2016-01-10 Do You Really Know God

Psalms 119:97-112                                                                                       January 10, 2016


How well do you really know someone? I have had several friends over my many years who I thought I knew well. Yet, I can still be surprised by their words and/ or actions. I have come to understand that knowing another person well, takes a long time. Most of us put up walls or a facade to some extent. So we shouldn’t be surprised when others do the same. Non-Christians often complain about the hypocrisy of church goers. Those of us who attend church come to understand that everyone is a hypocrite at times because we are sinners and no one is perfect except Jesus Christ our LORD.

When I read the psalms I am often amazed at the depth of the psalmist’s love and commitment to God. Psalm 119:97, 101-103 (NIV) 97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. 101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. 102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  I read these words and I am envious of the close relationship that the writer had with God. I want to know God like the Psalmist.

How well do you really know God? How would you describe God to someone who doesn’t know Him? When asked I can describe the attributes and characteristics of my friends. So shouldn’t we be able to describe God? (I would like for you to write down how you would describe God on this 3×5 card and bring it to church next Sunday.)

Now, if I asked you if you wanted to know God better and you said yes, I would then follow up by asking what your purpose for knowing more about God is.  There is a danger in simply learning more facts about God. Knowledge about God is not always a sign of God knowing us!

The Apostle Paul spoke of the potential problem with the Corinthian church. There is a difference in Godly wisdom and the wisdom of the world. 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (NIV) 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Man in their ignorance of God is often arrogant, proud, and boastful of their great learning. My father always urged me to obtain an education. Yet, he often warned me that college decrees and those little initials you either place before or after your name are not always a sign of true wisdom. He said a PhD could mean “piled higher and deeper”.

The Christian must also be careful to not think that knowledge about God is a sign of truly knowing God. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NIV) 1 Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But the man who loves God is known by God. Knowledge about God, without loving God means very little. Let’s return to the Psalms. Psalm 119:9-11 (NIV) 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  Knowing God should bring joy, peace, and love to our lives. Their absence can be a warning sign!

Remember the words of Jesus when he cited the summary of the Law (Word of God). Mark 12:30-31 (NIV) 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  There is a tendency on our part to put our relationship with our LORD on our list of activities and interests. This is exactly what Satan hopes we will do. Do you love God so much that you must spend time with him each day? Do you find yourself speaking to God throughout the day? If the answer is no, then there is a problem.

We are in trouble if our love of God has becomes stagnant and stuck. Philippians 3:7-10 (NIV) 7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 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.” Paul says that everything he used to value means nothing to him anymore. Name three activities you do each day. Would you consider these activities to be garbage and could you easily give them up?

The more we know about God the more we are changed. The Westminster Confession of Faith states that our primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Psalm 73:24-26 (NIV) 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Could these words be yours? If not, why not?

Those who know God and are known by God will share certain traits.

  1. People who love God will be men and women of prayer. The prophet Daniel had made a daily habit of praying three times a day and continued even when it became against the law of the land.
  2. People who love God have a great boldness for God and will do what is right regardless. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stayed true to God even when threatened with being thrown into the fiery furnace.
  3. People who love God trust in the sovereignty of God and trust God to take care of them in all circumstances.
  4. People who love God have found peace and contentment in knowing that God holds them in the palm of his hand.

Would you like to know God better? I ask that you spend time in prayer and in reading God’s word this week and meditate on one of the passages in Psalm 119. Psalm 119:1-7 (NIV) 1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. 4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. 5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.” Do you hunger to know God better? That is my prayer for all of us!

Let us pray.