REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on September 11, 2014; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 (ESV)
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
In modern Christianity, the reverence for God has largely been forgotten; overshadowed almost completely by our belief that God is solely love. Due to this imbalance, we enter into worship very casually and we speak vows without meaning them.
In contrast, Solomon tells us to enter into the house of God with guarded steps and to heed every word that we utter. As we are reminded in the book of Hebrews, God is a consuming fire. Indeed, fire is an apt description of God: It is beautiful, yet deadly. It is fascinating to see the power of fire as it literally consumes without mercy everything it touches. It can be a destructive force but at the same time, it is beautiful and warm. The colors are magnificent and the flames keep you warm and comfortable. Fire is necessary to heat our houses, to cook our food, and bring light into the dark night. Who hasn’t been in awe of a blazing fire while camping? And so God can be likened with this scenario. He is beautiful and warm but still mysterious. He can make your life complete and worth living, but His power and might cannot be tamed.
Some would say the God of the Gospel is different, but there is something about Jesus that should be feared and should bring a measure of dread into the believer’s heart. In The Chronicles of Narnia, the Lion Aslan, who is the figure of Christ, is described as Good but not Safe.
In exactly the same way, the salvation that has been won for us through the gospel should invoke our appreciation for God’s goodness but also a healthy dose of fear and reverence. R.R Reno in his book Fear of the Lord gives us this to take away: “The created nature of the human person remains forever distinct from the divine nature of the Holy Trinity. This chasm is bridged by grace but never eliminated.” This analogy might help: When we walk across a bridge, we may enjoy with confidence that the engineers have done a good job, and the span will not collapse – and yet, who does not feel a hint of terror when looking over the edge and into the depths of the ocean below?
For a moment, imagine your life without the grace of God and falling into the deep waters of God’s judgment. The cross is the only secure pathway across this chasm, and Christ, who holds all the mysteries of the wisdom of God, is our only faithful guide. Seek him and follow him closely.
Prayer: Father, give us a deeper revelation of who You are, so that we would not be paralyzed by an unbiblical fear nor take Your grace for granted by living as we please. Help us to see that Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb, our King as well as our perfect sacrifice. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Esther 4
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 5:1-5 (ESV): But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
Questions to Consider
- Why were Ananias and his wife Sapphira judged in such a seemingly harsh manner?
- What sin were they found guilty of?
- How can you learn to live in holy fear and reverence of God?
- Commentators suggest that Ananias and Sapphira were judged harshly because it was a case of God making an example of them, to ensure a healthy level of fear for the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, first sins in new situations are often judged quickly and severely. Some would say that Ananias was just in the wrong place and time.
- Although this does not seem like a crime punishable by death, nevertheless, Ananias and Sapphira both conspired to lie to the church. This was a sin of pride and of self-righteousness. They wanted people to notice what they did. They thought they were lying only to people, but they were actually lying to the Holy Spirit.
- Personal response
Are you grieving the Holy Spirit in any way? Is there unrepentant sin in your life? If so, take time to pray for the mercy of God to be renewed in your life.
Pray also for the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to live in greater holiness and obedience to God.