Sunday Sermon: ‘Overcoming the Fear of Letting God In’

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INTRODUCTION

An Epidemic of Loneliness

Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in or that no one really cared about you? I suppose that we all have felt this way at some time or another. It’s only normal. However, recently I read that loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in America.[1]To call it an epidemic seems rather drastic, yet some say that loneliness can be as detrimental to our health as “smoking 15 cigarettes a day” and more harmful to us “than alcoholism or obesity.”[2]

I was also surprised to learn that the age group most likely to experience loneliness are those between the ages of 18-22. One report says that nearly 70% of all college students feel lonely.[3]That shocked me. I would have thought that living on a college campus with thousands of other people my own age, loneliness would have been the last thing I would have had to worry about. But I guess that you can be in the middle of a crowd and still feel lonely. Following closely behind those 18-22 are those between the ages 23-37.[4]Nearly half of all those under the age of forty express that at times they feel very lonely.

The Importance of Relationships

All of this reveals to us the importance of building healthy relationships with other people.

We Need Social Relationships with Other People

Research shows that we need face to face interaction with other people. Emails, texting, or any other form of social media isn’t a substitute for face to face conversations with others. One source I read stated that whereas loneliness can be harmful to us, friendships can actually make us healthier.

The Bible says,

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

We Need a Spiritual Relationship with God

We need social relationships, but we also need a spiritual relationship with God. Many years ago, Augustine wrote these words: “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.”Someone else has said, “There’s a void in our hearts that only God can fill.” The Bible teaches us that we have been made by God and for God. (see Revelation 4:11) We need God. We need to know God. We need to experience Him in our lives.

We all need a relationship with God, yet many of us are afraid to let God in. Why is that? Here are some possible reasons:

Perhaps some of us are afraid to let God in because we know there are parts of our lives that aren’t pleasing to Him. We’ve got some things going on in our lives that we know aren’t right in His eyes and therefore we’re reluctant to let Him in.

Perhaps some of us are afraid to let God in because we’ve had some bad experiences in the past with either the church and other Christians and therefore we’ve decided to close that door and keep God out.

Perhaps some of us are afraid to let God in because we’re unsure of where it might take us. Maybe God will want us to move to Africa and live in a hut and eat bugs.

Perhaps some of us are afraid to let God in because we have the wrong perception of who God is. Our impression of God is that He’s harsh and stern and maybe even a bit cruel. We’ve never experienced God as a loving Father.

Or, perhaps some of us are afraid to let God in because we don’t see the need for God. We think that we can live our lives without God and to us, God, the church, and whatever else might be considered to be religious is nothing more than a game.

Over the next three weeks, we’re going to focus on the importance of letting God in. If you’re someone who has closed the door, I pray that you will reconsider reopening it.

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

 So where do we begin?

 I. God Knows All There is to Know About Us

The Bible teaches us that God knows all about us. Look with me at Psalm 139.

Psalm 139: 1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Regardless of whether or not we know anything about God, God knows all there is to know about us. How does God know so much about us?

A. God Knows All About Us Because He is God

The big biblical word for this is ‘omniscience.’ The word ‘omniscience’ is simply two words put together:

omni -(all) + science (knowledge) = all knowledge

To say that God is omniscient is to say that He has all knowledge. That shouldn’t surprise us. If there is a God, it only stands to reason that He has unlimited knowledge. How else could He create the universe?

The Bible says-

“For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure…”  (Isaiah 46:9-10)

But there’s another reason why God knows so much about us.

B. God Knows All About Us Because He Carefully Examines Every Detail of Our Lives

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

David said that God knows when we sit down and when we stand up. He knows when we go to bed and when we get up. What’s more, God knows everything that goes through our minds. God not only knows what we think, but why we think it. God also listens to all of our conversations. According to Jesus, God keeps a record of every word we speak and one day we will have to give an account to Him concerning what we have said and why we said it. (Matthew 12:36)

C. God Knows All About Us Because He Cares About Us

Psalm 139:17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

God not only knows every detail of our lives, He is constantly thinking about us. David said that God had more thoughts about him than all the grains of sand on the seashore.

What kind of thoughts does God have about us? According to David, God has precious thoughts about us. The word ‘precious’ means that God holds us in high esteem. God places a tremendous value upon us. “How much does God love me?” some might ask. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God loves us so much that He was willing to send His one and only Son to be our Savior. God loves us so much that He was willing to give His life for us.

D. Knowing That God Knows Us Should Encourage Us

Knowing that God has such an intimate knowledge of us should encourage us. It did David.

1. Apparently, David was Struggling with Some Anxious Thoughts

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts…

The word ‘thoughts’ means troublesome thoughts. Several translations state it as ‘anxious thoughts.’ Apparently, David was deeply troubled over something. Perhaps, it was with some difficult people.

Psalm 139:19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. 20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

Maybe these individuals were harassing David. Maybe they were trying to influence David and pull him into their sinful thinking. Whatever it was, they were troubling David and he needed to feel God’s closeness and presence in his life.

2. Apparently, David was Struggling with These Thoughts During the Middle of the Night

Psalm 139:17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Notice that little phrase at the end of verse 18. “When I am awake, I am still with thee.” At first this didn’t make sense to me. Why did David put this in? It doesn’t seem to flow naturally with the previous sentences. But then I began to ask not only why David would say this, but when would he say this? When would a person say that when I awake in the morning, you will still be with me. Obviously, he would say it in the middle of the night.

Apparently, David was struggling with something during the middle of the night and while he was there all alone in the darkness, he needed to remind himself that God was with him.

II. God Knows What is Best for Us

 A. David Opened His Life to God and Invited Him In

Knowing God knows all there is to know about us may scare some people. They may want to run and hide, yet as we will see in a couple of weeks, we can’t. There is no where we can run that God will not already be there.

David didn’t run from God. David ran to God.

Psalm 139:Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

‘Search’, ‘know’, and ‘try’ are all commands. David is actually commanding God to come into his life and to know all there is to know about him and to help him. In order for God to help us, some things need to happen.

Perhaps there are some of you here today who are struggling in your marriage. You need to open up your life and let God in. Perhaps there are some of you who are experiencing family problems. You need to open up your home and let God in. Perhaps there are some of you who are experiencing financial problems or health problems. You need to let God come in and help you. Whatever your need is, you need to open up your life to God and let Him in. He already knows what it is that is troubling you and He desires to help you.

B. Finding God’s Presence in Our Lives

 1. We have to open the door and let God in

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

a. Opening the door for salvation

Is Jesus knocking at your heart’s door today? Perhaps He is knocking because He desires to come in and save you from your sins. The first step to experiencing God in our lives is to receive Him as our Savior. Jesus said,

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:17-18)

Jesus Christ loves you and He died on the cross for your sins. He gave His life for you so that you might be forgiven and restored back to a proper relationship with God. If Christ is knocking on your heart’s door for salvation, you need to open the door and let Him in.

b. Opening the door in surrender

There may be some of you here today that know the Lord as your Savior, yet for some reason, you’ve closed the door to letting Him lead you and guide you. The Bible says,

“You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” (Hebrews 3:13)

Notice first of all that sin will deceive us. Sin will make us think that right is wrong and wrong is right. Secondly, this verse says that sin will hardened us against God. Sin will cause us to close the door to God. Dear friend, in order for you to experience God again in your life, you have to open the door and let Him in.

2. We have to let God guide us according to His perfect will

Psalm 139:Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

In other words, “Lord, don’t let me get on the wrong path. Don’t let me live in a way that might not be Your way. Search me, O God. Examine every minute part of my life. Know what’s in my heart. Examine everything that is in my mind. Test me to see if I am legitimate. And lead me in the right way.”

Is God in control of your life today? Is God involved in all of your thoughts and decisions? Is God influencing your attitude and your actions? If not, let me encourage you today to open the door to your life and let Him in. I can tell you from personal experience, there is no greater joy than knowing that God is involved in your life.

[1]http://time.com/5261181/young-americans-are-lonely/  May 2, 2018

[2]http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/loneliness-public-health-psychologist-1.4249637  May 2, 2018

[3]http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/university-loneliness-back-to-school-1.3753653May 4, 2018

[4]ibid  May 2, 2018

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