Joel 2:1-2,12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 103 or 103:8-14, 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
He will not always accuse us,
nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our sins from us.
As a father cares for his children,
so does the Lord care for those who fear him.
For he himself knows whereof we are made;
he remembers that we are but dust.
- Psalm 103:8-14
Psalm 103 begins and ends with a call to bless the LORD, first by the author himself, and it concludes with a summons to the heavenly hosts to join in praise. The middle section describes God’s redemptive works for those who fear him.
Meditate on a few:
- God forgives all our iniquities, not as we deserve.
- God heals all our diseases.
- God redeems our lives.
- God crowns us with compassionate love and mercy.
- God satisfies us with good things.
- God knows our frailty and mortality.
Scripture uses the phrase “fear the LORD” to describe believers who benefit from God’s redemptive works (vs. 11, 13 and 17) this phrase is used 300 times in the Bible. Read Exodus 20:20 to distinguish “being afraid” from “fearing the LORD.”
Do you fear failure? Do you fear what others think? Do you fear losing your job or your health? What we fear holds sway over us and controls us. Fear grabs our attention and most often is debilitating. I both love and fear my table saw. When I engage with it, it has my full attention. The power for good and ill is foremost in my head.
Followers of Jesus are called to give undivided attention to our LORD and Savior: God’s name, God’s will, and God’s kingdom. Having this fear of the LORD acknowledges Who is in charge. The lesser fears of our lives must take a back seat to the one fear that matters: fearing the LORD.
May Ash Wednesday and all of Lent enable you to fully acknowledge Jesus as LORD. Begin by recounting how the LORD has forgiven you through Jesus’ life, temptations, suffering and death.
- Doug Bosscher