One of the commands given over and over in the Bible is to fear God. There are dozens of very cool blessings that God promises to those who fear Him.
Deuteronomy 8:6 Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.
Psalms 25:12-14 Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.
Psalms 33:18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness,
Psalms 34:7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.
Psalms 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
The fear of the Lord is simply acknowledging that God created us, not we ourselves, that God determines what is right and what is wrong, not us, and it is God who decides the reward for doing right and the consequence for our doing wrong. It seems so easy to defer to the God that spoke everything into existence, but the world is so blatant in their rebellion against God that it begins to influence us to begin to question God’s rules.
In the morning when I Pray my prayer of commitment I say, ” You are God, all powerful, You are in charge of my life, today I will serve and obey You.”
A good friend died unexpectedly this past week. We went to High School and College together, climbed Mt Adams together, went on double dates together, and played basketball together. He was in my wedding, and was responsible for totally trashing my car during the reception. He was a good man who lived well and glorified Jesus by his life. We didn’t see each other much in the last 40 years after I moved to Jefferson to Pastor, just a couple times a year when we went to Trout Lake to see my family. I haven’t done a formal counting, but I am getting close to having as many friends and family in heaven as I have here on earth. I often wonder about details of life after death. Of all those who I know well the person I am most looking forward to seeing is my Dad, and I wonder what he will look like. Will he look like he did when he died or when he was 18? In my photos on my iPad I have a picture of him when he was about 65, and one of him and mom when they were married, and one of him when he was about 18 years old. I think I will recognize him no matter what he looks like. I wonder, will he be waiting for me like someone at an airport or will I have to hunt him up because he is so busy? One thing for sure that I recognize as we drive to the Memorial service is that my faith in Jesus and confidence in the resurrection and eternal life with ultimate happiness is a great foundation to live on .
We as people are very easily confused on values, we will often think something worthless is worth a lot, and something that has great value, we hardly notice. I read a book years ago by the title, ” Who Switched the Price Tags” which went into depth on this very common problem that people have. I talked with a man who had poured his life into making his business successful so he would have enough money to provide his family with all that they needed and wanted, but now that they were adults none of them talked to him. He confessed to me that he realized to late what was really important in life. “Realizing to late what is really important in life”, what a sad statement. I have been gone for 2 weeks fishing in Alaska, a very enjoyable time for sure. I got home at midnight and today went to our church’s annual baptism, and listened to 18 people share how their lives have been changed by Jesus Christ and watched as they were baptized, publicly showing their commitment to Christ. Wow, 2 weeks of the best fishing couldn’t come close to touching this. Dear Lord, please help me not to lose the ability to know what is eternally valuable and what is temporary and dust.
This morning we are packing all our stuff into one carry on bag and we will all have a 50 pound fish box with frozen fish that we will check on. When we get home tonight about 10:00 pm it will still be frozen. Because I went on a Halibut charter I will have two boxes, one of Halibut and one of Sockeye salmon. The first box is free and the second one will be $25, a pretty good price for 100 pounds of super tasting fish. I love coming on these Alaska fishing trips, this is my 22 consecutive year of coming to Alaska in July to fish for Sockeye Salmon and Halibut, buts I am always super glad to go home after the week or so that we are up here. It is amazing how long it seems we have been here and at the same time how quickly the time has gone. I always go home very, very tired because I hardly sleep while we are up here because I want to fish as much as possible, but I also go home very, very refreshed emotionally, fishing does that to me. If I live to be 90 years old and can still think clearly, and am reasonably healthy, I will still be making goals, doing ministry, thinking up crazy things to do, writing a blog, and fishing.
One of the hardest things for many followers of Jesus is to live a successful life that is a balanced life in the sense of God’s part and our part in living life and bearing fruit. Paul says in the New Testament, “I don’t consider anything as coming from myself, but my adequacy is from God”, and Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing”. But Paul also writes, “run the race with endurance”, “exercise self control in every area of your life”, “be faithful”, and on the list goes. So, I change the oil in my car so it will last, and I steward my body and health so it will last. I ask God for His strength, wisdom, and guidance every morning, and at the end of the day I thank Him for everything. At the same time I make “to do lists”, goals, I work hard, and I go fishing. I want very much to hear Jesus say, “well done, good and faithful servant”.
As a result of getting older I have more aches and pains, and a growing number of physical and health issues and challenges, that is life. Dealing with those is part of the character building process that God has designed so that we grow and become like Christ in character.
Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
A requirement for us to grow as a result of God’s orchestrating the circumstances of our life is that we rejoice always and grumble about nothing.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
That is hard to do, life wears us out, and the strength, self-control and positive attitude needed to rejoice about everything and grumble about nothing is greatly lacking in us. A key for me is to focus on the future, set my mind on eternity with Christ, on heaven, especially on my new body that will be like that of Jesus.
Philippians 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
If there was a stream, River, or lake that I knew without a doubt had no fish in it, I wouldn’t fish in it. I fish to catch fish, seems reasonable to me. But you can catch trout in a swimming pool with a bamboo rod with 6 ft of monofilament line tied to the end with a hook and worm on the end of it. I wouldn’t fish in that swimming pool, though I would take my grandkids to fish in it. For fishing really to be fishing there has to be the challenge factor, it has to be hard to catch the fish if it is going to be really enjoyable. That is an attitude that needs to be developed, we aren’t born with it, we are born with the attitude that says, “easy and quick“. Some trips to the Kenai River there are salmon rolling everywhere and catching a limit is easy and quick, but more often than not, there are some but not a lot and it takes hours per fish. Many fisherman faced with the second scenario just quit, and come back when the fishing is quick and easy. With fishing it isn’t that big of a deal, but the problem is that many have this attitude in life, and in life the principle is consistently, “the more important it is the harder it is”, always.
Relationships take lots of self discipline, sacrifice, and humility to be healthy and growing. As I memorize the book of Philippians and read it every day in preparation for the series that I am teaching this Fall on the book I keep running into amazing principles on relationship success. This passage gives a clear command and principle, but very difficult to obey, but if successfully practiced would result in very close and meaningful relationships.
Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,”
Have the same attitude as Jesus😳, you have to be kidding me, can I do that!?! The great thing about being a Christ follower is He gives these impossible to keep commands, and then gives us the power to keep them if we make the commitment to obey Him. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but as we pursue obedience we grow in maturity and Christ likeness every day. Which brings up another amazing blessing as a fully devoted follower of Jesus, He forgives us over and over again as we fail and fall in our pursuit of righteousness.
I have been trying to put this principle into practice with the people that we interact with while fishing. Many of them are very difficult for a variety of reasons, and all I really want to do is fish, but when you fish with other people there is always a rub, so, I say to myselfrepeatedly, “Act like Jesus”, “act like Jesus”, “act like Jesus”.