Archive for the ‘Pastor’s Corner’ Category

“Weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief…” Psalm 6:6–7; Here are the expressions of a grieving heart. Many people feel such grief like waves crashing on the beach, a relentless soul eroding crashing of waves.

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Expressions of grief and sorrow can bear heavily upon body and soul. Whether sorrow is the result of incidents near or far, it is taxing. Grief, sadness, sorrow, mourning, and heartache are just some of the different forms, or various levels of strain upon the afflicted heart. The poetic expression of the heart’s cry and prayer of the soul should be where a follower of Christ goes when pressed in such a manner. Psalm 31:9, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.”

Even so, in the dark night of the soul where a heart is crying out to God, there is the hope of future glory to rejoice in, which is beautiful. Suffering and loss will only be for a season; “His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Though these measures of comfort do not always make the grief we share easier, nor do they take the evil we gaze upon away, thereby failing to make the situation better, there is at least the confident hope that suffering will only last for a moment. This is still true even if the moment spans the length of our vapor like lives; here one minute and gone the next. The suffering we share in Christ is something leading exultant rejoicing. 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

This momentary affliction has an end point because of the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross. His life and death bring about justice, mercy, grace, and a restoring of the fallen world in which we live. Isaiah 53:3–4, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

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While walking with one another in Christ Jesus our Lord, let us keep our eyes upon Christ Jesus, who is unseen and eternal; remembering Christ Jesus’ sufferings, acquaintance with grief, and bearing of sorrows for those whom He loves. Remember Jesus Christ came to save from the sorrows of sin and death.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) In a recent discussion, regarding the fear of the Lord, this passage came to mind. Upon first reading it was clear; misunderstanding the fear of the Lord and his law makes a verse like this totally indecipherable.

The passage makes a clear statement, but it is confused when making application to ourselves, based upon misunderstanding the fear of God and keeping his commandments. How do we walk in the ‘whole duty of man’ when fear is thought of in terms of punishment and terror? How can we walk in duty and keep his commandments when it is deeply felt that duty and the law only brings death?

While sin works through the law to bring death, it is not the law that actively brings death, (Romans 7:12-13). Even so, some how a fear of fear and the law is so common that the usefulness of Eccl 12:13, which is a concluding idea for the whole book of Ecclesiastes, makes about as much useful sense as a giraffe in the article circle doing polar ice cap research on global warming; it just doesn’t make any useful sense on multiple levels.

Shortly, let’s try to understand godly fear. The fear of God is a reverential love of God and an appropriate faith-relationship with him. Psalms can help us understand.  Psalm 5:7, “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.”; Psalm 19:9, “the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever…“; Psalm 118:4, “Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”; Psalm 147:11, “But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Fear and love for God rest hand in hand. The fear of the Lord is pure, and for the Christian is doesn’t deal with punishment, or an expectation of being ‘smote on the mountain’ if you miss step on Sunday ritual saying a bad word in front of the preacher.

Keeping his commandments also involves love. Matthew 22:36–37, ““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”; 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Keeping commands according to the Word of God is not for the sake of gaining the relational love of God. If we think about the commands in this way we’ve foolishly given way to the adulterous legalism Christ warns against. By faith we put to death the deeds of the flesh, in the power of the Spirit of God. By faith we obey the command to love, knowing that we have first been loved by Him, and are empowered by him to do such.

Hopefully this passage is less of a burden and more of a sweet word to encourage simplicity of life. The manner of simplicity that allows us to walk in freedom. The end of the matter is at hand; fear God and keep His commands.

Fear is a funny thing. Jumping out of planes and off of cliffs, for a fearful thrill, only to land safely with a parachute is kinda odd. Fear is also sold in movies and during certain times of the year it is the pinnacle form of entertainment. Even so, fear is a mysterious thing that humans are attracted to, but at the same timefear safely seek to avoid it if at all possible.

We then come to a phrase highly common among religious folk, ‘The fear of the Lord,’ which is a phrase few people write about, and even less understand. A friend, who is an avid bookstore-dweller, jokingly quips that a book store titled, “Fearful: Teaching The Fear of The Lord, positively wouldn’t be a NewYork Times bestseller.

Honestly, I’m not sure how well I truly understand ‘the fear of the Lord’. The Scriptures teach that the fear of the Lord is a good thing. Yet it is hard to think of fear as good. Most often the concept of the biblical fear of the Lord is diminished by making it less than what we read. In Hebrews 10:31, where we read that, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Or again in Hebrews 4:1, we read the command to fear is part of being recipients of the promise of God, lest we should fail to attain it. Those passages seem to make ‘the fear of the Lord’ a rather enigmatic statement.

Godly and biblical fear is not the same thing as terror and shaking in our boots. Psalm 19:9, teaches, “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever…” Psalm 34:11, teaches that the fear of the Lord is something to be learned, “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Genesis 15:1, teaches that there is a manner that we aren’t to fear, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

John Piper writes with clarity on this matter, “‘The fear of the Lord,’ is a very peaceful and secure feeling. In fact, fearing the Lord means counting on our fellowship with God to make us happier in the future than anything else could. Romans 15:4 says that the whole Bible was written to persuade us that this is true: Staying close to God and not running away into sin is the most hope-full way to live. Promise after promise verifies it: “the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him” (Psalm 25:14). “How abundant is your goodness which you have laid up for those who fear you” (Psalm 31:19). “The eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 33:18). “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7). “As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him” (Psalm 103:11, 17). “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). “He fulfills the desire of all who fear him” (Psalm 145:19).”

All in all it would do the follower of Christ well to meditate upon the fear of the Lord, upon what it means, and how it might become engrained into the essence of our personhood. It might also do us well to understand the mysterious reality of fear in the heart of humanity and how it is a large part of how man relates to God.