I don’t have allergies, but this is a terrific commercial. Watch it a second time and notice the guy throwing the frisbee into the monster’s mouth! FUN.
Tag Archives: fear
BLESSING #13: The Blessing of a Proper Fear
“I may tremble on the Rock, but the Rock never trembles under me! And that inner assurance not only relieves my fear, it allows me to carry on with much greater efficiency. And rather than causing me to be indifferent and irresponsible, it inspires me to direct all my energies toward those things that please and glorify the name of my heavenly Father . . . eternally protected because He has me in His all-powerful hand.” (Chuck Swindoll, Eternal Security)
As we continue to “count our blessings,” there is one which we seldom think about. We live in a culture which thinks that almost all fear is bad, especially a fear of God. However, as we engage with our lost friends who don’t have this particular blessing, we believers —
13. WE HAVE A PROPER FEAR!
THE BLESSING There is both proper and improper fear. Running out of a cabin in Arizona when you hear a rattling sound makes perfect sense, unless you enjoy an up-close and personal encounter with a rattlesnake! Some fears are groundless; many are life-saving.
THE BIBLE What about a fear of GOD? Many in our culture habitually use God’s name as a curse word, mock those who believe in Jesus, and think there will be no judgment day. The Bible declares such to be fools! We read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and that “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.” (Psalm 19:9). We are told, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 31:19). There is no better place in which we can find refuge than in the God who saved us by His Son’s sacrifice. We are challenged in Psalm 34 that we should “Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” (v. 9). And the above verses are from only one book of the Bible!
ACTION STEPS 1. What other verses in Scripture can you find which describe biblical fear? Write out one verse each day which shows that a biblical fear is a good thing.
2. Read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (found online) this week. Don’t allow your high school English teacher’s criticism of that sermon deter you from its primary challenge. How does Edwards use the concept of fear to reach the lost?
3. Perhaps ask your unsaved friend, “What are you most afraid of?” Seek, by God’s wisdom, why they do not fear standing before a holy God at the end of life.
PRAYER 4. How do I pray for my unsaved friend? I pray to God the Holy Spirit that my friend would think about the holiness of God and his own need of forgiveness, that somehow he would realize that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), that the Spirit of God would bring conviction of sin to his soul.
As a youth I used to sing, “Count your blessings — Name them one by one . . . “🎶 I think a lot of Jesus followers need to sing that song again. Why? To realize what blessings we have as we engage with lost friends who don’t have those blessings.
We’ve thought about a number of blessings that are unavailable to the unbeliever, but let’s continue by looking at a truly critical one. I believe it’s accurate to say that my unsaved friends . . .
12. THEY DON’T HAVE A PROPER FEAR!
There is both proper and improper fear. Running out of a cabin in Arizona when you hear a rattling sound makes perfect sense, unless you enjoy an up-close and personal encounter with a rattlesnake! Some fears are groundless; many are life-saving.
What about a fear of GOD? Many in our culture habitually use God’s name as a curse word, mock those who believe in Jesus, and think there will be no judgment day. The Bible declares such to be fools! We read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10), that “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.” (Psalm 19:9). We are told, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. (Psalm 31:19). We are challenged in Psalm 34 that we should “Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” (v. 9). And those verses are from only one book of the Bible!
How do I pray for my unsaved friend? I pray to God the Holy Spirit that he would think about the holiness of God and his own need of forgiveness, that somehow he would realize that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), that the Spirit of God would bring conviction of sin to his soul. (to be continued)
Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 8)
Jesus is in the business of helping blind people see. And this miracle, the most extensively reported miracle in the entire Bible, gives us dramatic testimony of a man who was born blind.
In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.
Meet the Parents: The Pharisees were locked into their logic which produced no small amount of cognitive dissonance with them! They had already concluded that Jesus couldn’t be from God (He has broken the Sabbath). But they still had a man claiming to have received his sight standing in front of them. So they move to Plan “B.” Plan B involves denying that a miracle took place which necessitated interviewing the parents. They sent for the parents and grilled them with two questions: (1) “Is this your son — the one you say was born blind?” and (2) “How is it that now he can see?”
Fear Answers: This mother and father had every reason to deny that this man was their son or to say that he had not been born blind. But they tell the truth. “We know he is our son. And we know he was born blind.” They tell what they know for sure. They then respond to the second question: “But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know.” So they destroy the assumption of the Pharisees that the man was not born blind and that a miracle had not occurred.
Passing the Buck: This mother and father were not interested in tangling with the Pharisees, so they send them back to their son: “He is of age — ask him!” We’re not sure how old the man born blind was, but he was old enough to defend himself. We learn of the motive of the parents in verse 22, for they feared the Jewish leaders. They knew that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.
Today’s Challenge: Do you and I tell the truth, even when we are afraid of the consequences? Fearing the Lord is a good thing. Fearing human beings (more than we fear God) is a trap of the Evil One. We are to speak the truth in love. Will you do that today if the Lord gives you a chance to do so?
I don’t have allergies, but this commercial scared me enough to make me stock up on Flonase! (just kidding)
We don’t always treat doubters with kindness. We seem to resent their questions and can become angry at their unbelief. Os Guinness wrote a great book a few years ago entitled Doubt. It has been re-issued as In Two Minds. He’s also written an excellent article entitled “I Believe in Doubt” which may be found here.
We must give room for seekers to express their doubts and ask their questions. And that calls for MERCY!
II. Don’t lose the urgency of the gospel — “snatching them from the fire”
How close is your unsaved friend to eternity? One breath. One heartbeat. It’s not surprising that we Jesus-followers are sometimes over-zealous in presenting the gospel. Eternity is at stake! If I truly believe the gospel, sometimes I will feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak about eternal lostness. And so should you.
III. Have a godly fear yourself!
“mixed with fear” — of what? Perhaps that doubt might begin to erode your own confidence in God. We are to show mercy mixed with fear. If this is a reference to the fear of the evangelist, then it might be a holy terror of what will happen to those who reject God’s mercy.
[I’m reminded of Galatians 6:1 which says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” There is risk involved in ministry . . . and in evangelism.]
IV. Don’t lose your hatred of sin!
‘“hating even their clothing stained by corrupted flesh”! What an expression! There is such a thing as godly hatred. And here that godly hatred is expressed hyperbolically as directed at the lost person’s clothing! That’s how much we should HATE SIN!
Today’s Challenge: Do you really care about lost people? Do their questions irritate you — or cause you to respond in mercy and love? Does their continual refusal to believe the gospel discourage you (me, too!)? May God renew you and me in a passion for the gospel, a love for the lost, and a clarity about the truth!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could inquire of the Lord — and He would answer you directly? David learns of the Philistine’s attacking the people of Keilah and looting their threshing floors. David asks the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”
The Lord clearly responds, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” (vv. 1-2).
But David’s men are fearful. They say, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!” (v. 3). Apparently they had not heard the Lord’s voice in telling them to attack the Philistines.
David condescends to his men and inquires a second time of the Lord. The Lord repeats His command: “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” (v. 4).
David and his men obey, fight the Philistines, inflict heavy losses on them, and save the people of Keilah (v. 5). Obeying the Lord is always the right choice!
But how did David know what to do? [I’ve used several commentaries to help with the rest of this post]. We are told parenthetically: “Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.” (v. 6). One commentator says that in his fright and flight Abiathar came down with the ephod in his hand. Not the linen ephod on his back which the priests in common wore, but the ephod with the Urim and Thummim in his hand. It is likely that this wasn’t just any ephod; this was the ephod of the High Priest, which had the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:15) attached to it (Exodus 28:28). The breastplate had in it a pouch with two stones, known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). When David inquired of the LORD, he probably asked Abiathar to use the Urim and Thummim.
How did the priest use the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the LORD? The names Urim and Thummim mean “Lights and Perfections.” We aren’t sure what they were or how they were used. Most think they were a pair of stones, one light and another dark, and each stone indicated a “yes” or “no” from God. The idea is that High Priest would ask God a question that could be answered with a “yes” or a “no,” reach into the breastplate, and pull out the stone indicating God’s answer. This ephod, with the Urim and Thummim, was more helpful to David than a thousand soldiers, because it helped him discern the will of God.
Many Christians today would consider the Urim and Thummim as crude tools of discernment — sort of an Old Testament “Magic 8-Ball.” In fact, using the Urim and Thummim was superior to the tools many Christians today use: relying purely on feeling, or on outward appearances, or simply using no discernment at all. The key to the effectiveness of the Urim and Thummim was that God’s Word gave them. In seeking God through the Urim and Thummim, one was really going back to God’s Word for guidance, because it was the word of God that commanded their place and allowed their use. Today, if we have the same focus on God’s Word, He will guide us also. One old preacher was asked to explain the Urim and Thummim. He said, “Well, this is how I understand it. When I need to know God’s will, I get out my Bible and I do a lot of usin’ and thummin’ through my Bible, and God always speaks to me.” More Christians would know God’s will if they did more usin’ and thummin’!
“Go, and attack the Philistines, and save Keliah!” By all outward appearance, this was a crazy thing to do. First, David had 400 men whose had thin resumes and bad credit reports (everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him, 1 Samuel 22:2); not exactly a regular army! Second, David had enough trouble with Saul, and he didn’t need to add trouble from the Philistines – one enemy is usually enough! Third, this would bring David wide open out before King Saul, and expose him to that enemy also. This was a dangerous course of action!
Then why do it at all? David had two great reasons: the command of God, and the need of the people. David was willing to spend himself, to endanger himself, so that he obey the command of God, and meet the need of the people.
Ahimelek has only consecrated bread which he offers if the soldiers have kept themselves from women. David says they have and that his men keep their bodies “holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” (v. 5). Ahimelek gives David the consecrated bread.
One of Saul’s servants (Doeg) was there that day, “detained before the Lord” (v. 7). David lies a second time, saying he had no weapon “because the king’s mission was urgent” (v. 8). David winds up taking the sword of Goliath with him (vv. 8-9).
Amazingly, David flees from Saul to Gath — the birthplace of Goliath! He goes to the king of Gath, Achish, whose servants say, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land, the one they sing about?” (v. 11).
David becomes very afraid of Achish so he pretended to be insane! Achish’s response is classic: “Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” (v. 15).
Some takeaways for me:
1. Even the closest to God’s heart sometimes resort to lying (as David does — three times! — in this passage). That, of course, does not make lying right.
2. God has His plan. He detains one of Saul’s servants so that Doeg can report David’s whereabouts to Saul.
3. David’s decision to flee to Gath — the home of Goliath — defies explanation. But that was the choice that he made.
4. Sometimes God blesses human ingenuity. David’s acting skills are put to the test when he has to pretend to be crazy!
David is imperfect. And the Bible describes him, warts and all. Thank the Lord for the unvarnished truth of His Word!