In Acts 13:36 we read that David “served the purposes of God.” What if 52 weeks from now we could say the same thing? What if 2019 was a great year not because we stayed (or got) healthy or experienced material prosperity or relational harmony but because we were faithful in living out our purpose as God’s people at Rock Bridge?
I am convinced that part of 2019’s faithfulness hinges upon fear. Not fear of failure or what other people think about us but rather the fear of the Lord. Granted, the link between fearing God and a faithful and fruitful 2019 at first does not seem clear. However, let’s consider that this fear is the key initial ingredient to wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). This fear is good and necessary for life and happiness.
- The fear of the Lord leads to life; one will sleep at night without danger. [Proverbs 19:23, CSB]
- Hallelujah! Happy is the person who fears the Lord, taking great delight in his commands. [Psalm 112:1]
Before we can rightly ask for and have this type of fear, we might need to unlearn something. Many of us have a fear of God that is associated with punishment, condemnation, or rejection. However, this fear is removed because Jesus experienced all of those things for us and instead of us on the Cross. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is none of these things lest it cause us to run from Him instead of to draw near to Him.
Instead, the fear of the Lord is a sense of awe and reverence for God’s holiness, majesty and transcendence coupled with a desire never to stray from Him nor to offend His righteousness. The fear of the Lord causes us to stagger with a sense of God’s greatness and yet marvel at His mercy to us in Christ.
Blaise Pascal describes an experience he had on Monday, November 23, 1654 from 10:30 pm – 12:30 am. This experience might equate to rightly fearing the Lord:
“FIRE … God of Abraham … of Isaac … of Jacob … Joy, joy, joy tears of joy … Renunciation, total and sweet. Complete submission to Jesus …”
When is the last time words like “fire” and “glory” described any of our encounters with God? When is the last time we read the Word of God and trembled (Isaiah 66:2)?
When is the last time we entered a worship service and expected an encounter with the Living God? When is the last time we sang a lyric from a worship song and felt the weight of its truth combined with a sense of awe about Who God is? Could a non-believer enter a Rock Bridge worship service and come to believe that God was among us (I Corinthians 14:24-25) because of the serious joy, holy delight and reverent awe seen in God’s people?
Have we instead made God too trivial, too familiar, or too optional? Have we pursued pleasure more in His gifts than in Him? Have certain sins become tolerable and acceptable? Then we pray with the psalmist:
Teach me Your way O Lord and I will walk in Your truth;
Give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your Name.
So let’s begin 2019 as a church with a resolve to fear Him, knowing we deserve His wrath but have been given His Son. As His people, let’s resolve to gather weekly in worship with a sense of awe about Who He is and a passion to pursue Him. And let’s never be content to live with sin or anything else that would hinder having more of Him.