Lamentations:3:57-58. You came near me when I called You, and You said, “Do not fear.” O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life.
As I began last week, I will begin this week by saying, This is the second Sunday in Lent – the five weeks before Resurrection Sunday – Easter. During this time, we will look at ourselves and how we can be stronger, spiritually stronger and loving Christians as we prepare ourselves for that wonderful day when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Today we discuss our spiritual distance from God, our desire to have things perfect right now without having to learn or work for it. and how we can get beyond that fantasy have a real encounter with God , one that will keep us in His arms forever.
How many of you remember the commercials on TV where they showed a lovely woman who talked about her psychic hot lines . She said she could tell a person anything. We would not have to worry, not have to fret, not have to make any decisions without knowing already what the future would bring. All we had to do is call this 1-900 line; and for $2.95 per minute, I would have all my answers and the first two minutes were free. Oh, there was a slight service charge added.
2 Corinthians 4: 7 – . We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not us.
Today, let’s think and discuss a FREE hotline.. It is a hotline that is available 24 hours a day, but THIS is always 100% accurate, guaranteed – no fee. It is called prayer. It will connect you to the One and Only and it is one hundred percent accurate, you can keep it with you at all times. You know, it almost like a cell phone, but better because there are no fees and the battery never discharges or goes dead plus there are no areas without service. Wherever you are, at any hour of the day or night, you can connect with God. We come here to hear or read this and to remember that – to be reminded. This is a big remembrance society, to remember who we are and what God is, and that we can have a close encounter with God.
Psalm 143: 1. Lord, hear my prayer, and in Your faithfulness heed my supplication, answer me in Your righteousness.
Do you remember the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind?” They were so excited about making contact with a life form that was smarter, more intelligent than we were. All society, especially the people who were involved and invited to the site of the encounter, were so excited because they just knew they would learn things to make their lives better.
It is the same way when we make that close encounter of the God kind, because we are going to a higher intelligence than in our human mind. A sweet, loving intelligence that is always right, always willing, and always ready to show us exactly how to proceed.
Let’s look at the word “Close” and what we can spiritually say it stands for:
(C) Christ with you, your hope of glory.
(L) Listen. We have to take time to listen. We have to be willing to
(O) Open. To be open to something so much higher and so much better than
our own thoughts – when we are, our entire life begins to shine with
(S) Surrender. I think this is an important element. As we walk along,
thinking over our problems, worried, fearful, and anxious, we have to
surrender. We have to let go and let God take over in our lives.
(E) Is for that incredible Encounter.
Two friends, Bill and Harry, were stranded on an island in the Pacific.
They were walking along the beach, one day, and they looked down and saw that a bottle had been washed up onto the beach. They pulled the cork and, immediately, a genie came out of the bottle. The genie looked at them and said, “How are you doing?”
They said, “Well, we are doing just fine.”
The genie said, “I really appreciate you freeing me from this bottle. I am going to give you one wish each.” He looked at Harry and said, “Harry, what do you want?”
Harry didn’t hesitate for a second. He said, “Oh, I want to be back in
Chicago!” Then “poof” he was gone.
Then the genie looked over at Bill and said, “Bill, what do you want?”
Bill thought for a long time. He thought some more and paced back and forth. Then he said, “I have trouble making decisions. I am usually not the one who makes the decisions. Oh, I wish Harry were here.”
Now, this is a fantasy, of course. It is our human fantasy. We dream and think about the fact that we can walk along and a genie bottle will appear and out genie would grant us all our wishes.
BUT, Life is not that way; life is a journey, a classroom. In this classroom are a series of instructions or classes that we evolve through and all the time, we are taking a course and we are learning something. All the time, we wonder which way to go. Should I go this way? Should I go that way? Should I make this choice? There is no genie to give us the answers to the test.
My friends, when you have an encounter with God,, when your “genie” is God, it changes your life. It is a spiritual experience and it can happen in the twinkling of an eye, in a flash, in an instant. Your life is forever changed from that moment, for the better. It is something every minister strives to talk about, but our humble words cannot do it any justice. All we can do is be a signpost. We talk only about the spirituality of what happens in that instant of time, and when it occurs, how much we are changed. Only you can experience it as you move through your series of classes.
Some of you have been on a cruise ship. You would think that to steer such a large ship, it would take a steering wheel as big as this whole room. But if you go up to the captain’s room on the ship, it is quite different, surprisingly different. What you see is a vast console of computers and there is just one thing sticking up. It is like a joystick on a computer game. Even that is not used 99% of the time. Most of the time, the ship is on autopilot. The ship remembers its destination. It knows where to go.
Prayer and meditation are like that to us. They help us identify not only the destination, but like the autopilot on the ship, prayer and meditation will help us look past the storms. The ship does not stop midway and say, “My goodness, I have a storm here. I’m just going to sit here and worry and be tossed about in the high waves.” The ship remembers its destination. We do, too, when we connect with God. We never waver off course. And more time and energy in our lives can be spent enjoying the journey, instead of taking every step the hard way.
There is a great novel called, “Howard’s End.” The main theme of the novel is to connect. That is the theme of our lives – connect with God. Save time and aggravation, cut through all of the outer stuff of life, and get right to the core, right to the Light. What is at the core of you? It is the Spirit of God. Right there, already, you have an autopilot built inside of you which will take you every step of your way. When you act from this presence, when you stay connected, then you have a solution almost like a genie in a bottle that you can release; you have the Light.
We would like to have a solution for our problems. We would like to have a turnkey operation to the good life. We would like to have simplification in our lives, so that we could just walk into an area and have everything sitting in Divine Order, perfect with the perfection of God. To have everything in order in ways we cannot imagine, that is what we have when we connect with God inside of us. We take time during the day instead of fooling with all of the outer stuff.
If you go out tomorrow morning, and your car will not start, you keep trying over and over again. You walk around the car and go to the front of it and open up the hood, look in, and say, “Hmmmmmm.., everything looks all right.” How many times have we done that? We do not have the slightest idea of what we are looking at, but we do it, anyway. Then we have a choice. We can slam the hood. We can walk around, open the door, sit down in the car, and keep on doing what we were doing before – cranking it until the battery goes dead. Then we have worse problems.
Or we can call a mechanic who has a higher level of intelligence about our car than we do. The mechanic can fix it. As long as we continue doing what we were doing, we are a part of the problem. We are making the problem worse. But as soon as we surrender, we automatically become a part of the solution. When we surrender to God, we lose nothing and we gain the potential for everything to happen in Divine Order.
Our external world is where we do most of our adjusting. We are willing to rearrange things in the outer all the time. It is like rearranging the furniture in your home or apartment. But we end up in a perpetual cycle of rearranging and nothing really changes. It is the same old me acting out the same old drama. The other actors may be new, but the plot is familiar. But when we go within in prayer and connect with God, we make changes on a soul level. It is WE who change. We are building something different than an outer building, brick-by-brick, board-by-board. We are building, prayer-by-prayer. Each time we become aware of God, we move our souls much closer to absolute peace and harmony, a close encounter of the God kind.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) And He said, “You are the light of the world. . .” (Matthew 5:14)
It is reassuring to know in prayer that the same light which indwelled Jesus Christ also indwells me. It is my birthright from God.
Psalm: 27:1. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear.
Let us pray.
I acknowledge You, God, as the light shining in and through me. I awaken to the truth that I need never walk in darkness. I make my light a radiant, shining one by connecting with You, morning, afternoon, and night. God, I reinforce the awareness of my birthright of light with the certainty that I am a spiritual being, ever growing, ever unfolding, always and forever. Light shines through me, illuminating every path. I walk in that light and I progress in right and perfect ways.
In the name and through the power of Jesus Christ, I pray for each of you that you have a close encounter of the God kind – a spiritual experience, today. Amen.
God bless you!