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The Fear of the Lord
Part 3

By Iverna Tompkins
As transcribed by Jane Vaughn


Our psalmist (Psalm 42) is going through some things.  He says, “The only thing I’ve had for my food are my tears (vs.3).  Then I remember what I used to have.” 

Now, it’s good to remember the good things – it’s sad to live in the past.        There’s probably not a person in this building (or reading this message) that can’t remember a time when you felt more spiritual than you do right now.      When you first got saved?       When you first led someone to Christ?      When you first got baptized in the Holy Spirit?      When you first were baptized in water? 

When was that – utopia – for you?     That moment?     That “high” time when you really thought: “Whew! God and I – we’re there!”     Can you remember back?      

Surely we do.  We go back there in our minds: “Well, if I could have that again!”

Do any of you realize that that utopia-experience – in your life – was really intended by God to be the lowest spiritual level for you from then on?      “…from glory to glory” – He’s changing me (cf.2Cor.3:18).

The highest moment you ever had – that time when you felt like you had absolutely finger-tipped God in heaven – right there – just – “Whew!  It was one!”     That experience?…. That was when God said, “Now, that’s the lowest for you from now on!       The graph goes up from here!” 

We’re the ones that demand the valley! 

But the Lord lives high and exalted and then dares to say, “Come unto Me.”  One Scripture says, “I will actually exalt you to receive…” (Ps.37:34) or “I will promote you to what I’ve promised you.”     If I was using our language today, I’d say, “Get your head up!”     That’s what He’s saying; “I’ll exalt you – Get your head up!”

“Well, but things are tough for us.”       I know.        And they may get tougher. 

If you’ve run with the footman and he hath wearied thee (Jer.12:5)…”  If you can’t handle things now, what are you going to do when the “swelling of the river Jordan…” – “jor” means spread or spread out and “dan” means judgment.       So He’s asking: “What are you going to do when – the judgment is spread out?     If you can’t make it now – if you can’t get up every day of your life now – and pull yourself up…. What will you do when things get really tough?”

I don’t understand how you can go to bed in victory and get up in defeat – but I can do that.  It’s an amazing thing.  I go to sleep praising God, even singing – “Hallelujah! Bless You, Lord!”     ::snore:: Next thing, I’m awakened:  “What?!”  :-)     It is so rare that I wake up with the same victory I experience when I go to sleep.  I don’t know where it goes in the nighttime hours!   :-)        Are you laughing with me or at me?  :-)     But I have to start all over again!  Every day!  From square one!  “I will praise the Lord!”

Every day!  I wake up with a pain here and a pain there and a stiffness here and a… you know, and you wake up with heavy thoughts of what you have to do that day, or the kids are screaming already, or – or “I’m out of milk?!”  or whatever!  :-)     It’s another day filled with responsibility – and it takes every bit of effort you’ve got to push your legs to the edge of the bed and get up!

Finally, you’re standing on your feet and you’re saying, “Oh, when can I come and stand before You, Lord?  Where are You?         Oh, but, wait - I don’t have time right now – I can’t seek You this morning, I’ve got things to do – obligations – a job to get to – family.  I’ll be there when I can.”

But instead, we could get up saying (or singing :-)): “I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice.”     I – willdrawnigh – to Him!    I will!    I will find that place again!    It’s there!    It isn’t that far!!  He’s not really out of reach!”    “Though He be close – not far – from anyone of you,” the Book of Acts says (17:27).  Why does He have to say that?            Because it feels like He’s very far.

When you get into these dry places and you’re desperately saying, “I’m like a deer panting for water.”  When you get to those dry places, you – if you’re anything like me (and oh, may you not be!) – when you get there, there’s a tendency to say, “I need to take some time off and seek the Lord.”       You won’t.      It’s like paying the tithe.  If you won’t give a dime on a dollar –  :-)  – you won’t give ten thousand on a hundred.  You see?  You just won’t do it!        The test – is the dime.

The same thing is true with some other things – things we think are true….  Consider this:  You think – even plan – “Oh, when Randy Clark comes, I’ve heard – oh, I’ve heard that that’s going to be a week with God!!  I can’t wait for that!”          You won’t even like it if you don’t shape up first! :-)

The test is tomorrow – the test is every day – the test is tonight.  What’s – as we say in our common expression – “What’s eating you?” or “What’s wrong with you?”   And we have some pathetic response (that’s really a pathetic excuse): “Well, my family – my sickness – my finance – my something….”    That’s it, huh?    Those things aren’t  eternal.      Selah.

“Well, I made this huge mistake.”      Was it eternal?  No?     Then God’s not worried about it.   

Thou he fall, though he fall, he shall not be cast down, but the Lord upholdeth….”  (Ps.37:24).  In other words, the Lord can pick you up faster than you can fall the next time! 

You just need to know, we’ve got a  big  God!    That’s where the fear of the Lord comes in.  He’s going to take care of us whether we can handle it or not.  He is determined!

You don’t know this unless you really believe the Book  (When you read the Bible, do you really believe God wrote it?  That He is the only author?)  but from the time you were formed, He put your life in writing (I personally think it’s written in blood!)  He put your life in writing! (cf.Ps.139:16). 

Nothing I do – nothing I do – deters that!  Nothing!  I can’t keep God from fulfilling what He plans to do for me.  He says, “I’m gonna bless you if it kills you!”  :-)  (or – when it kills you!  :-)).  “I will bless you!”  God is a blesser – it’s His very nature to bless.  He can’t help Himself!

He created us because He loved… and He just blesses and blesses.  Every time we give Him an inch, He takes a mile!  Every time I give Him any opening at all, He comes in and blesses.

There’s a man I know in this church who is living proof of this right now.  It’s true.  He’s been being awakened in the wee hours of the morning and having divine visitations.  His problem?  His problem was, he said, “Lord, I want more of you.”  And so the Lord said, “Okay, you’re too busy during the daytime, but I’ll get you.” :-)  So, he has less sleep – but he has great revelation coming!  I love it!  Do you understand what’s happening? 

God is going to bless you   “Well, if He’s going to bless me, why don’t I see it?”    Because you don’t know what blessing is!!    

How many of us look back through our lives and see those moments when we thought it was a disaster?  And yet, had those situations not happened to us, we would not be where we are today.    Well, think that one through.     I didn’t know those things were blessings to me – because I didn’t have enough fear of the Lord at the time to trust Him in those difficult moments. 

My heart is breaking!” the psalmist says, “as I remember how it used to be!”  And then he speaks to himself: “Why am I discouraged?”  He didn’t assert: “I am not discouraged – I am not discouraged – I am not discouraged. I declare: I am not discouraged! You hear me? I am not discouraged. I am not discouraged.”  He simply admitted it.  The difference is he admitted it to the right person.  He admitted it God-ward.

Then he spoke to himself again.  Have you been talking to you lately?  Or, do you just talk to others?  Garbage cans.  It might be a good thing for us to begin to talk to ourselves: “What is your problem, Iverna?” Or, “Why are you discouraged?  Why are you so sad?  Why do you let these things get you down?”

“Well, because people are mocking me saying, ‘Where’s your God?  You still hurt, don’t you?  You still have problems, don’t you?  You still have some financial situations, don’t you?  You still need more…  You still…       Where’s this God you told us about?  Where are all the miracles?’”

Remember who asked that question?  Old Gid.  Remember Gideon? (Jud.6:13).  The angel of the Lord spoke to him. . . ..  Now, that was not just any angel.  This is an expression of Christ Himself – in the Old Testament – “the angel of the LORD.”  So, we can understand that this is actually God Himself addressing Gideon.  The angel (God) says, “You’re a mighty man of God. I’m going to do this and this and this.”  And Gideon says in utter astonishment, “Look, if you’re gonna do all these things and I’m so mighty, where are all the miracles?”   

Gideon didn’t know – couldn’t know – that one of the greatest miracles was right ahead of him.  He didn’t know that from 30,000 to 300 God was going to perform a great miracle (cf.Jud.7:3ff).  He didn’t know that he really was a mighty man of God – because he was scared of the enemy – aren’t we? – er, wasn’t he?   :-)

Every negative word that was coming toward him – discouraged him.  So, he was – if I use the term “hot-house plant” would you understand what I’m saying?  Yes or no?  No?  What about a nursery where they raise little plants?  Good, now you understand – he’d been raised in a nursery.  You know – protected.  He wanted to hear only positive words.  Today, we might hear a timid little voice like this: “Just speak positive words to me.  I get very upset when I hear negatives.  These kinds of things just disturb my spirit – I have a very tender spirit.”

I’ve been around some of those, you know.  They are not going to make it in the cold, or the wind, or in a storm.  They will faint and fall – unable to stand or withstand.

Time to say: “Self! Get up!  God, I’ve had better than this – and I’ve had that better with You.  There was a moment in my life that was higher than where I am right now and that’s where I want to come back!  I am coming back!  Whatever it takes – I’m comin’ back in honesty.  I’m gonna learn to hate evil.  I’m gonna walk in Your precepts and according to Your commandments.  I am going to walk in the “fountain of life” – the one that turns man “from the snares of death” (cf.Pr.14:27).

In fact, let me just read you a scripture. “The fear of the Lord sanctifies you”(cf.Pr.16:6).  Then, here’s what it says in Acts 10:35 – “But in every nation…”  Say it:  [“but in every nation”]   “…he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.”  Is that powerful or not?  That’s what this church stands for: Church for the Nations.  And the Lord also says, “and I’ll answer you, too.”

Every nation that fears Him!  It’s going to come to this: we’re going to be amazed at some of the nations that turn to the Lord.  We’re going to be amazed at some of the people that turn to the Lord in nations that do not accept the reality of the only true and living God.  That’s why we believe in missions.  We are going to be amazed!  We need to recognize that He promised this and it’s a fulfillment of His promise.  But it has to begin – here!

In God…” --------- “…we trust.”    “In God we trust” – is still on our coins (I don’t know for how long, but it’s still there today.)  Hallelujah!!  It still stands as this nation’s motto: In God We Trust!!  “One nation, under God” – it’s still there!  When it’s gone, will it be gone?   {No}   Right answer.

If they put me in a box just large enough to hold this body, I will still – if I can get my mouth free – declare: “HeismyGod!”  And if they tape my mouth shut, my heart will yet sing: “In Him – will – I – put – my – trust, for He has never forsaken me!”      

Speak to yourself!       Encourage yourself  –  as David did  –  in the Lord (1Sam.30:6). 

“Soul sorrows” are oppressive and tumultuous and stirring and excruciating, but “soul reliefs” lift us out of all depression – renew hope – and stir faith.  Hope is the spoon for faith – it stirs prayer – praise – worship – and fellowship.  That’s why we need fellowship groups.  That’s why we need one another.  That’s why we come together. 

Why do you think there was a sense of His presence here tonight?  “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name… I’m comin’!  I’ll be there – “…in the midst of them.” (Mt.18:20). 

“Oh, well, sometimes I’m all alone – what then?”  Father – Son – and Holy Ghost – and you.  :-)  I’ve claimed it many times in my life.  I am not alone.  I’m never alone.  I can always sing: “And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.   And the joy we share as we tarry there – none other has ever known.”  That’s fellowship.