Monday, September 8, 2014

Weekly Devotional: Do you know God or do you KNOW OF God?

When I scroll through my social networks I see countless posts that relate to God. Just this morning I saw one person post: “Leftovers from last night #thankinggod.” Last week I saw someone comment on a post saying: “praying for you and your family.” And back in April I saw countless Easter pictures of individuals dressed up with their families with captions like “Headed to church. Have a happy Easter Sunday everybody.” When I see these types of posts I often wonder, “Does this person really know God?” Sometimes I wonder whether we post things about God or prayer or church just because it seems like the thing we should say at the time or because we think it’s clever. Is she really going to pray for her Facebook “friend” that lost a parent or did she just say it because that’s what people say when they hear about death? Does he really believe that Christ gave his life for us so that we can live eternally or is Easter just another day for him to post a pic looking all dressed up? Do we post things because they seem appropriate for the situation or do we post them because we know God and we know them to be true?

I often wonder the same thing when I hear politicians and celebrities talk. Lots of award winners thank God upon receipt of awards. Lots of politicians call for prayer for the nation when something goes wrong, but how many of them call upon God when there is a budget surplus, crime is down, there haven’t been any major natural disasters, and we are not in a recession or depression? How many of them truly mean it, truly thank God, truly pray, and truly KNOW God? Only God knows the heart (I Kings 8:39 says, “Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts for you alone know every human heart”) and of course it’s not my place to judge, but it’s definitely something I think it’s natural to wonder about. For myself I also wonder, do others see me as someone that truly KNOWS God? Or do they think of me as someone who talks about God because it sounds good or because I’ve been conditioned by my environment (family, friends, church members) to do so?

When I think of what it means to really KNOW God I think of this passage: 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.[c] For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! -Philippians 3:8-11

You see, those who KNOW God:
·         Value their relationship with Him and put it first above all else
o   Everything else is worthless in comparison to the value of knowing Jesus- Philippians 3:8
·         Are committed to Him
o   Discard everything else for Him- Philippians 3:8
·         Have faith and believe God more than they believe in themselves, the government, or doing good works to receive rewards
o   “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ”- Philippians 3:9
o   “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”- Galatians 2:16
o   “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”- Romans 3:22
·         Have a desire for more of Him and more of his power
o   “I  want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead”- Philippians 3:10
·         Understand that salvation is free, but there is a cost to live for God that they are ultimately willing to pay
o   the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 8:39
o   Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”- 1 Timothy 3:12
o   “I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death”- Philippians 3:10

I realize that just a few of years ago I did not KNOW God. Of course having grown up in church, I KNEW OF him and when I think about it, to those on the outside looking in it may have looked like I knew him. I knew scriptures (but those were fading from my memory fast because I hadn’t really studied the Bible in so long); I knew the Christmas, Easter, Passover, and 2nd coming stories; I knew all of the church worship songs and rituals involving communion, offering, etc.; I even knew that God could change people’s lives (this was secondhand knowledge—I constantly heard stories of people who changed after deciding to live for God). Even so, I did not truly KNOW him. I didn’t experience his power firsthand in my own life. I respected God but I wasn’t fully convinced, I was not committed to him, and I definitely had no inkling of a desire to suffer with him or share in his death. I thought that I had suffered enough having given up my precious youth to be dragged to church almost daily by my parents and wearing skirts in the winter— because when I was younger that was what my church’s idea of modesty. Once I began making most decisions for myself outside of my parents’ home, I counted my own righteousness, doing what I believed was acceptable and morally right and let me tell you, my righteousness had few boundaries. I primarily consulted God for guidance only when I was really in a pickle or just felt emotional and thus compelled to pray.

Gladly, I am now striving to KNOW God and not just know of Him. I recently committed to praying and reading my Bible every morning before I do anything else and just getting rid of the fanfare and taking more time to be with and wait on God. These are things that I learned at the Pinky Promise Conference which I attended with fellow blogger, Jamera. Although I had heard it before, it must’ve went in one ear and out the other because never before had I realized how much good can come from starting your day off by spending time to get to know God and tarry (abide or stay in; wait in expectation; linger) in his presence! It’s hard and I’ve unfortunately missed couple of days, but I’m striving!

I’ve learned that truly KNOWing denotes purpose and commitment. Once you have an intention of KNOWing something you go after it in a determined manner. If you want to get to know someone you think you may want to be in relationship with you take time getting to know them by talking on the phone, going to dinner, meeting their family and having them meet yours, etc. If you want to KNOW how to become a successful businessperson you read articles, attend seminars, study those that are already successful, buy books on the topic, etc. It may seem overly simplistic, but the same rules apply for getting to KNOW God! In Matthew 11:29 God commands us to learn of Him. So we have to make a commitment to KNOW God—take some time today (an everyday) be with him in prayer and read about his character from the Bible.


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