Getting to Know the God You Worship - Part 2|
Last week as we began our new series, we looked at two important statements that I wanted you to remember throughout this series:
1.Knowing about God, the object of our worship is not the same as knowing God Himself.
2.We can only worship someone we love, and we can only love someone we know.
I want you to remember those propositions throughout this series and throughout your life.
Then we explored…
I. Two Negative Consequences of not getting to Know God.
A. We'll be tempted to create a god in our own image.
In other words, when we fail to get to know God in a deeper way, we tend to develop what's called a "theology of convenience." We construct a view of God that tends to go along with the things we like to do and the ideas we have about Him regardless of whether they're right or wrong. We'll worship a god who doesn't crimp our style or infringe upon our ideas of what the Christian life should be like according to us.
The second negative consequence of failing to get to know God on the basis of His revealed Word was…
B. We'll be vulnerable to someone else telling us or showing us who God is.
I gave you the example of people who have a hard time accepting God as their perfect, loving, heavenly Father because their earthly father's were abusive. And if they don't know and worship God in spirit and in truth the way He desires, they'll miss out on most of what God has for them in this new forever family of His
While those dangers are real, there are also four powerful things that happen to us when we come to know God in an intimate way. I trust that these four positive benefits will encourage you to pursue Him in a fresh way with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
So let me quickly give you…
II. Four Positive Benefits of Getting to Know God
A young woman went to her pastor and said, "Pastor, I have a besetting sin, and I want your help. I come to church on Sunday and can't help thinking I'm the prettiest girl in the congregation. I know I ought not to think that, but I can't help it. I want you to help me with it."
The pastor replied, "Mary, don't worry about it. In your case it's not a sin. It's just a horrible mistake."
All kidding aside though we're proud about all kinds of things in our lives - looks, money, intelligence, popularity, wisdom, and accomplishments just to name a few. But of all the things of which we could be proud listen to what God says through Jeremiah the prophet. Turn in your Bible to Jeremiah 9:23-24 "This is what the Lord says, 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord."
Jeremiah says if we're going to boast and be proud of something let's have it be the right thing: that we understand and know God. Getting to know God in a personal way is the most important thing in life it's the thing that has eternal implications.
Other writers of Scripture said the same thing in different ways. Paul said that the only thing he would boast about was "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14). Hosea the prophet wrote that God delights more in people knowing Him than in just going through the motions of worshipping Him (Hosea 6:6). Worship is important, but knowing God is the most important thing of all.
When Paul was in prison in Rome, writing to the church in Philippi, he said that the ultimate purpose of his life could be summarized this way. Look at Philippians 3:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death." When you read Paul's letters, it is easy to see that this one thing was the focus of his entire life it was his passion and reason for living. When Paul compared all of his accomplishment in his life up to the point of his encounter with Jesus Christ, he said that they were nothing more than a dung heap when he compared it to knowing Jesus Christ.
Getting to know God will bring a right sense of pride into your life.
The second benefit is…
Turn to 1st John 2:12-14, "I write to you dear children because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. I write to you fathers because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you young men because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you dear children because you have known the Father. I write to you fathers because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you young men because you are strong and the word of God lives in you and you have overcome the evil one." The apostle John describes different levels of spiritual development every believer has to go through. There are spiritual "children", "young men", and "fathers." Or we could say babies, adolescents, and adults.
Just like we're born into this world as babies and then grow through various stages of growth toward maturity, there are also spiritual stages of growth and maturity.
Spiritual children are those whose "sins are forgiven." They are people who don't know any more than that they are born again and have eternal life. I've known people who've been Christians for 10 or 20 years but they're still spiritual infants. They don't know very little about Christian truth or doctrine and they don't know much about God. Experience oriented churches are like that. Spiritual infancy, just like physical infancy, is to be expected. But it should transition into the next phase at the appropriate time. Just think about it for a moment, babies are cute when they're babies and you endure - you put up with all the messes that are associated with them - dirty diapers and all. But sooner or later they need to grow and get past all of that. There comes a time at which it is no longer cute or tolerated very well. That's even more so when it comes to your spiritual progression.
Becoming a spiritual young man, or adolescent in the faith, should follow infancy and childhood. This is the time when your faith is tested and you must prove what you believe. You begin to learn truth about God and apply that truth in your daily experience as you overcome sinful habits in your life.
Then you become a spiritual adult, or a "father", because "you have known Him who is from the beginning." There's a big gap between each one of these stages of development. Why? Because being a spiritual adult means you move from simply knowing about God to knowing Him. Moving from spiritual infancy to adulthood involves interacting with God and His Word, applying that word to my life, and finally, time. Maturity takes the Word of God, plus obedience to God, plus time.
Where are you on John's scale of spiritual growth and maturity? If all you know is that you're saved, you need to take it to the next level. If you're a spiritual adolescent, you need to focus on knowing God. This is not a matter of pride but a matter of purpose in our lives so that we ultimately come to know God, not just know about Him.
Next, getting to know God will bring a sense of…
When I preached through the book of Daniel I came across a verse that spoke to this issue of power. Look at Daniel 11:32. When the world is in the final stages of the end times and deception and temptation are strong, Daniel declares that "the people who know their God will firmly resist." If you recall, Daniel was in a setting where his faith was opposed by the culture around him. But he found strength in his knowledge of God. We saw that in each of the different tests both Daniel and his friends encountered all the way through the book.
In Daniel 1, because Daniel took the time and effort to get to know God personally and intimately, that knowledge helped him to be strong and have great resolve during a time when he might have been tempted to compromise.
In Daniel 3, his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had the power to stand up to the pressure of others trying to get them to worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar. Their answer is found in Daniel 3:18 (read). Whenever I read their statement of faith and resolve, I am encouraged to know God better because I want that kind of power in my own life! And knowing God will give us the power to live like that. Those young Hebrews in Babylon could stand up to the king because they knew God and knew they were in the center of His will. They weren't afraid of anything or anyone, and weren't about to defile their consciences or lower their standards just to please a pagan king. Maybe if we knew God as well as those young Hebrew men did, we would live with that same fearless power.
Getting to know the God you worship will give you power.
And finally, getting to know the God you worship will give you…
It's easy to get carried away in despair when we read the paper or watch the news on TV regarding world events. Sometimes, if we're honest with our feelings, we wonder if God really is in control. We find out in Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar discovered who is really in charge of the affairs of this world. Look at Daniel 4: 34-35 (read). Darius also came to the same conclusion in Daniel 6:27 (read). And finally so did the psalmist in Psalm 115:1-11 (read).
When we know who our God is and, by faith, we transfer that head knowledge to a level of trust, then we can live in peace. We can sleep better at night and not worry so much about what we read in the paper that day. There is nothing you are experiencing right now of which He is not fully aware. God isn't taken by surprise, and He never goes on vacation. There is no reason for you not to live in perfect peace when you know Your God.
I'm not saying everything will go your way or that you'll always be happy about everything - this isn't heaven. Let's not forget that! But I am saying that you can have peace in the midst of all the turmoil when you make the effort to get to know the God you worship and see Him as he really is - sovereign, holy, just, all-powerful, all-knowing, all wise, and present everywhere. But if we don't know Him, the affairs of this world will keep us in a constant state of fear and anxiety. Listen to Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."
I like the bumper sticker, "No God, No Peace! Or Know God, Know Peace". Have you come to know God through His Son Jesus Christ? Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Have you trusted in Christ and what He did on the cross for you? He's the basis of our peace with God and we can't come to know God but through Jesus. Then once we have peace with God, we can come to know the peace of God in the middle of the turmoil in our lives. Listen to what Paul says in Philippians 4:6-9, "6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in meput it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Let me close this first message by asking you if you know God like God wants you to, or just know about God? That answer can be determined by the sense of pride, purpose, power, and peace in your life. When you know Him, not only are you prepared to live each day, but you're preparing yourselves for eternity. Listen to what John said "Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3).