Thursday, April 4, 2013

Divine Encounters

by Tim Howard

Back in 1977 a movie called: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was released. It was a major box-office success primarily because people were fascinated with the thought of UFO’s. Questions about life on other planets and visiting aliens from other worlds have intrigued people for generations.
I too am interested in the subject but not questioning the possibility. The Bible is full or historic records where common, everyday people like you and me had more than  ‘close encounters’ but ‘divine encounters’ with God. It is possible! Sometimes it happens indirectly but at other times directly.
Beginning in Genesis we see Adam and Eve talking directly to God. Noah heard God give him directions on building an ark. Abraham encountered an angel who assured him that his 90-year-old wife would give birth to a child. Moses encountered God as he viewed a burning bush and Daniel experienced God’s presence when he was in a den full of lions. Encounters like this happen more frequent than one might imagine.
No one is shocked when someone says: “ I believe in God” and very few are surprised if they hear a person say: “I talk to God.” If, however, someone says: “God talks to me,” they become suspect.  Lily Tomlin asked: Why is it that when we talk to God we're said to be praying but when God talks to us we're schizophrenic?
The Bible clearly reveals a God who is involved with people. He initiates divine encounters, contrary to the song, “From A Distance” that Bette Midler sang. It suggests God is ‘somewhere’ out there watching us. The Bible declares the opposite is true. He is immanent in every way.
These thoughts about divine encounters might help some who are curious.
1.     Often people have divine encounters but don’t recognize them. When the supernatural is  conveyed in natural means, it’s difficult to identify. Many people had face-to-face encounters with Jesus but didn’t realize they were talking with God.
2.     To identify a divine encounter you must STOP! When the Apostle Paul had a supernatural encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he stopped and asked God some questions. In a fast paced world it’s easy to fly by significant events and not see the depth of what is taking place. At the end of each day, it’s good to pause and ask God if you missed anything. Take some time to reflect on what is happening in your life. Don’t ask: “What are you going to do” in this situation but ask: “What do you, oh God want me to learn.” Rather than trying to ‘fix’ everything, try to learn something. Sometimes you get the wrong answers because you are asking the wrong questions.
3.     When you affirm that God is speaking to you take a second step. SURRENDER! That doesn’t mean ‘give up’ but it means ‘give in’. When Mary had an encounter with God and was told she would give birth to Jesus, she said: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” She yielded - that’s what it means to surrender.
4.     FAITH completes a proper response. If you put your trust in God, listen to what He says, take a step of faith and follow His instructions, you will be on the right path.
Divine encounters can’t always be explained but they still happen today and need a proper response. You can’t make one happen but you can be prepared. Jesus is the light of the world and wants to meet with you! Are you ready for a Divine Encounter?

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