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Libro de Lectura / Experiencing God
Copyright © 1996 Henry T. Blackaby
All right reserved.
This is eternal life: that they may
know You, the only true God, and
Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.
Jesus said that eternal life is knowing God, including God the Son-Jesus Christ. Jesus did not mean that eternal life is "knowing about God." In the Scriptures knowledge of God comes through experience. We come to know God as we experience Him in and around our lives.
You will never be satisfied just to know about God. Really knowing God only comes through experience as He reveals Himself to you. Throughout the Bible God took the initiative to reveal Himself to people by experience. Frequently when God revealed Himself to a person, that person gave God a new name or described Him in a new way.
For the Hebrew, a person's name represented his character or described his nature. This is why we frequently see new names or titles used for God following an event where a Bible character experienced God. To know God by name required a personal experience of His presence.
Biblical names, titles, and descriptions of God identify how the men and women of the Bible personally came to know God. The Scripture is a record of God's revelation of Himself to man. Each of the many names for God is a part of that revelation.
THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
For instance, in Genesis 22:1-18 God was in the process of developing Abraham's character to be the father of a nation. God put Abraham's faith and obedience to the test by asking him to sacrifice his son of promise-Isaac. This brought Abraham to a crisis of belief. He had to decide what he really believed about God. Up until this time Abraham had known God by experience as "God Almighty," for God had provided him a son when he and Sarah were in their old age and beyond the human limits of childbearing.
Now God was requiring Abraham to walk with Him by faith. On the way up the mountain to the place of sacrifice, Isaac asked his dad, "Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" (v. 7). Can you imagine what Abraham might have felt at that moment, knowing that Isaac was the sacrifice?
"Abraham said, 'My, son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering'" (v. 8). Abraham made an adjustment of his life and acted on his belief that God was his Provider. He obeyed God. When God saw Abraham's faith and obedience, He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and provided a ram instead. Abraham named that place after the God he had just come to know by experience. He named the place "The-Lord-Will-Provide." In the Bible this is the first time we see the name "The-Lord-Will-Provide." Abraham came to an intimate knowledge of God that day through the experience of God as his Provider.
This is how we also come to know God. We come to know God as we experience Him. God reveals Himself to us through our experience of Him at work in our lives. We can know about God as a Provider as we read this story about Abraham. But we really come to know God as Provider when we experience Him providing something for our lives.
For twelve years I pastored Faith Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When we started our first mission church, we called Jack Conner as our mission pastor. But we had no money for moving expenses and no money for a salary. Jack had three children in school, so we felt that we ought to pay him at least $850 a month. We began to pray that God would provide for his move and his needs.
I had never guided a church to do that before. We had now stepped out in faith, believing that God wanted him to pastor our mission in Prince Albert. Except for a few people in California, I didn't know anybody who could help us financially. I began to ask myself, "How in the world will God make this provision?" Then it dawned on me that as long as God knew where I was, He could cause anybody in the world to know where I was. As long as He knew my need, He could place that need on the heart of anybody He chose.
Jack passed immigration and started his move of faith, convinced that God had called him. I then received a letter from First Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas. They said, "God has laid it on our heart to send one percent of our mission giving to Saskatchewan missions. We are sending a check to use however you choose." I did not know how in the world they got involved with us at that time, but a check came for eleven hundred dollars.
One day I received a phone call at home. The caller made a pledge that completed the $850 a month we needed to provide Jack's salary for one year. Just as I got off the phone, Jack drove into our driveway.
I asked, "Jack, what did it cost to move you?"
He said, "Well, Henry, as best I can tell it cost me eleven hundred dollars."
We began that first step of faith by believing that the God who knows where we are is the God who can touch anybody, anywhere, and cause him or her to know where we are. We made the adjustments and were obedient. We believed that the God who called Jack also said, "I AM Provider." When we were obedient, God demonstrated Himself to be our Provider. That experience led us to a deeper love relationship with an all-sufficient God.
MY EXPERIENCE OF GOD THE PROVIDER
I experienced God as my Provider most meaningfully when God provided ... for me. As the Lord prompts me I will tell this story to others.
One way I need God to be my provider today is ...
THE LORD IS MY BANNER
Another experience in the Scriptures reveal God's name as "The-Lord-Is-My-Banner." Joshua and the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites. Moses was overseeing the battle from a nearby mountain. While he held his hands up to God, the Israelites were victorious. When he let his hands down they began to lose. God defeated the Amalekites through Israel that day, and Moses built an altar and gave it the name "The-Lord-Is-My-Banner." A banner is the standard that goes out in front of an army of a tribe or nation to indicate whom it represents. "The-Lord-Is-My-Banner" says we are God's people; He is our God. Moses' uplifted hands gave constant glory to God, indicating that the battle was His and Israel was His. Israel came to know God in a better way that day as they realized anew-We are God's people; the Lord is our Banner. (See Exod. 17:8-15.)
I AM WHO I AM
Moses also had an encounter with God where God revealed a personal name. When Moses was at the burning bush, he asked God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" (Exod. 3:13).
God responded, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'" (Exod. 3:14). When God said, "I AM WHO I AM," He was saying, "I am the Eternal One. I will be what I will be." He was saying, "I am everything you will need." During the next forty years, Moses came to know God experientially as Jehovah or Yahweh, the Great I AM. God was everything Moses and Israel needed Him to be.
MY EXPERIENCE OF GOD BEING ALL I NEED
God revealed to me that He was all I needed in 19 ___ when He ...
A RELATIONSHIP-NOT JUST A NAME
God reveals Himself with purpose. He created you for a love relationship with Himself. When He reveals Himself to you, He is allowing you to come to know Him by experience. Sometimes that revelation is an expression of God's love for you. Jesus said: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).
If you have a love relationship with God, you have come to know God through experience. He has worked in and around your life. For instance, you could not know God as the "Comforter in sorrow" unless you had experienced His comfort during a time of grief or sorrow. You come to know God when He reveals Himself to you. You come to know Him as you experience Him. That is why we have titled this book Experiencing God. Our great desire is to assist you in experiencing God in greater and more personal dimensions.
Because a Hebrew name described a person's character or nature, the name was closely associated with the person and his presence. Thus, to call on one's name was to seek his presence. God's name is majestic and worthy of our praise. Acknowledging God's name amounts to recognizing God for who He is. Calling on His name indicates you are seeking His presence. Praising His name is praising Him. God's names in Scripture can become a call to worship for you. The psalmist said: "Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted" (Ps. 89:15-16).
Watch for times today to worship God through His names. To focus your attention on His name is to focus attention on the God of the name. His name represents His presence. To worship is to reverence and honor God, to acknowledge Him as worthy of your praise.
The names of God in Scripture reveal something of His nature, activity, or character. You come to know God by experience at His initiative as He reveals Himself to you. As you experience God, you come to know Him more intimately and personally. As you come to know Him, you will want to express your praise, gratitude, and worship to Him. One of the ways to worship Him is to praise and honor Him by acknowledging His names. Watch for ways in the future that God may bring you to a deeper knowledge of Him through the experiences of your life. Then take time to worship God as you have come to know Him.
EXPERIENCING GOD TODAY
To be reminded of some ways you may have come to know God by experience or by name, read through the following list. See if you can identify names and remember experiences where you have come to know God that way. A more complete list of names from Scripture is included in the appendix. Spend some time worshiping God through His names. Thank Him for revealing Himself to you.
my witness (Job 16:19) a sure foundation bread of life (John 6:35) (Isa. 28:16) Comforter in sorrow my friend (Job 16:20) (Jer. 8:18) Almighty God (Gen. 17:1) my hope (Ps. 71:5) God of all comfort Wonderful Counselor (2 Cor. 1:3) (Isa. 9:6) God who avenges me defender of widows (Ps. 18:47) (Ps. 68:5) God who saves me the strength of my salvation (Ps. 51:14) (Ps. 140:7) our guide (Ps. 48:14) Faithful and True (Rev. our head (2 Chron. 13:12) 19:11) head of the church our Father (Isa. 64:8) (Eph. 5:23) our help (Ps. 33:20) mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) my hiding place (Ps. 32:7) our peace (Eph. 2:14) a great High Priest Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) (Heb. 4:14) my Redeemer (Ps. 19:14) Holy One in your midst refuge and strength (Hos. 11:9) (Ps. 46:1) righteous Judge my salvation (Exod. 15:2) (2 Tim. 4:8) my help (Ps. 42:5) King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15) the Good Shepherd our life (Col. 3:4) (John 10:11) light of life (John 8:12) Lord (Luke 2:29) Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15) my stronghold (Ps. 18:2) Lord of the harvest my support (2 Sam. 22:19) (Matt. 9:38) Good Teacher (Mark 10:17)
NAMES GOD HAS REVEALED TO ME
Circle each name of God listed above that has special significance for you. Read the corresponding Scripture passage. Remind yourself of the experience of God that gave this name special meaning.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows
God; he who does not love does not know God, for
God is love.
1 John 4:7-8
When one of my children could not get his own way, he used to say, "You don't love me." Was that true? No, it wasn't true. My love had not changed. At that moment, however, my love was expressing itself differently than he wanted it.
When our only daughter Carrie was sixteen, the doctors told us she had cancer. We had to take her through chemotherapy and radiation. We suffered with Carrie as we watched her experience the sickness that goes along with the treatments. Some people face such an experience by blaming God and questioning why He doesn't love them anymore. Carrie's cancer treatments could have been a very devastating experience for us. Was God loving us still? Yes. Had His love changed? No, His love had not changed.
When you face circumstances like this, you can question and ask God to show you what is going on. We did that. We had to ask Him what we should do. We asked all those questions, but I never said, "Lord, I guess you don't love me."
MY EXPERIENCE WITH GOD'S LOVE
Describe the experience that most dramatically and lastingly
defined God's love for you. What questions did you ask during
that experience? Did God provide answers for your questions?
How? or Why not? Did you ever doubt God's love during this
experience? How can you be sure God loves you?
At times I went before the heavenly Father, and I saw behind my daughter the cross of Jesus Christ. I said, "Father, don't ever let me look at circumstances and question Your love for me. Your love for me was settled on the cross. That has never changed and will never change for me." Our love relationship with the heavenly Father sustained us through a very difficult time.
God created you for a love relationship with Himself. He yearns for you to love Him. The call to relationship is also a call to be on mission with Him. If you want to know God's will, you must respond to His invitation to love Him wholeheartedly. God works through those He loves to carry out His kingdom purposes in the world. As you begin to think about knowing and doing God's will, you need to know who God is.
Excerpted from Mi Experiencia Con Dios by Henry T. Blackaby Copyright © 1996 by Henry T. Blackaby. Excerpted by permission.
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