What It Means To Fear God
The first thing in this matter of fearing God is to realize that God is almighty, He is sovereign, He is supreme, He’s the creator — you’re the creature, He’s the potter — you’re the clay.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again my dear radio friend. How in the world are you?Doin’ all right? Yes, this is your friend Bob Cook, and we’re back together again. Hallelujah! I am so grateful for every additional moment I can spend with you over the Word of God. God bless you today. May there be something just suited for your personal needs from God’s inherent, infallible, eternal Word — the Bible.
We are looking in 1 Peter 2. And the last time we got together we began with 2:17, “Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” It’s quite a formula there. All men, the brothers, God, and, and human authorities. You start with all men and you go especially to those who know the Lord Jesus. You start with Almighty God as Supreme Authority, and then you go to your relationship with human authorities. That’s the logic of that progression there.
Well, we talked about honoring people. And we found out that God uses that word in terms not only of the lips — what we say, but of the heart — the attitude we have toward Him. And that meaning of course, is projected squarely into our human interpersonal relationships. It’s not just what I say about you that proves that I honor you; but it’s my attitude towards you, and my actions that are determined by that attitude.
You remember I spoke to you about noticing people? Notice him, care about him, share in your plans… If you’re in supervision, share in your plans with people. And then most of all, pray for the individual. Honor all men. Look at other human individuals as being indeed the valuable persons that they are. Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” Or once having lost it, what will he give in exchange for his soul? How can he buy it back? God says that you are immensely, indescribably valuable — that’s what God thinks about you.
And so Peter reflects that consciousness when he says, “Honor all men.” All–that means all people. What do you do? Well, you realize that the individual at whom you’re looking and with whom you’re speaking, is valuable in God’s sight, and thus in yours. That there is an ever-dying soul there to be saved, or a Christian to be nurtured and blessed. Your job with other people is either to lead them to Christ, or else if they already know Him, to bless them and nurture them and encourage them and strengthen them. Honor. “Then,” said he, “love the brotherhood.” And there he uses that John 3:16 verb for love, ‘agape’, Calvary love, God’s kind of love. The brotherhood.
Now what characterizes the love of God? “Here in His love not that we love to God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins,” says John in his epistle. That very familiar verse, that quoted by millions around the world, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The essence of love is sacrifice. Willing and, and deep, and glad, and pervasive, sacrifice. And that involves an act of the will, it involves self-discipline, it involves self-giving, it involves extending yourself for another person’s sake. God so loved that He gave. Love the brotherhood.
Oftentimes, let’s admit it, we put up with other Christians. There are some people, when you meet them, you don’t think, “How can I, what can I give to, what can I impart to this person? How can I encourage him or her? How can I bless or strengthen him or her?” All you think is, “How can I cope with this situation?” Some people seem to be an accident going somewhere to happen, don’t they?
Well, just remember you and I may also be that kind of a threat to other people at times. We’re all human. And so our job is not just to cope with other believers, but to love them with a Calvary love. How do you accomplish this? Well, you don’t do it by talk. And someone preaching to you will not change your attitude toward a given individual. After everything is said and done, you’ll probably reply “Well I know that’s what you think, but…” And your attitude hasn’t changed a bit.
So that has to start with, with your heart somehow being changed. How do you do this? Romans 5:5 says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who’s given unto us.” Paul later remarks as he writes to the people in Corinth, “The love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge that if one died for all then we’re all dead in that they which live should not henceforth live for themselves but for Him.”
“The love of Christ makes us do what we do,” says he.Constraineth us. If you’re constrained to do something, that’s an old English word that means ‘something made you do it’. The love of Christ constraineth us — that means God’s love in our hearts makes us do what we do. There is no substitute of waiting before your Lord until He fills you then with His Holy Spirit. “For the fruit of the Spirit is love” joy, peace, long suffering, etc.
The first word mentioned as a result of the Holy Spirit’s control of my life is divine love — agape. So there’s no substitute for the process of waiting before God until your heart is warm and tender toward Him; and thus by reflection, toward other human beings as well. I have found it in that connection, very helpful to pray for people with whom I had difficulty. And I, I didn’t pray, “Lord, get him. Lord, hit him. Lord, get him out of my hair.” — you know, that kind of praying isn’t too fruitful.
As a matter of fact I tried it that way on one occasion many years ago. This would go back 40 years and more. I was determined to settle the problem of a dear Christian who, he was as I’ve said a moment ago, seemingly an accident going somewhere to happen. He always seemed at least to rub people the wrong way, and bothered me. And I just, I decided I was just going to pray him out. (Laughs) So I made a date with God on a given day and got down on my knees, and started to pray, “Oh God, you know about this man. And he’s, he’s, he bothers me, and please handle the situation. Please get him outta here!” (Laughs)
Well you know already that I got nowhere on that kind of praying. Just didn’t, I didn’t get anywhere. And so I changed the tone and the, and the angle of my praying even. I thought, “Well maybe I’d better pray for him.” I prayed for him, prayed for his wife — I figured she needed help too. And asked God to bless, and asked God to enrich his life, asked God to help him grow in the things of God. Prayed earnestly for him. And as sincerely as I knew how, committed him to God over a period of several minutes, I think it ran on. It took close to an hour, I was praying for this man. Well then I seemed to get somewhere in my praying.
Then, then my heart was warmed and blessed. I felt, actually I felt good toward him instead of resentful. God changed my attitude. You remember reading the book of Job, said, “God brought again the captivity of Job,” when? “When he prayed for his friends.” Job had to learn to intercede, not just to defend himself. And so it is for you and for me. Love the brotherhood. People who belong to Jesus are to be loved with a Calvary love. How do I do that? I get down before God and I pray for them until the Holy Spirit of God fills my heart with God’s love. The fruit of the Spirit is love. You wait before God until by faith, your life is filled with His love.
Then what? Then you seek opportunity to be a blessing. Now don’t make a federal case of it and say, “I’m going to be a blessing to you, my brother.” No, no, no, no, no. People will avoid you by the hundreds if you do that. No, just look for ways to be of help, and be of encouragement. There’s a little management book that says, “Try to catch people doing something right instead of looking for something they do wrong.” When, when this person for whom you’ve been praying does something worthy of commendation, don’t fail to commend him or her.
Notice something about them and be of encouragement. If there’s help needed, offer the help without making a, a project of it. Follow your prayers. You’ve prayed until your heart is warm and tender with the love of God. Follow your praying with helpfulness, for Jesus’ sake. And then if you can do so, engage this person or persons, with you in activities that result in the salvation of souls. There is nothing that will break the ice between people like being present when somebody is born again.
If you can have someone with you who may have been difficult in interpersonal relationships, if you can have that person with you when you’re leading somebody to Christ, oh what a difference it makes in his or her attitude toward everything. Because you see, the miracle of the new birth puts a glow on all of life when you see what God is doing in people’s hearts.
Jesus was approached by a delegation from John the Baptist, who said in effect, “Was John mistaken? He wants to know, did he make a mistake in, in announcing you as the, as the messiah? Look, he’s rotting in jail and you haven’t done anything about it. And he wants to know, did he make mistake?” Jesus said, “Look around you and see what happens. The sick are healed, the lame walk, the deaf can hear, the blind can see, and the poor have the Gospel preached onto them. Just tell John about that.”
And that was the answer. There was never any more question on the part of John the Baptist, even though he remained in prison until he was executed. It was God’s plan to do it that way. Not very pleasant for John the Baptist, but that’s what God had in mind. That he was to be the forerunner of Christ, period. And that his, his ministry then ended. But he never asked a question again. Why? Because when you see what Jesus is doing in somebody’s life, it ends the questioning, and the doubts. And the, the static is removed in the relationships between people. So bring somebody with you when you’re going to lead somebody to Christ. You’ll find that there’s a, a healthful and helpful influence involved. Why don’t we get at the rest of this verse the next time we get together?
Dear heavenly Father, today may our hearts be filled with love for others, in Jesus name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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