God's Heart Is: That We Know Him

God's Heart Is. . .  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  20:35
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I’m at Kid’s Kamp

which I have done for maybe 20 years here in Southern California. Each year we have a weekend camp that is kind of an introduction to youth camp, but mostly stands by itself to help 7 to 11 year old campers experience some time with God, learning more about what salvation means, and sometimes giving their hearts to Jesus. We fill up more than 40 hours with lessons, games, crafts, skits, adventures and nature, all the while getting more in touch with what it means to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior.
So that’s where I am live this morning, on Palomar Mountain in San Diego county, at the Palomar Christian Conference Center. Most years we have had students from ICC or Sidewalk Sunday School attend, but that didn’t happen this year. I’m still there are Kamp Pastor, and last night we probably had a wonderful time around a campfire in the woods, thinking about our own relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
And that gets me to the theme of this morning’s message. Last week, I preached that God’s Heart is Freedom from Injustice. If you missed that, I invite you to go to our YouTube channel and check it out. Andrea has done a great job of archiving almost every sermon that has been shared online since March 22 of 2000. That means over 100 are there.

Youtube.com: Inter-Community Church of God, Covina,CA

Just search YouTube for Inter-Community Church of God, Covina and you will find our channel with a picture of the church on the title page. You can also subscribe to the channel and get notifications when something new is posted, or if the ICC Sunday Service is live-streaming like it is right now. So you can keep up or catch up with us on your smart phone, your tablet or computer, or even your smart TV. Sometimes it’s the lazy person’s way to be connected to church, and that’s OK too.
Thinking about being at Kamp so kids can know God better, I began to think about the reality that God’s Heart is for us to Know Him.
So let’s explore that idea of . . .

Knowing God

Sometimes, when we think of the idea of knowing God, it seems like it should be obvious: Of course we know God.
But we need to stop and think sometimes: do we truly know God, or do we merely think that we know God because we know something about God. Knowing about God, or knowing some things we believe about God, or because we have been reading up on all the discourses people use about God.
And then there are all those other people in the world that seem to talk abut a different god than we know.
The Hindu gods are many, and idolatry abounds in trying to illustrate what they believe about their gods. Their gods are not the examples of how to live a good life, instead they are many and varied because they are trying to make sense of life by assigning a god to each kind of thing in life. Is seems that Hinduism is a combination of many different tribal cultural beliefs.
They never come to know their gods personally. They just try to avoid making them mad, so they have various ways to appease them.
Spiritually, they focus on practices of living that finally come to the achievement of 4 goals:
To have a purpose and duty, which you must do well so that you store up plenty of good karma. Karma is just the belief that every good action will benefit you in the long run, and every wrong action will be to your detriment, if not now then later, even in a next life.
Since reincarnation is a core belief, that after you die your soul is recycled into another being or another person, you want to live well enough that you are reborn in a higher caste, or at least no lower than you are now, and certainly not as another animal or insect because you did life poorly.
Along the way you want to achieve the second goal of pleasure in life. This works out in a variety of ways, but in the end, if carried too far outside of marriage, it is just a theme of “if it feels good, do it.”
The third goal is to be prosperous, which is proof of living well.
The final and highest goal is Moksha, which is their word for salvation. But for the Hindu, salvation is not about being with your Creator God who loves you; Moksha is escape from the recycled lives that mankind is stuck with until they are no longer a part of the well of souls that will have to do life all over again, and again, and again. One needs a lot of good karma to get this far.
Buddhists claim they don’t really have a god, they are just wanting to achieve some kind of enlightenment like their idol, the Buddha, has apparently already done. Yet we find evidences of the idololatry of Buddhism in the statues of Buddha in many cultures and sometimes looking very different, from a starving Buddha to a fat-and-happy Buddha.
The goal for a Buddhist is to escape the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth. It can mean to be reincarnated enough times that you can finally figure out how to be rid of get life right, and so escape the suffering of this world which is fed by the passions of greed, hatred, and ignorance which mess up life as it should be. Do it right, enough times, and you enter the nothingness of Nirvana where you no longer feel much of anything, forever.
In Thailand, the national religion is Buddhism, and it is illegal to do or say anything that dishonors their ideals about the Buddha. It is considered disgraceful to have a tattoo of Buddha, even though you can buy all the images and idols of Buddha almost anywhere.
I could go on a long time, covering many more of the world’s religions, but that is not really my goal with you this morning.
Our question is this:

What Does It Mean to Know God?

Now, as I said, some of us might not have known that is a question at all. Don’t we already know God if we believe in Him?
There is the term atheism. It means no God. not K-N-O-W God, but N-O God. The atheist claims very certainly that there is no God. God is just a human idea to explain things he hasn’t learned the science for. There is no God, so you can’t know Him. That’s the atheist’s belief, anyway.
You see, everyone believes something.
The agnostic belief takes a slightly different tack. The word means “no knowledge”. Maybe there is a God, but the very nature of a spiritual God who is so powerful and pre-existent to have made the whole universe make him unknowable. There might be a God, but is no possible way to know God.
Then there is the Theist. The atheist believes there is no God, but the Theist believes there is certainly a creator God. Only, once God finished the six days of creation he just sat back and kept on resting.
Everything keeps on running according to how God set it up to run, and now God is pretty much hands-off. Don’t expect any miracles. Give up on the idea of salvation. Instead, it is up to us, as humans, to make good use of what God has provided us so the most people can get the most benefit from it.
So what does it mean to know God?

Knowing God is Having a Relationship With God

This is different than knowing about God. It is different than believing in God. It is different than studying God. It is different than having a good understanding of who God is.
Knowing God is only possible through a relationship with God.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, Genesis 5:24 “24 Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him.”
Enoch walked with God: He knew God, and the Lord spared him from death and took him from the earth.
By the way, Enoch was Noah’s great-grandfather. And the scripture says, that even though humankind had become evil to the point that God lamented the fact that he ever made man, Genesis 6:8 “8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.”
Noah found favor with God because he knew God.
Moses tells us how important it is to know God, so you know who is your help and refuge:
Deuteronomy 7:9 ESV
9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
God is the only one able to keep his covenants with us perfectly, extending His loyal love to us no matter what the future holds.
David was the apple of God’s eye! Hear what he had to say in Psalm 17:6-9
Psalm 17:6–9 LEB
6 As for me, I have called on you because you will answer me, O God. Incline your ear to me. Hear my words. 7 Show wondrously your acts of loyal love, O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them. 8 Keep me as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings 9 from the presence of the wicked who destroy me, those enemies against my life, they that surround me.
Did you hear the trust that was in David’s heart as he said he would call on God and God would answer? That’s because David ben Jesse knew God. Their relationship was close enough that David could say he was like the apple of God’s eye.
Th prophet Hosea moves us to be sure that we know the Lord:
Hosea 6:3 ESV
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Without a knowledge of God, that is, a personal, relational knowledge of God, we will be adrift through all our lives. We need God. We need to know God. We need to trust in God. We need to count on God, we need to be the kind of people that God can count on because he knows how he knows us.

How Can We Know God?

That is a super good question. It begins, surprisingly enough, when we stop talking about God, stop complaining to God, stop worrying about God, and just sit down, shut up, and enter into a quiet time of God settling in to your very being.
It’s this means of knowing God that is one of our first steps to really knowing God better.
Psalm 46:10 ESV
10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Be still. Know that the Lord is God.

Know that all nations will come to the time where they recognize who God is and how wonderfully loving, loyal, and righteous he is.

It is in silence that God is known, and through mysteries that he declares himself.

Robert Hugh Benson

That is how we experience God, how we experience his over-arching love, but not how we really get to dive in to the full wonders of his love and acceptance. After all, our first attempts to truly know the Holy God will tend to lead us to fear because of learning how we have sinned against him through those things we knew we should not be doing, then through learning the scope of his righteousness, finally by checking up on ourselves in the light of God’s holiness.
We need the grace of God so that we are not dissolved by the holiness of God. And the good news is that God has made sure we have a way to do that.
In our day, we are on the Grace side of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That means we have an even better way to know God the Father:

Know God By Knowing His Son Jesus

For the Apostle John, it begins at the beginning.
John 1:1–5 ESV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:12–13 ESV
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:14 ESV
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:18 ESV
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
In John’s Gospel, we learn the heart of God by learning to believe and accept and live in the Grace of Jesus Christ.
So it is by Faith we believe, it is by grace we are saved, and it is through Jesus Christ we truly get to know God the Father, who is revealed through Jesus the Son.
In Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17,
John 17:3 ESV
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
And even more, at the end of that prayer, Jesus confesses his purpose to God the Father:
John 17:26 ESV
26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
For us, we have learned to

Know God Through the Testimony of Others

Which is how John opens up his first epistle, his first letter to the churches, as he says,
1 John 1:3 ESV
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Know God’s Love by Knowing You Are His

How do we know if we are His?
Accept the love that God has for you:
John 3:16–17 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
1 John 3:1 ESV
1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Know God by Keeping His Commands

for it is in obedience that we love God, it is in loving God that we want to obey him. This is true of God the Father and it is true of knowing and obeying Jesus the Son.
Take the first step of obedience of believing, as Jesus said it,
John 6:40 ESV
40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus, as we have shared so many times, boiled down the things we need to obey to Three Commands:
-Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength
-Love your neighbor as yourself
and in those first two, Jesus says, are the core of the desires of God shared in all the law and the prophets.
The third is what he told his disciples when he was about to go to the cross:
John 13:34–35 ESV
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
And when we get to the letter that John wrote to his churches, he goes on to say,
1 John 2:3 CSB
3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands.
Jesus does not want obedience to be a burden for us. He wants it to be a joy to know the love of God through our response to his grace.
And our response to his grace means that we can also

Know God in Loving Those God Loves

1 John 4:7–8 ESV
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
The reality of becoming a lover of God shows up in the reality of loving others. Because in that very act, we become more like God.
1 John 4:16–17 LEB
16 And we have come to know and have believed the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him. 17 By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as that one is, so also are we in this world.

Know God Because You Know His Son

1 John 5:20 LEB
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, in order that we may know the one who is true, and we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This one is the true God and eternal life.
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