A Journey Thru Acts 37: The Fear of the LORD 1 (9:31)
What does it look like to receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior & Master?
Bringing to Him your face (e.g. soul) without the foundation make-up; realizing & repenting of the deplorable state of our complexion underneath everything we have layered on top of it to make us feel good about what we see in the spiritual mirror (when we think of ourselves). Bringing Him your true soul with all it’s blackheads & blemishes & pock marks & scars & crying out to Him for new life, mercy, forgiveness & adoption. And He will give you all that & more—He will also CLEAR your complexion over time to match HIS!
Stare at HIS perfect complexion, loved ones, stare at His character thru the Bible: that is what we are doing this post, that is why we go thru the Bible slowly & with longer than average sermons. Not because I just want to talk more & keep you in the building longer, but so we can stare at and be amazed by HIS complexion, His character, His heart of mercy & compassion, His power & fierceness as well as His gentleness & tenderness.
What does it look like to receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior & King?
Bringing Him your inner Steve Rogers without the serum you have pumped yourself up with to become your version of Captain America.
- physical looks,
- climbing the corporate ladder,
- the pursuit of sinful pleasure,
- achievements, or
- even whether it’s good deeds—
bringing to the Lord Jesus in repentance of whatever we pump ourselves up with so that we feel good about what we see in the mirror, so that we feel satisfied when we think of ourselves, bring all that to Christ, admitting to Him that deep down you are the scrawny, wimpy, sinful, selfish little Steve Rogers who can’t get accepted into the army, who can’t even buy his way into it, and crying out to the Lord Jesus for new life, mercy, forgiveness & adoption.
And then by faith receiving from Him all that & more—He will transform you to feel good about what you see when you gaze at HIM, when you stare at Him, when you think about Him—HE will be your satisfaction, Him Who you see as your Master, not satisfied by yourself—what you see in your mirror.
And over time, as you mature in Christ, when others see you they will begin to see Him more and more. THAT is what we are doing this morning, loved ones—THAT is why I am so excited to gather together to praise the LORD with you all & to proclaim the Good News to you all. 🙂
The last three posts, we have been digging into Acts 8:26-40 to understand exactly what Philip told the Ethiopian eunuch: the Good News about the Lord Jesus Christ!
In this post, the LORD blesses us to move on to Acts 9:31. We are skipping ahead to verse 31 because Grant preached a fantastic sermon last July on Acts 9:1-30 (please click HERE). Please read those verses on your own—so much gold there!
Acts 9:31: Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee & Samaria
enjoyed a time of peace & was strengthened.
Living in the fear of the Lord and
encouraged by the Holy Spirit,
it increased in numbers.
Oh loved ones, where did the peace & strength of the early Church come from?
How did it increase as it was encouraged by the Holy Spirit?
Because they learned to live in the fear of the LORD.
Easily one of the most neglected teachings of the Bible—the importance of fearing God. We artfully dance around it & keep going while we whistle casually, as if it were a smashed jar of spaghetti on the floor at the grocery store.
If God is willing, in the next two posts we will dig into the Bible to see
- some of the benefits of fearing the LORD,
- how to fear the LORD, &
- examples of the LORD’s fierceness (why He should be feared).
But in this post, please let me make some opening comments:
“Fear” and “God” or “fear” and “Lord” appear together in the Bible 227 times—wow! It is a Biblical command from Genesis to Revelation that we can’t overlook/push aside, especially not if we want the Lord’s peace, strength & encouragement.
The Lord Jesus in Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Wow. The Lord Jesus is teaching us to know God the Father for Who He really is, not who we think He is or who we want Him to be. But that doesn’t just describe the Father:
Please consider this description of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 3:7:
“These are the words of him [Jesus] who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.
What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
- God can set us free forever!
God can also imprison forever. Both are loving when God does them.
- God can forgive!
God can also judge and sentence. Both are loving when God does them.
- God gives!
God takes away. Both are loving when God does them.
That’s encouraging—Jesus can open the door of forgiveness and eternal life that NO ONE can shut! Amazing grace!!!
That’s frightening—Jesus can close the door of forgiveness & eternal life that no one can open (if we don’t receive Jesus as our Savior & King)! Amazing justice!!!
Both are loving! Both are Jesus!
Throughout the Bible we see God revealing Himself as both
gentle and fierce,
meek and bold,
humble and strong,
tender and terrifying,
a soft whisper and explosive thunder/lightening.
Fearing God is not being terrified of Him so that you run away from Him like
Fearing God is saying,
“Because of Who You are, Lord Jesus, I won’t miss out on You!”
“Because of Who You are, Lord Jesus, I won’t mess with You!”
We must learn to tremble in the LORD’s presence,
to be reverent of His majesty & power & authority.
We understand this when it comes to powerful tools like chainsaws—there is training needed to use them, steps to take for protection; to casually just grab it & use it while multi-tasking other things/not paying attention can cost you a limb or your life.
Can’t just hop into a racecar & drive to get some spicy Cheetoes from the store. You’ll crash/hurt yourself/others—these powerful vehicles require training, respect, carefulness, attention to detail. You don’t see NASCAR drivers texting while they race. Not because there is a law but because they realize it is foolish/reckless.
- You better believe that NASCAR drivers have fun—they totally enjoy their jobs! But they respect the power of the car, they don’t goof around flippantly & treat the car like it’s a lawn mower/toy. Their utter respect for the car enables them to have fun! Same with us & the LORD…
These are imperfect illustrations—God isnt a tool we use, & we’re not to be behind the wheel of our lives—Christ isn’t our co-pilot, He’s our pilot & doesn’t need our help to drive or navigate!
But we understand the idea of being respectful in the presence of things that are powerful, that are capable of both great blessing & enjoyment & great pain when misused.
- Even irreverent people temporarily act fantastic & polite & respectful in a courtroom when the judge enters—all rise! We realize the importance & authority of the judge—what the judge can do–even those who don’t like the judge at all!
We must learn from the LORD to fear Him in a healthy way—to be utterly respectful of His power and authority and majesty. We MAY approach the bench, as it were! But respectfully, reverently, only through faith in the LORD Jesus Christ, remembering what it cost Him to give us such personal access.
- We can enter His Oval Office/Throne Room anytime to sit on His lap and be warmly embraced by Him—He is our Perfect DAD!
- But we are to still learn to be respectful & humble & reverent as well, not waltz in & put up our feet on the table and turn up the t.v. loudly and act like He isn’t there, act like it’s OUR office, while He is having a meeting, talking to Him as if He is our classmate and not our King.
Does this mean we aren’t allowed to laugh or smile or joke around as Christians?
Of course we can! God invented laughter! & He created holy & hilarious situations in life to lovingly laugh at! America’s Funniest Home videos has made a multi-decade show about some of these silly, slightly painful but hilarious little moments of common life!
But WHAT do we laugh at? Do we laugh at & enjoy sin, what the Lord Jesus died to forgive? What do we joke around about? Things that grieve the Holy Spirit?
Of course in this local church we don’t have to come in, sit down, be quiet, keep your head down, wear all black, act miserable, quietly leave hunched over when the service is done, go home and eat unflavored oatmeal three times a day.
We can dance & sing & rejoice in the LORD—”rejoice” occurs 154x in the Bible (please click HERE)!—we can and we MUST learn this! SHOUT for joy—this isn’t a library here and God is our Father not Cosmic Librarian constantly telling us to “Shush!”
But we also need to learn to not be so casual in the church building (& out of it!) that we forget/overlook the owner of the building, the center of attention, the reason we are here! We are not here just to drink a little coffee, have a delicious treat, chat a bit, joke around, get a few laughs to encourage us from a tough week, then get out of the door “on time” so we can calm our conscience & move on to the plans we’re REALLY excited about. We are here to worship the LORD Almighty, we are here to act as if He really is in the building with us…because He is!
Don’t try to tame Jesus, loved ones–don’t try to make Him safe. He is not safe! But He is good. He is faithful, but He is not predictable. He is the God Who loves us so much that He will put us in the furnace of affliction in order to refine us like gold & burn off the sin & impurities & dross that we idolize/love/cling to instead of Him & His righteousness.
He will break us down in order to build us up new & make us holy! “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
That is God as He has revealed Himself–that is the God we are to fear, to respect, to reverence, to be in awe of, not casual & flippant with. When you enter the church building or a Bible study, don’t tussle Jesus’ hair & give Him a friendly punch in the shoulder as you then move on to other things & forget Him entirely, as you focus on friends or music or sports or small talk or complaining or anything else except worshiping Him as LORD & King & Master.
Don’t enjoy the party so much that you neglect the Person the party is designed to honor! Don’t go to the birthday party just to get a goody-bag at the end–go to honor the birthday boy–really, the God-Man, the Warrior-King Who was born as one of us though without sin to take our sin & die in our place that we could become sons & daughters of the Father!
He is gentle, but remember He has the hands of a carpenter–rough, tough, calloused, bumpy, not smooth. No offense to office workers, but we don’t need a cubicle Christ leading us in our daily life & to eternal life, we need the Carpenter Christ Who can loosen the stripped screws of sin that we suffer with.
We need the mechanic Christ Whose hands are strong & calloused & fierce & experienced & covered in grease Who can loosen the lugnuts that we are powerless to change. He is gentle, but He is to be feared in awe & reverence as well.
Don’t send Him away and tell Him to clean His fingernails & smooth out His hands, to put some lotion on His hands before you’ll be embraced by Him & submit to Him,
don’t send Him away saying you don’t like this idea of fearing God,
saying you don’t approve of hell & eternal divine judgment,
saying you don’t like a God that allows deep pain for His children &
ruthlessly judges sin–
don’t JUDGE God, loved ones–
that shows there is no fear of Him in us,
the last and worst sin of humanity from Romans 3:9-18 (please click HERE).
No, receive Christ Jesus as He is, fierce & tender, the One Who puts us in a furnace & stokes it & adds wood to it to make it hotter to make us holier. Fear Him loved ones because He says to, because it leads to life eternal that never ends & it leads to joy!
Cry out to Him in repentance for treating Him casually/flippantly & cry out to Him to transform you to fear Him as He deserves–receive His gentle hands, but don’t reject the strength of the callouses on those hands…respect the power, submit to the callouses…He is good, & His compassion endures forever!