At the conclusion of Luke’s
account of the birth of Jesus Mary and Joseph bring the babe to the temple to
be dedicated to the Lord. They are met there by Simeon and Anna. Anna had been
praying and fasting in the temple night and day into her 84th year.
What had she, and as I suppose, Simeon, been praying for all that time. They were
praying for the Messiah. Only His presence would suffice for
We too can pray something similar. I often pray for
people whose needs are obviously more complex than I can fully fathom. But I
can pray for our Lord to touch them personally. He is the only answer that will
And there were shepherds
living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An
angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around
them, and they were terrified.
Holy fear has been a natural part of Christmas from the
beginning. The angel calmed their fears with the good news of great joy. Today
both the fear and joy of Christmas are lost in worldliness. And the lostness is
so deeply ingrained in our own hearts as well as our society. Nothing is
powerful enough to break its hold upon our hearts but trembling in fearful joy
over the good news of great joy that the God of the universe has come to us.
The Holy Bible: New International Version.
1984 (Lk 2:8–9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
had a conversation this week with several men about the fear of the Lord. One
of the men asked the obvious question of how you develop the fear of the Lord.
I have several suggestions on this concern.
I think the question needs to be directed in the primary position. The first
question is not “How do we raise the fear of the Lord in society?” We must first
ask how we cultivate the fear of the Lord in ourselves. I believe there are three
crucial factors in developing fear in our own hearts. (1.) We need to expose
ourselves to the reality of God primarily through scripture. The absence of the
fear of the Lord is an intellectual disconnect from the reality of God. John
did not have to cultivate fear when he saw the glorified Christ in The
Revelation. Isaiah did not have to work it up in his vision in the temple [Isaiah
6]. (2.) We must ask God to reveal Himself to us. We need to be supernaturally
drawn nearer and nearer into God’s presence. (3.) Praise the Lord. Speak about
His majesty, holiness, greatness and glory. We are stirred by God’s glory as we
express it in our words.
here we do not turn the question directly to society. We must next ask how to stir
the fear of the Lord in our families and in the family of God. The same three
steps must be applied to these circles. (1.) We must expose our families
conjugal and spiritual to the glory of God primarily through scripture. (2.) We
must ask God to reveal His glory to us. And (3.) we must express His glory for
the ears of those gathered. This is one obvious means for the fear of the Lord
to become contagious.
how does this apply to society in general or to an entire people-group, our own
or another? Well these same three elements are necessary. Only here I would
suggest that the order becomes crucial and needs to be rearranged from what I
have listed in the two categories above. Prayer must be the first element. It
may very well be the most deficient in most of our efforts. And where revival
or an awakening broke out in the past, prayer, extraordinary prayer, was always
of us are aware that the wonderful directions for worship in Ephesians 5 are
plural. We are to sing and pray and give thanks together. But most of us have
not thought much about verse 21 the concluding verse of the passage. “Submit to
one another in the fear of Christ.” Grammatically this verse is part of a
sentence that begins with verse 18. The only active verb from verse 18 through
verse 21 is “Be filed.” All of these things, singing, giving thanks and
submitting to one another are applications of the filling of the Spirit. We
tend to think of the Spirit’s filling as individual. But the verb “be filled is
also plural. There is obviously some individual participation in this matter
but the picture is of the church being filled together with the Spirit of
Christ. In this context verse 21 brings in the fear of the Lord. We often take these
words as the reason for submitting to one another. And frankly, I believe that
to be a legitimate application. But I also think it is calling us to tremble in
together in our worship. The fear of the Lord can be contagious in worship as
the Spirit of God moves on the body of Christ.