I remember it like it was yesterday! I was seven years old and my family lived in Jefferson City, MO at the time with my dad serving a local church there. He had invited a group called “Heaven’s Gate, Hell’s Flames” to come to help us put on a drama production. This show was a collection of short skits, all tied together, depicting the last moments in people's lives. I remember there was a construction worker that fell from a scaffolding, an older man that had a heart attack, and a mom in a car accident. The part I remember very clearly, however, was the devil character that appeared throughout the show. It just so happened that the devil character was played by my dad in makeup that would make the members of Kiss proud.
As a seven-year-old who had been in church every week of his entire life, this was the first time that heaven and hell became real. This was the first time that I was able to understand God in a tangible concrete way and realize that Satan is real. It was the first time I understood that I had a choice to make; follow God and go to heaven, or join Satan in hell. This is an oversimplification of the choice each of us gets to make, but as a young boy simple was all that I knew. I was simply picking between God and Satan...that’s it.
As I look back on that event twenty-three years later, I have come to realize that I didn’t choose God because He is holy, kind, and full of love. I choose God because He wasn’t Satan. I came to God because I had great fear that if I took my last breath going home from church that night, I was going to have to spend eternity in hell with Satan. How many of us walk with Christ because of that same fear? Not walking with Him because He loves us. Not following Him because He’s holy. Not living for God because He’s our creator and made a way for us through Jesus, but out of fear.
In Deuteronomy 31, we read about how Moses’ life is coming to an end and that Joshua will succeed him as leader over Israel, and that Joshua, not Moses, will lead the people into the Promise Land. Moses tells the people “6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Moses also encourages Joshua not to fear for “8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
I believe this is a good reminder to us as believers. Some of us have come to God and His salvation out of fear, or we are living in fear because of the world around us, but we don’t have to remain in that fear. The same God that has told the Israelites not to fear is the same God we serve today. The same God that promised His people He wouldn’t forsake them and that He would go before them, is the same God we serve now. As His people, His children, we have the same assurance that we have nothing to fear for our King holds all, knows all, and rules over all.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 So let us surrender and give our fears over to God! “And every fear I lay at Your feet I'll sing through the night, Oh God, the battle belongs to You!” (Battle Belongs) Let us choose God because of His majesty and holiness. Let us choose to worship Him because He is worthy. Let us choose to be fearless because of His power and hope. Let us lay every fear at His feet and praise God for His goodness.
I love you, and I love serving this church!
Lyric of the Month
So when I fight I'll fight on my knees
With my hands lifted high
O God the battle belongs to You
1 Chronicles 16:23
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.