Introduction: One of my law school classmates had the practice of
standing at the front of the class, before the professor arrived, and
telling a joke. Often the joke was about God. The class would roar
with laughter and I would try not to smile because I thought the joke
improper. I was worried about respect for God. Today when I preach I
always try to say something funny. Although it is generally not
reflected in these lessons, I hardly ever teach a class where the
students do not laugh. What does God expect of us when it comes to
respect and reverence? Are His standards the same as ours: we want
people to laugh with us and not at us? Let’s jump into our Bible
study and find out what it means to reverence God!

  1. The Fear of the Lord

    1. Read Psalms 111:10. What does it mean to “fear” God? (The
      Hebrew can also mean “reverence.”)

      1. We are told that fear begins to make us wise. How can
        fear make us wise?

        1. Have you ever found that when you got scared you
          got smarter? Or, is scared and smarter different
          than the fear and wisdom mentioned in Psalms

      2. Why does the Psalmist talk about following God’s
        precepts in this verse?(The Old Testament often
        repeats the same concept in a little different
        way(“parallelism”). That is the case here. What this
        teaches us is that fearing God means that we follow
        His rules.)

      3. How are wisdom and good understanding parallel? (This
        shows how the fear of God gives us wisdom. If we obey
        God’s rules, it helps us to better understand our
        relationship to God and the people around us. That is
        emotional intelligence.)

    2. Read Proverbs 1:28-31. What does “fear the Lord” mean in
      this context? (Again, fear is used to mean accepting
      direction from God.)

      1. When we refuse to accept God’s direction for our
        lives, what happens? (Two things. First, we suffer
        the natural results of our choices (v.31 “eat the
        fruit of their ways”). Second, God may very well not
        do anything to intervene to help us (v.28 “they will
        call to Me but I will not answer”).

    3. If fearing God means we obey Him, what does loving God
      mean? (We learned during our past lessons this quarter
      that loving God also results in our obedience. John 14:15)

    1. After looking at these texts, what do you think is the key
      ingredient to showing reverence towards God? (Obeying

      1. Do our words have anything to do with showing
        reverence towards God? (Read Exodus 20:7)

        1. What do you think is encompassed in the command
          not to misuse the name of the Lord?

          1. Would that include giving a false
            impression of God?

          2. Would that include saying that God does or
            does not approve of certain activities
            when it is not true?

  1. Joy and Laughter

    1. Read James 4:7-10. Is this telling us not to laugh or have

      1. When we are told to “submit to God” – is this the
        same as fearing God? (Yes. I think this is the same

        1. Should we understand that submitting to God
          precludes laughter and joy?

        2. Is it only certain people that should not laugh
          or have joy? (I think this is directed to those
          who have not come to terms with their sins. God
          tells us to take seriously the sin in our life.
          We should not laugh about it or take joy in it.)

    2. Read Isaiah 6:5-7. How did Isaiah feel about his sins?

      1. When Isaiah considered his sins, what was his point
        of comparison? (When he got a clear view of the “Lord
        Almighty” he realized his sinful nature.)

        1. When you judge how “good” you are, what is your
          point of comparison?

          1. Should we have the same point of
            comparison as Isaiah?

      2. How will our fear of God impact upon our view of our
        sins?(Can you see there is a pattern here? When we
        fear and love God we determine to obey Him. Coming
        face to face with God’s commandments causes us to see
        the sin in our life. That, in turn, should cause us
        to take our sins very seriously.)

      3. What does Isaiah 6:6-7 teach us about God’s desire to
        leave us without laughter or joy? (God sends an angel
        immediately to Isaiah to assure him of God’s
        forgiveness and atonement for his sins.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 1:8-9. Once we realize that we have God’s
      forgiveness for our sins, what emotion do we feel? (Joy!
      “Inexpressible and glorious joy.”)

    4. Read Psalms 126:2-3. When it comes to joking and laughter,
      what guidelines would you suggest from these verses we
      have studied? What about jokes involving God? (If we are
      making fun of God, if we are joking about our sins, then
      we are not showing respect for God or for His
      commandments. On the other hand, if we take seriously
      God’s commands for our life, if we soberly consider our
      sins and seek His salvation, then the result should be joy
      and laughter in our lives. We have joy in what God has
      done for us.)

  2. Respect Earned?

    1. We have discussed what it means to fear God. We know what
      it means to respect other people. Do you respect all
      people? Should you?

      1. Compare 1 Timothy 3:8 with 1 Peter 2:17. What does
        this suggest is our obligation to respect others?
        (Although 1 Peter 2:17 refers to giving “proper”
        respect to everyone, the Greek really means respect
        everyone. On the other hand, 1 Timothy teaches us
        that we should be “worthy” of respect, suggesting
        that some are due more respect than others. In the
        book of Titus, older men are instructed to be “worthy
        of respect.” Titus 2:2. We should work to be worthy
        of the respect of others.)

    2. What is our basis for respecting God? How has God earned
      our respect?

      1. Let’s read what the first angel of Revelation 14
        says. Read Revelation 14:6-7. On what basis is
        respect (fear of and glory to)God given? (He is our
        Creator and our Judge.)

      2. Why is God worthy to judge us?(Comparing John 9:39
        with John 5:21-22 reveals that Jesus came to this
        world because He knew we would be judged. He not only
        wanted to provide a way of salvation for us, He
        wanted us to understand the salvation that He offered
        to us. As a result, God the Father entrusted to God
        the Son the judgment.)

    3. Friend, would you say that your actions and your speech
      reflect a reverence towards God? If that is not true, why
      not ask God to help you with a change of attitude today?

  3. Next Week: Why Forgive?