Updated: Nov 9
Our Bible study group is studying Acts and we just discussed our homework Acts 6:8-8:3. Our study book asked the question 'What lessons for us does 6:8-8:3 offer?' with regards to the sins of the Jews to avoid. Some of us wrote down hard heart, legalism, disobedience, resisting the Holy Spirit, unbelief, and stiff-necked. (I like the imagery of "stiff-necked." I don't want to be stiff-necked.) With regards to legalism we mentioned doing rituals out of routine without having the heart for God.
I mentioned to the group about visiting a church and during the service the people repeat things together. First of all I could not understand what they were saying. Not a clue. And I noticed they were just saying it kind of rote, in a monotone voice, without meaning. Of course, not everyone. I'm sure many people were saying what they were saying with conviction. Four or five rows in front of me was a young couple with a baby who caught my eye. They appeared to be of middle eastern descent which interested me and I noticed them being demonstrative. Having come from a very stoic traditional church I appreciate this! This young couple seemed to be truly worshipping God. And the baby was adorable. I spent most of the service taking my cues from them and smiling at their display of faith.
But for most of the people sitting in the pews it seemed like they didn't care about what they were saying, whatever it was they were saying. But that wasn't unique to that church. How often have I witnessed people saying the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed or Nicene Creed or singing the doxology without any meaning to it? How often have I done that very same thing - barely paying attention to the words?
Remember when you first came to faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Lord? Remember that fire for the Lord you felt? Remember being filled with gratitude and thankfulness? That is called awe. And somehow as we walk this life with Christ that awe fades some. And then something reminds us. We remember. And our hearts swell with awe again.
Jesus Christ came to earth, was crucified, died, and rose again all so that we could be reconciled to God. We go to church to be with other believers and be in community to give glory to God for all He has done. He is the Creator. He is the Deliverer. He is the Redeemer. He is Mighty. He is Powerful. He is Merciful. He is Holy. He is Loving. He is Good. He is Just. He is our Provider. He is our Protector. He is our Healer. He is our Forgiver. He is the Great and Awesome God!
We had just studied about the Acts 2 church. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe. (Reference Acts 2:43.) This morning I sat here and I thought about that and our discussion last night. God is worthy of our praise. And yet we hold it back. I don't think we purposely do it. It is like an unintentional sin we commit.
I went to Bible Gateway (biblegateway.com) and entered the Bible I read from (NASB 1995) and searched the word "awe." It also pulled up verses with the word "awesome" in them. I opened my Bible and went to each verse and highlighted and underlined the word "awe" or "awesome" that were referring to God or to God's actions. I highly recommend doing this.
I noticed something. In eleven verses (if I counted correctly) it described God as "great and awesome."
I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,
Let them praise Your great and awesome name;
Holy is He.
I cannot think of "my God is so great" without this kids' song coming to my mind. Smile.
And of course when you say, "awesome God" you think of this song. No verses. Just a chorus repeated over and over and over and over.
Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God
In looking for the song Awesome God, I found this song and I love the words to it! Praise be to God!
When studying the verses with awe and awesome in them I also saw -
honored and awesome
If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the Lord your God,
dominion and awe
Dominion and awe belong to Him
Who establishes peace in His heights.
reverence and awe
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
holy and awesome
He has sent redemption to His people;
He has ordained His covenant forever;
Holy and awesome is His name.
But I noted something else in studying the awe verses. I noted the phrase "stand in awe" of God. This I am meditating on.
You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst,
They will sanctify My name;
Indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
And will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
Do we have to physically stand in awe of God? I think what He wants from us is for our hearts to stand in awe of Him.
Princes persecute me without cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your words.
We go to church to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ to lift our voices in praise and give glory to our great and awesome God.
Our words, our actions, and our demeanor should not be one of going through the ritual; mundanely saying the words with no conviction. Let us be purposeful to remember the great gift we have been given. The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us stand in awe of Him.