Genesis 28:15-18 – “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
THEME OF THE DAY. MEETING GOD IN CHURCH. In today’s scripture, Jacob says something which is soul-searching for every Christian – “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” I wonder if some of us would have to say that about church yesterday? Did we go to church, sit through the service, sing, read our Bibles, hear preaching, and leave unmoved, unchanged, and not hungering more for God? Or we may say it another way, “Did we come to church, go through church, and leave church having never encountered the Lord Jesus? When I say, “encountered the Lord Jesus”, I am not asking did church make us feel good or did we have an emotional experience. Oh, don’t get me wrong. In the Presence of the Lord is fullness of joy and pleasures abounding, but that is not what we seek in church. We seek God and that means we can also worship during times of grief and sorrow (Psalm 16:11). What I am referring to as encounters with the Living Christ are two things which always occur when we meet God.
First, when the Lord favors us with His Presence, He does so in power, love, and clarity showing us more of Himself. And He does so through His Word publicly read, sung, prayed, and preached. This is His means to reveal Himself and for us to encounter Him, we are to seek Him in these Word-driven elements of church life. Did that happen to you? To me? Was Christ real to us yesterday in church when we sang songs rich in Biblical theology? Did the sermon reach our souls with convincing, correcting and encouraging truth? Or did we just “do” church and find the need to confess the words of Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it”?
The second mark of encountering God in church is the radical transformation that occurs. If God “comes to church” and meets us by His Spirit through His Word, at least three things will happen. There will be a sense of timelessness. We won’t care about the length of the service or sermon. In fact, we won’t want it to end. Why? God is among us. Don’t lovers want the time together never to end? It will be like that in church too. We will be lost in a real sense of His Presence. Another thing which happens when we meet the Lord in church is His holiness creates the environment of true worship – holy fear. We are humbled and reverence permeates our churches with an awe making us know we are in the Presence of One who is nothing like us. We will be slow to speak and quick to listen (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). The final thing which will happen if we meet God in church is we won’t leave like we came. If God meets and reveals Himself to us, we will be changed. We will have greater resolve to know Him, grow like Him, and serve Him. All encounters with Christ change a willing people. It must. He is God and meeting God changes everything and everyone.
So, how was church yesterday? What I really mean is, “Did we meet God in church?” He was there. Just like He was there with Jacob. May He help us never to come to church, be in church, or leave church saying the words of Jacob, “Surely the Lord was is in this place, and I did not know.”
PRAYER: “Lord, forgive me for the many times I simply go to church but don’t meet You.”
QUOTE: “If we are not seeking God during the week, we won’t encounter Him on Sunday.”