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Encounters with God

John Smith

In a few days we’ll celebrate Christmas.

We celebrate because of the good news that a Savior was born for all people. The Creator of the universe came to have an encounter with us and save us. 

What happened in the Christmas story when people encountered God? Mary praised Him. Joseph accepted Him. Shepherds rejoiced and told everyone about Him. Simeon dedicated Him. Wise men worshipped him and gave Him gifts.

When we encounter God, it encourages us; it changes us; it reveals us; it spurs us to fruitful service for the Kingdom. 

How do we encounter God today?

…through His Word. 

John 20:31 says that the Bible was written that we might know Jesus and believe in Him, and through our faith in Him we might have eternal life. We know from John 14:6 that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

Our encounters with God through the Bible expose us, expose our culture, and call us to action.

The encounter exposes us. 

When we come into the presence of the God of the universe, we instantly know who we are in comparison to Him.

The Bible tells us in Daniel that King Nebuchadnezzar was on the roof of his palace one day, looking at the city of Babylon and thinking how great he was and what a great city he built by his own great power. Then Nebuchadnezzar had an encounter with God and was immediately humbled. He had seen many of God’s mighty works through his servant Daniel and should have been giving glory to God, not himself. He was without excuse. And for the next seven years he was out in the fields eating grass like a cow.

By contrast, in the Christmas story, Mary responded to the message from the angel by acknowledging that she was the servant of the Lord. The faith in her heart enabled her to fulfill God’s will for her.

The encounter exposes the culture around us.

When we come into the presence of God, we become much more sensitive to the sin and evil in the world as we compare the absolute holiness of God to the utter sinfulness of man.

Noah had an encounter with God, and the next thing you know he was building a big wooden ship—an ark—to save humanity and animals from the coming world flood. The culture was so evil that God planned to destroy the world.

Micah had an encounter with God, which led him to understand and then admonish the people’s sins, crying out to them to return to Him with a whole heart.

The wise men had an encounter with God when they visited Jesus as a young boy, and they returned home a different way because they sensed the evil intent of King Herod towards Jesus.

The encounter calls us to action.

When we come into the presence of God, He calls us to action.

  • Jacob wrestled with God and was given a new name Israel.  He also came away limping for the rest of his life, a constant reminder that the path through the struggles and fears in our life is not found in our own strength but in desperately holding onto God.
  • Gideon’s conversation with God turned him from being a weak, fearful man with little confidence into a man of courage and a great judge of Israel.
  • When Zechariah encountered God, his doubt left him dumb for a season, but it told him who John the Baptist would be and do. 
  • Isaiah had an encounter with God. God asked him, “Whom shall I send [to Judah] and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8) Isaiah said, “Send me,” and thus became God’s messenger to the people of Israel.

Why didn’t God do any of this Himself? Why doesn’t He now? Surely He can do it better than we can. God wants us to be fruitful. John 15:8 says, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” Colossians 1:10 says that we are to walk in a manner worthy of Him and bear fruit in every good work. Our encounter with God should lead to bearing fruit (Ephesians 2:8-10). By obeying God’s Word, we experience an abundant life (John 10:10), peace (Philippians 4:7), and “good success” (Joshua 1:7-8). 

God delights when His men of valor are fruitful.  His endgame for us is more than just having a relationship with Jesus; it’s about what God wants to do through us—in our families, our work, and our communities. As men of valor, we are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20)[1].  

Men of valor lead others to encounters with God.

There are people all around us who don’t know why they are here on earth. For many, life has little purpose and meaning. They need to see who God is. They need to see who they are in relation to Him and understand that they need His salvation. They need to see the culture for what it is and make a choice to live by God’s unchanging and righteous guidance—one that when followed, leads to an abundant life. They need a call to action. They need an encounter with God.

Men of valor are to take His message to others so they can have an encounter too. That’s what the shepherds did at Jesus’ birth after their encounter with Him—proclaim the good news to all those around. May you encounter God this Christmas season and be fruitful in your response to His call for action.  

[1] For more on this, see Chapter 4, “A Man of Valor is an Ambassador” in Living as a Man of Valor.

Author

  • John Smith

    John Smith is a retired Air Force officer and is currently serving as a contractor in support of the Air Force. He is a member of the special MOV discipleship team to Kenya.

John Smith
John Smith is a retired Air Force officer and is currently serving as a contractor in support of the Air Force. He is a member of the special MOV discipleship team to Kenya.
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