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Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Importance of Fear

Why so many Scriptures Tell Us to Fear the Lord

I wonder if modern Christians, myself included, truly understand what it means to have a godly fear of the Lord. 

While generations past may have focused too strongly on the wrath of God, I fear that we modern Christians have ignored it.

We've created a god in our own image who is too soft and permissive to fear.

Those who reject Jesus have every reason to fear God in the way criminals fear honest policemen and godly judges.

Romans 1:18: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness...

Hebrews 10:31: It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  

As Christians we no longer need to fear God's wrath.

1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

But we haven't forgotten that wrath is a very real aspect of His character. And we aren't ashamed to admit it (Jeremiah 9:23-25).

Holy fear inspires reverence, love, assurance, comfort, contentment, and peace. 

But it also inspires obedience, commitment, and a deep respect for every aspect of God's character - including His holy wrath.

Godly fear teaches us we're in no position to judge God's actions, argue with His Word, or ignore His commands because He is perfectly, fearfully wise and just. 
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Bible Study
Using the passages below, create 2 lists: the benefits of fearing God and the characteristics of fearing God. For example, a benefit of fearing God found in Psalm 25:12 is receiving God's instruction and a characteristic of fearing God found in Psalm 33:18 is that we hope in God's unfailing love. Some passages will have both benefits and characteristics.

Psalm 25:12: Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. 

Psalm 31:19: How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

Why so many Scriptures Tell Us to Fear the Lord
Psalm 33:18: But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love...

Psalm 34:7: The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalm 34:9: Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.

Psalm 85:9: Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Psalm 103:11: for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him... 

Psalm 112:1: Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.

Psalm 115:11: You who fear him, trust in the LORD-- he is their help and shield.

Psalm 115:13: He will bless those who fear the LORD-- small and great alike.

Psalm 128:1: Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.

Psalm 145:19: He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Psalm 147:11: the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. 

Note: Remember that Proverbs are not promises unless they are restated as such in other books of the Bible (See Proverbs Aren't Promises). For example, the first proverb below is a promise confirmed elsewhere (e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:18) but the second proverb below is a wise saying (i.e. godly people sometimes die young). But we can still glean a spiritual principle from Proverbs 10:27 regarding the quality of a godly person's life.

Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge

Proverbs 10:27: The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.

Proverbs 14:26-27: Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Proverbs 15:16: Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.

Why so many Scriptures Tell Us to Fear the Lord
Proverbs 19:23: The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Proverbs 22:4: Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.  

Proverbs 28:14: Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

Ecclesiastes 7:18: Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13:  Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

Isaiah 33:6:  He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure. 

Note: Don't you love the passage below? God calls those who fear Him His "treasured possession."

Malachi 3:16-17:  Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.

Malachi 4:2: But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

Luke 1:50:  His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

Revelation 11:18:  The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth. 

copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dealing with Subtle Forms of Bitterness

Dealing with Subtle Forms of Bitterness

Recently, I realized I was bitter. 

Typically, I think of a bitter person as gritting their teeth with hatred, guilty of epicaricacy

Epicaricacy means "Rejoicing at or deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others."

That’s definitely the worst stage of bitterness. 

But there are lesser forms of bitterness that manifest as sadness, discouragement, irritability, and negativity. If we don’t deal with them, they can turn into "grit-your-teeth" bitterness.

Some subtle signs of bitterness:

1. Thinking about the offense often.

2. Having arguments with the offender in our thoughts. 

Regarding thoughts: studies show that our normal rate of talking is 120 words a minute, but we can think at a rate of 1300 words a minute. In 5 minutes, we can fill our minds with massive amounts of negativity. 
See The Power of Negative Self-Talk.

3. Repeatedly referring to our offense in conversations.

4. Making sarcastic remarks about our offender. 

Regarding our words: Matthew 12:35: "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him."

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Realizing I was guilty of some of these subtle forms of bitterness, I determined to do these things:

1. Every time I think of the offense, I’ll pray for my offender. 

Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 

See Set Your Mind or Set Your Alarm

Dealing with Subtle Forms of Bitterness
2. When a thought about the offense enters my mind, I’ll recite or read Scripture.  

2 Corinthians 10:3-5: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

See 3 Ways to Take Your Thoughts Captive.

3. Once I’ve shared the offense with my prayer partner, I won’t repeatedly talk about it.

Philippians 4:8-9: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

See Overcoming Negativity

4. I won’t make sarcastic or caustic remarks about the person.

Colossians 4:6: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 

See If You Can't Say Anything Nice, Do What Mom Said.


If you have any of these subtle signs of bitterness, I encourage you to deal with your bitterness now. 

Dealing with Subtle Forms of Bitterness

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Have Christians Become Gospelphobes?

Have Christians Become Gospelphobes?

When Christians address the sins of gossip, dishonesty, or selfishness, no one accuses us of being gossipphobes, liarphobes, or narcissistphobes. 

Nor do they accuse us of hating gossips, liars, or narcissists.  

But when Christians address the sins of homosexuality or transgenderism, no matter how lovingly it’s done, we’re called homophobes and haters.  

Why?  

Because our culture still disapproves of gossip, lying, and selfishness, but they consider homosexuality and transgenderism legitimate, healthy lifestyles.

Unfortunately, many Christians are buckling under the pressure to conform, afraid to mention these sins and ashamed of those who do.  

Scripture teaches that sexual sins are more damaging to individuals and communities than other sins, but our culture thinks man can decide what's right and wrong.(1)  

Dear Christians, are we going to love God and mankind enough to unashamedly share the whole gospel?  

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes..."  Romans 1:16  
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(1) This attitude caused national deterioration and multiple hardships to the Israelites during the time of judges (Judges 17:6).  

Bible Study

People like to call Christians names like homophobe, but our real problem may be that we're Gospelphobes
1. Our attitude toward God's Word - both the easy parts and the hard parts - is an indication of our devotion to Christ.

Mark 8:38: For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels. 

2. There are times when sharing God's Word is easy and times when it's difficult.

2 Timothy 4:1-2: In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 

3. The prevalent attitude of people today is not unlike that in the time of judges: people did what they decided was right.

Judges 17:6: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. 

4. This is a good passage to memorize and remember whenever we feel pressured to bend to the views of culture.

Romans 1:16: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." 

copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com