Imagine plucking an Amazonian tribesman out of the jungle, flying him to New York City, and plopping him down him in the middle of Times Square. How well do you think he’d do? He’d be lost because he has no understanding of the world he’s in. So it is for those who try to live life without an adequate knowledge of God. This world is a strange and scary place because they do not know the One who made it. Consequently, those of us who know God have a great advantage over those who don’t. Daniel 11:32 gives us the first reason why—
1. Those who know God have great energy for God. Referring to the coming Antichrist, Daniel says: “By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will be strong and take action.” It isn’t my intention to give a full exegesis of this passage here. Suffice it to say that Daniel is peering into the future seeing events that will take place immediately prior to Christ’s return to earth. One of the most tragic events will be another great persecution of the Jews even greater than the Holocaust of World War II. However, this time rather than passively submitting to their persecutors, the Jews will fight back with great courage and strength. What will make the difference this time? Now they know their God!
There is no question about it. The greatest motivating factor in life is knowing God. It’s what turns cowards into heroes, dullards into visionaries, and sluggards into men and women of action. The first thing that changed in my life was my grades in school. Prior to my conversion, I envied those who got straight A’s, but I hated to study. Then I met Jesus and I suddenly found myself doing what I never did before—studying 4 or 5 hours at a stretch—and from that point on (all the way through college and seminary), I never got a C or B again. That in turn led to even greater steps of faith. Perhaps the problem for you is not school but your job, your marriage, your health, financial debt, or sharing Christ with your friends and family. Whatever the challenge, let your new relationship with God energize you to be the best student, the best employee, or the best spouse you can be. For those who “know their God will be strong and take action.”
2. Those who know God have great boldness for God. Daniel’s friends are the best example at this point. When Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world at that time, set up an idol and ordered everyone in his kingdom to bow to it or be burned alive, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow, they failed to bend, and they would not burn. They said, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16) They counted the cost. They weighed the risk. And then, as Oswald Chambers puts it, “They smilingly washed their hands of the consequences.” They didn’t care what happened to them personally because they knew their God, and to them that was worth more than anything this world could offer them..
Do you have that type of faith? You will if you know your God. He has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you so that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
3. Those who know God have great contentment in God. If you had to pick one word to describe our generation, what would it be? Busy? Selfish? Materialistic? Those are accurate terms, but my choice is “discontent.” We are the driven generation, calendars packed with activities in a mad pursuit of some sense of meaning and accomplishment, but never content with who we are or what we’ve done. The reason is we’re looking in all the wrong places. One man admitted, “I’ve been climbing the ladder of success for years only to find I’ve had it leaning against the wrong wall.” A graduate student, on the other hand, helped me put it in proper perspective. After toiling for years to earn a Ph.D. in his chosen field of study, he found that because of the position he’d taken as a Christian, the professors on his graduate committee would not let him defend his doctoral dissertation. What was his reaction to this devastating news? “It doesn’t matter for I know God and they do not.” Knowing God makes all the difference in how we respond to life’s disappointments. As Psalm 119:165 puts it, “Great peace have those who love Thy law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”
Perhaps you’ve had the opportunity to watch an eagle soar overhead. Did you know that some have been seen flying as high as the top of Mount Everest? As you watch them soar, it may appear that they have escaped the force of gravity. But that is not the case. Gravity still exerts a tremendous downward pull on the eagle. So how does he fly so high? Because of an even greater force lifting him up. So it is for those of us who know our God! Knowing God doesn’t shield us from the trials of life. This world may in fact seek to pull us down with even greater intensity. But those of us who know our God are able to soar above it all with great energy, boldness, and contentment because of an even greater power lifting us up—the resurrection power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for He who is in us “is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) And yet, there’s a danger in learning about God. Tomorrow I’ll share what it is…