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Being Known By God

DSC_3703_2Dear Comfort Cafe Friends,

In this short Bible Study series we are looking at what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The lessons are running monthly through July 2014 and focus on “Looking Inward,” (relating to and loving God), and “Looking Outward,” (relating to and loving our neighbor). In this series, the entire lesson each month is presented here on the front page. We hope you will join us in applying knowledge of God’s character to deeper levels of life. Previous lessons from 2014 remain available under the Table of Contents and Archive page.

©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. User Permission Notice: This study may not be sold or used for profit. However, copies may be made for personal use. Questions? Contact: ruthywood@gmail.com.


Looking Inward

By Ruth Wood

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. (Psalm 139:1)

Do you ever feel this desire to be known, really known? Psalm 139 tells us how we are known by God:

You have searched me, Lord and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise . . .  my going out, my lying down . . . here is this amazing fact that the Lord sees what my body is doing at all times—He knows my location, where to find me. Someone who knows my every move would have a lot of knowledge about me. In fact, no human can know me this way.

The Lord knows when I sleep in, when I walk the aisles of the super market surrounded by strangers, and sees every moment I’m navigating traffic in my car alone…

You perceive my thoughts from afar. Not only is the Lord aware of every outward move, He tracks each inward one as well. Again, no human can do this, thank goodness.

You hem me in behind and before.

This can be interpreted according to location but also according to time frame:

“Behind” —God was present in my past,
“Before” —God will be there in my future
“You hem me in” —God is here with me now. Wherever I am God surrounds me! The Lord always “has my back.”

Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there… Perhaps Paul was thinking of this passage in Psalms when he penned Romans 8:38:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Even if we fled to the farthest corner of the world, even there His hand would guide and hold us fast. (Psalm 139:10)

Rather than feel comforted, some might feel claustrophobic or even terrified at the thought of God, the ever-present “Eye in the Sky,” hovering over our lives. Our relationship to the Lord plays an important role in whether we find this psalm comforting or unsettling. For those who have not made peace with God, the thought of His omnipresence may bring fear, a sense of condemnation, or even resentment. They might view God more like a stalker than a benevolent, watchful Father.

But for those who love Him and believe in His forgiveness and goodness, the Lord’s nearness is a comfort. Because we know He accepts us unconditionally, His constant presence makes us feel protected, secure, loved and cared for.

He invites us to bring Him our deep reservoirs of need for intimacy. This is why His absolute presence in all aspects of our lives is not terrifying but reassuring.

After all, when you deeply love someone, you want to be close . . .


Diving In

Read Psalm 139 several times throughout the week. As you respond to the questions below, keep in mind that these are meant to help you delve deep into how you connect with the Word. Their purpose is to guide you into meaningful self reflection and insight. Therefore, some things may be too personal or not appropriate to share with your group. My advice is to interact honestly with this material knowing that you will not need to share anything beyond what you are comfortable.

1. The definition of intimacy according to Webster is “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving, personal relationship with another person or group.” Intimacy has to do with that which is “innermost.” We share certain innermost thoughts with a person or group we trust. But intimacy is also subjective. For example, someone might value the closeness of being able to sit with a friend in comfortable silence while another person couldn’t imagine intimacy without conversation. What does intimacy look like to you personally?

2. What does it mean to be known by someone? List some of the most important things about yourself that person would need to understand.

3. Most of us know that people can’t meet our deepest needs, only God can. Consider an unmet need in your life. How might God meet you here?

Under each paragraph below, use specific and concrete language as you respond:

4. Oh, Lord, you have searched and you know me . . . Psalm 139:1

God knows me intimately.

What is something few people or only God knows about you?

5. You perceive my thoughts from afar . . . Psalm 139:2b

God knows what I’m thinking.

God cares about what’s on our minds. What kinds of things do you think about most these days?

6. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely . . . Psalm 139:4

God knows what I’m going to say.

When people know each other well, they sometimes complete one another’s sentences. Even though God knows us so well, He still listens attentively to what we have to say (. . . the Lord hears when I call to him. Psalm 4:3b). What is something important to you that you’d like to discuss with God?

7. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways . . . Psalm 139:3

God knows my daily routines.

Whereas a spouse, friends, or co-workers only see part of your routine in a day, God sees it all. What is a part of your day you’re particularly glad God is there?

8. You hem me in behind and before . . . Psalm 139:5

God knows my past, my now, and my future.

What is something in your past you’re glad that God witnessed? What difference does it make that He was there? Where do you need God’s surrounding presence in current circumstances or concerns about the future?

9. Where can I go from your Spirit . . . Psalm 139:7; reread Psalm 139:7-12

God knows my location.

What is your first reaction reading this passage? A sense of comfort? Fear?

10. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me . . . Psalm 139:11

God knows my spiritual state.

We hide because of sin and shame. We do not want to be exposed. However, nothing is hidden from God’s eyes, and still, He loves us unreservedly. Talk to Him about any shame with which you struggle.

11. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . Psalm 139:14

God knows my body.

Many of us, especially women, struggle with body image issues. We need God’s perspective. Our body is a gift to use for a while. It is a holy place because God calls it a temple, the home where His Spirit has come to dwell. A godly perspective of our bodies leads to thanksgiving. Write a prayer thanking God for specific things about your body and what you can do with it. (For example, the ability to walk on the beach, use hands for gardening, to hear the sound of a dove cooing, to be able to smile at my children . . . )

12. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth . . . Psalm 139:15

God knows your beginning and how you were made.

We may not have been wanted by our parents, but every single human being ever born was wanted by God. If good parents joyfully anticipate the birth of their child, why wouldn’t the Creator not want the child even more so?

Ephesians 1:11 says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will . . .”  What difference does it make to know that before your parents even came together, God wanted you?

13. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be . . . Psalm 139:16b

God knows how many days you will spend on this planet.

The Bible talks about numbering our days so that we will live wisely. What is one simple change you could begin today in order to better redeem the time?

JOURNAL. This is where you can record new insights, praise, thanksgiving, or goals for change. One idea is to expand Psalm 139:23-24 into a personal prayer.