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Why Fear?

This past week in chapel at King’s Ridge Christian School, I got the opportunity to speak on Proverbs 1:7. Proverbs 1:7 is considered by most to be the purpose statement and foundational verse for the entire book of Proverbs. What Solomon says in this verse is that our fear of God is the basis by which we gain knowledge and wisdom. Those that don't fear God walk without godly direction. Instead of spending my time in chapel focusing on what godly wisdom looks like or what it means to be knowledgeable on the things of the Lord, I thought it was far more important to talk about what “fear” looks like in light of a God who we know to be loving and peaceful and merciful.

I'm the oldest of three kids and one of my childhood idols growing up was Tom Sawyer. I liked nothing more than tricking my brother and sister into accomplishing tasks that were supposed to be accomplished by me. I got them to clean my room with me on a regular basis. More times than I can count, do I remember them helping me clean the bathroom. Daily household chores were a group effort in my mind. As long as the group was helping me do my chores and I wasn't helping them do their's. This led to a lot of let's call them “opportunities for growth” with my father and I. I can remember one specific Saturday where each of us were supposed to be cleaning our own individual rooms. In order for us to get to go play with each of our own friends we had to have our rooms clean first. I had tricked my brother and sister into believing that if we all cleaned my room first then we could all clean my brothers room and then my sisters. Clearly had no intention of actually helping them clean their rooms but I had persuaded them into believing that a group effort was the easiest and most beneficial way to accomplish the task at hand. As we were cleaning my room I specifically remember hearing my father walk in the front door and hear him walking down the hallway towards our rooms. Immediate fear struck my heart. I knew my father would see right through my trickery and it would be punishment to pay. Naturally, I tried to get my brother and sister to hide under my bed so he would not anything wrong was happening. Pretty shortsighted on my part I think. (I should've gotten them to confess that they didn't want to clean their rooms and they only wanted to clean mine) However, my dad caught me right in the middle of my trick red-handed. I can remember the trepidation and trembling that overcame my body as I had to face up to the punishment of my loving, kind father. He was not happy. In fact he was angry and I was about to experience the full weight of his wrath for the wrongs I had done. The fear I had for my dad in that moment was based purely upon the guilt of my own sin and also upon the power and position my father held over me.

Proverbs 1:7 echoes the type of fear that is similar to this. A type of fear that walks a fine balance between respect/reverence and literal trembling before a mighty and powerful God. In fact, the Bible is laced with very good reasons for why we should fear God. In Acts 5, we see that God's displeasure with Ananias is so great that the second Ananias lies to the disciples he drops dead. All throughout Psalms we hear of God's power as causing the mountains to melt before Him and the earth to shake in His presence. Isaiah gives us a clear picture of how even angels and heavenly beings get on their knees, face down before our holy, righteous God. There is no situation found in Scripture in which God-fearing men and women or angels don't find themselves prone before the presence of our God. Why fear God? Because His capacity, capability, might, power, knowledge, and His hatred for sin is beyond our understanding. He is to be feared purely because of what He's capable of.

However, back to my story with my brother and sister, I found myself in literal trembling because I was guilty. You know who was not trembling? You know who was not shrinking before his presence? My brother and sister. Why? Because they were not guilty. My father's wrath was not coming for them. In fact, for them, my father's presence meant a clarification of where they were being tricked. My father's presence and their respect for him meant that a situation in which they were being tricked would be made clear to them. Literal knowledge of their own situation would be brought by my father's presence in the room.

It is the same with our God today. Who should shrink and shrivel before mighty powerful wrathful God? Those who are guilty and who's guilt still stains their lives before Him. Who should feel protected by a mighty, powerful God with no end to his capacity? Those who are not guilty and whose sin has been covered by the blood of Jesus on the cross. God's wrath is fully seen, visibly clear in his pouring out of the just payment for our sin on his Son. God does not sit in heaven and shrug his shoulders at our sin. He does not look down on our rebellion and simply look the other direction. He is a just, righteous God who must respond to unrighteousness with the due punishment. He did, through pouring out his full wrath and judgment on his own Son for our sake. Believers who are covered and saved by faith in this truth are not seen as guilty before God but as protected by God. For the unbeliever out there who does not have faith, the God of the Bible is real and He is all-powerful and he does not sit in heaven rolling His eyes at your sin. He is to be feared and His wrath is a very real thing. The God who created all that we know and experience does not overlook our sin. In fact, He looked to His right hand and poured it out on His own flesh and blood. For the unbeliever out there, I pray that the magnitude of God does cause some trepidation and trembling in your heart. Such that you don't want to sit before our holy righteous God with guilt on your shoulders.

God is to be feared. For the believer and the non, His capacity and power are beyond our understanding and His position commands reverence. Regardless of where you stand before God, these facts remain the same. Think about what he's done and what he's capable of doing as you approach Him in prayer. Think about how powerful He is and how much he knows as you approach reading His word. If you have this kind of respectful, reverent fear of God, it changes how we approach Him. It changes how we talk about Him. It changes how we act day in and day out in light of a full understanding of who He is.

Oswald Chambers said the following in his work “Run today's Race.” “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord.””

I pray you would remember Isaiah 66:2. That a true believer is marked by a humble and contrite spirit before God and a trembling at the truth of who He is and what He's done on our behalf.

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Better Things

So often in CrossFit workouts competitors and spectators get caught up in the “sexy” movements and forget that most often workouts are won on the monotonous, boring movements. A great example is the Open workout last week. Everybody gets excited to watch and to perform the muscleups. The reality is however that the workout is won and lost on your capability to endure pain through hundreds of wall balls. As a culture, we give value to the flashy exciting muscleup and in the process take the focus off of the hard, essential wall ball.

We tend to do the same in our Christian lives. We let the world around us and the culture that disciples us tell us what is most valuable and grab our attention. In a practical sense, we let culture place things like money, status, and personal glory as idols in our lives. We glorify what culture says is flashy and sexy. When that seduction becomes a pattern in our lives we begin to lose sight of what God says is reality and live in a fantasy world full of lies and deception.

Ecclesiastes 1 reminds us that many of the things that the world gives value to and that the world says is important are simply vanity and meaningless.

Matthew 6:21 pointedly notes that often we put our desires and hopes if our heart in things that mean nothing. Jesus makes a point here that we treasure things that lack eternal value.

1 John 2:15–16: reiterates this point by telling us that a love for the world or the things of the world ultimately distracts us from the Father. Putting our hopes and desires and elevating the pieces and parts of the world that culture says are important will ultimately draw us away from the things that God says is important.

We experience this tension daily. Whether it's a new job offer, how we manage our time with our family, what we spend our money on, and the list continues on and on. This tension is experienced throughout daily decisions, choices, and actions. Just like with 15.3 we are tempted to give value and focus to the sexy, flashy, passions of the flesh that the culture says are worthwhile. At the same time we ignore the constant eternal desires that God is placed in our life. The flashy, seductive longings of culture will fade and disappoint. The consistent, eternal longings for things of the Lord will stand forever. Take a hard look at your heart. What do you give value to? What do you chase with your time and your money and your attention? Have you given value and power to flashy, vane, finite idols and in so doing diminish the value and importance of eternal things?

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Faith Workout: Thank God for Judging!

“I’ll do the judging,” says God…(Romans 12 – MSG)

READ
Romans 12

REFLECT
What should you do when you see someone cheat on a workout? How should you respond? One thing that can keep us from responding inappropriately is to recognize there will be a day of judgment.

It is common to frown on the idea of a judgment day. It has been made to sound archaic and only associated with negativity. As we reflect on the truth, the day of judgment can be a wonderful blessing to each of us. It fulfills a craving we all have, and it motivates us to live faithfully.

We want justice when someone hurts us. When we do something wrong, we experience guilt. Our consciences point us to a deep sense of justice. Wrong must be punished. However, Jesus says, “Do not judge others and you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) So, how does a Christian respond with grace without approving of wrong-doing? How is it possible to forgive when we are hurt?

The Bible says this is one of the reasons we need a judgment day. We are instructed to “wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” (1 Corinthians 4:5) When we strip the Bible of the day of judgment, we lose a central teaching that empowers us to forgive. We can’t possibly see into one another’s hearts, but we can rest knowing God sees everything. Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

In a sense, this is no different than a cheated rep in training. On the day of judgment, or what we call “The Open,” every missed rep will be exposed. Our missed reps in training will expose our lack of fitness, and missed reps on judgment day will keep us from a better score. So, if an athlete cheats in his training, there is no need to seek punishment. The day of judgment will take care of it.

Judgment day is not the enemy of those who know Christ. It is our motivator to make every day count. It gives us permission to forgive and let go, because God has forgiven us. And, it gives us assurance our work is worth it. Thank God for judging! “Only then will any one of us get to hear the ‘Well done!’ of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

RESPOND

1 – What motivates us to cheat in our training, and how does competition keep that temptation in check?

2 – How can a misunderstanding of judgment keep us from forgiving others? From forgiving ourselves?

3 – What does the cross of Christ teach us about judgment?