I've learned a great deal lately from a weekly Bible study in which I participate. The study's focus is on fear of the Lord--not to fear God like you'd fear the Bogey man, but to fear facing His wrath if your life is sin-centered. God is not the soft teddy bear that many Christians make Him out to be; he is love but also just. Sin cannot go unpunished to those who fail to repent. He'll bring glory to those who trust in Christ and repent and wrath to those who choose to fester in wickedness. That's the first thing I learned.
I've also been made dramatically aware of how flippant I can be when I enter the presence of my Lord in prayer. How prideful I can be when I ask for blessings--and fully expect to receive them on *my* terms. Makes me want to crawl under a rock in shame! Our God has not changed. He's the same Lord as He was in the Old Testament. We can't put Him into a nice neat package to fit our needs. He is a holy God--and sin won't be tolerated.
These convictions I've had since this Bible study prove that there is hope--not just in my life, but in the lives of all believers in Christ who have discovered how a completely casual relationship with God can be dangerous. The hope is twofold. First, because I am so completely convicted, I know for sure that the Holy Spirit is working in my life. This is a comfort! Second, now that I understand how to fear the Lord and what this means as a believer, I can put this into practice in my life and model proper fear of the Lord to those around me.