Modern Parable ~ The Judge

I was driving down the freeway last year going along with the speed of traffic when a highway patrol officer came up behind me and put on his lights. You know the feeling: instant panic with ensuing heart palpitations. I looked at the odometer, 79, then quickly took my foot of the accelerator. Surely he’s not pulling me over for 79? I’ve been told that anything under 80 they don’t bother with and besides my cousin is a CHP and I have one of those nifty star stickers on my license to show them I am “one of them”, “part of the family” so to speak and my insurance is military insurance. That will be the clincher. They don’t ticket their own.

The officer came up to my window, asked plainly for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He walked back to his car, came back, and handed me my speeding ticket. No small talk, all business. I was busted. My “get out of jail free cards” did not work. I broke the law, the officer was just. It did not matter that everyone else on the freeway was going 79. It did not matter that normally they don’t pull you over at that speed. It did not matter that I have a sticker or insurance to prove I am one of them. The fact of the matter is I was speeding. The speed limit is 65. I was going 79… Judged and Convicted.

How often do you justify your actions to a holy impartial Judge. How often do you think “I’m on the good guy’s team, He will let it slide this time.” How often do you think “I’m not as bad as that other guy over there. He must judge based on a curve.” There could be nothing further from the truth. Check out this verse in 1 Peter:

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (1 Peter 1:17, ESV)

Let’s unpack this verse a bit…

The word epikaleō means to “call on” or to “appeal to” or to “call for help”. It is meant here to suggest that this is a regular occurrence, that we are to habitually call on the Father for help. Peter is assuming his readers are Christians and that they pray regularly. The idea that God is someone we have an intimate relationship with as well as the fact that he is the ultimate judge who always judges fairly and without partiality are all within the same sentence, the readers understand that just because they are part of God’s family does not mean they will get special treatment. This is the true fear of God when one understands this concept to its fullest.

The term “judges” is used in the Greek  “ton krinonta” which is a present participle. This means the judgement Peter is talking about is active and current for their lifetime. He is not talking about final judgement. The Father is actively and presently disciplining his children. That is what this type of fear means.

The Greek word for fear is “phobos” and is where we get the word phobia from. However the phobos of God and his discipline is actually a good thing because its outcome should be a right response to God’s law that will result in growth, sanctification, and blessings.

Peter also reminds his readers that they are exiles, sojourners hear on earth. That means they must continually remember to show foreigners (those of this world) what it means to be a child of God.

Therefor, we are to have an active and intimate relationship with the Father while maintaining a high view of him knowing he is the perfect impartial judge even to us. Because of this we must live our lives in light of fear of his judgement as well as the fact that this world is not our true home and we must be examples to others by bringing honor to our true family name.

Have No Fear by Philip DeCourcy

Click HERE to watch the sermon by Philip DeCourcy.

Quotes from the Sermon:

“Fear is fueled by the unknown. Fear is fueled by ignorance. I remind myself of truths concerning God. That gives me a place to stand.” – Philip DeCourcy

“If you are battling fear you have to fight your fear by taking account of how God has been faithful to you in the past.” – Philip DeCourcy

“Fear is a false prophet. What do we do with false prophets? We stone them to death.”  – Philip DeCourcy

Application Questions:

1.    What are some of the things that cause us to fear? Specifically, what are things that cause you to fear?
2.    What is the difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear?
3.    List and affirm some truths about God. Then discuss their relevance to the fearful heart.
4.    Why is it important to keep alive the memory of God’s past actions?
5.    How is worship the antidote to fear?
6.     Discuss the idea that courage is fear which has said its prayers.
7.    Think about the promise of future grace. How does it relate to the subject of fear?

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me

to eat up my flesh,

my adversaries and foes,

it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;

though war arise against me,

yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord

and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up

above my enemies all around me,

and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;

be gracious to me and answer me!

You have said, “Seek my face.”

My heart says to you,

“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Hide not your face from me.

Turn not your servant away in anger,

O you who have been my help.

Cast me not off; forsake me not,

O God of my salvation!

For my father and my mother have forsaken me,

but the Lord will take me in.

Teach me your way, O Lord,

and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27, ESV)

Monday Modern Parable ~ The Pole

cross trails ministry pole jumpHave you ever done a ropes course in the air? They are usually about 20 feet off the ground and terrifying. The very last thing you must accomplish before jumping to the ground is something that most fail to complete. They chicken out. You must shimmy up a telephone pole about 10 feet high. Remember you are 20 feet off the ground to begin with. Once at the top of the 12 inch in diameter pole you have to gingerly try to stand upright on it. It is almost impossible to do so especially with the blood pounding away in your ears. Once balanced precariously on top of the pole you have to reach out and jump to the bar swing that is your only safe way to the ground. If you fall, your harness will catch you, it may hurt a bit, and will definitely bruise your ego, an idol of sorts.

So, maybe you don’t have a golden calf in your house or a tiki god that you pray to each morning. Or, maybe you do. In any event, the majority of people today think we are without household idols that were so prevalent in Old Testament times. We could not be further from the truth.

My alter is high. My alter is only built with enough room for one person like that ropes course pole. I have placed myself so high on my own alter that I cling to it with all my life fearing that if I let go I will fall to my death. If I fall off balance for just a split second my ego will be damaged and slammed to the ground in despair. Father forgive the sin of myself. I have placed myself on my own alter and have created an inescapable idol of myself.

But there is hope. Swap spots with Jesus. He took your place on that pole. He holds you firm with three nails firmly driven into the wood of that pole. Jesus has overcome the fear of the pole. He rose above it and has perfect balance and perfect reach to God the Father. He will lift you up to reach the impossibly high bar set forth that is the glory of God himself. Only through Christ is there true safety and true grounding life.

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Eph. 6:24)
Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

~ Jen O’Sullivan

Blessing God ~ Dread

My 5 year old son is obsessed with Batman and Spider-man. For me, as I’m sure is the case for you, spiders = dread! I cannot tell you how many spiders I have capture and released. However the more menacing they are, the more a mind I have to smash them dead. How odd that they are so small yet we big, scary humans are so fearful of them. Spiders are very symbolic in the occult as are many other dreadful beings such as snakes, scorpions, wolves, bats and various other dread-inducing animals. In the movie Batman, Bruce Wayne is asked by Alfred, “Why bats, sir?” his response, “Bats frighten me. It is time my enemies share in my dread.” Fear is a source of power. I wonder why we look to other symbols for power when our one true God is all we need. What is most dreadful in reading the below verses is the very last ones. How dreadful to be given up on by God! Ouch!

Creeping Spider“Dread”

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

– Romans 1:18-25

Photography by Jen O’Sullivan

Blessing God Series
Rain from the Lord
Grass in the Field
Parable of the Pearl
Rocks Cry Out
Joy in the Thorns
Hiding Place
Wonderfully Made
Busy Bee