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Be Still and Know that I am God

Be Still and Know That I am God (Psalm 46)

1   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2   Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3   Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Selah

4   There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5   God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6   The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7   The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah

8   Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9   He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10   Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11   The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46 (KJV)

 

1David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2He said:

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour-
from violent men you save me.

4 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

.

17 "He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
.

29 You are my lamp, O LORD;
the LORD turns my darkness into light.

32 For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?

33 It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.

.

47 "The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God, the Rock, my Saviour!

48 He is the God who avenges me,
who puts the nations under me,

49 who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from violent men you rescued me.

50 Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.

51 He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever."

2 Samuel 22 (NIV)

Introduction

We live in an age of spiritual danger, wrote Bishop Ryle some . years ago. He was arguing that Christians were loosing sight of their place before God. He went on to ask some very salient questions:

He asked "are you here today to satisfy you conscience with a mere formal religion" - it is easy to fool others in the outward appearance, but what is the inward relation with God?

When one ponders these Scriptures [above] one can but wonder at the confidence the author had in God. They clearly - and in each case it was David - knew God and knew what God could do. Furthermore, they had the confidence to write about God who they knew was able to create and destroy, tear down and build up. He knew the answer to the question:

What is man that You are mindful of him Psalm 8:4a (NKJV)

  • In both, we see that God is our refuge
  • In both, God is able to protect and save
  • In both, God deals with the nations - He is able to make wars cease, and deals with rogue nations.
  • In both, God was spoken to - the Psalmist cries out and the Lord hears his voice.
  • In both, the author knew God personally - each had experience the love of God

We see that in each Psalm the response is a pondered consideration of the place of man, the nations, along with the supremacy of God.

What gives the Psalmist the confidence to cry out to the Lord in this way?

And in any case who is this God?

Today I want to spend a few minutes examining the apprehension of God - that is how do we get to know God and have the confidence in God in the same way that David did? Basically how do you know God?

Is He some grand master of the universe, distant and un-relatable? Some distant capricious god that cares nothing for man. These notions are untenable considering that God is found with Adam walking quietly and talking to him in the garden of Edom. Parents, in this time of relativism and an evolutionary basis of every thing, how does one get across who God is?

Bishop J C Ryle writes: "If we profess to have any religion at all, let us take care that it is real".[1]

I will not spend any time on proving there is a God - it is a given that He is. God exists - but what does this mean to you?

We can know God!

What we are about to do, is unravel a little of religion - for pure religion is the relationship between man and God. Religion in essence is a response of the created personalities to the creating personality - God [AW Tozer].

[Jesus praying to the Father says] And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Jesus prays that his disciples may know the only true God and Jesus himself

There is some deep theology in this verse that you may like to take some time out and meditate on, for example:

1.    What does knowing God? The Greek "know" here is γινωσκω[2] or ginosko which means amongst other things "allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) known (-ledge), perceive, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.[3]

1.    Eternal life is knowing God.

2.    There is only one God.

3.    Jesus Christ is also knowable.

For the purpose here, we see that Jesus himself underscores the understanding that man may know God. The psalmist tells us how:

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. Psalm 63:8 (KJV)

This means that man is capable of knowing God.

We, the created image of God, have built into us the capacity of knowing God and communing with Him.

The greatest hindrance to this is our sins - more on this latter.

The moment we were reborn (See John 3), the Holy Spirit brings us to life (quicken us in the KJV[4]) and we have the sense of joyous recognition of God.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life [i.e. quicken] to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. The burning desire is implanted in us - to know God: (Romans 8:11 ESV)

What a privilege: it is by the Holy Spirit that indwells us that gives us the "burning desire to know God".

How should this play our in our life?

Paul writes:

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ Philippians 3:8 (NIV)

He goes on to write

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Philippians 3:10 (NIV)

David writes:

Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Psalm 25:4 (KJV)

Notwithstanding, the indwelling of the Spirit, humans have a will that do as it wills - either follow the lead of the Spirit of God - quench the Spirit or be guided by Him.

Do we have this longing for knowing God?

The fear of many is that by seeking God, we narrow or restrict our life - our existence - when the opposite is actually true.

Paul, David and others all show that making God their all in all enhanced and fulfilled their life; it did not diminish it.

The example in the OT is that of the Levites who had no claim in the land lf Canaan when it was divided among the brethren of Israel.

The LORD said to Aaron, "You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. Numbers 18:20 (NIV)

On the aside, some might ask, where is God?

The Palmist writes:

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? Psalm 139:7 (KJV)

In a more contemporary form:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:7 ESV)

God cannot be escaped:

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:8-10 (NKJV)

Paul on the other hand writes:

though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Acts 17:27b,28 (NKJV)

How do we know God?

Firstly we need to recognize that God made us for himself. No amount of human reasoning can neither change this nor satisfy the hungry soul.

Furthermore, God made us for his purpose. Although not stated as such in scripture - the chief end of man is to glorify God. The law puts it this way:

Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD has said, 'Among those who are near me) I will be sanctified [or hallowed as in the Lord's prayer or regarded as holy], and before all the people I will be glorified.'" Leviticus 10:3.

We know God though our conscious personal awareness of Him

God has formed us for his pleasure. Augustine wrote:

Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.

God is present in every point in space, thus it does not matter where we go, God is! However, there is vast gulf between man and God. Most do not know God, because they have absolutely no idea of who God is. Some dare ask; "what is God"?

The Hindu will say "He must be, therefore he is". This of course is nonsense - a thought or notion in the brain cannot bring into existence anything. Much of the religious world follows in a similar vein - there are others of course, but none hold to the reality that God is knowable in an experiential sense - that is, as I know you and you know other people. Furthermore, we can know God's character - God as Father. The Bible teaches that we can know God as father.

What Scripture is clear is that God can be known in a personal experience.

Indeed, Scripture assumes this as being self-evident - it is axiomatic - the most fundamental of all truths - that which cannot be subdivided anymore. God is knowable.

1. Tasting and seeing

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Psalm 34:8 (KJV)

2. Smelling

All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Psalm 45:8 (KJV)

3. Hearing

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: John 10:27 (KJV)

4. Sight

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 (KJV)

We see and apprehend the physical without five senses. We understand through our spiritual senses. And indeed we can know as much about God as we know about any physical object. Scriptures given above attempt to indicate this - as well as you can see this room, it is as well as you can see God. As well as you can take in the odour of a beautiful perfume, is as well as you can apprehend God.

How is it that we can be as certain of God as the physical things of this world?

Tozer writes:

"We apprehend the physical world by exercising the faculties given us for that purpose, and we possess spiritual faculties given us for that purpose, and we possess spiritual faculties by means of which we can know God and the spiritual world if we will obey the Spirit's urge and begin to use them." [5]

Note, clearly that one cannot apprehend God without re-birth. The gulf between fallen sinful man and God is everlasting - nothing can penetrate it, except the grace of God. The saving work must first be done; the heart be regenerated, which awakes the spiritual faculties.

One of the most wonderful aspects of the work of Christ on the cross is the quickening of the spiritual faculties.

How well do you know the experience of a constant conscious communion with God?

Knowing God?

The real answer to the dilemma of knowing God is dealing with our unbelief.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Faith that is dysfunctional cannot know God - it looses grip of reality and unbelief takes hold.

Without faith it is impossible to appropriate God, indeed it is impossible to please God.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

The issue is knowing reality - philosophers grapple with it but for a Christian it is easy.

  • Reality is always truth - something that is not true is not real.
  • Jesus Christ embodies truth - he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Turn to Christ if you want to understand reality and truth.

The apprehension of God is not about a conjecture or an idea or visions or notion. It is not some mental image you conjure up.

God is tangible and recognisable. This is of course contrary to modern thought or modern critics or even modern science - where reality only lives in the head, the rest is a relative notion.

A Christian knows the absolute - the beginning and ending.

And he said to me, "It is done I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:6)

The relativists live in a soup that is forever changing - points in time that are only connected by their relative position, but for ever changing - but a Christian knows the ABSOLUTE - the I Am - the one who could say (Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." John 8:58 (NKJV))

Now the Absolute one always was - before the world was, I am!

The Absolute created the world

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Colossians 1:16, 17 (NKJV)

The Absolute holds the world together, and indeed, following this notation, all things exist and consist because of him. The string theory of physics may be absurd, but the notion is correct - every thing is connected with everything else - the connector being God.

God is knowable - Israel is the picture of a Nation that should have known God - it was within their reach.

Therefore say to the children of Israel: 'I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Exodus 6:6,7 (NKJV)

Even in their grumbling, God makes it plain he has a plan that ensures they will know him:

The LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'" Exodus 16:11, 12 (NIV)

The answer the question posed is belief in the invisible

We must appeal to faith - dealing with the invisible requires faith - there is no other instrument that can comprehend it. AW Tozer points out that the visible becomes the enemy of the invisible. If one understand this, one can fathom why Fanny Crosby, a blind women could write such wonderful hymns with an extraordinary breath and depth of understanding of God - her perception of reality was not clouded by the visible.

We are actually blinded by the visible and cannot comprehend the invisible.

[H]e who comes to God must believe that He is. Hebrews 11:6b (NKJV)

We must avoid the temptation of making the invisible the future

Often our conscience puts the invisible into some form or worldly perspective - and makes it futuristic. Our minds have been trained to do this - the television I blame for this.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith Hebrews 12:2b (NIV).

This is not the future - but here and now. This is the fixing of our eyes into the other-world as Tozer puts it - this is not of our world - Satan rules this - but the place where Christ dwells.

We must bring to focus God in our mind - we must make room for him

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him - to give God "elbow room." We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

We must be obedient to God

The greatest hindrance, indeed the essence of any hindrance, in knowing God is sin which is disobedience. One cannot know God without dealing with our sin nor know God and be disobedient.

Blaise Pascal puts it this way:

We may know God without knowing our wretchedness, or our wretchedness without knowing God; or both, without knowing the way of deliverance from those miseries by which we are overwhelmed. But we cannot know Jesus Christ, without knowing at once, our God, our ruin, and our remedy, because Jesus Christ is not merely God; but God our Saviour from misery [6].

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10 (NKJV)

Paul puts it another way:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1,2 (NKJV)

But watch for counterfeit of obedience.

This is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment.

It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to be obedient to God. It is much better to obey God in your life by discerning His will than it is to perform great acts of self-sacrifice.

"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice " (1 Samuel 15:22).

Here the principal is that our inheritance rests with God, not of earthly things - of heavenly things. It is a model of what Jesus is getting to on the sermon on the Mount, and what Paul writes:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; Matthew 6:19 (NKJV)

Thence we focus on the invisible and the world we grow strangely dim, but our hearts will be filled with over flowing joy with the real comprehension of the closeness of God who will be in our mind and in our life.

Seek God

Psa 53:2, 1 Tim 2:5, 1 Pet 3:12, Col 3, John 15 etc

Doxology

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

End Notes: A few fundamentals of God

God is Creator

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 (NKJV)

God came into the world to save sinners as a man

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)

God is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (NKJV)

God is Truth

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. Psalm 31:5 (NKJV)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 (KJV)

God is Gracious

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Psalm 86:15 (KJV)

God is forgiving

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

1 John 1:9,10 (NKJV)

God is Passionate about His relationship with you

Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14 (NIV)

 

[1] JC Ryle (1977) Practical Religion: Reality. Baker Book House: Michigan. p 39

[2] Strong's: G1097

[3] This is the same word that is used in the bible to denote the knowing of two have are married - often misconstrued as being only the sexual union. But is much more - it is the absolute knowing a spouse has for his or her partner - the good, the bad, the ugly along with the good and lovely. It is the absoluteness of standing naked before someone and they can see into your soul.

[4] This is the function of the Father - we cannot be quicken until He approaches us - for this is grace - we the un-approachable (due to sin) are approached by God the Father: "For just as the Father raises the dead [quickens] and gives them life, even so the Son gives life [quickens] to whom he is pleased to give it. John 5:21 (NIV)"

[5] Tozer, A.W. (1982) The Pursuit of God, Christian Publications: PA.

[6] Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). Pascal's thoughts on Religion: The Christian library Volume 4 by Richard Watson, Francis Augustus Cox, Andrew Fuller, Edward Craig, Andrew Reed, 1836 (New York). (See Google Books)

David L Simon (GBC 25 April 2010)
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