Thought for the Week - 12th DecemberPastor Gareth Watkins
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.
Last week I wrote about Jacob and Jesus and how they feared the Lord. However, there’s lots more to the fear of the Lord, which I’d like to reflect on this week.
Did the early church have a right fear of God? Yes they did. They had peace and were edified. They walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
This is a Godly given gift. The Holy Spirit gives it to Christ, He imparts it to the church and He imparts it to the individuals within that church; that we can be kept on the right path and go forward in the right way. Some Christians only want the comfort part. They want to feel blessed. You can’t have the comfort without the fear. But the order we read shows that the fear of the Lord comes first, and the comfort follows. The comfort is a blessing because we walk in the fear of the Lord.
Some Christians just want a good time. They want to be blessed. They don’t want to be challenged. They don’t want commitments. They don’t want Christ to be King over all things. They don’t want the responsibilities. In the verse above, we read that God has saved these people from their sins. They knew who God was in His rightful place. They came together with a Holy reverential fear. And from that came the comfort and other blessings that He gave them.
The right way is that we come to God, with Him in the right place. We shall have no other God before Him. That should be firmly established in our minds. We come with this reverential fear. Out of these things come all the other blessings and the wonderful things that God has for us.
The results in the early church were there. The old church walked in the fear of the Lord and were fruitful. They multiplied in the right fashion. Where the gifts of the Spirit, the anointing, the covering of God, and the protection of God were with them. Today, we sees churches grow massive in a short space of time only to disperse overnight. These churches were established and kept on establishing, with God right in the very middle of them.
We need to walk rightly with God from the time we start. Out of that correct walking with God comes this comfort and the things that follow. It worked in the early church. It works today. The result in the early church was peace, growth, fruitfulness, and growth. That is a standard for us to follow as a church today.
If we look at role models for us as Christians, Christ is our pattern to follow. The early church in this kind of way, is also a pattern for us to follow. The patterns are there for us to follow.
God imparted these things, through the Holy Spirit, to Jesus Christ. God imparted these things, through the Holy Spirit, to the early church. And it’s part of our spiritual development. It’s not just coming to God, getting saved, and that’s it. There’s more for each one of us to go, each step of the way, as we get older.
We start on our path and there’s a continuing unto Holiness and unto God as we go deeper with Him.
We can read many different examples in the Bible that come to the individual or the church if they’re faithful to God:
In Psalm 111: 10 we read:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom
In Proverbs 1:7 we read:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
We all need to go on. There’s more to go. If Christ delighted in the fear of the Lord, then surely it’s something that we should be able to grasp. We can work on that and learn it. We can learn scriptures to hold us in times of trouble. We need truths.
It will enable us to take divine counsel. It will give us a teachable spirit. We need the fear of the Lord as a foundation for both wisdom and knowledge.
The fear of the Lord allows us to direct other people. When people come to us for advice or other circumstances, what have we got to give? Nothing. But if we have the wisdom of God, the knowledge that comes from God, and if we have the fear of God in the right place, then the scriptures say we can direct people and we can show them the way to go. Otherwise what direction do we point them? Something we think is a good idea? That’s a dangerous path. If we have a right perspective, with the fear of God in the right place, and the wisdom and knowledge from God, then we can direct those people where to go.
The benefits for the development of a Christian are there to see.
You’ll see the outworking of the commandments in your life and in the lives of others. The first commandment is that you have no other God before me. The fear of the Lord ensures you never have any one thing over God. What sort of things can people hold higher than God?
The love of their spouse
The love of their child
The love of having a good time
The love of taking holidays
Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord. The early church also delighted in the fear of the Lord. Immature Christians, in some way don’t have a conscience towards these things. Fear today is a bit of a polluted word. Is it a consequence then that some of these churches are so weak and ineffectual? All because of a lack of the fear of the Lord. If we don’t have the fear of the Lord, we don’t get the things that the early church stood for and understood.
For those who follow Christ and use the example of the early church, there are another whole list of consequences for walking in the fear of the Lord. In Psalm 128: 1-4 we read:
1 Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
2 When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.
For Christian believers, there’s a consequence for believing and following the things of God. For those who don’t believe in God and don’t walk in the fear of God, there’s a consequence for them as well.
Walking in the fear of the Lord produces a result. It’s a powerful thing! Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and walks in His ways. To feel blessed is a huge thing.
On the other hand, to feel not blessed is not walking in His ways. It’s not living well within your life. It’s not being happy with the fruit of your labour. It’s not having a good, faithful family that comes together.
The fear of God brings the blessing of God, which brings the structure that God has for you. People who follow the things of God and get trained by the Holy Spirit find these things are in place for them. These things include a feeling and a sense of being blessed by God. They enjoy the labour of their hands. They’re happy and there’s a sense of well-being with them. There’s a sense that in the heart of the house the children are alive and thrive. God promises that sense of well-being for those people who are His, walk in the fear of the Lord, and walk in His ways.
This is something you cannot buy. This blessing of God, this sense of well-being and sense of fruitfulness and togetherness, God Himself gives. It comes from fearing God.
How do we evidence it in our lives? Do you have a fear of God in your life? Do you put something before God or higher than God? Do you have other comforts before the fear of the Lord? Where would you put yourself? Do you fear the name of God?
If you were to stand in front of Him today, would He say “depart from me because I never knew you”? (Matthew 7: 23). Or do you have the fear of God, walk rightly before God and keep on going forward, and so He can say to you “today you’ll be with me in paradise” (Luke 23: 43).
Every single one of us will have to give Him an account of their lives at some point in time when we meet Him face to face.
Either you’re a follower of Christ or you’re not. You’re either continuing in your journey, or you’re not. We read in the New Testament that we are either a goat or a sheep.
I would encourage you to hear His voice and follow after Him. It’s the best place to be. I recommend the fear of the Lord to you. It keeps you right. Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord, and it’s something we need to aspire too as well.