Renewing Our Lives and Ministries Through God's Word

Pursuing Our God

The Pursuit of God

Exodus 33:12-23

Paul J. Bucknell

Note: 'Experiential Experiences with God' shows how God sometimes pursues us and speaks to us in visions, dreams and otherwise in order to draw us into a deeper relationship with Him and equip us for a special work. This is the third of seven sections that compose one longer article on Pursuing Our God, which discusses how a person can grow in their relationship with the Lord through special times with Him. This all is yet part of a larger ADT training series, Renewing Our Lives and Minstries Through God's Word, –Renewing your spiritual life and ministries through improving the quality of your time in God's Word. Click to see the full 3-day schedule of this Renewal ADT series.)

Experiential Experiences with God

TEA (Typical, Experiential, Adventurous)

TEA : Our growing relationship with God.There are three ways God uses our experiences with Him to grow. We can see all of them in Moses' own life. The initial letters of the word ‘TEA’ (Typical, Experiential, Adventurous) can help us stay focused on them. This second one has been somewhat discussed in an earlier session with regards to how God had spoken to Abraham.

Experiential (Exodus 19:3-6)
Besides these typical (and yet special) times with God in the tent, we know Moses had some awesome experiences of meeting God. We might first think when he was there taking his sandals off next to the burning bush. Or we might think of his meeting the Lord on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. Both of these times were very special.
We should note that these are very different than the regular meetings with God. God specially called him to meet Him after he came out of Egypt. It was a specific appointment.  This particular appointment was selective. It was not for everyone. Furthermore, they are usually for specific purposes. On Mount Sinai he received the covenant God made with the people (i.e. Old Testament). At the burning bush, Moses was assigned to lead the Exodus.  They were special times because there were special tasks involved.
These experiences do not happen with all of God’s people here on earth. It is God’s prerogative to call people to these special experiences. But remember along with the experience is a responsibility. When God shares His person, He also shares His purpose which results in a calling. We all have a calling as men and women of God. We are His priests in His kingdom. But when necessary, God reveals Himself to individuals.
These special meetings with God might not be as rare as people think. When God moves, He moves His people. Think of Moses in the desert. He was far away from man and city, shepherding flocks on a mountain. There was something unusual going on over at a certain spot. Moses went on over. He saw the burning bush. ( The question for us is, “If God calls us to come aside, will we like Moses go aside and look? Will we like Abraham be willing to follow where the Lord special appoints?) Amos recalls his call into the office of prophet,
“Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. “But the LORD took me from following the flock and the LORD said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’ (Amos 7:14-15).
We have a general calling and a specific calling. Everyone is called out of the power of darkness into the Lord’s marvelous light. “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). Every Christian is a priest of the High King. We are all gifted with gifts, but there are special tasks that the Lord has for some. In many cases, God uses special experiences to train and shape them. These special experiences move and motivate God’s people.  Do all pastors and teachers need a call like this? Most likely not. But they do need to be convinced that God is urging them on in that direction. Their gifts should be confirmed by the church. Since many churches are improperly functioning, Christians have a harder time identifying their gifts and clarifying their experiences.
Just recently someone asked me via email whether I understood the Acts 2 experience. She then responded by telling me that I needed the Holy Spirit experience. She evidently was so overcome by her experience that she didn’t know how to fit it into the lives of others. She had no overall perspective. She thought everyone had to have such an experience. Many experiences are unique to individuals and situations. Pride is so subtle. It makes us wrongly use these special experiences. They are given to individuals to help them in their service to God and man, not to make us think we are so special. Exodus 19:3-6 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” (Exodus 19:3-6).Let me share one special experience.
Back six years ago, my wife and I had this special experience. It was not spectacular, but it was significant. I was reading an email from a brother in the Lord. But something was very different as I read it. I was seized with a strong message from the Lord. The brother had talked about their search for a pastor. I sensed very clearly that I was to apply. When my wife read the email, the strong message was confirmed. It was not as if I was not involved in things. I was already pastoring. But the strong voice was crystal clear for several months. Usually, I quickly forget things. God was specially speaking. Of course, this put me in a difficult situation because I was already busy pastoring!
 I personally felt God wanted me to let the elders know and prepare for the upcoming change. I shared with the elders what God was speaking, and they finally allowed me to resign. I worked within the authority structure. The Lord had spoken to both my wife and I. This kept a strong vision that has kept us floating in the following years of testing. God was carefully shaping an exit for me, but that was not to become the place He would finally place me. In the end, He gave me a vision to start this ministry called Biblical Foundations for Freedom. That is another special experience which we do not have time to share here. But notice how when God spoke, it opened me up to doing things that I never otherwise would have done. I was happy pastoring where I was. God was shaping and guiding my heart. He would be doing much more later on.
Another mistake is to require a certain experience as proof for a certain ministry. Many people being pulled into full-time ministry struggle with what people call ‘a call.’  Now I think that many people who use the word do not understand it themselves. In any case, we need to carefully examine the people that God calls to make significant life commitments.
We should not seek these experiences. This might sound radical. We will further discuss this in the next section from another vantage point. But frankly, we have become a very experience-oriented society. We want sound, sight and movement stimulus. Somehow, we cannot see through the deception. Worship is not these feelings. Perhaps, no one has explained this to them.  Churches like to make their people feel as if they are meeting God even though they are not. When we seek an experience to establish our worth or value, then we are entering dark territory where the evil one can easily exploit us. Wrong motives can make us very susceptible to the evil one. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
I am thankful for the many wonderful experiences different saints have had. They are not normal. We should not use them as a standard for others. Instead, we need to better understand and follow through why the Lord would do such a thing. Nor may we allow these special experiences replace our desire to meet with God through the regular way of our personal devotions.
 Moses, after all, after he came down the mountain, regularly went to the tent. We do not depend on past experiences for the present cultivation of our relationship with God. We regularly meet in His presence through His Word. What we do need to do with our special experiences, is to validate them (make sure they are of the Lord), remember them (they are meant to guide, encourage, protect, etc.) and to write down as carefully as possible what the message(s) He was communicating to you. Remember, every word God spoke to Abraham was important and critical to the success of his God-given mission.
We have discussed two ways the Lord enters into our lives to shape them. The more regular way is through our daily reading in His Word. We should expect God give us what we need for the day. This perspective has made me realize that I do not need to worry whether God can clearly guide me. The issue is whether I am seeking Him and desiring His input into our lives. We also have discussed special experiences with God. These experiences are not routine or regular. In these cases, we do not seek God, but He seeks us. These experiences are given to help shape and guide our lives. We should pay attention to what He is asking us to do and respond to Him. It might be just to pray for a person or give an amount of money to a person. Or it might be something that will drastically alter the path of our lives.
We are not to be prideful. He is simply giving us some specific orders that He wants indelibly impressed on our lives. Every child of God is important. But some assignments require more equipping that comes from special revelations of Himself or messages that He gives. Let God find you. It is best not to seek such experiences. Seek God in His Word. Find Him there. Then we can live lives centered around Him rather than experiences. This third approach has some similar characteristics to the first two, but is very different. Next =>

Pursuit | Typical | Experiential | Adventurous | Stages | Torch | Exercises

This is the fourth session of the ADT 3-Day Seminar on Renewal

Reviving Your Faith | Deepening Our Reflections | Tracing Our Life's Journey | Pursuing Our God 

The Heart of Discipleship (Isaiah 50:4) | The Heart of Discipleship ( Isaiah 50:5-9)

Exodus: Overview Christ in Exodus 3 Whys in Exodus

Titus: Overview Pastoral Overview Called into His Service (Titus 1:1-4) Church Planting (Titus 1:5-9)

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

By Paul J. Bucknell

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