How to Meet with God
How to Meet with God
In 1949, one of the greatest revivals in the history of the United Kingdom took place in the Hebrides. Duncan Campbell, the preacher at the centre of the revival, later described how it began.
Seven men and two women had decided to pray earnestly for revival. One night, at a prayer meeting held in a barn, a young man took his Bible and read from Psalm 24 (the psalm for today): ‘Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart’ (vv.3–4a).
He shut his Bible and said, ‘It seems to me just so much sentimental humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting here, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.’ He asked God to reveal if his own hands were clean and his own heart was pure.
That night God met with them in a powerful way. As they waited on God ‘his awesome presence swept the barn’. They came to understand that revival is always related to holiness. A power was let loose that shook the parish from centre to circumference.
‘Three men were lying on the straw having fallen under the power of God. They were lifted out of the ordinary into the extraordinary. They knew that God had visited them and neither they nor their parish could ever be the same again.’
Four miles away, two sisters aged eighty-two and eighty-four had a vision of God. They saw the churches crowded and the youth and the community flocking into the churches. They had ‘a glorious assurance that God was coming in revival power’.
Duncan Campbell was invited to come and speak to them. When he arrived in the parish church, it was packed out with hundreds waiting outside. No one could explain where they had come from. Within ten minutes of the service starting, men and woman were crying out to God. They were meeting with God in all his holiness.
There was such a sense of the presence of God on the island that a businessman visiting said, ‘The moment I stepped ashore I was suddenly conscious of the presence of God.’ God was meeting with his people.
How do you and I meet with God?
Awesome privilegePsalm 24:1-10
David starts this psalm with a reminder that God is a mighty creator: ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ (v.1). He ends with a reminder that God is a glorious King. Five times he is referred to as ‘the King of glory’ (vv.7b,8a,9b,10a,10b). He is ‘The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory’ (v.10b).
In light of the awesome nature of God, David asks the question, ‘Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?’ (v.3). The answer is only those who are totally pure: ‘The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol’ (v.4).
Yet, we know that no one lives like this. It is only through Jesus that we can be made holy and approach God with confidence: ‘For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy’ (Hebrews 10:14).
Lord, I want to meet with you today. Show me whether my hands are clean and my heart is pure. Thank you that through the blood of Jesus I can be made holy. Forgive me, cleanse me and fill me again with your Spirit.
Act of faithMark 5:21-6:6a
Are you struggling with a long-term problem in your life that does not seem to be getting any better (5:26)? Have you ever been ‘seized with alarm’ and ‘struck with fear’ (v.36, AMPC)? We see in this passage how Jesus responded to people in these situations.
In the New Testament, we have the extraordinary sense of people meeting God through Jesus. St John (1 John 1:1) writes about ‘the Word of Life’ whom ‘we have heard’ (Mark 5:27), ‘we have seen with our own eyes’ (v.22) and ‘our hands have touched’ (vv.27,30–31).
People who came into contact with Jesus seemed to have a sense of coming into the presence of a holy God. Jairus ‘prostrated himself at His feet’ (v.22, AMP). The sick woman ‘fell at his feet’ (v.33).
This woman had suffered from a chronic disease for twelve years, which was incurable at that time (v.26). ‘She heard about Jesus’ (v.27) and she responded with faith. She ‘touched his cloak’ because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed’ (vv.27–28). ‘Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering’ (v.29).
Contact with Jesus had a profound impact on people. Jesus says to the sick woman, ‘Go in peace and be freed from your suffering’ (v.34). The pain of the past twelve years is replaced by peace and freedom. Whatever you are struggling with in your life and however long it has been going on, like this woman, reach out to Jesus for help.
Jairus’ daughter experiences the ultimate impact of meeting with Jesus as she is brought back to life. When Jesus arrived, there was anything but an atmosphere of faith. There was a commotion and wailing. They said, don’t ‘bother’ Jesus (v.35). But Jesus said, ‘Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing’ (v.36, AMP).
Jesus said, ‘The child is not dead but asleep’ (v.39). Since Jesus was going to raise her up, her death was no more permanent than falling asleep. The apostle Paul, like Jesus, used the term ‘falling asleep’. When you fall into a deep sleep, the next thing you know it is morning. When you die in Christ, the next thing you know you will be with the Lord.
Jesus took with him just three of the disciples whose faith he could trust (in addition to the parents). He appears to have wanted there to be an atmosphere of faith as he prayed for her to be raised from the dead.
There was nothing ‘super-spiritual’ about Jesus. He is very practical. He told them to ‘give her something to eat’ (v.43). Again, the account starts with fear and ends with faith.
When people saw what Jesus did they were ‘completely astonished’ (v.42b) and ‘amazed’ (6:2b). Of course, as today, not everyone had that reaction. Some ‘laughed at him’ (5:40) and some ‘took offence at him’ (6:3). In his hometown Jesus was ‘a prophet... without honour’ (6:4). Those closest to him failed to recognise him. Sometimes we find it hard to take things from those we know best.
As today, some recognised Jesus and some totally missed out. The key distinction was whether or not they had ‘faith’. He said to the sick woman, ‘Your faith has healed you’ (5:34). He said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe’ (v.36b). In his hometown he was ‘amazed at their lack of faith’ (6:6).
Through his death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled the criteria for meeting God. Now it is by faith that you and I encounter Jesus and, through him, meet with God.
Lord, thank you that it is by faith that I encounter you. Lord, increase my faith. When I am ‘seized with alarm’ or ‘struck with fear’, help me to ‘keep on believing’.
Access through JesusExodus 27:1-28:43
We cannot fully understand what an amazing privilege it is to be able to meet with God without seeing the Old Testament background. Here we see a description of the Tent of Meeting (27:21), (where God meets with Moses and the priests: 30:36; 28:30). It was an awesome thing to enter into the ‘presence of the Lord’ (28:30a). Aaron was entering the ‘Holy Place before the Lord’ (v.35).
The writer of Hebrews explains how all this points to Jesus. The tabernacle was just ‘a copy and shadow of what is in heaven’ (Hebrews 8:5a). Even so, the priests were only allowed to enter the Holy Place, and not the Most Holy Place. ‘The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning’ (9:8). This was an illustration (v.9a).
As the writer of Hebrews shows, this passage forms the background to Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf – making it possible for you and me to meet with a holy God through the blood of Jesus, offered ‘once for all’ (v.26).
Lord, thank you that you have made it possible, through the blood of Jesus, for me to enter the Most Holy Place and to come into the presence of the Lord. Thank you that I have access through Jesus ‘to the Father by one Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:18). Thank you that I can meet with you.
Are there things in our life we feel we just can’t ask Jesus about; they’re too embarrassing and awkward? The woman in this passage in Mark puts her embarrassment aside and she reaches out and touches Jesus; and he heals her. And all her shame, suffering and embarrassment disappear in an instant.
Verse of the Day
‘Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”’ (Mark 5:36).
Duncan Campbell, The Price and Power of Revival, (Faith Mission, 2000).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)