| Have you had an encounter with God lately? Are you available to meet with Him? One of the most well known stories of someone having an encounter with God is the story of Moses and the burning bush.
2 … Moses looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."
5 Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."
One of the things that is so spectacular about the story of Moses and the burning bush is that Moses did not anticipate the presence of God! Moses was living on the back side of the desert so no one could find him! For forty years this well educated man had taken on the personality and the dress of a desert sheep herder, but God knew where he was!
God had a specific plan for Moses’ life yet Moses argued with God but God won the argument and directed Moses into a place of leadership for the nation of Israel. God always knew where Moses was.
In God’s time He lit a bush and called Moses by name!
Does God know where you are? Without a doubt! And He is preparing a special encounter just for you and Him to have an intimate conversation about His plan for your life. Just think about all the Bible characters who had encounters with God! If He planned on meeting with them … He also plans on meeting with you!
Another encounter in the Bible was when Saul was searching for Christians to throw them in jail. After his encounter with God he became known as the Paul the Apostle.
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Just as Moses was not planning to encounter God in the desert, Saul wasn’t expecting an encounter with God either! As he is riding his trusty horse through the desert a bright light startled him and he fell to the ground in fear! “Who are you, Lord?” He didn’t understand his encounter with God until later when his commitment was made to Christ and a man named Ananias explained God’s calling. Unlike Moses, Saul obeyed without an argument!
While remembering these two men and their encounters with God, there is a realization that God has unexpectedly encountered men and women throughout the ages. It is always a turning point in their lives.
Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit in the Garden and then they hid in shame, but God came looking for them! “Adam, Adam, where are you?” And they had an encounter with God that demonstrated Gods grace and his judgment.
After being removed from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel. In the course of time, Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice to God and Cain didn’t and God did not accept Cain’
s sacrifice. He was willing to ignore God but God designed an encounter with him and God said,
6 So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?
7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
But rather than conquering his anger and making a different sacrifice … Cain murdered his brother Abel. But even then God pursued him, asking, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he continued to resist with curt words, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The story ends with Cain spending his life as a wanderer.
Another encounter in was that of Jonah when God chose him to
go preach to the Assyrians at Nineveh. We remember the story of the
big fish, but often forget the end of the story where an angry and disappointed Jonah sits on a barren hillside wishing God would destroy Nineveh or take his own life. God had made an encounter with Jonah but like Abel, Jonah was overcome with anger and he did not respond well.
His story ends with a bitter man still sitting on a barren hillside.
Moses and the Apostle Paul had encounters with God which resulted in obedience and leadership, but the story of Cain and Jonah leave us with emptiness. God’s plan for them all was for blessings!
Both Cain and Jonah reaped the consequences of their actions and neither of them are known to have received blessings or to have given blessings to others.
Throughout the Bible the story repeats itself: Noah wasn’t looking for an encounter with God … but God called him to build an Ark.
Abraham wasn’t looking for an encounter with God … but God called him to build a nation. David wasn’t looking for encounter with God … but God called him to build a kingdom.
So how are we to respond when we have an encounter with God?
Perhaps a good guideline would be the encounter of a man named Jacob.
Jacob’s life story was one of lying to his father, cheating his brother, and being known as a dishonest man. After marrying two sisters and having children with them and with two other women who were concubines, he is returning to his homeland to see the brother he cheated early in life. He sent his family on ahead … and then he had an unexpected encounter with God.
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.
26 And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!"
27 So He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob."
28 And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed."
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray." And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" And He blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
Jacob was tenacious! He was not willing to let God depart from him until He blessed him! If there is any instruction in this passage I believe it is this! When God designs an encounter with you … grab Him! Hang on to Him and don’t let Him go until He blesses you!
Encounters with God are designed for a reason. He really isn’t into “feel good” sessions. He is present in church and present in our life for a reason, and He wants you to hang on to Him until He reveals what it is! His encounters are usually unexpected, not always because we have been asking, but always when we need Him! Don’t let the encounter take place without making the most of it! What does He want to say to you? What does He want you to do?
Jacob held onto God until God changed his nature, changed his name, blessed him, and marked him as belonging to God.
I believe God gave us these words for today because God has an encounter planned for you and me! Are you willing to obey and be blessed? Respond to God in faith and see what He will do!