Open Eyed Running

 

 

 

The first time I went for a trail run, it was like I had been placed on a whole new planet and I really, really liked it.  But probably not for the same reasons that many others before me have liked it.  See, I fell in love with trail running not just for the beauty of the wilderness and the challenge of the constantly changing footstep, all of which are incredibly awesome, but because of what there wasn’t.

As a hard of hearing person (not deaf, there are days where I wish I was deaf because then at least I would have an excuse for not understanding what people are saying) running on streets is extremely difficult because of what you can hear.  You can hear the sound of a car, the sound of traffic, the sounds of ambulances and even sometimes the sound of a biker or runner coming up behind you.  The problem is twofold, though.

First, you have no idea where that sound is coming from.  It could be right beside you, on the street over or two blocks in front of you.  As a hard of hearing person running on the streets, the sounds get all mixed up and actually at times even get irritating at worse and distracting at best.

You can try wearing headphones and listening to music but in a way that is even worse because now you can’t stay in tune with the sounds your body makes (for me I know when I am off stride because I feel it in my feet and sometimes hear it as a slap on the pavement instead of a stride on the pavement) or how you are breathing (sometimes I get out of sync and am mouth breathing instead of sucking in oxygen through my nose) and then you never really get into that beautiful rhythm of running.

The second thing that is difficult for hard of hearing runners running the streets of your town or city is the mental exhaustion that happens because you literally have to work twice as hard as somebody else to define what that sound is and where it is coming from and whether it is a danger or normal.  I never ran as a normal hearing person, so I don’t really know what it is, but I do know as a hard of hearing person often times the hardest part of the run is all these sounds mixing in my head and constantly trying to figure out what they mean and whether I need to be aware.

I also cannot tell you how many times I have been on a sidewalk and thought I heard a car right on me and then tripped over the crack in the sidewalk because I’m swiveling my head to try and figure out if a car is backing out of a driveway, will he see me and then blammo there I am laying on the grass with my feeling severely embarrassed.

So imagine my first time out on a trail, there is no sound but the sights, and the feelings were just phenomenal.  It was like a new world opening up that I had never experienced before.  It was almost like my eyes being opened for the very first time, and I was seeing things that I know I probably had seen my whole life, especially having grown up in the mountains but here I am running a trail in the Big Horn Mountains outside Sheridan, WY and I literally felt like I was alive for the very first time.  What I really began to experience can only be described as Open Eyed Running.

This is where your eyes are continually opened to the possibilities and beauty around you, where you fall in love with your world and dream of the days that were simpler.  The only time in my life that can even compare is the day I realized that God was real and that He wanted to be part of my life, not just part of a religious ceremony on Sunday mornings.  Living becomes different because you are seeing everything in a different light and from a different perspective.  That is how it is with trail running.  I can run the same trail three weekends in a row, and it never gets boring, it’s never the same trail twice in a row.  And that is so similar to life also.

I cannot even begin to imagine what I would do if life were vanilla and the same all the time.  It would be so frustrating to me, and that is what running has become to me also.  Every trail run opens up new possibilities and most of my runs I am not even aware of what is going on around me (that is why my wife makes me wear a bell on my pack) or what time it is (only once have I come back to a trailhead in the dark but that was more because I stink at reading maps than anything else, all for a different story) and I find myself on the trail thinking about ways to challenge myself to dig deeper and to reach for more.

And what I see!!!!!  I cannot even begin to describe the beauty that surrounds me out in the wilderness.  I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times I have literally had to stop in my tracks to look at the beauty stretching before me.

Like this time there was this dead tree that I could see as I ran up a hill, but it sort of looked like a twig until I got up next to it and then the crooked beauty, the way it just stood there through time slightly moving in the breeze reminded me that the spiritual part of my journey often reminds me of that dead tree.  Sometimes I feel as if my faith is dead but then I can look down and see that it’s not dead,  it’s still firmly planted in the soil and that over the next hill or through the bog I find myself in I’m going to find a flourishing tree, full of life and vigor.  Not having to strain to identify sounds has done all these things for me.

 

Now when I am out running a trail, my route may be wet, snowy, muddy, dry or any other adjective you can possibly imagine but I always can find the proper place to plant my foot because I am not having to figure out the sounds around me, I’m just running and enjoying life going on around me, feeling the soft breeze, the warm sun or the whipping, chilly wind trying to push through my layers of clothing.  I can hear my breathing, feel my muscles and even when in the middle of the forest running in snow I can hear the crunch of the snow and the slide of the little ice balls running under the sole of my foot.

I guess this is what I love about running trails the most, the open eyed running and awareness of all the beauty that surrounds me, even when I’m stressed out about work and wondering if I’m being a good enough husband the trail keeps me grounded because running them alleviates a stress point in my life which allows me to be more than I could be running the streets around me.

So the next time you say something to a runner, and he/she doesn’t say something back consider that just maybe they’re hearing challenged and every sense is working so hard that they can’t even acknowledge that you are around.

Christ’s Birth a Miraculous Gift From God

The birth of Christ is an incredible part of history. God’s unique plan to use the Holy Spirit as the way to make Jesus human is astonishing. This remarkable set of circumstance stands alone and has yet to re-occur.

It’s not by accident God used His Spirit to allow the Virgin Mary to conceive His Son. Our Father told His Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) of this extraordinary future event.

Matthew’s recording of the virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-25) gives insight to the dangers Mary faced. In our modern times, it’s normal for women to bear a child out of wedlock. But not so for Mary. She and the child’s life became endangered. The penalty for this infraction of adultery ended in death.

Mary found favor with God (Luke 1:30), and He chose her to bear His Son. This honor God granted her isn’t by chance, but her obedience and faithfulness. Remember, in Mary’s time, God’s people had trouble staying in good standing with Him. Her devotion didn’t go unnoticed because God rewarded her faith with giving birth to His Son. She became privileged giving testimony to God’s undeniable love for His faithful followers.

When I ponder over Christ’s miraculous birth, it makes me joyful. Many people try to discount God’s mightiness. They convince themselves conceiving a child without biological partners is absurd. Thinking these thoughts isn’t one of faith. Believers know faith is understanding with God everything is possible (Luke 1:37) and not by sight alone (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Remember, God always keeps His promises (2 Peter 3:9). And throughout the Old Testament, the Lord showed His plan for a saving King. So, Matthew’s commentary of Christ’s birth proves God’s loyalty. Our Father never leaves us guessing. God’s grace is an incredible blessing.

Christ’s arrival on earth paved the way to our rebirth. On Jesus’s birthday, God’s transformation from the old way of believing into His new one became a reality. In that town of Bethlehem laying in the manger, our Father showed the world His gift of salvation. But it’s up to God who receives this eternal blessing.

I’m grateful for Christ’s birth. Are you?

God Establishes Christ’s Kingship

God is fascinating in the way He delivered Christ into the world. Matthew a Disciple and author of a Gospel shows how God establishes Jesus as King.

In Matthew’s opening chapter he records the genealogy of our Messiah. Here, God placed Christ as the Son of David who was king of Israel (Matthew 1:1). This testimony proves Christ as royalty by highlighting a direct link to other kings of Israel.

God wanted to show humanity real Kingship. In the Old Testament times, God helped the leaders of Israel choose a king. When the Israelites needed to anoint kings their trusted servants used prayer to find God’s chosen one. And when the Lord answered their prayer they followed His command.

Many Prophets shared with God’s people the news of a future leader, unlike any other one. Isaiah foretold the significance this ruler’s role takes in God’s kingdom (Isaiah 9:6). In God’s sovereignty, Christ holds the highest esteem.

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Man’s outlook on kingship is one of prestige, elegance, and power. God’s King brings salvation with infinite spiritual life. In Matthew’s Gospel, the three wise men from the east came and worshiped the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-12).

When new Kings claim their thrones, it’s normal to send a messenger announcing his arrival. Matthew did the same by writing on John the Baptist’s message of Christ’s kingship (Matthew 3:1-12).

John’s news reached a multitude of people, and many flocked to their baptism. John’s ministry prepared the way for Jesus’ arrival, and he shared repentance as the way of receiving God’s New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

In the Book of Revelation Christ is King (Revelation 17:14), supporting Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’s kingship. Another declaration  referring to Christ the King is in the Gospel of John (John 12:15).

Jesus came to earth as King and in the second coming (Revelation 1:7) returns as King (Revelation 19:16). And God’s faithful believers will join Him.

Have you found God’s King?

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Do You Believe in Satan’s Spirit?

In my recent conversations with others, a common theme emerged.    They wonder why the world is evil. Most of them baffled over the cruelty of humanity. This inspired me to highlight Satan’s existence.

One of the greatest truth a Christian must accept is the realness of Satan. The devil and his wicked spirit are alive in the world. Make no mistake, knowing the reason God cast out Lucifer is crucial in living in His kingdom.

Before Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace, a great rebellion took place in heaven and leading its procession is Satan. The devil tried to overtake God’s sovereignty (Isiah 14:12-17). He wanted to rise above God and be the supreme ruler.

God’s enemy used pride to threaten Him and found out the Lord’s wrath. The moment he rebelled it sealed his demise. God cast him out with other angels who followed his unwise actions. And, today his works is as strong as ever.

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No one wants to notice the wickedness of Satan. There is no escape from the wreckage he leaves in his wake. Everywhere we go a reminder of the true nature of God’s advisory is staring us in the face. Terrorism, murder, slander and other evilness are common occurrences in our world.

Even unbelievers talk about the cruelty of Satan’s actions but don’t call him by name. They believe the man himself brings on the wickedness of evilness. These kinds of people don’t understand Satan’s real nature since they don’t know God and chase after the lusts of the flesh.

I know the reality of experiencing Satan’s grasp. Before God saved me, my life wasn’t holy. Satan’s hand guided my life causing me to live according to his plans by acting in cruel ways. Resentments flooded my heart, and I reacted to life in vengeance. Self-serving motives dictated my real intention, and I always looked for something in return for my selfish service. I was crude, rude and unkind. Today I’m grateful to God for delivering from the chains of His enemy!

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Each of us has times when the battle to obey God becomes challenging. This gives validity to the spirit of Satan. The devil uses our minds to convince us not to rely on God. Doubt and self-deception are tools found in the devil toolbox, and without God’s gift of salvation, they ruin human souls.

Anyone who receives God’s grace notices the workings of Satan. When God saves a man, He gives them Christ and a way out of eternal damnation. Jesus defeated the devil, and the Holy Spirit is the marking of God’s chosen people. Satan flees from Christ and knows it’s a losing battle trying to overtake God’s intercessor.

When Christ died and arose from the dead, it showed the devil God’s final plan for him. And in Jesus’s second coming He crushes Satan’s evil reign forever (Revelation 20:7-10).

Satan wants to make humans commit the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:31-32). The devil tries his best the to make blasphemers out humanity. This unforgivable transgression against God’s Spirit is his ultimate prize.

Blasphemy against the Spirit shows up in many government leaders across the globe. God designed principalities for helping carry out His justice (1 Peter 2:13-17). The laws of government turn people away from God’s Spirit. And their most obvious infraction of God’s truth is allowing Satan to deceive others through glorifying homosexuality. Here the real spirit of Satan becomes exposed because the destruction same-sex unions destroy the family unity.

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Hidden behind the acts of homosexuality and lesbianism is Satan’s real plan. The devil is cunning because he attacks God’s divine partnership between man and woman by perverting their sexual thoughts. Satan convinces them that their sexual behavior isn’t wrong, and this leads to a reprobate mindset.

I have discussed a few truths on Satan. The Bible is full of scriptures identifying Satan’s spirit. We can agree, with God’s grace and Christ’s resurrection we become secure in God’s kingdom.

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Who is God?

Who is God” is an immense debated topic among humans. When Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace, a great division emerged. Satan’s corruption in the Garden of Eden hardened the hearts of men.

God defined Himself both in the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is God’s word anchored in His truth. No matter how one may deny this, the reality of God never changes (Hebrews 13:8). Our Father has left His mark on every continent making sure humanity sees His mighty creations.

Escaping God is impossible!

Many books focus on building a personal relationship with God but don’t talk about His nature.

Our first glimpse into God’s undeniable Spirit begins in the first chapter of Genesis. Here we come in contact with God the Creator (Genesis 1:31).

 

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Science tries to explain the origins of life. They spend time and money looking for the answer yet lack in understanding the complexity of a single cell of the human body. Science uncovered fascinating discoveries (DNA) but fails to define the exact nature of life.

Humanity tries to disprove God as the sole creator of life. Throughout history, men use their intelligence against God’s intended purpose of the mind and came up with ridiculous theories of life’s existence. Egyptians and Greeks created false gods and worshiped them with vigorous exertion. God finds no favor with those who place false gods before Him (Exodus 20:2).

Darwinism is a popular view of creation. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is an accepted explanation, and many people believe it’s the truth.

Mr. Darwin thought it was by chance that life is an adaption of change based on environmental factors.

Charles didn’t take into account God’s unique creation of the human soul.

The Lord connected us to Him through our souls. God has shown Himself to everyone, but only His chosen ones understand the truth of creation.

Once Christ anoints you with God’s Spirit, then a miraculous awareness of His presence permeates your mind, heart, and soul. This tremendous connectedness separates you from matters of the world and into the Light of eternal comfort. We are never the same once God embraces us with His love because experiencing His grace is an extraordinary event.

One of the finest illustrations of God’s persona is in the Book of Nahum. God shared with us His disposition. In this book’s first chapter, we come in contact with the Lord’s actions both in punishment and rewards. Those 15 verses explain God’s reactions to the believer and the unsaved soul.

 

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Nahum gives us three outstanding truths and one absolute reality of God’s temperament.  In verse 2 and 3, we learn God doesn’t tolerate wickedness. Here, we see God’s wrath, patience, and mightiness. The Lord is harsh on those who despise His power. No one can hide from God, and those verses show His outlook on defying Him.

Then in verse 7 God shows how pleased He is to His faithful followers. Our Father is eager to offer us with everything needed to live free from the cruel world. This verse gives insight to God’s goodness leaving no doubt His love for humanity.

 
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The Lord gives many insights to His person, and we know this to be true from our experiences with His words. We have discussed a few scriptures describing God’s mindset. The Bible is full of many verses attesting to God’s Spirit. We can agree to grow in the knowledge of Christ places us in the best position in understanding who God is and how we are to obey His commands.

God is remarkable!

 

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Keeping Spiritually Balanced

 

Finding balance in life is challenging. The world places unrealistic expectations on our need to survive and meet its demands. Each of us struggles. No one is immune to the tribulations of living in a world full of uncontrollable circumstances. These predicaments are age-old perplexities and traced back to humanity great fall from God’s grace.

But a powerful solution is available. One greater than humanity. He is called God and through His mercy freedom from the bondage of worldly things emerges.

Christian balance is imperative in living on the narrow way.  Without God’s courage, we can’t stay faithful. Temptations are too strong for us and left to our limited power it’s impossible not to give into sin.

 
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When Jesus died, arose from the dead and ascended into heaven, God made our sanctification reality. And the Holy Spirit keeps us on the road to redemption. Our hope for eternal life rests upon God’s grace and our willingness to live in Christ.

Remember, it’s Christ who brings us spiritual equilibrium in living a saved life.

It’s easy to get to involved in personal activities and slight our daily devotion. Family, careers, friends and other endeavors prevent us from giving Christ our undivided attention. When we stay away from God, we are headed for troubles. We can’t afford to forget the sacrifice God made (the death of His Son) to bring us into His kingdom.

I know how to live isolated from God. When I fell from His grace, it took eleven years before He reopened His door. My complacent faith returned me back into the darkness of unremitting sin. A loneliness unlike any other entered my soul leaving me in constant spiritual turmoil.

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My unnecessary suffering caused by disobedience led me to utter desperation. Then one day I asked for His help, and He showed me mercy. I’m grateful Christ gave me a second chance. And today I do not allow my faith to be inactive. I give Him my best efforts each day. I’m not perfect but by surrendering myself over to His care, everything turns out according to His plan.

Wisdom knows God is the reason we live, and this makes placing personal choices above Him unwise. Faith is a verb and when active opens the door to a Christian strength stronger than God’s enemy. Real faith is setting aside personal by sacrificing individual time to seek God’s will. This faith is favorable to Christ and works under every life circumstances.

Christian action is our mightiest exertion in staying obedient to God. God’s word is full of instructions that need personal effort in living holy. There is a direct link between self-examination, prayer, and meditation. Each one of them brings us spiritual value but when practiced together an unshakeable faith develops, and we draw closer to Christ. It takes discipline and balance to incorporate this crucial God attributes.

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Don’t be mistaken, without an active faith life becomes unbearable and we live in constant sin. Our ancient ancestors the Israelites give testimony to a dead faith and the way God responds to disobedience. God’s truth never changes. Christ is the same today as when He walked on earth. No one can escape God. The Lord holds humans accountable for their actions and is fair in His judgments.

Real balance is relying on Christ in everything we do. Here is where we find the ability to place our personal agenda on the back burner and trust God in every personal affair. Our greatest challenge is letting go of the driver’s seat and let Christ guide us in the way God wants us to handle life’s terms. This approach stops us from failing and keeps us from becoming too elated or pitied over the problems sin creates in a broken world. Remember in times of uncertainty; pause asks God for direction and acts on His commands.

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A Deadly Three Letter Word

The problems we are facing in today’s world isn’t new. Throughout humanity’s history; defying God is well recorded. In Biblical times the way society rejected God’s call and in the New Testament, the Pharisees killed Jesus are facts.

Evilness is held together by a reprobate mind anchored in sin. Often the talk of sin is discounted and swept under the table, but our witness to its destruction is unavoidable. Unconfessed sin and the lack of repentance are the tools God’s enemy uses to destroy a human’s relationship with God. The three letter word sin kills the spirit and without God’s grace leads to damnation.

No one wants to look at the sinful side of their existence. It is painful, full of guilt and a relentless advisory. When Adam and Eve’s sin caused their great fall from God, everything changed. From that point forward every human is born into sin (Romans 5:19). This unpalatable truth permeates the hearts of people and without God’s forgiveness, it kills the soul.

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I know a life centered in darkness. In the past, before God shed His grace on my life, sin dominated my heart. Sin consumed my behaviors causing others to avoid me. My language full of filthiness and my actions cemented in selfishness. Dishonesty, resentment, and fear destroyed my heart leading to a hopeless existence. I hated living and wanted to die.

God saved me and opened my eyes to a life beyond sin. Once Christ took my spirit, then I saw the world through faith’s eyes. God awakened me to the fruitlessness of sin and into the eternal hope of salvation. Now I understand Christ’s outlook on sin and the significance for repentance. I’m grateful for God’s mercy and the sacrifice Christ made so I can live an eternal life.

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Unbelievers are quick to defy God because they watch Christians living in sin. They use this to disprove God’s existence. God’s chosen ones understand the subtle ways of sin.

Real faith knows sin is always present. A Christian life isn’t the absent of sin. It’s by God’s grace a sinner is saved and given Christ the conqueror of evil. And once Christ opens the door to God’s kingdom then repentance keeps sin from taking over the heart of a believer. Remember spiritual warfare never ceases because God’s enemy always searches for a weakness in a believer’s armor. Trust in Christ and see the impossible- the remission of sins.

A Christian’s life may appear to full of sin. To a degree, it’s true, but God doesn’t leave us without a way to live free from its bondage. Our Father gives us the opportunity to take from His Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22). He anoints us with Holy Spirit and allows Christ to wash clean the spiritual filth sin leaves on a person’s soul. This great revelation isn’t without responsibility for we must be active in repenting and live a holy life.

God’s good news is Christ gives us eternal hope. The way to stay in remission from sin is picking up our cross and walking with Christ. The Lord takes notice when our cross is heavy, and we turn to Christ’s strength for the strength to overcome its burdens. With Christ’s courage, we never lack the spiritual muscle necessary to turn away from sin. Remember we are never alone!

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Sin is necessary to understand. God wants me to know how disgusted He is with disobedience. But His mercy leads me to the freedom Christ brings to His faithful believers. Unconfessed sin causes friction between God and us. It’s imperative for me to repent the moment I realize my sin. No matter how I try to side-step sin, it always circles back. I’m grateful God showed me my sins!      If-we-say-that-we-have

Enjoying God’s Natural Surroundings

Everything God made is incredible. He is an excellent creator, and we are blessed to witness His marvelous creativity. Even though original sin caused us suffering, He surrounded us with a stunning natural setting appealing to our eyes.

Nature is full of God’s remarkable imprints. No matter what natural setting you prefer, God created it for your enjoyment. Finding joy in God’s other creations isn’t by accident but by His design. Our Father left us an abundance of other creatures, mountains, oceans and forests for pleasure.

It’s tough for me to narrow down a single choice from God’s enormous creations. I enjoy watching nature, and it always lifts my spirits. Sunsets and harvest moons are pleasant to experience bringing joy to my day and night. Dolphins are fascinating. When I’m around mountains, it captures my attention, and I enjoy their incredible scenery.

Evolutionists try their best to discount God the Creator. Charles Darwin had doubts but published his theory of evolution. Random chance and mutations are his claims for life.

Even if Darwin had the advances in today’s modern science, it still doesn’t explain the organized design from living organisms. The complexity of DNA and cell development are beyond human comprehension, and God hasn’t shown humans everything. He has mysteries unknown to us. And it’s in His creation of nature that has left His mark on every continent and body of water.

The evidence of God is everywhere. He allows us to enjoy our stay on earth by exposing us to supernatural powers. Every flower, insect, creature and cosmic events prove His existence. Isn’t God terrific!

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

Are you enjoying God’s creations?

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Joyful Deliverance

In my past, a joyful existence was elusive. I lived apart from God and in total darkness. Life involved chasing after short-lived experiences grounded in personal pleasures. Sin dominated my soul causing nothing but trouble.  Self-searching motives a normal occurrence anchoring a life of selfishness. No matter what the world offered, it couldn’t fill the emptiness inside my spirit.

Living life on my willpower caused unrelenting suffering. I thought happiness came from a whisky bottle but the more I got drunk an unshakable despair unfolded. Sexual immorality brought the same results. Everything I used to fill the spiritual void in my life drove me deeper into the black hole of hopelessness. This reckless lifestyle brought me to my knees.

It brings me great joy to share God saved me. I no longer live in sin and Christ delivered me from evil. Freed from the bondage of self and into God’s grace. This connection with God is a joyous occasion. The Lord makes life a happy and enlightening experience.

Since hearing God’s calling and repenting for my sins, a new outlook on joy emerged. I can’t find a better enjoyment of life than the one I receive from devoting myself to Christ. His presence brings me the greatest satisfaction. This profound spiritual consciousness keeps me seeking God and continues making me joyful!

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)

Have you found joy in God?

The Wisdom of Fearing God

Fearing God is found throughout the Bible. The Old and New Testaments tells us to fear God. And for good reason. Contained within God’s Book are many examples of the way he disciplines disobedience.

God wrath isn’t subtle. He gives us every opportunity to repent. The Old Testament is full of God’s patience in allowing the Israelites to change their sinful ways and live in obedience. The Lord was fair with them before acting on His judgment for their defiance. And God has given us their recorded history to remind us the penalty for disobedience.

When God delivered Christ to the world, this changed the way He deals with unfaithful actions. Jesus is God’s last covenant with humanity and without believing in Christ, no one will enter heaven. Once a believer places faith in Christ; then the wisdom of fearing God becomes understood.

The fear of God isn’t one that pushes us away from Him. It draws us closer to Christ because the knowledge of God’s judgment becomes real. Christ is the one who teaches us the way God will handle unbelievers, and the Book of Revelation is the blueprint to God’s final judgment. Don’t be mistaken; everyone one will face Christ’s verdict.

The good news is fearing God paves the way for our eternal inheritance. God shows us through Christ the rewards for following His commands. Our Father makes sure we have a place in heaven. We are fortunate to be chosen by God!

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7)

Do you fear God?