The AMI QT Devotionals from July 3-8 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University, has recently completed his M.Div. at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is currently serving as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco (and also soon to be married 😊).
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Growing up, there were two things I feared: heights, and my father calling my full Korean name in that tone. That could only mean I had messed up to the point of no return. From growing up in such a success and performance driven environment, the fear I still battle with to this day is that of failure. My fear continued to grow because success was always relative to a worldly standard— one I could never achieve because there was always something more to do, someone better than me. When I think about the word fear, I can only have a negative reaction to it. So imagine my confusion when I read passages that tell us to “fear” God. How can one fear God? How can that be good?
Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, wrestled with the biblical meaning of “fearing God” by making a distinction between two types of fear: servile fear and filial fear. He defined the first as a prisoner in a torture chamber afraid of his jailer or a slave in the hands of a malicious master; while a filial fear (from which we get the word ‘family’ in Latin) is like the fear a child has for his father. In both cases fear is the response to a source or, in these examples, a person. The first is in regard to a malicious master, and the second is to a loving father. In the second case, the child is afraid to displease his father out of love and respect, leading to a sense of reverence and awe for him. Because of this, the child wishes to please his father for the sake of respect. In fact, the word fear is always found in the context of reverence and worship as a response to God’s glory and majesty. Unlike the servile fear of failure I struggled with, we can find freedom in the fear that God commands us. It is fear based on the loving yet glorious character of God, a God who deems us worthy and pleasing through the standard that was fully met through Christ.
Luther concludes by warning us to not take advantage of this grace and slip into a casual relationship with God. To fear the Lord is to have a sense of awe and reverence to Him while at the same having a personal intimacy through Christ. May we fear Him and give Him glory. May we find freedom from the fear of man as we seek to glorify Him.
Prayer: Jesus, we thank You for making a way to the Father. We confess that many times we take advantage of the grace You showed us. Lord restore our sense of awe for You while deepening our intimacy with You. Help us to live this day seeking to give You glory in all that we do. May it not be out of a servile fear, but a filial fear knowing that you are indeed a good Father. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 3
Lunch Break Study
Read Exodus 17:6: “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Numbers 20:8-12: “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” 9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him. 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
Questions to Consider
- Compare these two similar accounts of God commanding Moses to give the Israelites water.
- What can we glean from these two passages?
- How does this apply to you? Do you find yourself comparing past experiences to what God is doing today?
- The most notable difference is God’s response to Moses in the second account. It seems that even after Moses strikes the rock as he did in the first one, God accuses Moses of disbelief. In the first passage, God calls Moses to strike the rock to produce water; while in the second, God calls Moses to speak to the rock. Instead of speaking, Moses strikes the rock, this time doing so twice and repeating what he did in the past.
- God doesn’t want us to trust in our past experiences. Many times we can find ourselves comparing ourselves to our past experiences and trying to chase after them in our present. We don’t realize that when we do this, we could be robbing ourselves of what God is trying to teach us today. Experience-driven Christianity can lead to a weak faith. God doesn’t want us to chase after our past, but to chase after Him. When we seek Him, new experience will come. Note: God does mention throughout the Scriptures to remember the past. But these are in context to remember who God is and His promises, and so experiences should only strengthen our faith in who He is.
- Personal response.
W. Tozer, a renowned American pastor in the mid-20th century, said, “I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion… I want all that God has or I don’t want any.” Spend some time reflecting on this thought. Surprisingly, we can get caught up with chasing after experiences at the cost of seeking God’s presence. Take a moment to simply be still in His presence. Perhaps even ask God that He would reveal Himself in a new and fresh way.