So a few years ago, as I was learning to pray biblically I told myself, "Tonight, I am not going to say a word. I am just going to sit with some worship tunes playing and listen." So 45 minutes later as I sat, I began to wonder if I was going crazy when I felt within my spirit the following words,
"Seek Me, Know Me, Love Me..."
"Lord," I asked, "is this from you? If so what does it mean?"
"Bryan, when a man wants to get married, he seeks a bride. He pursues her, longs to be with her, delights in her. As he spends time with her, he gets to know her. The things that make her happy and sad. In doing this he grows to love her. This is what I want from you. Seek Me. Pursue Me. Grow in the knowledge of Me by spending time with Me. It is not always about you, I want you to Know Me so you can learn to love Me."
So that leads to this topic of discussion (and I hope I put this in the right spot)
What does God want most from us?
Allow me to go back to the Old Testament scriptures...
Hosea 6:6 NLT
I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.
It is my belief that God wants us to know Him more than anything else. What are the sacrifices that we can offer God?
--Our body ~ Romans 12:1 NIV, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship."
--Our praise ~ Hebrews 13:15 NIV, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess his name."
--Doing good ~ Hebrews 13:16 NIV, "And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
--Being thankful ~ Hebrews 12:28 NIV, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,"
--Giving ~ Philippians 4:18 NIV, "I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God."
These are just some of the ways scriptures say that we as Christians offer "spiritual sacrifices" (1 Peter 2:5) to God. But I reemphasize, God wants us to KNOW HIM!
David's testimony, his lasting legacy, was he was a man that wanted to know God.
Psalm 27:4 NIV
One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
David was a man after God's own heart... in fact, he is the only man in scripture that can bear that label. So it would make sense for us to pattern ourselves in a similar manner if we as well want to be an individual after God's own heart. David wanted to spend every moment of his existence in God's presence, learning of him.
Paul towards the end of his life gave this testimony of his one burning desire:
Philippians 3:7-10 NIV
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Paul's one driving motive in life was to know Jesus. He wanted to know him and considered EVERYTHING, even his very breath, to be less than that desire.
When God through the prophet Hosea (Hosea 6:6 at the top) said, "I want you to know me more than sacrifice" he was telling us what his greatest desire for us was and still is. Serving God is great and I am not saying we should cease our activities before him. I am sharing something that has been heavy on my heart that we can get so focused on the work, that we can forget what really matters:
Our personal relationship with our Father in Heaven. Our intimacy with Him should come before anything else.
Jesus one day sat in the house of Mary and Martha as dinner was being served. Everyone was present as Jesus was giving his most precious wisdom and truths to those who loved him. Mary even decided that she wanted to be a part of the learning so she gave up her duties in the kitchen to sit at the feet of Jesus. When Martha realized that she was left all alone to prepare and serve the food, she protested to Jesus that her sister should do the "proper" thing and help her!
"She left me all alone Lord! Tell her to stop being lazy and help me!"
"Martha," Jesus sighed, "Martha... Mary has chosen the important thing and I will not take it away from her."
That is the lesson I definitely need(ed) to learn and just wanted to share that with you.
Great post Brother!
Looking back on my experiences as a kid with my physical father, I can honestly say that what pleased him the most was for me to seek and follow his advice rather than make my own decisions in a vacuum; what pleased him the most was giving me the benefit of his wisdom, and seeing me prosper and be in good health as a result rather than learning things the hard way as I suffered from my own mistakes. Yes, God does want relationship with us; but I think most of all God wants us to follow his advice rather than make our own decisions so that we will prosper and be in good health.
Romans 11 ends with Paul speaking of the goodness of God and the wisdom of God that is available to us, of and through which we receive all things; the word "therefore" in verse 12:1 links it to the end of chapter 11 and interprets the phrase "offer your bodies as a living sacrifice" to mean 'yield your actions to God's leading'.
Hebrews 13:15 indicates that as reborn believers, we are to get what Jesus deserves; and if we believe that, it should produce praise no matter what our circumstances are at the moment
Hebrews 13:16 speaks of the good that we do as a result of being led by God, the sacrifice we make is to not make our own decisions about what actions will produce good, and what to share and who to share with; but to be led by God in these things
Hebrews 12:28 loses something in the NIV in my opinion, but it's certainly true that as we realize what God has already given us (not to be confused with what we have or have not already received), that this realization will produce thanks
In the KJV, Philippians 4:18 begins with the word 'but', which ties it to the preceding verse, in which Paul reveals that his joy is based in the fruit that will abound to the Philippians because of their gift to him; from God's perspective, he wants us to give out of a pure heart as he leads us to give so that he can multiply it back to us, enabling us to be able to give more according to his leading so that he can multiply more back to us, so that we can prosper; as he is pleased with our prosperity (Psalms 35:27)
God is absolutely selfless; the things he requires of us will enable us to receive 'all things that pertain to life and godliness that he hath already given to us' (2 Peter 1:3). What is most important to God, is us :)
Love that last sentence bro!
I definitely didn't mean my initial words to say we aren't important to God, so I hope I wasn't misunderstood.
I find that the more I focus on myself, how I am doing, how many days or weeks I haven't sinned, how much I've given, etc I fall into sin and despair.
But when I set my eyes upon the One who loves me and gave himself for me, things of this world no matter how turbulent seem to dissipate.
Something I mentioned about a different "topic" per se, but the content is actually very similar to this discussion. Those who live in love, live in God and know God. So if we are to grow in the knowledge of God, we must... MUST live in love.
Not everyone who calls out to Me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God's laws.' Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
So many have sought to truly understand what is going on here in this verse and I would like to throw my hand in the mix.
What are the undeniables of the text?
1) These people called Jesus Lord, but are not allowed into Heaven.
2) These people did many powerful works in Jesus' name.
3) These people did not do the will of the Father.
4) Jesus NEVER knew them.
So 3 and 4 above are intertwined together, knowing Jesus and Him knowing us pertain to doing the will of God.
We see that the individuals in the text, even though they operated in great power through Christ's name did not do the will of God. So allow me to introduce another passage from scripture, or two, to illustrate what I believe the will of God is and what Jesus was getting at here...
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT, "If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing."
Paul to start off 1 Corinthians 13 lists a bunch of gifts in operation and sacrifices we offer in service to God and yet he adds, "if I do not love... I am nothing/gain nothing..."
It is possible to move in the gifts of the Spirit and not love. This is a fact of scripture. Even in Hosea, we read this statement, "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6 ESV) Offering sacrifices to God through serving does not always equate to love.
Perhaps these people demanded some form of payment for the services rendered to others. We know from scripture that we are not to charge others for the use of God's gifts.
Perhaps these people sought favors from others to whom they rendered the exercise of God's gifts. We should never seek to extort resources from people as payment for the things God has given us.
Either way, whatever form the services took, we know that they did "many wonderful deeds in Jesus' name" yet they still:
1) were not known by Christ
2) were not doing the will of God.
So what does knowing Christ, and by consequence being known by Him mean?
1 John 4:7-8 ESV, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."
It is my belief that through love we come to know God. God is love and the more we grow in love, the more we grow in the knowledge of God.
So what does scripture say about true love?
1 John 3:17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion--how can God's love be in that person?
James 2:15-16 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well"--but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
Matthew 25:41-45 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn't feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit Me.' "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?' "And He will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.'
We can see from several different authors of scriptures that practical love for God is demonstrated by the love we show to others. Now perhaps you may wonder how those in Matthew 7 didn't do the things listed in these scriptures below. Well what do the different scriptures say?
Matthew 7 lists:
Casting out demons
1 John 3, James 2, Matthew 25 lists:
Seeing a financial need and meeting it
Seeing a material need (clothing, food) and meeting it
Giving water to the thirsty
Inviting the homeless into your home
Caring for the sick and imprisoned
So it is my belief that in Matthew 7 when Jesus says he never knew these people who did many works in his name that they had never grown to love those to whom they served. The gifts of the Spirit are good and great and I fully believe in their importance in the building up of the Church, but they should never be used as a substitute for love. Love should ALWAYS come first in our dealing with others, for how much we love will determine if Jesus says on the last day, "Well done..." or "I never knew you..."
Ask God every day to open your eyes to the needs of those around you. Ask him to give to you so that you can give to others. Ask him to bless you with opportunities in each day to serve him through serving others.
to me, what Jesus is saying is that these people (who called Him Lord) were not led by Him through fellowship (God-focused); but were focused on their own works (self-focused), as is revealed by their answer 'We prophesied, cast out demons, performed miracles'...they followed their own will instead of God's even though the outcome of their actions was the will of God (prophecy as in edification, exhortation, and comfort; freedom from demonic oppression, miracles).
true miracles are the result of faith in God's goodness; and not the faith of those who the miracles seem to flow through, but the faith of those who receive the miracles. a lost man who's memorized the gospel and speaks it is still speaking God's word even if they don't believe it themselves; God's word (of salvation through faith in grace) heard reduces doubt and releases faith in the hearer, regardless of who speaks it.
God is love; so any true love we show toward others is God's love showing through us. the true meaning of 'Lord' is 'Master', not merely 'Savior'. it's all about relationship with Him
Joh 17:3 KJV
(3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.