Friends

Have you ever had an encounter with someone famous? Maybe, it was the President, a Governor, a movie star, or a famous athlete. How did it make you feel? Throughout our life there are people we meet that change our lives, some famous, some not so much.

When you read the Old Testament, you will see in Joshua 5:13-15 NIV, that he had a flesh encounter with the Lord. Joshua teaches us before overcoming a challenging situation, God often brings us through a time of spiritual preparation. Such was the case prior to Israel's conquest of Canaan. As Joshua—the commander of the Hebrew army—stood near Jericho contemplating the battle ahead, God appeared to him.

Joshua's reaction to this physical encounter with God can help us learn how we should respond when He speaks to us in our hearts through His Word and His Spirit.

 

•      He approached the Lord in order to speak with Him.

•      He fell on his face in humility and submission to His authority.

•      He asked for further instruction—"What has my lord to say to His servant?" • He obeyed immediately.

•      He feared God and treated Him as holy.

The Lord is always waiting to meet with us, but sadly, we are often too busy to make the effort to approach Him. By neglecting His presence, we miss the opportunity to receive His encouragement, strength, and direction for our challenging situations.

Our attitude during times of Scripture reading and prayer is very important. A humble, submissive, and teachable spirit enables us to hear God, and immediate obedience to His instructions reveals our awesome respect for Him.

If you are struggling with a difficulty and wondering why the Lord has not intervened, maybe He is waiting for you to meet with Him and—like Joshua—to humble yourself before Him in absolute dependence. Only then will you be in a position to hear God's voice and follow His instructions.

I want to take you back to a moment in time that I think was one of the most powerful encounters of all in time.

The crucifixion of Jesus!  Picture with me the people who were there. There were mockers, those who scorned Jesus, the Gospel writers reported, those who berated the Son of God with jeers and angry retorts. There were those who worked for the government, soldiers following orders, very much unconcerned in crucifying an innocent man. They had enthusiastically participated in His torture through scourging, whipping with sharp pieces of metal tied to leather braids meant to ravage the flesh of a human body, and even going beyond, by crafting a crown of woven thorn branches which they savagely forced down on His head. Some of the soldiers cast lots for His clothes.

There was an officer of the soldiers, a centurion, intent on carrying out His death sentence. There were Pharisees and Sadducees, leaders of the Jews, most all sworn enemies of Jesus, yearning for His destruction, standing arrogantly by and surveying with approval the horrific scene of His murder. There was also a disciple, and a few followers, including women friends, and, of course, Jesus’ mother, who all grieved and mourned His pain wracked, horrific treatment. Finally, there were two thieves, murderers, who were condemned to death on each side.

All were eye witnesses to His crucifixion. They witnessed the gruesome scene, some with copious tears, and others with evil delight. They observed darkness descend inexplicably in the middle of the day over the three crosses on Golgotha and, indeed, the whole land. Some actually heard the few words Jesus spoke from the cross. They saw Him succumb to death before the two thieves’ legs were broken to kill them more quickly. They watched a soldier then thrust a spear into Jesus’ side, causing blood and water to gush out.

It was observed that the centurion and some of the soldiers who witnessed all this come to a sudden realization: the innocence of this man. The centurion, considering the unexplained darkness, and the great earthquake, and all that transpired, burst forth with an exclamation, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” Obviously dawning on him and even some of the soldiers, they had just crucified the Son of the Living God. Were they terrified? Were they struck with horrified fear? What must have passed through their minds? Was this a realization which would change them permanently? Or would it affect them only momentarily? They had had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Would it be an encounter which would forever change their hearts? Would it lead to transformation? Would they become new creatures? Or would the moment pass leaving them unchanged?

Go back to the moment when the shepherds where in the fields outside Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth. They witnessed angels declaring to them His holy birth, a heavenly host filling the sky above them, praising the birth of God’s Son, telling them to go and find the babe in a manger, a babe worthy of their worship. They went, and found just as they were told by the angel, and worshipped the babe, and then told everyone they met about all that they had witnessed. This was an encounter with the most remarkable baby ever born, but He did not speak to them, or teach with great authority. He cried and gave the sounds of a new born baby. Did this encounter bring spiritual transformation? Were they dramatically changed by this encounter? Did they become disciples of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Did the encounter on this night of nights lead to their eternal transformation? We are not told in the Scriptures anything else about these shepherds. We can only assume we shall see them in the new heaven and new earth.

We have to wonder the same thing about the centurion and the soldiers who acknowledged who Jesus was after His death; He was indeed as they exclaimed, the Son of God.

If an encounter does not go on to become transformational, it is no different than the encounter Judas had with Jesus and then betrayed Him; no different than Demas, who left Paul, “having loved this present world”; no different than the rich young ruler who left Jesus sad, loving his riches more; no different than Cain, or Balaam, or Korah, or Aachen, or Hymenaeus, or Alexander, who rejected the Gospel to be turned over to Satan.

An encounter with Jesus should lead to a transformed life, but not every encounter does. Does yours?

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Come Sunday and learn what one encounter with Jesus can do to your life!