Jesus To Me

Monday, May 6, 2024
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Luke 7:37-38 – When a certain immoral woman from that city heard [Jesus] was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. (NLT)

"Fear God" was a command that I often heard in my dad's sermons. And I did.

Some years after my father's death, I uncovered the only recorded sermon that I have of his. I had forgotten what a fireball that he was when he preached. Most of my memories are of him as a Southern Methodist preacher. He was strict — almost legalistic. Fearing God — literally — was a part of his theology, at least as a young preacher.

As a child, I took my father's advice and feared God. Of course, I probably misunderstood the definition of fear at this young age, but I was scared. Scared of committing the wrong sin and having God annihilate me. Scared that I might not make it to heaven after all. Scared that I wouldn't please Him regardless of what I did. It was a skewed interpretation, but mine nonetheless, and one that didn't change for many years.

The sinful woman's view of God must have been quite different from that of the legalistic religious leader. Jesus observed, "I tell you, her sins — and they are many — have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." (Luke 7:47 NLT) She understood more about Jesus than the Pharisee.

Somewhere along the way, my view of God changed as well. No longer was He a faraway deity I couldn't approach. While I still held a healthy fear of Him — after all, He could snuff out my life by issuing a second-long command — I came to understand that He wasn't out to get me. Yes, He has standards, and yes, I was obligated to obey them, but He was after a relationship with me. He wanted me to love Him with all my heart and serve Him consistently.

Fortunately, I avoided the other extreme view of God, that He is the grandfatherly type Who will let me get away with sin. God is a God of discipline, but He is more interested in teaching than punishing me.

In the person of the Holy Spirit, God is as near as the breath that we breathe. He calls us to a holy fear, but more so to a loving relationship.

How does your picture of God affect your journey with Him?

Prayer: Father, may our fear of You lead us to love You wholeheartedly and serve You diligently. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you, Martin, for another of your special devotional writings.

    Dear Martin, another wonderful glimpse into our God’s love for us. Thanks for sharing!

    Thank you – you have invited me to think – God the Father and Jesus are one – present and active in my life.

    That is the most beautiful thing I have heard in a long time.
    Blessings to you Martin!

    I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, I certainly understand!
    Have a great week, and thank you.

    Good morning, Martin,
    Thank you for this helpful devotional. Thank you always for your devotionals.

    Thank you, Martin. I had the same experience with a strict father who was a pastor and, like you, have since come to a much better understanding of Who God is.

    Dear Martin!
    Thank you for your devotional today. It was a very good message.
    Grace and Peace to you!

    Good morning, Martin,
    I enjoyed your devotional and have always changed certain words in my head when I read them because I don’t like to fear God, I change fear to respect. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. Blessings.

    Morning Martin,
    My first rash thought was considering the state of things in our country: MAYBE WE SHOULD REALLY FEAR GOD in the common sense of the word.
    However, I do appreciate your writing and your thoughts about the proper “fear” of God.

    Merci Martin.
    One lesson: A Christian’s duty to fear God will affect/effect personal behaviour. Your father did not err. … his legacy continues.
    More poignant to me is your discovery of a sermon recording. How precious it is to rehear the voice of dad.

    Good one Martin.
    I remember hiding behind my father’s chair when a young Billy Graham got going, as we watched him on TV with words like Hell, fire, and brimstone flying freely! With all that said, l think the younger generation would be a lot better off with a good dose of the fear (respect) of the Lord.

    Hello Martin,
    This is an excellent message. (I wish I could have read it when I was young; but God is good, and He graciously sought and straightened me out in His time.) It’s an easy thing to slip into an incorrect understanding of what God is like. How wise the Father was in sending His Son for us to discover and know.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Martin, your reflections always seem to me to point to a loving God, and to wisdom and understanding. Whatever your father taught you, I think it all turned out well. Praise God. Thank you for this reflection on fearing God. It’s something I’ve thought about and wondered about a lot over the years. Like you, fear of being barred from heaven, then respect and a determined effort to be informed of His ways in order to be obedient – to be conformed to His will. It’s a tall order and keeps me busy day by day as I read His Word!! God bless.

    Good Morning. My father wasn’t a preacher, but your Devotional today was written in such a way that I read it as if I had written it myself. Those were my thoughts. We all go through troubles and situations in life, and due to being in my own now for 12 years, I have had to learn to live and trust Him. It has taken me a long time to put my whole trust in our loving Heavenly Father. I cannot say I am totally there, but I have come such a long way in my 70 years. Thank you so much for sharing your past feelings.
    (Northern Ireland)

    Its good to hear that you are following in your father’s footsteps as a full-time Christian school teacher and part-time preacher at a Southern Baptist church. Its great that you are doing a lot of writing articles!

    Oh Martin, God spared me paralyzing fear of Him by giving me a loving mother who modelled His everlasting love and led me into a relationship with Him. In my eighty plus years, I’ve not always been faithful to Him, but He’s never abandoned me nor hung me out to dry, so to speak. Thank God for a loving relationship with Jesus! Where would we be without Him? Lost, that’s for sure. Blessings.

    Thanks Martin, very inspiring devotional, as always from you, I always look forward to hearing your devotionals. I like to read the fear of God as respect or revere Him. Do take care and have a peaceful, relaxing, happy day. Blessings.

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