Push Against the Rock

Once upon a time, there was a man who was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Saviour appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man’s mind such as: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. “Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.” And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

“Lord,” he said, “I have laboured long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?” To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My child, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition, you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. I, my child, will now move the rock.”

Source unknown

Benefits of Fearing the Lord

As we talked about Tuesday, the Lord is to be feared; however, fear should not leave us cowering to the point that we are not able to approach Him. Hebrews 4.16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We should be able to approach God boldly, confidently, cheerfully, courageously, freely, and fearlessly with all assurance that He desires to hear our petitions. God wants to fellowship with us. However, we cannot approach Him like many children do their parents today—hateful, full of spite, and disrespect. He is God. We are to bow humbly before Him, showing great respect, fear, and awe because of who He is.  We should never demand anything from God. We can share our pains, needs, wants, desires, fears, questions, and concerns, but we do this from a heart that realizes His plan is perfect, He sees the bigger picture, He knows what is best for us, and what will give Him the most glory.

The fear of the Lord prohibits us from approaching God in a selfish, entitled manner. In Psalm 8.3-4 (ESV) David says, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  His fear of the Lord kept everything in perspective. He is God and Creator; we are the created.

For years I have read the Proverb of the day. These daily readings have shaped my understanding of the fear of the Lord.  Here are a few verses that help us understand the benefits of fearing the Lord.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” (Pr. 1:7).

“The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil…” (Pr. 8:13).

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Pr. 9:10).

“The fear of the LORD prolongs life…” (Pr 10:27).

“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Pr. 14:26-27).

“Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it” (Pr. 15.16).

“The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (Pr. 15:33).

“The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm” (Pr. 19:2).

Fear of the Lord brings knowledge, hatred of evil, wisdom, insight, prolongs life, confidence, is a fountain of life, is greater than treasure, and leads to a satisfied life. Things here may not always be easy; however, God is always faithful and one day will reward our faithfulness in fearing Him.

All Bible quotes taken from the English Standard Version

Whom Shall I Fear? GOD!

Sunday I asked the question, “Whom Shall I Fear?” The answer is God. Jesus warned us, do “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 NKJV).

Many try to limit the “fear of the Lord” as just having a reverent sense of awe toward God. I agree we should revere the Lord, humble ourselves before Him, and tremble in His presence. However, this should not lessen our view of God as the omnipotent, omniscience, and omnipresent God of all creation. He declares what is righteous and holy. He has determined what is and is not acceptable. He commands and demands our obedience to that which He has declared holy.

When we lack a sense of fear toward God, we will find ways around His laws, commands, and ordinances. We will convince people truth is relative. We will give them the freedom to do what feels right and follow their own convictions, just so long as what they are doing makes them happy. By following this advice, we make ourselves god. We are wise, can decide right and wrong, and we can declare whatever we want to be right, just, and holy.

In twenty-first century America, we are way too sophisticated to worship wooden, clay, or stone idols. However, when we put ourselves in the place of God, we have enthroned a ruler who only pursues lust, envy, jealousy, and selfishness. We only seek that which fulfills our every desire. There is no longer room in our lives for a God whose commands leave us feeling guilty and inadequate.

Therefore, with broken and contrite hearts, we must avoid fashioning God into our image. We must remember we are sinners before a holy God. The following quote from a Charles Spurgeon sermon in December 1874 puts it this way:

Man fashions for himself a god after his own liking; he makes to himself if not out of wood or stone, yet out of what he calls his own consciousness, or his cultured thought, a deity to his taste, who will not be too severe with his iniquities or deal out strict justice to the impenitent. He rejects God as he is, and elaborates other gods such as he thinks the Divine One ought to be, and he says concerning these works of his own imagination, “These be thy gods, O Israel.” The Holy Spirit, however, when he illuminates their minds, leads us to see that Jehovah is God, and beside him there is none else. He teaches his people to know that the God of heaven and earth is the God of the Bible, a God whose attributes are completely balanced, mercy attended by justice, love accompanied by holiness, grace arrayed in truth, and power linked with tenderness. He is not a God who winks at sin, much less is pleased with it, as the gods of the heathen are supposed to be, but a God who cannot look upon iniquity, and will by no means spare the guilty.

This is the great quarrel of the present day between the philosopher and the Christian. The philosopher says, “Yes, a god if you will, but he must be of such a character as I now dogmatically set before you”; but the Christian replies, “Our business is not to invent a god, but to obey the one Lord who is revealed in the Scriptures of truth.” The God of Holy Scripture is love, but he is also possessed of justice and severity; he is merciful and gracious, but he is also stern and terrible towards evil; therefore unregenerate hearts say, “We cannot accept such a God as this,” and they call him cruel, and I know not what besides.

Sermon of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Heart-Knowledge of God,” December 6, 1874.

It is not for us to define God in a way that is more palatable. God has declared who He is, who we are, and how we are to live. Let God’s Word lead you, and you will find the life of which you have always dreamed!

Why Do I Worship?

Graceway MediaNot long ago I was reading from Matthew 15:7-9. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and said, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (ESV). After reading these verses, I spent most of the day examining my own worship to see if there were any part of me that was merely honoring God with my words, but my heart was far from Him.

When I arrived home from work that evening, the first words out of my wife’s mouth were, “You didn’t call me today!” She was not angry, but surprised. You see, after years of marriage she is accustomed to my calling, emailing, or texting her several times a day to see how she is doing, say “I love you,” and just to talk for a few minutes. So, it was very unusual for me not to contact her in any way for a whole day.

Without any explanation I quickly replied, “Do you want me to call you because I love and miss you, or because I feel guilty for not calling you all day?” Understandably, she was shocked at first, then hurt, and finally a bit concerned. She asked, “Do you ever call me out of guilt and not out of love?” I quickly assured her that it is because of my love that I call her almost every day, and that it had just been one crazy, eventful day at work. Then I talked with her about my Bible study that morning (Matt. 15:7-9). I had asked her the question, not to be a jerk, but to see her reaction to the thought that I might just be honoring her with my lips and not my heart. We want our spouse to love us, long for us, and be honest with us. My comment left her wondering, “Is he faking his love for me, and if so, for how long?”

Shirley’s reaction and the following conversation made both of us stop and reconsider our daily acts of worshipping God. Is my quiet time, which consists of prayer and Bible study, just something I cross off the list each day to feel better about myself spiritually? Do I listen for God during quiet time or just hurry through it? When attending a worship service, am I more concerned about how long it takes, what I have to do after church, or how it affects me more than lifting up praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the One who died for me? Am I just going through the motions of what is expected? Is my spirituality a mask I put on to play a certain part when I am around my Christian friends or at church?

None of these “spiritual activities” are true worship. Jesus has commanded us, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Just as we would be offended at someone faking their feelings for us to get something they wanted, so is God! Worship, Bible study, church, living a righteous life, and obeying God’s commands are not things we do to keep from angering God. These good things are not to be practiced so that He will give us everything on our wish list of wants, needs, and desires. Worship is giving to God what He deserves. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Christians should reflect the character, attributes, love, and holiness of God. We don’t do it because of what we might get, but because the Spirit of God resides in us and that is who we are in Christ.

I don’t want to live a hypocritical life. I don’t want worship to be out of guilt or something I do for my benefit.  I want my worship driven by an insatiable thirst for God’s glory, honor, and praise. I want my worship to be the direct result of who I am in Christ. I want my worship to be something I live out every minute of every day. I want my worship to be sincere, honest, and from a heart of love!

Take time today to read Matthew 15:7-9 and examine your motives for worship.

Can You See Me Now? (Part 2)

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It has been translated into more than 2,000 languages. You can find it on cell phones, computers, coffee tables, fireplace mantles, as well as a microfilm copy which was taken to the moon on Apollo 14. It has been carved in stone, written on animal hide, papyrus, paper, and I have even seen a chapter tattooed on someone’s back. Needless to say, the Bible is a very popular book to people all around the world.

Unlike other popular books, people do not purchase a Bible to be entertained. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. It is within the pages of the 66 books of the Bible that we find out about God–His love, mercy, compassion, patience, grace, forgiveness, power, beauty, majesty, and so much more. Page after page we see the Creator reaching out to draw His creation into a loving relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us the commands of God, not that we can live up to them, but that we might see His holiness and righteousness and realize our need for His forgiveness. We see His hand of provision, protection, and providence constantly before us tenderly caring for His precious children.

Too often in my life I have performed my daily Bible readings and crossed that off my list of things to do for that day.  I have been so busy reading the book of God that I have missed the God of the book. Through a series of events this became crystal clear to me, so I decided I needed to change. Now, before I begin reading the Bible I ask Jesus to reveal Himself to me in Scripture. As I read I want to see more of Christ that I might know Him more.

As you take time to read your Bible today, please ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you.  Ask to see His character, integrity, honesty, holiness, righteousness, mercy, compassion, grace and other attributes. Don’t read the Bible to see if you are measuring up. Read the Bible to see Christ and then worship Him!

“Can You See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 3