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SermonEncountering God
An all-creatures Bible Message

Encountering God
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
16 October 2016
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Genesis 32:22-32
Psalm 119:97-104
Matthew 19:4-6
2 Timothy 3:14-17
2 Timothy 4:1-5

Encountering God is essential for every true believer, for without encountering God or His Holy Spirit, we only believe what others have told us, and have trouble sorting out the lies from the truth.
 
But when we encounter God or His Holy Spirit, personally, we have the assurance that God is with us; we know that God is real in our lives, and everything else we learn about Him is just added on to our faith.
 
Without encountering God in a personal way, we find ourselves having doubts.
 
Letís take a look at Genesis 32:22-32, and see the recorded passage about Jacob encountering God.

22. Now he [Jacob] arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.

Think about the fact that Jacob had two wives, and that some of his children were born to the two maids who were not his wives.
 
Did Jacob have adulterous affairs with both of these women?
 
And before we go on, letís consider what Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:4-6Ö

4. And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 

Itís important for us to remember that what Jesus said was not something new; He is referring back to the time that God created man and woman, ďfrom the beginningĒ.
 
These Jewish leaders are encountering God, but will they really recognize His presence?

5. and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh'? 

Again, note carefully that Jesus told us that the TWO shall become one flesh, and not that the FIVE shall become one flesh.

6. "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
NASB

No one was thinking of separating Jacob and these 4 women, but their relationship was definitely not in the heavenly will of God.

23. And he [Jacob] took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had.
 
24. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

As we read on, we shall see that this ďmanĒ is really an angel of God; Jacob is encountering God.

25. And when he [the angel] saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.
 
26. Then he [the angel] said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he [Jacob] said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

Jacob recognized that this ďmanĒ was from God; otherwise he would not have asked him for a blessing.
 
In essence, Jacob was wrestling with God over the problems and concerns in his mind, heart, and soul; and hopefully he was also wrestling with God about conforming his life to Godís heavenly will.

27. So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob."
 
28. And he said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed."
 
29. Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there.

Perhaps Jacob asked this because he wanted to confirm that he was really wrestling with God or his angel, but he didnít get a direct answer, just as we donít always get direct answers to the questions we ask the Lord, even when we are encountering God directly.

30. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."
 
31. Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.
 
32. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.
NASB

This clearly shows us how many religious traditions come into being, even when they are not from God.
 
Now, if we couple this with Godís creation intent and heavenly will, which was and is that we only eat the plant foods that He created for us to eat, we can see how cruel and wasteful this tradition is; we are to love the whole of Godís creation and have all animals as our neighbors and companions, and not as our possessions.
 
Encountering God is the theme of Psalm 119:97-104, as we can see in the writings of the psalmist.

97. O how I love Thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.

And remember that if we love God and our neighbor unconditionally, we fulfill the whole law, for the law was only a teaching tool to lead people back to the heavenly will of God.

98. Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.

When we are truly born again, the way God wants us to live just seems to come to us naturally, which the people of the world donít seem to understand or observe.
 
This is very evident in people who donít eat any animal products for reasons of compassion and empathy, for they feel the pain and suffering and can no longer contribute to the pain and suffering.
 
It is also an example of the way people change after encountering God in a personal way.

99. I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Thy testimonies are my meditation.

Unfortunately, truly encountering God does not seem to be a prerequisite for most people who become religious teachers and clergy, for we can see by their lifestyles that they still live in the corrupt ways of this world with all its pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death.

100. I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Thy precepts.

Many people become old without encountering God; thus, they lack the wisdom of even the younger people who have encountered God in a personal way.

101. I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Thy word.
 
102. I have not turned aside from Thine ordinances,
For Thou Thyself hast taught me.

We know that encountering God is the prerequisite of people like this who know that God has personally taught them.

103. How sweet are Thy words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
 
104. From Thy precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
NASB

Once we know the heavenly will of God, it doesnít take long before we begin to hate the corrupt ways of this world, and turn away from them.
 
Letís now look at 2 Timothy 3:14-17Ö

14. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them;

The proof of people personally encountering God is when they know that they have learned from God that they need to live in His heavenly will, and turn away from the corrupt ways of this world.

15. and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

We believe that only the people who are encountering God in a personal way are the ones who receive salvation.

16. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
 
17. that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

The people of God who have these qualities are also the people who have been encountering God and are living in His heavenly will.
 
Now letís take a look at 2 Timothy 4:1-5 where we hear the instruction to follow the heavenly will of God, which only can occur with people who are encountering God.

1. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
 
2. preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Paul is telling Timothy to always be ready and willing to lead people back into the heavenly will of God and away from the corrupt ways of this world.

3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires;
 
4. and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

This is the problem in the world today.
 
Most people are not even interested in living in the heavenly will of God; all they want is to, as Paul says, have their ears tickled by their fellow corrupt peers and leaders who tell them itís OK to live and enjoy the corrupt ways of this world.
 
They just donít believe, and donít want to believe that one day they will have to account to God for their ungodly ways.

5. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
NASB

We can only do these things when we have been encountering God, and truly want to live in His heavenly will, and do everything in our power to help free creation from its present corruption.
 
We cannot live in Godís heavenly will, while our heart and soul still wants to live in the corrupt ways of this world with all its pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death.
 
We need to want to be encountering God every day of our lives, for when we do, we will see great things being accomplished.
 
Amen?
 
Amen.

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