The Bare Soul - July 29, 2012
The Fear Factor

Exodus 20:20 - Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.

The unknown has always shaken mankind's sensibilities. So much is indefinite about our day to day living that humans create notions of fear around things that seem unpredictable. If it is logical, certain, and conventional then we generally have less fear regarding their outcomes. However, if we cannot predict something in our respective lives it creates fear and uncertainty. Our present economy should certainly give someone pause regarding how secure we are as a society. For many who do not God, this is undoubtedly a very troubling time as job and financial security are at 70 year lows. Currently, the U.S. Midwest is affected by the worst drought in more than 25 years. Unsettling times create unsettled minds that are prone to anxiety. However, while no one can predict the economy or the weather, there is a solution that does not necessarily end these problems, but puts them into proper perspective.

Many of us do not look forward to God coming into our lives in ways that appear like judgment. Many of us who have been praying that God would revive His church in westernized Christianity often have a selfish mentality concerning what this should look like. We might imagine how the Lord will come down and shower us with His presence and we will all be bathed in His joy and peace and we will have this perpetual smile on our face. This is purely sentimental and unrealistic regarding how God has moved in the past and how He will continue to move in our present and future state. Ideally, anxieties and fears are meant to do only one thing constructive in the lives of believers---drive us to the Lord. As our lead verse states, God will come, but it will often be in the manner of a test to see how we will react. Will we succumb to the onslaught of bills, or a wrecked marriage, or a weakened economy where our jobs are uncertain? Or, will we trust in God and reverence Him for all He is doing? Isaiah understood the significance concerning how we experience the darkness or the "night of the soul." In these times, he tells us how it is imperative we keep things in proper perspective, knowing what the Lord is doing in our midst. He writes regarding God's protection the following: "At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; for when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." (Isaiah 26:9) The prophet understood how judgments should often be viewed as the catalyst to bring about God's desired result upon the earth. Without a doubt, we should plead for God's mercy, but we must understand that often His grace and tender mercies come through chastisement. Are we ready for God to scourge us as sons and daughters in this way? This is the drawing of the Lord, beloved, to make us into His image.

Too often, we understand a portion of this truth, but are easily swayed once again by our own fear. We end up embracing our anxiety because it is familiar and desirous since it is somewhat "comfortable." However, as Moses stated in Exodus 20:20, there is a way to allow the fear of the Lord to remain with us, chasing away all earthly and manmade fears. We must understand how the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). And, if it is the beginning of wisdom it is also the end of wisdom as well as the acquiring of it. There is no greater thing that we might seek as Christians, beloved. Once we have a bit of the fear of the Lord to keep us from sin, then we must continue to pray for more of the fear of the Lord leading to more wisdom (Ephesians 1:17-19). We must give ourselves to asking God to replace the fear of man with His fear, for as the psalmist states, it is clean and endures forever (Psalm 19:9). Consequentially, the second half of this verse states how ... "the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous all together." Clearly, the fear of the Lord is necessary to understand how the judgments of God are not to be feared but embraced, eventually resulting in His ultimate mercies.

The carnal or fleshly person might read our lead verse and see blatant contradiction regarding the fear factor. However, those who are spiritually discerning know the fear of man devours faith and continues to facilitate our separation from God. With God's help, we must understand that the fear of the Lord is possibly the greatest gift given to mankind outside of Christ's redemption. We are told throughout the book of Proverbs it is the beginning of wisdom and by Moses in this verse how it keeps us from sin. May we pray daily for the fear of the Lord, for from it flows the wisdom of God. Through this factored fear, we will be able to gain all of Jesus' redemption which cost Him so dearly.

Heavenly Father, may we grow in the fear of the Lord. It is clean, enduring forever which will chase away doubt, anxiety, and every fear generated from the soul of man. May we rest in the assurance that your judgments are the kindest thing you can give us as a wayward people. Revive us through your great love. Send your judgments bathed in Your great mercies. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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