Peninsula Community Church
May 14, 2017
Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing
Before I begin this morning, let me share a story I read this week. It is a beautiful story of love by a little girl trying to honor her mom. The girl’s mother was sick in bed with the flu. To bless her, she brought her mom an extra pillow and a magazine to read. She even brought her a cup of hot tea. The mother being quite surprised by her gesture of love proclaimed, ”Wow! I didn’t even know you knew how to make tea!” The little girl said, ”Oh, yes. I learned by watching you. I put some water in the pot, and then I put tea leaves in the pot. I boiled the water, and then I strained it into a cup.” Then she said ” I couldn’t find the strainer so I used the flyswatter.” Her mother exclaimed, ”You what?!” The girl replied, ”Oh, don’t worry, mom. I didn’t use the new flyswatter; I used the old one.”
In preparing this message, I was drawn to the attributes of a Godly woman as listed in Proverbs 31. In reading through the chapter, I found that Solomon listed several qualities that define a good woman. He suggests the following. A good woman is one who cares for her family. She is thrifty. She speaks well of her husband. Her actions and her lifestyle make her children and her husband proud. She is a blessing to everyone she meets. She encourages and strengthens everyone around her, especially her family. There are many positive attributes listed here, but these attributes pale in comparison to the one which is supreme to all the others. At the end of the chapter, in Proverbs 31:30, Solomon gives us the one quality that exceeds all others. He says. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Solomon recognized the one characteristic or quality needed by every woman, and for that matter every man, is an understanding of the fear of the Lord.
It seems today we have a mixed up view of motherhood. In our nonChristian, postmodern society there is a sense that moms are to work full time, be perfectly dressed all of the time, have all of the answers, keep a house in perfect order, and have it all together. As a result, there is a tension between God’s perspective of womanhood and the nonChristian, postmodern view of womanhood. This tension affects every aspect of our understanding of what true motherhood is about. For many there is a pressure to perform. As a result we have lost our fear of the Lord! We have forgotten the value of following God. We have become more focused on pleasing societal norms and what others think rather than what God thinks.
We find there is a tendency to value charm and beauty over character and a personal relationship with Christ. No matter how one attempts to change the outward, if the heart is not affected by Christ, there is no real change. Scripture instructs us not to put new wine in old wine skins (Matthew 9:17). The reason for this is that by putting new wine into old skins the fermentation process will cause the wine skin to expand which will eventually cause the wine skin to tear. The wine will leak out and the value of the wine will be diminished.
To understand the fear of the Lord we must understand what fear the Lord really is! Fear has always been a reality we face. Fear can be a huge negative factor in one’s life. Fear can bind and prevent many from accomplishing what they strive for. We fear crime, auto accidents, storms, terrorists, sickness, failure, and so many other things. Even when we try to accomplish positive things, we do so with reservation and emotional resistance. The fear of the Lord, however, is different. The fear of the Lord is less about fear and more about respect and honor. It is about having a reverence and awe for the One who is greater and more powerful than we are. Through reverence, we are driven to honor God with our lives, devote ourselves to His purposes, and accept the challenges of life with a new power and endurance. The fear of the Lord has been defined as a continual awareness that one is in the presence of a holy, just, almighty God, and that every motive, thought, word, and action is open before Him and will be judged by Him.
It is for that reason, the fear of the Lord is the one overarching characteristic that must be evident in every life. Why is this important? It is important because Scripture is replete positive results of fearing the Lord. Through scripture we find that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111.10) and it is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). The fear of the Lord prolongs life (Proverbs 10:27) and it gives us a strong confidence which gives children a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26-27). The fear of the Lord in effect leads us to real life (Proverbs 19:23).
In another of Solomon’s works, Ecclesiastes, we find a summation of all that life offers. Listen to his final words in the book. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). This all boils down to our focus in life and that focus is how do we respond to God’s presence in our life. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. You see what we focus on is where our heart will be. Jesus knew this when He stated For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). He also gave us this advice. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
With that said let me give you a couple of outcomes for those who fear the Lord in the right way. First, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about what’s going to happen in her life. Proverbs 31:25 states Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. A woman who fears the Lord prepares for the future. She does not worry about the future because she knows the one who controls her future. She trusts God with her life, her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her friends, her destiny, and so on. Jesus confirms this truth in Matthew 6:25. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
The problem with worry is that the things we worry about often serve to reveal our attitude towards God and who we perceive Him to be. For example, do we see God as sovereign? Do we see God as all powerful? Do we see that God has the power to do what is needed in our life? Do we believe He cares about the mundane details of our life and that He is working everything out for the best possible outcome in view of eternity? Our view of God will determine our view of the future and will set a course for us in terms of how we move into the future.
There is no doubt that life is filled with anxiety and difficulty but when we fear the lord, we will find a peace and trust that is not easily swayed. It affects the way we pray for our kids. It affects the way we approach health issues for us and our loved ones. It affects the way we pay bills. It affects our present condition and it affects our future. When we have a healthy respect and understanding of God, we will fulfill the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He shall direct your path.
Secondly, a woman who fears the Lord speaks wisdom and kindness. In Proverbs 31:26 Solomon states She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. A right understanding of God affects the way we communicate with others. A right view of God will affect the way we choose to spend the gift of language He has given us. We will choose our words wisely. We will seek to build up and not tear down. We will season our speech with the salt of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 4:6). We will remember that life and death is in our words. From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:20-21). A right understanding of God brings life through our words.
Third, a woman who fears the Lord is strong. In Proverbs 31:25, we find that Strength and dignity are her clothing. In Verse 17, we find that She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is clothed with God’s strength. The woman who fears the Lord is not easily depressed, deterred, or diminished in her calling.
The woman who fears the Lord does not just talk about being strong, she is strong. A holy strength brings contentment in Christ. If you want to know if your fear of the Lord overflows into strength? Ask if you envy others. Are you always wanting more than what you have without being grateful for what you have already been given. Threads of discontentment reveal a heart that does not grasp the greatness and goodness of our maker. Isaiah grasped this truth when he made this statement. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation (Isaiah 12:2).
Fourth, a woman who fears the Lord will live for others. In Proverbs 31:11,12 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life. Our view of God plays out in our interaction with others. If we trust God is for us, it frees us to be there for other people. We can look out for their interests because we know God is looking out for us. We do not fear people because we know God has our back. We are not self-focused or worried about our needs because we can trust Him with our needs.
In the end, all four of these characteristics overflow from a right understanding and relationship with God. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is clothed with God’s strength and is for other people. The solution is a gloriously simple complexity: fear the Lord. Let the words of Proverbs remind us of the opportunity we have to grow in our fear of the Lord. Let that opportunity excite you and draw you into a deeper understanding of His grace. As we grow in our understanding of Him, we will be transformed. We will not be transformed into the image of some cool Proverbs woman, but we will be transformed into the very image of His Son.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom