Wednesday, April 24, 2013

God knows you! What a blessing! What a comfort!

           One of the attributes or qualities of God is that he is omniscient. That means that he knows all things. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows the plans in our heart. He knows our desires, our thoughts, and our sins. He knows them all. That’s part of being God.
There are many passages which speak about God knowing us who are his children. In one respect that means that he knows who every believer is – those who have lived and die, those who now live on the earth, and those who will live. He knows them all.
There are times, however, when the word ‘know’ is used when it means more than to “have knowledge of” something.  A good example is found in the gospel of John where Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—“ (John 10:14 - NIV). He is not simply saying that he knows who they are but that he has a relationship with them. You may be acquainted with the local newscaster because you see him every night on TV. Then you run into him in the checkout line at the store and you say, “I know you!” That’s quite different from saying you know your spouse, parents, children, or your best friend.
You may know it is cold outside because the weather channel says it is five degrees with a wind chill of ten below. Then you put on your robe and slippers to go get the paper from the driveway. You step outside. Now you know, know from experience, it is cold out.
When God says he knows us, it means he knows more than who we are, our name, where we live, our parents and friends. He knows our weaknesses and strengths. He knows our wants and desires. He knows when we are weak, when we are vulnerable to the temptations of the devil. He knows when we are discouraged, afraid, when we are sad, when we are afraid. He knows how we feel when we’ve lost someone we love or how we feel when faced with the prospect of death. He knows us.
Because he knows us in such an intimate way, he is able to help us, protect us, take care of our needs. He knows when we need strength and encouragement. He assures us of his presence when we feel like we are alone. When our problems seem to be more than we can bear, he carries them for us. When our sins condemn us, he assures us of his forgiveness. When death is at our door, he says ‘don’t be afraid. I have overcome death.’ When this world’s problems, pain, and trials plague us, he reminds us they are temporary and the day will come when we will be in glory where there will be no more pain, sorrow, death or anything else to take our joy away.
            Yes God knows us. He knows us well. What a comfort! What a blessing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What would you do if you knew God were watching you?

              I read a story about a business man who had made an appointment to bid on job. Soon after he came into the office to make his presentation, the owner of the company said he had to step out for a few minutes and asked if he could wait. After the man had left the office, the man looked over at the desk and saw that his competitor had his bid lying there. He knew that he shouldn’t look but he couldn’t help himself. If he knew what his bid was, it would be easy to outbid him and get the job.
When he leaned over to check the amount, he found that the dollar figure was hidden by a Pepsi can. When he lifted it up to move it, he found out that the bottom of the can had been cut out and hundreds of small BBs went rolling across the desk and floor. It was a test set up by the owner to check out his honesty. He didn’t get the bid.
I have heard it said that the true test of one’s morality is demonstrated by what one does when no one is watching. Most of us are much more likely to do the right thing when we know that our parents, our boss, or someone else in authority is watching. What do we do when they’re not?
How do we act, as a young person, when we are alone with our sweetheart and our parents aren’t expected to come home for several hours? What will we do, when we find the answers to our next test sitting on the teacher’s desk? Are we ready to search the internet for dirty pictures when we are sure that no one is watching? Will we flirt with someone at a bar, when we are out of town on a business trip?
It should be enough to say that we should act the same way, do the right thing, whether someone is watching or not. Given our sinful nature we know that’s simply not enough of an incentive to walk the path of righteousness. It’s easy to slip into sin when we think no one is watching. It doesn’t matter if we are a child or 70 years old.
What we often forget is that God is always watching. He sees everything we do. He knows where we go. He knows our thoughts, the desires of our heart, what we will say before we say it. The psalmist says it well. “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord….Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139 passim).
            Our sinful nature needs such reminders. It helps us to do the right thing. The new man in us wants to do the right thing and the thought of God watching us at all times doesn’t scare us at all. Out of love for the Lord we will seek to do what is pleasing to God all the time. When we fail, we will seek the Lord’s forgiveness and try again.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I like stories that end well.

            When I was growing up, I loved to read. I read all kinds of books. When I discovered Doctor Dolittle, I read every one I could find. I went from there to the Hardy Boy mysteries, to Tarzan, to Treasure Island and the Three Musketeers.  The first books I remember reading were fairy tales. What child doesn’t like to hear stories like Snow White, Cinderella and Jack and the Bean Stock? These stories are timeless because they not only entertain but they have a happy ending.  No matter how bleak things looked, the story always turns out the same, “AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.” Who wouldn’t like a story like that?
            One of the reasons fairy tales developed over the years was to give people hope, especially young children. In previous generations, life was often hard. People led hard lives. They were often poor and oppressed. They were worried about how they would make it from one day to the next not what they were going to do in retirement or whether or not social security would be there. Fairy tales were a chance to escape their dreary existence and dream. While fairy tales may be fun to read and lift our spirits, they give us no real help or hope. They are just stories and nothing more.
            Some believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is nothing more than a fairy tale, an uplifting story. The miracles of Jesus are discredited. Miraculous events in the Bible, like the flood and creation, are brushed aside by “scientific evidence.” The Bible is simply seen as a book of myths and fables.
            On Easter Sunday, churches across the world will be filled with people. It happens every year. They come to sing alleluia and praise the Lord for “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” Why would we gather if Jesus were still dead? Why would his disciples and myriad of followers go to their death rather than deny him if he had not risen as he said he would? St. Paul puts it this way, “If Christ is not risen, our faith would be in vain.”
            Jesus did rise. The angels asked the women, “Why are you seeking the living among the dead. He has risen, just as he said.” Our faith is not in vain. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! The story ends well for it is not just a story. It’s true.
            If you want “your story” to end well, put your faith in Jesus for he says that whoever believes in him will never perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 & 11:26)