Why I’m not afraid of God.

Stone Christian CrossI grew up in a Christian  family and had a lot of exposure to God, Jesus, prayer, bible reading & Sunday school.  For several years though, during my teens, I ran from it and wanted nothing to do with Church or Christians.  I remember being in my high and lofty teens looking down on the idea of God and religion.  I thought at the time that rational thinking didn’t really support a world view with God in it.  There were too many loop holes, too many un-provable claims. I also had trouble with the example set by those I loved and trusted.  The corruption that showed up in my own family was almost too much to overcome.  I was really angry and like so many people, I was hiding behind the excuse of “Victim”.  What I didn’t really consider at the time though, was that the seeds had already been planted in my heart and were already in there, growing.  And truth be told, I had already seen too much.  I could not really deny that God existed because I had already seen Him working in my life on many occasions when I was younger.

When I first made the commitment to God for myself, I was 17 years old.  I remember praying to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior in late October 1985.  My uncle led me and some of my friends in that life changing prayer.  I had prayed that same prayer before more than once. This time the difference was that I meant it.  I received that night with all of my heart.  When I look back I can see that I received for three reasons.

  • First was the example of my uncle.  While many of my relatives are Christians, he stepped up like no other. He showed me love and support when it seemed like I had no one else.  He was the best man I knew, and he was the real deal when it came to his faith.  As Christians, we should all aspire to be this kind of influence in the lives of others.  He has set a pretty high benchmark for me and I am committed to make sure he wasn’t wasting his time.
  • Second, I had come to the end of myself.  Everything in my life seemed to have gone wrong at once.  In my young man’s perspective, I thought I had no where to go.  I know as an adult that no distress lasts forever, but I didn’t see that then.  Rev. Marvin Yoder, the Dean of Rhema Bible Training Center while I was attending, has a saying. “Today is not a life sentence”. That’s good advise when you’re being pressed between the rock and the hard place and it seems like nothing is going right.  At that time in my life, I couldn’t see. I was stuck and didn’t have any vision.

    The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

    That’s where I was.  Without vision.  I called out to God because I was losing hope.  It’s interesting how “Open” to the idea of God people get when they are out of options.  I was no exception.  Sadly, He could have been helping all along.

  • Third was the teaching and example of my parents when I was young.  The seeds of truth about God had been planted in my heart from an early age.  It wasn’t just the teaching though, it was the example.  When I was young, my parents lived what they believed in front of me.  I saw that God was real to them and they formed and strengthened in me a reverence for God that was there even when I was trying to pretend He didn’t exist.

I didn’t fully understand what I had done that night.  All I knew was that I was serious about it.  I had a strong conviction that God was not interested in hurting me, but that He really wanted to be a part of my life. It took me years to understand that the entire Salvation plan, the whole thing, from the animal skins in the garden to the covenant with Abraham, to Jesus bleeding & dying on the cross, it was all His idea; and it was all for the purpose of bringing me closer to Him and clothing me with His goodness.  Wow!

The Bible says in Isaiah (BBE)

48:17 The Lord who takes up your cause, the Holy One of Israel, says, I am the Lord your God, who is teaching you for your profit, guiding you by the way in which you are to go.  48:18 If only you had given ear to my orders, then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea:

Very often when people see the word Profit, they immediately begin to think in terms of money & wealth building.  The word Profit used in verse 17 is the word Ya’al.     יעל  ya‛al  yaw-al’  It’s a root word in Hebrew that means to ascend with the connotation of “in a good way”. To profit.  A simple way to say it is “Increase” but not just in the financial area.  He teaches us to increase in every good way. Family, relationships, growing up spiritually, on the job, health, peace, so many areas.  Again – all His idea.  This is not man looking for God and God saying “Well, I suppose if you don’t act stupid, or embarrass me in front of the angels, I suppose you can worship me”.  No!  While we were lost and dying, He came to us.  God’s loves you and has taken up your cause. 

2 Cor 5:19 says that God is not imputing our trespasses unto us.  The word impute isn’t a word you hear very often but the Greek word used here literally means to take inventory, to count, to estimate, or to reckon.  God is not doing that to you.  Can you just imagine – clipboard in hand – “On August 22nd, 1972 at 11:34 A.M. you hit your sister.  On August 22nd 1972 at 11:36 A.M. you lied to your mother and said you didn’t hit your sister”.  No! No! Thank God, No!  His heart toward you is full of good!  He’s not taking inventory of all of the times that we’ve blown it. 

Finally, I need to point out Isaiah 48:18 though.  God is saying “If you would only listen to me…Then you would have peace like a river.  So many people think that God will do what ever He wants in our lives and they don’t understand why He doesn’t seem to get as involved as they would like Him to.  After all, He’s God! He’s all powerful.  Right?  But they fail to understand that He created us with a choice.  We can choose to reject Him.  Many do, without saying so.  They just always have to do it their way.  He says “Look!  If you would just listen to me and do what I’m telling you, man – you would have peace all up in here!  You could stack the awesomeness 5 high”.  What I want you to take away is this – God is for us, not against us.  It’s us who are usually acting as our own enemy.  We hurt ourselves when we don’t listen to His wisdom.  We think He’s trying to ruin our fun but what He’s really doing is plotting our course around disaster.  Here’s an assignment for us this week.  Daily pray Col 1:9-11 over yourself in the 1st person.

Col 1:9 b  Father, I ask you to fill me with the knowledge of your will through every kind of spiritual wisdom and insight.

Col 1:10 I ask this so that I will live the kind of life that prove I belong to you Lord. Then I will want to please you in every way as I grow in producing every kind of good work by this knowledge about You, God.

Col 1:11 I ask you to strengthen me by your glorious might with all the power I need to patiently endure everything with joy.
-(God’s Word Translation – 1st person edit)

 

 

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