Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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1 Fruitful Fear – Part 1

Deuteronomy 10:12-22

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. 13 And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good. 14 “Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the Lord your God. 15 Yet the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today. 16 Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn. 17 “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. 18 He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. 19 So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. 20 You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone. 21 He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes. 22 When your ancestors went down into Egypt, there were only seventy of them. But now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky!”

Fear serves as an important alarm system, warning or preparing us for impending danger. Yet fear can also paralyze and cause us to freeze when we should fight or flee. Fear can be divided into two camps, that which is helpful and that which is harmful. Fear will either be your friend or foe, and its here in Deuteronomy 10:12 that we discover the kind of fear God wants us to have. As God’s chosen people were nearing the end of their 40 year journey through the desert, as a result of doubt and disobedience, we see Moses preparing them for his death and departure, as well as their entry into the Promised Land. Part of the preparation to enter this land filled with milk and honey, where they could settle down and prosper, involved Moses instructing the people on how to live and how to love. It’s here that Moses impresses upon them the need to fear the Lord, mentioning 7 times that they are to fear the Lord. After reminding them of their previous rebellion and God’s power to fulfil His promise, Moses starts in verse 12 with the question “and now, O Israel, what does the Lord require of you?” As he answers the question Moses reminds us of a right respond to God in light of all that He has done for us? Note that our response starts first not with our actions, but with our attitude. We are to have a proper attitude toward the Almighty, because attitude always affects our actions. We can work on becoming more loving and holy. We can study God’s word to know Him more but it will all fall short and fail if we don’t have a right attitude toward God. If our attitude is faulty we will fail to remain true to God and we will start to see Him and His word as a burden instead of as a blessing. Just as Moses called God’s children to look at their attitude, so I to invite you to examine your attitude toward the Almighty. How do you look at God? Because how you see God will determine how you serve God. Moses calls us to have an attitude of fear, which first requires us to have an accurate understand of what it means to fear the Lord. The fear of God is an awesome respect or reverence growing out of the greatness and power of God. In order to revere God rightly we need an accurate understand of His nature. In Job 37 we learn about God and the reason why He should be held in reverence, because of Who He is: “He is clothed in dazzling splendor. 23 We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty; but even though he is just and righteous, he does not destroy us. 24 No wonder people everywhere fear him. All who are wise show him reverence” Our attitude should be one of reverence and respect. It’s why Isaiah would later be filled with fear when God came before him, Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” How we revere Him will also be how we respond to Him, its why in verse 8 we see Isaiah saying yes to serving, “Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” It’s also why the people of Israel could not go upon Mount Sinai, because God’s powerful presence had transformed it into holy ground upon which they could not tread. Perhaps no one has captured the character of God better than C.S. Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia, in which he, like John in Revelation 5, portrays the Lord as a lion. The lion is a fierce figure that provokes both fear and fascination, might and majesty. In his book C.S. Lewis says: “As the Lion passed by they were terribly afraid He would turn and look at them, yet in some queer way they wished He would.” Naturally one would be nervous meeting a lion! The question was asked to one who knew this Lion well, “Is He safe?” I find the answer both wise and startling: “Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Our motivation for fear grows out of an understanding of who God is, because an understanding of the character and attributes of God motivates respect and reverence. Do you fear the Lord? Is it the fear of the Lord what motivates you in all that you think, say and do? How we look at God affects how we will:

  • Live

Moses calls us to live in a way that pleases God which requires that we have a proper perspective of Him. Moses reminds us of some of the reasons why we should stand in fear and awe before God. In verse 14 he says: “To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” When we take time to soak in the wonder of His creation, how complex, orderly and magnificent it is, we cannot help but be moved. In Psalm 8:3 David says “when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,” Moses invites us to marvel at His majesty and see the greatness and grandeur of our God. When I look upon the majestic Rocky Mountains or the grandeur of the Grand canyon, there is an overwhelming, all-encompassing sense of greatness, of seeing or experiencing more than my senses will allow me to take in. So it is as we think and look upon God, we should be overwhelmed by His greatness and goodness. Do you stand in awe of the Almighty? Second when I see the hugeness of the Rockies or the Grand Canyon I am humbled. I have a feeling of smallness because before me is something much greater than me. God’s powerful presence should alter our perspective. Not only do I see self as small but it also puts my problems into their proper place. When I place my problems into the presence of God they are no longer monumental, they shrink in the shadow of His strength. In the presence of His power they become puny. We should live in awe because our God is awesome. Deuteronomy 10:17 says: “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome.” A proper perspective of God should lead to a life of praise. We should be characterized by a life of worship not worry. Not only are we called to consider His creation but we are also called to remember that we are chosen by God. Verse 15 says: “Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today.” Not only did God created you, but He chose you. Ephesians 1:4-6 tells us that “4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son” Deuteronomy 10:21 tells us, “He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.” Today we praise lots of pointless things, but the only one who is really worthy of our praise is God. Are you engaged in pointless praise or pointed praise? We are called to pursue a life that is pleasing to Him, so are you living an obedience life or an obstinate one?

 

 

 


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30 The Bigness of Blessing – Part 2

Deuteronomy 28:1-7

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. 2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: 3 Your towns and your fields will be blessed. 4 Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. 5 Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. 6 Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. 7 “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!”

Not only are God’s blessings geographical and generationally but they are:

  • Ongoing Blessings

Verse 6 says “Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed” From your first step of the day, to the last step God longs to bless. God’s blessings will wake you up in the morning, and God’s blessings will tuck you into bed at night. As Lamentations 3:22-23 says: “22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” I love how fresh God’s grace is, we don’t have to try and get by on yesterday’s leftovers. We don’t have to beg, borrow, or steal someone else’s grace because ours is stale or spent from the day before. Each day grants us a fresh supply of grace. Yet how often do we really wake up with thoughts of blessing? Often instead of thinking about His blessings we are preoccupied with busyness and business. Instead of meditating on His mercies we rush madly into the middle of the rat race. Many of us are missing the blessing because we are too busy, our focus is on doing not being. Day after day we miss the myriad of miracles all around us, from the birds that start our day with singing, to the gentle drops of dew at night. In our rush to work we miss His work. We are becoming the godless generation, the generation that turns to google for answers instead of God. We are fast becoming the generation that knows all the answers but doesn’t know the Author. What we are missing is real relationship, but in our busyness we are ignorantly unaware of the Almighty and His lavish love for us. Have you ever pondered this passage in Zephaniah 3:14-17: “…The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” When was the last time you pictured God singing over you? Can you fathom the Fathers voice, and the sound of His song? We have a God that takes such delight in His children that He has authored a song to tell our story. Today right where you are I want you to take a moment and ponder the words from the song Amazed, by Phillips, Craig and Dean:

“Amazed”

You dance over me

While I am unaware

You sing all around

But I never hear the sound

 

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

How You love me

 

You paint the morning sky

With miracles in mind

My hope will always stand

For You hold me in Your hand

 

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

How You love me

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

How You love me

 

How wide, how deep

How great is Your love for me

How wide, how deep

How great is Your love for me

 

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed by You

How You love me

Lord, You love me, oh

 

I’m amazed by You

Lord, I’m amazed everyday

So amazed

How You love me, Lord

Not only are God’s blessing ongoing but part of His ongoing blessing involves:

  • Blessing in the battles

Verse 7 says: “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!” I’m sure that most people would rather be blessed with no battles. But Christ never promised us a conflict free life, He did however promise us a conquering one. God wants to be in charge not only in the calm but also in the conflict. Both 2 Chronicles 20:15 and 1 Samuel 17:47 remind us that the battle belongs to the Lord. Do you want to be blessed in battle, do you want to win the war then don’t focus on the fight and fret, focus on the Father. Stop worrying and start worshipping, stop striving and start singing. God wants to bless your life and give you victory. What areas of your life are you losing the battle in? We need to become increasingly aware of our weak areas, those places where we most struggle the most, and start rely on God’s strength in those areas. As we do they will become targeted less often. The only reason we are attacked there over and over is because Satan has success there. But God is bigger than any weakness we have, we just need to be willing to give God the battle. Which requires that we recall and remember God’s track record. He has proven himself many times over in my life, and I need to remember what he did in my life because that’s the life I’m living. Sure you can learn from the stories of others but its personal when you recall the Fathers faithfulness in your life. David faced the giant Goliath, not because he got up feeling especially giant-strong one day, but because he remembered God was with him. The God who gave him strength when he stood face to face with a bear was the same God who had showed up when he faced a lion. When David recalled God’s track record he was ready to face Goliath. His focus wasn’t on the giant it was on God. His trust needed to be in the right place, in God and once that was established he was free to step out and face what other men feared. Saul’s solution was to arm David with something that might have worked for Saul. But David dismissed it, not just because of the obvious poor fit, but because God was the one who would do the fighting and he fights armor-free. The giant was slayed with a single stone that had been sitting by the stream all along. What David needed for victory God had already created long before David ever stepped onto the battle field. When Goliath fell the enemy army with him scattered. Our adversary, Satan is a master word-twister, he did it in the Garden of Eden with Eve and he is still doing it today. Why does he do it because he has discovered that we are more apt to swallow half-truths than blatant lies. When we trust God and forge ahead in faith, he loves to whispers that God may be able to do many things, but not all things. His goal is to plant seeds of doubt that lead to disobedience. We need to trust the truth that if God said “all things,” then that’s exactly what he meant. Battles teach us at least two things; something about God, and something about ourselves. If we choose to believe that God will give us the victory, we will see ringside just how powerful God is. If, instead, we choose to trust in self and our own strength, we will quickly see how inadequate we are. At some point we need to start believing John 15:5, which says that apart from Him we can do nothing. We have a choice, we can continue trying to do things in our own strength only to falter and fail or we can recognize that the battle belongs to the Lord’s. The battle is His, but we get to share in the victory. Do you want to be on the winning team then let God fight your battles. Whether you are in the field or in the city, whether it’s today or future generations to come, whether you are getting up or laying down, or in the midst of battles God wants you to experience the bigness of His blessings. Take time today to be with Him and to be blessed.