Encounters with God: Week 3
Close Encounters with the Creator of Kinds
(Bad 1977 Sci-Fi Movie Pun)
By Christian Malone
When was the last time you experienced God? Do people still experience God today? If so, what would that be like? If you’ve made it past these questions and you still have time left, consider how Peter and Cornelius’ experience with God played out.
Go to Acts 10 and familiarize yourselves with what is happening at this point in the book. The opening verses give us the story of Cornelius and his seeking after God. What are some of the descriptions we are given of this man?
This should cause a few questions to come to mind. For instance…How did Cornelius come to know about the One True God? Was Cornelius saved at this point, or did he need further information? What was Cornelius praying for exactly? These are just some ideas to throw around and discuss; none of them have exact answers given in the passage. The important point of these few verses is that God was willing to reveal Himself to one who was seeking after Him, regardless of his background, social position, occupation, and knowledge of religious things.
Now, jump to verse 9 of Acts 10. This portion of Scripture discusses Peter’s experience with God. The whole story is laid out through verse 33. Once you have familiarized yourselves with this passage, compare Peter’s experience with Cornelius’ (take note of Peter’s attitude and initial response to God).
I hope you were able to consider some of the cultural, religious, political, and background differences between these two great men of God. Although they did not have much in common humanly speaking, they had many spiritual things in common.
The rest of chapter 10 records the change that occurred in both of these men. Cornelius was now walking with God on a deeper level as well as Peter (the man who walked with Jesus for 3 years!!). So what’s the point of all of this? While Acts is mostly a descriptive book rather than prescriptive (when dealing with our practical theology in the church), we can take away some very solid principles that apply to us directly:
1) God wants to communicate with His people. That means you. He has given us His Word, the most solid form of communication with which to reveal Himself to us. God does not need to appear to us in visions or trances because He has given us His Word.
2) You can know what God is saying to you! When we read the Bible we are exposing ourselves to the very thoughts of God. This is a fascinating truth, but too often we starve ourselves of its potency because we do not read it.
3) You are never at a point in your Christian walk that you can afford to ignore God. God will make Himself known in the life of His child; sometimes it will be more pleasant than at others. Peter’s communication with God came as a rebuke, while Cornelius was encouraged in his encounter with God. The truth is that even the most well-known apostle needed to encounter God on a deeper level. If this was true for Peter, then wouldn’t it make sense for us to draw closer to God as well?
Though this may seem kind of anti-climactic, encountering God is something we can do on a daily basis. By becoming people of prayer and creatures of God’s Word we can experience life-changing communication with God in our prayer-closet and on the very pages of our Bibles. Let’s realize the truly exciting nature of daily fellowship with God by relishing each fascinating moment of interaction with His written Word and each simple prayer.
Spend the rest of your time discussing ways that we can encounter God on a daily basis and praying for each other as we seek (collectively and individually) to continually walk closer with Him.