2013 09-22 kg02 the people who know their god - jeremiah 9 23-24 (abridged)


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Lesson 2 in a series on Knowing God. Presented at Palm Desert Church of Christ on 9/22/13 by Dale Wells.

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  • Not many of uswould ever naturally say that we have known God. The words imply a definite,matter-of-fact experience that most of us, if we are honest, cannot comfortablyclaim. We can rattle off our conversion story with the best of them.We say that we know God – thisis what Christiansare expected to say.But would it occur to us to look back to particular events in our personal history and say without hesitation that we have known God? I doubt it, because for most of us, our experience of God has never become that vivid.Most of us would not say that because we have known God, past disappointments and present heartbreaks don’t matter. The plain fact is that to most of us they do matter. We call them our ‘crosses’. We reflect on our setbacks, disappointments and heartbreaks and we become sullen and morose.
  • Our attitude toward adverse circumstances is not what Peter assumed Christians would display in 1 Peter 1:6-8. We want people to feel sorry for us, because we feel so sorry for ourselves. That’s not the way people feel who really know God. They never brood on might-have-beens; they never think of the things they have missed, only of what they have gained.
  • When Paul says he counts the things he lost ‘dung’, he means more than just that he does not think of them as having any valueHe means also that he does not live with them constantly in his mind: what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure? Yet this, in effect, is what many of us do. It shows how little we truly know God.
  • We need to take a good look at ourselves in the mirror. We can state the gospel clearly, and can smell unsound doctrine a mile away. If anyone asks us how men may know God, we can at once produce the right formula – that we come to know God through Jesus Christ the Lord, in virtue of His cross and mediation, on the basis of His promise, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through a personal exercise of obedient faith. Yet the quiet confidence that is the mark of those who have known God is rare among us – rarer, perhaps, than in other Christian circles where doctrinal truth is less clearly and fully known. A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about Him.
  • First, You can know a great deal about God without knowing God. We dabble in theology. We read books on doctrine and apologetics. We dip into Christian history. We learn to find our way around in the Scriptures and we read the commentaries on those scriptures. Others appreciate our interest in these things, and we find ourselves asked to give our opinion in public on this or that question, to lead study groups, to write articles, and generally to accept responsibility, for acting as teachers in our own Christian circle. Our friends tell us how much they value our contribution, and this spurs us to further explora­tions of God’s truth, so that we may be equal to the demands made upon us. All very fine – yet interest in theology, and know­ledge about God, and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes, is not the same thing as knowing Him. We may know as much about God as any theologian, yet we may hardly know God at all.
  • Second, you can know a great deal about godliness without knowing God. It depends on sermons you hear, books you read, and company you keep. No shortage of books and sermons on how to pray, evangelize, read your Bibles, give your money, be a young Christian, be an old Christian, be a happy Christian, and generally how to go through all the various motions which the teachers in question associate with being a Christian believer. You can download them onto your Kindle or Olive Tree Bible Reader. Biographies of Christians through history make it possible to get second-hand knowledge about Christian living. Yet one can have all this and hardly know God at all.The question is not whether we are good at theology, or ‘balanced’ in our approach to problems of Christian living; the question is, can we say, truthfully, that we have known God, and that because we have known God the bad things we have suffered, or the good things we have not enjoyed, as Christians does not matter to us? If we really knew God, this is what we would be saying. If we are not saying it, that is a sign that we need to ask ourselves whether we know God or merely know about Him.
  • When a man knows God, losses and ‘crosses’ cease to matter to him; what he has gained simply banishes these things from his mind. What other effects does knowledge of God have on a man? The clearest and most striking answer to this is provided by the book of Daniel. We may summarize its testimony in four propositions.
  • 1. Those who know God have great energy for God.Daniel 11:32 ESV “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.’”This is in contrast to the ‘contemptible person’ (v 21) who sets up ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, and corrupts by flattery those whose loyalty to God’s covenant has failed (vv 31-32). The action taken by those who know God is their reaction to the anti-God trends around them. While God is being defied, they cannot rest; they must do something; the dishonor to God goads them into action.Daniel and his friends knew God, and felt compelled at times to stand against the dictates of society.Rather than risk ritual defilement by eating palace food, he insisted on a vegetarian diet, to the consternation of the officials (1:8-16). When Nebuchadnezzar suspended the practice of prayer for a month, on pain of death, Daniel went on praying three times a day in front of an open window (6:10 f.). Those who know God are sensitive to situations in which God’s truth and honor are being jeopardized, and rather than let the matter go by default will force the issue on men’s attention – even at personal risk.Does not start with public gestures. In Daniel 9, Daniel discerned that Israel’s captivity was drawing to an end, but the nation’s sin was still such as to provoke God to judgment. He prayed & fasted with sackcloth and ashes (v 3) about this. We may not be in a position to make public gestures against ungodliness. But we can pray about the ungodliness we see all around us. If we don’t have the energy to pray, this is a sure sign that as yet we scarcely know our God.
  • 2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.In face of the might of the Babylonian empire that had swallowed up Palestine, and the prospect of other world-empires to follow, dwarfing Israel by every standard of human calculation, the book of Daniel is a dramatic reminder that the God of Israel is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that ‘Heaven rules’ (4:26), that God’s hand is on history at every point, that history, indeed, is no more than ‘His story’, the unfolding of His eternal plan, and that the kingdom that will triumph in the end is God’s.Nebuchadnezzar learned and so did his grandson Belshazzar. Darius confessed it and it was the basis of Daniel’s confidence in defying authority. It is the truth that ‘the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.’ (4:25, cf. 5:21). He will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man; His kingdom and righteousness will triumph in the end.These were the thoughts of God which filled Daniel’s mind: ‘Dan 2:20-22: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. [21] He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. [22] He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.Is this how we think of God? Is this the view of God which our own praying expresses? Does this tremendous sense of His holy majesty, His moral perfection, and His gracious faithfulness keep us humble and dependent, awed and obedient, as it did Daniel? By this test, too, we may measure how much, or how little, we know God.
  • 3 Those who know God show great boldness for God.Daniel and his friends were men who stuck their necks out. This was not foolhardiness. They knew what they were doing. They had counted the cost. They had measured the risk. They were well aware what the outcome of their actions would be unless God miraculously intervened, as in fact He did. But these things did not move them. Once they were convinced that their stand was right, and that loyalty to their God required them to take it, then, in Oswald Chambers’ phrase, they ‘smilingly washed their hands of the consequences’. Acts 5:29 We must obey God rather than men. Act 20:24 I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. This was the spirit of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It is the spirit of all who know God. They may find it hard to determinethe right course, but once they are clear on it they embrace it boldly and without hesitation. It does not worry them that others of God’s people see the matter differently, and do not stand with them. By this test also we may measure our own knowledge of God.
  • 4 Those who know God have great contentment in God.There is no peace like those whose minds are possessed with assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death, and on for ever. Rom 5:1 NIV84 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,Rom 8:1 NIV84 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
  • This is the peace which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew; hence the calm contentment with which they stood their ground in face of Nebuchadnezzar’s ultimatum:
  • This is the peace which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew; hence the calm contentment with which they stood their ground in face of Nebuchadnezzar’s ultimatum:
  • Can you say this with Paul?
  • Do you want to know God? Then heed the words of Jesus:
  • First, we must admit that we do not know God as we should. We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, not by our gifts and responsibilities in the church, but by how we pray and what goes on in our hearts. Many of us, I suspect, have no idea how impoverished we are at this level. Let us ask the Lord to show us.
  • Second, we must seek the Savior. When He was on earth, He invited men to company with Him; thus they came to know Him, and in knowing Him to know His Father. The Old Testament records pre-incarnate manifestations of the Lord Jesus doing the same thing—companying with men, in character as the angel of the Lord, in order that men might know Him. The book of Daniel tells us of what appear to be two such instances—for who was the fourth man, ‘like a son of the gods’ (3:25, RSV), who walked with Daniel’s three friends in the furnace? and who was the angel whom God sent to shut the lions’ mouths when Daniel was in their den (6:22)? The Lord Jesus Christ is now absent from us in body, but spiritually it makes no difference; still we may find and know God through seeking and finding His company. It is those who have sought the Lord Jesus till they have found Him —for the promise is that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we shall surely find Him—who can stand before the world to testify that they have known God.
  • 2013 09-22 kg02 the people who know their god - jeremiah 9 23-24 (abridged)

    1. 1. 02 The People Who Know Their God
    2. 2. 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, [24] 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.
    3. 3. The People Who Know Their God
    4. 4. 1 Peter 1:6-8 NLT So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. [7] These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. [8] You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
    5. 5. Philippians 3:7-9 NET But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. [8] More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things — indeed, I regard them as dung! — that I may gain Christ, [9] and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ's faithfulness — a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ's faithfulness.
    6. 6. Knowing vs. Knowing About How can you tell the difference?
    7. 7. Two important observations: You can know a great deal about God without knowing God
    8. 8. Two important observations: You can know a great deal about God without knowing God You can know a great deal about godliness without knowing God
    9. 9. Evidence of Knowing God Daniel and his friends were people who knew God
    10. 10. Those who know God … Have great energy for God
    11. 11. Those who know God … Have great energy for God Have great thoughts of God
    12. 12. Those who know God … Have great energy for God Have great thoughts of God Show great boldness for God
    13. 13. Those who know God … Have great energy for God Have great thoughts of God Show great boldness for God Have great contentment in God
    14. 14. Romans 8:28-39 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [29] 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. [30] And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. [31] What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? [32] 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?
    15. 15. Romans 8:28-39 [33] Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. [34] Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? [36] As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
    16. 16. Romans 8:28-39 [38] For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    17. 17. Calm Contentment Facing Calamity • Dan 3:15 … But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand? Nebuchadnezzar’s Ultimatum: • Dan 3:17-18 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. [18] But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Reply of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:
    18. 18. Lord, It Belongs Not To My Care Lord, it belongs not to my care Whether I die or live; To love and serve Thee is my share, And this Thy grace must give. If life be long, I will be glad, That I may long obey; If short—then why should I be sad To welcome endless day? - Richard Baxter
    19. 19. Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. [13] I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
    20. 20. CCLI # 2695486
    21. 21. Slide 0064-01-01
    22. 22. Slide 0064-01-02
    23. 23. First Steps Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. [8] For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
    24. 24. First Steps Admit that we do not know God as we should
    25. 25. First Steps Admit that we do not know God as we should Seek the Savior and we will find him