The Fear of the Lord (Part 7)

Yes, I’m back! I know I said that Part 6 was the last in this series. But God in His mercy gave me a day’s break and then woke me up this morning with such a consciousness of His splendor and greatness. He reminded me that He gave me this assignment and He is the One who determines when it is finished. I must confess that in Part 5 I preempted and said Part 6 was to be the final part. Having said it, I then tried to squeeze all that remained into Part 6 and missed out some very important downloads I had received from Holy Spirit. I have been writing this blog long enough to know that I should never go ahead of God. So, I come humbly and in obedience to publish Part 7. Truth be told, I have never been required by God to publish six blogs in six days. It was taking a toll on my time and I was really pushing to get everything done so I could get back to what I felt was pressing. But this is just what is wrong with the Body of Christ. I just said ‘my time’. But it’s not ‘my time’ it’s God’s time that He has given to me to use as He sees fit. Who am I to determine what I do with it. I also began doing things in my own strength and not by His power because of the urgency with which I WANTED to finish the series. Wrong again!! Ultimately, it is not about what I WANT but about what GOD WANTS. I have craved and received His forgiveness for being presumptuous and I now move in total obedience as His humble servant.

Warning!! This is the longest blog I have written. But God has instructed to write it as He has given it. You may read at your leisure but I must write at His pleasure. I know when the anointing of the Lord is flowing because the words just flow out of me. Take your time and read. No matter how long it takes. No matter how many sittings it takes. But read you must!! This is the Word of the Lord.

Who Is Man?

David says in Psalms 8,

What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit Him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet……………O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! (Psa. 8:1-6, 9, emphases mine)

Everything we are and everything we have is because of God!! We need to remember this every day we wake up. We are here because God decided to give us another day of life here on earth. It is time for us to have the right perspective of ourselves.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to thing of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Rom. 12:3, emphases mine)

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, (2 Pet. 1:2-3, emphases mine)

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13, emphasis mine)

Many believers have become puffed up because of the power we have received from God. We have ascribed it to ourselves, forgetting the source is God. We can do nothing of ourselves. That is the honest truth! Saints of God, ascribe to God the glory due to His name!!

Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. (Psa. 39:5)

because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away. (1 Pet. 1:24)

All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. (Eccl. 3:20)

Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (Psa. 95:7, emphases mine)

Well, well!! Really now!! Who would have imagined!! When we listen to some Christians speaking about what God should have done, and why doesn’t God do this, and how could God have done that, you would have thought that we created God. Yes, God calls us to reason together with Him (Isa. 1:18) but as is the norm with humankind we are given an inch and then take a mile. I feel the need to put this reasoning together with God in the right context. We have a tendency to take verses of scripture out of context and use them to justify our own ends. God was speaking to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was tired of their religious activities – the futile sacrifices, the incense, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies and sacred meetings, the appointed feasts. Why? God says He cannot endure iniquity. Let’s take it from verse 14.

Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isa. 1:14-20, emphasis mine)

When God says here “let us reason together”, He is showing them two paths that they can choose; one leads to blessing and one to death. He is saying, now you work it out in your own mind (reason it out for yourselves), which path are you going to choose. These are My terms; think it through. This is so far removed from the way in which we have used this verse to erroneously support our right to argue with God, me included. Don’t get me wrong, God gives us the leeway to question Him but within the bounds of humility and deep respect, not as if we are on equal level with Him. In the midst of this COVID-19 plague, God is calling the church and the nations to reason together with Him, “which path will you choose?” He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says. Do not despise prophecy!!

We have overstepped our bounds in how we relate to God and it is evident in so many ways. We have become familiar with God. How do I know? I use my own local church as an example and I know many of you have observed similarly in your own churches. My church starts at 9:00 a.m. Only a quarter of the church, if that many, are present when church begins. If it was announced that the Governor General or the Prime Minister or some other human dignitary was going to be in the church service one morning everyone would be there, not only on time but before time. I recall going to an event where the Governor General was going to be in attendance and we were told to be in place at least 15 minutes before His arrival as the doors would be closed at that time and no one, no matter who, would be allowed to enter the area, much less the room. We do this for human leadership. Is it because we cannot see God that we treat Him with disdain and disrespect by coming to meet with Him late? Taking our own sweet time to come into His presence as though we feel He must wait on us and accept us when we are good and ready to show up?

My second observation – we feel we can come any and anyhow to meet with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. There are two facets to this – physical and spiritual. We recall the days when our mothers had special clothes put aside for church – the Sunday best. I agree, God is not as interested in our outward appearance as He is in our heart condition. However, it’s not so much about God but about where our head space is at. If you believed that you were coming to meet with royalty how would you dress? It’s about our attitude. Even though I spoke of two facets earlier, you really cannot divorce the physical and the spiritual. The physical is a manifestation of what is happening on the inside. God knows our heart. He knows if we have done our best in preparing to come to meet with Him. That is all He requires. In terms of the spiritual aspect, we need to clean up ourselves BEFORE we come to meet with God. We do not come to church filthy on the inside and in our best garments on the outside. We are priests unto God. Remember, in the Old Testament, how the priests needed to prepare themselves before entering into the holiest place. They did this to avoid possible death! We are now living under grace. But truth be told, we have used God’s grace as excuse to treat Him with scant regard. As humans, it is unfortunate but true, that if we do not have someone ruling us with an iron fist we feel we can do as we please. God allows us a certain degree of latitude but He has called us to be disciples (disciplined) and to be led by His Spirit in this dispensation of grace. We are therefore without excuse.

My third observation relates to HOW we enter into God’s sanctuary. If we truly recognize that we are entering into God’s presence we would not come into the sanctuary as though we are coming to a social club to meet with our friends. Many times, as church is to begin, it takes the Pastor a number of welcomes to get everybody’s attention that we are ready to begin church. There is much too much idle chatter. Do that outside before you enter or let it remain until after you leave. God’s words to Moses should resound in our spirits as we come into His House, recognizing into whose presence we are coming.

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. (Ex. 3:5-6)

Man’s Posture in Relation to God

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips. And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isa. 6:5)

What is meant by the word ‘posture’? In this context, it means man’s ‘approach and attitude’ in relating to God. Our posture in relation to any thing or any person is based on our knowledge about that thing or person. In the previous section, as we looked at who we are, we gained some insight of who God is. I want to share a few more scriptures with us to ensure that we have the fullest understanding of His awesome greatness and glorious splendor. This is the scripture I woke up with this morning.

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Psa. 19:1-6, NKJV)

I encourage you to read the entire Psalms 19. When we look at nature, recognizing both its splendor and its intricacy, and that God made creation ALL ON HIS OWN, it immediately puts man in his rightful place in relation to God. We are the created and He is the Creator.

I stated earlier that there is so much evidence of our loss of the fear of the Lord and gave three observations to this fact. My fourth observation of this is the ease with which we murmur and complain. This is evidence of an attitude of entitlement. We have somehow come to a point where we believe that God owes us something, when, in fact, WE OWE HIM EVERYTHING!! Job found this out in no uncertain terms. My heart goes out to Job. I applaud His initial stance and posture, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b). After further tribulation came upon Job His wife said that to him in Job 2:9,

……………… “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2: 9-10)

Many of us would have crumbled and cursed God if we had lost even 10% of what Job lost. I daresay, it is when we lose a right perspective of who God is and who we are in relation to Him that our complaints begin. Job came to that place after God did not show up on his behalf as Job expected. We are like that too. There is a point up to which we can continue to praise and trust God in our trials. However, we have a window within which we expect God to act to change the situation and when He doesn’t we begin to feel that somehow God has done us a disservice. After all, look at all we have sacrificed and done for Him. How could He not show up in answer to our prayers? How could He not come and deliver us in the timeframe we have set? For Job it starts in chapter 3, after sitting down on the ground with his friends for seven days and seven nights, no one speaking because of Job’s great grief.

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job spoke, and said: “May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, ‘A male child was conceived.’ May that day be darkness; May God above not seek it, Nor the light shine upon it……………………………… Because it did not shut up the doors of my mother’s womb, Nor hid sorrow from my eyes. “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?……………  Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, And whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes before I eat, And my groanings pour out like water. For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes.” (Job 3:1-4, 10-11, 23-26)

From our human perspective, Job is justified in feeling this level of despair. But we also need to understand that in cursing the day of his birth, He is in fact questioning God’s decision and purpose for his being born. He continues in Job 29 to relate all that he used to have, and all that he used to do, and all the status that has now been taken away from him. Trials and tests bring out of us that which is buried deep within. If you take the time to read Job 29 -31, we see pride at work in Job and at the beginning of chapter 32 it says,

So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. (Job 32:1-3, emphases mine)

We are all guilty. Not one of us can cast a stone in Job’s direction. We are all guilty of the same sin. But let us remember the words of Isaiah.

But we are like an unclean thing. And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isa. 64:6)

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isa. 61:10)

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21)

The only claim we have to being righteous is because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Isaiah foretold of God clothing us with garments of salvation and covering us with the robe of righteousness. Not because of anything we have done lest we should be tempted to boast (Ephesians 2:9). On this basis then, God shows up in Job 38 – 41 and dresses Job down properly throughout the four chapters. If you ever need to come back down to earth regarding who you are in relation to God, and if at any time you find yourself going off into murmuring and complaining about God’s handling of events in your own life, the church or the nations then read these four chapters to be reminded of who God really is in His own words! Just look at a short excerpt.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened! Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop! “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place, That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? It takes on form like clay under a seal, And stands out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld. And the upraised arm is broken. “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death? “Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.” (Job 38:1-18)

So, what is to be our posture in relation to God?

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything. And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by hearing by the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)

It was only after Job came to this posture that God restored to him even more than had been taken from him. Again, I say everything we have and everything we are is from God. Let us never forget from whence we came and whose we are. Yes, God is a merciful Father but He is also a consuming fire.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:28-29)

Let us understand the purpose for grace. It is not to become too familiar with God, to feel that because we are in the dispensation of grace we can get away with doing as we please and God is bound to forgive and show mercy. Instead, let us understand that grace is given so we have the power to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

So, we have come back full circle to the 3 events I shared in Parts 1 – 3. We learnt from those events, and I rehearse here, that God requires total obedience, total dependence and total dominion. Let us be of the same persuasion as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)

Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)

Let us therefore see that we “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17)

As I close, I hear the Lord saying in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. Be still and know that I am God.”

How Great Is Our God!!

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fear of the Lord (Part 6)

This is the final part of this critical series. Yesterday, I shared several biblical passages so we could see the scriptural precedent regarding times of God’s judgment and the response He required for His judgment to be stayed. I sought to bring our attention to the patterns we could see running through these scriptures and said we would compare notes today.

What does God require? (continuation)

What were the common themes?

  • Acknowledgement of sin (1 Chron. 21:8, 17). David was more than willing to take the punishment from God for what he had done. He gave no excuses. This must be our stance before the Lord. The Israelites also acknowledged to Moses that they had sinned against God (Num. 21:7).
  • Repentance. David and the elders clothed themselves in sackcloth (1 Chron. 21:16). What is the significance? Sackcloth is symbolic of showing penitence, showing remorse, to be in mourning. It denotes one’s guilt and willingness to do what is necessary to show one’s responsibility and penance for one’s wrong doing. Your intention must be to make a 180 degree turn away from the sinful behaviour that brought God’s judgment upon you. We also see in the Numbers’ passage that God required the accursed thing be removed from among the people. This is really what repentance is all about. We have to cut ourselves off from that thing that is displeasing to God with no intention of ever returning to it again.  In 1 Chronicles 7:14, God requires that His people turn from their wicked ways. In fact, the healing of the nation is contingent on the Body of Christ repenting. All of the six churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were not only told to repent but some were also told what would happen if they failed to repent. There are consequences if we fail to repent in this season.

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Cor. 7:10)

  • Separation. In Joshua 7:10-13, God instructed Joshua to have the people sanctify themselves. Sanctification means separation, dedication, purity, consecration and service. Being set apart and separated from the world’s system and separated unto God. Being pure and holy.

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Rev. 18:4-5)

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas. 4:4)

Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.” (Ezra 10:11)

  • Humility and total submission. David and the elders fell on their faces before God (1 Chron. 21:16). This is the first requirement mentioned in 2 Chronicles 7:14 for God to hear the prayers of His people. We must have the right heart attitude or our prayers will be ineffectual. God will resist the prayers of the proud.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8)

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (Jas. 4:6)

  • Prayer and intercession. David had compassion for the people and interceded on their behalf. Moses had not sinned but was willing, at the request of the people, to make intercession on their behalf. God is a compassionate God and when He sees His people showing compassion for others it moves His heart. God calls His people to pray in 1 Chronicles 7:14 first for the forgiveness of their sins so that there can be healing of the nation. However, we are not called to just pray any old prayer. We must seek His face so that we know how we are to pray.
  • Seek God’s face. If we can’t see God’s face how do we seek it? The Hebrew word for “face” is often translated “presence”. Seeking God’s face means seeking His presence; returning to Him; not being willing to go on until He reveals Himself to us. A person’s face reveals much about a person’s character & personality. Many of us do not fear God because we do not know His character. We fail to take time to know Him and approach Him presumptuously to our own detriment. We need to come to that place where we want His presence more than any other thing He can give us. It is critical in this COVID-19 season that we know the heart and mind of God and align our prayers accordingly. I hear people rebuking the corona virus and sending it back to the pit of hell. They have missed the fact that this is judgment sent from God and there is justification for it. We need to be looking into ourselves, the church and the nation to identify the sins that have come up as a stench in God’s nostrils, which would have allowed Him to release this plague in the earth. Thus, we must begin with prayers of confession and repentance. Only then can we stand in the gap and begin to cry out for God’s mercy to be visited upon us, the nation and the world.
  • God requires a sacrifice. In 1 Chronicles 21, God required David to build an altar. Offering a sacrifice was necessary in David’s day as an atonement for sin. It is important to note that the true nature of a sacrifice is that it must cost us something or else it is not really a sacrifice acceptable to God. This is why David refused Ornan’s offer to give him the threshing floor and oxen free of cost.

What was the nature of the sacrifices David made on the altar he built?  He gave a burnt offering and a peace offering. The burnt offering represents offering yourself totally to God – total obedience and total dependence. Not doing anything without the Father’s prompting (John 5:19). This is in keeping with Romans 12:1, where we are told “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” The peace offering symbolized giving thanks for God’s deliverance in an hour of dire need. Note, David gave this offering before he actually knew that God would stay His hand against Israel. Similarly, we, in faith, through the sacrifice of fasting, service and spending time in praise and worship unto God will move God’s heart.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise. (Psa. 51:17)

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Heb. 13:15)

At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. (Ezra 9:5)

David said something quite profound in 1 Chronicles 21:13.

And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

David obviously knew the heart of God because later we see God relenting of bringing total destruction on Jerusalem.

And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (1 Chron. 21:15)

This is the God we serve. If we meet God’s requirements in this season of judgment God WILL show Himself merciful.

A Call Back to the Fear of the Lord

I started out this series recognizing that one of the sins most displeasing to the Lord is that we have lost our fear of God. In Psalms 2, the Lord is rebuking the kings of the earth.

Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. (Psa. 2:10-11)

How can the kings of the earth fear God when we, the Body of Christ, are not serving the Lord with fear? What does the fear of God look like? Those who fear the Lord will:

  • Bless the Lord (Psa. 135:20)
  • Trust in the Lord – acknowledge need for help and protection (Psa. 115:11)
  • Depart from evil (Prov. 3:7)
  • Seek God’s instruction in every matter (Prov. 1:7)
  • Delight greatly in His commandments (Psa. 112:1)
  • Walk in uprightness (Prov. 14:2)
  • Not associate with the unstable and those with deceitful hearts (Prov. 24:21)
  • Be pure in heart and be persistently faithful (Psa. 19:9)
  • Be humble (Prov. 15:33)
  • Stand in awe of God (Psa. 33:8)
  • Understand the might of God’s hand (Josh. 4:24)
  • Praise Him (Psa. 22:23)
  • Keep the tongue from evil and lips from deceit (Psa. 34:13)
  • Seek peace and pursue it (Psa. 34:14)

Until we begin to walk in righteousness and the fear of the Lord He will not hear our cries and we will not be delivered out of our troubles. Let us fall on our knees before our Holy God and become holy as He is holy. Then and only then will we touch His heart strings for our nation.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psa. 34:17)

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling: (Psa. 91: 9-10)

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” (Psa. 91:14-16)

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fear of the Lord (Part 5)

At the end of Part 4, I noted that there was one church in the Revelation received by John on the Isle of Patmos that was called the Faithful Church. A remnant, if you would, with whom Jesus was pleased and promised them He would keep them from the hour of trial that was going to be unleashed upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. I am sure you and I would love to be counted among that remnant in this hour of great trial.

We have asked and answered several questions in parts 1 – 4 of this series and I ended yesterday’s blog recognizing that the very important next question we needed to ask ourselves is, “What does God require of you and me (the Body of Christ) in this hour?” As I begin to answer this question, I want to take us back to 1 Chronicles 21 as I promised I would do.

What does God Require?

There is scriptural precedent regarding times of God’s judgment and the response required to cause God’s hand to be stayed. I am going to share some relevant passages for our meditation and revelation of what was and is required. The bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God’s character does not change. What was required then is the same requirement now.

So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (1 Chron. 21:8)

Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. And David said to God, “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.” Therefore, the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. ………………………….Then David said to Ornan, “Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the Lord. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.” But Ornan said to David, “Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.” Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs nothing.” So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place. And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the Lord; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burn offering. So the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.  (1 Chron. 21:16-27)

And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” (Num. 21:5-8)

So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you. Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel: “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.” (Joshua 7:10-13)

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. (2 Chron. 7:13-15)

Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure ………………………. Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath be kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psa. 2:5. 10-12)

Remember therefore from where you are fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent. (Rev. 2:5)

Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. (Rev. 2:16)

And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Rev. 2:21-23)

Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (Rev. 3:3)

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Rev. 3:18-19)

And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. (Rev. 16:9)

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Rev. 18:4-5)

I am sure you see a pattern running through these scriptures. Tomorrow we compare notes. For now, I leave us to meditate and reflect. 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 3:22)

Shalom.

The Fear of the Lord (Part 4)

Yesterday, I promised that I would share some further perspectives arising from David’s sin of conducting a census in 1 Chronicles 21 and the parallel scripture in 2 Samuel 24, which have direct relevance to our own situation as we navigate our way through this COVID-19 crisis. However, Holy Spirit has intercepted with some other insights He would have me to share first. Trust me, it will lead us right back to our discourse on what transpired with David and the Israelites, just not today 🙂

I keep on repeating that now, more than ever, true believers of Christ must be as the Sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what the people of God ought to do (1 Chron. 12:32). I believe Holy Spirit would have me to share today two critical facts that we must hold onto and accept. These will be keys to understanding how we will come through this perilous time.

So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. (1 Chron. 21:14, emphasis mine)

Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Prov. 26:2)

The first fact we must understand and acknowledge is that God sends plagues. We see further support for this fact in the following scripture.

‘I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting, That there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.’ (Isa. 45:5-7, emphasis mine)

The second fact we must understand is that God does not send a plague without cause.

Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: (Psa. 2:1-5)

With regards to COVID-19, God has spoken to the nations in His wrath and distressed them in His deep displeasure in response to their opposition to God’s commands and their refusal to submit to His Lordship. Some have been affected more than others, to this point.

So, where does the church come into all of this? God has placed the church in the earth to disciple the nations (Mt. 28:19). We have been mandated by God to teach the nations to observe all things that God has commanded us. The fact that the majority of nations continue to live in unrighteousness is an indictment against the Body of Christ globally. We have failed thus far to make the kind of impact we should in the earth. WHY??

As the corona virus came into Jamaica, I asked the Father God, “what is happening?” He said this is His judgment being unleashed against the nations. He reminded Me of a word He gave me several years ago, that the state of the nations was a reflection of the state of the church. He would therefore be starting with judgment of the church. This is in line with His Word that judgment must first begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). This is also in keeping with the scripture in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 regarding the link between church and nation.

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (emphasis mine)

I questioned Father God further, “What are the specific sins for which the church is being judged?” He led me to Revelation chapters 1-3. It is time for the Body of Christ to do some serious introspection and to acknowledge and take responsibility for their sins, repent and come back to the fear of the Lord. I encourage you to read through these three chapters. I will just summarize here the things that God revealed He had against the six churches.

  • Left their first love;
  • Feared persecution;
  • Held to the doctrine of Balaam;
  • Held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans;
  • Allowed the false prophetess, Jezebel, to teach and seduce God’s servants into sexual immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols;
  • Deceived that it is alive while it is in fact dead;
  • Lukewarm; lacking passion regarding the things of God mainly because they were comfortable with regards to material things. This led them to feel they were wealthy but instead Jesus said they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.

I did some research into the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.

The Doctrine of Balaam

Balaam’s name is mentioned in 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 1:11. Both cases involved warnings about the conduct and message of false teachers. You will recall, Balaam tried unsuccessfully to prophesy against the Israelites in Numbers 22. He was a prophet from Mesopotamia, who was willing to use his God-given talents for illicit purposes. Even though he knew Balak was God’s enemy, he tried to sell his prophetic gifts to help him. When that didn’t work, Balaam advised Balak that the most effective way to weaken Israel was to seduce them using Moabite and Midianite women to tempt the Israelites into sexual relationships and into pagan rituals. God’s judgment came upon the Israelites who participated (Numbers 25:1-9). According to 2 Peter 2:15, Balaam’s “way” is a choice to “love the wages of unrighteousness”. According to Jude 1:11, Balaam’s “error” is that of accommodating pagan beliefs out of greed. In Jude 1:4, we see reference to the sin of those “who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In essence then, the doctrine of Balaam is the attitude that one can be fully cooperative with the world and still serve God. However, we are instructed in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to this world. We are further told that love of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). However, there are some churches that teach compromise, wanting Christians to forget that they are called to be separate and holy (1 Peter 1:2). The doctrine of Balaam makes believers indistinct from unbelievers (Matthew 5:13). The doctrine of Balaam is a belief that “a little sin” doesn’t hurt (Galatians 5:9), especially if there is some financial or personal benefit to be gained (1 Timothy 6:5). A person following the doctrine of Balaam will enable sinful behaviours for personal gain (popularity, money, sexual gratification) or even participate in them (Romans 1:32).[1]

The Doctrine of the Nicolaitans

Jesus was proud of the church of Ephesus for their “hatred” of the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He also “hated” but charged the church at Pergamos for pursuing these deeds. The name “Nicolaitans” is derived from the Greek word Nikolaos, meaning to conquer or to subdue people. According to the writings of the Early Church leaders, this Nicolaitan doctrine was one of compromise. It implied that total separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was not essential. It is noteworthy that the two churches with whom this doctrine was linked in Revelation were Ephesus and Pergamos where occultism was a major force that warred against the Early Church. Writers note that it would have been very easy for young or weak believers to slip in and out of paganism as most of their families and friends were still pagans.[2] It seems that this doctrine deemed it all right to have one foot in both worlds and believers did not need to be strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian. It led to a weak version of Christianity that was without power and without conviction. These are the deeds that Jesus “hated”.

Both doctrines speak to compromising Christianity with world beliefs and false religions. Compromise with the world always results in a weakened and powerless form of Christianity. Hence, the reason for the Body of Christ not having the kind of impact it should be having in discipling the nations.

There was hope even in the midst of all that God had against the churches. There was a remnant in Laodicea. This church was called the faithful church in my New King James Version of the bible. What were the characteristics of this church?

“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ……………………you have kept My command to persevere. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Rev. 3:8-11, emphasis mine)

I believe there is a remnant alive and well in Jamaica.

If we accept that God has allowed the corona virus to be unleashed and we begin to understand the reasons for His judgment, starting with the church and then the nations, the next question we need to ask ourselves is, “What does God require of you and me in this hour?” Join me tomorrow as we explore the answer to this question.

Shalom.

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/doctrine-of-Balaam.html

[2] https://renner.org/who-were-nicolaitans-what-was-doctrine-deeds/

 

 

 

 

The Fear of the Lord (Part 3)

For those of you joining us for the first time in this series please click the links The Fear of the Lord (Part 1) The Fear of the Lord (Part 2) to review what we have covered so far. For those who have been following from the beginning, today I will be discussing the third account that I believe Holy Spirit led me to share, to highlight the importance of the Body of Christ and the nation at large coming into the fear of the Lord.

David Takes a Census

Yes, it’s King David again. For this third event we go to 1 Chronicles 21.

Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” And Joab answered, “May the Lord make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?” Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem. (1 Chron. 21:1-4)

But he did not count Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s word was abominable to Joab. And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel. So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” Then the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and tell David, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.‘ “ So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Choose for yourself, either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the Lord – the plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.” And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. (1 Chron. 21:6-14, emphasis mine)

Several pressing questions arise from the reading of this account and we will get to those shortly. Suffice it to say, David sinned against God and God brought swift punishment. It is interestingly relevant, as we are currently going through the COVID-19 pandemic, that one of the punishment options presented by God was a plague described by God Himself as “the sword of the Lord” and that it was the angel of the Lord who wielded the destruction that killed seventy thousand men. Nuff said.

So, the first obvious question is, what was so sinful about David taking a census that caused God’s wrath and displeasure to come against David and Israel? This is not stated explicitly in the passage. However, there are a few clues that can lead us to make some informed deductions. In Part 2 of this series, I noted that David never lost a battle. In fact, in the chapter preceding 1 Chronicles 21, we see David conquering Rabbah and, in another battle, destroying the Philistine giants. Could it be that David had become puffed up because of all his success? Before I answer this question, it would be insightful to ponder the purpose of conducting a census. My research revealed that, in David’s time, a census was conducted in preparation to draft soldiers and for the levying of taxes. Several writers note that it seemed David’s intent was to increase his royal power in a way that contrasted with humble reliance on God. Throughout the Old Testament, there was a continuous emphasis on “the human kingship of Israel being dependent on God’s divine kingship. For Israel’s king to build up the same kind of power common to pagan kings was tantamount to repudiating God’s kingship over Israel.”[1] Other writers note that it could also have been a case of David forgetting that the people did not belong to him but to God and if God had required them to be counted He would have given that instruction. I tend to agree with the thoughts of these writers. In particular, I couldn’t help but note that this last point is supported by the words Joab used when trying to discourage David’s action.

And Joab answered, “May the Lord make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants?………….(1 Chron. 21:3a, emphasis mine)

From all that has been said, there is strong evidence to support that David’s motivation for doing the census and the fact that God had not instructed him to do so were at the root of God’s anger. Let us remember that God is always interested in the condition of our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7). Further support that pride was at work in David’s heart was the fact that, despite Joab’s questioning David in an obvious attempt to dissuade him from pursuing this course of action, David refused to listen or even stop and ponder for a moment about the warning that was being sounded. This is how pride operates. When a spirit of pride is at work we become unteachable. The prideful person believes he/she knows more than anyone else and his/her way is the best way. It is so easy for pride to enter into our hearts. I noted in my series “The Many Faces of Pride” that pride is the cardinal sin. It was pride that caused Satan to be cast out of heaven and he tapped into Eve’s pride to cause the fall of mankind.

Isn’t it therefore interesting to observe in the beginning of this 1 Chronicles 21 passage  that it was Satan himself who moved David to take the census. The parallel scripture in 2 Samuel 24 says,

Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Sam. 24:1)

We know that the Bible does not contradict itself when studied as the whole counsel of God. We note in the Book of Job, that Satan had to seek permission from God before he could oppose Job. In this instance, it is obvious that in saying that “the Lord moved David against the Israelites” this move was actually accomplished via temptation from Satan. It is also evident here that Israel was not in God’s good books. This fact was not so evident in 1 Chronicles 21:1. We don’t know what sin had been committed but God’s anger was definitely against Israel. Consequently, God fully intended to bring punishment on the nation and He knew that David’s vulnerability, because of pride, would cause him to yield to Satan’s temptation. In one action God achieved two objectives – the punishment of Israel and David’s recognition that his heart was not right.

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; …………………………. (2 Sam. 24:10)

In the 1 Chronicles 21 account, it appeared that it was only after God had struck Israel that David acknowledged his sin. However, in the passage above it says that David’s own heart condemned him. In other words, his conscience was pricked and he acknowledged that he had sinned.

Having said all of this, what is the message to each of us individually and to the Body of Christ collectively? God does not allow a plague to come upon nations without a cause.

Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Prov. 26:2)

Like David, we need to do some serious soul searching. As we have seen from the three accounts I have shared, God is patient with us but there comes a point when He MUST in His righteousness administer judgment to bring things back into order. He must cause those who have rulership in the earth, who have become so full of pride and arrogance (including some church leaders), and who have forgotten that all authority is given by God, to recognize that there is One higher than them to whom they are indeed subject. It is God’s desire that we would willingly obey His commands and walk righteously. However, when we have been given opportunity time and time again to get our house in order there comes a time when rebellion must be met with draconian measures for the saving of ourselves from an even worse fate.

I end our discussion here for today. I know the attention span is short and I have already stretched you beyond your limit. Tomorrow, there is another perspective that I want to share regarding the way in which God meted out punishment to Israel, which has direct relevance to our own situation as we navigate our way through this COVID-19 crisis. Stay tuned.

Shalom.

[1] https://www.tenth.org/resource-library/articles/why-was-davids-census-a-great-sin

The Fear of the Lord (Part 2)

Thanks for joining me again as we go into Part 2 in this crucial series.

As I sought the Lord for His mind concerning the fear of the Lord, He led me to three accounts in the scriptures to show evidence that God is not to be played with or taken lightly. I shared the first of these three accounts yesterday – Moses and the Striking of the Rock. See The Fear of the Lord (Part 1). Today, I share the second account.

The Death of Uzza

This account can be found in 1 Chronicles 13:3-14. At last, David was made King over all Israel and there was great joy (1 Chronicles 12). One of his first acts was to consult with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader to determine if it seemed good to them that they should send and call the rest of their brethren to come and gather with them and “bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul” (1 Chron. 13:3).

Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. (1 Chron. 13:4, emphasis mine)

I have purposely focused our attention on the decision making process that took place. You will see why as we progress further. Let us jump to verse 7.

So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza; therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day. David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?” (1 Chron. 13:7-12, emphasis mine)

Again, as in the case of God’s decision not to allow Moses to enter the Promised Land, I found God’s action in this situation to be drastic. My heart went out to Uzza. Here he was, trying to be helpful in not allowing the ark to fall and ends up dead, at the hand of God no less, for his ‘good deed’. I believe this would be everybody’s preliminary response without an understanding of the context within which God acted. The act of carrying the ark back with them was definitely not a bad act in and of itself. They even made the effort to place it on a “new cart” in recognition of its importance. One thing is certain, although David’s initial response following Uzza’s death was anger it quickly turned to the fear of God. Is this what it will require for us in these days to fear the Lord? So, what made God so angry that He would strike Uzza dead? Let us fast forward to 1 Chronicles 15.

David built houses for himself in the City of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it. (1 Chron. 15:1-3, emphasis mine)

And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. (1 Chron. 13:11-15, emphases mine)

God is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:40). He gave specific requirements about who was to transport the ark of God and how it was to be transported. King David chose to consult with his leaders rather than with God in coming to the decision to move the ark and then went ahead as it pleased the people. He never consulted God on this matter or sought to be reminded of the command that had been given to Moses in this regard. This led to a man’s death. What can we learn from this? The scriptures tell us that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is the way of death (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). We are also told in Proverbs 3:5-8,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. (emphasis mine)

Many times, we pursue our own plans, which, on the face of them, seem quite good and wholesome. However, we never consulted God on whether this was His intention for us at that particular point in time. We treat God with disdain and then when things go wrong we complain and wonder why our lives are in turmoil. When we choose to do our own thing our own way we become our own God and God views this as pride and arrogance. We should all be well aware of the consequences of pride (Prov 16:18).

As we look back at the events following Uzza’s death, David’s modus operandi is noteworthy. Recall that 1 Chronicles 13 ended with David afraid of God. How did this actually play out in 1 Chronicles 14? I encourage you to read the chapter. When you do, you will see David consulting the Lord before every battle to determine God’s mind about whether he was to fight the enemy or not. David learnt his lesson well and because of it he never lost a battle. He recognized his wrong and made the necessary adjustments. This is why he was referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The scriptures tell us,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. (1 John 3:20, emphases mine)

Who is the Beginning and the End? GOD! Who knows all things? GOD! Not man! How dare we presume that we know more than God our Creator. When we take matters into our own hands that is exactly what we are saying whether we realize it or not.

As I close, let us be reminded of God’s words in Isaiah 55:8-9.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Tomorrow, I will share the third event Holy Spirit showed me that will convince us even more forcefully of the need for us to return to the fear of the Lord.

Shalom.

The Fear of the Lord (Part 1)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many Christian ministers are tapping into God to find out what this all means. What is God saying to us as a church, as individuals, as nations? One common theme that I hear coming out, and which I have also received from the Lord, is that this plague, pestilence, calamity (call it what you will), is from the Lord and one of the reasons is to correct the misguided perspective that God is no longer to be feared. The Bible tells us that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). This is exactly what has happened to the nations of the earth. The hand of the Lord has moved against us because the Lord now says, “enough is enough”. As Christians around the world have interceded for the atrocities that have been taking place around the world prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have asked the Lord on many occasions in our prayers to arise and cause His enemies to be scattered. We never know just how God will answer but what we do know is that He will answer the prayers of the righteous (Prov. 15:29; 1 Pet. 3:12). Truly this is God’s answer to the prayers of many Christians. We need to be as the Sons of Issachar and correctly discern the times and seasons. We need to understand this move of God and see what is happening from His perspective. Many would say, “How could a loving God do or allow this plague to come upon the world?” This is exactly the reason why He could not allow what has been going on in the world to continue unabated. The scriptures tell us that as a good Father, God must chasten us as part of His evidence of love (read Hebrews 12:5-11). I therefore encourage us as the Apostle Paul did in Hebrews 12:13:

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

But even as I encourage us in this manner I also sense an increasing urgency for us to better understand “the fear of the Lord”. In addition to being a loving Father, God is also a righteous judge and we have been found guilty. We need to understand what God requires from His church (the Body of Christ) first and then from the nations. Yes, judgment does begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). It is time for a return of the fear of the Lord in the Body of Christ. God has been speaking this warning through His prophets for several years now but many church leaders have deafened their ears to what the Holy Spirit has been saying to the Body of Christ. We are instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:20 not to despise prophecies. Because many of our leaders have not heeded, we see familiarity with God, dishonouring of God’s presence, diminishing of the importance of holiness, leaders taking the place of God (idolatry & pride) and an entitlement spirit (murmuring and complaining) have overtaken the Body of Christ. This has come up as a stench in God’s nostrils.

I want to preface this discussion with this scripture, which I am sure we have all quoted but many of us do not fully understand its implications. By the end of sharing what I believe the Holy Spirit has downloaded to me, I trust we will all have a full grasp of what this scripture means.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10, NKJV)

To be fair, many Christians do not fear the Lord because they do not know Him fully as He is to be known. Many Pastors, Apostles, Teachers and Prophets have pandered to itching ears. Focusing their attention, and that of their members, on the grace and mercy of God while at the same time failing to emphasize the righteous judgment of God. The Apostle Paul foretold of these events (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As I sought the Lord for His mind concerning the fear of the Lord, He led me to three accounts in the scriptures that show evidence that God is not to be played with or taken lightly. Let us understand that this knowledge to be shared is the first step in coming closer to the fear of the Lord that God requires from each of us. Let us not be fools, despising wisdom and instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, NKJV)

Moses and the Striking of the Rock

We all know the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. However, God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land, even though it says this of him in Deuteronomy 34:10-12.

But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Why did God find it necessary to forbid Moses entry into the Promised Land? We join the account of what transpired in Numbers 20. The Israelites were complaining bitterly again to Moses and Aaron because there was no water. In their anguish, Moses and Aaron went off by themselves to the door of the tabernacle of meeting and fell on their faces. God’s glory appears to them and the Lord tells Moses,

Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. SPEAK to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals. (Numbers 20:8, emphasis mine)

So, what did Moses do?

So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and STRUCK the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:9-12, emphasis mine)

God’s response to Moses’ action may seem somewhat drastic. Truth be told, I have held this view on several occasions after reading this account. However, as I have grown in spiritual maturity I have recognized that when you are in leadership you have an even more earnest responsibility to be obedient to God as He is depending upon you to represent Him accurately to the people who you lead. To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48).

The only part of God’s command Moses obeyed was to take up the rod. It all went downhill from there. Moses took God’s glory onto himself. He said to the Israelites, “Must WE bring water for you out of this rock?” He did not attribute the power for this miracle to God. Further, he allowed His frustration and anger with the people to cause Him to misrepresent the Lord in striking the rock rather than speaking to the rock.  What was ultimately at the root of God’s decision? He told Moses and Aaron that they “did not hallow” God in the eyes of the children of Israel. What does it mean to “hallow”? We see this word also mentioned in the Lord’s prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.” To hallow is “to make holy or set apart for holy use; sanctify, consecrate, honor as holy; consider sacred; venerate; to respect greatly (Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com). Moses’ disobedience was an indication that in that moment he lost respect for the Lord and failed to give Him the honour due to Him before the people. When we fear the Lord we have a reverent awe for who He is. If we truly fear the Lord, we would never think to act in opposition to the instructions He has given. This is dishonouring and disrespectful in God’s eyes. We fail to give God His rightful place and ascribe power, might and honour to Him alone. I think 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 puts everything into perspective.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY IN HIS PRESENCE. (emphasis mine)

Church of the Living God we have been weighed in the balances and been found wanting.

This will be a daily series due to the urgency of what God is requiring of His church in this season. See you tomorrow for the continuation.

Shalom.

Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 3)

Welcome to the final part of our current series. Just to give a quick recap of what I have shared so far. In Part 1, I shared the meaning of intimidation and pointed out that fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). I also shared on the purpose of intimidation, forms of intimidation, the root of intimidation, and who is affected by intimidation. Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 1)  In part 2, I shared on the signs & symptoms of intimidation as well as the effects of intimidation. Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 2)

As we reflect on the serious consequences of allowing intimidation to gain a foothold and become a stronghold in our lives, we should recognize the urgent need for us to be equipped with the knowledge to overcome it. This is the topic of this third and final part of this series.

How to Overcome Intimidation

We cannot overcome intimidation simply with positive thinking. Positive thinking deals with the effect but not the root. We cannot just ignore it either, thinking that it will just disappear if we don’t focus on it. Since we have already established that fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7), it can only be dealt with in the realm of the spirit. In fact, we may miss it if we are not spiritually discerning and deal only with its side effects.

James 4:7 says “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” This is echoed in 1 Peter 5:8-9. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith.” We can only resist when we have truly submitted to God, laying aside our own agendas and trusting Him sufficiently to take Him at His word. We actually open the door of our lives to the enemy when we are not fully surrendered to the Lord and have no power to resist. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who what? Fear the Lord! (Ps. 34:7). When we are completely submitted to God’s will then we have the power that is required to resist the devil. It says he WILL flee not he MAY flee. When we are not completely submitted to God’s will then the enemy has the legal authority to overpower us and then a stronghold of fear comes and we have to be delivered. The best defense is offense. Confrontation rather than compromise will break the enemy’s influence. God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). He has made available to us weapons of warfare that are not carnal but are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). Three of the antidotes for a spirit of fear are listed in (2 Tim. 1:7).

The Spirit of Power

We need to put the enemy’s power in the right perspective. Remember there is none stronger nor greater than God (Ps. 27:1; 1 John 4:4). Trust in God’s power not your own (Zec. 4:6; Heb. 13:6; 1 Cor. 1:27; 2 Cor. 3:5). Recount and declare the faithfulness of God (1 Sam. 17:34-37; 2 Cor. 3:11-12). Seek God’s proceeding word (Rom 10:17; Mt. 4:4). The source of our power is the Word of God. This is how Jesus resisted the enemy’s temptations in the wilderness. Speak the word of God to flatten every intimidation of the enemy. If we review the whole armor of God listed in Ephesians 6, we will notice that the word of God is the only offensive weapon mentioned. This is insightful!!

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (Eph. 6:17)

The Spirit of Love

Jesus’ power to resist temptation was rooted in what He loved and didn’t love (John 14:31). Love is not simply an emotion. Love is obedience and love is action. If someone says they love you then this is manifested by their behaviour towards you and in response to you. Our knowledge and belief of God’s love for us should make us immune to the attacks of intimidation from the enemy. Love of the Father conquers love of self and casts out fear (1 John 4:17-18).  So, when the enemy comes with his intimidatory tactics we must confess and believe that God’s love is going to give us the power to overcome and make us more than conquerors over the enemy (Rom. 8:31-39). We need therefore to die to self (Mk. 8:34-35). A dead person cannot be tormented (Rev. 12:11). The love of Jesus must be shed abroad in our own hearts such that there is no room for the spirit of fear to enter in. If we love the Lord enough we will want to obey Him and not be distracted by the enemy (Acts 5:29; Jas. 1:22-25). Our love for Christ and our belief of God’s love for us will cause us to be rooted and grounded not only when it’s smooth sailing (Eph. 3:17-19; Mk. 4:16-20).

The Spirit of a Sound Mind

Nothing intimidates more than ignorance/lack of knowledge (Prov. 24:5; 11:9). The spirit of a sound mind is not the same as natural wisdom or special training in Scripture (Acts 4:13; Lk. 2:25-30, 33). Again, it comes back to the Word of God. When we meditate on the word it transforms our minds (Rom. 12:2; Eph 5:26). The spirit of a sound mind comes by having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:13, 15-16). Knowing what God is saying and doing right now as revealed by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14). We are admonished to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6; Lk. 21:14-15) and not to yield to fools (Prov. 26:4). The quickened word builds our faith therefore we must pray for Holy Spirit’s revelation as we read the Bible (Mt. 17:20; Heb. 10:38). To have authority we must be under authority (John 5:19, 30; 12:49; 14:10; 20:21). A sound mind is a humble mind, a teachable mind (Phil 2:5-8). A mind that can therefore remain steadfast in faith and have tenacity in the face of every form of intimidation (1 Pet. 5:9; Phil. 3:12, 14). A sound mind is able to stay focused despite efforts at distraction (Neh. 6:2-4; Ps. 1:1-3; John 4:4-10).

So, in closing, I encourage us to be sober and vigilant. It is not a matter of IF the enemy will attack it is WHEN he will attack (1 Pet. 5:8). We must always be ready ahead of time (Eph. 6:11, 13). Have your sword sharpened at all times and your armor in place. Know that you have an adversary that will stop at nothing to intimidate. But know also that God has equipped, empowered and enabled you to overcome.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6)

Shalom.

 

Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of our current series. In Part 1, I discussed the meaning of intimidation and pointed out that fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). I also shared on the purpose of intimidation, forms of intimidation, the root of intimidation, and who is affected by intimidation. Today, I will be sharing on the signs & symptoms of intimidation as well as the effects of intimidation.

Signs & Symptoms of Intimidation

Persons who are affected by a spirit of fear (intimidation) will display several signs and symptoms some of which are listed below:

  • loss of peace, confidence, courage, endurance, resolution and security; great anxiety & worry (Mt. 6:34, Phil. 4:6-7, Isa. 26:3);
  • torment (severe physical and mental suffering) (1 John 4:18);
  • doubt and unbelief about God’s love (1 John 4:18);
  • discouragement, hopelessness, frustration (Isa. 41:10);
  • a perception that God has deserted you and you are alone (Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, Psa. 23:4);
  • insecurity (Mt. 6:34);
  • fear of men’s faces; timidity (Psa. 118:6, Act 4:29);
  • paranoia (everyone is against you or trying to harm you) (Rom. 8:31);
  • feeling of being trapped (Job 22:10);
  • shame and embarrassment (Jeremiah 1:17; Phil. 1:20);
  • warped judgment or perspective (e.g., Elijah);
  • heaviness and depression (e.g., Elijah);
  • desire to die (e.g., Elijah);
  • attack the pure in heart (e.g., 1 Sam. 17:28 – Eliab and David);
  • failure to step out into ministry (2 Tim 1:6-7);
  • failure to speak out against unrighteousness (Mk. 6:17, Eph. 6:20);
  • walk in unrighteousness (Psa. 119:134, Josh. 1:7);
  • lack of energy and feeling of exhaustion (e.g., Elijah);
  • a sorrowful spirit (Exod. 15:14).

Effects of Intimidation

We note that when Jezebel caused a spirit of fear to come upon Elijah (1 Kings 19:2-4), one of the first things that happened was that he began to operate out of the Lord’s perfect will. The intimidated person honours what he fears more than he honours God. There is greater vulnerability to walk in unrighteousness because fear prevents one from standing up for what is righteous. The fear of men’s faces and the pride of life take over (1 John 2:16). It is easier to conform to the world rather than being courageous enough to come out from among them (Rom. 12:2). God’s anger is against those who continue to walk in fear (Heb. 10:38). Scripture tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The end of such a person is “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:7-8). I didn’t say it, God’s word did! Of course, this is not God’s desire for any of us. His desire is that we enter into His rest, however, unbelief will prevent us from doing so (Heb. 3:19).

And in no way be alarmed or intimidated [in anything] by your opponents, for such [constancy and fearlessness on your part] is a [clear] sign [a proof and a seal] for them of [their impending] destruction, but [a clear sign] for you of deliverance and salvation, and that too, from God. For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ’s sake, not only to believe and confidently trust in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, [and so you are] experiencing the same [kind of] conflict which you saw me endure, and which you hear to be mine now. (Phil. 1:28-30, AMP)

God is requiring us to expect the enemy to try and intimidate us because his modus operandi has not changed. Jesus endured it, Paul endured it and we will endure it. When we, as Christ’s representatives give in to the intimidation of our opponents we bring God’s name into disrepute. It is an indication that we do not believe and confidently trust in Him. If we don’t believe in the God we say we serve, why should unbelievers? It brings our testimony and witness into question before the world.

Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces. Lest I dismay you before them. (Jer. 1:17)

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Mt. 10:31-33)

God is very serious about how we represent Him before others. As His representatives, if we allow fear to cause us to misrepresent Him, He will allow us to be ashamed in front of our enemies. Jesus goes further to state that He will be no mediator before God on behalf of anyone who denies Him before men. God warns that we must not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).

One of the main effects of fear is on the manifestation of our spiritual gifts. Which is why Paul found it necessary to admonish Timothy to stir up (Greek: anazopureo) “to kindle afresh or keep in full flame” his gifts (2 Tim. 1:6). We see that the spirit of fear is the root cause of gifts becoming dormant (2 Tim. 1:7). If we allow fear to prevent us from exercising our spiritual gifts then the effect is similar to a muscle that is not exercised, it gets weak and dies.  The ultimate effect though is that those who should have received ministry through the spiritual gifts that we have been given are not ministered to. God says He will hold us guilty of their blood (Ezek. 3:18, 20; 33:6, 8).

As we reflect on the serious consequences of allowing intimidation to gain a foothold and become a stronghold in our lives, we should recognize the urgent need for us to be equipped with the knowledge to overcome it. This will be the topic for the third and final part of this series. You can’t afford to miss it. Join me again next week.

Shalom.

Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 1)

Throughout the scriptures we see persons being encouraged or instructed “do not be afraid”, “fear not”, “be of good courage”. This certainly gives one the impression that as human beings fear is something we are constantly grappling with. Intimidation or fear comes from the Greek word deilia meaning timidity and cowardice. Fear is not an attitude or disposition but a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear is not of God. It is in fact a controlling evil spirit as seen in the example of Jezebel and Elijah in 1 Kings 19:2-4. When we fear we are in fact saying that we do not trust God for fear is the opposite of faith.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, Which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:2-4)

This is the same prophet who had just trusted God to rain down fire on the burnt sacrifice, drenched with water no less, and caused 450 prophets of Baal to be executed.

Purpose of Intimidation

Satan seeks to intimidate you to take you out of your God given place of authority.

and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:6)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Mt. 28:18)

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Lk. 10:19)

By taking you out of your God given place of authority, the enemy knows he will restrain your spiritual ability and action to coerce and force you into submission (Romans 6:16). Ultimately, he wants our gifts to become dormant so we will miss the purposes of God (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16)

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:6-7)

Forms of Intimidation

We see in Genesis chapter 3 verses 1 – 10, exactly how the enemy attacks you and those around you through fear and intimidation. He does this through our thoughts, imaginations, visions, circumstances, and people under his influence. He operates through words of judgment and criticism; anger and strife; belittling words, ridicule, mocking; threats (blatant and subtle); lies, deception, and false prophecy; sowing seeds of doubt about what God has said; and picking arguments (“pulling your tongue”).

Root of Intimidation

At the root of fear and intimidation is the love of self! “What about ME? What will happen to ME? What will they think of ME? Woe is ME!” Pride is at the root.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom. 1:21)

Who is affected by Intimidation?

1. Fear and intimidation gains expression through any person who will yield to it.

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Eph. 4:26-27)

 2. Believers are specially targeted, particularly those who are operating powerfully in the spiritual realm.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12)

3. You can be pure of heart and still be attacked. In 2 Timothy 1 verse 5, Paul speaks of Timothy’s upright character and again in Philippians 2 verses 19 and 20, but he still had to be reminding him not to allow his gifts to become dormant through a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7)

4. You can be bold and anointed one moment and succumb to intimidation the next as we saw earlier in the case of Elijah (1 Kings 18 & 19).

5. Believer’s should expect attacks.

strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked WHEN it comes; (Prov. 3:25, emphasis mine)

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (1 Cor. 2:11)

Join me next time as I share signs/symptoms of intimidation, effects of intimidation, and how to overcome intimidation. See you then.

Shalom.