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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Above the entrance to NBC offices
"Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times"

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"The Stability Of Thy Times"

"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure" (Isaiah 33:6).

As we shared yesterday we were in New York City, which is about 2 1/2 hours from our home
, this last Saturday. We walked through the city and I was surprised to find the Scripture verse portion and image in the photo above that I took from the entrance to the NBC offices. We wondered how many would know it is taken from Scripture since the reference is not given. Indeed it is a portion of Isaiah 33:6 from the King James Version.

I sort of wonder if the selective citation is purposeful. Without knowing the context one might understand it as man's wisdom and knowledge being a source of stability. But that is not the case as a fuller contextual reading of the verse indicates.*

Car lockI recall a very embarrassing moment that happened many years ago. I took my family to a concert and when it was over we walked out in the night to the large parking lot preparing to leave. Recalling the general area I had parked in, I found my car but the key just wouldn't fit in either the driver's door nor the passenger door. (I suppose it's a rather dated illustration since it was during a time when you actually used a key to open your car door which most do not anymore!)

I tried several times without success. I finally attempted to find my secretly hidden key, but it was also missing. I went back to the driver's door and again frustratingly tried to make the key work when a man hollered, "Hey, what are you doing trying to get into my car?" while Ester said at the same time, "Daddy, this isn't our car." We walked over to our almost identical car, parked only about ten spaces away and the key worked just fine!

The world offers plenty of keys that people use seeking to meet their deepest needs for love, joy and peace, but all in futility, for they go through life using the wrong key.

The daily verse is a real gem. It's one of those great treasures found deep in the Old Testament. The "He" in the verse is speaking of the Lord, who is exalted and dwells on high (33:5). Today, some 2,700 years after Isaiah wrote this, our God is still exalted and dwelling on high!  He ever remains, "the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge."

O, how we long to be settled on a firm foundation in these tumultuous times where we can draw from a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. This is an expression of our deepest need.

The last clause is vital, but so lost by the majority in this world, and I earnestly feel many in the church as well. "The fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure."  The notion of "fearing the Lord" seems archaic to many in our generation.

Jerry Bridges writes, "There was a time when committed Christians were known as God-fearing people. This was a badge of honor. But somewhere along the way we lost it. Now the idea of fearing God, if thought of at all, seems like a relic from the past."

It is my observation that the fear of the Lord is underemphasized and in some settings never mentioned.  It seems there is always a struggle for balance in Christian theology.  As I study sermons of the past it seems as if the "fear of the Lord" was sometimes preached to the extreme.  Hellfire and brimstone sermons seemed to be the recurring theme and at times presented an unhealthy fear of a loving God which brought little peace or needed security to the believer.

However in recent decades the love and grace of God has been the chief theme to the point of completely deemphasizing the proper understanding of the fear of the Lord. Both themes are essential and part of Biblical revelation.

A Study Bible gives this helpful insight to the meaning of the fear of the Lord. "A reverent awe of God's power, majesty and holiness produces in us a holy fear of transgressing His revealed will; such reverence is essential to gaining a heart of wisdom.  The New Testament indicates that the sincere fear of the Lord in our hearts will be accompanied by the comfort of the Holy Spirit."  

Many years ago I developed a sermon on the need to have a healthy, holy fear of God and I earnestly believe this healthy, holy fear is vitally needed for our generation.   Today let us indeed walk in His love with fear and reverence toward Him for the Bible says, "Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in His ways" (Psalm 128:1).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, our generation seeks more and more knowledge all the while exercising less and less restraint toward sins that grieve Your heart. In our information age knowledge is promoted as the key to success, fulfillment, happiness and financial security and yet we see so many educated people lacking in these areas. While higher education is important, godly wisdom and biblical understanding are the foundational tools by which we accept or reject current philosophies, basic principles, human traditions, and the practices of our day. Your Word helps us to interpret knowledge that is ever changing so that we are careful to build our foundation upon You, the unchanging Solid Rock. Any other foundation will sink when the rain falls, the streams rise, and the assaulting winds blow and beat against that which we have worked so hard to build.  We choose to love You and have a healthy fear of going against Your prescribed will for our lives. Amen.

* Using a selected portion of a Scripture portion to make a point is rather common and even earnest Christians need to be on guard against doing so. Another example is how it might have originally been understood in a Scriptural sense but over time and with greater Biblical illiteracy the meaning of a verse may come to mean something different than intended or originally understood.

I recall an illustration I read many years ago in this regard but have not been able to verify. It stated that Harvard University had this inscription on one of its old buildings "The truth shall set you free". Of course that's a statement of our Lord and in this case He is the truth. It may very well have been known and even taken this way when the inscription was placed on the building but over time came for most to mean "The truth" in the sense of the pursuit of greater knowledge void of spiritual meaning and Christ.  I recall walking around the Harvard campus several years ago looking for this building but never found it.

When Harvard was founded, its motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae—"Truth for Christ and the Church." Its crest showed three books, one face down to symbolize the limitation of human knowledge. But over time that book has been turned face up to represent the unlimited capacity of the human mind. And the motto has been changed to Veritas— "Truth."  Now of course Harvard is a bastion of secularism, although there is still a small active group of Christian students.

Regarding the fear of the Lord: I discovered this brief quote by British theologian A.W. Pink who died in 1952 so even at that time (before I was even born) he was noticing a diminishing in the fear of the Lord.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 1:7)
. Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God's majesty, that has had a vision of God's awful greatness, His ineffable holiness, His perfect righteousness, His irresistible power, His sovereign grace. Does someone say, "But it is only the unsaved, those outside of Christ, who need to fear God"? Then the sufficient answer is that the saved, those who are in Christ, are admonished to work out their own salvation with "fear and trembling." Time was when it was the general custom to speak of a believer as a "God-fearing man." That such an appellation has become nearly extinct only serves to show whither we have drifted. Nevertheless, it still stands written, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalm 103:13).

When we speak of godly fear, of course we do not mean a servile fear, such as prevails among the heathen in connection with their gods. No, we mean that spirit which Jehovah is pledged to bless, that spirit to which the prophet referred when he said, "To this man will I (the Lord) look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:2). It was this the apostle had in view when he wrote, "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (I Pet: 2:17). And nothing will foster this godly fear like a recognition of the Sovereign Majesty of God.

Some more photos from our trip to New York City

Rockefeller Ice Rink
I have always been intrigued by the photos of people skating on an ice rink in New York City so we walked by and, sure enough, just like in the photos, people were skating. Note: I don't recall ever ice skating on a rink, but I sure have skated on ponds. Many years ago Brooksyne and I were skating on small pond in northern Pennsylvania when the ice broke through and I sunk immediately. I jumped right out and ran all the way home to change out of my soaked clothes and wet boots as Brooksyne laughed heartily!  She got the last laugh because she warned me it was going to break through but I ignored her.

Times Square big screen
This is an example of the huge bright screens in Times Square.
We and many others got a kick out of seeing ourselves on the big screen!

Trump International Hotel
This interesting globe is outside the Trump International Hotel.
We're glad we had a ride home.  Staying at this hotel would have cost us some $500.00 per night!

Times Square street musician
This street musician was playing a pan flute on Times Square.

Central Park street drummer
It was amazing to watch and listen to this man use fridge and oven parts, pans and buckets to make music!  The U.S. postal service even "donated" the storage case for the "instruments".

Entrance to Times Square Church
The entrance to Times Square Church
What a great expression of Scripture!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"How Firm A Foundation" Video  Sovereign Grace Music  For those who may be curious regarding my personal preference in church music this is a good example. Congregational voices are dominant with piano accompaniment. Here's a channel of music like this.

"The Solid Rock"  Video 
Sovereign Grace Music

"We Choose The Fear Of The Lord"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"White As Snow"  
Video  Maranatha Singers

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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