Matthew 10:7-8

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011



I just came off of a fabulous extended weekend on Carolina Beach in North Carolina. Not only with Kay, my wife and son Matt, but also my parents (who are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!!!!), and one of my sisters. We were able to get a third floor condominium which was right on the beach and with a spectacular view of the ocean. Just before going to bed each of the three nights, I opened the patio door to the deck about 3 or 4 inches so that I could fall asleep to the sound of the ocean waves. I slept as peacefully as I think I ever have. Watching the sunrise over the ocean on our first morning was also something that I will never forget. I'm sure there are people who can look at the ocean and never connect it with God, but how they can is way beyond me. Just to think of the power of the ocean and the force of it's waves and all the life is sustains, puts me in awe of God. He even blessed each one of us with the chance to see dolphins swimming directly in front of the condo. Even now while remembering it my heart cries, "How marvelous are You, O God." If there is all that power and beauty in the ocean and creation, how much more the power of the Creator? Time and time again my heart was reminded of the awesome power of God. It helps me to understand when the Bible speaks of the "fear of the Lord," which I often feel is something that has been too easily forgotten.

I am all about being a friend of God's. I'm all for it. I love that in John 15 Jesus says, "but I have called you friends." That is a very good thing and I would hope for it no other way, but there is something that bothers me about how casual many have become towards the holiness, righteousness and fear of God. "The man upstairs" is not a good representation of who He is. We tend to forget that God wants respect and that there is still a need for a fear of the Lord. Just the way that even many Christians dabble in ungodly things tells you that we have lost a sense of the fear of the Lord. Grace is taken for granted and that is not right. Paul the great apostle even taught this. Attitudes of, "It's okay if I (fill in the blank) just this one more time, because I will be forgiven......" This is true, but if you dabble long enough you also allow the devil a foothold and then the ground you are walking on becomes very dangerous. The days are evil enough. No need to be adding anything to it.

I've had people say to me that they don't understand what it means when the Bible talks about the fear of the Lord. I've been asked that, because of Christ, do we still need to fear the Lord? The answer is yes, not because God is just waiting for you to mess up so He can get you, but rather it is showing respect for His nature and He deserves that. It shows respect for His power and authority. It will also help you to be more like Christ and even open up the door to the fullness of the Kingdom and the fullness of God's blessings. If you don't believe me read 1 Peter 1:13-19. We are even told among other things in that passage to be holy as He is holy.

Even if an 8 year old has a wonderful father who is a man of God, he still needs to have a healthy fear of his dad. Not because his dad is looking to beat him for a mistake, but in knowing that if he continually disobeys his dad that there will be consequences to pay, sometimes very painful ones! (In my day it was okay if kids did get a good swat on the backside. It maintained a certain fear of wrongdoings, which often helped maintain this thing called respect. Now even a healthy..... I didn't say cruel or out of anger...... swat isn't acceptable in society without fear of a call from the authorities. Do you think there is a difference in the respect level between now and say 40 years ago?) Having a fear of the Lord is kind of like that. Live according to His Word and the teachings of Jesus and you have very little to worry about. God will even help you through times of trouble and trials in life. Live outside of Jesus' teachings and God's will and there could be some very painful lessons of life and consequences that need to be learned. God isn't waiting with a big stick to beat us, but ungodly living, especially if you are a Christian, will eventually catch up with you. I'm talking about being defiant and pushing the wrong buttons. I'm not talking about mistakes that we make without thinking, or a sin that we quickly are sorry for. We have God's unconditional love, grace and the cross of Christ that covers that.

I also think that sometimes simply getting on our face and bowing before God will go a long way in keeping a healthy relationship with Him. It reminds us of who He is and who we are not. One of my favorite verses from the Old Testament is from Leviticus (yes Leviticus, you heard me correctly!!!) chapter 9 and the latter half of verse 24. Upon seeing the glory of God in the form of a consuming fire, all the people upon seeing it "shouted and fell on their faces." I wonder why so many have lost that reverence. Sometimes I just feel the need to bow before the Lord, or even lay prostrate before Him. I do that simply out of love, respect and the fear of the Lord, but many times when I submit like that I end up experiencing a sense of His presence and power in a way that sometimes I don't feel I could contain much more without exploding. It is during those times that I can see the glories of His kingdom even more.


Just some food for thought. You don't have to agree. I'm going back to day dreaming about the weekend anyway!!!! :)

Thanking God for you always,
Mark S.

........"even the oceans and their waves bow at Your feet....."(once you click past the silly looking flower, this is a nice video and a fabulous song!)

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