Untouched

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. (Proverbs 19:23, NIV)

What a fascinating verse! Concise, straight-forward, and yet hard to grasp. Can it be literally true? Is this the ultimate experience of far more life?

The fear of the Lord. Other translations use respect, reverence, surrender, awe. They all indicate an awareness of God’s authority over us. We recognize Him as the alpha male, our leader. There is competition for this place of prominence in our hearts and minds: we can give our ultimate respect to people instead of God; we can revere power and prestige over Him; we can surrender to a lifestyle of pleasure or ease; we can be in awe of money and its privileges. It is good for us to examine our hearts and ask, “What is my primary object of fear, respect, reverence, surrender and awe? Is it God or something else?” Fear of something is the foundation on which we build our lives. This verse instructs us to place that fear in the Lord. Other verses outline more benefits of following that instruction:

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. (I Samuel 12:24, NIV)

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. (Psalm 19:9a, NIV)

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. (Psalm 25:14, NIV)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7, NIV)

…The Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children. (Psalm 103:17, NIV)

The fear of the Lord adds length to life. (Proverbs 10:27a, NIV)

Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress. (Proverbs 14:26a, NIV)

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (Isaiah 33:6, NIV)

Leads to life. Whatever we fear (surrender to), it leads to something. Fear of people leads to a compromised life. Fear of power and prestige leads to a consumed life. Fear of pleasure and ease leads to a self-focused life. Fear of money leads to a greedy life. But fear of the Lord leads to far more life, a life marked by integrity, investment, eternal focus, and generosity. Consider these verses about such a life:

Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39b, NIV)

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. (John 6:47, NIV)

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63, NIV)

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NIV)

You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. (Acts 2:28, NIV)

…Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13, NIV)

…The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (I Thessalonians 4:7, NIV)

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (I John 5:11, NIV)

Then one rests content. It is only after we have placed our fear in the Lord and found far more life that we rest contentedly. This means that we can relax in peace rather than being tied up with anxiety. It means we have joy rather than being afraid or angry about our circumstances It means we are not burdened by the past, present, or future; instead we are free to remember, enjoy, and dream. When God occupies His rightful place in our hearts, everything else falls into place.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him…Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:1, 5, NIV)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

…I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my body also will rest in hope. (Acts 2:25-26, NIV)

Untouched by trouble. At first glance, this appears to be untrue. Christ-followers are plagued by trouble: health trouble, job trouble, relationship trouble, financial trouble, and more. It certainly does not feel like we are “untouched”. But our eternal security IS untouched by trouble on this earth. And our ability to walk in the Spirit — to experience love, joy and peace and be patient, kind, good, and faithful — remains untouched by trouble. We have the power, through Christ, to view our troubles as He does: momentary light afflictions. When we stay focused on eternity, we can walk through them in far more life.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9, NIV)

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:19, NIV)

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7, NIV)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV)

 …I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Corinthians 7:4, NIV)

Sisters,
What is your primary object of fear, respect, reverence, surrender and awe?
Is that leading to temporary things or far more life?
Do you rest content? If not, what is preventing that?
What perspective helps you be untouched by your troubles?
Thank God for offering you far more life today…and every day for eternity!
-Shari

Lavish Love

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us — He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. (I John 3:1a, VOICE)

Want to know the formula for far more life?

Accepting God’s lavish love
+ Being transformed by it
= Far more life

Love is the key to far more life, but not just any love: only God’s lavish love. When I hear the word lavish, I imagine a warm bagel topped with a thick layer of cream cheese — so thick that taking a bite leaves teeth marks. This is an extravagant amount of cream cheese, more than anyone needs. But it makes eating the bagel an unforgettable experience. No skimpily-covered bagel can compare with the lusciousness of that lavish bagel.

God lavished His love on us. Calling us His children demonstrated an extravagance that reshaped our definition of love. But He didn’t stop there; He continues to lavish us in love. He doesn’t give us the minimum we need to get by. He wraps us in so much love that all other love looks skimpy by comparison.

The more we understand and embrace God’s lavish love, the fuller and richer our lives become. Lavish love has the power to change us from the inside out. It can transform our beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. But most of us do not reap the maximum benefit of His lavish love. Rather than throwing open our hearts and saying, “Go anywhere!” we put up “Do Not Enter” signs at the places we need Him most: our most vulnerable and painful places.

We limit God’s lavish love because we misunderstand it. We may think God’s love is defined by what He does for us. Or we might assume it comes with strings, that He expects certain responses from us. Too often we believe we have to earn it and fear He will find us unworthy. These misperceptions are not surprising since His love is so different from the imperfect human love familiar to us. Sometimes we pull back from God’s lavish love in fear. But fear is actually the opposite of what He offers:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:18, NIV)

God’s children have no need to fear Him because He will never punish us. We can be confident that God will always love us perfectly and lavishly! He will not withdraw His love when we disagree with Him. He will never manipulate us or take advantage of our vulnerabilities. He does not lay guilt trips on us. He does not berate us for failing to make Him look good. He knows our weaknesses and is not surprised by them. He knows all of our sins (in advance, even!) and has willingly paid the price for them. When we accept His love, we also gain His unconditional acceptance and unshakable security — now that is truly lavish love! I remember the peace I felt when I finally grasped this truth: I was set free to love God without reservation. I was released from fear that my imperfect love for Him was not enough. I found far more life and felt free to enjoy it. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior and Lord, you have this freedom, too!

God’s love is vastly different than human love. Not only is His love unconditional, it also comes from a different source:

God is love. (I John 4:16, NIV)

We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:19, NIV)

God’s love is not a response to us. It is not what He does or feels for us. Love is who God is; lavish love is part of His character and identity. He doesn’t have to generate love; it simply flows from Him and infuses His interactions with His children. God does not show us love because we deserve it; He simply offers Himself to us. His love blesses us in the deepest way possible because He knows us — and our needs — intimately. Grasping this truth changes how we look at God. It brings far more life.

I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know his love — although it can never be fully known — and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19, GNT)

As we grow in understanding the limitlessness of God’s lavish love, we are transformed. We stop seeing Him as a harsh judge and start realizing He is a wise and loving Father. We recognize the emptiness of many pleasures this world offers and instead focus on making an eternal impact. We grow in trusting Him and His motives even when life doesn’t match our expectations. It becomes easier to trust the parts of His Word that seem to contradict our human experience. We are permanently and profoundly changed by God’s lavish love. We grow in confidence and security. This allows us to eagerly embrace the mindset and practices of far more life.

Sisters,
How have you experienced God’s lavish love?
Where have you put up “Do Not Enter” signs? What do you need in order to let God into those areas of your heart and life?
Are you afraid of fully embracing God’s love for you? If so, confess that to Him. (If not, thank Him for that freedom!)
Thank God for the ways His lavish love has transformed you.
Enjoy far more life this week!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso