“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Awe Fillled, by Randall D. Kittle
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“Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe.” — Hebrews 12:28


The great and marvelous works of our God are too numerous, too grand, and too glorious for us to expound upon in any measure here without doing them a great injustice. Still, it is important for all of us as believers to know the two acts of God for which we should always have the greatest awe.

Awe-inspiring Acts of God
The first great, awe-inspiring act of God was the creation of all things. By merely speaking, God brought into existence the fullness of the universe and all it contains. Science cannot measure and man cannot comprehend the vastness of the universe. From the power of an exploding star to the tenderness of a new mother caressing her child, the sights, sounds, diversity, and intricacy of God’s creation are beyond what words can express. Indeed, they are beyond what our thoughts can contain. It only takes a meteor shower or the view from a mountain peak for us to once again stand amazed at the glory and splendor of the God of creation.

The second great awe-invoking act of God was the salvation of mankind. The incarnation of God — the birth of Jesus — is a wonder exceedingly beyond us. The One whose hands formed us was willing to become a child and be placed into the hands of those He created. It is said that one day Martin Luther locked himself in his study and spent the day praying, reading, and crying out to God. Finally, he opened the doors of his study and declared, “The God who made man became a man. Who can comprehend it?”

Even more profound than this is the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord. That weekend was the single most momentous time in all eternity. The God to whom we owed an insurmountable debt paid the cost. He took our sins that we could have His righteousness. His bruises brought our healing. His death secured our life. Every angel in heaven and every demon in hell marveled at the love God displayed for man at cavalry.

Are We Aweless?
Are these two awe-inspiring acts of God really central in our lives? Do our lives display to others our awe of the God who created all things and made a way for us to be His today and for all eternity?

Or, have we become so familiar with the teachings and instructions
about the Lord that we have lost the awe and wonder we should have of the Lord? Has God become “a cause” we serve and seek to advance rather than being the Sovereign Lord who is the lover of our souls?

To have to even ask these questions makes me feel sad for us. We seem to be content with so little from God. We appear satisfied with a few well-orchestrated songs, a nice message, and then back to business as usual. Most of the Church doesn’t long for more. We show few signs of hungering and thirsting after it.

Shock & Awe
Like the prophet Isaiah, we may be dedicated to God and diligently serving Him only to find that if we would stop and see Him as He is, we, too, would respond, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5). How desperately the Church needs an “undoing” in our day. We need to see the awesome power, majesty, and sovereignty of our God, and then marvel that this mightiest One knows us personally and loves us intimately.

Astounded … astonished … in awe — these are some of the words the Bible uses to describe those who encountered God in the Old Testament or saw Jesus’ ministry upon the earth. The presence of the Lord and true demonstrations of God’s kingdom always create such results. Let’s look at just a few examples:

Israel at Mount Sinai — When God came to meet with His people on Mount Sinai, His presence was far beyond what they were expecting. “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’” (Exodus 20:18–19). The children of Israel had seen God working on their behalf, but it had generally been from a more comfortable distance. When He came to them up-close and personal, the awe of it was more than they could bear, and they were filled with fear.

The dedication of the Temple — For more than a generation the children of Israel prepared and labored to build a temple for God. They desired God’s presence to come and dwell with them, and when it was finally completed, look at what happened. “And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the Glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10–11). Imagine what it must have been like for God’s presence to be so overwhelming that they couldn’t even stand. They received what they had asked for, but it turned out to be beyond their religion, beyond their greatest experience, beyond their ability to even respond!

Daniel and the Angel of the Lord — On a number of occasions, a messenger came from God to speak to the prophet Daniel as he prayed. God answered Daniel’s prayers, but look at how two of these encounters overwhelmed Daniel. “When he came I was afraid and fell on my face … and I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days …” (Daniel 8:17, 27) “… the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves … and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength … while he was speaking I stood trembling … I turned my face to the ground and became speechless” (Daniel 10:7–15). This was no casual encounter. It cost Daniel something physically, and it terrified everyone around him! God’s presence didn’t bring gentle waves of blessing. It brought terror, trembling, and falling face down.

Jesus calms the sea — From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the disciples had seen Him minister powerfully, doing many miraculous things. They had seen Jesus cast out many demons. They had been with Him when various people were healed — including Peter’s mother-in-law, a paralytic, and a leper. They had heard Jesus refute the scribes and Pharisees, teach with supernatural authority, and forgive the sins of another. But when they cried out to Him in the midst of a storm because they thought their boat was going to sink, His answer was more than they were ready for. Jesus’ words caused the sea to become instantly calm, and “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’” (Mark 4:41). When the elements of nature supernaturally obeyed Jesus’ command, it caused the disciples to be shocked and in awe. Jesus was so much more than they had understood, able to do more than they had imagined.

Transfiguration — One day Jesus had Peter, James, and John accompany Him to pray on a mountain. Look at what happened during this prayer time. “As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus” (Matthew 17:2–3). This was not the prayer meeting the disciples were expecting. They stood there shocked and speechless, until Peter blurted out something about building three tabernacles, one for each of them. Peter’s shocked reply was so inappropriate that Father God himself responded from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5).

John on the Isle of Patmos — The apostle John was one of the men closest to Jesus during His earthly life. We often see Jesus choosing Peter, James, and John to accompany Him for special tasks such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead, the transfiguration, and praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. At the last supper, it was John who was so close to Jesus that he rested his head on Jesus’ chest. In fact, John was so close to Jesus and felt so loved by the Lord that he referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Yet, when Jesus appeared to John on the isle of Patmos, this is what happened. “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17). Now, that was shock and awe! The risen, glorified Lord’s presence was more than John was expecting — more than he could handle.

Awesome or Awful?
The early Church started where Jesus left off, “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43). But what about our churches today? Where are those who are experiencing the Lord’s presence and are being overwhelmed by it?

Our problem is that we have settled for an “awe-some” God — a God with a convenient “wow” factor that we can handle, when we should have an “awe-full” God who is beyond our control and overwhelms us. The origin of the word “awful” is simply awe + full, literally
“to be full of awe.” Its original meaning was “to inspire reverential wonder or fear.”

God wants to make us awful. He wants us to be filled with awe for Him. All of us will be filled with something. We can choose either to be full of ourselves, full of worry, full of the desires and delights of this world, full of earthly accomplishment, full of religious platitudes and phrases … or we can be filled with the awe of God.

In the days ahead, believers will need to know the Lord personally and trust in His Word in order to stand firm in the increasingly tumultuous and ever-changing times. I believe that only those who “stand in awe” of God will be able to trust in Him and stand firm. We need to be “awe-filled” if we are going to stand strong, not fall away, and demonstrate the kingdom of God to a lost and dying world. Only those who press into our “awe-full” God through seeking and surrender will be able to reflect His glory to others.

A Call to Pursue God’s Awe
God wants to set us free from an aweless Christian life that is merely going through the motions. Recently, the Lord gave me this invitation for the Church: “My beloved, hear the call of My voice and the cry of My heart. Do not settle for a Christian life that merely goes through the motions. Neither should you be satisfied to live a spiritual life that is simply based upon yesterday’s emotions. Hear My voice and heed My call to step forward … forward into a life of devotion and awe. Become one who is willing to fix your hope and your heart upon Me, one who marvels at Me so My awe will reside within you, one who treasures Me and is My treasure. Choose to become the one you were created to be.”

It is time for us to be done going through the motions of church-life, and set our hearts afresh to seek the Lord. In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises
“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” Let us hold nothing back, and seek Him unreservedly.

As we seek the Lord’s incomparable presence, I believe that Matthew 25:29 is an important key for increasing in the awe of God. It says,
“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance” (Matthew 25:29).  God will give more awe-filled experiences to those who are already displaying awe for Him in their lives.

We need to contemplate the wonders of both creation and salvation and allow the awe of it to grip us anew. We need to regain the awe we had in the past when God answered our prayers, touched our lives with healing, rescued our lost loved ones, or healed our broken hearts. And then, we must allow the wonder of this to actively be proclaimed and celebrated in our lives — spilling out on others. May Habakkuk 3:2 be the cry of our hearts,
“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known.”


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