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The Fear of the Lord
by Pastor Jeff Morlock
If the words of today’s reading don’t seem to describe you right now, you’re not alone. When I read that those who fear the Lord will attain riches, or that a righteous person isn’t afraid of bad news, but has a steady heart that is always victorious, I begin to wonder, “What I am I doing wrong?”
The psalmist is describing the blessed life, a life that has as its foundation the fear of the Lord. To fear God is to believe what he has said about you more than you believe what others say, and even more than what your own experience may lead you to believe. So while your life may not be overflowing with the riches of this world, God has given you a wealth of love, joy, peace, hope, and other treasures of his kingdom. So far, so good. But then comes verses 6-8 and that part about righteous person never being shaken by adversity. If you’re thinking, “Wow, I have a long way to go,” remember that righteousness is not something that can be attained by greater effort. It is God’s gift, paid for by Jesus’ death and resurrection. He has taken your sin and doubt and has given you his virtue, his “rightness.”
And notice the tense of these verses. The righteous will never be moved, they will not be afraid. These are promises of future hope. They represent a vision of a person who lives by God’s words. If we could trusting the truth of God’s words all the time, then these verses would be true of us all the time. Because we are simultaneously sinners and redeemed saints, we can never live perfectly by God’s words. But Christ holds fast to us even when we fail to hold fast to him.
Christ holds fast even when your emotions deceive you. You may think, “I’ll never be happy again,” “No one cares,” “I can't be forgiven,” “I’m a complete failure.” But God says other things about you - namely that your joy is in him, that he will never leave you nor forsake you, that your failures can never separate you from his love, and that he wants to use you in his mission to save the world!
How you feel is conditioned by what you’re experiencing at any given moment. But faith grabs hold of something outside your experience, something objective and true that is not changed by circumstances. To fear the Lord is to be set free by all that he has declared about you and promised to you.
T.R.I.P. Prayer As you reflect on today's reading, what are you Thankful for? What does this word call you to Repent of? How does it lead you to Intercede (pray) for others? What do you Plan to do in response to what you have read?