Leads to Life

Well, this is it. My 31 Days of the Fear of the Lord writing challenge ends today. It has been a very interesting month. I met some challenges during the past few weeks that made me see my utter need to always fear my Lord above all else. Writing specifically about this reverence and this belief in God’s good character could not have come at a better time.

I have learned a lot about the Lord. I have studied who He is. I have remembered why I first began to fear Him. I have realized I should fear Him a lot more than I currently do. I have remembered that knowing Him is worth more than all treasures I have seen or could imagine. And I have genuinely enjoyed recording a lot of it here.

I hope anyone who joined in by reading any of it was encouraged in some way, or inspired to know God more.

My topic is one that doesn’t end with a 31 Day challenge. It is meant to be the forefront and the backdrop of our every day and our lives.

Walk on toward Him, and you’ll find Him walking toward you. And you will have life.

The fear of the Lord leads to life,

and whoever has it rests satisfied;

he will not be visited by harm.

Proverbs 19:23

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One of my Favorite (Top 5, At Least) Jesus Stories

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark 4:35-41

That’s all.

That’s My King!

Blogging originally and creatively has been a struggle the past several days.

Instead of pushing out some thoughts that really aren’t on my heart right now, I’d like to share a video of great truth and great enthusiasm about our amazing God and King and Dad.

Thank you to S.M. Lockridge  for his fear of the Lord and for sharing it through his lively preaching.

God’s Grace for Jonah and a Miracle Along the Way

A runaway prophet on an angry sea,

A man who says, “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven”

Yet “rose to flee” from His presence.

And worried, terrified sailors with their own impersonal gods

Cry out.

“Arise, call out to your god!” they demand of the prophet

For their gods are failing them.

They refuse to still this storm, perhaps lack the ability altogether.

Perhaps don’t exist?

And the prophet confesses.

It is on his account the mighty tempest has endangered their nautical voyage.

His disobedience called for some action,

For God’s purpose is quite steadfast.

“Hurl me into the sea, then the sea will quiet down for you” the troublemaker proposes.

The sailors ignore him, row harder, believe harder

And the unthinkable happens.

“O Lord” they say.

“O Lord” yet again!

And finally, somewhat shakily and regretfully and peacefully all at once,

They hurl the prophet into the swirling mess

Of what is sure to be a watery grave.

“And the sea ceased from it’s raging.”

Still.

Quiet.

Men left stunned.

And the real miracle:

“Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly,

And they offered a sacrifice to the Lord

And made vows.”

They belong to Him.

He belongs to them.

The dead are brought to life

By whatever means He sees fit.

And the prophet continues to be gracefully pursued

By the One worthy of fear

Until he fears once again

And can truthfully say

“I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

And thus,

the great fish is at hand.

Affections, Attachments, Loves

I read the sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” by Thomas Chalmers yesterday.

It was pretty cool.

The first 6 or so pages out of the 11 were basically saying the same thing over and over, but I needed to hear it. Some things, you have to hear repeatedly to really understand. I think Thomas knew that. The first two paragraphs read:

There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world – either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon not to resign an old affection, which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one.

My purpose is to show, that from the constitution of our nature, the former method is altogether incompetent and ineffectual and that the latter method will alone suffice for the rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong affection that domineers over it.

So that’s the basic idea.

What is “domineering over your heart”?

What do you think about? Daydream about? Talk about?

I know a few things that are dominant in my heart that shouldn’t be.

And I know they are wrong affections, because they don’t get me anywhere and they don’t help anyone, including me.

But our hearts are quite deceptive, and they’ll latch on to any temporary thing that seems good, that makes it jump, or brings a little comfort.

I don’t want to be dominated by these affections. I want all of my affection to go to Jesus, because His affections are so strong for me. They are steadfast. They are eternal.

If I forget that this week, I need look no further than the Cross.

We love because He first loved us. 

We can’t earn that love. We can’t lose that love.

And we can love people and things properly when they are secondary to our first and forever love.

Oh Spirit, expel the old affections, and ravish me with the NEW.

The Good Shepherd > The Thief

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 10:1-18

The God Who Hears

Prayer works.

By this I simply mean that when you have the faith to speak to God, humbly and adoringly and repentantly and expectantly, He hears you.

And things happen.

I was reminded of this fact this week in a small but significant way. After God answered a specific prayer, and so sweetly, it made me think, “I deliberately don’t ask God for things sometimes, and I avoid talking to Him, because I don’t think He really wants to hear me or talk to me or bless me.” Not all the time, but sometimes, that is my view.

Rubbish.

What can I say? Our relationship is not perfect (because I’m involved).

But times like this, I remember: there are no coincidences. It’s all personal. It’s fun and exciting and surprising to know Him.

And I see how much more glorious He is.

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:22-24

It’s Him

The fear of the Lord leads to LIFE,

and whoever has it rests satisfied;

he will not be visited by harm.

Proverbs 19:23

Life.

Rest.

Satisfaction.

Everything you’re looking for.

Everything I’m looking for.

It’s Him.

And don’t believe my words.

Try Him.

And don’t just write words, Claire.

Believe them.

Cared For and Loved

I have been meditating, or attempting to meditate, on this passage all day.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-39

And I have been thinking about my parents tonight. I never earned their care. I was just born to them. I didn’t begin working out of the womb for my place in their household. I didn’t have to rent my room, or work for the groceries Mom brought home. So much of their time and energy and work has been put into loving and caring for me well.

Of course I have grown up (somewhat) and they have pointed me to maturity in being able to take care of myself (somewhat).

But really, their love and their care for me is never going to stop.

I thank God that He has shown me His character through my parents in that way.

And even as their care towards me has been excellent and completely undeserved, how much more excellent and unstoppable and undeserved is my eternal Father’s care for me?

Jesus lived, died, and rose from the grave to earn life and care forever for us.

It is too much to fathom. But I do believe it’s true.

Ask Him for bread, and humbly expect it. What pleasure is there in giving a stone?

A Chilling Idea and the Truth that Trumps It

A Chilling Idea:

If this life is all there is, then everything will eventually burn up in the death of the sun and no one will be around to remember anything that has ever happened. Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught. 

The Truth that Trumps It:

Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one,  and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever. That is what the Christian faith promises. 

Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor

My heart and mind sing at the reality of our existence, and shudder at the thought that some cannot, or refuse, to consider it.