Those Who Fear Him

Those who believe in God commonly believe he loves us unconditionally. He blesses us unconditionally. We find solace in that. We hold fast to the belief that as soon as we commit a wrong, even knowing it is incongruent with the God we claim to serve, we are instantly forgiven. We easily send faith into the universe for all the benefits of God, because our father is the creator of that universe. We acquire all that is God’s because we are his children. We believe we are not only loved unconditionally by him, but are promised all his benefits without conditions.

But …

There is a condition. We may erase it the second we read it, but that doesn’t make it go away. We may briefly acknowledge it by claiming that, “Of course, yes, I fear Him,” but that doesn’t make it true.

Do we truly fear Him?

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
the Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbour his anger for ever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children –
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

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Forget Not

Psalm 103: Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

Think of the power God has. Yet he refrains from imposing his power on us. It’s not his way. God doesn’t overpower, manipulate or control. He doesn’t pull “people-things” like guilt trips, emotional blackmail, or threats. His character is so strong, he refrains from exercising the power he possesses, even though the use of his might would accomplish his will.

He permits us to determine who we want, and what we want, with the free wills we’re granted.

He welcomes us to friendship. He doesn’t demand it, force it, or threaten to make things bad for us if we decline. He doesn’t trick us into relationship. His ways aren’t built on obligation or guilt, but on our freedom to accept or decline.

Be with him if we want. Don’t if we don’t want.

If we do choose his companionship, we soon learn he is beyond compare. These things are true of him; he who —

forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases, who redeems our lives from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies our desires with good things so that our youths are renewed like the eagle’s.

The more we accept and delve into relationship with him, the sweeter our harmony. While settling into ever-deepening unity, we find that our faith, wisdom, abilities and potentials steadily increase. Where there is lack, he brings plenty. Where there is insecurity, he brings confidence. Where there is fear, he brings peace.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

Where there is captivity, he sets us free. Where there is deception or confusion, he becomes the solid rock of truth on which to stand.

He sets the tone of the relationship, always creating an atmosphere of growth. If we require discipline or purification, he subjects us to it for our improvement. If we need mercy and encouragement, he gives that, too. If we need courage and strength, it is made available. Relationship with God is a fertile field in which he plants, waters, and nurtures — always for our betterment.

Yet, all the while his benefits include our ongoing free will. He gives us choice each and every day. Be with him if we want. Don’t if we don’t want. Let him lead us to betterment. Or not. This freedom he’s given us is evidence of yet another of his incomparable benefits —

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

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