Summary: Our fear of what he might do to us is transformed into a reverence and awe before his great mercy. Although our sins deserve severe judgment, God has chosen to show love and mercy to all who seek him.
What does it mean to fear God?
BIBLE READING: Deuteronomy 10:12-22
KEY BIBLE VERSE: And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13, NIV)
Fear of God is motivated by his awesome power and justice. In saying that the Lord is God of gods and Lord of lords, Moses was distinguishing the true God from all the local gods worshiped throughout the land. Then Moses went a step further, calling God "mighty and awesome." He has such awesome power and justice that people cannot stand before him without his mercy. Fortunately, his mercy toward his people is unlimited. When we begin to grasp the extent of God’s mercy toward us, we see what true love is and how deeply God loves us. Our fear of what he might do to us is transformed into a reverence and awe before his great mercy. Although our sins deserve severe judgment, God has chosen to show love and mercy to all who seek him.
BIBLE READING: Psalm 25:1-22
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best. (Psalm 25:12, TLB)
Knowing God increases reverent fear. To fear the Lord is to recognize God for who he is: holy, almighty, righteous, pure, all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-wise. When we regard God correctly, we gain a clearer picture of ourselves: sinful, weak, frail, and needy. When we recognize who God is and who we are, we will fall at his feet in humble respect. Only then will he show us how to choose his way.
Fearing God leads to knowing him more fully. "Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him." God offers intimate and lasting friendship to those who revere him, who hold him in highest honor. What relationship could ever compare with having the Lord of all creation for a friend? Your everlasting friendship with God will grow as you revere him.
BIBLE READING: Exodus 20:1-26
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." (Exodus 20:20, NIV)
Fearing God does not mean being terrified of him. Throughout the Bible we find this phrase, "Do not be afraid." God wasn’t trying to scare the people. He was showing his mighty power so the Israelites would know he was the true God and would therefore obey him. If they would do this, he would make his power available to them. God wants us to follow him out of love rather than fear. To overcome fear, we must think more about his love. First John 4:18 says, "Perfect love drives out fear."
How can we handle our fears?
BIBLE READING: Genesis 15:1-21
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Afterwards Jehovah spoke to Abram in a vision, and this is what he told him: "Don’t be fearful, Abram, for I will defend you. And I will give you great blessings." (Genesis 15:1, TLB)
The promise of God’s protection can keep us from fear. Why would Abram be afraid? Perhaps he feared revenge from the kings he had just defeated (14:15). God gave him two good reasons for courage: (1) he promised to defend Abram, and (2) he promised to give Abram "great blessings." When you fear what lies ahead, remember that God will stay with you through difficult times and that he has promised you great blessings.
BIBLE READING: Joshua 1:1-18
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, TLB)
Be careful not to leave God out of your thinking. Joshua’s new job consisted of leading more than two million people into a strange new land and conquering it. What a challenge—even for a man of Joshua’s caliber! Every new job is a challenge. Without God it can be frightening. With God it can be a great adventure. Just as God was with Joshua, he is with us as we face our new challenges. We may not conquer nations, but every day we face tough situations, difficult people, and temptations. However, God promises that he will never abandon us or fail to help us. By asking God to direct us we can conquer many of life’s challenges.
BIBLE READING: Nehemiah 2:1-20
KEY BIBLE VERSE: The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." (Nehemiah 2:4-5, NIV)