Just fear the Lord and everything will be fine.
September 4, 2012, Kichijouji Bible Study Meeting
33:8 Let all the earth fear the Lord. let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
33:18 Look, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
103:13 Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear him.
128:1 Blessed is every one that fears the Lord. that walks in his ways.
128:4 Look, that thus shall the man be blessed that fears the Lord.
We can see from these verses in the Psalms what the whole Bible is telling us, summed up in a single phrase: Those who fear the Lord will be blessed. If the Lord cannot bless you, then there is no hope for you. Thus, there is nothing more important than to fear the Lord.
I once knew a pastor who lived in the city of Mitsukaido, Ibaraki Prefecture. He was a wonderful brother, but I never heard him praise anyone. However, from time to time he would say to me, “Brother, look at that brother over there, and this sister over here. They fear the Lord”. For him, this was the greatest compliment he could ever give. You only have to fear the Lord. If you do, everything will be okay. If you do not fear the Lord, your life will be miserable.
Recently, I received a call from a family living in Kyoto. They sounded so happy, so I wondered what had happened to them. The mother told me that her son was caught shoplifting from some department store, and that this time he would be prosecuted. But she said she was happy, because her son had now come to fear the Lord. It is extremely important to fear the Lord.
One day, the father of one of our brothers, Masafumi Okamoto, came to our gathering. He was a well-esteemed person and a man of wonderful character. When he came in and said, “This is truth! I believe in the Lord”, his son lost his words. The son could say nothing except that he feared the Lord. Nothing is more important than fearing the Lord.
As stated in verse 10 of Psalm 110, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In other words, those who do not fear the Lord are stupid and helpless. Let's listen to the testimonies of some people who feared the Lord in a real sense.
A man called Abraham once confessed, “I am only dust and ashes”. This is the consequence of truly fearing the Lord. This is the foundation of faith: I am only dust and ashes.
Another man called Job actually went through many difficult experiences. He was agonized because of the many ordeals that happened to him. However, he did not even think of accusing the Lord or asking the Lord why. He just said, “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
One of the authors of the Psalms, Asaph, said: I was too stupid and didn't realize I was acting like a wild animal with you. Once we realize the sacredness of the Lord, this is the only attitude we can take.
The prophet called Isaiah was a person of great character. In his testimony, he cried out, How terrible it will be for me! Because I am ruined! I'm a man with unclean lips.
This story is cited very often, but Peter once prayed an odd prayer. His words of prayer show us how stupid humans are and how awful the influence of religions can be. He said, "Leave me, Lord!" Well, this is somewhat understandable. However, next, Peter unwisely pledged, "Because I am a sinful man!" The Lord thinks in a totally different way. He tells you that because you are such a sinful man, He wants you to come closer to Him.
John lived with Jesus for three and a half years. It was an unimaginable and wonderful experience for him. All the other disciples were prosecuted and executed by Nero, the Roman Emperor. Only John survived. He was not killed, but was rather expelled to a remote island called Patmos. It seems that he did not associate much with the people of the island. He was alone and had a lot of time to spare. Actually, he was given this time to write the Revelation. Unimaginably large numbers of people have been encouraged and blessed by the Revelation of John. It is known that people in the early churches gave more importance to the Revelation than the gospels and the epistles. They read it very carefully, because it was about the future.
Those who fear the Creator of all things are blessed. They are happy and fulfilled. Those who fear the Lord and walk the path of the Lord are the people who have been humbled and broken down by the Lord. When these people are illuminated by the light of the Lord, and when they realize that they have been so miserable, that their lives have been meaningless and full of sin, they receive a great blessing. The Lord is looking for such people.
Isaiah wrote the same thing:
66:2 ...says the Lord. but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
When you read the Bible in awe of the Lord, you in fact come to fear the Lord. Once, Jesus was also called 'The words of God', just like the Bible itself.
 Just fear the Lord and everything will be fine.
September 4, 2012, Kichijouji Bible Study Meeting
What kinds of people are considered valuable in this world? We all have some answer to this question. They are the competent people, the intelligent people. In a society, people who have money and power are well-esteemed. The Lord apparently does not want to respect such people. So what kinds of people are the Lord looking for? He is looking for those with broken hearts, people who respect His words, people who fear the Lord.
I spoke about this before. I once visited the law office of our brother, Makoto Murakami. I was impressed by the poster on the wall. It was a nice poster. The warning on the poster read, “Humans are easily deceived.” Well, I guess lawyers keep plenty busy because of this fact. Men are indeed so easily deceived. But the Lord can never be deceived. You won't be blessed until your heart is totally broken. If you do not respect the words of the Lord, you will never be blessed. Those who do not fear the Lord will never have the blessing of the Lord.
Here, one question arises: What do we need to fear the Lord, the creator of all things? What are the conditions required to truly fear the Lord? Needless to say, the first condition is to know the Lord. It is most important to get to know the Lord through personal experiences.
After all, the purpose of the Lord, his goal in leading us in everything, is just to let us understand Him, to let us know Him better. However, humans suffer through anguish because of this. The Lord provides us with all kinds of unpleasant troubles and problems.
To know the Lord, we must start by admitting that we are separated from the Lord, that we are all too selfish and arrogant, and that we are lost because of our own sins. This is the judgment of the Lord against us. It doesn't sound pleasant, but it is true. Since all have sinned and continue to fall short of God's glory. Not even one person is righteous. We also have to recognize that no one can save themselves. We will never get to know the Lord through our good deeds, or by leading a life in a socially appropriate manner. We will never be saved by these things.
There is only one man who can save us miserable humans: Jesus, He who paid our debts for our salvation. It is explained in simple words in the first epistle of Peter:
3:18 For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Only those who have been led to Jesus are privileged to know the Lord Himself and obtain His salvation. Only such people can truly fear the Lord and thus, are released from the fear of humans. We only have two choices in our lives: to fear the Lord or to fear humans. We are freed from sin by fearing the Lord. We are helpless when we fear humans.
When someone comes to know the Lord, that person is saved from all sin. He will not have to go to hell, for heaven is guaranteed for him.
Many people came to believe in the Lord when they faced the emptiness in their mind, which made them realize that they were too separate from the Lord God. Thus, they had to be punished by the Lord. Then they heard the Gospel of the crucified Jesus, and believed in Him, He who sacrificed Himself to take the punishment we were supposed to take. They all gratefully pursued the invitation from Jesus when they heard Jesus telling them, Come to me, all of you who are loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.
 Just fear the Lord and everything will be fine.
September 4, 2012, Kichijouji Bible Study Meeting
What is it to know the Lord? It is to have the firm conviction that your selfishness is forgiven, that you are justified, that you have peace with the Lord God and know that Jesus is your savior, and that because you have been transferred from spiritual death to eternity, you now have everlasting life.
It is extremely important to know the Lord and to fear the Lord. When people come to know the Lord, they will all have the same strong desire. They all want to make the Lord rejoice, but they don't know how to express their gratitude to the Lord.
I guess many of us still remember. We used to play some concerts at the Musasino Cultural Centre; however, they were not actually concerts. Music was just the bait. A lot of people came when we called it a concert. We always chose someone to talk. Every time someone would play music, others would testify. This pattern was repeated, music and another testimony. On one of these occasions, we asked teachers to gather from different kinds of schools and had all-teacher testimonies. There were teachers from Sunday schools, elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools and universities. They all stood in turn and talked about Jesus.
For some other concerts, we called in nurses and doctors to testify about the Lord. We also had another concert with all cancer patients. These were not people who were prone to developing cancers; rather, they were patients who already had some cancers. They all testified about the Lord. Then, as we all know, one of our beloved sisters, the elder sister of Kaoru Ichise, also testified. She was 32 years old and at the terminal stage of cancer. She was married and had two children. She was full of joy when she testified about Jesus in front of the big audience.
After her testimony, I saw her in the hallway. The sister, who gave such a joyful look to the audience, seemed so depressed when I saw her in the hallway. I asked her what was wrong with her. She said that she was not sure whether her testimony had made Jesus rejoice, and that it made her quite anxious. I thought she was already blessed when she worried this way.
She was so grateful for being saved, so now she wanted to please Jesus. She was filled with such a wonderful feeling. Isn't it more important than anything to have an earnest wish to make Jesus rejoice? However, if we try to please the Lord by our own efforts, it will not work. It will just end up in miserable defeat.
There is only one man who can truly make the Father God rejoice: Jesus. And thus, it is important to be connected to Jesus. When we are connected to Jesus, our lives will be different. It will make us bear fruit. It is not our own efforts, but the work of Jesus that dwells inside each one of us, that helps us to gain victory, to be blessed and bear fruit.
As we all know, there are many different ways of living. For example, some people simply want to make themselves happy. They all think, Me, me, me! From the beginning to an end, they just think about themselves.
Another type of living is a life in which people place importance on the happiness of other people. This is a very difficult way to live. Actually, such a life is impossible. There is yet another way of life: a life that aims to make Jesus rejoice, He who sacrificed His own life for us.
Surprisingly, the majority of the people have a nature to care only about their own lives. This is why they do not truly accomplish anything. They end up in dreadful competition, jealous and hating. Jesus is the only man who did not want to make Himself happy. In this sense, we will never understand the true intentions of Jesus. Jesus did not care about being neglected, being abandoned, or being made out to be sin itself. Instead, he said, Your will to be done, not mine. Only Jesus could truly take this attitude.
He did not want to make Himself rejoice. What does it mean to make yourself rejoice anyway? It is self-satisfaction. Why don't we bear many fruits? It must be because we just want to make ourselves rejoice, because we want to play some role, or because we sympathize with ourselves. If you try to make other people rejoice, you will eventually find yourself as their prisoners and slaves.
You will be constrained to yourself and will stress yourself out. You will be depressed and disappointed. Making the Lord rejoice is vital. What kinds of people can please the Lord? It is only people who truly fear the Lord.
One poet sung this song: “I do not care at all if others accuse me, praise me, worry about me, or misunderstand me. Lord, to make you rejoice is everything for me.” When you can adopt such an attitude, you will be released from humans' judgment, you will act righteously to your neighbors, and you will have a sincere desire to help others, instead of yourself.
What will happen to you when you come to truly wish to make the Lord rejoice? What does it actually mean to fear the Lord? What are the conditions required for this? As I just said, you must only know the Lord from your personal experiences. You also need to desperately wish to make the Lord rejoice. And finally, you must devote everything to the Lord. To devote everything, to devote the best things you have, is a consequence of fearing the Lord, as is written in the Bible. Let's read some other verses before we finish. Here is Chapter 22 of Genesis, one of the most important books of the Old Testament:
22:2 And he said. Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah. and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of.
22:5 And Abraham said to his young men. Abide you here with the ass. and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,
22:12 And he said. Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do you any thing to him. for now I know that you fear God, seeing you has not withheld your son, your only son from me.
What was the response of Abraham when the Lord commanded him to take his son, his only unique son whom he love, Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering? Did he say, “Oh no, my Lord. No way! Why do I have to kill my son? If my son is killed, your promise to me will be broken and your words will be meaningless"? Abraham never talked back like that. Why was that? It is because by that time, Abraham clearly understood that the Lord was seeking true and sincere worshippers.
To worship is to sacrifice, and sacrificing is a consequence of fearing the Lord, as is written in verse 12. Those who fear the Lord will have the blessing of the Lord. So the author of the Psalms sung: How blessed are all who fear the Lord.
It was more than ten years ago that this sister prayed sincerely for the salvation of her husband, saying, “Jesus, please give me cancer. I will be happy if my husband will be saved by it.” She prayed this way from the bottom of her heart. She did not actually get cancer. Her husband once fell sick and almost died, but he is still alive.
However, her prayer was true and sincere—she didn't want anything for herself. When you pray truthfully, the Lord will absolutely answer. Fearing the Lord is extremely important.