Fear the Lord

clouds-lightning--pub domain    When the people of Israel witnessed God’s thunder, lightning, trumpet sound, and smoking mountain at Sinai, they “trembled and stood afar off” (Exodus 20:18).” “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin’” (Exodus 20:20 New King James Version– NKJV).
Psalm 5:7-8 (NKJV) says, “…In fear of You I will worship toward your holy temple. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.”
 Father, I pray that I will learn to fear You as I ought. Teach me the “fear of the Lord” so that I worship only You. Lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake (Psalm 5:8 and 23:3). Make Your way straight before me (Psalm 5:8), giving me grace to walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it (Psalm 119:35). Amen.

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Behold!

Christ on cross-1-- Clickart

Behold the cross!
The Lamb has died.
God in flesh
Now crucified.

They did not take
His life away.
He laid it down
Our debt to pay.

He bore it all–
Rejection, shame,
The hate, the jeers,
The body’s pain.

So all who would
Redeemed might be
And free from sin–
Forever free.

empty tomb 3Behold the tomb!
It’s empty, bare
Except for grave cloths
Lying there.

Jesus rose,
Proved He’s the One–
Messiah, King,
God’s own Son.

Come, He calls,
And follow Me.
Life from above
You can receive.

Full life now
And ever more
With our triune God,
Savior, Lord.

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Choose Life Today

cross w- purple cloth        Several years ago, one friend told me how she came to faith in Jesus Christ. She had attended a church most of her life and thought her relationship with God was fine. Then she ran onto Ezekiel 18:4 (“For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die.”
It haunted her. Finally someone told her the good news that “…God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”
So she prayed and asked God for forgiveness for her sin because of Christ’s sacrifice. That day she believed in and received Jesus as her Savior and Lord. The last time I heard from her, she was still following Jesus.

My own commitment to following Jesus Christ began when I was a child and involved some stumbling. My friend and I came to Jesus differently, but we  have this in common—we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, our Lord and Savior, and the only Way to the Father. He is Truth and the source of life now and forever.

If your faith and trust are in someone or something else (such as your good deeds, your religion, a church, your parents’ faith, or a belief that God is okay with our doing what we please and/or ignoring Him), please ask God to show you the truth about Himself and about Jesus. Do it today. His love for you is so great, and His plan of redemption is so marvelous that I don’t want you to miss out on it. God longs for us to be with Him forever, and we can be if we choose to go His way.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.”
John 3:16-18 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
(All Scriptures New Living Translation)

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Are the Promises for Me?

heart w- forever    Psalm 103:17-18 “But the LORD ‘s love for those who respect him continues forever and ever, and his goodness continues to their grandchildren (18) and to those who keep his agreement and who remember to obey his orders.” New Century Version

God’s love lasts forever! His goodness extends to the grandchildren! What wonderful promises! But are they for me, or only for others? Am I one who qualifies to receive them?

Do I respect (fear in other versions) the Lord? Well, I do reverence Him and worship Him alone. I’m growing in letting my life revolve around Him and trusting Him above everything and everyone. Do I keep His agreement/covenant? I’m not sure what that looks like, but I know I belong to Jesus Christ, God’s Son and seek to follow Him, and I think that might be what it means to keep God’s covenant.

Do I remember His commands to do them (obey His orders)? God’s commands are to love Him with all I am and to love other people. I’m learning to do that more and more, although I still stumble. [Thank You, Lord, that Your mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and that there’s no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).]

Yes, these promises would surely be for me also.

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The Trap of Perfectionism

People who think they have to be perfect feel driven much of the time. I speak from experience. We, in trying to reach perfection, succeed mostly at making ourselves (and likely those around us) miserable. How did I end up in this trap? For me it probably started as a desire to feel good about myself that took root in a crevice of pride and grew into striving to avoid the emotional pain of being corrected. I didn’t understand that the ache of driving myself to be always right was worse and longer-lasting than the pain of correction. I also didn’t grasp the fact that part of that hurt was caused by “all or nothing” thinking—for example, if I’m not 100% right, I’m a total failure.

Now that I recognize the problem, I asked for God’s help to break free. And He is helping. I still sometimes find myself spending my thought time on every mistake I can remember and feeling guilty for every sin (even though I’ve confessed them and received forgiveness–1 John 1:9.) So instead of keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I end up focusing on past failures.

Trdmill w-person   One idea that helps me get off the treadmill of perfectionism is to capture the memories of mistakes and forgiven sins before they bump the thought speed control up to “race.” Then I tell myself to think of those things as just reminders that I’m not God—never have been and never will be. And really, what a relief! I’m way too small to handle His job. Any human being is.

Psalm 46:10–“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.

(Verses are New Living Translation.)

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God—Redeemer of Brokenness

How wonderful that God uses evil to bring about good! There’s the familiar story of Joseph’s being sold into slavery in Egypt and rising to power second only to Pharaoh. He told his brothers when they feared retaliation that what they meant for evil, God meant for good (to save many people alive).

In Jonah 1, God sent a violent storm on the sea where a Phoenician ship carried a disobedient prophet Jonah. In Jonah 1:16, the sailors, who before had worshiped “local” gods, made sacrifices to the living God and vowed to serve Him.

Christ on cross-1-- Clickart    Behold the cross! God took the evil of the crucifixion of His innocent Son and used it to redeem all of humankind. He laid all of our sin on Jesus so that all who believe in Jesus the Christ (Messiah) will be forgiven of their sin and will have eternal fellowship with our triune God.

The believing in and receiving Christ begins the everlasting life with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And along the way, I see God redeeming the brokenness in my life, using what others mean for evil and even my own failures for my good and His glory.

Indeed, God causes even the wrath of man to praise Him (Psalm 76:10a).

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Regret or Righteousness?

675px-Potter_in_Rabka_03When my husband and I hiked in Kings Canyon, we got off the trail on one of the hikes. We weren’t sure when or how we departed from the route shown on the map, but we got into progressively rougher terrain and ran into more obstacles. We wondered, “Is this really the trail?”
Finally we decided to turn around, ask God’s help, and try to find our way back to a place we recognized. When we found the trail again, we thanked God, went back to the trail head, and looked for a hike that was more clearly marked.
As a follower of Jesus, I sometimes get off the path where He is leading. I find the going rougher and the obstacles greater as the Holy Spirit keeps prodding me to return to the right way. I’m so glad God doesn’t leave me alone, but instead calls me back into His light!
I used to get bogged down in hopeless regret when I made a seemingly big mistake or had grievously sinned. First John 1:9 assures me that God forgives and cleanses me as soon as I confess my sin and turn back to Him. However, I can’t go back in time and live those days the way God had planned. That righteous path is blocked for me.
Recently, thoughts on Jeremiah 18:3-11 encouraged me about that. There God says He can do with the people of Judah as the potter did with the pot he was making. It didn’t turn out as he had hoped, so he returned it to a lump and made a different vessel.
“O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand (Jeremiah 18:6 New Living Translation).”
Because of God’s goodness and mercy, He plans a different route for me to go where I can honor and glorify Him again. That righteous path will be just as wonderful as “Plan A.” Not only that, “Plan C” would be just as marvelous as Plan A or B. Likewise, His plans D, E…Z, AA, AB, and on to infinity will be equally amazing. In God’s multifaceted, infinite wisdom, He makes each one of His “paths of righteousness” perfect.
I don’t want to fail or sin or in any way damage this vessel God is working on. But I do. And God, with His unlimited creativity and grace still has great plans for me to take part in as soon as I return to Him and His way. Indeed, “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3).”
Goodbye, Hopeless Regret. Hello, Joy in the Lord!

© Tricia Opitz Nov. 20515-Nov. 2016 https://triciajots4jesus.wordpress.com/

Picture credit: –”Potter in Rabka 03″ by User:Piotrus – my photos. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Potter_in_Rabka_03.JPG#/media/File:Potter_in_Rabka_03.JPG

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