Bible reading plan Bible reading plan

Encounter

24 September 2023

A woman stood in a clouds of bubbles

Have you ever met someone you haven’t seen for years while you’ve been going about your normal day?  Most times it’s a lovely surprise.  A quick catch up in passing, or maybe you arrange to get together over coffee for a longer catch up.  Sometimes, it’s not so lovely; maybe there were strong words last time you met, and you would prefer not to have suddenly come across them.

 

Both of these have something in common: they are an encounter.

 

As we begin Luke, we read about many different encounters.  We often use the word encounter when we unexpectantly meet someone or when we experience something unusual or a new experience.  In other words, it’s not planned.  Often it is something outside of our control.

 

I remember, many years ago, in a prayer meeting during the first few years of our church, one of the people there suddenly had an encounter.  She was looking at Alan, my husband, and she said “Wow!  Do you know how big your angel is?”  She could see Alan’s angel standing right behind him, like a bodyguard, but she could only see half the angel, because the angel was so tall that he was way above the ceiling of the room that we were in.

 

This week we read about a number of encounters, three with angels: Zechariah in the temple, Mary in her home, and the shepherds out in the fields. 

 

In the OT, we read of angels carrying flaming swords, of destroying angels, of an angel that shut the mouths of the lions and much more.  Zechariah, Mary and the shepherds suddenly found themselves encountering something they had only heard about.

 

No wonder the first words the angel speaks in each account is “Fear not!”  Without those words, would the people have listened?  The angel needed to still their minds so that he could continue.

 

The Lord wants to encounter us but often we are full of fear.  Maybe we think that the Lord is going to take out a highlighter pen and highlight every sin that we have ever done, or every wrong word that we have spoken, or even every wrong thought that we have had.

 

That’s not the picture of a loving Heavenly Father.  He sees us and He still wants to encounter us.  He wants us to experience Him in fresh new ways and this could be anywhere.

 

In church – Zechariah was serving in the temple.  In fact, we read in Luke 1:9-10 that he was chosen that day to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense while the worshippers were praying outside.  It was a time of worship, that became a time of encounter.

 

At home – Mary was going about her normal day.  Suddenly she had an unexpected encounter that changed the course of her life forever.  The Lord wants to encounter you when you are spending time with Him, but there are also other times when He will drop a word of revelation into your heart, or use an everyday situation to speak to you about something you have been praying about.  Don’t confine the Lord to your “prayer time” or your “Bible time”, be ready and expectant that He could speak to you at any time.

 

At work – The shepherds were on a break.  Or so the many artists’ impressions of this moment show, as they sit around their campfire.  The Bible says, they were keeping watch over their flocks at night.  They were awake.  Suddenly the sky was lit up with the glory of God.  Are you ready for an encounter at your work place?  You carry the glory of the Lord, everywhere you go, and the Lord has encounters ready for you if you are willing to listen to Him and respond.

 

In these three encounters we see different responses.  Zechariah didn’t believe the angel’s words and then had to live with the consequences (1:20).  Mary did believe and took hold of the angel’s words, being willing to serve (1:38).  The shepherds responded immediately to the news they were given and had the joy of seeing Jesus (2:15-16).

 

Are you ready for an encounter?  How will you respond?


Photo of Claire Morton

Claire Morton

Director
GoChurch Global