FEAR OF THE LORD perhaps the unconscious lifeline coyright Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON, 2016
I can remember a sermon series in the mid eighties in a church in Windsor dealing with the fear of the Lord. The preacher was very animated and appalled by the distortions in teaching from the pulpit at that time. Do you want peace? Rest? Wisdom? Intimacy with God? Then fear Him and do not bother fearing men or anything else. Regrettably the evangelistic thrust of that time and particularly the mega-churches moved to more â€œattractiveâ€? messages to woo in the large numbers. They deceived themselves into thinking that they had won converts. Just a walk down the aisle and a prayer and another saint was born again. People flocked to the altar because they wanted a Saviour and were convinced about the possibility of Hell. But did they want a sovereign Lord? Knowledge in spiritual matters comes only through obedience in the midst of difficult circumstance. Testings bring stamina and heightened intimacy with the Heavenly Father through energetic prayer, meditation and searching of scriptures. Jesus introduced His ministry and ethic with His Sermon on the Mount and the nine Beatitudes. Those Beatitudes were not jolly offerings for victory. They were tough but eventually adherents were to be mightily recompensed and rewarded. Let us have a sincere look at the fear of the Lord.
Surgeons use sharp instruments. Disarming idols. Applying intense direct light and cleanser. Breaking the heart with an honest view of Calvary's cross and the wickedness of men. Searing a conscience with the realization of past neglect of so great salvation. Suggesting great power and hope in the tremendous promise of the Empty Tomb. We are left despairing of self, and desiring above all else to be found pleasing to the God of angel armies and to His noble and obedient Son. This is fear of the Lord. It is not dread of a bully or a harh judge. It is dread of remaining apart from His smile, light and eternal joy.
Bringing On the Fear
Have you ever encountered a person who made you think â€œThis one knows God and has been exposed to things that are totally foreign to meâ€?? In reality you are finding yourself on the periphery of holy fear. Perhaps there are no grand scripture words being proclaimed by that one. Just an apparent clarity, confidence and comfort that results from Godly rest. He is not flustered. He is not given to the foolish pass-times of the age. He is meek and sports a gentle sense of humour. He brings on the curiosity, and becomes a pleasure to be near. This is the spirit of Christ being manifested in everyday living. If you ask that individual a question from the heart, the response will be respectful, sincere and packing the wisdom of a fellow traveler who has come through his share of pain under the caring eye of the Good Shepherd. Perhaps he does not even know that he is having such impact. He is not consciously a play actor. He gives flesh and blood to that sort of spiritual understanding and wealth described in Jeremiah 9: 23 Thus
saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But
let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight,
saith the Lord.
From Matthew Five 2 And
he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice,
and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
He built an ark And others thought him crazy They mocked the task
Of mallet, bit and plane. The family chose To honour Noahâ€™s wishes And life for them Would never be the same. He had that look Of one who had touched Glory He grieved at lust And wickedness around. The laughter and The night-times filled with excess No thought of God Or deluge Obliterating ground. He heard a Voice That grieved at the creation
A landscape raped By men without restraint Though words had come For reverent moderation There was but one Devoted, tuned-in saint. And his the charge To gather all the creatures To ply in peace The fearful waves forewarned. And come they did By rank to fill The sturdy vessel Days before the dreaded storm. The family shut. The Ark complete.
But still no moisture. And camps of revelry All burning fires of hate. For seven days A simple trust Would judge the nations Ere God released Disaster’s dreadful weight. Now was the Ark Sufficient for the purpose And did it bear The weeks with no “land-ho”? What God says stands A certain fount of rescue. And mercy Every child of faith will know.
(Luke 17: 26, 27 and Hebrews 11: 7)
Unite My Heart
You must do it You must draw me To that place of perfect peace Where your truth
Becomes my balance And your smile my heartâ€™s release. I am tired of Double motives And the soul pushed to and froâ€™ I would rather Listen to you For directions where to go. And the past proved You are worthy To receive my utmost trust. What a marvel! Heaven stoops down, Daily shepherds wayward dust. Other fears now Duly quieted By the one fear of your law And the comfort Of your keeping
Fills this settled heart with awe.
In and Out
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10: 9) The â€œinâ€? part I have understood. Into salvation and understanding; into rescue and security; into rich fellowship with the Shepherd and the other sheep; into the assurance of the hope in Glory; into an agenda that is not my own. But that going out part? I have heard it said out of training and into the living of it; out of security into the bumps and grinds of real living; out of the mountain-top experience and into the demon-plagued valley; out of the cloistered Jewish community and into a wide world of Gentiles and heathens. What about out of fellowship with the Shepherd and into infatuation with some aspect of the world? Yes this does happen. The common story of the shepherd does include his searching out and finding the wayward sheep, and returning him to the flock. More than once.
Have I been wayward. Of course! Has He found some way to show me the futility of such a position? Have I come back even more appreciative? Have I been motivated by the experience to speak even more enthusiastically of His grace to others? Have I grown in the thankful and reverent (fearful) heart? Have I developed a more sensitive ear to His whispered leading? We are also told in the tenth chapter of John that the sheep know His voice, and will follow none other. I might go on to say that the sheep know each other’s voice, or perhaps the resonance of Christ’s in each other. And we hear the Good Shepherd say “I lay down my life for the sheep”. What keeping power is there in that statement? What breaking of our own willfulness? What love creating the strongest of adhesives?
Listening, Finally For years I let the jangle Fill up my ears with noise And things that seemed so precious A useless pack of toys. When all along the Saviour
Was whispering from behind With words of comfort, rescue To free my heart and mind. But circumstances pushed me And fear of men held sway And old routines still bound me With just no time to pray. Until a certain crisis Without the means to cope And all the paths of mortals Quite destitute of hope. Yes, then His voice came louder As I was wont to hear My Friend so close, neglected Spoke faith into my fear. And Jesus healed my deafness With mercyâ€™s strange alloy My new delight to listen His Voice my crowning joy.
This poem uses words such as delight and joy, but God is also looking in His children for elements of grief and mourning concerning the waste, ignorance, corruption and pain in a fallen world. Revulsion from sin and idolatry. The prophet Ezekiel, whose images played a large part in the upbringing of Jesus, portrayed a man dressed in linen (purity) going around with an inkhorn and marking those who
mourned so that they might be saved in the time of God's judgment. Also Zephaniah spoke of a joyful time when God would be found in the midst of a group of faithful ones who had been 'mourning for the solemn assembly'.
Dispatched with the Inkhorn (Ezekiel 9)
Celebrate now And celebrate often Victoryâ€™s vain boast In halls meant for prayer. Preachers who lie So the crowds Just keep coming No one found mourning Seems, not anywhere. Cities so darkened Small children in trouble
Widows sad starving While excess abounds Gaining and greed Our present foul passion Churches quite blind To the shame all around. God sends a message Through ones still a-grieving Go now and locate The few who will mourn. Mark them for mercy For soon I am coming Clean-up and judgment Where reverence was scorned.
I would hate to disappoint you And am driven by the thought That you suffered for my failings And my pardon bravely bought. Not a one gets in as closely To my heart of heartsâ€™ repose Though my mind can scarcely fathom That before all time You chose
To adopt me in the Firstborn And to give me grace to stand Right before your throne of Glory Not with shaking voice or hand. Thereâ€™s a boldness now in coming And in kneeling at your feet And the change is thanks to Calvary And it makes my joy complete. Psalm 34 Hebrews 4: 15, 16
Somewhere a Rooster Crows
Iâ€™ve read the Gospel story The miracles and such The preaching from the hilltop The crowds He loved so much. The fish and bread For thousands The girl raised from the dead The stormy sailor crossings The supper when He said His death was at the doorway His blood a new life paves And none would dare stand with Him When Evil rants and raves. And Peter eâ€™er the leader Would cringe, deny his Friend. A fear he thought beyond him
Would break him at the end. And I can see the limits To what this story proves That God is good And God is just And hurting ones He loves. But do I need salvation? I try my best ya’ see And over-much religion Is sure to hamper me. A business has me running With corners cut to gain. And friends would soon be shunning If I proclaimed His Name. And pain would come large measure If I turned right around And changed my speech And changed my paths For mercy I had found. No, I must draw the limit For history’s matchless Christ He’s not my Lord He’s not adored I just won’t pay that price. And surely all these drawbacks Each modern person knows. …What’s that? I hear out yonder
Somewhere a rooster crows! Note: The good news is that some of the â€œPetersâ€? of this world receive the rebuke, repent and enter into the life of joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
Almost Home A Wednesday afternoon. Keith ran the stairs two at a time to the fourth floor. He knew the service door push-button combination. No time for the elevator. Stewart and Krista were already there and Nurse Katie, senior woman in George Cromarty's wing. There was evidence that the Doctor had just left. "Hi guys, when did it happen?" Stewart turned slowly from his uncle, "About 9:45. Katie was the first one to know." The nurse put her hand on Keith's shoulder. "He had had a good breakfast. Shared some laughter with one of the newer residents. A volunteer wheeled him back and all seemed OK. I got a ring at the desk an hour later. He was all smiles. Told me that we hadn't had our mid-week "chin-wag". Told me a bit about what is going on at the Church, Keith. Then he reached over to the side table for his Bible and handed it to me. Asked me to open it where the paper clip was, and to start reading at the 6th verse through the 19th. There, Stewart the Book is right beside you. It was Psalm 34, I think. 'Scuse me, I'm not quite up on these things any more. The stroke musta' been within the half hour after I left." Stewart took the Bible, faced his uncle again, tried to focus on the one moist eye still where it was supposed to be, and read to the silent Scot: 6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. 7The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 9O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. 11Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? 13Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. Krista was holding George's good hand. He slowly withdrew it and displayed his first two fingers. Krista looked puzzled, "Two, the number two. Do you want us to continue with the second Psalm George?" A queer acknowledging smile was made by the good side of the face. Things continued in this fashion for another ten minutes and then the old boy's eyes closed in sleep, one at a time. Others in the room huddled closer, and hugged silently. Katie had remained throughout like a loving sentinel. No one had called for her over the P.A.
Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid? Psalm 27: 1. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? I can still hear the powerful tenor voice of Larnelle Harris pounding out this lyric, and repeating "the Lord is the strength of my life".
Dear believer, have you the witness of his all-capable fathering of you? Do you see it in the scriptures? Do you sense it in the hidden man of the heart? Does He come with calm in the midst of a storm? Does He leave you laughing at your strategies when you neglected Him? Does He bring to your recollection the many rescues and guiding impressions. Does a strange word of comfort or assurance startle you in the night? Toward the end of the Psalm the writer states, "13. I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living". I will repeat it... "in the land of the living". Goodness of this Lord? Did he not shepherd the massive Exodus from Egypt with Moses? Did He not engulf the armies of Pharaoh in the sea? Did he not enter into David's stone launched at Goliath? Did He not cool the flames of the furnace meant to kill the three Hebrew youths? Did He not sculpt that twisting cordillera that you flew over on your holiday? Did he not whip up the angry storm on the open bay and then, just as easily, bring it to a calm? Does He not delight the oriental farmer with the patter of rain for his only crop? Does He not know the time of calving of that Holstein in the Oxford County field? Does he not observe the hungry young ravens which cry from the cedars? Does he not soothe the jagged nerves of staff in the Emergency Ward? Does He not paint the soothing glory of the evening sky? And this Father and his goodness are yours, and yours for good. Of whom then, shall you be afraid?
I was next to hopeless
Had God just let him go And all my prayers and holy airs Just fanned his fires so His house was full of idols And licence without shame And every chance he had He took to smear Jehovah's name. But times were turning hostile An alien force drew near And stories filled the palace Of fury and of fear In time those forces took him To pace an alien cell And left alone to grieve his lot He faced a private hell Where all the past rebellion Was shown in cleansing light And there he prayed another chance To set the score aright "Repentance" such a blessed word And such a simple way My son is now a brand new man And serving God today.