Welcome to FaithTrack where you will find ways to apply your faith to your daily life.
Pastor Sam continues this "Devotion" module by showing us that our devotion can grow by embracing God not just as the Father, but also as the Son.
Hi, and welcome to Faith Track. In our last time together, we looked at the way of the disciple and how the term disciple is just another word for dedicated student. So as we seek to follow Jesus with intention and dedication, we become His disciples. In this session, we’re going to be looking at an important aspect of being a disciple, devotion, and how to know God.
So what is devotion? Luke 16:13 gives us a clue. “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Devotion incorporates aspects of showing love and attention. It is rooted in a commitment that can deepen a relationship. It ultimately affects how we orient our lives and what drives us. So devotion to God is a commitment to continue deepening our relationship with God and orienting our lives around that priority.
Noting that, a devotional like the daily “Rise and Shine” videos Pastor Terry does as a means of expressing or establishing our commitment to God. As we build this discipleship initiative of devotion, it is a way of describing the process of how we come to know God.
I remember back to my early years of believing in God, but not knowing Him. Whenever someone would try to share some piece of the Bible that was hard to understand, or it might require me to adjust how I was living, my response would often be, “Well, that’s not the God that I know.” I remember feeling so vindicated and morally superior. It was like I was Teflon, nothing could stick to me. What? There are guidelines for what love and dating should look like? Well, that’s not the God that I know. There are passages of the Bible that suggest how I should handle my money? Yeah, that’s not the God that I know. Parts of the Bible say I need to surrender things, love people, and forgive them how He loved all sacrificially and stuff? Yeah, that’s not the God that I know. Embracing and following Jesus is the only specified and guaranteed way to God? Well, that’s not the God that I know.
Eventually, I started listening to myself. I realized that perhaps the reason that the God people were describing was not the God that I knew. Ultimately, it was because I didn’t know God. So how can we know God? We can know God through the Bible. God has revealed Himself to humanity as recorded in His Word, the Bible. When we think of what the Bible is, many different things come to mind, rules, laws, historical record guidance, warnings, gospel or the good news, stories, poems, songs, proverbial wisdom, and prophecy. The Bible with all of these components and more can be described as God’s revelation to His people. How He has revealed Himself or made Himself known to his people and then recorded and passed on through the generations.
One of the key things here is that He wants us to know Him and to be in a relationship with Him. If we go back to being in Genesis, the Garden of Eden is a place where God and His creation could live together. It was paradise. However, Adam and Eve chose to distrust God and ate the forbidden fruit which changed how they could relate to God. In Genesis three, after Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, God was walking among them in the garden. They were hiding because of what they had done and the shame they felt, but let’s not miss what happened. The plan shifted from that point on. A plan of redemption, to rescue humanity from death begins. Adam and Eve had done the one thing that could cause death and brokenness as a consequence for them in all of creation. Adam and Eve are covered in their nakedness and shame by the first death, a sacrifice, a rabbit killed for its skin by God, to make clothing for them to help cover up what they had done.
They’re forced to leave the garden so that humanity will not eat the fruit of the tree of life and live forever in their brokenness. The Bible from that point on is a story of humanity’s brokenness and the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan, His rescue plan. If the Bible is both God revealing Himself to humanity so we can know Him and the account of His redemptive plan, then the primary focus of what God wants us to know about Him is His redemptive love and His desire to be in a relationship with us. This is why many Bible scholars say that all of the Bible points towards Jesus. Jesus represents and embodies God’s love for humanity. His desire is to have a relationship with us. That is unhindered by sin. Jesus is God’s redemptive plan in action. In John 14, Jesus is discussing His upcoming death, but also how His disciples could begin to understand God.
To Thomas, he says, in verse six, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.’ Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father. And it is enough for us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak of my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.'” Then in verse 14, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
We can know God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are one. In John 3:16, Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” This is how we know God. Until we believe in Jesus, acknowledge what He has done for us, and receive what He offers, we are still under the consequences of the brokenness that we inherited from Adam and Eve.
We are separated from God, but when we receive the gift of salvation that Jesus brought, we are made right with God and we can learn to know Him and walk with Him. The Holy Spirit guides us in living lives for Him. Part of how we come to know God is through descriptions of Him and His character throughout the Bible. As we dig further into the topic of devotion, the second of the discipleship initiatives, we will explore these descriptions of God and how they help us to know Him.
If you think about it, it’s hard to find words to describe God in His entirety. How do you summarize the one who made all the universe? Created us with purpose, knows our thoughts and our needs, and has a plan to redeem and heal us. His plans are so intricate that they can be adapted to the almost limitless choices that we make each day for good or bad. He knows everything that we have ever done and will ever do, that honors Him or dishonors Him. He loves us still. How do you describe that?
One of the primary terms that Jesus used was Father. Even that word because of human brokenness may not be inherently wrapped in warm and fuzzy sentiments for all of us. However, as we learn to come to know God, more and more, we start to see what a father can and should be. We see provision, guidance, forgiveness, patience, sacrifice, correction, assistance, equipping, empowering training, and this never stopping, never giving up always and forever love.
We can know God as the only perfect Father and by the behavior of His children. In John 1:3, we read, “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. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; for we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” So there’s a lot of here, but we are invited into being His children and learning to be like Him. God helps us with this process, just like earthly parents set boundaries and help correct and guide us, God does this for us as well.
Proverbs 3:11-12 describes this. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves or corrects Him whom He loves as a father the son in whom He delights.” God helps to shape and guide us through provision and discipline and just like good earthly parents, more than trying to make His children happy all the time. He is trying to shape and strengthen our character so that we can represent Him well.
As disciples, students of Jesus, people will come to know God through us also. In 2 Corinthians 5-20, “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Be made right relationally with God. “For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” His disciples, we, His students get to be ambassadors of the kingdom of God, like members of the Royal family who get to go proclaim peace and the good news of the Lord to a world that needs good news. We do it with humility, gentleness, and grace because that’s what we need as well.
In Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all of your heart.” We can know God through heartfelt prayer. As we start to know and acknowledge God’s character and nature, we find we naturally overflow with love and gratitude toward Him. We start to see His goodness, even when things are difficult. We learn the value of staying in constant contact with Him and in community with others who love and serve Him as well. Prayer becomes more natural as we practice communicating with Him.
So devotion comes down to knowing and relating to God. This is an ongoing process, like the deepening of the best possible friendship. God is worth knowing. As we come to know Him more, we start to discover who we truly are as well. Let’s press in, for we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts.
So what does this look like? Practically, we can explore ways to connect with God each day. I have a confession, I’m a morning person. I’m one of those. I like to start each day with a time of devotion, as a means of orienting my life and myself rightly towards God. I’ll make a cup of coffee and I’ll move to a place where I can be alone without waking anyone up. I’ll put on a worship song, sometimes pulling up a song through the archives on our website or the Cornerstone app.
Then I’ll read through my Bible reading plan on YouVersion Bible app, but you can also have a printable version of the plans as well. Right now, I’m participating in a Bible reading plan with a group of people, and we’re all reading through the Bible in a year. I’ll listen to the “Rise and Shine” when it comes out at 6:00 AM. Finally, I’ll read a book that helps me understand and connect with God until my kids wake up. Also, they help me understand God in a different way. I try to be a father like Him to them, but I also try to say short prayers throughout the day as I switch between projects at work. This keeps me just in that constant contact with Him. Again, I’m a morning person, so I have lots of flexibility in the morning. For others, it might be something we do before we go to bed. The key is finding ways to connect with God each day and even throughout the day. This helps us keep deepening our relationship with God and orienting our lives around Him.
I’d love to just close out our time here by praying. Then we will hop over to our Zoom conversation. If you’re watching this after its original airing, or if you aren’t able to join us for the conversation part of tonight, this is meant to be gone through in community. FaithTrackers, people who are on this FaithTrack or disciples, always walk things out at least in pairs. So join us for the conversation if you can, or find another person or group of people to embark on this journey together. Our primary goal is that these teachings would be a tool that can help us dig into these key areas of growth as disciples of Jesus, but also be a place in which we can ask questions and grow as we move together as a community. Let’s pray.
Lord, we thank you. We thank you that as soon as human brokenness came into the picture, your desire was to draw us back to you to welcome us back into relationship through your redemption plan. We thank you that Jesus, you came as that redemptive plan in process. Your death, burial, and resurrection, as well as how you live your life, allow us to step into wholeness and into that relationship with God, the Father. I ask that you would help us to see us as we are, whether we’re taking the step for the first time or whether we’re just trying to reinvigorate or add some spice to our relationship with you, Lord. Help us to know what we can do to add devotion to our lives. Whether it’s picking out a Bible reading plan or just reading a chapter a day in your Word to start to know you. We might start in the Gospels and maybe the book of John, or maybe it’s adding prayer throughout our day.
Maybe like I said, as we transition work projects or every 10 emails or something like that. Or whether we might open up the “Rise and Shine” when it pops up on the Cornerstone app and just listen to a little bit of your Word and how we might apply it to our day. Whatever it might be for us to start to seek, to invite you into more of our lives. I’m so overwhelmed at times, but how intimately you know us, and then the fact that the God who made the universe wants us to know Him as well. It’s beautiful. And so Lord, help us to stay connected to that fact, to stay connected to you and then within community to encourage one another, to keep pressing in. Lord, I invite you into our conversations that will follow this. Guide us to draw near to you in Jesus’ name, amen. So if you can join us, let’s hop over to the Zoom. The link will be in the chat. Otherwise, let’s keep talking, let’s keep pressing in, and let’s grow in our devotion to God. We’ll see you next week.