So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you] both to will and to act for His good purpose.Â Â Â Â Â Â Philippians 2:12-13 (HCSB)
Lectionery texts: Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16, Matthew 21:23-32 Philippians 2:1-13
To think about who I fear is not a place I want to stay for any period of time. On the one hand, it brings up memories that I don’t like to think about. It’s in the past. I’ve forgiven. I’m moving on. Secondly, when I fear someone, I am giving them some control over my life. I don’t like being out of control. Whether speaking spiritually or in the natural, if I think I have total control over my life â€“ I’m delusional.
I hope that everyone reading these devotionals will take time during the week to read these lectionery texts. All of God’s Scriptures are good (2 Timothy 3:16) but these are really good, my friends, because they are challenging and they are saying things I really don’t want to hear or think about.
I can challenge God. The Old Testament is filled with stories of the Israelites complaining, whining, and challenging. As a perfect parent, God is not going to allow me as His child to be undisciplined. And so if I have not learned that my Father will love me more than I can imagine and provide me with all I need and discipline me when I need it, well then there will be more lessons until I do learn. God is not a super-vending machine that spits out whatever I ask. God will say â€œNoâ€ and He will allow me to suffer the consequences of my choices. He wants so much for me.
Once I begin to grasp the extravagance of the gift that I have been given, a relationship with God through Jesus that will last forever, there is birthed a desire in my heart to share that gift with others. My children and grandchildren are the first ones that I want to share in this gift. I want to tell them what God has done for thousands of years. I want to tell them what He has done in my life. I want them to grab on to what a relationship with Him can mean in their life. I want to be open and clear about the whole picture. God has more love for them than they can imagine. They can trust Him and so obey Him. I want them to learn about â€œholy fearâ€, which is the reverence and awareness of their Creator God that is sealed in love.
In Matthew’s story, I see Jesus being questioned by church leadership. Jesus had a compassionate heart for the â€œlost sheepâ€ who had been led astray by manipulative, self-serving church leaders. He had a different attitude for those who had studied God’s Word and used it for their own agendas. Jesus tells those who question His authority that He has nothing for their closed hearts. He shocks them by saying that He has much to say, to give to, the â€œsinnersâ€ that they so callously reject. Jesus makes it clear that those who want to change and embrace a new life that He has promises for them to fulfill their life abundantly.
Let us take time today to consider the power and overwhelming might of our LORD. Let us acknowledge the â€œholy fearâ€ that brings us to our knees before Him. Think about what God has done in your life. Think about how small you are in the universe and yet the Creator of that same universe calls you â€œdaughterâ€ and â€œsonâ€ without hesitation.
â€œThis is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Isaiah 66:2 (NIV)