There have been several times in my life where I have felt, known and experienced the tangible presence of God! It is the most amazing and indescribable experiences. To know God’s closeness and to encounter His love. For me it typically moves me into a state of awe, reverence and worship.
But to many who read the paragraph above – different emotions arise internally.
Different responses could include: doubt about the experience; jealousy; desire to encounter God in that way; fear of God’s presence; excitement; wanting to talk to find out more; lying to people that you have had the encounter as well etc. There are so many different possible responses.
Today I want to share about how we shape our Theology (Theos – God; ology – the study of) – the study of God! Theology reveals who God is; why he responds the way that he does; What His heart is and why; what is his purpose for us etc. Theology is growing to know God – intimately. And what we believe about God impacts the way that we live.
Ex. If you believe that God is Angry – you may choose to not want relationship with Him – because no one actually enjoys a relationship with someone that is always angry. If God is unpredictable – you may feel uneasy. If you know God to be loving all the time – there is a safety and protection that you would sense throughout your day.
So knowing who God is with your mind and also knowing God experientially are very important.
Here is the challenge. What do you do if you have never encountered God experientially? You haven’t sensed His nearness or you don’t know his voice!
I don’t know a word that better describes the posture that we need to move to. Perhaps curiosity, wonder, desire – could all be accurate words. But Hunger! To desire to know all there is about the one who created the earth and knit us together in our mothers womb.
But Pastor, what if I don’t hunger for it?
Simple! Ask God to start to give you a hunger to know Him. Just ask Him. Every morning, every afternoon, at lunch, before you eat, in the evening, before bed. Ask God to give you a hunger to know Him. Stop reading the blog right now – and just ask Him 🙂
If you hear that someone has encountered the presence of God – ask them about it. Seek to understand. Ask lots of questions!!! Especially if the person sharing is someone that you trust and someone that has experienced or known God in a way that you haven’t.
Let’s be honest – there are crazies out there. There are people sharing stuff where I am like ‘come on seriously? You really think we believe you? Stop exaggerating – please’.
But how about the people that we trust? Suppose you have never heard God speak – but someone else you trust claims they have – ask them. Suppose someone has dreams that seem to be accurate – and you trust them – ask! Suppose someone has fallen over under the presence of God? Or at least its what they claimed – but you trust them – ask them!
I remember talking with a student years ago. They had told me that they spoke in tongues (a language that they didn’t know but was given to them supernaturally by God). I had never spoken in tongues before so I wanted to understand. I started asking questions. I was genuinely interested in what they were saying. I wanted to get it. They had people pray over them many times for the gift and one day they ‘got it’. As we talked – they admitted that they are pretty sure they just made it up. They wanted so badly to receive the gift and they felt pressure from their church – so they faked it. I wasn’t upset – I was thankful that we could be honest and not fake. But I still wanted to find someone to ask about it. Today both of us know that we pray in tongues! How wonderful!
I remember attending a service in the southern states – everything was amazing – and then they started praying for people – and people started falling all over the place. I had never seen this before – and I was incredibly sceptical. Was this from God? Was it from the enemy? On that day I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I didn’t want to speak to the pastor (I didn’t know him) – I wanted to meet someone that I trusted, who had experienced this before, to help me understand their experience. One day the opportunity presented itself. I had to look for it – because I didn’t even know this really existed till that moment in the service. So I asked all sorts of people if they had ever had ’that happen’ to them. And one day I found someone. What a fantastic experience they had. I have never encountered the Lord in that way – but his experience was so genuine and I trusted him – so I am no longer afraid of it, nor do I need to put it on – I wait for it. Trusting the Lord to know if and when I need that experience.
Here is the caution! I could chase after the experience – wanting the experience more than wanting God himself. Someone else’s experience should NOT move us to jealousy RATHER, just allow it to increase your hunger and desire to know God. Respond with hunger – wanting to spend more and more time with Him :). The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:1 ‘Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.’ Even Paul differentiates this for us. Pursue love – and hunger after the other things!
Ok, I don’t want to go much deeper into this – although there is a lot more to cover. I just want people to keep their theology active! Don’t ever stop growing your theology – or your study of God. Allow your hands to be open and ready to grow in knowing our King! I believe this is something that we are going to be doing for all of eternity. I don’t believe we will ever reach the end of growing in loving God, knowing God – We won’t arrive at knowing everything there is about God. He is infinite, always has been, all loving, all knowing – I find that to be invigorating!
The reason why I was ‘inspired’ to write this blog is because of the following passage out of 2 chronicles.
“And when the priests came out of the Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves, without regard to their divisions, and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord ), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,
“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,”
the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.”
2 Chronicles 5:11-14 ESV
I have not encountered God in this way. I was imagining what the worship was like. Having 120 trumpeters and singers – Declaring the goodness of God! I was imagining what the sound of worship in the temple was like – made of stone, gold, and wood. And praises rising up – a mighty choir and band!!!
The glory of God came down. His presence entered the temple. The cloud that covered Moses on the mountain – enveloped them. It was so tangible that they couldn’t even continue to worship. I believe that they just stopped, likely laid down, and quietly allowed God’s most holy presence to cover them, sit upon them. They experienced God powerfully! I doubt that they were ever the same again.
They didn’t pursue that experience – they worshiped God. They dealt with their sin. They praised his name. They declared His character. They worshiped him!
I have only read stories of this happening in the church today. Perhaps one day Anchor Point will encounter God in this most holy way! Perhaps not :). Either way, we will continue to hunger to know God!
I pray that you would actively worship God! That you would pursue love! That you would hunger to know God – intimately. And I am asking that God would make His presence and nearness known to you. That you would encounter Him! Because God is good all the time!!
Good theology is not passive but active!