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Practical Atheist - Week 4

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Well welcome today to all of our network churches, all of our campuses, we're glad that you're with us for the final week of our series called Practical Atheist . If you are new with us, you may be wondering what in the world is a practical atheist. If you're taking notes, this is what one is. A practical atheist is someone who believes in God but lives as if He does not exit. It's someone who believes in God but lives as if He does not exist. Let's open up with this scripture from Titus chapter 1 verse 16. Titus 1, Paul was talking about some practical atheists and he said this, he said, they claim to what? Would you help me out? Paul said, he said they claim to know God but by their actions what do they do? They claim to know God but by their actions they deny Him. They believe in Him but yet their actions show clearly that they live as if He does not exist. What are they? He said they're detestable, disobedient and they are unfit for doing anything good. They're practical atheists. They claim to know God but by their actions they deny Him. In fact, in our country today, we know that according to a recent Gallup pole, some 94% of Americans claim to believe in God or some universal spirit, but as we look at these 94% of Americans we know very plainly that all of them do not know God personally. They may believe in God, but they don't know Him. In fact, really the heart of this whole series is rooted in the question, do you really personally know God. If you go back to the very first week, we studied the truth that many people know, many people believe in God but yet they don't fear Him. Right? They believe in God yet they still want to do whatever they want to do. They're not going to let God impact their personal lives. Why is that the case? Because they don't really know Him. If they knew Him, they would fear Him. Week #2, well, I believe in God, but I don't want to take Him too seriously. I don't want to go overboard and so so many people are lukewarm. Why are they lukewarm? Because they don't really know Him. If they knew Him, they would be on fire. Week 3, I believe in God, but yet I trust in money. Why do people trust money to provide them with security and happiness? Because they don't really know God. If they knew Him, they wouldn't trust in something else to provide what only God can provide. I believe in God, but so many people would have to admit, I don't really know Him. In fact, just the thought of knowing God relationally for many people is hard to swallow. It's because often times we don't understand there's really different levels of knowing. I'll give you an example and you can kind of compare this to what it would be like to know God. About 18 or 19 years ago I didn't know Amy, the woman who is now my wife. I had actually heard about her before I met her. People said, oh, this girl, she's weird like you. I mean, she's a fanatic for God. She's like way overboard for God. You ought to meet her. She's like a freak just like you and so I didn't know her but I heard about her, which is really where many people fall with God. They don't know God personally, but yet they've heard some about God. And then, one day I met her and I was like wow, God you are good. Nice work. You know? We started to get to know each other a little bit and we were kind of dating but there were still a little bit you know, do you like me, you know, kind of back and forth, which is a really where a lot of people are with God. They are kind of flirting with God. They believe in God, they're kind of flirting, dating God, but not exclusively. In other words, you know, if I don't have anything going God, I might kind of get try to get to know you but I'm not going to let you cramp my style. There are some things that I just don't want you in on, God. And after a while we got married and we got to know each other more intimately and now 17 years into marriage, oh my gosh. You know, if there's 100 ladies around and they are all talking I can pick out her voice. I know her smell. If some other girl walks in wearing her perfume, oh, it's not her. I know, I long to be with her. There's this growing intimacy, I don't know everything about her because we're still growing but yet, I do know her very intimately and that's where some are with God today. They know God, they've experienced God, and they're growing even closer to God. What I'd like to do today is I want to break down really the truth of not just believing in God but knowing Him into three different levels and my hope is that you will honestly admit to where you are and where you are might be slightly painful if you're truly honest. But, in that honesty, I believe that God can do something because He doesn't just want us to believe in Him, but he wants us to also know Him. So, let's break this down into three levels. The first one would be this, if you're taking notes. Some people they believe in God, but they do not know Him. And, you may say, well, but you know, isn't that enough? I mean I believe in God. Well, James said that the demons they believe in God, but at least they even shudder. I mean believing in God is simply not enough. Today we have a lot of people who believe in God and they might be what we would call a cultural Christian. You know, my mom was a Catholic and my dad was a Methodist and so I'm kind of confused but we do go to Christmas Eve services once a year. You know, we do good things. I believe in God, but these people often don't know them and what happens is their actions reveal the lack of intimate knowledge. In fact, I John 2:3 and 4 says this very clearly. Scripture says this. We know that we have come to what? Would you help me out, all of our campuses? We know that we have come to know Him if we do what? If we obey His commands. The man who says I know Him but doesn't do what He commands is a what? He is a liar and the truth is not in him. We can recognize that we know Him if we obey His commands, but today we have so many people who say I believe in Him but their actions deny that He really exists. There is no outward obedience and they are liars. It may not be that they are intentionally lying. They may be lying to themselves. But scripture says they're lying. The reality is there are a lot of people who do know some about God. They know about Him but they don't know Him. There are people that can quote Bible verses and historical facts and they have a head knowledge but not a heart relationship and the sad thing is there would be a lot of people who might miss knowing God by about 18 inches. A knowledge here, but not a knowledge here. In fact, to me, one of the most sobering verses in all of scripture is found in Matthew 7 verses 21 through 23, the words of Jesus. Not every one who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord ,Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, didn't we drive out demons and perform many miracles? In our culture it could be didn't we go to Sunday School when we were kids? Didn't we get confirmed? Didn't we dedicate our children at church? Didn't we do some good things? Weren't we nice people? Weren't we generally moral? Didn't we give a dollar to the guy with the little bell at the Wal-Mart store? Didn't we do some generally good things and Jesus, in verse 23, will look at some and tell them plainly, I never what, help me out, He said, I never I didn't know you. You didn't know me. I didn't know you. We weren't in a relationship. Away from me, you evil doers. I believe there are so many people, good people, who believe in God but do not know Him personally. Some of you, you're going to have to admit that's where you are. You believe in Him, but He's not the driving force in everything you do. There's no intimacy and a real relationship. You may even look the part. Others may call you a Christian. You're a good person generally. You believe in Him, but you do not know Him. If that is you, acknowledge it, and I believe the Spirit of God is going to transform your life. There's another group that I'm going to talk about for a minute and that would be may be a lot of people who are with us today. And that would be those who believe in God and they know Him but they don't know Him well. They believe in God and they do know Him kind of sort of, but not well. Let me give you an example. How many of you know who George Brett is? Anybody know who George Brett is? Any? Yeah, George Brett, if you don't know, is one of the all time great third basemen. He played for the Kansas City Royals. When I was a kid, I collected, I had every baseball card ever made. I've got 17 rookie George Brett cards which makes me a cocky baseball card collector because that's just awesome. Well in 1996, I was in Kansas City playing in the National Tennis Finals and I was down at the plaza area and I looked up and lo and behold, God is so absolutely cool, there in the plaza, live and in person, was none other than George, The Man, Brett. I lost control. I just walked straight up to him, couldn't stop myself, took my hand out and said, I know this happens to you all the time, so sorry, I just want you to know you're the man, 1980, you batted 390, you almost batted over 400, which would have broken Ted Williams record back in 1941, you had 118 RBIs in only 117 games, you are the man! Now, I did not know him, but I had heard about him and what I heard is that in person he was cocky and rude. That's what I'd heard. In reality at that moment, there was nothing but humility and hospitality in this guy. He's like, you know all that about me? I said, Oh I'm just getting started. He said, that's amazing. He said, this is a true statement, he said, why don't you sit down and let's just talk for a minute. And the guy who was with him kind of looked at me like funny like get out of here you fanatic, weirdo, stalker, and George just sat down and God is my witness, George bought me a drink and we had about a 30 minute conversation and I was like, you know, on cloud nine. It was incredible. Toward the end he said, so what are you doing here any way? I said, well I'm actually playing the National Tennis Finals and I'm playing tomorrow and he said, that's incredible. He said, you've watched me all these years, I'll tell you what, I'll try to come out and watch you play tomorrow. Oh yeah. I'm like, this is going to be hard for you to believe but the next day I won the National Tennis Finals with George Brett cheering me on the very first row. Okay. Now, all of that story was true except the very end, okay? It would have made a great ending wouldn't it? I mean, it would have but the reality is he didn't show and I lost in the second round and I went home devastated but that would have been a great ending to the story. The truth is though, he was really nice and I know George Brett. He probably doesn't remember me, probably wouldn't, you know if I...he'd probably like who, what, where, yeah sorta. I know him, but I don't know him well. There are people who know him well and I don't know him well, but I do know him and there are a lot of people, maybe many of you who you do know God, sorta. I mean, maybe you had an experience with Him, maybe you've prayed and asked Jesus to transform your life and you kind of have a basic understanding and maybe there was time where you just really sorta kind of felt close to Him, but you don't know Him well. He's not leading and driving every part of your life. You have some knowledge but He has not changed you. What I could say is this. You've been informed about God but not transformed by Him. You're informed, but not transformed. You snow him like I know Goerge, but you haven't been radially fanatically changed by Him so you might say, well, does that mean I'm saved? And the answer is maybe, I don't know, I mean that's not my place. Possibly, I mean truthfully, possibly, maybe not. Maybe not. You've been informed but there's not a driving outward visible evidence to everyone who comes in contact with you. You know Him, but not well. There is a little bit of this going on in Galatia when Paul wrote this letter to some people who had been trapped in legalism then they knew God, but not well enough not to get sucked back in to the weak and miserable principals of legalism. In Galatians 4:8 and 9, Paul said this, he said formally when you did not what, help me out, he said when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you what, now that you know God or rather you're known by God, how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principals. Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You know God but not well enough to keep you out of those things that are not going to help you at all. There are those who believe in God but don't know Him and some of you, you would acknowledge truthfully, that is me. There are many of you who believe in God and you kinda sort of know Him, but not well. There's a third group and this would be my prayer that all of you would grow to this point and that would be those who believe in God, know Him intimately and serve Him wholeheartedly. You believe in God, you know Him intimately and you serve Him wholeheartedly. You may say well, what does that look like to know God intimately? Just the fact that you might ask that question really reveals the reality that you don't know that kind of intimacy and it's admittedly very difficult to describe. What does it mean to know God intimately and to serve Him wholeheartedly? What it means for me is that I am becoming more and more aware of God with me all the time. There is an increasing awareness of the presence, the provision, the power, and the peace of God. It's not like God's there and I'm here and every now and then I throw a prayer at Him but it's more of an ongoing conversation. It's more of a, it's a hey God, what do you and God speaks and I honestly believes He speaks and He speaks through his Word and His Word speaks to me and He speaks through His Spirit and somehow my spirit is connected to Him and I can hear it and He speaks through other people and He speaks through circumstances and there's this awareness that as the day goes on God is orchestrating things and God is sending people into my life and there's times when I'm about to say the wrong thing but the Spirit prompts me and I stop and there are other times when I go on and ignore doing the right thing and the Spirit stops me and prompts me to go do the right thing and its doing life with God. It's being not led by sight but led by the Spirit of God and it's doing life with God. It's knowing Him and serving Him wholeheartedly. Psalm 63 verses 1 through 4, you can really see the intimate knowledge of David as he expresses how knowing God, it creates a longing for even more of knowing God. Verse 1, he says this, he says, God you are what? He says God you are my God. You're not somebody else's God I just didn't hear about, you're mine. Earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. In this world, there's nothing that satisfies me God, that's why I need you. I ache for you, God. I need more of you. Verse 2, he says, I've seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. I've seen you. I know you. I know what you're like and your power and your glory is greater than anything I could ever imagine or describe. He goes on to say, and I love this, because your love is better than what? He said your love is. Think about that for a minute, your love God is better than living today. Your love is better than life and because of that, my lips will glorify you. I can't be quiet about you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name, I lift up my hands. God I seek you, I know you, I've seen you, I've experienced you. The things of this world they don't satisfy. I need more of you. God, I don't just know about you, you're my God. I've seen you. I've beheld your power. I know who you are. My lips are going to declare your goodness. My hands cannot stay down because God, I know you. You're my God. I'm not the same. The old standard has been changed. I know you, God, and you have my life. I know you and I want to serve you intimately. I like Psalm 9 verse 10. Most people think David wrote this as well and it says this. Those who what? Would you say that phrase aloud? Those who, those who know your name, God, what will they do? They will trust in you for you Lord have never forsaken those who seek you. Let me just ask you this. How well do you know God? Well what you call him could reveal the depth of your intimacy or the lack of your intimacy. Those who know your name. By what names do you call God? I'll give you an example. Depending on what you call me will reveal whether you know me or not. Okay, if my phone rings and you're on the other side and you're selling something and you say hello, Mr. Gro-groshell, okay? You don't know me. The way you call me reveals the fact that you do not know me. If I'm in a restaurant I turn in my name, I'm with two friends and Amy and you say, table for four Mr. Groeschel please, well you might have just met me but we don't have any intimate relationship. You know, I'm Mr. Groeschel and so and so's not but we don't know each other. If you call me Pastor Craig, chances are you actually might know a little bit about me. You know what I do, maybe you've heard what I've said before and you have some knowledge of me because the name reveals the depth of knowledge. If you call me Craig though, you know me better because my friends they know me as Craig. You call me Craig and that means we're close and it's an even more intimate name to me. If you call me Grosch, we've been friends for a long time. In fact, we might have drank beer together years ago if you call me Grosch because that means we've been friends for over 20 years. If you call me Grosch, man we go way back and we've got stories and you've promised not to tell them and there's, there's a long term intimacy but there's some though who call me something else, even more intimate than Grosch. There are some that are about this big and they climb up in my lap and rub on my face and say you need to shave and you've got bad breath and all that kind of stuff and you know what they call me, they call me daddy and they know me so much better than even those who calls me Grosch. There's one, she climbs up in my lap and she calls me her big stud muffin, but that is an entirely different message and we're not going to deal with that today. But you see, the names, sorry. She might not today after that, she's like.... The name reveals the intimacy. What do you call God? The big guy in the sky? Dear 8 pounds 6 ounce baby Jesus or whatever. You don't know Him. I mean, you don't. There are those of you though, when you pray, you call Him your healer because he's healed you. There are some of you, you call Him your comforter because you know Him on that level. Some of you, you call Him your fortress or your rock or your strength. There's some of you ladies that the man in your life walked out and you call Him your husband and He's that for you and there's some of you that your earthly father is not there and He is your father. He is your father. Some of you, you don't know where to turn. He is your provider and when you pray to Him you know Him as your provider. Some of you, when you're alone, He's your friend. Those of you who are aware of your sinfulness when you call Him, He's your savior. Others of you, He is the Lord of your life, He is the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. How well do you know Him? Those who know Him by name trust in Him. If you believe in Him and you don't trust Him it is because you do not know Him. Because if you knew Him, you would trust in Him and if you look at your life and you say I am a practical atheist, I believe in Him but I live as if He does not exist, it is because you do not know Him and if there is any reason that this whole series feels very authentic to you, it's because it is my life story. It is me. I mean, I am the one who grew up believing in Him but living as if He didn't exist. I am the one who believed in Him but did not know Him and if there is any passion coming out of me it's because I am knowing Him better and better and better and better and as I do know Him, let me tell you what happens, I'm different. As I grow to know Him, I become more generous in every way. As I grow to know Him, my heart breaks for the things that breaks the heart of God. As I grow to know Him, I become more passionate about Him and I don't care as much as what people think because I'm living for Him and not for the approval of people. As I grow to know Him, I burn within me to tell others about Him. I want others to know the same freedom and the same joy and the same peace and the same forgiveness and the same life that I have from knowing Him. Not knowing about Him, which I did for so long, but knowing Him and it consumes me and it makes every moment count and as I grow to know Him, He speaks to me and I can speak into your life with more accuracy and I can hear His voice through others with more precision and I look at things that used to not bother me at all and they bother me now and I see people who are poor, the first time in my life, I care and I care deeply and I look at all the resources that I have and that we have and it just bothers me that we're not doing more and when I sin against Him because I know Him, it grieves me more than it ever had and it just, I'm different. Because I know Him. And, if you're not different, practical atheist. I believe in God but live as though He doesn't exist. So how do we get to know Him? That's the easiest part. I swear to you it's the easiest part. If you seek Him you will find Him. He says it over and over again. If you seek me, you will find me. Open this up and seek Him. Open this up and seek Him. Open this up and seek Him. Open these up and seek Him and if you're hungry, He will feed you. And if you're thirsty, He will give you something to drink. If you seek Him, you will find Him because he longs to reveal Himself to you. If you seek Him. You don't have to go to class, you don't need to read a book, you don't need seven steps to, you seek Him. So, here's the close. The close to the whole series and if God has been speaking to you and rattling you throughout the series, this has been my prayer for you throughout this whole series, this is my prayer for our church, Ephesians chapter 1:17 through 19, this is my prayer for you. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better and I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and His incomparably great power for us who believe. I keep asking God that our church, that us, that you would know Him better and know everything about Him that is good and as you get to know Him, you can never go back to being a practical atheist because you believe in God and live every moment, not only as if He exists but as if He is King of kings and Lord of lords. All of our campuses, let's pray together. God would you just stir us deeply that we would never be the same and God we worship you for what you've done and what you're doing and God we worship you for what you're about to do. All of our campuses, network churches, as you guys are praying, some of you right now you're going to recognize you know what, I kind of do know him but I do not know him well. Would you lift up your hands right now? That's you. Lift up your hands all over the place, all of the campuses lift up your hands. Just a ton of you. I want to pray for you right now. God, I pray, I pray for those who are like I've been so much of my life that a practical atheist, God I'm willing to trust myself completely to you because I didn't know you. God I pray, I pray for everyone that a moment ago lifted their hands that you would give them such a hunger and a thirst for you God, that they could not go a day without seeking you. And God I thank you right now that your promise is true that when they seek you, God, that you will reveal yourself. God I thank you ahead of time that they are going to get to know you. Not about you, God, but know you and God I thank you that you're going to make them miserable in the most wonderful way and you're going to make them oddly godly and they're going to be different and their values are going to be different and their heart is going to beat for different things and God the things of this world are going to loosen their grip on them. God, as they get to know you they're going to become like you. They're not going to crave all the benefits of Christ without being conformed to his image. They are going to crave him, know him, and become like him. And God, I thank you in advance for those who kind of know you but will know you well because you will reveal yourself to them. As you keep praying today, there are some of you, you're going to say you know what, man, I believe in Him but I do not know Him and this is my story. This was me. I knew about Him, I went to church, I believed I was a Christian, I was not. I was not. I did not know Him. I knew some Bible stories. I did not know Him. Some of you say I really don't even know much about Him, I'm like you know, way way far from Him but you're feeling drawn to Him right now. Let me just say what that is. That is the power of the Spirit of God working in your life. Why? Because God wants to reveal Himself to you and you may say well yeah, I want to know Him but I'm not, I still got all these things that are messed up in my life, what do I do. Today you just seek Him, you just call on His name and just acknowledge your need for Him and say, I'm messed up, I'm a filthy sinner, I'm no good and I know it and I need a savior and understand this, God, sent his Son, Jesus, who was born without sin and became the Savior of all those who would call on Him. He shed his blood, He died, He rose again for the forgiveness of our sins. Anyone, and that includes you, who calls on His name will be saved. Jesus prayed this in John 17, He said, He said this is eternal life, that they may know God. God sent Jesus to reveal the heart of the Father. Jesus hung out with wild people, with sinners, He loved them and He never left them where they were. There are those of you saying that's me, I need to know Him. Others of you, others would think hey, you know they think I'm a Christian, I'm not. I don't know Him. I don't know, my eyes have never been opened to see spiritual things. My heart is not truly in a relationship with Him. I confess, I need Him. Jesus transform me. I don't want to be informed about you, I want to be transformed by you. Save me. Reveal yourself to me. Would you be the Lord of my life? I want to be yours. I want to follow you forever. All of our campuses. You don't just know about Him but you're going to know Him personally. I want to know you God, through your Son, Jesus. Lift your hands high right now, just lift them up and say that's me. Lift them up. Let me just meet you eye to eye. Leave them up all over the place. Right there, God bless you. Right here in this middle section both of you right there. Thank you. Others of you would say that's my prayer? Way back over there to the back and sir awesome right here and ma'am thank you. Others? Call on His name, Jesus save me, transform me. Both of you, awesome together. Praise God for you. Right back over there. Welcome into the family of God. Others who would say, yes, transform me. Both of you here in the middle section, Jesus save me, I want to know you, I want to know you, I want to know you, I want to know you. Would all of you pray together just aloud. Pray Heavenly Father, I want to know you. I admit I am a sinner who needs a Savior. Jesus save me. Forgive me. Make me brand new. I don't want just know about you but I want to know you intimately and serve you wholeheartedly. Become the Lord of my life. Transform me. I am yours and you are now mine. Thank you for new life. Take all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray, would you worship the King of kings and the Lord of lords? .

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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jul 6, 2010

Practical Atheist Week 4

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