And also much cattle

I don’t know about you, but other than wishing my dog would be in heaven, I always imagined that the animals were pretty unimportant. Yes, you can call me heartless, but I always seemed to think that since the animals didn’t have souls (or so I think) that they were just as unimportant as the rocks or anything else in the landscape.

The Bible teaches us differently. On several occasions, God mentions the idea that He values animals.

One classic example is Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” God speaks of sparrows, an animal that we do not regard worth much at all, and God says that He notices every time one dies. The King of the universe notices when a bird dies. That’s powerful.

Another time, God is speaking to Jonah about Nineveh. He says, “And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”

God doesn’t want to destroy 120,000 people if He doesn’t want to. And did you catch the last part- almost like it was thrown in at the end? He didn’t want to destroy the cattle. God cared about the herds of cattle as well as the people.

In proverbs 12, we find, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” I think in this verse we find the summary and the application of this thought. As a god-fearing person, we should treat animals with respect.

Yes, God created them for us to use and enjoy, but we should not use our authority and dominance for cruelty. Christians should be at the forefront of many causes for treating animals with respect. I’m not speaking of refraining from eating meat, which was allowed and commanded in many places(1, 2, 3, 4), but there is a decency with recognizing that animals do have worth. And not just to us, but to God as well.

Animals should be treated with kindness. It’s one way we show our respect for God and His creation.

I challenge you, take a moment to consider if there are ways you can honor God more but treating the lives of His creatures with more kindness or respect.

How should we question authority? Should we at all?

Have you ever been in a situation where someone told you to do something, but you didn’t feel right about it? Maybe it was your boss, or teacher at school, a military commander, or parent. We all have those moments when we aren’t too comfortable following a command.

This was the situation Obadiah found himself in when he met Elijah in 1 Kings 18. Obadiah was a Godly man who found himself in the service of King Ahab, evil king. He meets Elijah, who is a prophet of God and a wanted man. Elijah tells him to tell Ahab, that he is there.

Obadiah immediately is afraid for his life. Ahab is an angry and unpredictable man. Obadiah knew this.

But instead of talking back to Elijah, or telling him to tell the king that he’s there himself. He explains his fear. He presents his concerns in a respectful and reasonable way.

There is no rebuke here for Obadiah. Elijah reassures him that it will all be right, and Obadiah will not be in danger.

This is exactly how we should interact with authority. We should not argue. We should not get angry. We should not answer with pride or disrespect.

We should speak humbly. Present our concerns respectfully. And give every impression that we desire to obey.

Next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, remember Obadiah. Remember his respect, and openness. Just because you disagree with authority, doesn’t mean you must have a falling out with them. Sometimes communication and respect is all that is needed to keep good relations!

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” 1 Peter 2:17

 

Commune with your own heart . . .

What does the word “Awe” mean to you?

“Awe” isn’t a word that we use much anymore. For me, “Awe” is being totally amazed with something, jaw dropped, mind blown, staring with a strange mixture of admiration and sudden humility, while being completely overwhelmed.

It’s that feeling of admiration and respect. Like when you first gazed at a great natural wonder like the Grand Canyon, or some amazing architecture like the Colosseum. That admiration and awe, is what we should hold in our heart when we consider God.

Psalm 4:4 says, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” What an amazing statement! We are so busy trying to run our lives, make things right, please ourselves, and more- that we forget to stand in awe of God. The contrast in this verse sends a very clear message. It strongly suggests that if you are in awe of God, you will refrain from sin.

But let’s take it a step further. In the Greek, the word for awe doesn’t just mean respect, it literally means “to tremble.”

Do you tremble when you think of God?

Our admiration and respect for God should keep us from sin. But also our fear of God. Many of us have lost a healthy reverence for the Lord, and I honestly believe that that is a main reason why we treat sin so flippiantly. If we trembled with respect, awe, and fear of God, we would naturally keep ourselves from sin.

This respect, awe, and fear, isn’t something that we can flip a switch and create in our heart. It’s something that must be developed. The verse finishes with: “Commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.”

This verse does not command that we suddenly “do’ something. It calls for us to cease from doing. It calls to each and every one of us to be still. To regain our awe of God. To speak to our own heart and realize the greatness of our Lord.

Won’t you quiet your heart in respect of God today?

Won’t you commune on your bed,

and be still?

 

What if God is waiting for you?

If you gave most people a chance to be rich, they would take you up on it. I mean, who doesn’t want money? Money gives you power, choices, and most likely a better level of comfort. Who doesn’t want respect or honor? Most people like to be respected. And almost everyone prefers life instead of death. The Bible gives us two things to incorporate into our lives to find riches, honor and life.

It’s quite simple, Proverbs 22:4 tells us, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.” That’s it. One verse, and if you’re not careful, it is easy to overlook. No more comment is made on the subject. Since we know that the Word of God is true and valuable, we can recognize the value of this one verse.

If you think about the world, they run after riches constantly. The constantly scramble on top of one another trying to get to the top so they can have  brief moment of fame and the idea of respect. Lastly, most worldly people are trying to find meaning in life, and trying to prolong it without every quite enjoying it as much as a servant of God can.

Sadly, many Christians join in on these pursuits without realizing that God has called them to a higher purpose. Yes, riches, honor, and life are all desirable things, but God has designed us to seek after more. We are not called to run after the things that the world clamors for. God wants us to run after Him. He tells us to take action. The action is in two parts, but those elements are related.

He wants us to humble ourselves, and fear Him. Those things aren’t difficult or complicated to do, they’re just not what humans usually want. Humans want glory and honor. But God calls us to honor Him. Humans desire that others be lowered, but God calls us to lower ourselves.

When we decide to willingly surrender our “honor,” and recognize God’s power, and conform our life, then God tells us that He will reward us with honor, and money [power], and life.

There are some that claim that it is not God’s will for every Christian to be rich. Well, I’m sure it is possible, but you cannot deny that God has rewarded many of His servants with riches.  And whether or not the previous claim is true, I honestly believe that a there is a large amount of Christians who do not have riches, honor, and life because they have failed to humble themselves and fear the Lord.

Can you not see our God, ready to bless His servants with abundance, but holding back because He knows that their heart is not right, and such a blessing would turn them away from Him. Or He waits because He knows that such a person would not glorify Him with the riches He would give, but would only attempt to satisfy their own lusts.

What if God is waiting for you? What if His heart is breaking because He desires a deeper relationship with you, but you are holding back? What if He longs to bless you materially as wells as spiritually so that others might see His goodness and glorify Him with you, but He holds back because you have not obeyed.

We may never know what God might have given us if we had obeyed sooner, but we can decide to obey now. We can choose to humble ourselves and fear the Lord. Such a choice will not only bring a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God, but will also bring His blessings of riches, honor, and life.

Then one day, it could be said of us, as it was said of David: And ______  “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour”

But the verse doesn’t end there-

It continues with: “and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.”- 1 Chronicles 29:28

David feared the Lord, and was rewarded. But David left a legacy. Solomon, his son, took the throne after him. And Solomon followed his father’s footsteps in fearing the Lord. The Lord rewarded Solomon with greater— well, I’m sure you know the story.

“Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.” – 1 Chronicles 29:12

Respect or Idolatry?

It is easy to be caught up with the world’s mindset. Many times we are easily swayed into thinking like them. For instance, I have known myself to become really excited about a movie coming out, or a particular performer that is coming to my area. To an extent, such happiness is only natural, but sometimes it is inappropriate.  Yes, inappropriate.

The world idolizes people. They glorify individuals as great and magnificent, when really, they are really only men. Perhaps you don’t have an artist or director you idolize, maybe it’s a figure in history, maybe it’s a character in the Bible. Perhaps a certain national or world leader. You think well of them. You have a certain awe for them. You idolize them. You wish you could meet them. Perhaps you think of them so much that you daydream about how awesome it would be to meet them. 

Now, to an extent, that is perfectly appropriate to think well of a person and want to meet them. But far to often I have experienced that in my life and in the lives of others that such thoughts of a person become out of perspective, and sometimes sin. 

God tells us, “There is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11) God also tells us in the same chapter that He will give everyone according to their works whether they are good or bad.

Out of God’s own mouth we know that He does not hold any certain “awe” for anyone. Whether they were rich or poor, popular or unknown, talented or devoid of talent, they will all stand before God. He will judge them according to what they did with what He gave them.

To be honest, I can’t give you a specific verse that tells you exactly the difference between simple respect and idolatry. I can’t draw the line between a healthy respect for individuals and flat out idolatry. That is for you to find in your own life. I challenge you, ask God to search your heart. Ask Him to teach you what is a right and what is not. You may or may not need to adjust your attitude. However you act or think, I would encourage you to use this simple test. Ask yourself, “In eternity, would I be this excited? When all is said and done, and we stand before God alone, would I think the same of this?” It has helped me, I believe it may help you. 

Let us not be as some who, “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

Let us adore God alone.

It’s just a sin

Do you hate sin? Do you see sin as God sees it? Many times we can look at sin as if it has different levels. I mean, we can tell a white lie, or succumb to laziness, or disrespect people in authority. Those sins aren’t really that bad. But they are. Sin is sin.

James 2:10 says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." This scripture demonstrates how serious sin is. Committing one sin, is equal to committing every sin listed in the law. God takes every sin seriously.

In Hebrews 10, God gives some serious consequences for committing sin deliberately. Verse 28 mentions that the Mosaic law condemned a person a person to death. Verse 29 says, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing . . . "

When you sin deliberately, no matter what sin, God says you are walking on Jesus and calling His blood as something that is unholy. Lord forgive us for such a transgression! Lord help us to live holy lives before Him.

Verse 30 promises vengeance to those who treat Him in such a manner and the next verse says, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Let us turn from our mediocre life and think of sin as God thinks of it. As a complete abomination.

I would like to challenge you, ask God to help you view sin as he does. Ask God to aid you as you turn from sin completely. Let us not live as the wicked, but as children of God.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Do you respect God as much as your friends?

It is interesting to note how we expect certain things from our friends. We expect them to be friendly. We expect them to have a certain amount of respect for us. If one of our friends treated us with complete disrespect for no reason, we would want them to apologize and admit that they were in the wrong. Until they acknowledge that they treated us wrongly, and ask us to forgive them, our relationship won’t be quite the same. How is it then, that sometimes we expect our relationship to God to be any different?

God deserves more respect than any friend. He loved us before we existed. He died for us before we were born. He created us. And after we turned on Him, He extended His grace and love toward us. Our sin was the cause of His cross. He suffered and died to pay for what we committed and still commit.

Sometimes we forget this. We commit a sin, any sin, and then we go back to God without mentioning it. Without telling Him we are sorry, without confessing, and acknowledging our wrongdoing. God forgive us. How despicable. God loves us, and wants to have a relationship with us, but every time we sin, we put a barrier between us and God.

Proverbs 28:13 says, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." I would like to challenge you. When you sin recognize it. Ask God to forgive you. Don’t try to live as if you never sinned. God deserves more than that. Go to God and ask for forgiveness. If you do God will be merciful to you. Only then can you have true fellowship with Him again.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." – 1 John 1:9-10