“What Difference Does the Fear of the Lord Make?”
“The fear of the Lord” is a truth which is often missing in action today. In our local churches, we are often characterized by independence from God rather than dependence upon Him. In short, we notice this both individually and corporately.
This explains the rationale for October’s Worker’s and Elders Conference, titled: “What difference does the fear of the Lord make?” Each day, George Farber began with a Bible study from the life of Job as we considered, “Growing trust in the fear of the Lord.” It was a tremendous way to start each day learning the definition, benefits and hindrances to the fear of the Lord from this patriarch’s footprints.
Seven additional messages unfolded throughout the week as we continued to unpack the topic by examining Old Testament saints. Scott DeGroff brought us Abraham, as we observed a radical faith that resulted in a radical sacrifice, exemplifying the path of one who fears the Lord. Next, Bob Brown examined how the fear of the Lord kept Moses’ feet to the fire of leadership when tested by Israel’s sheep-like waywardness. His godly character had been forged on the anvil of God-fearing midwives. Examples like these cultivated impeccable godly character in him which brought forth courageous godly decisions absent of excuses to quit.
Our attentions then shifted to the father son duo of Jacob and Joseph. Jacob illuminated a fear of the Lord in grace and holiness. Grace in the tender protection the Lord afforded him until the fateful wrestling match alone with God. John Heller showed how the Lord was willing to endlessly wrestle in order to extract from Jacob his ownership of his true character. It is here, then, that the path to holiness may begin. Rob Brennan then highlighted Joseph, by showing how God provided for a man who clung to the fear of the Lord throughout his entire life. No matter the cruel hatred, the false accusations, or the opportunity for self-promotion or revenge, his fear of God governed his vision and understanding of God’s plan.
Next was an exploration into the life of Hannah. Her demeanor, as Bob Upton portrayed, unveiled how holy reverence and prayer are fitting by-products of the fear of the Lord. She exhibited unique prayer initiated from problems which lead to God’s provision and Hannah’s subsequent praise. This was followed by Bob Spender’s examination of King David who wrote prolifically on the fear of the Lord. Our study revealed his joyful triumph in the midst of terrifying circumstances. Victorious was his foundational faith which was attached to accountability and hope in God. Finally, we finished the plenary sessions with Oli Jacobsen’s scrutiny of Nehemiah’s fear of the Lord and his resultant perseverance in the face of his physical, social and spiritual challenges.
Seminars provided forums for practical interchange on such topics as challenges for small assemblies (Ed Anthony), hospitality and visitation (Joe Hawkinson), teaching the whole council of God (Phil Boom), and deacon ministry (Dennis Anderson). Other seminars focused on thinking outside of our proverbial boxes with subjects such as a love that steps out of its comfort zone (Maria Forcucci, ladies only) and a love that serves people of Romans chapter one (Mike Thomas). These seminars were constructed to foster discussion, thus allowing for healthy classroom dialogue. It was enlightening to hear the stories of veteran servants.
The fellowship is perhaps the most vivid portrait of the conference. Saints who could not remember the last time they had seen each other were able to share memories over a meal. Elders who needed encouragement were able to find such support. Shepherds-in-training likewise gleaned insight and example from those who have gone before. Sisters were awarded time with other sisters laboring in similar fields as their own. Additionally, during the evening sessions, spontaneous reports were given on the work the Lord is doing in other places. Lastly, we had an assortment of displays that featured ministries the Lord is using in our midst.
In the end, we felt as if we understood more precisely the meaning of the “fear of the Lord.” We saw in the mirror that which needed adjustment or downright change. The only matter remaining now is to practically live out what the Spirit of God has begun in us.
Brothers and sisters found their mutual fellowship sweeter than honey. Indeed, if this is what you desire, might I suggest planning now to visit next year’s Workers and Elders Conference (www.workerselders.org) from October 15-17, 2019. You do not have to be a traditional full-time worker or elder to attend. If you are serious about God’s work, then you are very much welcome. Please also bring with you those of like-minded heart. It is also a great opportunity for your sober-minded young people to interact with those saints who wear well the tethered robe of experience. Hope to see you at Waterbury Christian Fellowship (Waterbury, CT) next year!