Secular: Have you ever encountered greatness? My in-laws, who live in Vancouver, attend1st Baptist Church there. During an international summit in Vancouver, the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, came to town and because his stay would incorporate a Sunday he looked for a church to attend. The church he selected was my in-laws church. There was a lot of publicity, a lot of security precautions and a lot of other preparations. The church which normally has two Sunday Morning services and draws about 800 people to each service was packed to the ceiling with some over 1200 individuals. Some were there to gawk and other to worship… they all wanted to encounter greatness, many were there to meet Bill Clinton.
Biblical: In Matthew’s gospel we have one of many accounts of a multitude of people attempting to draw close to real greatness.
Matthew 4:25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed (Jesus)him. Mathew 5:1 Now when he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying: - and Jesus gave them the Beatitudes. Jesus is Real greatness.
Personal: An encounter with God is making contact with real greatness!! I’ll never forget the first time I attended my wife’s family’s church. I was a sixteen year old who had not yet committed my life to following Jesus Christ. The young pastor got up to preach, and even as he began to speak he quickly faded into the background and it was God that I encountered through his preaching and exposition of the Word. It was a powerful experience that I will never forget – I encountered greatness… not the preacher, but the great and awesome God of the Bible.
Transition: God reaches out to us… He meets us where we are at. He grabs our attention, sometimes when we least expect it – and then He reveals who he is. God reached into to Moses’ ordinary existence and made an impact…
NKJ Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
3 Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn."
4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."
5 Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."
6 Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father -- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
7 And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.
8 "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.
Proposition: We can encounter the living God!!
God meets us where we are at, whether singing and praising God here today or as fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.
Matthew 4:21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
God called Moses the shepherd to lead his people out of Egypt and another shepherd to be a King, fisherman and tax collectors to be spokesman and disciples. God calls us in the very ordinary activities of our lives to be his children and to receive him. We need to always be ready and prepared and intentional for an encounter with God.
Did you notice something else about the encounter? God doesn’t always wait until we are in a pew looking up at the preacher before He touches our lives. God doesn’t necessarily take us to the mountaintop ‘for a mountain top experience’. God can reach us in a special ways in the ordinary places of our lives. Whether on the shores of the Sea of Galilee or like Moses tending his father’s sheep on the edge of the desert. God is there… ready to encounter us. Whether we are alone, with family or together here as a group – God meets us in ordinary places.
God meets you where you’re at in ordinary activities and in ordinary places.
2) … God not only you meets in the ordinary but also the extraordinary. Sometimes God attracts our attention though the miraculous. Moses’ attention was captured by the burning bush, flames lapping up around this little shrub and yet it was not consumed… it did not burn. God often send you little miracles that draw you to him. The stars hung so beautifully in the night sky or look of a mountain soaring from earth to the clouds. Or a more dramatic and personal encounter with God – God reaching down and touching your life, whether your burning bush encounter is in music, or prayer, or in the miraculous God does reach out to you, reaching into your life.
** Do you remember when you were a child and your mother or father was away from home or you had a visit from a favourite aunt or uncle, and as they came through the front door and called out your name your heart raced and you were oh so excited!
God called out Moses’ name… "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Wow… the Creator of the Universe, calling out your name. He knows us so intimately…
Psalm 139 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
God calls out to those whom he knows and those who know him. He calls you out of darkness into the light… out of despair and into his grace!!
Jer 31:33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel (my children) after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
God knows your name… he calls out to other his grace, his gift of life and he calls out in love… you need only listen for his voice.
God meets ordinary people, he meets you, in ordinary places in an extraordinary way!!
God attracts your attention, through the burning bushes of your life, whether in nature or in the miraculous – he calls out your name… you need to look and listen for God because he is there.
And when you meet God in these encounters he reveals who is to you:
** Take off those sandals Moses you are on Holy ground!!
Sometimes you will notice during chapel, in the church or when a person is praying that they raise their hands or begin to weep… often these are the points when someone is realizing that they are in the presence of a Holy God. Quiet organ music playing when you enter the church and everyone lowers their voice and acknowledges that God is present amongst us.
You can read many accounts of this awesome and holy God in the Old and New Testaments. You can almost hear the cries of joy from Creation as God masterfully constructed our world and all the creatures in it. You can wince we you read in Leviticus 10:1 of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. God is Holy indeed.
When you draw close to God… when you encounter him you realize that this is not a visit from your neighbour, your boss or your average person… this is an awesome and Holy encounter.
And this encounter is also with a faithful and loving God. In Moses’ story it talks of God being faithful to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants right down to Moses. And you can see God’s faithfulness to his people throughout the ages. He is faithful to you as his children and to our prayers. In times of persecution he has not let his church falter but expand. God is faithful in his promises to you, and despite the trials of your life, you can cling to the knowledge that God is faithful not only in this age but in the age to come… faithful to you in eternity!
Not only is your God a holy God and a Faithful God but your God is your Redeemer - This faithful God has redeemed to himself a people. Your encounter with God is an encounter with the divine redeemer. Just as God chose for himself a people out of Egypt - Jesus Christ who in very essence is God died on the cross to draw us near. You can hear God call your name specifically, because Jesus Christ died for you specifically, for you individually. When you encounter God encounter you encounter a Holy, Faithful and Redeemer.
God meets ordinary people, doing ordinary things in ordinary places. You do not need to be sitting in church or in a chapel. God wants to encounter you today – Focus on Him, in prayer and song… with your heart and God will meet you.
God calls out to you with signs – the miraculous and the marvelous… in the voice of a songbird, in the brightest full moon, in snow covered trees and he calls out your name as his child… you need only to ‘tune into’ God’s voice and know that he beckons you. Respond to his call and meet God.
God is a Holy and Faithful Redeemer. You can approach him because his faithful to his promises and has purchased your soul with the blood of his Son – you can come to a Holy God because he calls you…, you can encounter the Living God because He desires it.
So this week as you go about your normal things remember God is very present and desires to encounter you. He calls out your name and looks to draw near.