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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Hearing Aids - Holy Encounters

Have you seen a burning bush lately? Did God’s hand appear and write a message on the wall? Did a river part and allow you to get to your destination? Maybe your day didn’t have that much drama but if you had your hearing aid on, God probably spoke to you throughout the day’s events in what I like to call Holy Encounters.

Morning Meditation

Read 1 Kings 18:24

1 Kings 18:24
Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God." And all the people said, " That is a good idea." NASU
Ponder the false gods of your life? Were they fulfilling?

• Contemplate the God who answers by fire.

• Call on the name of God.

Morning Prayer

Ask for forgiveness for any false gods.

• Ask God for the ability to recognize “the God of fire.”

• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.

• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Morning Bible Study

God speaks to us in the quietness of the early morning and in the still small voice of our longings as we live in a spirit of prayer. Our God of Fire also speaks to us through Holy Encounters like burning bushes and handwriting on the wall.

The story of Moses and the burning bush is a familiar one. Most would run from a burning bush but Moses stopped and looked. Have you ever wondered how many bushes God burned before He found a Moses?

Read Exodus 3:1-6
Exodus 3:1-6
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

And Moses said, “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”

And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses.”

And he said, “Here am I.”

And he said, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Moreover he said, “I am the God of thy 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. KJV
What was Moses doing before the bush started burning?

• What did Moses have to do before God would speak to him?

• When God spoke, what was Moses’ answer?

• Why do you think Moses hid his face?

King Belshazzar had a most unwelcome Holy Encounter. Read Daniel 5:5-6

Daniel 5:5-6

Suddenly the fingers of a man's hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. Then the king's face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together. NASU

What did the king see?

• How did he react?

• How would you react?

Naturally, King Belshazzar wanted to understand the strange words on his wall. After trying all the magicians, conjurers, and diviners in his kingdom, a young Jewish man, Daniel was called. Read Daniel 5:13-14.

Dan 5:13-14

Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel who is one of the exiles from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? Now I have heard about you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that illumination, insight and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you. NASU

What was Daniel’s status?

• How did the king describe Daniel?

• What are the character traits of someone who can hear the voice of God?

Daniel was able to correctly interpret the words from God but the news wasn’t good for the king. The days of his kingdom were numbered. King Belshazzar died that very night.

Lest you think all of these Holy Encounters were in the Old Testament, read the New Testament. God spoke to Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, in a dream. An Angel appeared to several people involved in the birth of Jesus. God used people like Paul to speak His message to the churches of Corinth.

Then, there was poor hardheaded Peter. God often had to use what I call “baseball bat therapy” to get his attention. Peter struggled with prejudice and resisted spreading Christianity outside of Judaism. Read Acts 10:-10-12.

Acts 10:10-12

But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. NASU

What human need did God use to slow Peter down?

• How did God get his attention?

• What vision did Peter see?

If you have time, read the entire story in Acts 10:10-38. Puzzled by his vision, Peter sought answers. While Peter was still pondering, an Angel appeared to a Godly man, Cornelius, and sent him to Peter with answers and orders from God. Peter had a choice. Was he going to listen, obey, and learn his lesson? Read his humble words in Acts 10:34-36.

Acts 10:34-36

I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. NASU

What did Peter choose?

• What was his lesson?

The Spirit of God was constantly speaking to Jesus on His journey to the cross. After Jesus’ baptism, God gave very specific instructions to Jesus. Read Mark 1:12-13.

Mark 1:12-13

Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. NASU

What were those instructions?

• Who ministered to Jesus?

Have you ever felt impelled by the Holy Spirit? Perhaps you were driving down the road and had a sudden desire to stop and help. Maybe you passed a church and felt called to enter. Did you think of someone today and wonder how they were? Was the beach calling you for a long walk? Did you wake up full of doubt, only to receive an encouraging message to keep trying? It’s easy to decide these impulses and events are coming from ourselves but when we recognize and obey them, the results become our witness to the workings of God. We only understand Holy Encounters with the benefit of hindsight so perhaps we miss most of them.


Most of my messages from God come from the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. I feel His gentle urgings to act, and when I obey, the wondrous unfolding of His will cements my faith and helps me better recognize that whispering wind.

Occasionally, God sends a clear dramatic answer that I call a Holy Encounter. These occur, usually, but not always, when my faith is wavering or when I doubt the wisdom of what I think I’ve heard. Two such encounters happened at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.

In 2005, I was wondering with what to do next. I was 3 years into my ministry and doubting my continued call. I’d spent the last 3 years traveling the country, talking to people about God and handing out cards that contained a quarter and the address to the website, www.pocketfullofquarters. I had several books mostly finished but nothing published. My call to ministry was to help people have full spiritual pockets but discouragement had my pockets strangely empty as I struggled with the next step.

I was at the writers conference, trying to get my book, Pocket Full of Quarters published. On the last day of the conference, no publisher had shown interest and I was discouraged. I made the decision that when I returned home, I was going to leave the ministry and reenter the corporate world. Right after making the decision, I went into the Ladies Room and there, sitting on top of the toilette paper container, were 2 quarters. I could have decided that someone had just left those quarters behind but I knew God had sent me a very specific message. My “handwriting on the wall” was those 2 quarters. The “Pocket Full of Quarters Lady” left the conference with full spiritual pockets. By the same conference the next year, 2 of my books were published and I had made another missionary journey.

At the 2006 conference, I was overwhelmed by the quality of writing I was witnessing. As I looked through the books of other authors, I began doubting my own skill. I submitted my writings for editorial review and when I received the comments back, I felt like a green child who couldn’t write.

On Saturday morning, I prayed, God, I’m sorry to doubt you and myself, but I need some kind of affirmation about my writing if I’m to continue doing this. I went through all of Saturday discouraged and almost left on Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, at the closing, they gave out awards for various types of writing. I was chatting with my girlfriend when they called out the awards and almost missed my name. Wonder of Wonders - I had won the award for “Best Devotional Writer.” God and the Florida Christian Writers Conference had affirmed my writing skills and I thanked both. Briefly, I felt guilty for taking the award away from the person who would have received it if I hadn’t prayed such a faithless prayer but I shook it off. God loves me even in my doubt and goes out of His way to speak when I’m listening. I’m framing this award, hopefully not out of pride, but as a reminder of the Holy Encounter.

As you go through your day, look and listen for Holy Encounters. Turn up the volume of your hearing aid. Tell God your doubts and notice His answers when they come. Trust those messages and urgings and act immediately. When you get an answer, allow no doubt. For today, I’m continuing to write. What has the God of Fire said to you?

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