Monday, March 12, 2007

The Fear of the Lord -- How to Have It

Over the last few weeks I'v posted about this subject of "fearing" God. I started on January 1st with this post. Thinking about this subject started with reading others blogs, dealing with a few personal and professional issues and with looking around me in society, home and church. I was struck with the realization that we are suffering from an acute shortage of wisdom. What is wrong? Could it be that we have lost the understanding of the fear of the Lord?
This picture is called Intense Prayer. That is a hint about what follows.
I posted a picture of "Buddy Christ" and posted about it here. This is satire--or is it? Then we looked at a little C.S. Lewis and thought about Aslan here. And I found a wonderful definition: Holy fear is"Worshipful submission, reverential awe, and obedient respect to God” Then I pondered the relationship between Tolkien's characters, Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins. What a visual reminder of "fear" as we are coming to understand it.

And then I found some benefits of fearing God and posted them yesterday.

Now I'm ending with the how-to. As I prepared to preach about it, and as I posted snippets of those sermons here, I certainly realized that I did not understand this subject in the way that I should. Seeing that is one thing, but how do we change things?
Proverbs 2:1-5 is a list of instructions on how to have genuine fear of the Lord (and thus, to begin to be a person of wisdom). Here is the passage from the New Living Translation.

1 My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.

The King James Version says “receive” my words. Do you listen with submission, seeking what God wants to say to you? It is not just hearing—-it is listening!

"Treasure” is to store something up in a secret place. These things are between you and God. Do we take time to think them through and begin to understand the implications for our own life?
Like Mary did with the words of Gabriel, do we ponder them in our hearts?

2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

The KJV says “incline” your ear. Lean your head over…..listen with care. "Concentrate on understanding" is again telling us that this is not casual, not ho hum stuff. James tells us “Be a doer of the Word, not just a hearer.”

3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.

This is passionate prayer! When is the last time you prayed like you were desperate? I'm not saying we must make a public scene. Crying out for insight needs to happen in the secret place too--but I see a trend here.

4 Search for them (God’s commands) as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

The good news of Jesus love is available to all. But then, we go on to understand what this means to us. Here is what I'm starting to realize. The wisdom of God, it seems, does not come to the casual, apathetic seeker. It does not come to the people who just add religion on as a little piece of their life. It does not come to a lukewarm, passive, Church. It does not come to everyone who says they are a Christian. It comes to those who seek. Jesus said we will find him when we seek him. Search like you were hunting for treasure! God’s jewels are not on the sidewalk to be picked up by anyone. He puts them in places where you have to grasp for them, to hunt for them, to put some effort--some intensity-- into the search. Perhaps that is so we will value them more.

DRUM ROLL.....badadadadadadadadadadadad

5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord ,and you will gain knowledge of God.

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