Thanksgiving For What God
Is Making Us - Part 1
Pastor Arn Buck
Heart Song Worship Center
As a church we have learned quite a bit about who God is and about our relationship with Him. All this is to help us love and serve Him more affectively. Practicing what we have learned should help us better deal with our daily challenges and live more fulfilling lives. This in turn will help us better reflect His love and faithfulness to those around us - both Christians and non-believers.
This thanksgiving let us review some of the previous teachings. The focus will be on all that God provides for us to be successful in all that He calls us to do. We can and should be thankful for this. God wants us to be more like Himself. He has given us much to make this possible including the life of His only Son, Jesus. Let us rejoice that our God is alive and that we are made alive in Him!
What Can Motivate Us to Fulfill the Great Commandment?
We call ourselves followers of Christ. Do we really know what is involved with that quest? It involves far more than going to church each Sunday, reading a daily devotional, and making a token attempt not to sin. Jesus spells it out when a teacher of the law asked Him what the greatest commandment was.
Mark 12:29-31 (NLT) Jesus replied, the most important commandment is this: listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.
The great commandment is simple on the surface but very deep and demanding as we begin to contemplate its true meaning. How can we honestly love Him with everything we have without knowing Him? We deceive ourselves if we think that we could give such devotion to a being whom we have a shallow knowledge of. Yet as His true nature and character are made know to us we will find that we cannot help but love Him.
The life of the Apostle Paul exemplified someone who comprehended the meaning of the great commandment. His love for God and His total surrender to Him was demonstrated by His life, explained in his epistles and revealed in his prayers for the churches. The following passage shows that Paul clearly understood the need to know the God we serve.
Ephesians 1:15-23 (NLT) I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called-his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.
God Wants Us to Know Him
The scriptures contain many verses that show that God wants us to know Him. However, He doesn't just deposit this knowledge into us. He desires that we purposely seek Him. He does this because He knows that when we work for something it is more valuable to us than something given to us. Some of the deeper more valuable truths take real determination to find but they are worth it. The following scriptures are some examples of God promising to reveal Himself to us when we seek Him.
Deuteronomy 4:28-29 (NLT) There, in a foreign land, you will worship idols made from wood and stone-gods that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.
Proverbs 8:17 (NLT) I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me.
Chronicles 28:9 (NLT) ".. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him"
Lamentations 3:25 (NLT) The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.
His Ways and His Thoughts are Higher
Although God wants us to know Him, we cannot fully comprehend Him due to the limitations of our intellect. This is clearly stated by God in Isaiah.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT) "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Genhard Tersteegen accurately concluded that a comprehended God is no God at all. If you could understand all of Einstein's thoughts would you not be his intellectual equal? God's words in Isaiah 55 are not designed to intimidate us. These words should be comforting to us . They should assure us that truly God and worthy of our trust.
As a child I took comfort in viewing my father as bigger, stronger, and smarter than me. I knew that my father would take care of me. I didn't evening think of His inability to do this. It was easier for me to trust in a fallible man then than to trust in God now.
God's Truth Becoming Real to Us
When we discussed the truth of God we learned that there are two types of truth. These include eternal truth and experiential truth. God and His Word are eternal truth. John 1:1 shows that God and His Word are inseparable. God's nature and character as reflected in His Word is constant and unchanging. Experiential truth is the knowledge we gain of God through interaction with Him. Experiential makes eternal truth a greater reality to us. It re-enforces it in our hearts. Experiential truth will never conflict with or contradict eternal truth.
We gain eternal truth by reading and studying the Bible. In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul assures us on the viability of the Bible as a source for learning God's truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
We gain experiential truth by observing God's interaction with us and by exercising our faith. He can see how loving and faithful He is by daily providing for physical and emotional needs, how He answers ours prayers and the prayers of others we know. It is important that we share testimony of God's deeds both to glorify Him and to help each of us to gain more experiential knowledge of Him.
Hindrances to Knowing God's Truth
We learned of things that hinder us from knowing God. Hopefully we have been considering and adjusting for these as we seek Him. For our walk to be victorious it is important that we know Him for what He is - not what we want Him to be. These hindrances include the following.
1. We bend or distort the truth for our convenience and
2. Spiritual truth cannot be comprehended by those who are not spiritual.
3. New truths are evaluated by what we are familiar with.
4. Pride and arrogance renders us un-teachable.
5. We sometimes outright reject His truth in a rebellious manner.
6. We can encounter truth that we are not able to comprehend at that time.
7. Sometimes we are satisfied with shallow understandings of deep truths.
8. We do not comprehend the importance of learning about God.
9. We don't exercise our faith to let God demonstrate His truth in a way that makes it a greater reality.
10. We attempt to comprehend His Word using only our intellect.
11. We can be victimized by false teachers.