.  God is not scrambling to fix things.

Photo from