Saturday, April 11, 2015

Up Close and Personal

by Tim Howard

Big news hit Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified about 2000 years ago. The whole city was in an uproar. But that was nothing – compared to the bewilderment of the resurrection. People were astounded and astonished. If a ‘Jerusalem Times’ existed it would have been front-page news. If CNN had been there – all programmed news surely would have given way to ‘Live Breaking News.’

A doctor named Luke in his book: ‘Acts’ tells us that Jesus began to reveal Himself to hundreds of people at one time plus many individuals and small groups on separate occasions. These revelations restored joy and faith in those who were followers of Christ and hope for future would-be followers.

Steven Spielberg wrote a fictional movie called “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” but the resurrection, which was celebrated last weekend, records a non-fictional Encounter of a ‘Divine Kind.’

The Bible is full or historical records in which common, everyday people, like you and me had more than ‘close encounters’ but ‘divine encounters’ with God.

Beginning in Genesis we see Adam and Eve talking directly to God. 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 David saw God’s power when he fought Goliath.  Other similar encounters are recorded in many non-biblical writings.

Is a ‘Divine Encounter’ possible? Could that really happen to someone like you or me? Is God up close and personal?

I believe so! Sometimes it happens indirectly but at other times directly.

When considering the possibility of Jesus actually being alive and revealing Himself today as He did for 40 days after the resurrection – it may help to ask a few thought-provoking questions. Especially for those who are curious but not convinced.

1.   Could Divine Encounters happen but we simply 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.   Are we missing some encounters because of our busyness? To identify a divine encounter you must STOP! Moses stopped to look and listen. When he did – God spoke to him. 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 something.

3.   Does an encounter with God require a person to stretch beyond their comfort zone of knowledge? We all tend to find comfort in our own experiential knowledge but growing up means we must consider things beyond our limited vantage point. This is the realm of faith. All facts of history are passed on to us and require this ingredient. Faith is not only used for spiritual things but needed for everyday life. The question isn’t – Do we have faith? But what do we put our faith in?

Divine encounters can’t always be explained and many don’t believe they happen today. I tend to disagree and that’s O.K. We must learn to agree to disagree.

If they do happen as I believe – I don’t want to miss them! 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 Him to be Up Close and Personal?

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