Tuesday, 3/31/20 – Pressing on…

“Blessing” and “Fear”

woman in gray tank top covering her face with her hand

Last Sunday during our interactive online Sunday morning service a couple of questions were raised. One participant sought clarification as to the meaning of the word “Blessed.” Another was curious about the word “Fear” – does it really mean we are to “be afraid” of God, or simply that we should respect Him? We can learn much about these words simply by examining the original Greek (NT) or Hebrew (OT) word from which they were translated.

In the O.T. Hebrew the word “fear” ( יראה / yir’âh ) when used of our conduct before Almighty God carries the sense of fear, terror, fearing, as of an awesome or terrifying thing.

city man person people

Job is described as one who “feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) When the Ten Commandments were given the people trembled as Mount Sinai smoked amid thunder, lightning and trumpet blast. “God has come to test you,” said Moses, “so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Exod. 20:20). Years later wise King Solomon wrote “To fear the LORD is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13). It is clear from these passages that a wholesome “fear of God” and a steering clear of sin go hand in hand.

We find a similar sentiment in the N.T. Greek ( φοβέω / phobeō ) which means to put to flight by terrifying, to fear, to be afraid, or seized with alarm!

Speaking of the fear we should have toward God Jesus is very direct.woman wearing red hat and sunglasses “…I will show you whom you should fear,” He says, “Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5; See also Matt. 10:28). “Conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth,” writes Peter (1 Peter 1:17). Fear of God is among our most fundamental of obligations. “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (1 Peter 2:17).

Like it or not, fear of God – real, trembling man before Maker fear – is fundamental to Christian faith. It is essential to repentance, to recognition of our absolute need to make peace with our Creator! Here, “respect” just won’t do. When, in recognition of this, a soul cries out “O God! Save me!” miracle of miracles is this: He does!

What amazing good news it is that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The Christian recognizes what a fearful God has received him and now enjoys “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). He knows how horrid and consequential a thing sin is and he desires never again to arouse God’s displeasure.

selective focus photo of woman smiling

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10) It is the seed… the core of the full grown fruit. Without it we have but a shell, a shapeless religion devoid of eternal gratitude for salvation from wrath.

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1).

It is perhaps only against this backdrop of the fear of God that we can best appreciate what it is to be “blessed” of God. Literally, the word simply means “happy” or “fortunate” but what a woefully weak word “happy” is in this context. To no longer be under the wrath of God, but to be graced by undue favour instead – all because Christ bore this wrath for us. To even be accepted by God at all! This is to be blessed!

Press on…

To see and hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look for the March 29 post. Or, link to the page from the church website.

Monday, 2/3/20 – Pressing on…

Floodgates and Heavens

silhouette and grayscale photography of man standing under the rain

This past Sunday our worship team launched our service with the praiseful song “Open up the Heavens” in which the chorus shouts

Open up the Heavens / We want to see You
Open up the floodgates / A mighty river
Flowing from Your heart / Filling every part of our praise!

The song is a prayer, inviting the Spirit of God to both descend from above and erupt from within, and there is precedent for this entreaty…

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The prophet Isaiah cried, “…let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit…” (Isa. 45:8). Ezekiel explained, “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” (Ezek. 1:1). To the faithful tither God tosses the challenge “…test Me now in this… if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Mal. 3:10)

selective focus photo of obalte green leafed plants during rain

Jesus assured “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38). As he was being stoned to his death Stephen testified “I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56). And Peter “saw the sky opened up…“ as God affirmed to him His plan to extend salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 10:11).

But water cannot drench where it is prevented by an umbrella. It cannot quench where the bottle is corked.

photo of person holding an umbrella

Just one year after my birth the classic musical/romantic comedy “Singin’ in the Rain” came to theatres. An iconic scene from the movie features director, choreographer and dancer Gene Kelly gleefully singing and dancing in a downpour. He’s carrying an umbrella, but it remains closed for the most part. He’s getting drenched, but he doesn’t mind at all. At one point he even stands beneath a gushing downspout!  — Check out the scene here .

Pastor Andrew’s message Sunday morning warned us against the dangers of a “hardened” heart… a heart that has become slow to obey, then stiffened by self-will, no longer pliable clay but dry, cracking, brittle.

silhouette of woman under rain

The only hope for softening a substance like that is a good, long soaking… a drenching and absorbing.

This week, let’s keep singing… pleading… “Open up the Heavens… open up the floodgates…” but let us ensure no umbrellas are up, no hearts are closed.

It’s a wonderful thing the Lord seeks to do in us… in you. And it’s a wonderful rest He offers. But more about that tomorrow…

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 2 message.