Without the “fear of the Lord” you “can’t even get to first base!”

Teaching a boy to bat

There’s an old saying… “Unless you [do something very basic and fundamental – whatever it is] you can’t even get to 1st base!”

Think about that saying for a minute and what it communicates… think about the imagery behind it!

I see a young, inexperienced child, who has never played the game of baseball. He’s at his first day of “Pee-wee baseball” and the coach is trying to help him understand what he needs to do in order to play the game. He doesn’t know how to hold the bat, he doesn’t know the rules of the game, he has no idea how fast the ball will come toward him… when it comes, he swings wildly, ducking out of the way, and misses the ball completely. The coach tries to give him some instruction, but he won’t receive it. The tragedy is he thinks he knows what to do, but he really doesn’t have a clue! The coach tries to show him how to stand, how to hold the bat, what the object of the game is all about; but he won’t listen… Finally in desperation, the coach says, “Son, if you won’t listen to me and do what I tell you do, you won’t even get to 1st base!”

Now, consider what the Bible says… “The fear [or reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge [or wisdom]! Fools despise wisdom and instruction!” (Proverbs 1:7)

It all begins there in the “game of life!” If a person doesn’t do that, “they can’t even get to 1st base!” And yet all around us, we see individuals who tragically reject that basic beginning to successful living! They refuse to acknowledge God, to honor God, or reverence God. They strike out on their own – they try to do it their way – they refuse to accept Divine instruction. They are like the inexperienced child in “Pee-wee baseball” who refuses to listen to the coach! Proverbs 1:7 says, it is “fools who despise wisdom and instruction!”

I don’t want to be like that – I want to listen to God… I want to honor Him… I want to reverence and trust Him! Hey, a successful, fruitful life all begins (and continues with) that! Without “the fear of the Lord,” I can’t even get to 1st base!

Exuberant, sincere worship, from the heart pleases God!

Christians worshipping

I just finished reading and reflecting on Psalm 149 this morning during “coffee with the Lord.” One of the great “Hallel Psalms” (Psalms 145-150) each beginning and ending with “Praise the Lord” (or the transliterated Hebrew “Hallelujah”).

The Psalms (Biblical poetry), are known for their “rhyme of thought” or “parallelism” – lines that repeat, reinforce or develop a truth or concept. Think about this as it relates to Psalm 150 (verses 1-3 and 5). God’s people are urged in this psalm to “Praise! Sing! Be glad! Rejoice! Dance! Make melody! Exult! And “sing for joy! Add up all those exhortations and what do you get? … Quite a mental picture or image, wouldn’t you say? Here in the south, someone might call that kind of worship, “Getting down” in worship! It describes an exuberant, joyful, emotional, uninhibited kind of worship that some might even find offensive, excessive or over the top (but God doesn’t)! It certainly is no stoic, staid, reserved, and quiet expression of praise!

And what is the “why” of this kind of worship – what is the reason for it – what is the motivation and rationale for worship like this? Verse 4 tells us… “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people! He adorns the humble (not the high, exalted or arrogant) with salvation!” Then if you look at verses 6b-9 it becomes clear that such praise happens because God gives “salvation” – vindication and victory to God’s people over their enemies!

God’s “pleasure” – His “salvation” – vindication and victory!!! … good reasons to “Praise! Sing! Be glad! Rejoice! Dance! Make melody! Exult! And “sing for joy! Wouldn’t you say? I’m gonna do it today! … And tomorrow is the Lord’s Day – a day Christians especially set aside for worship! Gonna do it especially on Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” – aren’t you?

All of creation… an awesome concert of praise! Psalm 148

All of Creation - a concert of praiseMy Bible reading today during “coffee with the Lord” included Psalm 147… You should read it!  It presents a grand vision of every created thing in the entire universe joining in praise to the Lord!

Grand vision?  I mean imagine it!! … Men, women, boys and girls, trees, flowers, a cherry or blueberry, even the sound of a breaking wave in the ocean or a babbling brook, the sound of the wind in the trees… how about the warmth of the sun or the cool of shade… a kitten’s play or the bark of a dog… a towering mountain or grass covered plain… A sparking star or a clap of thunder… All of it, and more, engaged in a song of praise to Creator God!  Wow!  I mean imagine it today!  And participate – lend your voice (or song) in praise!  Let it become an anthem – a mighty, exquisite swelling symphony and choral masterpiece to Creator God!

Here’s the psalm, in case you don’t have your Bible on your lap…

“PRAISE THE LORD! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!  Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!

“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!  Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

“Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.  And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!  Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!

“Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!  Young men and maidens together, old men and children!

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.  He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. PRAISE THE LORD!”  (Psalm 148 ESV)

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