Worthy

www.bible.com/1713/rev.4.11.csb

I can’t tell you how true this is. I really can’t, because to tell it to you would imply I could understand it, communicate it, and you could understand it too. I don’t think either of us is capable of this kind of understanding. For to understand the worthiness of God would also be to understand His eternal and infinite nature. My human mind just isn’t up to the task. But I can easily say “You are worthy!” and fully believe and trust every word of it. For God is worthy.

The writer names three things that God is worthy of 1) glory, 2) honor, and 3) power. This statement by the way is communicated to the Lord via the 24 elders that surround the throne. That offers a little context here, as the source of God’s praise and glory here does not come from an earthly source, but from these creatures in Heaven who in all likelihood represent the Church and Israel. In context, before they offer this word of praise, these 24 elders cast the crowns from their heads before the throne, an act of utter submission and humility before the One who sits on the throne. If there are any who understand among the human race what these three things are, I would hope it would be these glorified men before the throne of God. This raises the stakes of understanding, as they have a deeper understanding of the very things we are discussing.

So whatever glory these elders have received (they are wearing crowns and have received some glory to be able to sit in the presence of the throne), the One who sits on the is worthy of more glory. Whatever honor these men have received for the same, the One who sits on the throne is worthy of more honor. Whatever power these men have to sit at foot at the throne, the One who sits on the is worthy of more. For all the glory, honor and power they have been given, it is nothing compared to the One who sits on the throne, the Eternal One, the All-Powerful One. Even these men in their glorified state know that they are not the One.

If these glorified Elders can acknowledge the glory, honor, and power of the One, what are we doing? We have no glory, no honor, and certainly no power, yet we grasp at it ourselves, claiming some kind of divine favor because God loves us. Compared to Him, we are microbes, and that’s being generous. The only grace, glory, honor, and power we have is what He has given to us, to use for His glory. There can be no pride in the presence of a Christian. It is anathema to God, for whom all credit for all things is due. He is the Creator. He made all things. He deserves all the praise, because all things owe Him their existence. He ALONE is worthy. We are privileged, PRIVILEGED, to receive any grace whatsoever.

I am sorry, we must start here, with who God is, Hie eternal nature, His worthiness, His absolute sovereignty over the universe, before we can being to understand Jesus, and what it meant for Jesus to become a man, lay His life down for us, bearing upon Himself the weight of man’s sin before this Almighty God. As worthy and amazing as God is, the Lamb is given this honor:

“When He [the Lamb] took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.'”
(Rev 5:8-9)

That’s Jesus. That’s the Jesus who came from the worthy God and demonstrated that worthiness before us. Jesus showed us what God’s worthiness means. He is worthy of glory, honor and power, not just because he sits on a distant throne and surveys the universe He created. That alone would have been enough, more than enough. But He also sent His Son, His equal, His second Person of a Divine triunity we still do not understand, both God but also Man. This One showed us what God’s worthiness means. He would give it all up, all the glory, honor, and power, to live as one of us, to tell us about Himself, and ultimately to die in our place. He would take all of the offenses against HImself that all of us have or will ever commit, and took the penalty upon Himself. He is both a just God, and a God willing to pay the price for His own justice.

All for you.

Who is worthy? He is.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, the Lamb who bears the sins of the world, oh my God, may I never forget all that You are. I am ever in Your debt, because I can never repay what I owe you. All that I have is Yours, for it was Yours from the beginning. May I be of service to You today, casting aside my foolish pride, so that You may count me as one of Yours. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

To All Generations

www.bible.com/1713/eph.3.20-21.csb

Who do you think Paul is talking about here? Is he talking about Jesus? You might think so, but Jesus is mentioned secondarily in this passage. He isn’t primary. To find the subject of this passage, you have to go all the way back to verse fourteen, where Paul writes, “I kneel before the Father.” Interesting huh? Context!

Now, does it change how we read this text? Well, not a lot. But it does show us a bit about how Paul thought of God. You see, of all the terms Paul could have used here, his favorite is “Father” when referring to God. This of course is in reference to Jesus, the Son. But Father is also important to us as believers in Christ, since we are also “sons” of God through faith. While there is one Son, the Son, we are also “sons” and “children” of God. And it is pretty remarkable.

I want you to notice something else about this verse. He is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think. I know that when I pray to God, and petition Him for certain outcomes, my imagination can only go so far. I can imagine a healing or a relief from stress or something minor like that. But God has infinite creativity. He is able to “do” beyond anything that we can “ask or think.” God “does” more before breakfast than I could ever imagine thinking. So in our limited capacity, we can ask, we can hope, and we can imagine, but God can DO. And His work surpasses anything that we could come up with.

I can remember when I was between churches and just bumming out, feeling sorry for myself about what God’s purpose and role for me was. Never in a million years would I ever have imagine looking in the want ads in the newspaper for a ministry position, but God did. My wife happened to see it first, showed me the classified, and thus began a four year ministry at Browns Corner Chapel outside Scipio, IN. I would have never imagined it, but God did, and God arranged circumstances to get me started there. God is like that.

The last piece I wanted to focus on is from my title above. Don’t let anyone tell you that the Bible is an old dusty book that belongs to history. There are books like that, but this isn’t one of them. This book, though it describes historical events and was written nearly 2000 years ago, is fresh every day. It wasn’t just written to the first generation, but to every generation. Jesus is just as alive and real today as He was for your grandparents and your ancestors. You can have as close a relationship with Jesus as the Apostle Paul, or even as Peter did, if you want it. Do you?

Lord Jesus, Heavenly Father, sweet Holy Spirit, I cannot help but be awed by what I see and hear. Your word continues to stand today as the best source of authority, Your message of hope that I will ever read. I cannot but be in awe and wonder by how Your old book still speaks. I am grateful that even such a one as I, far removed from the events of the Bible, can still read and be blessed, as if I too were participating in the events as they unfold. I too can experience the presence of God in my life just as the early disciples did, because You are just as real today as 2000 years ago. Lord, however I may serve You today, let me serve. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

You Are God’s Temple

www.bible.com/1713/1co.3.16.csb

Every once in a while, I run into an individual who quotes this verse to support their position against smoking, or taking drugs, or alcohol. The rationale is that since our body is a Temple, then we need to treat it as a holy place, hence none of these intoxicating substances are allowed, since they are considered “unholy”. Well, that’s not exactly correct.

You see, Paul isn’t about about individual bodies here. You might get that if you were looking at the English. You might think that Paul is addressing each individual as a Temple of God, but that’s not so. If you peel back the thin veneer of English and look at the Greek, you might see that the term “you” used in this sentence is a plural you. It is as we say here in the South, a “y’all” which I have to admit is probably one of the smartest additions in the English language in this region, since the singular “you” and the plural “you” both sound the same to ear.

How does that change our understanding? Instead of each individual person being a Temple (and as such to treated as a holy place) it instead puts the onus upon the group as a whole. Collectively, we are the Temple, as the Church. This isn’t a text that is appropriate to use against drugs and smoking (there are better texts for that). This is a text to reinforce that the Church is the place of God’s presence on Earth, and we ought to treat it as such.

Let us no more squabble or argue as God’s Church. His Presence is here among us. His Holy Spirit fills us and indwells us. We ought to respect that fact. We ought to acknowledge that we do not rule here. Boards do not rule here. Little old ladies with crooked fingers do not rule here. God rules here. We are the Temple, as we ought to better resemble our namesake, not in buildings and gold and finery, but in beauty, love and peace, compassion, welcome, sacrifice, and holiness. We are God’s Temple. We need to start acting like it.

Lord, forgive me where I’ve forgotten just how important we are to Your plan to bring the gospel to this world. Let us be filled again with Your Presence, to remember again our purpose and direction You have called us to. Let us be Your Temple again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

My Weaknesses

www.bible.com/1713/2co.12.9.csb

I’ve never seen myself as a physically strong person. I’ve always been about average, enough to help move furniture when needed or lift the end of a couch to sweep under it, but never like, I don’t know, an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Andre the Giant kind of strength (kind of dating myself here). But then, I’ve only rarely been confronted with weakness to really know what it is.

Since I’ve been working as a hospital Chaplain, I’ve seen dozens of people who fit the description of this verse. I’ve have seen God’s power made perfect in weakness. And this is not because very ill people suddenly demonstrated great feats of strength. No I am talking about people who were dying from cancer, or riddled with a physical disability praising the Lord, so filled with God’s presence as to be animated solely by that strength. I’ve seen such great smiles erupt over the faces of gravely ill people because we were talking about Jesus. There is a power that defies any explanation, and I’ve seen it displayed in those who ought not to have it, but God makes the difference.

It is this extremity of situation that confirms for me the presence of Almighty God. God has been faithful in the past. He has healed and He has delivered. Has God changed? Has God faltered or failed? NO. God’s promises today are just as sure as they were before.

And this is the hope I have today, and the hope that I extend to those whose faith is failing them. Has God healed you, delivered you, shown you His power in the past? Has God been faithful?

It intrigued me when reading through the Bible how often God mentions Sinai and the delivery through the Red Sea, the plagues of Egypt and Israel’s deliverance from bondage. He proclaims it through His prophets many times, to generation removes from those events by centuries. And yet the reminders come. Do you remember when God rescued you from Egypt? Do you remember when God delivered you all through the Red Sea, as if to say, “you would not be here today if I had not been faithful in the past,” all of these reminders that God has been faithful, and to therefore trust Him in the present.

What occasions in your life can only be explained by God’s intervention? Have you even been in a desperate situation, prayed over it, and then find yourself delivered? Have you had that kind of experience? We ought to remember these events to remind us that God is faithful, even to us today.

I know I’ve probably share this before, but I too have been in a desperate situation, more than one. I remember being stranded on a mountain face in Tennessee with my father, praying throughout a cold February night that I would do anything God wanted me to do if only He would get us through the night. Guess what. He did.

I remember praying desperately with my wife one night when we were both on the brink, childless, living out of an apartment, exhausted, depressed, with no prospects, no church, and no hope. And yet within six months, we had a new Church ministry, a new baby on the way, a new job situation, and a new home. These are things that had no idea would come my way at the time we prayed, so I can only attribute them to God’s intervention. And it is these I remember when I come upon hard times, and doubt my faith, and God’s faithfulness. God speaks to me in ways I cannot foresee, but He always speaks in a way that I uniquely understand to be His voice and His work. (Let me be clear: I don’t hear a “voice”, but that God responds to my prayers in ways that I know speak directly to me. But like the examples above, in life events and circumstances that are so obviously God, God is “speaking”.)

I don’t know what you are going through today, but remember, God’s power is perfected through our weakness. That weakness may be simply submitting to His purpose. It may be a surrender because you don’t know what you are about anymore, that you don’t know what God is doing in your life. But when you bow before Him in prayer, acknowledge that He was the One in charge all along, you will find His power.

Dear God, I’ve messed up. It seems everything I try to affect for my own good just falls apart. I don’t know how to do life anymore. Lord may I submit today to Your will. I remember all the times in my own life when I’ve been powerless, and turned to You, and You saved me. You have always had purpose for me. May I remember that even now. You are Awesome. I am not. You are God. I am not. May my life be surrendered to You, because Your ideas are so much better than my own. Lord I don’t ask for blessing, I just want Your presence. I don’t want gifts, I want You. Lord please forgive me for the mess I’ve made, and help me to grow before You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Raising Godly Kids

www.bible.com/1713/pro.22.6.csb

If there is a secret to it, I’m afraid I will not find it here. As I’ve mentioned before, most translations will not translate this verse correctly, but the CSB nails it. Showing a child the way he should go will not guarantee that he will never stray. Sorry parents. It takes a little more effort than that. This verse actually says that every child has their own way, and it is up to you to discover it, because they will not depart from their way even when they are adults.

So what is this way this verse talks about? You might notice that your children are different, and interact with the world differently. Some kids respond to authority well. Others do not. Some kids develop a strong sense of justice. Others don’t care. As a parent, it is your duty to both discover this bent, but also to develop it. Stubborn kids will be stubborn adults. This is hard to deal with when they are young, but taught well, and with good life lessons, that stubbornness becomes determination. Adherence to authority as children become adults who will follow every authority. So those children need to be taught about the highest authority, God Himself, to learn to apply God’s authority in this world. You will find them strong defenders of what’s right and wrong in this world.

Other children are harder to figure out. You work with them, spend time with them to discover their bent, and as they grow, you have the great privilege to shape and transform them into citizens and believers in Jesus Christ, Lord willing.

Lord help me each and every day to learn from my kids, and teach them the right path, so that in their own way, they discover who You are. Thank You Jesus. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

What is Worship?

And how do we do it in the church?

It seems we’ve argued for decades about the nature of worship. From the revival tunes of the 19th century to the Jesus movement in the 1960’s, to the wave of contemporary Christian music that still permeates much of Christian worship today. But all of that is about music, time signatures, instrumentation and so forth. And while these things have a psychological effect that can lead us to worship, those are no substitute for it.

It is the moving of the heart towards God. It is emotional. It is relational. It is motivational. It is transformational.

Worship is emotional. Worship calls for feeling: joy, awe, happiness, sorrow, but there ought always to be feeling in worship. It ought to make you feel something. Worship without feeling is cold and emotionless, and really isn’t worship so much as following time signatures and carrying a tune. Worship ought to elevate your presence in a “hypnogogic” state, a state of semi-prayer, where your awareness is elevated into the presence of God. That ought to cause some kind of emotional reaction, if only fear. Without emotion, worship is dead.

Worship is relational. Worship is a response to God’s own work in us. He has called us to Himself, to be His people, to follow His word! Worship comes out of this relationship. That’s why most of the work of worship needs to be done throughout the week. We pray and read the Scriptures. We fellowship together, participate in acts of service for one another, and help the needy, feed the poor, etc. All of these things we do because we have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Worship is motivational. Worship ought to inspire us to do. We ought to leave the worship motivated to participate in the body life of the church. We ought to want to draw closer to than before because we want more, and Jesus is the wellspring of the water of life. The more we draw, the more we want. Worship ought to be a conduit for that.

Worship is transformational. It should change us. Outwardly we are wasting away, but inwardly we are being renewed day by day. In Jesus our hearts change. We become more peaceful, more gracious, more self-controlled, more joyful, more patient and so on.

It is our obligation as believers to worship the Lord. A Christian who does not worship is what? Proud? Stubborn? Disconnected? Worship ought to be as natural as breathing for the believer. And yet many Christians today are struggling with worship. I count myself among them.

For a couple years I have been attending a church which practices what I call the “Hillsong” method of worship, which basically emphasizes quantity over quality. So many of the new worship songs that come out are designed for worship bands, not worshiping Christians. They have difficult melodies which require much practice to get right, often have vapid lyrics which emphasize feeling over substance, and are performed only a few times until the band moves onto the next new song. Old favorites are rarely sung again. Songs we we worked so hard to learn over the four weeks we heard them are tossed into the dustbin in favor the the latest and greatest. There is something to be said for keeping current, but it is often at the expense of worship, and the “worship service” becomes a weekly concert of Christian music, and this you have to listen closely to, since it often sounds like any other kind of love songs you hear on the radio.

So I have been challenged in my ability to worship personally. I’ve turned back to some of the old hymns that my heart knows. I’ve re-examined these old familiar lyrics and found fresh meaning in them, something that growing up I never really took the time to think about. I think you can do that when you reflect on those old hymns.

When we all get to heaven,

What a day of rejoicing that will be.

When we all see Jesus,

We’ll sing and shout the victory. (When We All Get To Heaven)

This is an old hymn I’ve sung a thousand times, but just rushed through the words just to sing them. But think about them for a moment. It will be a great day of rejoicing when we get to heaven. It will be the most important day of our lives. And then we will all see Jesus, the One who died for us, Who rose for us, and bears even now the scars of His sacrifice. We will get to see Him, His face. Just … wow. Then we will sing and shout the victory over sin and death, over temptation and the devil. We will sing and we will enjoy the most powerful worship we will ever experiences. Can we sit still at that thought?

In the picture below, I’ve attempted to put some of these thoughts together. We tend to think of worship in one of three ways. Worship as its own thing, the singing of music, and prayers of worship. In subtle ways, these three aspects overlap. When worship and singing overlap, they become songs of praise. When worship and prayer overlap, they become like the spoken Psalms. And when singing and prayer overlap, they become deeply spiritual songs, and for my part, tend to bring out tears. But it is at the combination of all three that I see hymns, those old traditional pieces that have been so rooted in the heart that their words are like prayer, their complexity calls for skill in singing, but their intent is pure worship.

That’s not to say that hymns remain a static group, since many of the hymns in the hymnbooks were not and are still not popular today. I believe in a great settling period for Christian music. There are some hymns that we will always sing (Amazing Grace, Just as I Am, to name a couple), and there is always new music being produced. I predict that many of the songs produced today will be someone’s “growing up” music, and they too will revisit them later on, rediscovering their sense of worship. These too will be added as “hymns” at some point. (A hymn is a piece of music that both encourages worship, and teaches important theological truth in a memorable fashion, for people will more likely remember a hymn as they will a Scripture.) Hymn music ought to say something about God. Hymns (and good worship music) ought to praise God, not how we feel about Him. It ought to be God-directed, not man-focused, and this is the error I feel a lot of “worship” services tend to take today. I want to encourage all of our worship leaders to really put some thought into how they worship and bring others into that space. It really and truly matters to a lot of people.

If I was leading worship, I would work to find the best of the best of the old and the best of the new. Every generation has music that speaks to them. As a leader of worship, it would be my privilege of bringing everyone, as far as possible, to the presence of Jesus through music, depending on them to present themselves in worship to the Lord.

But that’s just my two cents.

Source of Life

www.bible.com/1713/pro.4.23.csb

Being a Proverb, this verse tends to stand its own without reference to context. As such, it exists as a piece of collected wisdom. Considering its source, its probably something that Solomon himself observed and wanted to pass on. It is an important component of our understanding of the human being.

What is the heart? Anatomically, the answer is simple. It is the organ we have so-named because it is the body’s primary blood pump. If the heart fails, we call it “cardiac arrest” and this can often result in death. So the heart is essential for the function of the human body. But is Solomon advocating for proper cardiac care here? A heart-healthy diet? Solomon being who he is, that would not surprised me, being how prescient he is. But I also don’t think that’s what he’s talking about here.

The heart is also considered in Biblical terminology the place of the soul, as distinct from the mind. In my work as a Chaplain, I’ve discovered that people have three distinct layers to their person, as illustrated below:

As you might notice, some things transcend layers. Some things are firmly rooted within their layers. But the innermost layer, as Solomon describes, is the heart. It is the source of life and the source of your being. Diseases which affect the body, or even the mind do not cause eternal damage. But a disease of the heart lasts forever. If your conscience is “seared” or burned through where you don’t care if you sin anymore, is eternal damnation, even for the former believer. The heart needs to be guarded the most closely, the most carefully. And in this we have a ready defense.

You might remember the passage in Ephesians 6 about the armor of God. tucked within verse 14 is this phrase, “righteousness like armor on your chest.” What is it that protects the heart? It is righteousness, namely the kind of righteousness (and holiness) that God affords. We have been made righteous in Christ, exchanging our pitiful rags for His holiness. Since this is the armor of God, it is God’s righteousness that guards our hearts. When you allow the darts of unrighteousness in, behind the armor, your damage your heart. You cannot sin without consequence. Even “small” sins cause heart damage. While there is healing in Jesus, and grace from the cross, sin has consequences. Your witness and your capacity for service may be greatly diminished if you continue in sin. Sin carves out little bits for itself, reducing your capacity to serve the Lord. The Lord can do much with a little, but the less you sin, the more He has to work with.

This heart, this redeemed soul you possess if yours to do with as you will. But the Lord has claimed it as His own when He sanctified you by His blood. The Lord took ownership of your soul and even staked His claim by moving in, for we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who works with our own hearts to make us holy. If you continue to sin, you drive out His presence, for God cannot tolerate the presence of sin.

Lord, help me today to guard my heart against all the million little things that threaten it, all the tiny temptations and zillion darts that assault me constantly. Lord I want to serve You more. I want to be as much as I can be in Your presence, so that I can be even more effective at working out Your will in this world. Help me to put that guard over my heart so that I may not sin against You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Darkness

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.1.5.csb

Have you seen the darkness? Sometimes when I look into someone’s eyes, I can see it. It’s frightening. I’ve talked with people who’ve been through abuse at the hands of family members, others who’ve contemplated suicide with a certain cold lucidity. Still others whose use of illicit drugs has become normal, even “beneficial” to them. Then there are those who hear voices from the darkness, voices that tell them to kill themselves or others. To hear them tell their stories is chilling. Often the voices begin to be heard after some tragic or critical event in their past or upbringing, often as a coping mechanism dealing with some past trauma. But it is darkness all the same.

Reading this verse is hopeful. I am encouraged that even in the midst of the darkness as I’ve listed above, there is still hope, because the light is GREATER than the darkness. Those who live in darkness have seen a great light. His name is Jesus, who while on this earth illustrated His victory over the world of demons and darkness by liberating many from demonic possession and opening the eyes of the blind.

Consider that for a moment. Jesus opened the eyes of the blind. Why do you think that particular miracle was repeated so often? It wasn’t just because Jesus was compassionate on those who could not see, but over and again we see Jesus healing blind people to illustrate His power over darkness. He could literally liberate someone who lived in darkness and show them light, color, and the face of their loved ones.

I needed this today, because having seen the face of darkness, I need to know that Jesus is greater than the darkness. His light will not be consumed by darkness, but will overcome it. Jesus is stronger. Just remember that the next time you are overwhelmed.

Thank You Lord. You give me hope in the darkness. Though it may surround me and threaten me, I know that You are GREATER. There is no darkness that can overcome You. Help me now, even in this world overwhelmed by darkness, to know Your light. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Loopholes

www.bible.com/1713/php.4.8.csb

Within every code of laws, there exists exceptions and loopholes for those smart enough to figure them out. A notable example of this is the movie “I, Robot” based loosely on the Isaac Asimov tome of the same name. In the movie, the three laws of robotics are repeated for the sake the audience, and the rest of the movie is the antagonist of the movie having actually found the loophole to the laws. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the laws made it illegal for a robot to hurt human beings or allow them to be harmed. VIKI, the movies antagonistic supercomputer, discovered that human beings hurt themselves all the, and in order to keep them from doing this, she decided she needed to take over management through her millions of android proxies. The movie illustrates the breaking of a few eggs to make this particular omelet. By instructing the computer to honor all human life, individual human lives were sacrificed in the process “for the greater good.”

You might think that the law of Love as described in the Bible might also have some loopholes. The two laws of Christianity are simple: Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and the second, love your neighbor as yourself. Whereas the Old Testament laws numbered 623, these two cover just about every situation, right? Well, you might think so. But since we are human, we tend to look for shortcuts. I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing this: “I just want to be able to walk through the pearly gates.” It’s like saying, “I only want to do enough to walk get in the door. I’m not trying to be a saint.” What’s the minimum effort to get into heaven? Is it a marginal faith in Jesus? An acknowledgement that God exists? Apparently it is for some.

But real salvation, salvation that allows you to walk into the presence of God, is the saving faith in Jesus Christ, and submission to his Lordship in your life. It isn’t measuring your life against a list of rules. Jesus didn’t call us to rules, which is why the rules He gave us don’t sound like a list of do not’s. His rules are do’s, and do’s that allow for a lot of creativity. How many different ways can you love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind? How many different ways can you show real sacrificial love to anyone who is your neighbor? Our God challenges us to be creative with our obedience. Who wouldn’t want to serve a God like that?

All of this to bring us back to our loophole. Why do you suppose Paul found it necessary to include this passage at all? Because of whatever loopholes followers of Christ will believe they have found. I have found this passage useful for those who ask about using email, the internet, or modern communications and media. “Is it okay if . . .” kind of questions. All I have to do is point to this verse and ask if what they want to do meet these criteria. I believe God knew that the world would advance beyond the first century. I believe He anticipated advances in media and technology. That’s why I believe the Bible continues to speak to each and every generation in a relevant and contemporary voice. Because for God, there are no loopholes. There are no “bare minimums” when it comes to salvation. Saving faith followed by immersion is the absolute base criteria, and when done ought to result in a Christian interested not in the bare minimums, but in how much they can do to show Jesus just how much they love and trust Him. I believe anyone looking for loopholes are lost.

Dear Lord, You have made me to be Your servant, saved me from the wickedness of my sin, and called out of darkness into light. Lord I know there is not enough I can do to deserve this favor, and I thank You over and again for the grace You have given me. May I ever serve and love You, for You alone cared enough for me to save me. Thank You Jesus. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Those who Fear

www.bible.com/1713/psa.103.13.csb

What is your perception of God like? Is He in close fellowship with you? Or is God distant, standoffish, and disapproving? Are you nervous about when God finally comes in judgment, or do you welcome it, insofar as you anticipate what He’s going to to all those wicked sinners?

It is no coincidence that our perception of God is not unlike the perception of our own fathers. In fact, one plays directly into the other, which is why many people who have “daddy” issues also have God issues. It isn’t by accident either, as our fathers have the task of representing God to us. This comes up in the Ten Commandments when we are told to respect our father and our mother. Why these two in particular? Because our respect for these two bleed over into our veneration of who God is and our respect for authority in general.

This is why we need good fathers, men who will protect us and counsel us, men who will discipline us when we need it, and encourage us when we falter. We need men who model God, and who instill a fear of God in us. When we have no “fear” of our father, meaning we aren’t scared of disappointing him, or fear his anger, we also lose our fear of the same in God.

I would encourage you to seek God’s presence in your life. You have greater responsibilities than just existing from day to day. He has called you to higher purposes, and you can hear His voice when you condition it your hearing through prayer and Bible reading. I encourage you to spend time in each every day to be able to hear the “still small voice” of the Lord.

Lord Jesus, I just need You today. I don’t need money, fame, or any distractions. Let me wholly be devoted to Your leading and direction. Let my mind and my heart wholly fear You, affording You the respect and awe that is already yours. You are God. And I need to me reminded of this every day. Thank You Jesus, for it is in Your Name I pray, Amen.