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THE FEAR OF THE LORD

STRONG FAMILIES
for a
STRONG and VITAL CHURCH

“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding”
Job 28:28

We read in proverbs that “Wisdom cries out” (Proverbs 1:20-33) in the common course of everyday life. It ever seeks to instruct even the simple and the wayward but it is the responsibility of man to give heed to her voice. In all things pertaining to truth there is a response required for an individual to walk in the “WAY” of God. True wisdom, to the heart of one who seeks to be exercised and disciplined by its reigns, brings a growing wonder of His Life. We read that this wisdom seeks and cries out for men to hear and embrace her. Wisdom builds and brings safety and confidence; it builds strong families that produce children who are strong in the ways of our God. Strong families produce a strong Church. Paul writes to Timothy…

“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee,
which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois,
and thy mother Eunice;
and I am persuaded that in thee also”
2 TIMOTHY 1:5

Without the fear of the Lord as the atmosphere of the home and the Church of God there is little vitality or strength. Without the fear of the Lord the sin and corruption of the world infiltrates and weakens the foundation of the home. There is no hope for true understanding within the lives of individuals without the ministration of the fear of the Lord. Weakened homes produce children who are set adrift in the world without a compass or foundation upon which they can build strong and confident lives. We see all around us the tragic consequences of a gospel that has rendered the “fear of the Lord” as a concept that is old and outdated; acceptance and tolerance is the new “enlightened” message.

The “fear of the Lord” brings us to the “true understanding” of the Glory and Majesty of our God. It brings parameters into the lives of those who know and grow in its way. That True Understanding enables us to depart from iniquity and produce strong ministrations of Light that will shine into the darkness of this present world. This ministration is not simply by the religious words of men but the Word of Truth that is ministered from lives that demonstrate authenticity by a life well lived in God.

We hear much in terms of teaching and doctrine in our day; without the “fear of the Lord” they remain words without power. Doctrines without the substance of life to demonstrate the verity of their declarations produce a Church that is declining in its influence and vitality within and without.

Where there is no Fear of the Lord
Holiness, Righteousness and Truth
will have little impact
In our homes
And in
the Church of God
And correspondingly
In the world in which we live

Ω

“I can know if I truly fear God
by determining if I have a genuine hatred of evil
and an earnest desire to obey His commands”
Jerry Bridges

Brian Troxel

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Remembrance Day

This has indeed been a weekend of remembrance for me. Perhaps not for the same reasons that most people take time to remember today, but a time to reflect nonetheless. It was three years ago today that my father-in-law, a veteran, passed away…the first of our parents to go. Little did I know that it would also be November, one year later, that I would lose my mom. The pain of losing her has eased slightly only because I keep reminding myself that she is so much happier where she is and would not come back if given the choice! I still miss her every day and cannot help but wish she could have met our darling granddaughter, her namesake, who is now 17 months old and filled with such wonder at everything around her. I think Mom would have enjoyed seeing me as a grandmother as much as I enjoy watching our son as a father. It is truly a joy! It may be that I am more keenly feeling Mom’s absence because I just returned from the funeral of yet another of her lifetime friends. There have been so many in the last couple of years that I cannot help but picture all of them greeting and welcoming the newcomer to heaven. I am not sure how theologically sound this is but it is where my mind goes when I hear that another mother-figure has gone on. I probably avoided funerals in the past. I was so touched by those who made the effort to attend Mom’s, and surprised by some that did not, that I find I have a different perspective; I actually want to go and be part of the ceremony of saying goodbye. So it was that my sister and I drove 4 hours each way to attend the funeral of Mom’s friend a couple of days ago. Sitting in the church, sun streaming in the windows, piano playing, I watched as people were seated and wondered how they fit in with her story. The family processional came in, her husband in front. I tried to picture what he would have looked like as a young man and she as his young bride; how much happier that day must have been! There was a solo by an old black man who perched on a stool beside the pianist. He sang “Home Coming Day” a song I have never heard before about sunrises and sunsets. The even older man sitting in the pew in front of me wiped tears from his eyes and I wondered at his age if he thinks about how many sunrises are left in his life. Later, as a congregation, we sang “Now the Day is Over” a very monotone and almost depressing hymn that I remember learning on the piano as a child. Hymns often touch me in such a deep place that I am moved to tears without warning perhaps because they were such a part of my childhood. The last one we sang together was “Never Alone”. I literally do not remember hearing this for decades. There were no hymnals with the words to follow along, but the chorus came flooding back:

“No never alone, no never alone,
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone.”

I was not the only one who remembered the chorus only. The old man sitting in front of me belted it out in a VERY loud voice each time it came around. There was something so touching about this. I felt like he was singing from a personal knowledge of this promise in his life. It was a reminder to me that His promises are real and that these were far more than just long forgotten lyrics of a song. I am sure the family had carefully chosen each song to be sung that day. Most likely these were songs that were particularly meaningful to their loved one. This was a woman who by all accounts, and from my own memories, truly loved and cared for children. She raised four of their own but also “babysat” (before there was such a thing as daycare) countless children through the years. Some of them would grow up, marry and have their own kids, and bring them back to “Auntie” to look after. Many of these kids, now in their twenties and thirties, were ushers at the funeral. Some of them spoke very movingly of the effect she had in their lives and how she showed them the love of a stable home. One mother told of having to find a sitter for her three week old baby because she was called back to work and had no choice. She was greeted at the door where her baby was scooped into loving arms and her mind put at ease. I guess this is the part of funerals that I find so intriguing. I may have known her as “my mom’s friend” but she was so much more to so many others. We met people who had known here for more than fifty years and some who had only know her a few years and they all had the same things to say about their friendship. I left feeling privileged to have known her and to meet others who knew her in so many different capacities. I guess that’s the point. I would not have known all these things about her life had I not attended her memorial service and I would have been the poorer for it. So when someone asks what I did this long weekend… I’ll tell them I went to a great funeral.

L Troxel

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SHOW & TELL

“…show forth his salvation from day to day”
PSALM 96:2

The Hebrew word used here for show means to declare, preach, bear tidings and to show forth a message. The truth of God’s salvation, His purpose and His Presence in our hearts should be one of showing forth what He has done in our lives and a telling of that to the world around us. To whatever measure we have tasted and seen of His goodness there should be a demonstration of it in our lives. Who we are should validate what we declare. The evidence of the one should give weight to the things we say. Our daily responses with family and friends, our business dealings, our interactions with co-workers and even with the guy who cuts you off in traffic should be something that shows his salvation!

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:
and be ready always to give an answer
to every man that asketh you a reason
of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”
1 PETER 3:15

The loss of impact in this world brought about by religious words from lives that are out of sync with His message is tragic. The purpose of His dealings in our lives is to make the one the verity of the other. We need to be declaring Him in the world around us, we need to be bolder in our testimony of Him to this world, but let us also have a greater awareness of the accountability of our actions and words. We are exhorted in the book of James…

“So speak ye, and so do
as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty…”
JAMES 2:12

We need to be reminded that we are accountable to the judge of all men for the words we speak and the actions we take. The message we bear is HIM. Let us seek that continual work of His transformation in our lives that we may show as well as tell.

“Herein is our love made perfect,
that we may have boldness in the day of judgment:
because as he is, so are we in this world
1 JOHN 4:17

Brian Troxel

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THE WILLINGNESS OF GOD

“…a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus;
and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying,
“Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean”
LUKE 5:12

We read here of a man with a good measure of FAITH. It was a faith that had moved beyond the fact that Jesus was not only ABLE to heal into the simplicity of knowing that if Jesus was WILLING he would be healed. Faith is ever progressive and in this man’s life he begins to explore God’s character and willingness. So must we also move from not only knowing His ability but also knowing the very core of God’s heart for us. Is HE willing to reach down into the leprosy of our own hearts to heal and cleanse us from that stain of what we are?

The wonder here of God’s response is one that communicates the heart and purpose of the New Testament…

“Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying,
“I AM WILLING; be cleansed.”
MARK 5:13

Let the words of this HEART ring loud and clear within the recesses of our own needs. Let it drive away the condemnation of the enemy and the inner fears of our own sense of unworthiness.

“I AM WILLING”

May we arise today with the surety of HOPE that HE has not changed. That willingness coupled with the Almighty Power of the Living God is our anchor. Not only is HE ABLE but HE is WILLING! We are not left to our own devices to limp through life weighted down with our untold needs. The wonder of His Love and His Heart enables us to draw from Him His answer for the issues of our heart. Real answers for real needs because a real faith is touching a real God.

Ω

“When the even was come,
they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils:
and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses…”
MATTHEW 8:16 – 17

Brian Troxel

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BY FAITH

PART TWO

“For by it (Faith) the elders obtained a good testimony*
HEBREWS 11:2

Faith is the only means by which men can please God. Faith is the “essentia” of man’s witness unto God and the only expression which garners God’s approval. Through faith these men and women of old OBTAINED a worthy commendation from the living God! By their lives being governed by the promises of God they “reckoned”, “accounted” and “judged” God faithful to see them through. Just as “faith without works is dead” so are works without faith dead and worthless. We must see that the life OF FAITH, a life lived IN FAITH and a life lived BY FAITH is the only thing acceptable to our God!

“…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin”
ROMANS 14:23

Faith is to be the indispensable element of our daily walk whether at home, work or any other situation of life. Faith is the criteria by which all our actions are weighed. Whatever point we are at in the development of our faith is what we reveal in the common flow of our life. We cannot live in the estimation of others for true faith is only concerned with the pleasing of our Heavenly Father. As our faith develops so will the revelation of that faith be in our life. Many try to live their lives according to the acceptability of what others may think, to attempt to please or impress others with their carefully planned actions, but this is neither faith nor a life pleasing to God. Faith seeks ONLY to glorify its Author. There is a freedom in simple childlike faith that gives us liberty from the opinions of men, living solely for His pleasure.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:
as it is written, The just shall live by faith”
ROMANS 1:17

The righteousness of God can only be revealed through our lives to the degree that Faith has been developed within us. Our life of faith is progressive “from faith to faith”, a living dynamic gift that God has given to us by His Mercy. Faith must grow through the experiences of life, through trial, tribulation and seeing God’s hand move in the daily aspects of our life! How good He is to those who trust Him! How faithful He is to those who rely on Him in all that we go through! How can we not desire that our trust in Him grows as well as our love FOR Him? Is He not to be the sole purpose of our life? Can we not seek to live our lives to the fullest extent of the faith that is at work in us, so that we may please Him more and more in the passing of our days?

“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren,
as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly”
II THESSALONIANS 1:3

Ω

John Paton was making a translation of the Scriptures into a language spoken in the country where he was a missionary, and searched long for the world for “Faith”. The natives had no word for “believe” One day, while working on his translation, a native entered his room, exhausted and flung himself down on the nearest chair, and placed his feet on the chair across from him. The native remarked how good it was to lean his whole weight into that chair. Dr. Paton noted the word he had used for “lean his whole weight.” He had his word for “believe”.
John G. Paton

*“Literally, “were witnessed of;” that is, an honorable testimony was borne to them in consequence of their faith”
Barnes New Testament Notes

Brian Troxel

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PSALM 23

PART FIFTEEN

THY STAFF

“Thy STAFF…comforts* me”
PSALM 23:4

The Hebrew Word translated here as staff has two meanings. The first is translated generally as anything that supports and stabilizes (A feminine noun indicating a support, a supply. It is used of what firms up, keeps stable, furnishes needed supplies…{TCWS of the Old Testament}). It is this aspect that causes us to trust in Him, lean upon Him and draw from Him strength for all our daily needs. On our journey of LIFE we discover the truth of all that HE is to us. Through this unseen support and ministration we began to see that HE is not only our saviour but indeed HE is our salvation on a daily basis. It is in the present truth of HIS life that we find ourselves in full agreement with Psalm 46:1; HE is our PRESENT HELP in trouble. Not a God that is afar off, but a God who is present and real. It is this present help that *comforts us, humble us and causes us to exclaim with the writer of the Book of Hebrews “what is man that thou art mindful of him or the son of man that thou shouldst visit him”. These are moments when HIS unmerited goodness causes us to be humbled and broken; HIS goodness expressed in the face of our stubbornness and pride.

His staff supports, leads and guides, gently nudging us into the path that HE has chosen. It is HIS staff that leads us to green pastures, quiet waters and causes us to know that HE is ever watching over the lives of HIS own. How good and faithful is our Shepherd. How merciful and gracious are His ways with us. Left to ourselves we are all like sheep that “have wandered astray”. We have sought out our own ways, our own pastures and without Him we would ever be lost in the wilderness of our own wisdom with our own miserable resources. The LORD is our Shepherd and it is in the ministration of His staff that we are comforted and made right. It gives us hope and comfort when we feel the sting of His correction for it is in learning of Him that we grow in the wisdom and love of our shepherd. It is in learning of Him that we can be more effective in our ministration of that life to one another. For the Body of Christ to become ONE in heart, faith and reality there must be a corporate expression of His heart to one another. It is in learning of Him that we are no longer able to segregate ourselves from each other. For to have the Love of God beating in our hearts we must come to the place of loving what He loves and hating what He hates. We can no longer pick and choose who may be our brother or sister. We can no longer elevate one ministry over and above another for we have seen that each ministration of His life is necessary to reveal His fullness.

It is in being humbled by His goodness that we become expressions of that goodness to one another. It is in the appreciation of His unmerited grace that we become expressions of that grace to those around us. The truth of the staff enables us to walk no longer in the poverty of our own resources. Rather it brings us to the recognition of a supply of strength that is beyond ourselves; a strength to stand when we have no strength; a hope in His supply that will not allow us to succumb to the testings we must endure. His staff becomes a point of strength where we can declare the “Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack…” He has come, HE is come to be to us all that our present circumstances require. We are not to feel as chaff driven by the wind, we are not to feel as sheep having no shepherd, and we are not to be as orphans without hope in this world. He has come to strengthen us in HIM, to bring us to the place of trust in the God of our provision. He has come to make us PARTAKERS OF THE RICHES OF HIS FATHERS HOUSE!

His staff comforts us, enables us and causes us to become rich in the provisions of our God.

“The LORD God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places”
HABBAKUK 3:19

* See Psalm 23 Part 12 for the definition of the Hebrew Word used here

Brian Troxel

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PSALM 23

PART FOURTEEN

CORRECTION AND GROWTH

“Thy Rod…comforts* me”
PSALM 23:4

Without correction and accountability personal growth and fruitfulness becomes stagnated and stunted. Men who refuse correction cease to grow and cease to live. Jesus said “every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. We see this truth so aptly revealed in the world around us. Everything concerning life needs to be channelled in order to have direction and purpose. A river without banks is a flood, electricity without a path and a purpose we call “static” and a believer in God who has no personal vision or “mark” (Philippians 3:14) is one who will be without discipline or purpose. A good landscaper prunes his garden that it may grow and become all that he has purposed and envisioned it to be when he planted it. Jesus said that His father was the Vinedresser and they that are of this Vine (Jesus) are to bear fruit that the Father may be glorified. Therefore Fruit is anything that pleases and glorifies the Father.

It is in us receiving of His correction that we grow in fruitfulness and the inherent ability to bring forth expressions of the Son to glorify the Father. Let us hear the admonition from God’s Word; “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11 – 12) The proof of God’s Love and His ongoing investment into our lives is REVEALED IN HIS ROD. We read In the Old and New Testament of the evident Hand of God actively expressing His Love and correction in the lives of people; some were EXERCISED by it and others refused it with eternal consequences. Men who refuse correction choose a life that eventually comes to ruin. God’s Word has summed up this truth in one powerful verse…

“He who keeps instruction (Hebrew: correction) is in the way of life,
But he who refuses correction goes astray”
PROVERBS 10:17

Does this not convey to us the reason behind the apostasy in our land today? Is there not a reason that the LOVE OF MANY has grown cold and indifferent? People are content to go through the motions of religion while failing to realize that we are here to BEAR FRUIT unto HIM who has called us out of darkness into HIS LIGHT that we might ever live to GLORIFY HIM.

God’s Word to HIS PEOPLE today is one of grave importance; one that reveals and lays bare the reason that we are in such disarray, impotence and apathy….

“I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets,
daily rising up early and sending them.
Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck…
This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God
NOR RECEIVE CORRECTION.
Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth”
JEREMIAH 7:25 – 28

It is a Day for us to turn, to receive correction and to be EXERCISED in it that we may come forth as Gold tried in the Fire; purified and freed from our own agendas to DO THE WILL OF HIM that there may be Glory and Honour in His House.

King David knew well the power of change and repentance found in the ministration of truth from others in His day and the fruit that comes from the receiving of it.

“Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me: It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it”
PSALM 141:5

Ω

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance,
baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession,
absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,
grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

* See Psalm 23 Part 12 for the definition of the Hebrew Word used here

Brian Troxel

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