Trembling at His Word in Awe and Wonder

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This post is a continuation of Why Live in the Fear of the Lord?


The prophet, Isaiah, had the greatness of God on his mind when he called the people of God to stand in awe of Him and respond to His Word:

Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word. (Isaiah 66:5a)

The prophet spoke these words in light of the captivity of Israel. The people had walked away from their creator God, who had delivered them from Egypt and shepherded them through the wilderness. Instead of seeking God in the midst of their enemies and fears, they gave themselves to lesser gods.

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:7-8)

Now they were facing God’s judgment and cried out to Him. Isaiah sought to move the people to call upon God in the fear of the Lord and seek His mercy in the midst of their pain and slavery.

Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:9)

God’s terrible anger brings us good reason to fear Him! When the holy standards of God are violated, our iniquities separate us from His presence, and the penalty of our sin awaits us. David learned this truth in a very costly lesson.

Although King David enjoyed intimacy with his God and led the people in prayer and worship, he learned afresh what it meant to “tremble at His Word.” When the ark of the covenant was being carried to Jerusalem, the oxen pulling the cart stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark (2 Samuel 6:6).

When he touched the ark—the most holy object that symbolized the presence of the Lord—God struck him down, and he died (2 Samuel 6:7b). We read David’s response to Uzzah’s death:

And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:8-9)

God had given explicit instructions on how to transport the ark (Exodus 25:13-15). But they disobeyed God’s command, thus making the ark unstable. Touching the holy ark was also a direct violation of God’s command (Numbers 4:15). We might look at the mode of transporting the ark or touching it as minor offenses, but that shows how little we understand about the fear of the Lord and His absolute holiness. David may have been angry with himself for treating God’s holiness so lightly and not fearing Him as he should. But after the death of Uzzah, “David was afraid of the Lord.”

How wonderful it is to live in light of the cross! Christ bore the fullness of God’s wrath at Calvary, and His righteous anger was satisfied toward us because of our faith in Him. But, like David, we are still learning a lot about God’s ways. Sometimes the things that happen in this fallen world challenge our view of God, just as happened with David when Uzzah touched the ark. We will never fully understand the ways of our God; we will always live in the fear of the Lord.

God is always bigger and more mysterious than any human mind can grasp. The God who rules this world in His sovereign power and glory is not predictable or manageable. Even though He is our Father, we will never be completely comfortable in His presence. We often hear people say of God, in light of a tragedy or injustice, “That is not a God I can be comfortable with.” But when we finally create a god in our minds with whom we can feel comfortable, we no longer have a God who is worthy of our worship, or one who is able to hear and answer our prayers.

LIVING IN AWE AND WONDER

I find it interesting that the dictionary defines awe as “a mix of veneration, terror, wonder and fright.” When we stand in awe of our God, we experience the tensions of those characteristics together at once! That was Job’s response to God when he felt God had treated him unjustly and owed him an explanation for his suffering. God did not give Job an explanation. Instead, God gave Job a bigger view of His greatness, power, and glory over all His creation.

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:3-5)

The prophet Habakkuk responded in a similar way when God was about to act in a way that did not conform to his human expectations or fit into his worldview. God was going to use the hated Babylonians to bring judgment on His own people. Habakkuk was confused and even cried out in protest before the Lord! Israel was God’s chosen nation, and the Babylonians were more evil than they were. But when he knew that God would fulfill His purposes and the earth would still be filled with His glory as the waters cover the sea, he said,

But the Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Habakkuk 2:20)

When we live and pray in the fear of the Lord, we do not run away from Him because we are afraid of how He will respond to us. Rather, we are drawn to Him because of His beauty, greatness, power, and goodness. We know His steadfast love for us, and we have experienced the faithfulness of our God. We believe what God has said about our sin and His wrath. It is finished! We come boldly before Him because of the blood of Christ. Yet we always bear in mind that we are finite and He is infinite. So we come to Him in reverence, wonder, and worship.

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3:11-12)

MEDITATION AND PRAYER

Thank you, Father, for opening this relationship of love, life, and security with me as Your child. Let me never escape the wonder of Your grace to me! Please let me remember, too, that the One who has provided this relationship is the God of the universe. Permit me to walk with an awareness of Your power and glory, and may I always acknowledge that the Lord I worship and serve is the sovereign of the universe.

Lord, please make me wise as I walk in the fear of Your greatness. When I live knowing that You are in heaven and I am on the earth, it helps shape my perspective to be more in awe of You. I confess there is so much I do not understand, and sometimes I feel there is so little I am able to accomplish for Your pleasure because I am made of dust. Please display Your greatness in me as I seek Your power displayed in my weakness, and even in my smallness may I walk with You. Lord, fill this earth with Your glory as the waters cover the sea.


This post is an adaptation from Bill Mills’ new book Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters & Meditations on Prayerwhich is available in paperback or an eBook in our webstoreAmazon, and in the iBooks Store.

From July 20th—23rd, a free sampler of Language of the Heart is available in the Kindle store.

Below is a short interview with Bill Mills, the founder of Leadership Resources and author of Language of the Heart.

Why Live in the Fear of the Lord?

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Since Jesus took all of our punishment at the cross and removed the fountain of fear, why would we still need to live in the fear of the Lord? It is clear throughout the scriptures that this is still the relationship God desires with us.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11)

How wonderful to see the new covenant in the Old Testament! Our God of mercy and grace is clearly seen in all of His Word. God’s faithful, unchanging love for His children is consistently revealed in the Old Testament writings. Everything changes in our life. Relationships change, finances change, circumstances change, health changes. Three things never change: our great God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, the eternal words He speaks, and His steadfast love for His children who fear Him!

[A]s far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

I will never forget when I was teaching from this text and an elderly gentleman raised his hand and asked, “Do you know why God said He has removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west, instead of as far as the north is from the south?” I looked down again at the text and said, “No, I don’t.”

He then taught us all with his answer. “If God had told us ‘as far as the north is from the south, so far has he removed our transgressions from us,’ we all would have a picture in our minds of how far away God has removed our sins. There are limits to north and south. When you go north, you finally hit the North Pole. If you go any further, you are going south. But there are no limits to east and west. There is no way any of us can picture how far God has removed our sins from us. It is an immeasurable degree!” And we all worshiped God.

This promise of complete forgiveness was fulfilled, of course, in David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus. David points us to the Cross of Calvary, the place where God removed our transgressions from us. Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, God loves us as His dear children.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)

In these verses David talks about the fear of the Lord in a very different way than the Apostle John does in 1 John 4. John describes a person trembling, withdrawing, and afraid of punishment. David describes an awesome reverence for God that draws us to Him, rather than a fear that drives us away.

God’s compassion is seen—not only in removing our transgressions, but in remembering we are dust. A father does not expect his child to function like a mature man or woman. A father’s compassion is seen in understanding the limitations of his children. God knows we are made of dust, and He does not expect us to be anything but dust. This is the depth of His compassion and also the way He displays His glory through us.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

The new covenant is not only the source of our intimacy with God as our Father, it is also key to a relationship of great strength. Even though we are dust, inadequate in ourselves, God makes us sufficient through the resources of Christ for all He calls us to be and do. His glory is seen as God displays His power in the midst of our weakness.

[F]or the wind passes over it [a flower of the field] and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. (Psalm 103:16-18)

The steadfast love of the Lord—from eternity to eternity with all of time in between—is on those who fear Him! Even as David reminds us of God’s great compassion, he talks three times about the fear of the Lord in this great song of worship. This is a fear that draws us to God, not one that drives us away. We live always in an awesome reverence for the greatness of our God. Each moment we are aware that He is God, and we are not.

This post continues: Trembling at His Word in Awe and Wonder


This post is an adaptation from Bill Mills’ new book Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters & Meditations on Prayerwhich is available in paperback or an eBook in our webstoreAmazon, and in the iBooks Store.

Below is a short interview with Bill Mills, the founder of Leadership Resources and author of Language of the Heart.

Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters & Meditations on Prayer

The following is from the foreword of Bill Mills’ new book Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters & Meditations on Prayer.

We have a limited number of copies available in digital or paperback we will provide for free if you agree to leave an honest review on Amazon.com before October 15th.

To request your book, please share what format you would like and your address (if paperback) in an email fuseline@leadershipresources.org.


Language of the Heart Front CoverAnother book on prayer…I’m for it!

Years ago I received notice of a conference being offered on marriage. I did not recognize the speaker for the event nor the promoters behind it so I asked a fellow pastor for his opinion. Without hesitation he exclaimed, If it’s about marriage…I’m for it!

Why do some subjects arouse, even demand, such daring response? Do they slow us down just enough to consider the human condition? Do they whisper in our ear, All is NOT right and likely never will be as you wish? Do they exercise a unique power to stir the depths and bring to surface the ache of the soul? Could it be they tap into a primal hunger for God and longing to be whole?

Just here prayer comes in. What is prayer? Quite simply, to pray is to talk to God. It is the natural and reciprocal response in the relationship we have with Him. Why pray? We pray because we cry…because we are weak…because we know all is not as it should be. We pray because we long for a better day. We pray because we look forward to an eternal paradise and reach out to embrace the good and glorious God who will bring it to pass. We pray because we hunger for Him and long to be whole.

Bill asked if I would write the foreword to his new book. I am not sure why. I hesitate to ask. I suspect it was his gentle, yet devious plan to pull me from my busyness and push me to read his words…words he knew I needed. Speculative? Perhaps. What I do know is that I feel a great sense of honor.

I have known Bill for more than 20 years. I have worked closely with him for the last dozen. By closely I mean just that. I have logged hundreds of thousands of air miles and served countless hours with him across the globe. We have known great joy and occasionally found ourselves in a bit of trouble. God has been good and I am honored to count him a dear friend. Why do I heartily commend his book to you? I do so because Bill is a man of prayer and his book will help you to become one, too.

In these pages you will peer into one man’s soul. You will see what many say of him, the “real deal,” a man who loves God with heart, soul, strength and mind. “Higher plane”…perfection this side of glory? No, he does not live as if he has arrived in heaven, but as one who is on a journey to it. He does not act as if he fully knows, but as one who hungers for God and longs to be whole. Read these words with care. They are imperative for true spirituality and go a long way to explain Bill’s passion for and practice of prayer.

Alongside this book, you will also find help to become a person of prayer. Bill describes his book as worship prompters and meditations on the theme of prayer. I think they will prove much more. They will prompt and lead you to meditate, but will also stir, hearten, enliven and galvanize in you a desire to grow as a person of prayer. They will put you in touch with that primal hunger for God and longing to be whole.

Another book on prayer…I’m for it.

Todd Kelly
Global Ministries Director
Leadership Resources International


Below is a short interview with Bill Mills, the founder of Leadership Resources and author of Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters & Meditations on Prayer:


Language of the Heart is available in paperback or an eBook in our webstoreAmazon, and in the iBooks Store.

From July 20th—23rd, a free sampler of Language of the Heart is available in the Kindle store.

The Heart of Training Expository Preachers for Gospel Ministry (David Jackman)

We recently had a conversation with David Jackman of Proclamation Trust and the Cornhill Training Course on expository preaching, gospel ministry, Scripture’s authorial intent, and preaching the genres of the Bible (watch the full interview).

The video and transcript below share a highlight from the interview about the “heart” of training pastors for expository ministry.

Todd Kelly of Leadership Resources: What is at the heart of training preachers for gospel ministry?

David Jackman: The content of the preaching must always be the Word of God. It seems that good preaching always begins with good listening. At the heart of training a preacher is the ability to listen with our eyes as we are reading with the Scriptures. We read the text with our physical eyes, but we listen with our spiritual ears. We need to be helped and trained towards how rightly to handle God’s word of truth, so that we can be workmen who don’t need to be ashamed and so that we can understand, so far as God enables us, the meaning of His Word, and then be able to pass it on to others.

I sometimes talk about getting it right and getting it across. The preacher’s task is to understand it, get right what God is saying in a particular section of Scripture, and then get it across to the contemporary congregation.

I think it’s good listening, digestion of that word into our own lives so it works in our hearts, and then preaching from the heart to the hearts of the people.

Sermons that Take the Bible Seriously: David Jackman on True Biblical Preaching

Taking the Bible Seriously
Expository preaching is built upon the foundation of the inerrant and infallible Word of God: God has spoken to humanity in written form; we are commanded to preach His Word, and the effect of the preached Word is that God brings life to hearers who respond in faith.

In a recent interview with David Jackman, the former President of the Proclamation Trust and founder of the Cornhill Training Course, we talked about how our convictions about the Word of God can show themselves in preaching so that listeners know we take the Bible seriously.

Watch the clip below or the entire twenty-minute interview on expository preaching, gospel ministry, and Scripture’s authorial intent.

Transcript:

Todd Kelly of Leadership Resources: I’ve been in some churches where I can tell the Bible is taken very seriously as the preacher preaches the message. There have been other times, where sadly, it seems to be neglected. For you, what are some of the marks of a sermon that is taking the Bible seriously?

David Jackman: I think it says to the congregation, “We must put our noses into the text.” Whether they have the text open in a Bible form, whether it’s up on an overhead projector, whether it’s printed on a service sheet—the words need to be seen by the people, the Words of God. It’s not an intellectual exercise, but it is an exercise in God communicating His truth to us. The mind needs to be engaged—but also the heart and the will. I think good, biblical preaching will always seek to establish that the preacher isn’t in the front, but the Bible is.

Sometimes I use a visual illustration, I’ll hold a Bible in my hands like this (in front of myself) with one finger on the text. “This is my job to stand behind the Bible and under the Bible—that’s the authority—with my finger on the text saying to you, ‘This is what God is saying.'”

Then to contrast that, I sometimes pick up a Bible and put it behind my head and say, “A lot of preaching can be like this: Little bits of the Bible can appear occasionally, but actually, it’s more about the preacher than the Bible. That I think is dangerous because the word of the preacher will last for a few minutes (if he’s done a good job), but the Word of the Lord endures forever.

If you’re preaching and teaching the Word of God, you’re laying down eternal foundations. Which if the Bible is not in the driving seat, that doesn’t happen in the preaching, and the church is far weaker than it need be.

Related Links:

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“True Spirituality is Cross-Shaped”: David Jackman on 1 Corinthians and Gospel Ministry

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Leadership Resources recently had the pleasure of hosting David Jackman, the former President of the Proclamation Trust and founder of the Cornhill Training Course, for a week long session talking expository preaching and training preachers.

This video is an interview Kevin Halloran conducted with him about true spirituality and gospel ministry coming from our study in 1 Corinthians 1-3:

Here is a quick guide to the video contents:

  • 00:30 – What is going on in the Corinthian church and how does that relate to us today?
  • 01:11 – How should we think about spirituality and gospel ministry through the lens of the Corinthian experience?
  • 2:24 – How does our culture fall into the worldliness trap?
  • 4:10 – True spirituality is shaped by the cross of Christ. What are some of the implications of this for preaching and preachers?
  • 5:22 – What is the relationship between the Word and Spirit in preaching?
  • 7:05 – Can you explain the connection between the mind, the heart, and the will in preaching?
  • 8:50 – What are some of the greatest encouragements you’ve gleaned from 1 Corinthians for authentic gospel ministry?

Here are a few quotes from the interview:

“It is the power of God at work through the cross which brings people to faith and grows them in the church. Today, we are in danger of losing confidence in that.”

“The Spirit of God takes the Word of God to do the work of God.”

“The progress of the Word of God is through the mind, to the heart, to activate the will.” (borrowing from Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Preaching is always with the view to a change of life.”

Here’s a two-minute highlight from the video:

How Beautiful Will the Bride Be?

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One day, perhaps very soon, we will hear these words,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. (Rev 19:6b)

Don’t you long for that day? … when the reign of Christ is complete. When “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15) … that day when God will judge his enemies, and save and reward his people.

To help us grasp the glory and significance and reality of this coming day, John compares it to a wedding,

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready. (Rev 19:7)

The apostle John is enticing us with a picture of perhaps the most joyous and celebrated event in our human experience, a wedding. A heavenly wedding, where Christ is the bridegroom and the Church, the bride. Notice what the Bride is doing…. “making herself ready.” John unpacks that a bit by saying, “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.”

Think about a typical wedding day and how the bride makes herself ready. She selects an elegant dress, a dress that she will only wear this one time. Great attention is given to her hair and her make-up. She might have even gotten a deep tan…one way or another! The shoes, the veil, the flowers… all part of the careful preparation.

Then after the wedding, there’s the wedding banquet. John says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” The wedding feast of Christ and the Church will be unparalleled…far more glorious than the $75,000 extravaganzas sometimes held here in the States.

Do you remember a time when you received an invitation and felt a sense of gratitude and perhaps even surprise that you were invited? Afterwards, you had a sense of anticipation…you couldn’t wait! How much more to be invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!

Leadership Resources’ passion is to prepare the Bride for her wedding day. Look again at Revelation 19:7-8.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Look at that last phrase. The Bride of Christ will have a gorgeous wedding dress…she’ll be adorned with the righteous deeds of the saints. Of course, she will be clothed in the righteousness in Christ. But this text tells us she will also be clothed with her own righteous deeds.

So how beautiful will the Bride be on that day?

We don’t know yet.

It depends…on how believers live out their faith…. on how many acts of love they perform. It depends on how faithfully God’s people proclaim the gospel. It depends on the purity and health and vitality of millions of churches around the world.

How beautiful will the Bride of Christ be?

It depends, to a large degree, on pastors. Pastors are critical to the process of beautifying the Bride. As they shepherd and lead and teach, as they encourage and comfort, as they correct and rebuke and train in righteousness. You could define a pastor’s job this way: he is a bridal attendant whose job is to ensure that the Bride is ravishingly beautiful on her wedding day.

That’s why we invest in pastors. So the Bride of Christ might be even more ravishing on that Day.

God is using the gifts of you, our partners, to equip and encourage pastors like George, Francis, Noah, and Rolando. These pastor-trainers are equipping other faithful men in their areas so that the believers there might walk in the good works that God has prepared for them, so their lives might be filled with righteous deeds.

At any wedding, all eyes are on the beautiful Bride. As we live and serve and give, we can help prepare the Bride of Christ for her great Bridegroom! Of course, we all agree: Christ is worthy to have the most stunningly beautiful bride.

What an honor and privilege it is for all of us to be a part of that process. You can play an active role today in helping make the worldwide Bride of Christ even more beautiful. Let that sink in. It’s true! We will use your gift this month to help equip bridal attendants (pastors) to prepare the Bride for that Great Day!

craig-parroWith gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

PS: Your gift, given in love, will be yet another “righteous deed of the saints.” Your very act of giving beautifies the Bride. What a motivation to generosity!

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    Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

     

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares articles, resources, and updates from staff of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

     


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