Peace in Bethlehem

Peter Kennedy

During the French and Indian War the French incited the Indians to attack non-French colonists. In 1755, at the French fort, Duquesne, now the city of Pittsburgh, colonists suffered a bitter defeat from French and Indian forces. Then, in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, the Conestoga Indians wiped out the Moravian mission at Mahanoy. The Moravian colonists at nearby Gnadenhutten fled to the neighboring fortified village of Bethlehem.

Christmas was fast approaching and everyone in Bethlehem fully expected the Indians to attack. Night after night cries could be heard and fires burned brightly on the surrounding heights.

On Christmas Day, despite imminent attack, the colonists gathered together for worship. Fearing for their lives they sang praises to Christ with more feeling than ever before. The fighting men had hardly returned to their posts after worship when they saw the Indians break camp and leave.

When peace was made years later, the Indians told why they had not attacked. Their war council was preparing for the attack when they heard the sweet sound of Christmas carols. Those blessed tunes soothed the angry warriors. So in the songs of praise to Jesus Christ the colonists found deliverance.

Generation to Generation: Devotional Thoughts Drawn from the Past (www.devotional.com) Used with permission.

Are You Honoring His NAME?

By Bill Rudge

Photo by Roy DeMattio (used with permission).

No one wants his name disgraced. A bad name is a curse, while a good name is a blessing. People live and die to protect their name, testimony and the reputation of their family. Likewise, the Lord defends the honor of His name:

I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8).

While many today attempt to silence or profane the name of the LORD, we as believers should acknowledge and reverence His name in both words and deeds.

• The third Commandment is: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). First Chronicles 17:24 tells us His name should be “magnified forever.”

• David said to Goliath: “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45). Solomon built the house (Temple) for the name of the LORD (1 Kings 8:20). Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal in the name of the LORD (1 Kings 18:20-39).

• The Psalms frequently mention the name of the LORD. A few examples follow:

I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High (7:17).

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (20:7).

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised (113:3).

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD (118:26).

Our help is in the name of the LORD (124:8).

• Proverbs 18:10 tells us that “The name of the LORD is a strong tower.” Micah 4:5 states: “We will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”

• Psalm 23, which you have probably read or recited many times, says: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (verse 3). The Lord’s Prayer starts out: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).

• Jesus told His disciples to ask of the Father in His name (John 15:16; 16:23-27). The Apostle John tells us that his Gospel and the miracles of Jesus he recorded were “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

• Acts 2:21 promises: “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Acts 4:12 tells us there is salvation only in the name of Jesus for “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

• The Apostle Peter said to the crippled man: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).

• At Damascus and Jerusalem the Apostle Paul was speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord (Acts 9:27, 28). Paul said to the slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination: “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (Acts 16:18).

• Colossians 3:17 exhorts: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” James 5:14 instructs: “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

His Name the Only One

In every way possible we as believers should respect and reverence the name of the Lord – just as we hope our children will honor our name! We must also trust in, pray in and be witnesses in the name of the Lord.

Ask yourself one crucial question:

Do my words and behavior honor or dishonor the name of the Lord? One day the profanity and blasphemy of God’s name will cease. The day is rapidly approaching when:

The LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one (Zechariah 14:9).

Should We Fear God?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

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Photo by Bill Rudge

During a Sunday morning service I attended, the congregation was told that the most devastating fear in a Christian’s life is the fear of God. The pastor went on to assert that a fear-based approach to spirituality does not promote a healthy and vital faith.

I agree that if we only approach our faith with a fear of God, it will hinder our relationship with Him. If we view our Heavenly Father as an authoritative parent waiting for us to make a mistake so He can punish us, our perception of God will be affected. This type of “cowering fear” can cultivate a faith motivated out of mere duty or obligation to follow God through our own merits and works, as we attempt to appease Him.

However, does this mean we should not have a fear of God? For an adequate answer, we must recognize what it really means to fear God. Fearing God does not mean we fear His wrath and judgment. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under God’s condemnation. Paul clearly states in Romans:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, the punishment for our sins has been paid (Romans 5:8, 9; 6:23; 1 John 2:1, 2). As a result, our positional status before God changes as we move from being estranged (Romans 5:10) to being adopted into His family as one of His children:

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).

While we will still experience God’s discipline (Proverbs 3:11, 12; Hebrews 12:5, 6) and a loss of rewards for unfaithfulness in this life (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12), as believers we do not have to fear His coming wrath and judgment:

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love (1 John 4:17, 18).

Rather, it is this fear of a wrathful God that haunts everyone who rejects His plan of salvation and walks in rebellion to His will. As we find in the books of Luke and Revelation:

I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4, 5).

They said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16, 17).

Since we need not fear His wrath and judgment, what then does this mean for believers? It means we are to have a respect and reverence for who He is – the Creator and Sustainer of life! It means we recognize His sovereign authority over our lives; that He is holy and righteous in both His nature and in what He does. As the author of Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

Reverence and Respect

Besides having the privilege to address God as our Father because of what Jesus Christ has done, we are to hallow God’s name when we pray. This means we should approach God with reverence and respect. In ancient times a name expressed the individual’s essential being. In other words, to know the name of a person was to know that person’s total character and nature. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Thus, by approaching God with reverence for His name, we are in reality expressing a respect for His very being. As David proclaims, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9). Every time we look at creation we should respond like David with a sense of awe and marvel that we have the privilege to draw near to the One who created it.

But many people approach God without this sense of reverence. They pray to God like He is just one of their buddies, or even worse, they dictate their requests to Him and expect Him to respond to their beck and call.

A Dangerous Path

The lack of a proper fear of God is leading our world down a path of violence, immorality, sorcery, thefts and lies. Our country has gone down that slippery slope because it has abandoned the truth of the scriptures and has no reverence for the Creator. Our nation has forgotten that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Paul emphasizes this point in describing man’s spiritual condition without Christ: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18; see also Psalm 36:1; Proverbs 1:29; Jeremiah 2:19).

Even the lifestyles of many who profess faith in God indicate they do not have a holy fear or respect for God and His Word. They attempt to condone and justify sin under the notion that God loves and accepts us no matter what we do.

While we all fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23), we should never excuse sinful behavior because God is loving and gracious (Romans 6:1-4). We are called as Christians to a life of holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16). A proper fear (awe) of Him helps to keep us from walking down an evil path:

By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil (Proverbs 16:6).

The Apostle Paul emphasized this point in his letter to the Corinthian believers:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Going back to the question, “Should we have a fear of God?” Yes. And God’s Word consistently teaches this truth (see Psalm 34:9; 86:11; 89:7; 128:1; Proverbs 1:7; 14:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Acts 9:31; 10:35; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:17). God takes pleasure in those who fear [reverence and respect] Him (Psalm 147:11; see also Luke 1:50).

Therefore, let us always approach God in prayer and live each day with a reverential and holy fear of our loving Lord and Savior:

And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great” (Revelation 19:5).
Never forget. Our worthiness to be in His presence has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Him (Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22).

Solomon, concludes Ecclesiastes with the following message

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 

14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

Jesus stated in Luke 12:4, 5

4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.

Those who reject the Gospel should consider the following warning given by Jesus:

5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5).

Angelic Advice

by Jim Weikal

The angel said with a loud voice:

Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters (Revelation 14:7).

This announcement is made to an unrepentant world in the midst of unprecedented judgments from a holy God. The unrepentant world will ignore the words, but what about you?

Do you Fear God?

Or do you fear man more? For example, is there a person in your life who needs the Gospel, but you will not share it because you are intimidated? You may fear and reverence God privately and around fellow Christians, but what about around the bowling team, your car pool buddies, at a family reunion, or retirement home?

Do you Give God Glory and Worship Him?

The world praises and even worships people who show outstanding athletic ability. For example, the individual who ran the first under-4-minute mile; hit a World Series winning home run; scored the winning goal in the World Cup; made a fantastic catch in the Super Bowl. There is nothing wrong in recognizing someone who does great things even if it only lasts for a short amount of time. But do you give God the glory and worship due Him? After all, He made our physical universe and created each one of us (Genesis 1).

Praise the Lord

by Karen Rudge

Two weeks before leaving for our Israel trip I was in a lot of pain and had the flu which went into bronchitis. I had a lot of ministry work to do before leaving and was praying I would be able to go. Many people were also praying for me. The Lord spoke to my heart to listen to praise music and praise Him.

It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. (Psalm 147:1)

When I felt the most pain or sickness I would leave my office and go listen to praise music, pray and praise the Lord. The pain would lessen and I had enough energy to finish the work needed for that day. Praise the Lord! I was able to go to Israel with virtually no pain or sickness.

J. C. Penney was a business man who lost everything in the 1930’s to the Great Depression. He became ill and sank to such a low depression that he was admitted to the hospital. He felt he was going to die. Then one morning he heard singing coming from the hospital chapel. As he listened the words began to sink into his soul:

Be not dismayed whatever betide, God will take care of you; Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

Instantly the darkness left him and he said there was a warm and brilliant sunlight. It was then he became a born again Christian. From that day on he never worried. He said the 20 minutes of the chapel songs were so glorious it changed his life. When he died at age 99 he left 1660 department stores in his name.

Praising the Lord can lift anyone out of a deep sorrow, sickness or anxiety:

Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. (Psalm 149:3-5)