Practicing Fear

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February 19, 2020

Anyone trying to decide what to do next, how to handle a sticky situation, or determine where God might be leading?

A couple of weeks ago, a couple of young women we know dropped by the house to catch up and chat. One had just graduated college, the other is preparing to graduate and both were looking for some direction in God’s word and sought our input.

My husband, Wally, and I prayed and had them both back over. They brought another friend, another recent college grad, and we decided to start meeting weekly. We discussed other friends that might be interested and the next week about eight 20-somethings were gathered in our den munching chocolate chip cookies and Rice Krispie treats.

I used my daughters’ art easel dry erase board and we began a study of God’s attributes guided by Jen Wilkin’s book, None Like Him. As she does in her introduction, we dove into a discussion on where wisdom is to be found and what it looks like. The focal verse that night was Psalm 111:10 ~

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

all those who practice it have a good understanding.

His praise endures forever.”

While this simple verse seems pretty straight forward, our discussion yielded some pretty interesting insights.

  • “fear” ~ Not meaning to be scared of God, but to honor, respect and reverence Him. To take Him seriously, not flippantly but with intentional acknowledgement of who He is and treating Him accordingly.
  • “of the LORD” ~ Not “fearing” any god or being dedicated to a random religion, but to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who’s own chosen people reverence Him so much that they will not even utter His name to this day. The idea here is not to be committed to good works, quiet mediations, or any other self-sacrificing attempt of placating any ole god, but specifically THE God who IS LORD.
  • “beginning” ~ Gaining wisdom is not like selecting a candy bar from a vending machine. We can’t swipe a card or drop in a few coins, push a button or two and expect wisdom to drop into our hands. Like in most ways, God just doesn’t work like that. He is interested in developing and growing us. Fearing the LORD is only the starting place to obtain wisdom.
  • “wisdom” ~ We spent a lot of time discussing a definition for the word “wisdom.” We concluded that it was a lot more than knowledge. It is gained often only through experience and, while we can recognize it in others, most of time we have to gain it for ourselves. At times, it can seem elusive, especially when there are decisions to be made that effect how bills are paid and we fear missing out or messing up what God has planned.
  • “practice” ~ Not like how my daughters’ practice their piano, to perfect a song for a recital. Definitely like how a professional approaches his or her trade, taking the knowledge they have acquired and continue to attain, to hone their skills and apply to their work. Doctors, lawyers, educators unsatisfied with their present knowledge and wanting to better treat, serve or teach, they will continue to learn and apply that knowledge to help their patient, client or student. To practice is to grow in knowledge and its application.
  • “good understanding” ~ The outcome of practicing a fear of the LORD. As the believer continues to grow in knowledge and application of God and His Word, he or she will have insight to guide their decisions and will gain wisdom from the experience of all their practice.

What does this look like all put together?

  • Practicing, gaining and applying knowledge, in the small, everyday events of life will gradually yield understanding.
  • This good understanding melds into the wisdom required for the big, life-altering decisions that allow us to walk with the LORD in faith.
  • How can we not add our voice to His enduring praise?

What does it look like to practice fearing the LORD?

  • Definitely there needs to be Bible study, corporate worship, intimate accountability,  and obedient service involved, but the details of exactly what this looks like will vary from believer to believer and be as personal to them as their own relationship with Christ.

Another insight from Jen Wilkin is this quote, “The heart cannot love that the mind does not know.” If we want to love God with our whole heart, we have to engage our mind to know of Him. Gaining this head knowledge is a part of practicing. This practice will grow our love for Him.

If we haven’t been used to this type of practicing we may have to “practice” practicing. Another author I admire, Ruth Chou Simons, wrote: ” Practice makes progress, not perfect.” As we practice the practice of fearing the LORD, we will make progress and gain the understanding we seek and the wisdom we need. We just may need to remind ourselves that gaining wisdom is a process that we are only at the beginning of.

During our time together on Friday nights, we are going to examine the LORD we are commanded to fear. These young adults that are gathering  in our home are wrestling with real issues of real life. They need wisdom. They need knowledge that will lead to understanding that will produce a fear of the LORD motivated by a love for Him.

The issues I wrestle with are real as well and I need wisdom too. We all do. We all need a deeper knowledge of the LORD so we can correctly love Him and so worship Him reverence and awe like it says in Hebrews 12.

I will post some of our insights along the way as we study ways our God is uniquely God. In the meantime, how do you practice your fear of the LORD?  Please post your thoughts below, your practice will definitely spur us on in ours.

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