Sacred Fear or Scared Fear

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When rereading The Fear of God by John Bevere, I was reminded of the confusion that can arise concerning the word “fear.”

Several years ago, we were in Australia for my husband’s work. We stayed at an apartment that had maid service. When one of the girls saw John Bevere’s book on my table, she was very adamant that we were not to fear God. Although we both spoke English, I could not adequately explain to her the difference between sacred fear and scared fear. I wonder how many others struggle with this concept.

According to spelling, “sacred fear” and “scared fear” look similar. However, the fears described are different. Both are mentioned in scripture.

Sacred fear is a fear reserved for God who deserves our praise and worship. A person experiences awe and wonder when overcome with reverential fear.

Several Proverbs and a couple of quotes by John Bevere, help clarify the meaning of sacred fear. (or reverential fear)

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge. – Proverbs 1:7aNLT
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. – Proverbs 9:10a NLT
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life. – Proverbs 14:27
The fear of the Lord is the beginning, or the starting place, of an intimate relationship with God.” – John Bevere
To fear God is to believe God. To believe God is to obey Him.” – John Bevere

Scared fear is a fear of man that causes anxiety and agitation. A person may become worried or panicky when feeling afraid.

The following scriptures reveal that scared fear can be overcome with sacred fear.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. – Proverbs 29:25
The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?Psalm 118:6 NLT
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self- discipline. –
II Timothy 1:7 NLT
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?Psalm 27:1

Sacred fear of the Lord overpowers any scared fear of potential harm by another person. When we place a higher value upon God’s Word than man’s opinion, we turn our hearts to Him with reverential awe.

Hebrews 13:5 NLT says, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’” To boldly and confidently declare this statement does not mean that bad things will never happen to us. But, it does give us courage during difficult times.

Scared fear is a force that opposes the spiritual force of sacred fear. While scared fear urges us to believe what is seen and doubt the unseen, sacred fear is the result of faith – believing what is not seen. (see Hebrews 11:1)

God knows we will encounter fear. He also promises to help us overcome our fears. We can cling to  Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

In conclusion, we can say that sacred fear reveres the Lord while scared fear dishonors Him.

John Bevere asks, “Are my actions influenced more by God or people?”
My answer is found in Psalm 56:11, “In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?

What is your response?
If you are unsure of your answer, I encourage you to think about Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Sacred fear is full of awe while scared fear is awful.

 

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Holey, Wholly, Holy

small treble clef (WM)The hymn Holy, Holy, Holy!, words by Reginald Heber and music by John B. Drake, has always been a favorite of mine whether it be sung as the traditional hymn or as a contemporary praise song.  It is based upon Revelation 4:8-11 with emphasis upon the words of the last part of verse 8. 

Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty
who was, and is, and is to come”

Another scripture verse referenced with similar words is Isaiah 6:3.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of His glory,” 

What do I mean when I sing, “Holy, holy, holy”?

holy heart (MF)To me, “holy” speaks of God’s perfection and purity.  While singing Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!”, I have an awesome awareness of the Lord’s presence. I also sense His omnipotence and eternal nature. In A Heart Ablaze, John  Bevere says that “holy, holy, holy” is the response of angels when they are in God’s presence in the heavenly throne room.  These angelic beings are not just singing or saying words that have been written for them to repeat.(p. 158)  Personally, these words connect my heart with God’s heart.

What do the angels mean when they cry, “Holy, holy, holy”?

diamond 2 USE - WCAccording to the dictionary, “holy” means separated or sacredI have heard it explained that the angels cried “Holy” every time another facet of God’s glory was revealed, so consequently there is the repetition of “holy” in these scriptures.   As the angels received greater revelation about the attributes of God, they more fully comprehended the Lord’s uniqueness and His separation from creation.  To refer again to A Heart Ablaze, John Bevere points out that only once in scripture is an attribute of God mentioned three times in succession.  He also notes that holiness is the characteristic that is emphasized; it is not love or faithfulness or power. (p. 158-159)   

Holy, holy, holy!”  From the literary style of the Hebrew language, I have learned that repetition is used as a form of emphasis.  In contrast, when I emphasize something in my blog, I will use italics, quotes or underlining.  Frequently the Hebrew language repeats a word twice for emphasis; seldom is a word repeated three times.  In the original Hebrew text, “holy” was most likely spoken reverently rather than repetitively.

What effect do the words “holy, holy, holy” have upon me?

paper cup (WM)As I praise and worship God with the words “holy, holy, holy” I sense God’s worthiness and my unworthiness.  For myself, the progression of the word pronounced “ho-le” has 3 different spellings and 3 different meanings.  First, I am “holey.” I see myself as a paper cup that God created with the potential to be filled with His Spirit.   If I am filled with His presence, then I am like a paper cup filled with water.  However, each time I make a mistake, or commit a sin, a hole is punctured in my paper cup of life and water flows out the hole.  In other words, God’s presence seeps out of me because He cannot reside where sin is present. Throughout my life I have allowed many holes in my cup, so I am holey, or full of holes. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  That includes me! 

 My desire is to be “wholly” committed to the Lord.  If I confess my sin, God not only forgives me, but also repairs the holes in my cup of life so that I can be wholly, or fully, committed to Him.    I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  I Kings 8:61 says, “But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord your God.”  Full commitment is my desire. 

My next step is to be holyActs 2:4 says, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  My cup of life is no longer “holey” but is “wholly” committed to the Lord and I can become “holy” as I allow the Holy Spirit to fill my cup.   I cannot do this on my own because Zachariah 4:6 says, “’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  I Peter 1:15-16 says, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”  This is an amazing promise! 

What effect did the words “holy, holy, holy” have upon John and Isaiah?

I believe that the writers of Revelation and Isaiah were echoing the words of the angels as they were recording their heavenly visions. However, I want to focus upon the transformation in the life of Isaiah right now.

BURNIBG COALS 2 USE - MFI want to make an analogy between Isaiah’s experience and my personal feelings that I shared in the previous section.  I quoted Isaiah 6:3 at the beginning of today’s blog regarding the holiness of God.  Now in verse 5, when Isaiah comprehends God’s holiness, he says that he is a man of unclean lips. (he is holey). Then in verses 6-7 an angel touches Isaiah’s lips with a burning coal from the altar to remove his guilt (he is now wholly committed without sin).  Finally in verse 8 God asks who He can send with His message and Isaiah responds “Send me” because he has allowed God’s Spirit to fill and equip him. (he is now holy for the Lord)  I guess Isaiah and I have something in common!

Holy, Holy, Holy” or “Holey, Wholly, Holy”?

Now I need to ask myself a few questions.  Do I proclaim holy, holy, holywhen I comprehend new QUESTION MARK USE WCfacets of God’s character?  Am I so overwhelmed with His attributes that it is impossible for me to adequately emphasize a single word – should I be using italics or bold type?

 Do I sing Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!with a sincerity that causes me to cry out “holey, wholly, holy” regarding my nature?   I wholeheartedly believe in the holiness of God.  However, it blows my mind to think that I have the potential to be holy. Once again I quote I Peter 1:15-16,

“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

 I feel I must go back to the definition of “holy.”  I think there needs to be a distinction made between the meaning of God being holy and my being holy.  For God it means that He is separate from me because He is perfect and I am imperfect.  For me it means that I am separate from the ways of the world when I am living for this perfect God.

 God is holy; my Reader, you and I may be holey but we can also be holy.  Will you join me in the following saying?

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Holey, wholly, holy am I

golden apple #2(MF)Joyfully,
Cheryl

GRACE – What or Who? (Part 2)

WhatGRACE  Who?

bluebutterfly (MF)

(Part 2)

Last week I blogged about “Grace – Who or What?”  This week I will continue with  “Grace – What or Who?”.  M Reader, if you did not read last week’s post or would like to review what was shared, feel free to check out last week’s post before you continue reading here.

Gbluebutterfly (MF)race What?
Last week I developed my understanding of the definition of grace given by Don Meares.  Let me restate this definition for us this week to refresh our memories. 

Grace is the
empowering presence of God enabling you to be what God has
created you to be and to do what God has called you to do.”

Another explanation of grace that I like is defined by John Bevere in A Heart Ablaze.  He says (p.97),

Grace is His (God’s) bestowed ability to do what His truth demands.
  It empowers us to obey God’s words.” 

 What is God’s bestowed ability?  It is God’s empowering presence!  What does God’s truth demand?  It demands me to be who God created me to be and to do what He has called me to do!  These two definitions fit together perfectly.  I realize that God never asks me to do anything He does not equip me to do.  That is the fulfillment of grace.

 The other important fact about grace that I want to remember from last week is that grace is a gift.  I learned this in Ephesians 2:8:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

 Ephesians 4:7NKJV tells me another fact about the gift of grace.  This verse states:

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

God’s gift of grace to me will differ from the gift of grace He gives to you, my Reader.  God gives each of us just the right amount of His power through His presence needed for each unique experience of life you or I will ever encounter.  In Matthew 28:20, Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  So, if Jesus is always with me, His presence will always be there to empower me to do what His truth demands.  When my desires are God’s desires, I cannot fail.  Wow!  That gives me confidence! However, my confidence must be in God and not in myself.  I like II Corinthians 12:9 that says,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

As I continue to search the scriptures for references to grace, I find a warning about how I am to use grace in II Corinthians 6:1,

And working together with Him, we also urge you
not to receive the grace of God in vain.” 

Referring back to A Heart Ablaze, John Bevere further explains that to receive something in vain means not to use something to its full potential. (p. 97)  I certainly do not want to misuse or not use what God has placed within me!  I feel an accountability for God’s graciousness to me.  I not only want to utilize the gift of grace that He has given to me, but I also want to thank Him for this abounding gift that He has bestowed upon me!

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace – Who?
I began this two-part blog about the word spelled “g-r-a-c-e” by referring to two of our granddaughters, Grace Elizabeth and Anna Grace, who claim Grace as part of their names.  I would like to now suggest that, in a spiritual sense, each of us can proclaim Grace as  a part of our name because the Lord offers this gift to everyone. God is no respecter of persons; what He does for one of His children He will for all of us who call upon His name.  My Reader, Grace can be your name. Ask for it, receive it, and thank God for it!

candy 2 mfThe Sweetness of Grace
Again this week I make a comparison between grace and candy.  The giver of a gift of candy may choose to give a different piece of candy to different people.  It does not mean the giver likes one recipient better than another but chooses instead to make each gift similar yet unique according the to need of each individual. The giver of the gift may realize that one person needs more energy so gives that person a bigger piece of candy. The giver may know that another person likes one kind of candy better and would enjoy it more so this influences the kind of gift given.  The giver desires that the gift will not be received in vain, or without any benefit.  In turn, the recipient must remember to be thankful for whatever candy is received because it is a gift.  In relation to grace, have I not previously stressed that grace is a gift to be received?  Have I not commented about how God gives grace uniquely to each person according to the need?  Have I not shown that God bestows the ability to a person to do what His truth, or His Word, demands? Whether it be grace or candy, the giver of the gift should be shown appreciation and the gift should be used properly by the receiver.

My Reader, I close my blog today with the same words to you that John closed the last book of the Bible in Revelation 22:21,

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Joyfully,golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl    

Challenge for this week: Sing the song Amazing Grace and think about the meaning of the words.