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follow after God

If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and the vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and live securely in your land. And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid; I will remove dangerous animals from the land, and no sword shall go through your land. You shall give chase to your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will look with favor upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you. You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make way for the new. I will place my dwelling in your midst, and I shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be their slaves no more; I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. But if you will not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances, so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break my covenant, I in turn will do this to you: I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down by your enemies; your foes shall rule over you, and you shall flee though no one pursues you. And if in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you sevenfold for your sins. I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper. Your strength shall be spent to no purpose: your land shall not yield its produce, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. (Leviticus 26:3-20, NRSV)

Why do we follow after God?

Is it to get something?

Here we read about those who faithfully keep the commandments and follow you will be blessed, but if you don’t obey and follow you will receive terror.

We are usually hard pressed to do something for long because of a reward, but all parents know that a reward will work. But is that the real reason we should follow, because we get something?

No, but does it hurt?

 

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protect me

In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,  take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have taken heed of my adversities, and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.  For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away. I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.  For I hear the whispering of many—terror all around!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.  Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.  Do not let me be put to shame, O LORD, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.  Let the lying lips be stilled that speak insolently against the righteous with pride and contempt. O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone!  In the shelter of your presence you hide them from human plots; you hold them safe under your shelter from contentious tongues. Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege. I had said in my alarm, “I am driven far from your sight.” But you heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help. Love the LORD, all you his saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.  Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD. (Psalm 31, NRSV)

How many of us have ever been in a dark valley with seemingly nowhere to go?

No way out and all we see is darkness and despair?

Most of us, if we are honest, have been in situations we do not like.

But here is the kicker for those of us who follow God…

Even in the darkness, there is light.

Even in the storm, there is shelter.

Even when terror is all around us we have refuge in the Lord!

So take heart and know that He who has overcome the world will hear your pleas and come to your aid!

 

 

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Fear

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8, NRSV)

I always loved this ending to Mark. Scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark originally ended here with verse 16:8. But people didn’t like the fact that the gospel ended with the women fleeing from the tomb and not telling anyone what they had seen. But here is what they missed.

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And the end where the women flee in terror is not the end, but the end of the writing. You see as long as we believe the story, it is still being written. The gospel has not ended, the good news is still being told.

We are all gripped by fear, but Jesus is still living and active in our world, and we can keep writing the Gospel and sharing the story.

So don’t let fear seize you in terror, but go and shout it from the mountaintops that Jesus Christ is Alive and working in your life, and show His love, grace, and mercy in all that you do!

 

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