Going through the Scripture and pondering the lives of those on its pages, I am seeing with fresh eyes how powerful changes were wrought in people after their personal encounters with God. You might be tempted to say, “Duh! If a person has an encounter with God it goes to figure that their lives would be changed.” I’ll see that “Duh!” and raise you a “Huh?” What do I mean by that? Well, let’s not assume that it is a foregone conclusion that people who say they have encountered God live distinct lives from those who do not profess to have encountered God. If it is an assumed fact that lives are dramatically changed by a personal encounter with God then why is it that we are seeing today so many bored, mundane and listless Christians with seemingly very little of the supernatural emanating from their lives? Most of the Christians I know are theologically sound but, admittedly, many of these same people acknowledge a lack of potency in their spiritual experience. Their faith is, well, vanilla. How many Christians do you know who are regularly living out powerfully transformed journeys down here? It’s a legit question – count them, how many? A better question would be this: if salvation is an eternity-securing encounter with the Living God, and every Christian has experienced this encounter, how should we then account for the absence of dynamic, spiritual, victorious, supernatural life-flow? It’s because so many stopped encountering Him right after their salvation experience.
God gave you His own life with the understanding that it would be flowing, moving, refreshing water in your soul. You and I are rivers, not swamps. Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would live within us and the Apostle Paul qualified it even further when he wrote that our bodies are the temples of God. That’s right: God lives in every believer. Paul’s analogy of the Jewish temple clearly illustrated the truth that God’s glory would proceed forth from our earthly lives just as His glory emanated from the historical temple. I’m going to suggest that this reality of spiritual vibrancy is not the experience for many (most?) professing believers. I will take it a step farther and submit my explanation for this sad reality: we do not reveal vibrancy because we do not experience encounter with the God who gives the vibrancy. We met Him at salvation and effectively told Him we would see Him again when we get to Heaven. Until then we master the art of church attendance, tithing, having a 15-minute daily quiet time, modifying our behavior to a respectable appearance and try to live a well evidenced moral life. Perhaps nobody has mentioned it to you before…none of those things necessarily equates to a personal encounter with the living God. People who have never encountered God can do these types of things and more. So what should we think of when we ponder the effects of encountering God?
Jesus used words like hunger and thirst. Paul spoke of dying daily to lesser things and obtaining the freedom of the glory of the children of God. John marveled at the type of love God lavishes on His children and was righteously stunned that we are now called God’s children. Peter wrote of a life characterized with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. Jude closed his writings with a reference to the past, present and future glory, majesty, dominion, and authority of Jesus Christ which he asserted is our joyful confidence. These writers all spoke of their faith with a present-tense wonder, joy and spiritual thrill. They had encountered their Lord in such a way that their lives were transformed – from their thoughts to their vocabularies to their lifelong pursuits. Encounter changed them. Not a singular, one-time, static encounter with God… but a life of ongoing encounter. That was the norm and the disengaged believer was abnormal. Forigve the critical overtone but I believe things are now reverses. The joyful, transformed, radical follow of Jesus is now strange while the vanilla saint is widely accepted.
Okay, enough of my pointing out the issue. What can I do to help offer a remedy? My plan is to teach on this subject of Encounter for the next several weeks at Meadow. We will post the messages on the audio page of this website. We will also host the video on the Media Archives of Transforming Truth’s FB page. I hope you will join me in absorbing some of the material from this series. As I write these words, two messages have already been shared and it looks like 7-10 more will be coming. I’m taking us on a journey through the Scriptures to be witnesses of what encounters with God look like and the results that come from those encounters. God desires His children to want to meet with Him in refreshing and powerful ways. Your comfort zone may very well be on its way to becoming your coffin and the only thing which will raise you up and bring you out is personal encounter with God. I want to fight for this desire of God – to encounter His children regularly – on behalf of those whom I shepherd by leading us in this study. If you cannot say that you are encountering God as a large component of your personal journey then this new series is for you. Some of you are so theologically astute that I can already hear you protesting what I’ve written here by asserting God’s omnipresence and His indwelling of the believer. You declare that God is everywhere so we are always encountering Him. Hmmmmm….. Judas Iscariot spent three years by His side and never met Him so don’t cop out behind some theological duck-blind about God’s omnipresence. And the reality of God indwelling all His children in the Person of the Holy Spirit does not automatically guarantee that we are transformationally encountering Him. We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We are commanded not to quench the Holy Spirit. The admonitions are in the context of ongoing, relational encounter with God (the Spirit). So, friends, when I write to you about encountering God, I’m not talking asking you to consider if He is omnipresent. I’m wondering if He is omni-presiding in your life.
Isn’t it time we find out?
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