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If You Only Knew - A Devotion

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Matthew 13:11-13 (NLT)
He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

If people knew how much God loves them, would they still do what they do? Would they still live the way that they do? Would they still choose darkness over light? Would they still walk past those in need afraid to look into their eyes? Would they still ignore the Voice of God pleading for their heart? We have been given the privilege of understanding the Secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, yet we choose to live by the standards of this world. Why? Jesus said, “For those (granted this privilege) who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. Men and women of God have left the standard of living delineated in I Timothy 3. They justify the sin in their life by covering it with grace but never seeking the Lord for healing, recovery and renewal but rather branching off to start another church or even worse calling the sin of another worse than their own. We live in a world of Christians who look, but do not see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. They sit in churches or cell groups seeking God their own way. Detailing their life in careful comfort zones that edge around the sin they hold so dear living in the middle of the road in the midst of heavy traffic rather than choosing the Highway of Holiness. Not knowing God, many will choose to remain ignorant to the Truth and subject to death because they have chosen ignorance over knowledge. Salvation is a two-part message. We call on the Name of Jesus Christ to be saved all day every day, but when it comes to believing in our heart – we become lost all over again.

Hosea 4:6 (NLT)
My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.

This study shocked me, I must admit. It was born of the idea that if people knew God, they would love Him and serve Him more. But as I began to study knowledge and understanding, it became clear that ignorance is destroying the Body of Christ today. Rather seeking firsthand knowledge of the Love of God, we rely on what everyone else’s perception of God is. There are many believers who do not read their Bible consistently and do pray continually but rather seek the advice of worldwide preachers and teachers. The only Word coming into their life is from the pulpit on Sunday so let’s hope the “priest” is knowledgeable about God. You do not have to rely on anyone else to be the priest in your life. You are a priest in the order of the Highest Priest – Jesus Christ. When the curtain in the Temple was torn top to bottom, God invited you to come into His Presence and get to know Him firsthand without fearing death due to sin. Grace opened the door into the Presence of God but few will ever take a step into righteousness or invest any effort in pursing knowledge and understanding of who God is and what His Intentions are for us. We choose yet again to believe a life.

Genesis 2:16-17 (NLT)
But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

It was never God’s Intention for His People to die. In fact, when He planted the Garden it was filled with the fruit of every kind of tree. (Genesis 2:8-9) There was no death as animals were not yet needed for sacrifice. God told the man that “you may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” He did not stop there but warned, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Man chose to know evil over life. He chose to die rather than live just to know both sides. Don’t blame the woman. They were both equally guilty. Surrounded by God’s Goodness – they were not satisfied. We are no different today choosing to remain in our sinfulness rather than stepping into righteousness – there are some so bold to even altar the meaning of God’s Grace to suit such a lifestyle. They do not know the Word but have embraced the world trying to slather it with God’s Goodness yet remain comfortable in the prevailing darkness of the land. We must make better choices. Such choices begin with knowledge of God’s Goodness, Mercy and Grace. Jesus is Source of such knowledge. (Isaiah 11:1-2) He was the Word wrapped in flesh. (John 1:14) He came to tell us of God’s Goodness and point us in the right direction. Jesus took away ever excuse in the book revealing God’s Secrets to all of mankind. After all this, we still choose to know God.

Hosea 4:1-3 (NLT)
Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel! The LORD has brought charges against you, saying: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere—one murder after another. That is why your land is in mourning, and everyone is wasting away. Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing.

I have heard Hosea 4:6 many times, but today I took a few minutes to read Hosea 4. It is a startling image of the world today. Just read the news…

Hosea 4:4-7 (NLT)
“Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you. So you will stumble in broad daylight, and your false prophets will fall with you in the night. And I will destroy Israel, your mother. My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children. The more priests there are the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols.”

Over the last several years, we have visited many churches. One thing that holds true is that no church is perfect and every preacher is a sinner saved by grace just like you and I. The troubling revelation that I am sensing is the gravitation by men and women to “seeker sensitive” churches that have watered down the Blood, stay away from the horrors of the Cross, do not mention the Name above all Names (Jesus), silenced all altar calls, and have convoluted grace to include sinful lifestyles with complete ignorance of God’s Word, Will and Way. I am appalled. I cannot image such disrespect for the sacrifice of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There is only one way to be saved – His Name is Jesus! He is still the way, truth and life. No one will ever make it into the Kingdom of God or stand in the Presence of the Father without stepping into the Blood and be washed by the Word. Salvation is a messy process just like crucifixion. It will naturally make you uncomfortable but doesn’t change do that. If you want a new life, different outcomes and transformation then something needs to change. However, since people choose to be ignorant of God they cannot find their way into righteousness by way of grace. They want it but will not do anything to pursue it. Ironically blaming God for the dissatisfaction and disappointment they call life. It is not your pastor’s job to be perfect but strive for Jesus Christ. It is not the deacon’s job to counsel you on every single choice but to be a strong leader who sets a godly example. It is up to you to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Right-standing with God is a choice! You will have to choose to know the God that you serve and put some effort into the endeavor to live a life marked by holy inhabitation and supernatural change. The church of today is in as sad a shape the one in Hosea 4. But we can make a change. It begins in the heart and mind of every man and woman called by His Name. It is to pursue knowledge of God!

Psalm 119:65-68 (NLT)
You have done many good things for me, LORD, just as you promised. I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge. I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word. You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7) I will never know someone who I do not invest time and energy getting to know. Fear in this passage is defined as reverential awe of God. It is to sit back and say, “Wow, look at that!” But God will use fear if necessary to get your attention, but that is not what He is all about. God is love! (1 John 4:8) The Book of Proverbs is full of God’s Plea for us to gain knowledge of His Word, Will and Way that always points back to His Amazing Love, Mercy and Grace. He is filled with compassion but we do not know that so we choose to life this life as if it were all there is. Do you believe God’s Word? Do you know God’s Word? Jesus Christ is God’s Word wrapped in human flesh. If you do not take time to know the Word, you will never know what the Life of Jesus Christ was all about and the great potential found there. Ignorance is not bliss or an excuse to continue to live any way that you want. In His Word, we find promises. Every single one is a good thing that He wants to do in your life specifically. Do you believe the commands of God? They are a lesson in good judgment that produces knowledge in our life. Wisdom is nothing more than applied knowledge. When that knowledge is godly it produces God’s Goodness in our life which is of exceptional quality. It is to claim God’s Very Best for one’s life. The more we learn to live in line with the Word, Will and Way of God – the more of God’s Goodness we experience until we no longer must force ourselves to seek Him but will run to Him willingly out of love and affection because God is just that good to us! If we only knew how good God is, we would never wander from His Word, Will or Way again but strive to make it a lifestyle of fulfillment just as He intended.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT)
O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

When I examined my heart many years ago looking to give God more in the New Year, I decided to commit more time studying God’s Word. It began by setting my alarm just thirty minutes earlier each day which seemed like such a sacrifice at the time. I would grab a nugget of truth and then blog about my encounter with God each day. That was more than five years ago, now I get up two hours earlier and the blog is almost as long as a book sometimes. Sometimes during the day, I slip off to get back in the Word again because the morning encounter was not enough. Other times, I end the day skimming through it. It went from something that I committed to do, and has become something that I love to do. I found God’s Love and my purpose in the Word of God. It was all right there all of the time. Some people do not follow the blog anymore complaining that it is too long and has too many scriptures to follow. I find that the more that I wholeheartedly seek the Lord, the more time that I give Him, the more of His Word that I cram in my heart, the more overwhelming His Love is in my life. I just give Him room to move and He takes over. God is with me always, in everything and everywhere. He makes Himself known because He knows that I am now looking for Him all the time. He knows my thoughts even when they wander and wrangling in those that might move us apart. He knows everything that I do and for once in my life, I want Him to so that He can help me, guide me and lead me to the right choices for my life. I want God’s Best because I know He always wants to do good things for me because I finally am convinced that God is love, God is able and He is faithful. I found it all in His Word. His Spirit wrote it on my heart and reminds me when the enemy tries to mislead me. His Mercy goes before me making my way straight and His Grace follows me cleaning up my messes. His Hand of Blessing is always on my head. He never wants to hurt me but rather lead me to the next blessing that He has prepared for me along the way. This knowledge is too wonderful, yet so is my God. I do not understand it all but I fully intend to!

Proverbs 2:1-11 (NLT)
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

My three oldest children are adults in their early twenties. When I look at them my love for them does not see them as thriving adults but as my precious, beloved children. I want the very best in life for them. They must live their life and make good choices to have such an existence. But I have come to understand that it is up to them to seek the Lord and find His Way through life. This has been a tough lesson. It began when our oldest went to the Middle East to serve this country and my heartstrings were stretched tight around the world as I trusted the Lord for his safe return. My second child (another son) has been battling cancer for the last two years which marked my revelation that no matter how hard that I cannot give them a perfect life. Now my oldest daughter is hoping to marry her childhood sweetheart and leave our home to venture out on her own. All of my children have been raised in church and we have done our best to fill them with godly knowledge hoping wisdom will take root. But now I must trust the Lord to take care of them. If I feel such longing and love for my children in my imperfection, how much more must the Father love us! I cannot even fathom it. If more people knew God, they would love Him back. If they knew how much He loved them, there would be no shame in their return just happy reunions. If they knew His Plan and Purpose for them was good, would they make better choices – I would certainly hope so. If they knew that there was freedom living in the Light would they leave darkness behind? God grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. Those who seek Him wholeheartedly who are willing to invest time and energy pursing knowledge will find life. It is inevitable. The Word of God always leads to life. If you only knew…

Proverbs 24:15 (NLT)
The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.

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