A God-given experience is just an encounter if we do not allow it to translate into a life-changing event. God gives us these occurrences to alter our lives. When we allow this to happen, they become transformational experiences.
In Exodus 24:9-11, the 70 elders of Israel, Aaron, Nabub, Abihu, Moses, and Joshua saw God and they ate and drank with Him. The Bible also states that God did not kill them (which is a good thing).
This was a fantastic moment for them. This experience should have been life-transforming for them. Sadly, the lives of the 70 elders, Nabub, Abihu, and not even Aaron were radically changed.
We know from reading Exodus 32:1-4, the people asked that a god of gold and a golden calf be made for them to worship. None of these men stood up to oppose the people, to keep them from sinning. The experience on Mt. Sinai was given by God to transform these men into true leaders, not just men with titles.
But before we harshly judge these men, we must remember, it is as true for us today as it was for them. God gives us potentially transformational experiences and we, at times, do not allow them to transform us.
We walk away, come from the mountain as it were, thinking that was a great revelation and immediately start thinking, ”What’s for lunch?” or, “What’s so and so doing after church?”
Some Christians become experience junkies. These are people who move from one God event to the next, always looking for bigger and better happenings. They get that first rush or the high of the experience, but they soon crash, having no real satisfaction.
They do not allow these God experiences to transform them into the Lord’s image. They do not allow themselves to be transformed — to be drawn closer to the Lord and to do the work of the ministry that they have been called to do. This is where we all find true satisfaction in the Lord.
We all need to allow these encounters to transform us. We do this by asking the Lord, “What is the specific purpose for us having the experience?” Then, we need to meditate on that purpose. Finally, we must ask the Lord to help us and allow the transformation to take place in our lives.
The Lord Jesus has chosen each of us to be His people and He wants to transform us into a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation, that will transform the world in His name.
“He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
It was raining and chilly on Sunday morning. The windows were open, and I rolled over and pulled the covers back up to my chin. We could have opted for in-person church worship, as the website indicated there were spots available. But we had gotten into the practice of watching online — coffee in hand — in our pajamas. And sadly, watching online had become a gateway to not watching at all.
As I went to make the coffee, I noticed the unmailed, new year pledge card for our church contribution sitting on the counter. I was late sending it in and honestly wasn’t feeling much like a cheerful giver anyway.
The year 2020 had worn me out. And during a time when I should have been hitting my knees and opening my Bible more consistently, I began closing up, pulling away and shutting down. It wasn’t sudden, but gradual. It wasn’t deliberate but more of an unintentional shift. I wasn’t angry with God; I was just lackluster about the rituals surrounding the practical applications of faith.
In Matthew 17:20, as Jesus is explaining to the disciples the reason they are unable to heal the epileptic boy, “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”
But in 2020, everything felt impossible. It was like I had allowed my faith to wallow in the year 2020 along with the rest of me.
Well, what better time to pull myself out of a rut than the start of a brand-new year? I decided if the mustard seed was still in there somewhere, I could begin to bloom in my faith again. It would be like a “rebuilding year” for a sports team that had lost most of its best players and was starting over with fledgling talents rather than superstars. It might not happen overnight, but I would begin laying the solid foundation for improvement.
I began to make a to-do list for the upcoming year:
- Read and Pray Dutifully. This year, I want to really dig into the Word. Perhaps I’ll find a new Bible study to do. Or a new plan for reading through certain books of the Bible. Or find a new time of day that works better for my dedicated prayer time.
- Worship Intentionally. 2021 seems like the perfect time to make a plan to get back on track with regular worship. Even if it’s worshipping online, setting the alarm clock and holding myself and my family accountable to be in the “pew” — otherwise known as the couch — will help establish a routine and schedule.
- Love Unconditionally. I could use some extra grace right now, and I’m sure that goes for everyone else too. Being more understanding and gracious sounds like a good place to start, beginning with my immediate family members and extending out to strangers.
- Give Joyfully. When time and money are stretched, this one feels especially challenging, but if I learned anything from the end of last year, it’s that not giving felt especially yucky. We are blessed so we can be a blessing to others.
Like I would with any list of goals or resolutions, I need to have realistic expectations. None of this will happen overnight. But with a littlefaith and big prayers, in 2021 I can inch toward becoming the person God created me to be.
Through The Bible Devotions
Exodus 3:11-12 (NIV) 11But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12And God said, “I will be with you.”
Indeed, who is anyone that we should be sent by Almighty God as His messengers? That is a great wonder to the humbled servant of God, that God could use a person like me. The Apostle Paul understood it as much as anyone when he said that God chose him, the worst sinner, to demonstrate the greatness of God. We can say with Moses and Paul, “Who am I?” Sinners saved by grace! It demonstrates that God can use anything when He uses us.
We must not stop in just seeing our weakness, but must go on to look upon God’s all-sufficiency. What does it matter that I am limited? God is not limited! And if He has sent me, then He must empower me. Moses explained to God (as if God was unaware) that he was not a gifted speaker. God answered, “Who made man’s mouth!” We can credit Moses with being humble, but obviously he needed to learn some lessons in the ability of God to use our physical being as His instrument (Romans 6:13).
“But Whom shall I say has sent me?” Moses asked. God answered, “Tell them I Am that I Am has sent you.” The ‘I Am’ in Hebrew is Jehovah, the eternal God. He is the One to Whom the past, present, and future are always now. It seems strange for man to question the Eternal God, yet how typical of man. We want to know how God will do it. We want to know ahead of time how to face situations, because we have so little faith. We fear we will be embarrassed.
Consider:“I will be with you.” Isn’t that enough for you to trust Him for the outcome?
“Our struggle is … against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12-13 NASB
It was no accident that Paul used military terms to describe the Christian life. He knew that our interactions with Satan are not a game, but a real war with serious consequences. Paul also knew that we needed careful preparation for spiritual warfare if we want to be victorious.
To understand this warfare, we can consider the insights of military historian Bevin Alexander. He discovered that many great military generals are successful because they avoid direct attacks. Instead, they attack an “enemy’s flank or rear.”
This strategy can catch an enemy off guard and distract them, make them lose their “confidence and sense of security.” It cuts them off from their supplies and reinforcements.
Like the strategies of these generals, Satan often attacks believers where we are vulnerable and least prepared when our defenses are weak.
If we want to be victorious, we must remember that Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). A master of deception, he can strike at our minds and emotions, planting misleading ideas. He can appear harmless and trustworthy and disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Be sure to be prepared for battle. Put on the whole armor of God. Stand on the truths in the Bible. Focus on the Gospel. Take on the shield of faith that can provide a sure defense. Attack with the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. And dedicate yourself to persistent prayer.