Fear Him!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 7:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 19:1-8 (ESV).

God Avenges

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Jesus said that we, as his followers, would be hated as he was hated, and for his name’s sake. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved,” he said (See: Matt. 10:22). He said the nations (world) will deliver us up to tribulation and will put some of us to death. Yet, he said that we are blessed when people hate us, exclude us, insult us, and reject our name as evil. [Check out Jesus’ teachings on this subject in the four Gospels.]

One of the reasons the world will hate us is because it hates the light, and so it does not come into the light, lest its deeds be exposed. Jesus was hated because he testified to the world that its works are evil. Jesus also said we would be hated because he chose us out of the world, and thus we are not to be of this world. The world, including many worldly Christians, though, will want us to be just like them before they will accept and include us.

Yet, Jesus said that we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; and when others insult us and utter all kinds of evil against us on account of him; and/or when they stab us in the back and make false reports against us to try to get us in trouble. In fact, he said that we should rejoice and be glad, for our rewards are in heaven. As well, we are in good company, too, because they also persecuted the prophets and the apostles who were before us. We may even be called crazy and of the devil, just as Jesus was called, too.

Paul, who had been a persecutor of Christians, once transformed of the Spirit of God, taught us much on how to respond to such persecution, though. We should know that even though we are persecuted, we are not forsaken by God, and even though we may be struck down, we are not destroyed. God is always there with us and in us to give us strength, hope and encouragement so that we can keep on keeping on. As well, we must believe that our God is absolutely sovereign over all things in our lives, so we must trust him, believing that he has a purpose in it all, and that he will work it out for good in our lives.

Our response, as well, to our persecutors should be to love them, pray for them, bless them and do good to them. When Jesus’ persecutors hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; “when he suffered he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (See: 1 Pet. 2:23). And, that is how we are to respond to our persecutions, as well. Vengeance is his. He will repay. Paul said that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. So, we should not let it take us down when it happens, but we should learn from it, grow from it, allow God to do his work of purification in our hearts that he wants to do through it, and we should submit ourselves to the Only One who truly has our best interest at heart. He will carry us through!

Fear Him

Once more they cried out,

The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
small and great.”

We, as Christ’s followers, should live in the fear of the Lord. Nonetheless, this does not mean we should fear God as the world should fear God, as though we have no hope. We should fear God in the sense of standing in awe of him and in giving him the honor, respect, reverence and obedience which he so deserves, and which he desires, and which he requires of us. We should treat him with dignity, and we should value him enough to take him and his word seriously.

Yet, the fear of the Lord is not being taught, practiced or modeled for us in many of today’s churches here in America, nor by many of those who are supposed to be our spiritual leaders in setting the right example for us to follow. Instead, the image of God we are being presented with in many of our churches is a God who is weak, powerless, never angry, and not sovereign over our lives; who is distant, casual, and/or who is unconcerned over our sins of idolatry, rebellion and spiritual adultery. He is often portrayed as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request, but who requires nothing of us in the way of thought, word or deed.

In fact, he is frequently painted as a God who just smiles at us all the time, and who delights in us even when we are willfully rebelling against his authority and his instructions to us. Thus, many who claim to know Christ have no fear of the Lord, because they are not taught it, and because they are taught, in essence, that they don’t have to give him their allegiance, loyalty, fidelity, etc., because God does not require it, and because he is pleased with them no matter what they do.

We, as the Body of Christ, need to return to living in the fear of the Lord, and to teaching others to live in the fear of the Lord, too. So, what should this look like? It means that we are totally surrendered to God, submitted to the cross and to God’s purposes and will for our lives, and willing to suffer and die, if need be, for the sake of his name. It means we desire him above all else, we love to sit at his feet to hear from him each day, and to ask him to speak his words to our hearts, and then we obey what his word teaches us, to the best of our understanding, and in the power and working of his Spirit within us.

It means we are no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but we are transformed in heart and mind away from living for sin and self to walking daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. It means daily we put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, and it means we love others and forgive others as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Bottom line: It means giving our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship to Him (Ro. 12:1-2).

Made Ready

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to deliver us out of bondage (slavery) to sin, and to set us free to walk in his righteousness (See: Ro. 6-8). He died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. He gave himself up for us “to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (See: Tit. 2:11-14). His word teaches us that if we say we love God, but we do not do what he says, we are liars; and if we say we walk in fellowship with him, but we continue to walk in darkness (sin), we are liars (See: 1 Jn. 1-5; cf. Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24).

Jesus Christ saved us so we would live for him, so we would walk daily with him in obedience to him and to his word, so we would walk in His love, and so we would be his servants and witnesses in loving and serving others, and in sharing with them the true gospel of salvation so that they, too, may be saved. Yet, if we are still continuing to live for ourselves and for sin, perhaps we don’t really know him, or certainly we are not living in the fear of the Lord. God says that those he loves he rebukes and disciplines, so be earnest and repent, if you are not living for him as you ought (See: Rev. 2-3).

Yet, these times of hardship in our lives are for a purpose. They are to refine us and to purify us and to make us holy. So, when times of persecution and tribulation come into our lives, instead of running from them or fighting against them, we should yield to our Lord, allow him to do his work of purifying our hearts, and allow him to make us, his bride, ready for when he comes back for us.

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.