Thursday, January 15, 2015

Know Your God_Part 1

Although 2015 is now two weeks old, it is with great joy that I wish you a happy and prosperous year filled with God’s rich and abounding blessings for you and your precious ones.

There are still three hundred and fifty days left of 2015, and we are still standing at the brink of the unknown. The year is pretty much unknown to us because we do not know what lies ahead of us. However, knowing the One Who has already known the end from the beginning and Who has seen December 31st, 2015 right from January 1st, will be critically important for how we live our lives in 2015. It will determine how we will fulfil God’s purposes for our lives.

Let’s examine the lives of two persons recorded in the Bible who stood at the brink of the unknown and the uncertain. We will benefit from the study of their lives and how they respond at such a time when they did not know what laid ahead of them.

The first example is Abraham:

He knew God and was fully persuaded of the truth of God's word. In Genesis 12, we learnt that God instructed him to leave his country, his family and his father’s home to a land that He will show him. So Abram departed as the Lord had directed him (vs. 4). Abraham heard the voice of God. He recognised the voice God. He received God’s instructions. He acted promptly. He did not question God. He did not know what was ahead. He simply obeyed by leaving. He walked into the unknown and the uncertain solely on God’s instructions. He did as he was told because he had a knowledge of the One Who told him.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, he obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance, although he did not know … where he was to go.” (AMP).
“By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left, he had no idea where he was going…. “(MSG)- Hebrews 11: 8-10

Another person, who took a step into the unknown on the basis of her knowledge of God, is Ruth:

She came from an idol worshiping culture. She got married into a household where they knew and served God. She was barren, and as if that was not bad enough, she became a childless widow within a household where they served God. She was a witness to the fierce storms that devastated Naomi’s whole life without any apparent intervention by God (Ruth 1).

“…No, my daughters; it is far more bitter for me than for you that the hand of God is gone out against me.” (AMP).
“Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord Himself has raised His fist against me.” (NLT). - Ruth 1: 13b

Yet Ruth chose God even when she didn’t know what laid ahead of her in Bethlehem. Her response to Naomi’s persistent plea for her to go back to her people was “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live; I will live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”

I strongly believe that she had come to know something about God that was strong, personal and true enough to override Naomi’s assessment of God as the One who had dealt her a bad hand. What kind of person would choose a God who her mentor in the faith declared has dealt badly with her but the person who has come to know that God differently and experienced Him in a way beyond what her current circumstances dictates.

She chose the true God to be her God and follow her mother-in-law into the unknown on the strength of what she had come to learn about God. Ruth showed me that we need to have a personal revelation of God to remain focussed on God when someone we look up to in the faith appear to give up on God or disappoints us.

There is something peculiar about people who know their God. This was illustrated in Daniel 11.

“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.”
 - Daniel 11: 32b – 33a (KJV)

Antiochus IV Epiphanes nicknamed “the madman” vented his fury against the Israelites and the Holy Covenant, and he abolished daily sacrifices. He desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. His army killed many people in Jerusalem, took many women and children as slaves and plundered the land. He forbade the Jews to practice their religion. He persuaded them through flattery to worship false gods.
In the midst of all the turmoil, a handful remained faithful to God. This small remnant who knew their God refused to engage in the abominable practices. The Amplified Bible noted that they proved themselves strong and stood firm and did exploit for God. They instructed many more in the way of the Lord despite the fact that they were persecuted and martyred for the faith.

"But the testing will refine, cleanse and purify those who remain strong and true to the faith, that is, those who know their God."

It is important to note here that not only do those who know their God stand strong at the brink of the unknown, they also stand strong when faced with trials, persecutions, difficulties, and challenging situation. These people knew God as the true God and they acknowledge Him as such. They not only profess Him but they also served and worshiped Him. They held fast to the faith in the midst of opposition, deception and disappointments. They endured against all threatening.

In the midst of the chaos and problems in the world around us, God has obligated Himself to us by promising that 2015 shall be our year of divine establishment. We have the assurance that God will establish us in His counsel and in the fullness of His purpose for our lives. We will need to know this God Who made such great promises to us intimately.

Dear Friends, we need to have a personal revelation of God when we face the unknown. We need an intimate relationship with the Almighty God if we are going to have a victorious walk in 2015. Who is this great God that we need to know and have a personal revelation of? What does it mean to truly know Him? What are the benefits of having a growing knowledge of God? We will examine these questions in the next post.

May the grace of God abound to you richly as you walk with the Lord in this New Year.

This blogpost is adapted from the Sermon I preached in Church on Sunday, January 11th, 2015.

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