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Nehemiah 7:2 . . .I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he [was] a faithful man, and feared God above many.


The worship of God is often presented in two different ways in the Bible. One way is to “fear God.” The other way is to “call upon God.” Fear is often defined as reverential trust and we often hear that fear does not carry the idea of being afraid. However, in my studies I have found fear to involve terror and trembling at times. Since a Christian is “in Christ” we certainly do not fear the judgment of God. So when new or old testament saints feared God, they apparently understood their accountability to Him. They also understood that since He was in control, there were consequences if they disobeyed Him. Some men fear idols, but a Christian fears God as revealed in Christ. Our fear should include concern about not living a thankful life in view of His expression of love for us at the cross.

One who calls upon God is one who prays to God. Again, some pray to idols. A Christian prays to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In our passage, dependability is linked to the fear of God. Apparently, there are different levels of “fear” and those different levels of fear lead to different levels of “dependability”. We see some in our day who say that they are saved or are born again but who do not live a devoted life to the Lord and, in spiritual things, they are completely undependable. Their word is not good, their business practices are questionable, their commitment to the corporate worship of the Lord comes right after the ball games, their family commitments and vacations, their camping trips, their need to “sleep in” and so on. I have asked myself, “If the fear of the Lord is seen by my dependability, where do I rank? Can I be entrusted with spiritual responsibility by the Lord and will He know that I will faithfully carry it out?” If the corporate world is looking for loyalty and dependability, should the Lord expect less?

The only truly faithful person who ever lived on this earth of course was the Lord Himself. He “finished the work” that He was given to do (John 17:4). While we don’t live up to that standard, wouldn’t it be nice to hear the Lord say to others (and perhaps through others), “I could depend on him (or her)? When I give them something to do, they do it faithfully. Their love and devotion is obvious by the way that they serve me. When I ask them to do something, I have never heard them say, ‘Do I have to?’ They always seem to want to!”

Week of August 1, 2004

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days (days of adversity) come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (adversity): for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.


Days of adversity are a part of life. When things are going well, it is hard to believe that there might be difficult days ahead. God says, “Plan for the days of adversity so that when they come you will have Me with you in them.” Insurance companies get us to buy insurance against the “evil day” but most people forget about their souls when they are planning ahead. The Lord does not sell life insurance but He will provide eternal life assurance for those who want it. Scripture is clear that we are not ready live until we are ready to die.

My mother-in-law has been a hard worker all of her life and has enjoyed reasonably good health. She lost her husband twenty years ago and has lived independently since then. Today she is in a beautiful room provided by Hospice because the days of adversity have come. At 88 years of age she has cancer and is no longer able to care for herself. We moved her into our home a week ago but she is now so weak that Hospice care is a real blessing for her and for us.

As a teenager, she made preparation for this day. She found eternal life assurance by believing God when He made the promise in Isaiah 53:6 that although we had all sinned and gone astray turning to our own way, “the LORD hath laid on him (Christ) the iniquity of us all.” Because this was written 700 years before the events occurred, we who read the promise today can be sure that the Lord Jesus has borne the punishment that we deserve because of our sin. Her trust in this promise is what has given my mother-in-law and her family peace in the “day of adversity”.

David’s valley in Psalm 23 may have been the valley of Elah where he fought the giant Goliath. He was the uncircumcised Philistine who defied the armies of the living God in 1 Samuel 17. David went down into the valley and met the enemy. He came out victorious because of His confidence in the living God. We often apply his experience in Psalm 23 to the last enemy that we face which is death (1 Corinthians 15:26). When the “evil days come” preparation needs to have been before engaging the enemy. We can be so occupied with fighting the last battle that our minds may not be able to think clearly about spiritual issues at that time.

I am glad my mother-in-law prepared for this day when her mind was clear. She has nothing to look forward to down here, but she can look forward to being with the Lord and she is going to enjoy the glories of being part of His bride for ever.


Week of August 8, 2004

2 Samuel 24:24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.


Last week I had a friend help me move some things from one storage building to another. In order to thank him, I offered him a lawn trimmer that I no longer wanted and that had been given to me. When he didn’t want that, I offered him some unbroken bags of sand that had been left in the storage unit. He politely refused that gift as well. I jokingly told him later, “I want to give you something to thank you, but I don’t want it to cost me anything.” Sometimes I wonder if I show my thanksgiving to God in the same way. Many of us give to the Lord that which we no longer want or can no longer use. If the Lord spoke directly to us today, He might politely refuse some of our “gifts” just as my friend refused mine.

King David was a true worshipper of God. He obviously wanted to please God and yet he made the mistake of counting the people in Israel who were able to fight in his army. Instead of depending on God, he was depending on numbers. God held him accountable for what he had done and because of this sin, 70,000 men in Israel died from disease. The angel stopped his destruction at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite and David was told by Gad the prophet to offer a sacrifice there. Araunah wanted to give David the threshing floor and the necessary oxen but David would not offer something which did not cost him. So he bought the threshing floor and the oxen and later this became the place where the temple was built.

Considering the resources that David had, the price of the threshing floor and the oxen likely weren’t a major sacrifice for him, and I do take comfort in that. But he wanted to pay so that His sacrifice would be meaningful. I think we need to think about that the next time the Lord asks us to do something that is inconvenient, or perhaps more costly than our usual ten percent or perhaps just doesn’t fit in with what we want to do. Maybe this should start with us presenting our bodies “a living sacrifice” and having our minds transformed as we are admonished in Romans 12:1-2. We need to give ourselves to the Lord and not just give of ourselves. While salvation is a free gift, saying thanks with something that has cost us gives reality to our worship.

Week of August 15, 2004

Psalm 30:5 Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.


Darkness is associated with Satan and evil in the Bible. John tells us that “men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).” Paul reminds us in Romans 13:12 that, “the night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” The church age seems to be the dark part of this current dispensational day when the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) is working overtime to keep men and women from the True Light. The day is about to dawn when Christ will come and set up His kingdom and then the Son who is represented by the sun will shine in all His splendor. There will be joy for those who have presently been delivered from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

There is a lot of sorrow in the darkness. Remember Mary Magdalene at the tomb of the Lord Jesus in John 20? She was weeping because the Lord had not only died a most cruel death but now it appeared that someone had stolen the body. What joy she must have had when she realized that the One who spoke her name was not the gardener but the resurrected Lord. Weeping was for the night when men had their way and the Lord was crucified. Joy came in the morning when the Lord was raised from the dead.

It always seems rather dark before we are able to trust the Lord for salvation. We find that our sins bother us and we can’t seem to understand how to be sure we are saved. Then the true light of the Word of God opens our eyes as we realize that Christ did indeed die to save us. True joy comes at the beginning of a new day spiritually as we are born again by trusting the Lord (John 1:12-13).

There is no joy associated with lowering someone into a freshly dug grave but there is joy in knowing that the resurrection morning is coming when the grave will be powerless to keep the body committed to it. When we seem to be traveling uphill and the wind is in our faces in stead of at our backs, when we think Murphy’s law is operating overtime (which says that if anything can go wrong it will), then is when we who are saved need to remember that things are going to get better. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.


Week of August 22, 2004

2 Samuel 23:11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.

2 Samuel 23:12 But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.


King David’s mighty men proved their loyalty, devotion and faithfulness while David was rejected and fleeing from Saul. They became his “mighty men” and were the leaders that he depended on when he finally became King. The Lord Jesus is presently rejected by the world at large and the Lord is looking for those who are loyal, devoted and faithful now to help Him administer His future Kingdom. I believe this is one way that the Lord rewards the faithful when He comes the second time to reign. (See Matthew 16:27, Mark 9:41, 1 Corinthians 3:14). This passage pictures a new testament Christian who faithfully defends a small portion of the Truth that has been committed to us.

Today, many churches say that they won’t deal with doctrine because it is divisive. But the new testament saints continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine according to Acts 2:42. The Gospel involves the doctrines of sin, salvation, sanctification, justification, and resurrection along with other teachings. I sometimes wonder how much of the Truth of Scripture we are willing to defend today. Churches have differing views on what faith in Christ means and how to obtain it. They have differing views on baptism, on the early new testament gifts (or graces), on church doctrine and on eternal security. This must be confusing to those who are uninstructed in Spiritual things because it is confusing to me. The One Spirit who wants unified Christians with one faith, one Lord and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5) surely can’t be leading us to differing conclusions. So I have to ask myself, what do I really believe and am I willing to defend that even if I have to do it alone? It appears Shammah was alone in his defense of the patch of lentils since the people were fleeing from the enemy.

Most of us have spiritual preferences rather than Biblical convictions because it is considered intolerant to be definite about Biblical Truth today. Rather than trying to get a Biblical understanding of Truth, most of us have thrown up our hands and said that we just won’t deal with those things where Christians differ. This has left the church at large giving up ground or Truth and starving its people because anything that is taught that might be controversial is considered “off limits”. Instead of reading the Bible, we have started reading popular books about the Bible which are often aimed at what people want instead of telling people what they need. We have resorted to what “I think” rather than depending on what “God said”. I realize that we need to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and that is a subject that needs to be taught. However, we are called to be witnesses in Acts 1 and a witness only tells what he or she knows. Witnesses are not responsible for what they don‘t know. While we shouldn’t live in ignorance and hope that solves the problem, we should be willing to defend the Truth that we do understand, even if we have to do it alone. Otherwise, the enemy wins in this day when Biblical Christianity is being attacked even by those who claim to be Christians. 


Week of August 29, 2004