When I was a child, the Reverend Bailey was a strong shepherd who taught with conviction and skill. He preached the fear of the Lord:
Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (NIV)
Sunday mornings at church found me snuggled as close as humanly possible to my mother's side while he exhorted warnings of hellfire and brimstone from his sturdy pulpit. Hearts were convicted and souls restored as God's healing hand moved from pew to pew.
My grandfather was a lay minister, and lively conversations about God's wrath were common around his dinner table in 1950. Being a woman of great discernment who was sensitive to little ears, my mother would make a point of reassuring my brothers and me that God was first and foremost a God of love. Love in the name of Jesus was the Bible's central theme. Mother taught us to trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit to know what true or false preaching was.
I believe that my brothers and I learned a healthy fear and awe of the Lord. We were not afraid of God, but we understood that there would be consequences if we willfully disobeyed God's authority, such as our parents.
Since those days, hellfire and brimstone preaching has fallen out of favour, being viewed as possibly manipulative. Sermons now focus more on God's love. Consequently, most people are living more in the fear of the COVID-19 outbreak than in the fear of God! Leaders and citizens alike are seeking wisdom and guidance as we manoeuvre through this unknown territory.
Deuteronomy 6:24 – The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. (NIV)
Friends, perhaps it is time to bring back some of that old-time religion!
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, may our hearts be convicted and our souls restored as Your Spirit renews our lives. May we grasp why the fear of You is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. May we rest safely under Your wings. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "O That Will Be Glory" (Lyrics)