Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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          Recently, our oldest son and his four children came to visit.  They live a great distance from us, so our times together over the years have been few and far between.  However, when those rare times do occur, I ask the Lord to provide an opportunity for me to share a story which may be used to open the eyes of their understanding, and draw them closer to the Lord.  I must admit that reading and telling stories, has been something that I have enjoyed doing with my own children, and students who I was privileged to teach over the years. [5th graders and up]  Telling stories, especially those that can be used to teach biblical principles, is a wonderful way to build a closer bond with kids of all ages, and people in general.

          I found out, three days before their arrival, that my son and his children were coming for a brief visit.  It was supposed to be a surprise, but by mistake, my youngest son slipped up and revealed the secret to me.  In the week or so before they came, I had been searching for a more complete understanding of the meaning of the fear of the Lord.  I prayed that the Lord might open a door for me to share those findings with my son and his family at some point during their visit, and He answered my prayer.

          One afternoon during their visit, we were all gathered together on our back porch.  I believed that God had prepared this occasion to provide that teachable moment with my grandkids.  I seized upon the opportunity by first asking permission to share something that I had been studying from the word of God in the days just previous to their arrival.  Thankfully, they and their Dad seemed opened to my request.  The following, to the best of my recollection, is the retelling of the story that the Lord gave me to share with them that day:


          In the past few days, I have been studying from the word of God to learn what it means to fear the Lord.  Have you heard people make statements like:  “Why would anyone want to believe in a God that says I should fear Him?  And what about that part that says He is a jealous God?  I don’t want to believe in a God that is jealous of me?  What good is it to know a God that tries to control people through fear and jealousy?”  Now on the surface, those seem like reasonable questions which should lead to truth and a reasonable way of thinking.  After all, wouldn’t it be logical to discard such a God?  Well, that’s exactly the kind of twisted thinking that Satan uses time and time again to try to rob, steal, and destroy every person who would seek to know the Lord.  You see, we should never underestimate the power of Satan.  He knows the word of God better than you and me.  Remember he was created as a very special angel and lived with God in Heaven, until he got so full of pride, and wanted to be exalted above God.  As a result, he was cast out of heaven.  God has already defeated Satan, but Satan is so full of himself, he believes he still has a chance to defeat God.  His most favorite way of continuing his battle against God is by trying to destroy man, God’s only creation on earth that has a spirit and is able to fellowship with God.  His favorite tool is deception, always using the word of God, but twisting and perverting it just enough to make his “logic” seem to be right and believable.  That’s exactly what he’s doing once again through the previously stated questions which use just enough truth from God’s word to make them seem right in the eyes of man, but have enough lies to implant doubt and unbelief so as to deceive mankind once again.  Yes, we must remember he is the father of lies, and his purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy you and me. (John 10: 10)  Again, why does he want to destroy us?  Because he knows how much God loves us.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3: 17)  

          Let us first consider the original questions and see just how they may “appear” to be very logical, and yet their appearance is very deceiving, and does not lead to truth.  The two key words are fear, and jealous.  These two words can mean very different things, and must be understood as to how they are being used in the full context of the scriptures. 

          God says that we are to fear the Lord with all our heart, mind, and strength.  This use of the word fear in this manner includes the concepts of respecting, revering, and holding Him and His word in high esteem, higher and above all else, that we might understand that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours.  In other words, in His wisdom, He knows what is best for us far more than we do ourselves.  Therefore, we should abide by what He says, putting our trust in Him, and not trusting in our own thoughts, ways, and opinions.  When we begin to think that our own intellect, logic, and wisdom is wiser than His, then we exalt ourselves in pride, just like Satan did.  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3: 5, 6)  Following our own will, and not His will, is more frequently going to cause us to detour from the right path; thus, leading us down the wrong path that results in death and destruction, which can be physical and/or spiritual, the latter being the worst, and eternally devastating.  Fearing the Lord, in the true understanding of respecting Him, involves not only His love towards us, but also our love for Him.  Truly loving Him will incorporate within it a desire to refrain from disappointing Him.  True love will cause us to do that which is pleasing in the eyes of the one we love, not because we have to, but because we want to.  Thus, the fear, or respect, of the Lord creates within the believer a desire and willingness to delight in Him, a desire to please Him in thought, word, and deed.  A child is made happy when she knows she has pleased her Mama and Daddy.  The same is even truer when we know that He delights in us when we demonstrate love and respect (fear) towards Him.  This respect, or fear, will act as a shield against evil, and will help us to resist temptation.

          Secondly, let us seek to understand what is meant by the word jealous. “Thou shalt have no other god before me.” (Exod. 20: 3) “For thou shalt worship no other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”

(Exod. 34: 14) There is both a positive and a negative meaning of the word jealous: the negative one being ‘to envy’; the positive one being “zealous – marked by an active interest and enthusiasm over a possession; vigilant to guard and protect.”  Do you see the great difference between the two meanings?  To believe that God envies us, the ones that He created, shows a complete lack of understanding and a lack of effort to study to gain a correct understanding of the word, as it is used to express God’s care and love towards us.   Even if we look at the meaning of the word jealous in the earthly terms of how an earthly father is ‘jealous’ over his own children, we would understand that a father does not envy his children. Instead, the word jealous is used here to mean that even an earthly father is zealous and vigilant to guard over, care for, and protect his children with every means available to him. With the proper definition, we can all readily understand the errors found in the previous way of thinking.  With a limited knowledge of vocabulary, they wrongly assumed that it meant that God envied mankind.  Oh, how God must laugh at the foolishness of mankind, when he willfully sets out to exalt his own intellect above the wisdom and knowledge of God!  Now, with this deeper understanding, we can more readily understand just how much God does love His children.  Our God never slumbers or sleeps, and He is jealous, zealous, and vigilant to watch over us, desiring to care and provide for us every step of the way along our journey in life.  So now I ask; who, in their right mind, would not want to believe in and serve such a caring and loving God? 

          To think that one can worship God and any other god(s) at the same time is to be double- minded and unfaithful.  Again by using an earthly example, we can see the devastation caused by unfaithfulness when it is practiced within the relationship of a husband and wife: infidelity, lack of loyalty, leads to the destruction of trust, and results more often in divorce, a complete separation and break in their relationship and fellowship with one another.  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You can not serve God and money.” (Matt. 6: 24)  So it is with God; we will either serve Him, being a doer of His word and not just a hearer, or we will turn our backs on Him, forget His ways, and choose to follow our own will, not His.  There is no neutral state or fence sitting with God.  “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

(Matt. 12: 30)

          Before continuing on with my story to the children, I attempted to give them an even more secure understanding of the concept and importance of the fear of the Lord.  In my previous studies before their arrival, I had discovered a valuable nugget directly from God, for His word is more precious than silver or gold, and it is powerful in pulling down the strongholds of Satan’s lies, and his attempts to deceive us.  “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward

[perverse, deceitful] mouth, do I hate.” (Prov. 8: 13) Now, I love to study from the Psalms and Proverbs, so I know I had read this before.  However, this time the words leapt right out from the scripture page, came alive, and embedding themselves in both my mind and my heart.  I had a greater understanding of the fear of the Lord which I never had before.  I didn’t realize during my personal study time how God was not only teaching me, but he was equipping me, planting a seed of truth, that I might be able to share this new knowledge with the kids.  Hallelujah, God is great!

          After laying this foundation for the kids, admittedly far briefer than this, as I hoped to be able to get the point across, but not tax or over burden their attention span, I relayed a personal experience from my childhood which I hoped would convey a life lesson about how the fear of the Lord, or lack of it, can bring consequences into our lives that can either positively or negatively effect the whole direction of one’s life, both in the here and now and into eternity.        

          The story unfolds in Savanna, Ga., when I was about 10 years old and in the 5th grade.  During school that day, a young boy, a friend in my class, asked me to meet him after school to go to the movies.  We made our plans to meet at a given point and time to walk the rest of the way to the theater together.  I was really looking forward to our little ‘date’ and headed home at the end of the day to ask my Mama’s permission to go.  However, upon arriving home, the only one present was my oldest sister.  After telling her my plans, she wisely advised me not to go, and warned me that if I did I would surely be in big trouble.  Generally speaking, I was, more often than not, a rather compliant child and was not ordinarily prone to being overly stubborn or rebellious.  However, that day I was bound and determined to have my own way.  Even while I was doing this, I remember feeling completely surprised by my own brazen choice to completely going against even my own nature, and act with such complete stubbornness and rebellion.  All the way there, I could still hear my sister’s warning of impending trouble and consequences.  Yet, refusing to listen even to that inner voice of conscience within, I did my utmost to suppress that prompting that was trying to get me to turn back from doing what I knew was truly wrong.  It wasn’t that going to a movie was wrong, but I knew I was willfully choosing to be disobedient.  For the moment, it seemed that I just didn’t care.  The idea of having my own way seemed to take over, and to heck with anything else. 

          Upon arriving at our meeting point, we greeted each other and proceeded on our way to the movie.  However, my joy of being with him was dulled. All through the movie, this nagging voice inside kept saying: “Boy, are you going to get into trouble when you get home.”  Little did I know that was going to be the least of my troubles?  The movie ended, and the thought came into my mind, maybe I could still get back home in time before Mama got home.  Maybe there was still a slim chance that I could escape having to face any consequences.  However, the next thing I knew, another movie began.  Oh no, it was a double feature.  Boy was my goose cooked!  I was too embarrassed to just get up and leave, for then I would have to confess that I had come without permission.  Now my pride was involved, and I was stuck in the miry clay of my own stubbornness to have my own way, no matter what the cost.  By now, the rest of the evening was completely void of any fun.  My conscience had totally kicked in, but still I could not confess to my friend what I had done.  By the time the second movie was over, all that was left was a horrible nagging dread of what I knew without a doubt I was going to have to face when I got home. 

          The movie was over, and as we stepped out into the sunlight- O no, the day had turned to night!  As ominous as I felt at that moment, I didn’t realize how much worse the evening was going to become.  We began walking back home together until we reached our meeting point; whereupon we had to go our separate ways alone!  I had no problem during the day finding my way; however, now I found that everything looked different in the darkness.  What had been familiar now became unfamiliar.  After what seemed like an age, I had to admit that my worst fear had come true; I was totally lost, a double whammy, lost and alone!  Continuing on, not knowing what to do, I began to cry out to the Lord asking Him to please help me.  Oh yes, when this whole thing began, I turned my heart away from Him in complete disobedience and rebellion.  I didn’t want to listen to His voice then, being too consumed with following my own desires. 

          Now however, being totally alone, lost, and scared out of my wits, I turned back to the only one that I knew could help me.  I kept on walking, asking the Lord to help me find my way home.  Finally, I saw a lady getting out of her car in front of what I assumed was her house.  A voice inside urged me to go ask her for directions.  At the same time, another voice said: “What if she’s not a nice lady?”  Nice or not, dangerous or not; I had to take the risk, unless I wanted to wander around in the dark for the rest of who knows how long, and probably wind up getting more lost, or something worse.  Something worse? I wouldn’t let my mind go there to consider just what that might be.  I began praying once again; “Lord, please let her be a nice lady.”  Mustering up every bit of courage within me, I approached her, told her my address, and asked if she could give me directions to get there.  She opened her mouth as though she was going to give me directions, and then she paused.  Instead, she looked at me, with kindness and concern in her eyes, and asked if I was lost.  I replied, “Yes ma’am.”  She told me to wait by her car while she took her groceries inside, and said she would take me home, to which I replied, “Thank you.”  Part of me was relieved.  I silently thanked the Lord for the help He sent in answer to my prayer.  After a time, she returned and ushered me into her car.   I told her my address once again.  Realizing I was in a car with a complete stranger and fearing what could possibly still go wrong, I just continued to ask the Lord to protect me and keep me safe.  It wasn’t long before we pulled up in front of my home. I said good bye and thanked her, and the Lord, for returning me to the safety of my home.

          I was so thankful for finally being home, and yet, as I entered, I knew I was going to be facing the complete disapproval of my parents, followed by discipline that I knew would not be fun.  My daddy was sitting just inside the door.  Fear gripped my heart.  As I looked at him, he didn’t ask me where I had been, what I had done, or why I had been out so late.  He didn’t even raise his voice, but with a stern and deliberate voice, pointing in the direction of my room, he said, “Go to your room, and bend over your bed!”  Knowing what was coming; I didn’t try to argue, or make protestations and excuses, but simply replied in total regret, “Yes Sir.”  I was now aware that Mama also was right there beside him in my room.  As I bent over my bed, stealing my body against what was to come, I heard the sound of Daddy’s belt being removed from his waist, and then came the sound of the deliberate lashes as each blow crossed my bottom.  He stopped and handed it to my Mama, and she followed with the same action.  They both took another turn, not being one bit moved by the sounds of my crying, or the sight of tears falling down my face.  Finally, my oldest sister came in crying, “OK, that’s enough, that’s enough!” They quit, and she turned and ran upstairs to her room.  Both of my parents told me to go to bed, and that was it.  I don’t remember either of them saying or doing anything further that night or in the days thereafter.  Rebellion and disobedience had been swiftly met and addressed with the consequences of sure and definite discipline, right then and there with no reservations.  I cried myself to sleep that night, but even in my immature ten year old mind, I knew that I had deserved every solitary snap of that belt.  Oh yes, part of me still tried to say, “How could they do that to me if they really loved me?”  But in my heart, I could not argue with the fact that I had brought it all upon myself.  None of this could have happened if I had just been obedient and done what I knew was right, instead of doing what I knew was wrong.

          I ended the telling of the story with these last few thoughts of admonition and truth from the word of God.  Remember kids, a significant part of the true meaning of the fear of the Lord is to hate evil.  It means to respect and revere Him, and acknowledge that He is wiser than we are; therefore, following His will is always going to guide and lead us in the right direction for our own good.  God doesn’t tell us not to do things because He wants to act as a domineering tyrant.  He instructs and corrects us because He loves us and wants only what is best for us.  He is jealous, not of us, but over us, for it is His delight and desire to guard us, to place a hedge of protection around us to keep us safe from evil and destruction. Was the discipline I received fun?  Did I jump up and down with joy at the time, or go running into the arms of my parents to thank them for the discipline that they had administered to me that night? Of course not, after all I’m just like any other human being. 

          Though everything looked pretty bad that night, over the years, it was used for my good.  Just think of all the horrible things that could have happened to me! Being lost and alone was only a small portion of what could have happened.  I’ll leave all of those possibilities to your imagination.  Furthermore, the events of that night were not just about me either.  Put yourself in the shoes of my parents, or any parents who care about their children and you may be able to understand, at least in part, the terrible agony and pure torcher that I had put them through.  No, I didn’t set out to cause them such pain and worry; nevertheless, that was the result.  Our choices in life, and the consequences of them, do not just affect ourselves, but also all those who care about and love us.  By my rebellious disobedience, I had inflicted fear into their hearts also.

          There are many morals which could be learned from this story, or life lesson, as I prefer to call it.  I pray that it may be used to cause the truths from God’s word to come alive within you, and direct your paths.  This is the question that I leave for you to ponder upon, digest, and form a nugget of truth to be used as a rudder to guide your own life and choices.  We are lost at sea without the fear of the Lord to be our compass, or direction guide, and rudder, or steering mechanism.  How can any of us learn to hear from God and obey Him who we can not see, if we refuse to listen to and obey our parents who we can see?  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Prov. 9: 10)   

God has given us His very own story, The Bible.  It is filled with the greatest of treasures, and best life stories ever told, most importantly, the life story of Jesus, the Son of God who has loved us first.  I hope you enjoyed and learned something from my story.  But even more, I pray that it will be an instrument to direct and encourage you to read and learn from the greatest story ever told, the Word of God, the Bible.  Remember, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.  He is a jealous God being zealous and vigilant over you to guard and protect you from evil.  May the Lord write this truth on the tablets of your heart that it may become a light to direct your path! 

** See next pg. for suggested activities to promote further Bible study.

Suggested possible activities for further Bible for individuals or groups:

1.     What other morals or ‘life lessons’ do you think can be learned from this story?       

2.     Read Proverbs- copy and discuss the scriptures that mention and give further enlightenment of the meaning of the ‘fear of the Lord.’

3.     Discuss events in your life used to teach to teach you a valuable lesson.  How did it served to protect you from suffering harm, or from repeating the same mistake(s) (or sins)?  What bible principles in the can be connected to support the life lesson?

4.     Write a life lesson story of your own and share it with others.

5.     Related study: God’s discipline, chastisement, judgment. Is it meant for your good or for your harm?

          Previous to the arrival of my son and his children, the following is the list of scriptures that I compiled and studied from the Book of Proverbs.  Isn’t God great?  It is wonderful and amazing when we have the opportunity to reflect and see how He really does direct the path of our life’s journey, if we are willing to study, listen, learn from, and obey Him.  “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”(Psalm 34: 8)


1: 7, 23, 29;                   14: 2, 25, 27;        23: 17;

3: 7;                      15: 16, 33;            112: 1;                                               

8: 13;                    16: 6; 

9: 10;                    19: 23; 

13: 13;                  22: 4;                  



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