Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Well Beach Retreat

Dueteronomy 10:12 And now oh Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

My wife and I are at a ginormous beach house with other members of our Well group. The theme for the weekend is fear. Where does it come from? What exactly are we afraid of and why?

This is what I've come up with so far: If you trust God, you will fear him, and if you fear him, you will fear worldly things far less often. (I use fear in the sense that the ancient hebrews used the word. It encompasses more than just being afraid, but includes also a reverential sense of awe. We don't have an exact word in English to properly translate the Hebrew word fear in our bibles.)

Fear is so prevalent in today's society. I can attest to it. Sometimes I lay awake at night worrying about work the next work day. A lot of those nights, I can name nothing specific that consumes my thoughts. It's simply a general sense of anxiety. Ridiculous actually. And how often do I turn to my idols for a source of comfort and distraction, when I should be kneeling before the almighty Lord God in reverence? If I came to Christ in awe, knowing that through Him All things were made, including big would my concerns seem? Not very. But I'm not saying anything new. Check it:

Jeremiah 10:2
Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky,
Though the nations are terrified by them.
For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
They cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammers and nails
So it will not totter. (This reminds me of all my apple products).
Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak;
They must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them; They can do no harm nor can they do any good.
No one is like you, O Lord; You are great, and your name is mighty in power
Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due.

Isaiah 2:22
Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils.
Of what account is he?

So when you come to God with a sense of reverence and awe, it follows that your priorities will then be set right. But why is it so hard to remember to put God in His proper place of glory in our lives? I blame a lot of it on modern gadgets and the distractions that flow from them. Our modern day idols. Radio, tv, movies...constant filler and sound. I know many people who can't fall asleep without constant sound in the background. Anything to fill our mind and push away the concerns of life. If we can succeed at mastering/masking our fear with modern idols, why would we need to call upon God?

Another reason we don't like to go to God in reverence, is that our society teaches us that there is no such ing as sin. We are all free to be you and me, and that everyone is entitled to their own sense of morality...their own definition of right and wrong. It's all subjective. So if there isn't the acknowledgement that in the face of God we deserve nothing other than to be crushed and obliterated...than why revere Him? Why even acknowledge Him? Sometimes it takes a face to face encounter to get us to understand the power and glory of the almighty. Every example we see in the bible follows the following format. Falling on your knees in shame, begging for forgiveness, repenting in the face of the almighty, recoiling as God reaches out to you in forgiveness, and then volunteering to live for Him in supreme worship. Take Isaiah 6 for example:

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

In the ancient hebrew there were no exclamation points. In order to describe someone's beauty, you would say she was pretty pretty. This is the only part of the bible where something is described in triplicate. The angels proclaim God as holy holy holy. This was a grammatical impossibility, but the only way to describe Gods glory. Isaiah was faced with this infinitely powerful truth, and could only fall to his knees in terror saying 'woe is me.' He acknowledges that he is a product of his generation, worried about things of this world, and living a life of unclean words and lips. The only thing he deserves is to be smote under Gods wrath. But in one of many snapshots, or foreshadowings of Christ's coming, he is forgiven and washed clean by the purifying act of God. His first instinct is to stand up and volunteer to a life of service.

Yes, we react to His grace don't we?!

God, I ask that you reorient me to a life of worshiping you. I ask that you fill me with the Holy Spirit and interrupt my life like you did Isaiah. Remind me that I am simply filled with one breath, without You, destined for eternal extinguishment. Absolve me of my sins through Christ's complete work on the cross, allow me to accept that gift, and to live my life according to your wishes for me. In Jesus's name I pray.

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