One Fear You Don’t Want to Lose: Living with Appropriate Fear of the Lord

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There are things in life that you need a healthy fear of: open flames, dangerous or abusive people, life-threatening diseases, identify theft, riding with your son or daughter behind the wheel when they have just received their temps. No, in all honesty, there are things that we would be foolish not to fear.

But what does it mean when we hear in the book of Proverbs that we are to fear the Lord?

Some people think that we are to wander around afraid of God all of our days. Some might say that we should live joyless, unhappy lives plagued by God’s arbitrary activity in the world – you never know what He might do with sinners like us. There is a sense of terror in some people’s view of God.

But that’s not what fear of the Lord means when we look at it in the Bible. Let’s read the two key verses that phrase appears, Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10, which serve as book-ends around the first large section of the book of Proverbs.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

In the Bible, the concept of the fear of the Lord holds in tension that we stand before a powerful God who also wants to relate with us.

We are talking about the God who created everything…who spoke all of creation into being with a word…we are talking about the God who has brought into being more than 20,000 species of fish, some who exist at depths of 3,000 to 6,000 feet…we are talking about the God who has brought more than 250,000 species of plants into being and who actually knows the difference between Poa protensis (bluegrass) and Adansonia digitata (baobab tree)….the God who, it says elsewhere, sustains all things, including not only our solar system but also the 200-400 billion solar systems in the Milky Way Galaxy, and the estimated 100-200 billion galaxies in the known universe.

This is the sort of God we are talking about when we approach the scriptures.

We should be humbled when we approach God. We should realize that we are very small. We should approach God with, as one Old Testament scholar writes, “knee-knocking awe.” God is truly the only awesome one. When we realize who we are dealing with in this way, then we are starting to get at what fear of the Lord means.

But here is the other side of that story. This same awesome God who with a word created such varied beauty and variety in our world and countless wonders throughout the known and unknown universe – this same God actually wants to relate to human beings; no, not just that, this same God wants to relate to you – YOU – and me.

That’s what the Bible tells us. The Bible is the story of God reaching out to human beings, starting with Adam and Eve, and carrying on through characters like Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob, Ruth, Nehemiah, Esther and more. This reaches its pinnacle in the awesome story of God becoming a man – the wonder of incarnation – when Jesus Christ walked our world, died, and rose again. Jesus is the supreme example of God’s outstretched hands to humanity.

That same all-powerful and tremendously creative God who should inspire knee-knocking awe in us, also wants to inspire intimate relationship with us. He wants us to have reverent trust with Him. And when we realize who we are dealing with in this way, then we are starting to get at what fear of the Lord means.

Knee-knocking awe before the only awesome God.

Reverent trust in relationship with a loving God.

True wisdom comes when we have an appropriate fear of the Lord.

Work and the Sluggard (Study Questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church entitled “Work and the Sluggard.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was the time when you worked the hardest in your life? What was the situation and circumstances that brought that about?
  2. Proverbs is filled with words about work and sloth. Two key passages about sloth and work are found in Proverbs 6:6-11 and 24:30-34. Read these Scripture passages out loud. For each of them, identify characteristics of sloth versus diligence. What would you say is the defining difference between a slothful person and a diligent person according to these two passages?Read More »

Work and the Sluggard

This weekend at Eastbrook I concluded our series on Proverbs entitled “Words to Live By” with a message entitled “Work and the Sluggard.”

Throughout this series, we have been tracing themes through Proverbs and, believe it or not, sloth and laziness is a major theme of this book. It is caricatured in a person called “the sluggard.”

You can listen to my message online at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also subscribe to the Eastbrook podcast here or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter.

My message outline is below.Read More »

Our Plans and God’s Plans (Study Questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message from this past weekend at Eastbrook ChurchOur Plans and God’s Plans.”

Discussion Questions

1. When was a time when you really knew you were living God’s plans for you? How did you know?  Or, when was a time when you realized that you were not living God’s plans for you? How did you know?

2. Proverbs 16:4 (NLT) says: “The Lord has made everything for His own purposes.” What are the implications of this verse for our lives?Read More »

The Fear of the Lord

This weekend at Eastbrook we continued our series on Proverbs entitled “Words to Live By.” I lead us through a look at what could be termed the key to the life of wisdom according to the Bible: having an appropriate fear of the Lord. I rooted the message in two texts:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

You can listen to my message online at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also subscribe to the Eastbrook podcast here or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter.

My message outline is below.Read More »

Words to Live By

This weekend we begin a series called “Words to Live By” on Proverbs at Eastbrook Church that will run through most of the summer.

Every one of us encounters situations where we need good advice. We look for advice about our relationships, our finances, our future, and more. If we’re honest, the question isn’t whether we need advice or not, but where we should turn for real wisdom. The Old Testament book of Proverbs provides us with the sort of wisdom we need, bringing God’s truth right into our daily lives. Join us as we discover words to live by in the book of Proverbs.