“Knowing God” and “Obeying the Gospel” Pt. 1

KNOWING GOD

2 Thessalonians 1:5-8 It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

You may say…of course, I know God! Or do you? Do you know the definition of what it is to know someone? It means you’ve met them face-to-face at some point in your life. The number (and length, quality, variety) of times/places that you’ve met in person affects how “well” you know them. How “well” you know God depends on how much time you spend in prayer (face to face) How much time you spend reading HIS WORD (the Bible). How much time you spend with fellow Christians sharing your GOD moments and testimonies. You will soon realize that the more you get to know God, the more “awe and reverence” you have for Him. For me… this pilgrimage has led me to want to “obey” Him in every aspect of my life.

Now here’s a couple more questions: Who is God and what is He like? We’ll start by addressing the attributes of God which you will find when you study your Bible. This is my list so far with a little scripture to back up the attribute.

God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY immediately comes to my mind. The Merriam-Webster dictionary: Definition of holy. 1 : exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. I’m not sure that this definition actually encompasses “exactly” what Holy is, but for the sake of our limited human understanding, we’ll accept the definition. Here are some Scriptures that encompass “HOLY” Genesis 2:3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation. Revelations 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming. Moses removed his sandals because He was on Holy Ground.

GOD IS RIGHTEOUS: Morally correct behavior. Ethical Conduct. Just and fair! Leviticus 19:36 You are to have honest balances, honest weights, an honest dry measure, and an honest liquid measure; I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Revelation 15:3 They sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the song of the Lamb: Great and awe-inspiring are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the Nations.

God is Glorious: Brightness! Revelation 21:23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. Respect, Honor and Majesty are the Definition of the Hebrew word kavod (Glory).

God is Gracious and Loving: Kind and Feeling! Psalm 86:15 But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth.

God is Faithful: True Blue! Loyal! Psalm 52:8 But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever.

GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY: He deserves our trust because He is reliable. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? Psalm 9:10 Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.

God is Unchanging: He’s dependable! 2 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV) But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

God is Omnipotent: ALL Powerful! Jude 1:25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.

God is Omniscient: All-Knowing! Isaiah 66:18 “Knowing their works and their thoughts, I have come to gather all nations and languages; they will come and see My glory.

God is Omnipresent: He’s everywhere! Psalm 139 7-10 Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, 10 even there Your hand will lead me;

God is Infinite: The beginning and the end! Revelation 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

God is Wise: Good Judgement! Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good.

God is Just and Merciful: Morally Right and Fair! Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. All who wait patiently for Him are happy.

I’m quite certain that these attributes are just the beginning of who God is…I pray that they’re the beginning of you wanting to get to know HIM better!

For HIS Glory!

When will YOU give God His Glory? Isn’t now the time to start? What are you waiting for? There’s a day that will come when it will be too late!

Ephesians 1:4-6 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

God created us for His Glory! Isaiah 43:6-7 I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Do not hold them back! Bring My sons from far away, and My daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone called by My name and created for My glory. I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.”

When Jesus walked on this earth, everything He did was for the Glory of HIS FATHER in Heaven. He, the King, became a humble servant, He healed people, He prayed continually, He raised people from the dead, He sacrificed Himself to save us . When we accept Jesus as our Savior (Believe, Repent and Obey), God becomes our Father in Heaven too. We become brothers and sisters in Christ and the adopted children of God!

John 7:18 18 The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. This verse is in reference to Jesus, but it applies to ALL of us! When the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us, we are led to live our lives for God and to bring HIM glory in everything we touch, think, do, and experience. We give Him Glory by our Faith, when we Trust in Him, when we Pray to Him, when we Love others, when we Forgive others, when we Thank Him, when we make a Difference in the lives of those around us and share HIS WORD. Jesus tells us in John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples. “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.

We have to model our lives to the image of Jesus, otherwise God is too HOLY to recognize our existence…Revelation 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming.

In Revelations, Jesus spews out the lukewarm church Revelation 3:14-16 14 “Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation says: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. WE the people are the church! Not a building! When you realize that you’ve sinned against God…do you WEEP? Does your body rack from pain and make you shudder in the realization that you took Glory from God instead of giving HIM Glory? To think that when we sin, we actually cause God to gag and vomit us out! God demands us to give him our All and when we do this, we are giving Him Glory! This is why Jesus stands between us and God as our mediator…there’s nothing we can say or do to save ourselves from His Wrath! Only Jesus’s righteousness can protect us.

Satan despises God and us and seeks to destroy us because when we live our lives for the Glory of God, it only adds to God’s Glory. God is not only Satan’s adversary, man is also Satan’s adversary…it says in 1 Peter 5:8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Every time we allow ourselves to give in to sin, we are being devoured by Satan! Satan revels in this because when we sin, we’re withholding Glory from God. I believe that this is one of the reasons that GOD can’t look upon our sin and why the Angels are guarding HIS throne…to keep sin from HIS sight: sin subtracts from the glory that God desires and obedience to HIS Laws adds to HIS Glory. Revelation 5:11 11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands.

1 John 3:8 The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works. When Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross, Matthew 27:46 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Every sin committed and every sin to ever be committed Jesus took upon Himself on the cross…He was too filthy for God to look upon, so for the first time ever Jesus felt the pain of what it’s like to not have the love and protection of His Father. During that moment, he was cloaked in the unrighteousness of the world.

Colosians 3:17 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Take Up Your Cross…

Matthew 10:38 “And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me”.

Mark 8:34 Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me”.

Luke 9:23 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me“.

Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple“.

How do we deny ourselves?  Are we being told in this verse that we should give up everything in this life that offers us pleasure?  I don’t think so, however, we’ve all heard the saying “too much of a good thing”. So moderation might be a good place to start.  These are question that we all need to answer for ourselves. If the things you are doing or love to do cause you to sin, then you need to give them up! Could this possibly mean never eating chocolate again, when we really enjoy chocolate? If it causes you in anyway to be less of a follower of Jesus…if it wakens the spirit of gluttony, or the spirt of selfishness or hoarding, etc…then by all means, give it up NOW! Maybe it means never watching football again? If football games and team sports give you occasion to feed the spirits of anger, foul mouth, drunkenness or an excuse to gorge on unhealthy foods, etc…GIVE IT UP! Have you forgotten that once you become a Christian and the Holy Spirit dwells within you that YOU are the TEMPLE of GOD! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. If you’re the person who goes out shopping and drives up the credit card bills every time your spouse watches team sports…then you need to turn to God (two wrongs don’t ever make a right). These are just some examples…there are way too many to list…a whole blog could be written just about the things that we need to examine in our lives and either give up or change our attitude towards. We must choose between our devotion to the things of the world or our devotion to God.

Don’t lie to yourself…everyone knows exactly what drives a wedge between themselves and Heavenly Father…if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to deny yourself and remove the wedge. It seems to me that what He’s saying in this verse is that we should put Him and our fellow man (includes spouse, children) before ourselves in every aspect of our lives…and that when we continue to live self centered, it makes it impossible to be a follower of Jesus. Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. This verse doesn’t just reference the roof over the head and food in the belly, although these are important to survive in this world. there’s more to providing for your family than meeting physical needs. It’s our duty to provide for their spiritual needs too!

I believe that as a people, we have made up our own meaning to “take up your cross” I’ve heard some say that they consider any of the trials of life a “cross to bear” and I’ve heard others say that the cross is symbolic of what we face daily just for the mere fact that we have to live in this world (that may be true depending on the circumstances involved).  There’s some that consider an illness, accident or addiction as their “cross to bear”.  There are some who believe that if they’re given a task that seems difficult or something they just don’t want to do, they’ve been given a “cross to bear”.   I’ve even heard people refer to their marriage or their children as a “cross to bear”. The family they were born into as their “cross to bear”. Ultimately, with this thought trend, every single challenge we face in this life can be placed in the “cross to bear” category.  However, I’m thinking that taking up your cross has much deeper undertones and it really has very little to do with any of the previous statements.  In my eyes, most of these comparisons make “light” of the cross that Jesus died on!

 Are any of these scenarios what Jesus actually meant when these words were spoken?  After giving it a lot of prayer and consideration, I believe we should be very thoughtful of how we use the phrase “cross to bear”.  How can we compare anything that we endure in this life as even approaching the magnitude of the “cross” that our Lord Jesus died on at Calvary?  Don’t get me wrong…I know that throughout history there have been martyrs for Jesus and I know that Christians around the world die daily rather than deny Jesus…and although they don’t deserve these acts of violence from the world, they are unlike Jesus who was blameless, they are sinners, and because of His sacrifice combined with their faith, repentence and obedience, they’ve been promised and given His gift of eternal life.

But to die daily? WOW!!! Everyday, we are faced with the world…there’s only one way to escape the world and that’s through our faith in Jesus Christ and our decision to go the other direction in all instances…away from the darkness of the world and to the Light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Now what does taking up his cross “daily” mean to me?  As a Christian, I have to choose between right and wrong practically every day (that’s just the state of the world we live in today)!  You can’t pick up a magazine, turn on the tv, look at your facebook feed, listen to the news without being bombarded with wickedness…on and on it goes! When a wicked thought crosses your mind or a wicked scene comes before you, which will happens less and less each day that you walk away from the world and walk with Jesus. Immediately usher out the wickedness…as it will immediately prick your conscious. As we are taught by Jesus, that thinking something evil is the same as doing it, so I believe that watching it on tv or the news works the same way. Instantaneously ask for God’s forgiveness and through the power of the WORD and in the Name of Jesus, rebuke Satan.

When our lives display the 7 distinct and unique fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith found in Galations 5:22 we are showing the world that the Holy Spirit lives in us! This is the theme though out the Bible… When we begin thinking and dwelling on good things, we have more days when fewer sinful thoughts enter our minds. So “daily” we become nearer to what we need to do to become followers of Jesus. Daily it becomes easier and easier to deny ourselves and “pick up our cross”!

Phil 4: 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Is “MY” sitting on the Throne of Your Life?

“MY”…the first expression of self worship…

Let’s start with the most sorrowful “MY” of ALL:  My Skepticism (which is just another way of saying Agnostic or Atheist).   When a Christian hears those words, the pain we feel is beyond description. Feelings of such intense sorrow and horror that if the person expressing these words doesn’t embrace the Grace of Jesus the Messiah (Yeshua Hamaschiach) and repent from their sins, they’ll face damnation – they will be found guilty before God. The Apostle Paul said: 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Phil 3: 18 (HCSB) An enemy of the cross doesn’t have to be a hate ridden bad person…an enemy of the cross is someone who doesn’t recognize what Jesus did to buy them the gift of eternal life and the cost was the blood of Jesus; as the Bible says in Hebrews 10:10 He gave it once for ALL! It’s so simple that it’s difficult for a Christian to believe that anyone would or could turn down such a gift.

The next most sorrowful “My” is: My Beliefs (someone who has their own idea of a belief system totally unrelated to God’s). A phrase that I’ve heard on many occasions is…”don’t talk to me about God, I have my own beliefs!” WOW! That’s really terrifying! I’ve talked to evolutionists (ape to man, etc), humanists (well being, etc), pantheists (humans as nothing special), greenies (environmentalist). I could go on and on…there are so many belief systems that someone could write a book on them…maybe they already have. Contrary to what they like to believe (pun)…they have “blind faith” that they’re on the right track and those of us who believe in Jesus Christ are fools. To some extent this belief system is a sort of religion without a deity….unless it’s themselves…consequently the “MY” sitting on the throne.

Third sorrowful “My” is: My Life! I can do with it what I want! No one or no book (Bible) has the right to tell me how to live my life! This lifestyle usually leads to excess…and “loving” the world. This lifestyle can stand on it’s own or be attached to either or both of the two “My’s” I’ve already mentioned. Regrettably it can also be the mantra of a Christian as they become involved with the idea of the brand new car & the bigger better new house. A financially successful Christian can convince themselves and believe they deserve only the “best” of everything. Their hobbies are the most expensive and their time is spent anyway they desire, regardless of who they hurt or neglect. Then from that extreme, there’s the other side of the coin…the broke person who says I worked for it, if I want to spend it on my friends at the bar until the money runs out, it’s my money and so what if the rent is due. If I want to quit my job and play video games, that’s my business. These are just the tip of the iceberg of a self-centered existence.

15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever. 1 John 2: 15-17 (HCSB)

As Christians, we are to choose LOVE to be the ruling factor of our lives: the LOVE of GOD and the LOVE of our neighbors. Our lives should be the outward reflection of making choices that involve our desire to follow Christ and take His council through the Holy Spirit. I’m not being a legalist when I remind you that “Loving GOD with all your heart” is the first commandment. HE must sit on the “Throne of your Life”!

God Has a Plan for YOU!

What comes to your mind when you think about Christian Education?  A room full of fresh faced energetic children at Sunday school singing songs about Jesus and learning Bible stories?  Vacation Bible School?  Sometimes parents are so thankful for VBS…as the enthusiasm for summer is dwindling and there’s something for the kids to do besides be under foot.  Sometimes we think of Christian education as sending our children to a private Christian school instead of public school.  We tend to focus on the children’s education, sometimes at the danger of forsaking our own. 

It’s not just children who need Christian education…we’re never too old to learn what God has planned for us…by studying His Word daily, by sharing the Love of God with your family and everyone you meet, by associating with your church family more than just on Sunday, by giving generously of your time, by cultivating the fruits of the spirit: 

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. When we open our heart and mind to the possibilities of what God has planned for us…it’s too magnificent to comprehend…combined with our Faith and His Grace, He has made the impossible…possible…it’s just a matter of what we do with and how we manage the time that God has granted as a gift to each of us.  We never know when time is up…so treat it as the treasure that God means it to be.    

It seems to me that the process of becoming educated as a Christian is not only learning what the Bible says, but living what the Bible says.  So true…it’s the Word of God, but His words are not just for us to memorize or quote…it’s His instruction for how He wants us to LOVE and follow the path of life that He has put before us.  When we don’t take the time to educate ourselves about what His plan is for mankind, we have a tendency to stroll or should I say RUN down the wrong paths.

The following is one of the biggest excuses of “all” who forsake the study of God’s word…

Life is just too busy…as it is,there isn’t enough hours in the day! We are all witnesses to that statement! You might be asking…when am I supposed to fit in time to study the Bible? I know…It’s not easy to slow down and smell the roses…read your Bible, enjoy the company of spouse and children. When we do get a little time to spare, we thoughtlessly use it for our own gratification…maybe it’s just a tv program…after all, you’re there (in body), maybe it’s just that book you wanted to finish reading…Hey! But you’re there physically…if they really need me, it’s not like I’m sitting in a bar, or enjoying a basketball game sitting with a bunch of strangers in the grandstands or out climbing Mt. Everest or someplace where they just can’t reach me I’m here…all they gotta do is get my attention!

Okay…so none of the above is a problem for you? Maybe it’s your hobby, maybe it’s the ME syndrome…the question is…are you there spiritually, emotionally and are you honestly accessible? Okay…let’s put it today’s terms…are you USER-FRIENDLY? Did you really leave work and come home or are you still at work mentally are you thinking about anything and everything except God, Family and Purpose? If you see yourself in any of this description…maybe today is the day to make up your mind to make a change and go where Heavenly Father leads you and do what He wants you to do. Begin to live your life for HIS Glory…not yours.

One of my favorite sayings: when you have to sit on your suitcase, it’s time to take something out. Don’t wait…tomorrow may never come…now’s the time to re-educate yourself on what’s important to God as well as the ones you love.  When you’ve made your assessment and put things in perspective, you’ll most likely find that you have more quality time and are more contented with your life in this world than ever before.  Don’t wait until you’re standing at the doorway to Heaven and wishing you’d had more time…educate yourself today with study and prayer asking what God needs you to focus on with your heart and mind.    

I’ve discovered that by being in the Word and prayer with God, the more I want to be with God and the result is I am with God. The more I follow HIM the more I’m out of “THIS WORLD” and this is where we all need to be! 1 John 2: 15 15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to[a] the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

I hunger and thirst to learn more of Him…

John 6:35 (HCSB) “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.”

Here’s a quote from Charles Spurgeon:

***Charles Haddon Spurgeon was an English Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the “Prince of Preachers”. Wikipedia