Tool for HeartConnexion® Living
Bring the “Fear of the Lord”
Into Every Life Situation (Part 2)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encampagainstme,myheartshallnotfear;thoughwarmayriseagainstme,in this I will be confident.” -Psalm27:1 (NKJV)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me… – Psalm 23:4a
“I pray best in the dentist’s chair.” – A Benedictine Sister
The scriptures in Part 1 suggested that the “fear of the Lord” is a positive source of strength and courage to overcome human fears that could keep us from living in grace, experiencing freedom and choosing obedience to God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning (cornerstone) of experiential knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and the foundation of wisdom – the practical application of knowledge about how to live daily life (Proverbs 9:10). It is the source of confidence, discernment to avoid evil and confidence to overcome the fear of evil (Proverbs 16:6,7; Psalm 23; 112:7).
Part 2 is about using “the fear of the Lord” when we experience temptation. Grace challenges us to build life on the foundational reality of God’s love and our respect for that love. Whatever distracts us from an active awareness of our “fear of the Lord” increases the power of temptation to rationalize and justify agreeing with the “yes” that our feelings shout at those times. Remember the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39)? Joseph had been literally down to the pits of life. Then he was riding high as administrator of Potiphar’s household. The scene includes: a young, strong, hairy, good-looking, virgin Jewish male; an absent husband; and, a lonely and needy married woman (Potiphar was probably a eunuch as a servant of Pharaoh) who wants Joseph to satisfy her. Joseph might have justified going along. He wouldn’t be breaking up a happy home and he could lose everything if he refused. But his “respect” for both Potiphar and for the Lord overrode the temptation. His decision was probably not based on feelings; likely it was by deciding against them. Perhaps he could have fooled Potiphar, but he could not cover it up before God. The largeness of God, our appreciation for grace and awareness of not being able to fool Him is a measure of our “fear of the Lord.”
“…whom shall I fear?… of whom shall I be afraid?” Do we fear life circumstances more than we “fear the Lord?” What is the source of our anxiety about performance? In whose eyes do we fear seeing displeasure or condemnation? Do we live in the fear of death more than an awareness that it has been conquered by grace and resurrection? Lord-fear is a way to give greater reverence and awe to God than to our fear of the worst anyone can do to us. We can choose to respect God’s promises more than the threats (negative promises) of those who would harm us. Fighting the natural life-fear of our circumstances on our own generally leads to physical, emotional and spiritual illness. Responding with Lord-fear can lead us to rest – not a passive fatalism, but a courage to walk in the shadow of the worst and not fear that evil is more powerful than grace.
It is critical to hear and know that the “fear of the Lord” does not automatically guarantee success, improvement or circumstantial happiness. Healthy spirituality has no room for a triumphalism that suggests everything will be wonderful if we have enough faith or that feeds on denial. Bringing to bear our Lord-fear on life-fear is a way of facing life confidently, knowing that we may be ill, become bankrupt, and suffer all kinds of painful losses, yet face it honestly and confidently. It is our “fear of the Lord” that allows us to persevere and triumph at times when feelings tell us that faith does not work.
Small Group Sharing:
- Can you identify with the Benedictine Sister’s statement above? How have fearful times strengthened your faith?
- Does your experience confirm that distractions from awareness of Lord-fear increase temptation’s power?
- Have you experienced the message of triumphalism from a church or individual? How did it impact your faith?
- How can we encourage you in bringing the “fear of the Lord” into facing a life-fear?
- How would your life be different if you started using this tool for HeartConnexion living?
Proverbs1: 7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NKJV)
Proverbs 1:29-33 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.
Proverbs 2: 1 – 8 My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. (NKJV)
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding….” (NKJV)
Proverbs 14: 26 – 27 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death. (NKJV)
Proverbs 16:6,7 In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. (NKJV)
Psalm 25:12-14 Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. (NASB)
Psalm 27: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. (NKJV)
Psalm 111:10; 112: 1, 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever…. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments…. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (NKJV)
Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. (NKJV)
Dr. Paul D. Fitzgerald, ©2003 HeartConnexion Ministries