Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Can You Know God?

Most people scoff at the idea that someone can know God or have a personal relationship with Him. Although, we cannot know everything about the Trinity of God, God has given us His Word, i.e. He has given us His Love Story, the Bible, so that we can get to know God and learn how to maintain a close relationship with Him. So, we can, indeed, know God in many different ways. We just have to take the time and pursue getting to know Him. Today,we are going to look at knowing God. (Remember that you can read this blog in sections or all in one sitting.).

From the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, to the book of Revelation, which is the last book, God has given us specific information about Himself so that we can get to know Him. That is why after reading and studying the Bible most of His life, the Reverend Billy Graham can give us a short summary of Who God is. Billy Graham said, “God can be everywhere at once, heeding the prayers of all who call out in the name of Christ; performing the mighty miracles that keep the stars in their places, the plants bursting up through the earth, and the fish swimming in the sea. There is no limit to God. There is no limit to His wisdom. There is no limit to His power. There is no limit to His love. There is no limit to His mercy.– (p. 59 Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011).

We know from reading the Bible that God created us in order to have a loving relationship with us. Moreover, God wants us to desire to know Him, so that we will pursue developing a loving relationship with Him. Unfortunately, most people do not pursue looking for God, let alone developing a relationship with Him. Instead, many people are more like lemmings (those little animals who will follow the leader off a cliff to their death just because they unquestionably follow each other or the herd). 

People, too, often follow the un-knowledgeable crowd instead of pursuing knowledge about God in order to have a relationship with Him. Indeed, many will listen to the theological and media pundits of the day, without searching for the Truth on their own. They think that someone who has a P.h.D in front of their name or someone who has a microphone to speak into is more knowledgeable than someone who has actually read the Bible and pursued getting to personally know God. Still other people will listen to and follow the crowds of people that denigrate God and anyone else who worships Him or His Son, Jesus Christ. If these people can't explain or understand how someone else can know God, then that person who has put their trust in God must be a fanatic or worse, i.e. they must be someone who sets themselves apart from the crowd on the grounds that they know something that others don't. But, these people who follow the crowds and don't think on their own are actually similar to lemmings following their leader off a cliff. They certainly don't think for themselves. But, God wants each of us to think for ourselves and to pursue looking for and getting to know Him.

Looking for God

The Bible tells us that from the moment that Adam and Eve sinned and were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, they and subsequent generations attempted to live for themselves instead of for God. Certainly, we have confirmation of this from the generations that have gone before us and from people even today who choose to live the way they want to live regardless of the ramifications and the Truth of God. Thus many people have not only refused to seek out the Lord, but when they do recognize that God is real, they still refuse to develop a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, because they have failed to recognize the Truth of God. Additionally, even though some people have actually searched for God and some have even searched for ways to know Him, there have still always been those people who have refused to develop a relationship with God. Why? Well, it is just too much trouble in their eyes to get to know Him, because when they begin to discover Who He is, they feel that to live for Him will put a damper on their selfish lifestyle.

Even for those who have willingly searched for God, though, many have looked in all the wrong places. They may have pursued such religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism; religions that rely on self and do not recognize God. Unfortunately, if you aren’t on the right path for your search, you can end up on a dead end street or worse in a deep gully that leads nowhere. Worse yet are those who end up in cults or are drawn into religions that don’t require much effort or belief on their part. Such has been the case for those who now believe in false religions and for those who are worshiping idols and false gods. 

Remember, too, that Satan will do everything that he can to misconstrue the Truth of God, to plant lies wherever he can, and to dissuade people with earthly philosophical ideas that are against knowing God. That is why in looking for God and the Truth, we have to use our heart as well as our head, and be willing to recognize false religions and lies. For, God won’t give you a second chance to know Him once you have left the bonds of this earth in death or once Christ comes. Inevitably, there will be a judgment day for everyone that has not believed on Christ as their personal Savior and as the risen Son of God. Certainly, no one will be able to claim ignorance when judgment day comes. Why?

Why We Cannot Claim Ignorance In Knowing God

After God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, God told them how they could still communicate with Him and have a relationship with Him. But, obedience went out the window once Satan got Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Because of this sin, and the sins to come, they were both kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Sure enough, worldly evil and sin enticed one of their boys, Cain, to kill the other son, Abel, out of jealousy. But even before the murder, God tried to reason with Cain. However, Cain refused to obey God. God communicated or talked with Cain, and in doing so God tried to get Cain to do what was right, because God wanted a loving relationship with Cain. Sadly, Cain did not want a relationship with God. He wanted to get rid of his righteous brother, and he did just that. Then, Cain completely severed his tentative relationship with God.

Although mankind is now subjected to the hardship of living outside the Garden of Eden, God did not leave us without any means of communicating with Him, nor does God hide Himself from those who have never heard the Gospel message of Salvation. Just the opposite is true. For God has presented Himself in every aspect of our lives: through our bodies that have been perfectly made with His signature imprinted within our very cells; in nature with all its intricacies and wonders, including the many thousands of species; and in the universe with our earth and all the planets revolving around the sun; along with the wonders of all the stars and the depths of space. Everywhere we look we can see God’s handiwork. We just have to be willing to look for God with all our heart, recognize His handiwork, and then be willing to personally seek Him out for a personal relationship with Him. For. God told the prophet Jeremiah to tell the people: "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." -- (Jeremiah 29: 13. NASB).

The Word of God tells us that God has made Himself known to every person on the earth, so no one has an excuse to deny Him. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.– (Romans 1: 20. NASB).  But, even though people can see God in the world, and in His lovingly watching over them, many still refuse to believe in God. Instead, they refuse to believe, or they gladly accept and follow the beliefs of others. Still others will deny Him or make other things their gods. “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.– (Romans 1: 21. NASB). If you do not know God, please do not let your heart be darkened with futile speculations and lies. You just need to open your eyes and look for the Truth of God with your heart, and He will be seen everywhere.

Just as in centuries past, today many people still refuse to see God in nature, let alone recognize His attributes. Their refusal to see God in nature or in the world usually is the result of idle speculations and worldly philosophies, the result of atheists in the scientific world disparaging and denying a Creator, or the result of lies that are told by those who have been deceived by false teachers. Brainwashing by people who want others to believe the way they believe also leads to many people refusing to look for the Truth themselves.

Brainwashing from Other People, Cults and False Religions

The brainwashing often starts in early childhood with parental misconceptions, then is promoted in school by elementary through high school teachers who are atheists or who just refuse to acknowledge God to their students. But it doesn’t stop there, for when our young people go off to college, many are deceived by professors who are determined to keep students from believing in the One and Only God. Sadly, once a person has had that amount of consistent brainwashing, along with their stubborn human nature and our human tendency to follow the loudest and most authoritarian or supposedly knowledgeable group like lemmings, then it is even harder for that person to recognize the Truth when they hear it. For, as the above Scripture says, “their hearts (are) were darkened”. Then, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.– (Romans 1: 22-25. NASB).

God, our Creator, desires that we know Him. In fact, God shows Himself to us in so many ways, so that even people who are not searching for God can find Him. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us that Isaiah, the prophet, spoke for God Who said, “I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed Myself to those who were not asking for Me.– (Romans 10: 20. NLT). This means that everyone will have the opportunity to know God at some point in their lives. So, no one can say on judgment day that they were not told about God and His Son. No one will be able to say that they did not know about Christ either. For, there are also many ways that at individual can hear the Good News or Jesus’ Name and then open their heart to the Truth.

Christians know that God especially wants everyone to know His Son, Jesus Christ, so that people can someday spend eternity with the Trinity of God. In fact, God sent Jesus Christ to earth so that we could have a relationship with God through our belief in Jesus Christ and our repentance leading to our Salvation. For, God demonstrated “… His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  -- (Romans 5: 8. NASB)

But, long before Christ came into the world, God had revealed Himself to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, through Adam and Eve’s disobedience and their belief in the lie told by Satan, sin came into the world. Sin came in when Satan confused Eve with his smooth talk, manipulation and distortion of God ‘s actual words. This type of sin, distortion of the Truth, still goes on today. But, sin is sin and it doesn’t matter what kind of sin it is, for all sin will lead to eternal death unless a person has repented, believed on Christ as the risen Son of God and then asked Christ to forgive them and come into their heart. For, God sent His Only Son into the world to save us from eternal death. “For the wages of Sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”  -- (Romans 6: 23. NASB)

Still, it is truly amazing that professors and teachers who have traveled the higher education path, and who think that they have finally arrived when they receive their Ph.D. believe that they are indeed wise enough to force their beliefs on students and others by manipulating the facts and distorting the Truth to those who are still traveling the educational road. God’s Word tells us that “… such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites, and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” – (Romans 16: 18. NASB). These professors’ so-called wisdom or so-called educational knowledge, though, has been obtained through their denial of the Truth and obtained from those who have taught the lies and distortions to them. They tell the same type of lies that Satan told to Eve; a distortion of the Truth.

True Christians Will Never Attempt to Brainwash Someone

One thing that true Christians will never do is to attempt to brainwash or manipulate the Truth to get someone to believe in the Trinity of God. The reason that Christians do not have to lie about their faith in Christ, God’s Son, and the whole Trinity of God is that God is the One Who draws people to Him who are interested in knowing Him. Christians just have to tell the Truth and put the Gospel out there for other people to either accept and pursue or refuse and deny. However, Christians are also to witness to the Truth of the Trinity of God by our lives lived for Christ. Thus, by reading the Bible and developing a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can come to know God by knowing His ways, knowing His works recorded in the Bible, and knowing His will for our lives.

Even when people refuse to read the Bible or refuse to listen to the Gospel message, they can learn about God and His ways. For the Bible tells us that even if someone has never heard the Gospel message, or has never heard about Jesus Christ, that they will have every opportunity to meet God and Christ through the creation itself, because the creation of God testifies to the existence of God. Furthermore, a heart that then sees and believes that God exists, will be drawn to God and His Son, through the Holy Spirit of God. Then the heart that comes to believe that God exists will seek God. Remember that God told Jeremiah to tell the people: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  -- (Jeremiah 29: 13. NASB).

Those who refuse to recognize God within God’s creation, though, can still come to God in many other ways. One of those ways is from the deep longing that we all have to be forgiven of our sins. Although people will often reject the Truth of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, many will at the same time try to fill an empty void in their lives through participation in sin. For, the devil whispers in their mind that sin will make them feel better. Unfortunately, even though they attempt to appease their guilt by telling themselves that everyone else is doing the same thing, that this sin is pleasurable and not harmful, or by telling themselves that they are not breaking the law, they are actually falling further and further into the empty void within their soul.

 Their sins and feelings of un-forgiveness will eat up their emotions. But, the only way for that void to be appropriately filled is through repentance and a change in their life-style that is the result of their inviting Christ into their heart. Only then can God fill that empty void. His presence will then always be there to bless them, to protect them, to care for them, and to guide them into righteous living. This is the Trinity of God; God the Father, with Christ, the Son, interceding on our behalf once we are “Saved” and the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit guiding and comforting us. Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit Who does many things to help us have a great relationship with God and His Son.

The Holy Spirit helps build our close relationship with the Father, and Christ the Son. For, Jesus told His followers that when He went back to Heaven that He would send them the Holy Spirit. Then Christ told them that “… when He, the Spirit of truth, comes He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me (Jesus), for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore, I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” – (John 16: 13-15. NASB).

Once we repent of our sins and ask Christ into our heart, we will have the Spirit of Christ living within us. Furthermore, once we are “Saved” we are no longer just flesh, for we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “… you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. … The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. … In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He Who also searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  -- (Romans 8: 28. NASB).

Are you getting the picture here? This is a picture of the Trinity of God. At the top of the picture is God the Father, Who loves us so much that He willingly sent His only Son into the world to be sacrificed on a cross for our behalf so that we can choose or not to have a relationship with God. To the right of God is Christ, the Son, Who told us in the Word of God, i.e, the Bible, that once He went back to Heaven to be with His Father that He would send the Holy Spirit, i.e. the Spirit of God, to indwell all believers and to guide and help them. Christ indeed sent The Holy Spirit into the World. For on the left of God is the Holy Spirit Who was sent to indwell all those that come to Christ for Salvation and to draw those who are not yet Christians into the awareness of God and His Son Jesus Christ. All three essences of God then make up the picture of the Trinity of God.

If the Trinity of God is still too hard a concept for you to get your mind around, then think of the shamrock plant. For, each leaf of the shamrock plant is made up of three sections with the middle section standing a little above the other two sections, which are on either side. I believe, God created that shamrock plant to give you a picture of The Trinity of God.

God wants a relationship with You, His Creation

God wants a relationship with you. He wants you to stop living for yourself and to live for Him. For, God loves you so very much. In fact, God’s love is unconditional. He loves the poor, the rich, the grouchy, the loving, the healthy, the sick, the prisoners, the ugly, the beautiful, and even those people who refuse to follow God, as well as those who try to follow His laws. God loves each and every one He has created. Yet, in God’s wisdom and in His higher ways of thinking, God has also created us with “free will”, i.e. the will to choose or to not choose to love God and follow Him. In fact, God is our friend. God will never leave us nor forsake us. (See Hebrews 13: 5b). But, in order to really know Him, we have to willingly choose to come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Once you have freely chosen to come to God, He then wants you to share your faith in Him with others that you meet, so that they, too, can find and have a relationship with God and His Son. Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one of the ways that you can share your faith in Christ with another. For, it is through mentoring that we can show others how much that we love God and what we know about Him. We can let others know that life’s greatest joy is in knowing God and having a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.

God, though, expects something in return from those He loves. Our relationship with Him is not just one sided with God giving everything and us giving nothing. No, God expects us to live for Him and His Son in obedience to God’s Truth and His message in the Bible. It is then through our obedience and reciprocal love that we will be blessed even when this fallen world throws hardships and trials our way. For, it is through those hardships and trials that we can develop into spiritually mature individuals with greater faith each and every day. Then we will receive rewards that accompany our faith, and we will receive many blessings for our obedience.

Psalm 112 starts out with “Happy are those who fear the Lord.” That doesn’t mean the scary kind of fear where you fear spiders, heights, or the dark, but instead it means: Happy are those that reverence and honor the Lord. In other words, happy are those that understand that God is Almighty, Great, Wonderful, Just, Righteous and Trustworthy, etc., and that He deserves all our honor and all the obedience that He asks from us. So, we do not have to be afraid of God, but we must reverence, honor and obey Him in holy fear.

God is like any loving father who deeply cares for his children. But, part of that love is shown in teaching the children how they should properly behave. For, a loving parent knows that love also means dispensing appropriate punishment for a child’s disobedience in order to teach that child right from wrong and that they can’t always do everything that they want to do. A loving parent will even hurt internally when punishment has to be given to their child, but that same parent knows that if their child is not punished and corrected, that he/she will continue their bad behavior, which can then get them into greater trouble later.

God is the perfect Father, who loves us with a love stronger than any love we could possibly experience here on earth. The Apostle Paul explains God’s love this way: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.– (Romans 8: 38, 39. NASB). However, that love sometimes comes with discipline. But on the other side of discipline is the reward of blessings that God wants to bestow on each of His children. There are many blessings that we can receive, from honor, prosperity, peace and freedom from fear, as well as many other earthly blessings. But, along with the many earthly blessings we can also look forward to spiritual blessings as well, such as the blessings of being able to spend eternity with the Trinity of God in Heaven.

What are some of the other earthly blessings that God’s children can receive? Well, again in Psalm 112, the psalmist writes: “Happy are those who delight in doing what He (God) commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy (wealthy in comfort, love, peace, and security), and their good deeds will never be forgotten. When darkness (trials and tribulations) overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in. They (those living for God) are generous, who lend freely and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil circumstances. Those who are righteous (trying to daily live in obedience to God’s laws and Truth) will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will never be forgotten. They will have influence and honor. …(-- Psalm 112: 1- 9. NLT). * The Words in parenthesis are my explanations.

It isn’t easy to be obedient or to not get discouraged at the trials and problems that can come our way. Indeed, we can’t live our lives just through our own determination and strength. Rather, we need God and His love to get through this decadent and sinful world. Certainly, God wants us to be comforted and encouraged during our spiritual growth. So, Christ has given us God’s Spirit to indwell our lives and to give us all hope and joy in living for Christ and the Father. We must then, rely on God’s grace and the Holy Spirit to put to death our desire to sin and our sinful urges. Moreover, along with our possible blatant sinfulness is often our direct disobedience to God, which is also sin. Therefore, we must repent of our sins and try harder for obedience. We can also look forward to living in complete obedience when someday the Heavenly Father opens the doors of His Heavenly home, the New Jerusalem, inviting us (those who have believed on Jesus Christ as the risen Son of God) in for all eternity.

Knowing God means knowing that He cares for us. It means that we desire to get to know Him through His Creation, through His Words within the Bible, through our acceptance of Christ’s Salvation gift of shed blood on the cross for our redemption, and through our desire and determination to be obedient to God’s Truth and Greatness. Knowing God also means that we reverence and honor Him with not only our words and actions, but with our entire being by setting aside time to pray and communicate with God through both the Holy Spirit who helps us pray and through Christ our Savior, Who is our intercessor and mediator before God the Father. Moreover, knowing God means that we do not try to put our earthly and human characteristics on God, Who has made us a little lower than His angels. (see Psalm 8: 5).

We cannot fathom the Greatness and glory of God or understand His reasoning’s and decisions. But, saying things like “A loving God would not … or I can’t believe in a God who allows …” is our attempt to make God in our image, which of course, we do not have any right to do. God’s way of thinking and doing things is completely different and on a much higher plane than anything that we could do or think. In fact, God has actually told us that “‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’”  -- (Isaiah 55: 8, 9. NLT). Therefore, we have no right to try and put our thoughts and rationales upon the God of the Universe. How presumptuous!

I will end this week’s blog with part of a Psalm that David wrote, because his words speak of things that we can know about God. First and foremost, The Bible tells us that God is always faithful, and He loves us with an unending love. In fact, God’s love is beyond our comprehension, for it is higher than the stars in the sky. In addition, God is wisdom, the kind of wisdom that we can only dream of having. Moreover, God is righteous and just. His righteousness is stronger than steel and greater than the most majestic mountain. Certainly, His justice is pure and holy and full of wisdom. For, God is not like the judges on earth who can be swayed by the political correctness of the day or by liberal agendas that do not recognize the Truth. Instead, God is Truth; the ultimate Truth. But, mixed in with all God’s wonderful attributes is the care He bestows on the earth and all His creation. For, God cares about everything He made

David, though, said it best, when he wrote:

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is Your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.
 You feed them from the abundance of Your own house,
Letting them drink from Your rivers of delight.
For You are the fountain of life,
The light by which we see.
Pour out your unfailing love on those who love You;
Give justice to those with honest hearts.” – (Psalm 36: 5-10. NLT).

I hope you know God and His Son, Jesus Christ. If not, please pick up the Bible and start to read about God and the Salvation that He offers through Christ, His Son. Or find a Christian who can tell you about the Good News. Remember, too, that Satan and this fallen world are constantly trying to keep you from knowing God. So, don’t let false teachers, false religions, and Satan, keep you from your eternal home with God when your time on this earth is done. You can do it!  You can know the Truth! You can know God! You can know Christ! You can also have the constant companion of the Holy Spirit guiding you each and every day! Then you, too, can share your faith and the Gospel message with others through Active Relational Christian Mentoring.

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