“Does God Really Know Me?”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Have there been times when you felt no one was concerned about you? Maybe you were struggling financially, emotionally or even in a relationship? Perhaps you wondered if anyone saw what was going on or if anyone would offer any kind of assistance. Well, that type of thing happens to many people. If you have been in such situations, you may have felt as if there was no hope and that no one cared. Well, the good news is, someone does see your situation and the struggles you face, someone does care what happens to you, and someone offers a solution. In various ways, the Bible describes how the God of this universe, our Creator and Sustainer of life, sees us. The Lord knows what is happening in our lives, right now, and He cares for you and me. In today's message, we will focus on our loving God, who not only sees and knows all about our struggles but offers some much needed help. That help comes through His Son, Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to this Earth to personally deal with the pain and problems we face on a daily basis. He provided a solution that helps us in any and all situations. For the next few minutes we will focus on that solution. We will read some of the Bible passages that remind us of what Jesus has done for us. We will consider how He rescues us from sin and from Satan, and how He delivers us into His Father's kingdom. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study the lesson entitled, “Does God Really Know Me?”
When there seems to be no solutions to the problems in life, we oftentimes cry out for help. Many of us seek that assistance from our parents or perhaps from some other family members. Our children or grandchildren may look to us in times of need. And indeed, there is no shame for doing such. All of us experience times when we need something we cannot get on our own, and those needs may have to do with physical, emotional or perhaps even spiritual matters. And when we cry out for that assistance, we look forward to receiving some solutions. There is a story found in the Old Testament book called Exodus about a group of people who needed some help. They were in a really bad situation, living in the land of Egypt. They and their forefathers had been held in captivity for many years, and there seemed to be no solution. There appeared to be no way out of that captivity. The people were also concerned that their children would be held in captivity as well. The people even thought God had forgotten them. They wondered where He was. They wondered if He really knew about their condition and if He cared about what would happen. Well, in the midst of those dark days, the king of Egypt died. When that happened, the people were in hopes of something good taking place. Someone else would now be in charge, and perhaps that would give them a ray of hope for better days. And they cried out for help. And even though they did not know it, help was already on the way; and it would come from the hand of the Lord God Almighty. We read that part of the story in Exodus chapter 2, beginning with verse 23. <In the course of those many days, the king of Egypt died. The people of Israel groaned under their bondage and cried out for help, and their cry under bondage came up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. And God saw the people of Israel and God knew their condition.> The Israelites had been taken into captivity as a result of their disobedience to God. And during this time of punishment, or this time of reformation, the people began to learn how to better depend upon the Lord. And as they cried out for help, we notice, God heard their cries and He answered. In the three verses we just read, we find six action verbs. Two of them are in regards to the people. First of all, we notice the people groaned under their bondage. And, no doubt, they were in great bondage. The Egyptian slave masters forced the Israelites to do all kinds of manual labor, and they provided very few provisions in order for that work to be done. And the people were suffering under that kind of forced labor. They were beaten, they were abused. Some even lost their lives. And no doubt, they groaned under that kind of treatment. They complained. They fussed about it; and perhaps any of us would do the very same thing in that situation. The second thing they did was they cried out for help. They cried, they pleaded their case with God. They did not know what else to do nor anyone else that might help them. And so they cried out to the Lord for some kind of relief and some kind of assistance. Well, we notice then that God responded in four different ways. First of all, He heard the cries of the people. And no doubt that would make sense, that God heard what the people were saying and how they needed some kind of assistance; and those cries must have broke His heart. But when He heard those cries, the text tells us, God remembered the covenant He had made with their ancestors, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And as He remembered that covenant, He knew that He would never leave nor forsake the Israelites. And then we see that God saw their condition. He saw the pain, He saw the abuse, He saw the suffering and He saw the need the people had for some kind of relief. The fourth thing God did, according to the text, was that He knew their condition. And perhaps that is the summary statement here in this passage. God knew the people. He knew their hearts, He knew the physical labor that was going on and He knew they needed relief from the situation in which they were in. Well, we probably know the rest of the story, don't we? God delivered the people from that Egyptian captivity, by the hand of Moses, and He led them into the Promised Land. Well, there are several other stories in the Bible about God doing something quite similar. The people would cry out to Him for help, He would see their need, He was sympathetic to their situation, and then He would send a deliverer to provide a solution for their situation. One such story is found in the Book of Acts chapter 2. There we find a short summary of the life of Jesus. On behalf of the other apostles, a man by the name of Peter stood up and spoke many words to the people on that occasion. There were some thousands of people in the city of Jerusalem. In part, this is what he had to say, in Acts chapter 2, beginning with verse 22. <“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him."> Several times in Scripture, we find summary statements about Jesus' life and ministry. They give us somewhat of an overview of what Jesus did during His time upon the Earth. Well, we just read one such summary statement. In it, Peter highlights some of the things Jesus did throughout His ministry. It's a great summary statement here. And as Peter spoke these words, it was on the Day of Pentecost. And the Day of Pentecost was the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Thousands of people had come in to the city of Jerusalem to remember that event, to worship God and to make sacrifices. It was here that Peter shared why God sent Jesus to the Earth. People were reminded of how He had fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. They were reminded of the good work Jesus did while upon the Earth. And perhaps in this message, Peter shared, or highlighted, some of the things Jesus communicated in His teaching. Maybe He reminded them of some of the miracles He had performed or how Jesus had cast demons out of people. He might have even told some of the stories about Jesus raising people from the dead. But the point is this; Peter's message focused on God's Son. It focused on Jesus’ life and His love, and it was highlighted by His death upon the cross and resurrection from the grave. Yes, Peter was proclaiming a message about the salvation Jesus had brought into the world. Well, at the end of the message, in verse 36, Peter stated that many of them were guilty of putting Jesus to death. Some of them had, in fact, taken part in crucifying the Son of God. Well, the people recognized they were guilty, and many of them indeed confessed they had rejected Jesus' message and ministry. And some were even part of that crowd who had called out for Jesus' death. But after hearing Peter's message, they wanted to know what they could do to be forgiven of their sin. They realized they had made a mistake. They realized they had had messed up and missed the mark. They realized they had indeed rejected Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and they were remorseful. They felt the guilt of that sin, and they wanted a solution for it. They needed a way out. They needed some way to start over again and to be forgiven. Well, Peter told them that, indeed, God had heard their cry and He had sent a deliverer. And the Deliverer was the very One whom they had just put to death. It was Jesus the Messiah. It was the One they were anticipating of fulfilling the Scriptures, the Anointed One of God. In fact, Jesus had come to this Earth representing His Father. He came offering love and compassion and mercy and forgiveness. And yet again, many of the people had rejected that. They had rejected His message and His ministry. But Peter reminded them that it was this very same Jesus, the Son of God, through whom they could receive the forgiveness of sin and the elimination of that guilt. You know, similar to what happened in Exodus chapter 2, God saw what the people of Acts chapter 2 needed. Not only did He see their need, He provided a solution. Yes, God sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue the people, long before they even knew they needed to be rescued. A few weeks ago, one of my family members was quite sick. She decided to go to the doctor and the doctor looked at her condition and the doctor prescribed some medication and some treatment. And my loved one went back home, took that medication, made some adjustments and changes, and before long she was feeling much better. That's good news, because someone saw her condition, gave her a solution, and now she's better; and that's a good news story. Well, the people here in Acts chapter 2 needed some good news about their spiritual condition, and Peter shared it. He told them what Jesus had done for them and the sacrifice that had been made on their behalf. And after they heard that Good News, they recognized, indeed, their sin could be forgiven and their guilt could be removed. And Peter offered these words to them, in chapter 2 verse 38: <”Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”> Well, the people were to repent or turn away, to turn in a different direction from rejecting Jesus to accepting Jesus. And then to demonstrate that repentance, they were baptized, or immersed, into the name of Jesus Christ; and with that, their sin was forgiven. That was the response they were to make to Jesus Christ. And by doing that, they would express their belief in Jesus as God's one and only Son, and they would acknowledge that God's Son, Jesus, had the solution to the problem in their life. Well, this was the answer to the question people had asked Peter, there in verse 37. The text says they simply asked, “Well, what shall we do?” In other words, what are we supposed to do to the sin in our life? How can we get right in the sight of God and be forgiven of rejecting His Son? Well, Peter told them about the help they needed. This was the answer they were looking for as they sought to be right with God. Repentance and baptism would bring about the forgiveness of sin. And to remind them they were forgiven, God would give them the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would remind them on a regular and daily basis of how they had been forgiven, and now they were living in Jesus Christ. Well, this was what these people needed, more than anything else. And on that Day of Pentecost, as we continue to read in Acts 2, some 3000 people did that very thing. They repented of their sin, and they were baptized into the name of Jesus Christ. Well, again, God had heard their cries for help. He saw their burden of sin. And as only a loving Father could do, He provided a solution; and that solution came through Jesus Christ. As Jesus died upon the cross and then rose from the dead, the people in Acts chapter 2 could be forgiven of that sin, and they could be empowered by the Holy Spirit. They could have a new start in life. Yes, God had provided a solution for those people, long before they even realized they needed a solution. Yes, God saw their need, He heard their cries, He knew their condition, and He provided an answer. Yes, God saw the people in Exodus chapter 2. He heard and He saw and He helped the people in Jerusalem, in Acts chapter 2. And our Father in Heaven sees and hears and helps us still today. And we know that when we cry out to God for help, He sees our condition and knows our need. Yes, the same God, of Exodus 2 and Acts 2, is still God today. The Apostle Paul wrote it this way, in Colossians chapter 1, beginning with verse 13. <For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.> Once again, that's Good News, isn't it, that God has seen our situation and He has provided a solution that removes us out of that dark kingdom and into a kingdom of His Son, where we receive the forgiveness of sin and we are redeemed and set free from that sin. You know, from time to time, we hear or perhaps are even witnesses to an accident. A car has a wreck and the people are inside, but before the medical personnel arrive, some people from other cars get out and rush to the scene and they bring the people out of that car and bring them to safety. They rescue them. Or maybe we see it when people are in a boat and they travel out into the water and the wind and the waves begin to push them further and further away from the shore. A call is made and another boat is sent; and, before we know it, those people are rescued and brought back to the shore. Oh, those are indeed some good news stories. And the sacrifice Jesus made, some 2000 years ago, does the same thing. It rescues us from sin. We are redeemed and set free. We are forgiven. And it is all based upon a loving, Heavenly Father who sees and who knows our condition and provides a solution. Yes, it is based upon what He did, through His Son, Jesus Christ, so long ago. Jesus did something which we did not deserve and we certainly cannot earn. He gave His life and He wants us to receive it with thanksgiving. The author of Hebrews states it this way, in chapter 9 beginning with verse 26. <But He has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.> Jesus’ sacrifice provided the solution for our sin condition, and that is the Good News message that we find throughout God's Word. And when we recognize the depth of God's love for us and when we respond to that love, like the people did in Acts chapter 2, then we also receive that forgiveness and the gift of God's Holy Spirit. It makes no difference what difficulty or problem or sin we are struggling with, God has already heard our cry for help. He already knows our condition. And God has already offered His Son, Jesus Christ, to help us. Indeed, that is good news. You know, the solution provided 2000 years ago is the same solution God provides today. It has not changed over time and it will not in the future. But we know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And through Him, God meets our need for salvation. He provides the answer for our sinful condition. And I hope you have believed and have received that Good News message. I hope and pray that you're sin is forgiven and that you are living in a right relationship with Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior, the One whom God sent, who knows your condition and has provided that solution.
I'm standing here in front of this Social Security Administration office, and this is a very important place in larger cities here in the United States because it is through this office that we receive our identity, here in America. Many people living here have a number that is given to them by the Social Security Administration, and that number is important. It gives us our identity. We are recognized by the governmental authorities; and through that, we receive a number of benefits and blessings. And that is a very good thing. It is a very important thing. And yet there is another identity that we have that is far more important; that is our identity with God. It does not revolve around a number, but rather a name. We are God's children and He is our Father. He knows about us. He knows us more than we even know ourselves. He knows the very number of hair on our head. He created us and He watches over, blesses and provides for us. And that provision is far greater than any kind of physical provision we might have here upon this Earth. Yes, God loves us and He provides for us. He is never too far away. He sees us and knows exactly what we need, and at just the right time. If you are feeling anxious or concerned about your life, rest in the peaceful and comforting arms of God. And know that He sees you, He knows more about you than anybody else, and He will always provide.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” I hope this message about God seeing us in our times of need and providing a solution through His Son, Jesus, blessed you. It is good to know, God loves us and wants us to receive that love, especially in times of great need. This lesson can be found on our website at keytothekingdom.com. Please visit that site to hear or to view it again. Many other lessons are available, as well, and they can be easily accessed without any cost or obligation. There are a number of other resources and information which provide additional teaching from God's Word, and they are all designed to assist you in your daily walk with the Lord. One minute devotional thoughts are uploaded onto our website, as well as onto Facebook® every week. I encourage you to follow us on Facebook® and to like and share those messages with others. If we can be of direct assistance, please call the number on the screen or send us an email. It has been our privilege to share this message with you today. Thank you for being our guest. And I invite you to join us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”