Encountering God…

There is a plethora of ways to say the same thing. The hope is that through the next few weeks, maybe months, I am planing on blogging about something I am reading, have read and Scripture that was either brought in by the author or one my mind related back to.

Books I am reading? There is quite a list I am in the middle of. The one that will probably be the most influential for this blog for a while will be The Fire of the Word by Chris Webb. Other books I am currently reading in no particular order include, A New Kind of Christianity (Brian McLaren) Death by Meeting (Patrick Lencioni) Breathing Underwater (Richard Rohr), Renovation of the Heart (Dallas Willard) and Letters From The Desert (Carlo Carretto)

When I was back in Texas working with the Wednesday Gladness kids in T-town, I felt a sense that God wanted to connect to those kids spiritually. God wants them to know church is about an encounter with the Living God of the Bible. I continually wondered and prayed, God how? How can I reach these kids to give them that spiritual connection they need and you desire?

Today’s Encounter with God is from the book of 1 Samuel. In Chapter 3 we learn some great stuff. So grab a Bible and look up 1 Samuel 3:1-10.  It is the ninth book of the Old Testament and check it out. While Moses is assumed to be 80 when he met God at a bush that would not be consumed, (see yesterday’s post) Samuel was still quite young. The first couple chapters of the book (1 Samuel) tell of Hannah, Samuel’s Mother and her struggle with infertility. In some ways I can hear and have felt Hannah’s cry myself as my wife and I have not been able to have children. Our society today looks upon childless parents way different than they did back then. Maybe it is because we have science to say why this doesn’t happen, but never the less there is a sense of loss for a couple trying to have children and never having the privilege. (YES IT IS A PRIVILEGE!!)

Anyway, back to Samuel, who is living in the Temple. There are three statements I would like to point out from the New Living Translation (NLT).

  1. “Messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.” (Verse 1)
  2. “The Lamp of God had not yet gone out.” (Verse 3a)
  3. “Samuel did not know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before.” (Verse 7)

Messages from the Lord were rare… I have had that feeling at times about this day and age. Maybe it is because when someone says, “I have heard from the Lord…” we close our ears and run the other way, often with good reason. There are many examples I can give. Remember a couple years ago when the world was going to end in March then it was October? What about “Heaven’s Gate” and “Jonestown”? What about the parent who is told to sacrifice their child(ren)? To many the idea of prophesying, literally speaking of the future in the present time concerning what God is up to or going to do, is a bunch of hooey. Is the voice of God not heard anymore? Are there no prophetical utterances or visions happening in the world today? I believe there are. Yes, I believe there are!! I believe God is calling out to us in many ways. There is no one way in which God speaks to us. Moses saw a burning bush while Samuel heard God’s voice as he kept watch ensuring that the Lamp of God did not go out.

The Lamp of God is lit and while there are definitely times when it is dimmer than others, the light always conquers the darkness. John wrote in 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” and 1 John 2:8, “…For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.” I believe that when we love God with our heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbor as ourself the Lamp of God is lit and getting brighter.

Can you imagine living and growing up in the Temple and not knowing God? It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Many today have been attending church all their lives and have yet to have a personal relationship with God. I know, I was one for a long time. In fact there are still areas I am working on. There are places in my life that I resist allowing God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in. The question of being born again as described in John 3: 1-8 is a real question, though often misused or abused in some form or fashion. Many have gone through the motions and been baptized, made a profession of faith, yet there is still something not there. Have you encountered God in a real tangible way? Have you been discouraged because you have not felt or experienced God’s presence? We each encounter God in a unique way and in God’s time. 

One last thought. As I look at the overarching theme of the Bible, I see God loving and calling humanity to be in a relationship. God has never given up on humanity, if God had the Lamp would have been blown out. God called Samuel and many people heard again a word from the Lord and were given a vision because of one young man who listened to God’s voice. I am amazed at the stories I have heard from people that heard God speak through me. I am humbled by it. For those who are struggling, wondering if anyone is listening, God is moving and moves best through people who will share the love of God.

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