Thursday, January 25, 2018

Learning to Know God.

What a month it has been!

Usually January just flies by but for some reason this year the moments feel like they have had their proper time, like they have been savored just enough. Not too much, not too little.

As I was striving to understand what it means to know God I kept feeling like there was not enough time for me to truly know Him the way I was hoping and also figure out how to best share it with all of you. I am still working, praying, and endlessly hashing it all out in an attempt to summarize well what I have learned.

One thing is sure, it has been far different from what I expected to learn. Yet, as I approach the end of this month, I wish I could have learned even more. And it brings me joy and peace to consider that there will never be enough time to know God to the extent our hearts long while living here on earth. What an amazing blessing that God has written eternity on our hearts in smalls ways like this.

I did not learn near as many specific attributes or "facts" about God as I originally expected. Things like how He is kind, gracious, compassionate... we hear those types of lists a lot so I just assumed I'd be learning about all that. Not so much.

Most of what I have learned is about how our approach to God changes how we interact with and relate to Him. I'm not sure if it changes how He reacts to us but it seems as though the more I open myself to seeing God work around me, the more He works. Maybe we just don't notice it or attribute many of the seemingly small things to Him, but we gain an incredible amount of refreshment and confidence from God when we correctly ascribe the small events in our lives that are God-ordained, God-blessed, or God-influened to Him. The difference it makes in my ability to function well amid chaos is unreal.

What has really stuck with me is that knowing God should have a incredibly high value in my life. It's everywhere in scripture. When I started plotting this blog series I had no idea how prevalent the emphasis on knowing God was in the Bible. I figured it was important because you have to know Him to follow Him. And that is true, but there are a lot of other things that come from our knowing God.

In Philippians Paul says that all the other things he could boast about in his life he counts as junk, garbage, dung (!) compared to knowing Christ. In Colossians, Paul rejoices in his afflictions because making God known is his primary endeavor, his life goal. He says that our hope of glory is in this very thing. At the beginning of Colossians 2 he wants the believers "to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ." Paul even says the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Him.

As Paul continues through the book, he explains that in order to progress in this endeavor of knowing Christ and setting our minds on eternity, we must intentionally kill and put away the sin in our lives. He says that as we put on the new self we will be renewed in the knowledge of our creator and will put on His loving attributes instead. And friend, this message is everywhere in the bible: in order to know God we must start living His way. The doing is the proof of our knowing.

The bible says it over and over again. Knowing God, believing in Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit will produce righteousness in our lives. If you think you are in this camp of knowing God but are not seeing the fruit of growing in righteousness, you need to have a hard look. You have to choose. Are you going to observe the knowledge of God from afar or are you going to let it move you to start walking?

1 John 2:3 says "And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments."

John knew Jesus better than any earthly person. He rightly saw that knowing God, knowing Christ, and knowing the Holy Spirit will lead us to an obedience we cannot muster on our own. It changes you forever. God yearns for us to know Him. He wants us to seek Him and promises that when we do, He will be found by us (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:7-11). In Jeremiah 9 the LORD Himself tells Jeremiah that we ought to boast in nothing but the fact that we understand and know Him. Specifically, that He is the God who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.

Do we know that about God? Are we seeking to know that about Him?

This month I am learning to seek God in all I do. Well, as often as I can remember. I aim to be willing to hear His voice and submit to what He desires. Submitting has to be our next step. If I amass knowledge about God, more than anyone has ever known, but I am unwilling to start walking down the road He desires to lead me on, it is utterly worthless. Literally, worth less than poop. It will not gain for me eternal hope. It will not give me peace, blessing, help in times of trouble, or help me experience God's glory. And if it isn't going to give me that, what is the point? There is no reason to know about God unless you are willing to start following Him.

So what have I changed because of all this? For one, I am working on knowing the Word better. Spending more time in it, intentionally studying it, memorizing it, and seeking to understand it. The more I know from my bible, the more God's Holy Spirit can bring to remembrance.

The other thing I am doing intentionally is asking God to chime in. Instead of trying to work out problems or challenges alone, in my own head, I ask for His guidance and then trust the thoughts I think. Instead of feeling insecure about a situation, I ask God what He desires of me and then follow through with what comes next. Today, it was texting a person I was feeling insecure about. Today, it was also taking feedback sincerely when my natural response would have been to brush it off or let it bother me hours or days later.

God wants us to know Him. He wants to be involved in our days. He already is, but we miss out on so many tremendous opportunities to walk with Him and to follow His guidance when we rely too heavily on ourselves or on the wisdom we think we possess. We need His input in order to navigate life according to His will. Am I hearing audible voices? No, definitely not. Am I going against the bible and doing whatever I think all the time? Of course not. But I am trusting God's active speaking into my heart and into my thoughts, trusting that He knows my thoughts and sifts my desires.

Will you try it? Will you ask God to show His will in difficult moments? Will you follow the good path He lays out for you? Will you do what is good and right in order to experience Him?

As I move further into knowing God I want to express this last thought. I do not think it is possible to travel down the path of obedience to God and regret it. Anything He asks us to do is for our good, for His glory, and for an eternal benefit. Just in the last few weeks I have seen a tremendous difference in my heart and mind by actively pursuing God's input and intentionally doing the right and good things He places before me. He created us to walk paths of righteousness. They are blessings our souls crave. Despite the humility required, despite putting down our agenda and following His instead, the greatest riches and joys we can imagine lay along that road of obedience.

You have one more week before I talk about our next theme in being Called by God. And surprise, only God could have so perfectly orchestrated this agenda. You'll never guess what I had planned: Called to Submit to His Will. Funny, right? It may not seem like a particularly fun month to navigate, but after the experience I've had this month with learning what it means to pursue knowing God, I completely trust that there are jewels for all of us in investigating this more. Not just from the outside, or from a balcony above a well-traveled road, but from deliberately walking this path. And doing it together blesses all of us even more.

Thanks for hanging in to the end of this long post. May God bless your pursuit of knowing Him and may you find the strength and courage you need to boldly trust His leading in your life.

 ~ If you are not already in our 12 Months of Called Facebook group and want to get in on free downloads, live videos, and more interaction with other people following this series, join here!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Called to Know God.

If you are new around here and have not been following along the last few weeks, I'm starting a year-long endeavor here on my blog! I haven't been this excited for a project of this length since, well, never. Because, a whole year? It's kinda long and probably a big commitment. But, with a monthly plan and paring back on other endeavors, I am committed and ready to see where this takes us.

My purpose in all this is not just to have something fun to study or interesting to share, but I see it as something valuable I can investigate along with others. Understanding our Calling and searching for meaning are endeavors with no definitive end in sight. There will always be more to know, more to figure out, more to take action upon. But the aims in life that will always be the same are the things God specifically calls us to. They are the same whether you have ambition to be an artist, an engineer, a teacher or to work in sales. We can pursue these Calls upon our life and I suspect they will help us live better, with more joy, and more confidence. Who doesn't want that?

Over the next 12 months I am going to offer a prompt each month for exploring a specific action, a certain way to be, or a certain gift to receive that is part of our Calling as Christians. January's Call is "to Know God."

Each post for the new month will include some questions. Some of them will be used each month, and some are more specific to that particular month's Call. I will also have a scripture or two that we can anchor our Call upon and help remind us of the purposes we have in life that are solid and true.

Let's start!

January: to Know God.


1 - What does this mean?

2 - Am I answering this call now? How or how not?

3 - What can I do to actively pursue this call?

4 - How do I think pursuing this call could change my daily life?

5 - What are some important things to know about God?

Bible Verse: 

"And this is eternal life, that they would know you the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." 
John 17:3

What I hope to Discover:

I hope being more intentional to Know God will help me feel more peace in my struggles, more security in the ways I am insecure, and a better, more heavenly perspective on my life. 

The first thing I am going to do is look through the bible at different verses that speak directly to what it means to Know God. I'm also going to listen to a couple books on Hoopla or my Library's audio book app. Here are the two I am starting with:

Knowing Christ Today - by Dallas Willard

Walking with God - by John Eldredge

I can't recommend these books wholeheartedly yet, as they are new to me, but I would love it if you did end up reading or listening to them and telling me what you think! I have read other books by both of these authors and do find them theologically sound as far as I know. For sure, the Dallas Willard book will take some brain-effort, just so you know :)

Lastly, there are a few ways you can participate in this with me.

1 - Join our Facebook Group! Anyone can join and you are free to participate as little or as much as you want. I will post other questions along the way and you'll have an easier time interacting with others there as well.

2 - Sign up for my Monthly Newsletter or Blog posts. There is a free download to be had when you sign up, and there will be monthly freebies as well.

3 - Follow me on Instagram @jojococamo. I post all kinds of things about my life on there but as I muse, think, and pray I am sure to post little tidbits regarding this endeavor here and there. Plus, I love following you (if you're into that kind of thing) and seeing what your life is like.

4 - Lastly, if you don't sign up for the newsletter or blog post alerts, you can always just check in monthly here on the blog. I will have a new post on the 1st of each month and then a follow up near the end, revealing my thoughts, insights, expectations, and actions.

That's it for now! Are you excited? What are you hoping to find here? I hope we can be a good example of a flourishing, growing community of believers and move with confidence in the things God calls us to. Have a blessed New Year. I can't wait to hear from you!