Have you ever had a personal encounter with God? Do you know what it means or even that it is possible today in our everyday lives?
God wants to bless and communicate with His people and we need to be ready. It is especially important when we are feeling wrung out, depressed, confused or any other myriad of emotions. He is there for us when we feel alone and nobody else understands. To have a personal encounter with God is life changing.
A biblical perspective of encountering God
People generally fear the unknown and if knowledge drives out fear then we need to seek to be informed. Encountering God is not something to be feared or shied away from. It is not spooky, super spiritual or made up by fanatics. Encounters are for everyday people like you and I and God uses these times to break through into our lives.
The bible does speak of encountering God in a number of places and not just in the Old Testament. Paul (Saul) got knocked off His donkey on the way to Damascus. Peter encounters the Lord in Acts 19:9-16. These were events that happened in Biblical times.
But what does the Bible say about us today? Jesus tells His disciples that He will leave them to be taken up to heaven but the Holy Spirit will come in His place. Read the book of Acts for a full explanation as this is a topic all on its own. It is through the Holy Spirit, meant for all who believe in Jesus, that we are able to encounter God in our lives today.
Knowing and understanding the Holy Spirit is key to understanding an encounter with God.
Meeting God the first time
As in the case of Saul (Paul), He didn’t know the Lord and in fact was a persecutor of believers prior to His conversion. His conversion can be read about in Acts 9. God had a plan for Paul but He knew it would take a radical encounter to break through into his life. For many people, this will be how they meet God for the very first time.
There are countless testimonies of how people who were living sin-filled, desperate, depraved lives, came to know Jesus through a similar encounter. Many people will say the first time they met God was when they gave their lives to Him and became Spirit-filled.
Your experience of coming to know Jesus may have been more of a gentle knowing and quiet submission and that’s ok, but it doesn’t mean you will not encounter a life-changing breakthrough at a later stage. God does what is needed, when it is needed.
My first personal encounter
I grew up in a traditional church and went through all the motions and rituals. I was involved from an early age in various aspects of church life, but I had never really encountered God. At school I was surrounded by friends who were ‘saved’ but I still didn’t grasp what it meant. To me, God was somebody who sat up in heaven and looked down over us. He was always there, I just didn’t know it because I didn’t know how to recognize Him.
When I decided to surrender my life to the Lord because I wanted the “more” that I had read and heard about, it was a choice I made following a quiet conviction. There was no falling off of donkeys or similar mind-blowing experiences. It was only years later that I had my first real encounter with God.
What is a personal God encounter?
The definition of an encounter is “an unexpected meeting”. We talk to God, pray, read our Bibles and interact with Him on a daily basis, but an encounter is something different.
6 Characteristics of a Godly encounter
- It happens when we least expect it which is a sure sign that it is God.
- The encounter is different for each of us because God knows our needs. It is a deeply personal experience, relevant and big for you although it usually becomes an important part of the testimony we share. I love to hear how God has worked profoundly in other peoples lives.
- It is a life-changing experience.
- Its purpose is to reveal God’s glory.
- They are timely, specific and purposeful.
- It leaves you breathless, speechless and immobile for a while as you process it. (Or in Paul’s case, sightless)
When you experience such an encounter, what makes it so wonderful, is the realization that you matter to God. He reveals to you, that He knows your name and the details of your circumstances intimately.
Where might we encounter God?
Don’t fear it, seek it. Make yourself available. If you seek it, know that it is coming. God wants to show us His glory.
We all dream but sometimes you have a dream that is so impactful you can’t get it out of your mind. It is generally something out of the ordinary and with it comes a message, word of wisdom or knowledge. You never forget it.
Through other people
God may speak to you through another person, surround yourself with wise people who you can trust.
Answer to prayer
This is why it is so important to keep a journal and a record of all your prayer requests.
Reading the word of God is crucial to recognize His voice. An encounter will always align with the word of God. We often read words in the Bible that are relevant to us at that specific point in time or are an answer to a prayer for advice and guidance. The Bible sharpens our discernment and confirms the word of God.
It can come as a result of a preach from the Pulpit or from other members of your church community.
Remember, God is not bound by place. It can happen anywhere, anytime.
How does the Holy Spirit minister to us
As I mentioned earlier, the Holy Spirit is key to us encountering God, but there are other ways that the Holy Spirit ministers to us on a daily basis.
- Gives us strength
- Reminds us of what God teaches us Jn 14:27
- Teaches us things
- Guides us in truth Jn 16:12
- Make known to us what is from the Father and what is not Jn 16:14,15
How an encounter impacts our lives
Encountering God leaves a lifelong memory. It is an experience which enriches, lifts you up and builds your faith. You need only the faith of a mustard seed to begin with. Although God can move anytime, it is often when we are in the depths of despair and our situation seems hopeless. Humble yourselves, pray and seek Him above all else at these times friends, He will not disappoint you. Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Open your hearts and be intentional in seeking the Lord.
We seek the Lord by living righteous lives and exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is pleasing to the Holy Spirit. Get rid of anger, bitterness, rage, slander and malice which offends the Holy Spirit.
John 8:47 “He who belongs to God hears what God says.”
Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.”
I had no idea what to expect the first time I encountered God. Since then I have had a number of experiences, with each one still etched in my mind. They are the beacons that guide and encourage me to this day and will continue to do so in the days to come.
You can read about one of my experiences in the blog post titled “The Unconditional Love of God“.
Read the book of Acts to learn more about the purpose of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Look up Holy Spirit in the concordance of your Bible to find more scriptures in other parts of the Bible.
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