Living In God’s Presence

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“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).
There are two reactions that we can make as we live in the presence of God.  The first is irreverence and the second is reverence and godly fear.
Leonard Pitts Jr. illustrates irreverence when he wrote exposing Jeffrey Darnell Paul who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. as a “playa” holding up $100 dollar bills while a scantily clad women looked on.  Pitts wrote, “Irreverence is not the liberating of the American mind, but the calcifying of the American heart against anything sacred” (Jan. 16, 2012, Columbus Dispatch).
-Irreverence leads to the death of civility.
-Irreverence produces a tyranny all its own.  A ban against holding up anything above the fray, or regarding anything as too sacred for too long.
-Irreverence violates the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).  When we mock and ridicule leaders that deserve our respect, then we lower the bar for everyone.
Cindy Brandt gives some examples of irreverence in Irreverence is the New Reverence (Huffington Post, 7/22/2014).  First, Nadia Bolz-Weber, minister of a Lutheran Church in Denver, CO, who is heavily tatted and foul-mouthed.  An obvious example of the “double-minded” (James 1:8) who mocks her own religion with her faulty character.  Second, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary (a female) whose voice contains crude humor and who quoted God as using profanity.  She mocks the holiness of God with such depictions.  Third, some Facebook pages: “Unvirtuous Abbey”; “Stuff Christian Cultures Like” which is a page that exists solely to brutally mock Christian culture.
-Irreverence manifests impiety towards God.
-Irreverence consists of disrespectful attitudes and actions.
-Irreverence toward God is blasphemy.
-Irreverence is disregard for the authority and character of a superior.  There is no higher authority than God.
Reverence is respect for the authority and character of those who are superior in rank or position.
Reverence for God combines the fear of God with the love of God.  Reverence for God involves an understanding of His power to punish the evil-doer, but, also, His great love and mercy toward them that love Him.
Reverence is indispensable to true religion.  Charles Simmons rightly observed that, “Reverence is the very first element of religion; it cannot but be felt by every one who has right views of the divine greatness and holiness, and of his own character in the sight of God” (Christianity Then and Now, Jan. 1, 2012).
There are several glimpses of reverence in God’s Word.  Each involves a deep sense of understanding that we live in the presence of God.
Moses’ call to the prophetic office is given in Exodus 3:1-6.  Moses sees the burning bush and is instructed to take off his shoes for the ground upon which he was standing was holy.  In the presence of a holy God, we have a keen sense of our own unworthiness.
In Exodus 32:19, Moses displayed reverence for God by his zeal for the Lord.  When Moses sees the sin of the people of Israel after receiving the Ten Commandments from God, he is filled with anger and breaks the tablets of stone.  Zeal for God is produced by reverence for God and His laws.
During the period of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, Ezra was instrumental in guiding the people spiritually to return to the Lord.  In Nehemiah 8:5,9, he reads the Law of God.  When he reads the Law, all of the people stood up.  When he finished, they all wept.  Reverence for God produces respect for God’s Word.
Nehemiah helped Ezra in the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity.  In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah learns of the condition of the city of Jerusalem from his brother, Hanani.  He wept, fasted and prayed.  Reverence for God motivates us to intimacy with God.  In face of the task of the rebuilding Jerusalem, Nehemiah sought God first.
When David sinned in conceiving a child with Bathsheba, he received word from the prophet Nathan that the child would die.  David prayed and fasted until he learned that the child died.  Immediately, he washed himself and entered into the house of God to worship.  Reverence for God gives God the glory even in the face of God’s chastening.  The reverent heart seeks to glorify God at all times.
The Roman soldier at the foot of the cross experiences all of the miracles at the time of Jesus’ death.  He hears the seven sayings of Jesus while He was on the cross.  At the end, he says, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).  The persuasive power of God intervening in human history produces reverence for God that expresses itself in confession of God’s Son.
-Reverence for God is a feeling evoked by the Glory and Holiness of God.
-Reverence is the result of understanding in the fullest sense who God is.
-Reverence produces in us a strong feeling of unworthiness in God’s presence.  It produces respect, humility and submission to God.

In The Sight of God

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The Holy Spirit declares, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifested in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).  The phrase, “in the sight of God” occurs twenty-two times in the New Testament and numerous times in the Old Testament.  Indeed, all things and all people are under the divine scrutiny of God.  There are at least six aspects to consider when searching for the meaning of this phrase: God’s watchfulness, judgment, spiritual discernment, care, approval and will.
God’s Watchfulness.
In addition to the general statement found in Heb. 4:13, Paul gives Timothy a charge under God’s watchful eye in I Tim. 6:13, “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  James declares that we must humble ourselves in the sight of God (James 4:10). These passages capture the concept that everything we do takes place under God’s watchful eye.
God’s Judgment
After Simon the sorcerer was baptized (Acts 8:12-13), he coveted the power to be able to lay hands on someone and impart miraculous gifts.  Peter rebukes him and says, “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21).   God’s judgment was against the thought that one could purchase the gift of God with money. Consider these passages from Psalms.  “Arise O LORD: let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight” (Psa. 9:19).  “Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?” (Psa. 76:7).  “…he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight” (Psa. 101:7).
God’s Spiritual Discernment
In Acts 4:19, Peter and John make a choice to reject the commandment of the Sanhedrin to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus.  They did so based upon God’s perspective rather than man’s perspective.  A judgment has to be made regarding who they will follow and obey.  They ask others to make their own choice.  Then, they state that they must speak the things which they had seen and heard.  They would not be silenced because they knew God’s viewpoint on the matter.  They were more concerned about what God thought of the matter than what men thought.  God discerns the intents of the heart.  Paul writes, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (II Cor. 2:17).  Paul knew God discerned the intents of his heart.  Luke 16:15 draws a contrast between what men esteem and what God esteems.  “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
God’s Care
The phrase “in the sight of God” also indicates God’s care.  God has an active concern for the disadvantaged.  “He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight” (Psa. 72:14).  Also, God cares for His saints.  “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psa. 116:15).
God’s Approval
One of the most common senses in which the phrase, “in the sight of God” is used is of the divine approval of God.  In Acts 10:31, Cornelius finds approval by God for the alms which he gave.  Paul indicates the care he had for the Corinthian church was executed in the sight of God (for God’s approval) (II Cor. 7:12).  Paul extols honesty “in the sight of the Lord, and in the sight of men” (II Cor. 8:21).  He also commends holiness in the sight of God (Col. 1:22).  The works of faith, labor of love and patience of hope are highlighted by Paul as hallmarks of the church at Thessalonica (I Thess. 1:3).  Certainly, these qualities are approved by God.  We should be God-pleasers and not men-pleasers (Heb. 13:21).  Peter commends the “meek and quiet spirit” which is in the sight of God of great price (I Pet. 3:4).  Finally, John shows that obedience is essential to pleasing God (I John 3:22).
God’s Will
Sometimes the phrase, “in the sight of God” has the sense of “according to God’s Will.”  Paul states, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:11).  We can know what is good and acceptable “in the sight of God” because we know His will (I Tim. 2:3).  God determines what is hidden and what is revealed based upon His own purposes (Luke 10:21).
The phrase, “in the sight of God” denotes:  a God-centered perspective; a biblical perspective, a just perspective, a compassionate perspective and a God-honoring perspective.  The way to live a life that brings glory to God is to live life “in the sight of God!”

Chasing A Myth

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     A recent Columbus Dispatch article titled, Chasing A Myth, addressed the dream many student athletes have of getting a scholarship or playing in professional sports (Columbus Dispatch, September 1, 2010).  A Dispatch survey of more than 1,000 area high-school students last fall showed that earning a college scholarship was among the top two motivating forces for playing youth sports outside of school.  These students are competing for nearly $2 billion dollars in scholarship money for men’s and women’s collegiate athletics.  But, most will never see any of it  . The NCAA says that less than 4 percent of the 7.5 million participants in high-school sports in the U.S. will receive full or partial scholarships (p. 1).  
     What are some  of the odds that a high-school senior will end up playing their sport in college and the professional leagues? 
     Sports                                 Odds/College               Odds/Pros
     Baseball                               3 in 50                              1 in 200
     Men’s Ice Hockey            11 in 100                          2 in 300
     Men’s soccer                       3 in 50                              1 in 1,250
     Women’s basketball         3 in 100                            1 in 5,000
     Football                                1 in 17                               8 in 10,000
     Men’s Basketball                1 in 35                               3 in 10,000
    
     Sandy Baum, economics professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga, N.Y., an expert in financial aid, said “It’s like buying a lottery ticket.”  While most parents and their children dream of big scholarships and large salaries in professional sports, the odds are against them.  What else should student athletes be focused on?  The answer is obvious–their education. 
     There is another aspect to the “sports craze” in American culture that needs addressed.  Many churches are seeing a decline in attendance at Bible study and worship assemblies due to over scheduling of sports activities.  What is a parent to do when a sports activity (practice or a game) interferes with Bible study or worship of God?  Here are some things to consider.
     First, set your priorities according to biblical principles.  Matt. 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Parents and student athletes must put God first.  Jesus warned about the “cares of this world” choking out the Word of God in the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:22).  Don’t make this mistake.
     Second, the value of your child’s soul is worth more than the money he or she might acquire through sports.  Jesus said, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).  Parents are involved in a soul-winning function in their homes.  The decisions made in the home should guide a child to develop the fruits of righteousness which lead to eternal life. 
     Third, remember your commitment to God is 100%.  Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).  God demands full consecration to Him.  Ye cannot serve two masters! (Matt. 6:24).  Parents must not allow their children to over-commit and thereby schedule God out of their lives.  Whenever there is a conflict between Bible study and sports, why can’t God win!  A decision to put God first cannot be the wrong one.