Pastor's Blog

Knowing God

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Charles Spurgeon once wrote: (by the way, he was 20 years old when he wrote this.)

“There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of God. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity…No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.” 

I wonder if this is what Moses was referring to in Deuteronomy 3:24. “O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.” 

Only begun? 

Moses was near the end of his life when he said this. If anyone had a unique window into the inexhaustible glory of God, it was Moses. 

Here is how Deuteronomy summarizes his life at the end of the book in Deuteronomy 34. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”

Moses knew God “face to face.” God performed amazing things through Moses. And yet, here is Moses confessing, “you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.” 

I hope this encourages you to put time and effort into knowing God. Paul says that this effort of knowing Christ is of surpassing worth compared to everything else.  

Furthermore, the result is not just that we grow in knowledge, but it is a great source of comfort as well. Here is how Spurgeon closes out his comments.

“And while humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quiet for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is a balsam for every wound. Do you want to lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of God.”

May I make a recommendation? I am not exaggerating when I say that I think every Christian should read the book Knowing God by J. I. Packer. In fact, it would be a great summer project. It is one of the top five books I would recommend to anyone. 

There are 99 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the “99 Days of Summer” make it a goal to read the book Knowing God

Weekly Habit #4 – Sabbath Rest

Rest! Who doesn’t long for rest? These are inviting words. 

The idea of “rest” is something we look forward to with the coming of summer. We long for rest.

There is a rest that is readily available to us on a weekly basis. It is rooted in the rhythm of the seven-day week of creation. “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”

And yet the idea of “sabbath” rest is more than just a physical break from work and activity. It is also a spiritual rest that we find in our relationship with Christ. Hebrews 4:10 tells us that we have “entered God’s rest.”

One of the ways we “strive to enter that rest” is by practicing the habit of taking a weekly Sabbath.  We need this weekly habit of rest. We need it physically and we need it spiritually. 

By resting from our work, we recognize that God is the one who keeps things going in the world.  God is the one who sustains the world. By taking a Sabbath rest we readily recognize our limitations, and we express our trust in God.

But sabbath rest is also a gospel practice because it reminds us that our relationship with God doesn’t hang on what we do – the work that we accomplish – but on the work that Jesus has done for us.

We can rest because God has done all that needs to be done.

To help us enter this rest, there is the weekly rhythm available to us of Sabbath rest. It is a day to rest from your work. It is a day to come together with others to worship God. It is a day to spend in community with others.

When is the last time you gave any thought to how you prepare for a day of rest? When is the last time you have been intentional with how you will rest: body and soul? Give it some thought.

Rest!  Who doesn’t long for rest?  It is there for the taking every week. Go for it!

Weekly Habit #3 – 24 Hour Fast

“Man does not live on bread alone.”  These were the words Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 while he was fasting for forty days.

Can you imagine fasting from food for forty days? What is the longest amount of time you have gone without food? With forty days in the background of Matthew 4, perhaps twenty-four hours doesn’t seem so difficult.

And yet it is. Perhaps fasting is difficult not just because of the hunger pains you might feel by going without food for an entire day; but more so because of what food often means to us.

Justin Earley writes in The Common Rule, “We eat to try to fill our emptiness. This is why fasting is mentioned so often in the Bible. Fasting is a way to resist the original sin of trying to eat our way to happiness and to force ourselves to look to God for our fullness.”

I like "comfort” food as much as the next person, especially in the cold winter months. But isn’t it interesting that we associate “comfort” with food? It is not to say that food is not to be enjoyed.  It is! And, we do! 

But often we turn to food to “fill us.” And we are not just talking about the filling of our bellies.  Often, we “crave” food as a source of happiness or to medicate ourselves from the troubles of life. 

 

Consequently, fasting reminds us “to look to God for our fullness.” When Satan tempted a hungry Jesus to turn the rocks into bread he said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Or, as Jesus said in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

So, when you think about fasting, don’t just think of the mechanics of it, going without food for a day. Instead, consider what it is meant to do. It is meant to remind you that only God can satisfy your deepest hunger. Only God can satisfy your desires and longings. God is the source of true comfort. 

Give it a try. Start with a meal…then two…then an entire day. 

The pang of hunger is a good reminder that man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. 

The pang of hunger will also remind you that as you suffer the feeling of hunger, there are people all over the world who are suffering. This will help you pray for the needs around you and to reach out to be a source of “food” for the one who “hungers” for relief.

The pang of hunger will teach you how to live with self-control as you learn to say “no” to food and “yes” to God. 

Or as the popular slogan puts it…“no pain, no gain.”

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