Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
2 Corinthians 5: 11 "Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord [and understand the importance of obedience and worship], we persuade people [to be reconciled to Him]. But we are plainly known to God [He knows everything about us]; and I hope that we are plainly known also in your consciences [your God-given discernment]." (AMP Version)
The Right Kind of Fear
There aren't many people who experience a positive feeling when they hear the word "fear," so it's hard to imagine why the Apostle Paul would associate the phrase "fear of the Lord" with the miraculous and joyful process of reconciliation. While the concept of fearing God may sound archaic, negative, confusing, or contradictory to what Jesus taught us about our loving heavenly Father, the believers in Paul's day had an entirely different perspective on it. Acts 2:43 gives us this powerful glimpse: "A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders." The original Greek word for "awe" in this verse is "phobos" and not coincidentally that is the same word that Paul uses for "fear" in 2 Corinthians 5:11 (see above for full text of the verse). In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is reminding them of all that God has done through Jesus to display both His infinite power and ultimate love. As Pastor Clint Rutledge said in this week's sermon, we often forget that with God's authoritative power to do whatever He pleases also comes His unstoppable and endless love for us. God is worthy of our reverent awe, which is what Paul means by "fear," but He also offers us complete trust, joy, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation because of His love. As he says in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"
Practicing the right kind of fear — that of reverent awe for God — is both rare and remarkable in today’s culture because so many generations have misused or misunderstood what it truly means to worship and abide in Him. Either we dismiss the concept of fearing the Lord and focus only on His character trait of love, or we allow condemnation to dominate our perspective and live in fear of His power and imminent punishment. Yet 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” You see, God's all-consuming love cannot be separated from His power. He is the all-powerful God of justice, purity, and truth, but He is simultaneously the God who laid down His own life to save ours when we did nothing to deserve it.
In his 1986 Christianity Today article “Fearing God,” William D. Eisenhower said, “Unfortunately many of us presume that the world is the ultimate threat and that God's function is to offset it. How different this is from the biblical position that God is far scarier than the world …. When we assume that the world is the ultimate threat, we give it unwarranted power, for, in truth, the world's threats are temporary. When we expect God to balance the stress of the world, we reduce Him to the world's equal …. As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions so He may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.”
What does all of this mean in the real world of fast-paced, modern-day living? With all of our technology, entertainment, and instant gratification on every level, why is it still important to cultivate the right kind of fear in our hearts? We cultivate our fear of the Lord so that we can live fearlessly for Him. Living fearlessly for Him is what it takes to "persuade people" to be reconciled to God... to be restored and made whole through Jesus. Living fearlessly means that we persuade others of God's love not with our words, but by Gospel-driven lifestyles, practices, and actions. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven. We love deeply because we’ve been deeply loved. We seek reconciliation with others because we’ve been reconciled to God. Day after day, step after step, the more we become like Jesus, the more everyone we encounter will be persuaded by the fearless love radiating from us.
Daily Bible Readings
This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest that you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul.
Monday - Read Psalm 34:9 and Psalm 103:11. Oswald Chambers, the 19th-century missionary and theologian, said, “It is the most natural thing in the world to be scared, and the clearest evidence that God's grace is at work in our hearts is when we do not get into panics. The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” Take some time to reflect on the things that you fear and how they may be interfering with your ability to share the love of Jesus with others. Ask God to cleanse your heart of any worries, fears, or personal agenda, and give you the courage to step out in love.
Tuesday - Read Proverbs 9:10 and Isaiah 11:2-3. Spend time meditating on these passages and write down everything positive and beneficial that is associated with having fear of the Lord. Lift your voice through prayer and worship thanking God for His infinite power and all-encompassing love for you. Ask Him to show you how to practice the right kind of fear in your life so that you might live more fearlessly for Him.
Wednesday - Read Ephesians 3:14-21. This passage gives one of the most stirring descriptions in the Bible of God's inseparable power and love for us. Read it again very slowly pausing to let Paul's descriptions sink in. Choose one word or phrase that refers to power and one that refers to love, and then incorporate those into a time of prayer, praise, and quiet reflection by asking the Holy Spirit to search your heart and encourage your soul.
Thursday - Read Isaiah 6:1-8. On our own accord, by our own means or goodness, we could not survive standing in God's presence, yet He longs to be with us, walks with us, and converses with us. As you reflect on this passage, close your eyes and imagine what it would've been like to be Isaiah in this scene. Allow the vision of God's power and glory to take you into a time of worship. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your sense of awe and wonder about who God is and how much He loves you.
Friday - Read 1 John 4:7-21. God puts us in — or makes us aware of — circumstances to be a participant, not an observer. Fearlessly loving others both in action and in prayer is always what God desires. He wired us to need Him and one another. When we go to Him in prayer for others or put the needs of others ahead of our own, heaven touches earth, effectively drawing us closer to our Savior and encouraging others on their path to reconciliation with God.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.
Want to Go Even Further?
Check out our companion study guide to use with your community group, neighbors, or family members! Each week includes thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study based on this week's sermon topic.
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