The Fear of the Lord

Lilliy puppy

The fear of the Lord is not being afraid of God.  The fear of the Lord is so much greater than this.  It is awe, respect, reverence, which turns into love and devotion.

It has been fun and a challenge to train our new Leader Dog for the Blind puppy, Annie.  We have had her for 2 weeks now and she is certainly gaining in understanding of house training.  I have not used rewards in training her to house train, rather just praise and lots of love and some “no, no we don’t do that in the house.”  I am amazed that this has actually worked.  She is definitely not as treat driven as our other two puppies we have raised for Leader Dogs.

Psalm 112 tells us about the qualities in a person’s life who fears the Lord.  Being a list person, I like this Psalm.  It is clear and concise and reads like a list.

Psalm 112:1-10

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord (v. 1)

What are the qualities of a man or woman that fears the Lord?

  1. They greatly delight in God’s commandments (v.1)
  2. Gracious (v. 4)
  3. Merciful (v. 4)
  4. Righteous (v. 4)
  5. Deals generously (v. 5)
  6. Conducts affairs with justice (v. 5)
  7. Heart is steady (v. 8)
  8. Not afraid (v. 8)

As we fear the Lord and realize how awesome He is, we begin to have qualities that flow from our lives that show definitively to those around us that we are a child of the King.  We talk differently.  We act differently.  We give differently.  We live differently.

As Annie, our puppy, continues to grow in maturity it will not just be the bandanna she wears that declares that she is a service dog, it will hopefully also be her actions.  She will walk nicely on her leash.  She will listen for and obey commands.  She will look out for her owner and help guide them through life.  It will be her actions that will be define her as a service dog.  The bandanna is just a confirmation of what you see in her life.

As we fear the Lord, it is not the Bible we carry or the weekly church meetings we attend that declare we are Christians and fear the Lord. (We should regularly attending church).  Rather, it should be our delight in God’s commands, our graciousness, our mercy, our righteousness, our generosity, our justice, and our lack of fear.

Paul encourages in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” If we are living our lives with the qualities of someone who fears the Lord, then we have nothing to be ashamed of when we share the Gospel.

When the puppies we raise are obedient, I am not ashamed.  When they are a handful, I want to take off their bandannas and leave them at home.

“Blessed is the man or woman who fears the Lord.”  What would your actions, words, giving, and living convict you of?

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Reciprocation

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I think we would all agree that it is certainly easier to have a friendship or a relationship with another person when that person likes us. When they treat us with respect, we are more apt to want to spend time with them.  When they do kind things for us, we want to return the favor and do kind things for them.  I met a lady last week that moved about the same time we did last year and has a daughter the same age as our youngest high school daughter.  We moved from similar areas.  As we were parting ways she said, “It would be nice to get together and have coffee sometime.”  I emailed her later and her response was again very pleasant and encouraging, “I was serious about getting coffee together.”  It certainly makes us want to reach out to someone that wants to spend time with us.

Why is it when God said in I Samuel 12:24, “Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart, for consider what great things He has done for you,” the Israelites did not follow His commands?

As we were reminded in the last blog post, the Israelites were in a constant routine of disobedience, punishment, cry for help, then obedience.  It seems easy for me to look at them and think, “What on earth was their problem?”  God had saved them from their Egyptian slavery, divided the Red Sea so they could cross on solid, dry ground, defeated numerous enemies, provided food for 40 years, and gave them a land “flowing with milk and honey.”

As we have looked at this passage in I Samuel 12:20-24, God has been giving the Israelites instructions through Samuel.  These instructions are summarized again in verse 24, “fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully.”  Two instructions that must be followed and why should the people do this?  “Consider how great things God has done for you.” (I Samuel 12:24).

It is much easier for me to have a relationship with someone who reciprocates.  Here is God saying to the people, “I have done all these things for you and all I ask is for you to do two things: Fear Me and serve Me faithfully.”

So why was it so hard?  Selfishness.  Pride. Desire to be like the others.  Desire for instant gratification.  Greed.  Do we not grapple with these same issues?

Fearing the Lord is having a deep respect and awe for the Lord.  It is having no other gods before the One True God.  We may not worship idols, but there are many other things we do place before God in our priority list that God would consider an idol.

One of the things that God desires in this area of fearing Him is having a relationship with Him.  It is hard to have a relationship with someone we do not spend time with.  It is also not a very meaningful relationship if all we ever do is ask for things.  Is your time with God each day time with the most important person in your life?  Is your time with God guarded from any interruptions?  Is your time with God put above anything else that seems to be pressing in on your day?  I have used these examples before but many great men of the faith such as George Mueller spent more time with God each morning the busier they were rather than less time.  We would be wise to follow suit.

One of the main purposes God created us is to have a relationship with Him.  After all He has done for us, we would be wise to plan our days around our time with the Lord, rather than fitting Him into the time we have left over.

Serving God faithfully looks different for each person.  God has a different plan for each of our lives.  He created each of us with different abilities.  Yet, whatever we do should be done in faithful service to Him.

After all that God has done for us, we should desire to fear Him and serve Him.  This is not just any ‘ole someone that desires this.  This is the God of the universe. He created you.

Rather than go to coffee with a friend, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or in my case brew a cup of tea), sit down with God’s Word, and seek His face.  There will be no regrets.

Keep Praying! Keep Teaching! Keep Doing Good!

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I have been on a mission for the last 15 months to improve my prayer life.  I do not think I have it all figured out.  For several weeks during the spring (2017), I went to a prayer time for the missionaries our church supports.  I enjoyed my time with those that were there praying with me immensely.  They were retired missionaries and other senior saints that blessed me and taught me.  As we sat talking about prayer before our actual prayer time one of these gentleman said, “I keep changing my prayer method trying to improve on what I had done previously.”  What a blessing to me to hear others that are far wiser than I struggle with the same things I do.

I Samuel 12:23 reminds me how important and integral prayer is to our lives.

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” (I Samuel 12:23).

I have been writing about this section of Scripture for a few weeks now.  Just a little reminder of what we have learned. This is the conclusion of Samuel’s farewell address to the children of Israel.  They had asked for a king and God gave them a king.  Samuel reminded them that asking for a king was evil.  He reminded them, though, that now that they had a king they needed to remember a few things:

  1. Do not turn aside from following the Lord
  2. Serve the Lord with your whole heart
  3. Empty things do not profit
  4. Fear the Lord

As Samuel was reminding them of these key things, he told them that he also had a responsibility.  It was not just for them to follow God, he also had a responsibility: PRAY AND TEACH.  Samuel did not just instruct others.  He also informed the Israelites of his responsibility and if he did not fulfill his responsibilities, it was a sin against the Lord.  What was this sin against the Lord:  ceasing to pray for the Israelites.

The Israelites were a tough crowd.  They continued to follow after sinful things.  Even when instructed to do what is right and committing to do what is right, they still sinned.  They worshipped false gods.  They married foreigners.  They adopted pagan ways.  They forgot God who had brought them into the Promised Land.  They repeatedly were in a cycle of apostasy, judgment, servitude, crying out to the Lord for relief from their servitude, repentance, and rescue.  Then they would forget what God had done for them and start the cycle again.

I am sure Samuel would get discouraged with these people he was attempting to shepherd.  They had ears but did not listen.  Yet, he had a responsibility: pray and teach.  Samuel was challenging himself not to give up.  The way seemed uphill every day.  Easy to want to quit.  Since we know the rest of the Old Testament story of the Israelites, the other prophets continued to pray and teach the Israelites and they continued to have ears that did not hear.  God knew this, yet he kept sending prophets to teach them.

Do you feel like giving up on a good deed?  The Bible is full of stories of those who had insurmountable tasks.  Paul being one of those and yet he reminded the Thessalonians and he also reminds us

“Do not grow weary in doing good.” (I Thessalonians 3:13).

Let me challenge you along with challenging myself: Keep praying! Keep teaching!  Keep doing good!

“For in due season, we will reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9).