Sunday, December 04, 2005

the fear of the Lord

I am sitting here almost speechless, yet longing to let out the feelings that are inside. Just listened to a message by a guy named Mike Bickle. I have known him and listened to him for twenty years, and respect him deeply as a man who passionately pursues God. In the last year or so, he has become something of a prophetic voice to the western church. We live in a time where the Christian faith and message has become watered down and distorted in many places. Much of what is preached and taught in pulpits across this nation is an ear-tickling religious substitution for the clear true teachings of the scripture. I know... that sounds really self-righteous and judgmental, but I cant help it. Its true. The scriptures themselves warned that this would happen. My own heart has grown cold. Compromise has become easy. In fact, its become a way of life. Something has to change. I am not talking about the need to get busier with religious activities. You can be very outwardly religious, and have a very dark heart. That's my problem. My heart has become darkened. I have let this world quench my love for God, and it has grown cold.

I guess you could call this a confession. As I listened to Mike teach from II Peter this morning, I felt fear rise up inside. He was talking about those who become deceived, and knowing the truth, they return to their sin. Like a dog to his vomit. Ugly analogy... straight from scripture. I have lost the fear of the Lord. I have compromised the kingdom values that shaped my life as a younger man. I have let the world's standards replace my own, given to me by the Spirit and the Word. I am struck by the fear of the Lord. I am sobered deeply. And I don't want to lose it, that deep sense of conviction.

I have a busy life. Too busy. Jesus told a parable about a sower. He sowed his seed on four types of soil. One type was thorny, full of weeds. Those weeds "choked" the seed, stopping it from bearing fruit. He later described those weeds as greed, and the cares of the world. My little plot of ground has become overrun with weeds. The seeds that were planted are not dead, but if I don't let him clear those weeds out of my garden, it could end up a barren wasteland. He is faithful, and He will do it if I let Him. It comes back to me though. How will I spend my time? How will I prioritize my life? Will I spend my life on things that will burn up in the final judgment? Will I invest in that which is temporal, or even evil? Or will I live like a disciple? Will I seek first the kingdom of God in all things? Will I make the pursuit of God the highest priority of my life? I have a business to run. I have a family to care for. I have temporal God-given responsibilities in life. The questions are, how do I live out my life while fulfilling those responsibilities, and what do I do with my "free" time and resources? Will I spend them on personal pleasure and my own little kingdom? Or, will I seek Him with all my heart, and make my life fully available to His purposes?

I cant "earn" his love, or my righteousness. That is fully established. I only want "the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." But, the scriptures are clear. There will be a final judgment. I will give an account for what I have done with my life. And salvation is not just a free ticket out of hell. Its an offer of a restored, reconciled relationship with God. Its an offer of forgiveness and deliverance for those who truly desire to know God and live in that right relationship with Him. Its not over until its over. "He who endures to the end will be saved." Its not how we start the race, its how we finish. He wont let me go easily, but He wont force me to follow Him. He is constantly drawing me to Himself, beckoning me to deeper intimacy and friendship. But He has given me that incredible power of choice. He has given me the ability to consider my options, and decide for myself if I really want to live as His son and His friend. The final choice is up to me. And you. And every day we make that choice again and again.

Lord, help me walk in conscious awareness of your awesomeness, your goodness, and your unfathomable love.... every day. Help me love You in the manner of which You are worthy.

And You are indeed worthy of my love and devotion and worship.