Posted on 10/30/2005 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
Good morning and welcome! A special greeting to our visitors both here and listening at remote locations. I'd like to extend an invitation to you to come back and see us again next week.
This message is being recorded so those coming in late or listening later this week won't miss anything. If it's between 11:30am and 12:30 Second Life time, come on over to the CyberChurch in Vine after the message and fellowship with us!
Please hold all your questions and comments until after the message, when we'll all have the opportunity to ask questions and share what's on our hearts.
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The title of my message this morning is "Knowing God."
Lord Jesus, thank you for this beautiful new day that you have made! May we bless you this day with our lives. Father God, send your Holy Spirit, your presence, to fill this virtual room this morning. As we gather here together in your name, be here with us. In all we do and say here, may we not receive the glory, but may Jesus be glorified, may he be glorified alone. And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Let's begin this morning by reading from the book of Genesis, the first chapter, starting with verse 26:
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
Have you ever wondered WHY God created you and me in his image and likeness? In chapter 3, verse 8, we read, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." Why was God walking in the garden? We read that he was calling for man, saying, "Where are you?"
God was walking in the garden -- to fellowship with man.
Genesis 2:22-24 reads, "And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, he made into a woman, and brought her to the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she will be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh."
When Adam says, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," the original Hebrew reads, "This is AT LAST bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." And just as God created woman at the last in the likeness of man so they could know eachother and have intimate fellowship with eachother, so he created you and me at the last so we could know him and have intimate fellowship with him.
Just as God created woman like man so they could have an intimate relationship with eachother, so he created man like himself so you and I could have an intimate relationship with him, and so we could get to know and love him.
The road of intimate union is a series of steps:
1. You meet the person.
2. You learn about the person.
3. You spend time with the person.
4. You begin to trust the person.
5. You begin to love the person.
6. You want to be with that person all the time.
7. You start becoming like that person.
Have you met God? Certainly you cannot skip this step! You will KNOW you've met God, because when you have an encounter with the True and Living God, you are forever changed. No one can meet God and stay the same.
His presence is the power of transformation;
His fragrance is the scent of a dawning love;
His eyes are the flame of a burning passion;
His face is the image of absolute perfection.
If we are to meet God, we cannot do so on our own terms -- We must come to him on HIS terms.
"Lord Jesus, I know my own ways and my own wisdom have only led me away from you; Draw me now to yourself, so I may know you and be changed."
Jesus said, "He who comes to me, I will certainly not cast out." He's waiting with open arms, to begin with you the journey of a lifetime.
"Lord, cause me to hunger and thirst for you, and you alone."
God created you and me in his image and likeness so we could have deep, intimate fellowship with him. The first step towards that fellowship is meeting him. When you have an encounter with the True and Living God, your life is forever changed.
The Bible says, "Seek the Lord while he may be found." Seek God until you can say you've had that life-changing encounter with him, and then seek him for the rest of your life.
The second step towards intimately knowing someone is to learn about that person. The primary source of knowledge about God is the Bible.
To understand the Bible, you must learn its language. The Bible tells us that the carnal mind cannot understand spiritual things, because they are hidden from him. Until your mind is renewed, you cannot know God, because everything about him is foreign to the fallen nature of man. Only by renewing our minds can we begin to know God.
If we are feeding on secular television, books, magazines, and music, we are feeding our carnal thinking, and dulling our ability to know God. We are also removing at least a part of God's peace and righteousness from our lives.
The Bible tells us the righteous person meditates on God's Word day and night, and because of this he is like a tree firmly planted by streams of living water, who bears fruit and does not wither, and who cannot be uprooted or moved.
The wicked are blown about by every wind of trial and deception.
Start renewing your mind TODAY by removing carnal influences and setting nothing before your eyes and ears but that which will help you know God better.
"Carefully guard your heart with all dilligence, for from it flow the springs of your life."
The third step towards intimate union is spending time with the person.
Since, according to Scripture, "The Spirit and the Word are one," one way to spend time with God is to read the Bible, and then choose to live by what you read.
Jesus said that if we hear his Word and obey, we are like a wize man, and our houses will stand through the storms of life.
If, however, we hear his Word but do NOT obey it, we are like a foolish man, and the troubles of life will destroy us.
Spending time with God through reading and obeying his Word will bring his presence into our lives.
We also can spend time with God by prayer.
Prayer is both talking to God, and then being still and quiet so HE can talk to YOU.
You cannot really get to know God if prayer is not an important part of your daily life.
We can spend time with God by worshipping Him.
The Psalms are full of examples of how to praise and worship God. And Scripture tell us that he lives in the praises of his people, so he is there with you when you praise him.
We can spend time with God by gathering with others who love and obey him.
He said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." God is here with us when we gather in his name.
"Whatever you do in word or in deed, do all to the glory of God."
Do and say only that which glorifies God, and his presence will be with you, and you'll grow to know and love him more.
Before you can progress into deeper levels of fellowship with someone, you will encounter what is, to some, a seemingly impossible bridge to cross: You must learn to TRUST the person.
The Psalms are filled with verses about trusting God. Here are but a few:
"Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord." (Pslam 4:5)
"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them..." (Psalm 5:11)
"O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." (Psalm 34:8)
"Trust in the Lord and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." (Psalm 37:3)
"Commit thy way unto the Lord: trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass." (Psalm 37:5)
So many times we don't know WHO to trust, so we're unsure of what path to take in life.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths, making them plain and straight."
How often do we insist on understanding something before we can believe? Here we are told that if, instead of demanding to hear the voice of reason, we simply choose to trust in God, believing what he says, he will give us direction and insight. And this will bring peace.
Isaiah 36:3 says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
How can we trust God more? Get to know him. Read and believe his Word without insisting on intellectual satisfaction, then obey that Word. Spend time with him in prayer, praise, righteous living, and fellowship with believers. And ask him every day to increase your faith and trust in him.
And after time, you will discover that you have come to trust him like never before, and out of your innermost being will flow a love that defies human understanding and waters your life with joy.
We have discussed meeting God, learning about God, spending time with God, and trusting God.
When these things become an intimate part of our daily lives, and the central force around which everything else revolves, time will roll away the curtains of ritual and form to reveal the deep, genuine love of God which he has planted in our hearts by his Word, and watered by the trials of life, and caused to grow by the life of his Spirit within us.
Love is not a feeling, or some force that comes and goes as it pleases without any regard to our will. Love, rather, is an action -- it is a choice.
In Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 5, we read the first and great commandment, around which all the Scriptures, "...the Law and the prophets..." revolve: "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."
Loving God is a choice.
The Scriptures say, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (that you need) will be added unto you."
Surely, amidst and central to the provision of all your needs, God will add to you a growing love for him.
"Seek first" could be translated "Seek central;" Let the core of your existence be to seek God, his kingdom and absolute authority in your life and over every part of your life, and his righteousness, uncompromised and unquestioned; and you will see, through time, the fruit of his Spirit grow to maturity.
And this fruit, when all is said and done, is LOVE.
Romans 8:35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"
Surely there is no mountain too high or valley so deep that we can be taken from the loving arms of our God and Father.
May we learn to love him more.
There comes a time, with every lesson God teaches, when the "rubber meets the road." There always comes a time of confrontation, when our hearts are laid open and bare before him, and we can no longer hide from him or from ourselves. It is in this time of nakedness that he can change us.
We've been talking about the steps toward intimate union. Step five is loving the person. If you love someone, the next step comes automatically: You want to be with that person all the time.
Do you want to be with Jesus ALL the time?
When we feed our flesh, we are not spending time with him at that moment. Do we truly long to be with him every moment of every day, even though that excludes our enjoyment of any worldly pleasures and pursuits which displease him?
James 4:4 says that "...the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
Knowing his holiness and perfection, a righteous God who cannot tolerate sin, and knowing our wickedness, and that even our own goodness is like filthy rags according to the Scriptures, can we honestly say, "I LONG to see Jesus FACE TO FACE?"
When we see him, we will know that he sees every part of us, even the darkest, most secret corners of our heart. And he is holy and pure. His eyes are described as flames of fire. My, what a sobering thought, that we are so completely transparent before him, able to hide nothing!
Instead of condemnation, may we sense an urgency of action. May we seek to lay aside all that would hinder us from coming to that point of love for God that results in our absolute surrender to him. And by dilligently seeking after him, as a choice of our wills, denying our own desires in pursuit of his, and forsaking our own ways and plans to follow after his, we will grow to love him more and more, that love growing brighter until the full day.
Phillipians tells us that it is God who works in us both to will and to do that which pleases God. Run after God and pray to desire him more, and he will place that desire within you.
Lord Jesus, give me the will and the strength to run after you with my whole self.
"I will rejoice in you and be glad; I will praise your love more than wine. Draw me after you and let us run together..." (Song of Solomon)
So far, we've discussed six of the seven steps towards intimate union:
You meet the person.
You learn about the person
You spend time with the person
You begin to trust the person
You begin to love the person
You want to be with the person all the time
Now let's discuss the seventh step:
You start becoming like the person
It is your DESTINY to become like Jesus.
Romans 8:28-32 says, "And we know that God works all things out to the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
Are you a part of God's family? It is because he has called you. The Bible says no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws him. And since you are called, becoming like Jesus is your destiny.
The Scriptures say, "...when we see him, we will be like him..." So the way to become more like Jesus is to keep our eyes on Him, as our vision is slowly healed by his radiant presence and glory. And the more we see him, the more like him we will become.
All the things we've talked about in this message are part of spending time with God. The more we do this, the better we'll know him, and the more we will be transformed, from glory to glory, into the glorious image of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
To him be all the glory forever and for all eternity long. Amen.
If you have not begun that relationship with Jesus, or if you've strayed away from God, today is the day to come back home. Right where you are, pray this prayer with me, don't worry about what anyone else might think, this is just between you and the God who created you so that he could have an eternal love relationship with you, and who loves you more than life itself.
Pray with me, whether this is the first time you've come to the Lord, or whether you're coming back to him after a time of wandering. Pray with me now...
Jesus, I want a brand new start with you. I want to be your friend. I want to know I am at peace with God. I want to feel your love. I want to live forever with you. Forgive me for my sins. Wash my sins away with the blood you shed for me. Come and live inside my heart. Set me free from my sins. Set me free to love. Set me free to have peace and joy. Set me free to walk with you, through all the mountains and valleys of my life. Make something beautiful out of my life. Be my Lord. Be my Savior. Be my friend. Thank you Jesus! Amen.
Now let's head over to the fellowship room next door for discussion and fellowship. If you have prayed with me and have given your life to Jesus either for the first time or if you've come back to God this morning, please let me know so I can pray with you and rejoice with you too.
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Amen.