Goodness for Those Who Fear Him

Good morning. It is Monday, April 20, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is rurbanization. This is a mashup of “rural urbanization,” meaning, “The influence of rural society on urban life, or vice versa.”

Today is Patriot’s Day. While this is bigger in New England than down here in Texas, it is the day that signifies the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, and happens on the third Monday of April. It is also the day of the Boston Marathon, as well as the day that the Red Sox game always starts at 11:05 ET.

We got a little rest yesterday evening, after getting the groceries done and the yard mowed. Christi is still coughing like crazy, which is keeping her from sleeping well. But this week should be a little easier on us. I talked to my mother on the phone yesterday evening, and the report seemed encouraging. She took Dad’s glasses up to him yesterday (she got a ride with a friend), as well as his Bible and an Open Windows devotional booklet. He actually asked her if she brought the Open Windows, which I interpret as a great thing. The people at the nursing home indicated that he had done well. He also told Mom that he slept well the night before, which is the first good night of sleep he has had in a good while. This is also encouraging.

Today, it’s back to work, of course. Who knows what this week has in store for us?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!
Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”
Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me!
Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away!
Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!
For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life.
Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it—to his destruction!
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation.
All my bones shall say, “O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?”
Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know.
They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft.
But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning.
But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing;
like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth.
How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions!
I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause.
For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit.
They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!”
You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me!
Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O LORD, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me!
Let them not say in their hearts, “Aha, our heart’s desire!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”
Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether who rejoice at my calamity! Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me!
Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.

Psalm 35

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Afraid to Stray.”

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19

John Piper points out two important truths in this verse.

“1. The goodness of the Lord”

While we believe that God shows a “general goodness” to all mankind (he sends the rain on the just and the unjust, the Bible tells us), we also believe that there is a “peculiar goodness” that he bestows on “those who fear him.” The scope of this peculiar goodness is “abundant beyond measure. It is boundless. It lasts forever. It is all-encompassing.” In fact, we can even safely say that there is “only goodness for those who fear him.” There may certainly be things happening in our lives that don’t seem good at the time. For example, my father’s fall twelve days ago. How could I possible see this as good?? Yet, Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 3:3-5 also points out that there is profit in our pain: Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Those who do not fear God will experience only “temporary goodness.” Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4) This gives us pause, as we stop and realize that, just because God is being good to us, it does not mean that we have found favor with him. The goodness that God shows to those who do not fear him is designed to lead them to repentance.

“2. The fear of the Lord”

“The fear of the Lord is the fear of straying from him.” This is expressed in the phrase, “take refuge in you.” Two conditions are mentioned in this verse; fearing the Lord and taking refuge in him. This seems contradictory, at first. We would not normally run toward something/someone that we fear. Fear drives away; refuge draws in. But we might see this fear as a fear of “not being drawn in.”

“There is a real trembling for the saints.” Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) “But it is the trembling one feels in the arms of a Father who has just plucked his child from the undertow of the ocean.” That was a most beautiful sentence!

Father, help me to fear you more, that I might be drawn in and take refuge in you more. I believe in your goodness in my life. I believe that, for me, and all who believe in your name, there is only goodness in life, even in situations like the one we are currently in the middle of. I believe that, because of the blood of Jesus Christ, you look at me and only feel love. This is, admittedly, difficult for me to fathom, especially when I am running away from you, engaging in some sort of sinful behavior. But you always draw me back in. Your Holy Spirit is irresistible. I pray for the healthy fear that causes me to take refuge in you, daily. May I ponder this as I drive to work this morning.

I pray for this day. May you keep my mother safe in her home as she goes about her daily activities. May you keep her safe as she rides with someone to the nursing home today. May you cradle my parents in your hands, keeping them safe and bringing healing mercy to my father as he waits for you in this nursing home. Strengthen his muscles, even beyond what they were before his fall. I pray that he may even be able to minister to the nurses at the home, as they minister to him.

May we have safe travel to and from work today. I pray for healing for Christi, that her cough and headache would be better. Give her energy to get through this day. May we draw on the mercy that you have given us, new this morning, just enough for this day. I pray for Stephanie today, that she would not worry much over her grandparents.

I pray for healing for Elizabeth, and comfort for her family.

Your grace is sufficient.

Rejoice in the goodness of the Lord today. Take refuge in him.

Grace and peace, friends.

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