The woman was a little apprehensive at the thought of her first airplane flight because of her fear of flying. To deal with her fears she decided she would have to trust the airplane, pilot and supporting ground crew to get her to her destination. However, her apprehension was soon met by the other passengers, when in the middle of the flight the alarm sounded and the voice of the pilot was heard over the intercom, “Please, buckle-up, we are having technical difficulties.” The fear remained within the airplane until the plane was safely on the ground; then, perhaps, some trust in the pilot, airplane and ground crew had returned.
The paradox that remains in our relationship to God, is that fear and trust must meet. The fear we are to have for God is addressed by Jesus to His disciples in Matt. 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” The trust we are to have for God is addressed by John in I John 5:14, 15 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” The fear and trust we have for God are to remain intact and not vacillate back and forth, as was the case of the passengers on the plane.
In our human nature we continually question the concept of fear and trust interacting, for it seems that if we stand in fear of anything, we are not trusting it. Yet fear is paramount in our relationship to God; as indicated in Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;” and also in Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth I hate.” Within fear lies the beginning of our knowledge of God and our understanding of what is offensive to God. The fear is intensified when we consider the power of God revealed in Heb. 12:29 “ For our God is a consuming fire.” The fear is furthered much more when we consider that God will eventually stand in judgment over all of us, as indicated by Matt. 10:28 and that we don’t have in ourselves the power to meet God’s standard of holiness. Understand, that this fear of God must be a reverent fear, with an understanding of who God is, His power, Holiness and sovereignty.
Realize, also, that it is in this same reverence for God that we trust in His power, wisdom, knowledge and understanding. The truth of God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding is revealed in Rom. 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments unfathomable His ways!” Trusting in God’s power is the message Paul gives to the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:20, 21 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Paul continues to affirm his trust in God in his letter to Timothy in II Tim. 1:12-14 “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” Notice that in these two references Paul trusts in God’s ability to do far more than we can imagine.
The issue, then, goes far beyond a belief that God exists, for James 2:19 says that even “the demons believe and shudder.” The issue is that we believe God is our powerful Creator, who is to be feared and trust that He is a loving and caring God who desires us to know Him and know His salvation. The union of fear and trust is realized in the words of I John 4: 15-19 “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in the world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.” In God’s love fear and trust is met. – Lowell Schrag
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I’m the person who likes to be right! You know, one of those people who have to pick the football team that will win the title or has to figure the right way to accomplish the project. As I consider the selfishness of such an attitude I’m humbled by Paul’s quotation of Isaiah concerning the power of God, in I Corinthians 1:19 “For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Anything I might get right here on earth is simply set aside compared to the righteousness of God. I am foolish in my desire to be right, as indicated by verse 20 of the same passage; “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” As it is, I think that after 32 years of marriage it is OK for my wife and I to get into those little disagreements from time to time. When these arguments occur, Betty will not back down, she will hold to her opinion without wavering or listening to my argument; the reason being, she is sure she is right. On the other hand, when these arguments occur, I will not back down, I will hold to my opinion without wavering or listening to her argument; the reason being, it is OBVIOUS I’M RIGHT! These disagreements usually are not about anything, that, important and are generally about something that happened in the distant past and, yes, Betty is almost always right. The point being, that in our human nature we often desire to be right and our sinful nature takes over making, our desire to be right, blind us to the truth.
I am reminded of Eve’s temptation in the garden; Genesis 3:4, 5 “The serpent said to the women ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan’s strategy was to question God and the temptation for Eve was to be like God and know good and evil. So it is today for man in his sinful nature to desire to be his own god and set his own standard of good and evil. In the process he decides what is right and wrong and questions God. It is obvious I’m right for it fits my standard for good and evil! And then comes darkness, as indicated in Romans 1:21 “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Within the realm of darkness hope is lost in mans foolishness, yet hope still remains for those who look to the truth. The light shines from this truth; II Corinthians 4:3-6 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so they might see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus sake. For God, who said ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” The truth is the gospel of the glory of Christ.
When I consider my foolishness and the many times my desire to be right has proven to be wrong I am encouraged by Paul’s words to the Corinthians. He writes: I Corinthians 1:26-31 “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were no many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it was written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” I have to realize that all my wisdom is foolishness compared to God’s wisdom, yet I’m encouraged to know that I have wisdom through the light of God and the Lord Jesus. Look to the light to see the foolishness of your sinful nature and the hope of your calling in Jesus Christ. – Lowell Schrag
National Chocolate Covered Anything Day 12/16