[Gary] If you had a chance to meet God face-to-face what would you ask Him? I mean, finally, you could get the answers to the burning questions of why your best friend died at such an early age, or why bad things happen to good people? You could ask Him, why your life is such a mess while other people's lives, well, they seem to be trouble-free?
Maybe you want to meet God so that you can experience ultimate peace and love. Maybe the thought of meeting God fills you with fear.
God wants you to know Him on an intense, personal level. Today, we'd like you to "Meet God."
[Announcer] Join our host, Gary Petty and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Gary] It's the great mystery of life. Who is God? How can I interact with Him? Can I even begin to know anything about Him?
I can remember, as a teenager, desperately asking God to reveal Himself to me. I wanted Him to show Himself to me. It wasn't until later that I began to understand the role of faith, seeing while not seeing, that's part of our relationship with God.
Have you ever wanted God to show Himself to you?
All of us have a primal need to interact with the Creator. You have a deep desire for spiritual fulfillment. You try to fulfill that desire with a new house, or a boyfriend, or through pop-psychology. But in the end, only God can fulfill that need, because He designed it in each of us. Sometimes we can't even explain or define this need, but it is a desire to be His child in a relationship with Him.
To fulfill this desire it is God who must unlock the mystery, to reveal Himself to us.
So how does this happen? How does God make Himself known to you?
We encounter God in the intricacy, beauty and absolute genius of creation, and we are inspired by the miracle of life. But you know, we still long to know the Creator. We long for Him to touch our lives. We don't just want to believe in God, you want to have a personal relationship with God.
Well, you can experience a more profound relationship with your Creator and discover His incredible purpose for your life.
This discovery begins by asking God—going to Him and asking Him—to reveal Himself to you and then discovering what He discusses and discloses about Himself in His Book—this Book, the Bible.
Well today, we're going to look at some passages in the Bible that will help you meet God.
Let's begin by looking at how God revealed Himself to Moses. You've all heard of the story of Moses. He is known throughout the world. He is a great man called of God to lead His people out of slavery into freedom. A man whom God talked to personally, something we would all like to experience. A man who commanded the Nile River to turn to blood and it did. A man through whom God gave the Ten Commandments.
But have you ever really thought about Moses' first encounter with God?
Moses had been a prince of Egypt, living in opulence and privilege. At age forty, he became an outcast and spent decades raising sheep in a wilderness. You know, life hadn't worked out the way Moses had planned. He had gone from beautiful palaces to living in a tent. From eating the finest delicacies to the basic food of the nomad. From the perfumed beds of wealth to the smell of sheep.
Now, you have to wonder what went through his mind, his thoughts and emotions as he wrestled with God during those years. I mean he had enjoyed what everyone else wanted. Why had God allowed this happen to him? He believed God had a great purpose for his life. Now he was resigned to being a simple shepherd living in the wilderness. You know that means Moses would have wrestled with the same riddles you and I face in our lives.
And this leads us to an important lesson about how God reveals Himself to all of us. Many times our most profound experiences with God happen when we have experienced great loss. We can be so stubborn that it is only in times of suffering with injustices, lost in hopelessness, or in the depths of desperation that we finally just stop and listen to the Creator.
One day Moses, who was by then an old man, was out tending sheep when he saw a bush that appeared to be on fire, but it wasn't being consumed. As he approached the burning bush he heard a voice that said, "Do not draw near to this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for this place where you stand is holy ground" (Exodus:3:5).
Now, this brings us to a second lesson about how God reveals Himself to us. God is worthy of honor and worship. Meeting God isn't a sort of get together of equals. Moses is reminded of God's majesty and power. His access to God, just like you and me, is a product of God's mercy and love. He is wise, loving, all powerful, knowing the difference between good and evil. Each of us, we're just a mixture of good and evil, not knowing—as the Scripture says, not knowing our right hand from our left hand.
Moses found himself before the wonderful Creator. And he asked Him a very logical question. He says, "What is your name?" The Creator answered, "I Am Who I Am" (Exodus:3:13-14).
Now this name may seem like a riddle, but it actually reveals so much about God. In this name He reveals that He is self-conscious. He is not some ambiguous spiritual force, but a being of thoughts and emotions. A Creator capable of sustaining, managing and interacting with His creation, and a God who is not bound by time and space.
So let's review what we've learned from Moses' encounter with God.
First, God is there when you need Him most.
Second, God is worthy of honor and worship.
And third, God is a personal being, not some ambiguous spiritual force.
We often ask ourselves, "Why doesn't God reveal Himself to me?" You know the real question, and this is a question you need to ask yourself, "Am I prepared for an encounter with the great I AM?"
Now, we'll look at another encounter with God from the New Testament, but first let me tell you about a study guide that can help you meet God.
Today, we're offering, absolutely free of charge, Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? This comprehensive study aid shows how you can discover the genius and wonder of the Creator in the intricacies of the creation. It will also help you discover God's love and purpose for you, and how you can know Him better. Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? will show you how to get to know God in a more intimate relationship. Now to order your free copy , toll free, call: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv . Or you can write us at the address shown on your screen throughout the program [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
Have you ever wanted God to talk with you? Or maybe, just give you a sign? Or, explain why, if He is a loving God, why so many bad things happen in your life.
Well, we've been talking about when God revealed Himself to Moses. Life hadn't turned out the way Moses had planned. And in fact, it wasn't until Moses had lost all of his great wealth and power that he really encountered God. It was only when he was aware of his weakness that he was able to actually listen to God.
God made Himself known to Moses as "I AM." A name that discloses God's self-consciousness and the personal aspect of His nature.
Well, let's look at another encounter some people had with God. Now this time it's from the New Testament.
Jesus Christ was speaking to a group of religious leaders. He had made some statements about Himself that seemed really so bizarre that some people thought He was demon possessed. The son of a carpenter declared, "If anyone keeps My word he shall never see death" (John:8:51).
The Jewish people who heard Him were just incredulous. They said to Him, "Now we know you have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets, and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.'
"Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead." And then they asked Jesus, "Who do you make yourself out to be?" (John:8:52-53).
Well they were even more confused when Jesus answered that Abraham rejoiced in the knowledge of the time when Jesus would walk the earth.
The Jews answered, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"
Jesus replied, "Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was,"—Now listen to this, Jesus said: "I AM" (John:8:57-58).
The Jews were so incensed with Jesus that they grabbed rocks with the intent to stone Him to death.
Why were these people so angry?
Because Jesus was making a bold and wondrous statement. He claimed that He had known Abraham because He is the I AM. Jesus is the One who talked to Moses from the burning bush.
To encounter Jesus Christ isn't a meeting with a good teacher or a philosopher. It is an encounter with God! God the Father sent His Son to become flesh and blood in order to reveal Himself to us.
The more we know about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ the more we know the Father. One of Jesus' disciples asked Him to show them the Father. Jesus answered, "He who has seen me has seen the Father..." (John:14:9). Now, this doesn't mean that Jesus is saying He is the Father. What Jesus is saying is that His life is a demonstration of the Father. To encounter Jesus Christ is to encounter God!
You know, you think about it, it can be difficult to connect with God when confronted with His transcendent majesty and power. Trying to relate to God as a burning bush, well that's not the answer. So God sent His Son to be like us so that we can relate to Him.
You know that leads to an interesting question you need to ask yourself. What do you really know about Jesus Christ? Have you ever studied the life and teachings of Jesus contained in the Gospels?
Do you know the Jesus who taught, "Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill….Whoever, therefore, who breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men to do so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven…" (Matthew:5:17-19).
Do you know the Jesus who taught, "…whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery…" (Matthew:19:9).
Do you know the Jesus who taught in parables, not to make the meaning more clear, but as He said, "I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand" (Matthew:13:13).
If you want to meet God, then meet Jesus Christ. The Messiah came to reveal the Father.
Now, let's look at one instance in the life of Jesus that reveals a great deal about God.
Jesus identified Himself with the great "I AM" who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. That means He emptied Himself of His divine privileges and became an actual human being. He experienced what it is like to be tired and hungry just like you and me. To feel physical pain, and the emotional pain of being betrayed by friends and hated by enemies.
On the night before His death, Jesus met with His disciples to celebrate the biblical Passover. And that night He did something that must have left them speechless. On that Passover evening, the Son of God, the Great I AM, took a basin of water and a towel and began to wash His disciples' feet.
The apostle Peter, who knew Jesus was the Son of God, said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet." Peter wasn't being disrespectful or rebellious. He was appalled at the thought of the Messiah washing the feet of sinful, weak human beings.
Jesus answered, "If I do not wash you, you [shall] have no part with Me" (John:13:8).
Think about what is happening here.
Jesus claimed to be the I AM who spoke to Moses. The apostle Paul wrote that God created all things through the One who became Jesus. The One who scooped up the muddy soil and created that first human being, actually became a human being and then got down on His knees and washed the dirty feet of His creation.
Afterward, Jesus told them, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done" (John:13:14-15).
This is God acting in the most personal manner. Jesus told them, "A person who has bathed all over does not need to [be washed], except for the feet, to be entirely clean" (John:13:10, NLT).
God, the I AM, is personally handling the cleansing of the disciples. He does this lowly, physical action to show what He is doing spiritually in their lives and in your life, if you want Him to. He is doing with us what we don't have the power to do ourselves: wash away our sins.
Jesus told His disciples that He was their Lord and Teacher and that they should follow His example and wash each other's feet. You know, He could have simply commanded them to wash each other's feet. Who would have blamed Him not to want to get down and touch someone else's sweaty, dusty feet.
But Christ, in order to teach His disciples about love and service, touched their lives by being the greatest example of love and service.
Moses' encounter with "I AM" in the burning bush reveals the wondrous and fearful grandeur of the Holy God. He is perfect in wisdom and righteousness. He is worthy of honor and praise. He is to be feared as the judge of humanity.
The encounter with Jesus Christ as the great "I AM" shows us that God is also a God of love. Christ was willing to get down in the dirt with God's children in order to show them His Father.
God desires a personal relationship with you. He wants you to speak to Him in prayer, respond to His instructions contained in this book—in the Bible, have trust in His goodness and obey His commands. He wants you to pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ.
Knowing God will give meaning to your suffering; help you understand God's purpose for your life; and give you hope for the future.
It's time to humbly ask God to make Himself known to you. Read the Gospels because there you will encounter God in the flesh. It's time to replace empty religious customs with real relationship. It's time for you to prepare to meet God.
Now to help you grow in your relationship with God, we want to send you a free copy of: Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? This comprehensive study guide includes chapters on: Asking the Critical Questions ; Our Amazing Spaceship Earth ; and Meet God .
Your life can change. God has a great plan for humanity—and for you personally. He wants you to seek Him and His will for your life. You know, He knows everything about you, your troubles, your anxieties, your heart aches, and He wants to heal you. He wants you to know Him as your Father and Jesus Christ as your Savior.
How can you make it through every day, through this journey of life? The Good News will help you find God's purpose for your life now, and for eternity in His family. Every issue contains articles talking about the challenges of daily life and making sense of confusing world news in light of Bible prophecy.
To order your free copy call: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv . Or write to us at the address shown on your screen throughout the program [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
To discuss how you can grow in your personal relationship with God, we're joined by fellow Beyond Today hosts, Darris McNeely and Steve Myers.
Is there anything that happened in your life that helped you really begin to understand God as a personal God?
[Darris] Yes Gary, I think there was. And one seminal instance in my life, when I was a little boy, I happened to use God's name in a way that was inappropriate—alright? Unfortunately for me at that time—it turned out to be fortunately, my mother was nearby and she heard what I said.
Now my mother was a god-fearing woman. She believed the Bible and she was not about to allow any inappropriate language about God to be in her house. She jerked me up pretty hard, not abusive. Took me into the bathroom and she washed out my mouth with soap and a toothbrush. That doesn't happen too often today from things that I've observed, but I got it that day.
And then she told me, you go into that, your bedroom. You kneel down next to the bed and you ask God to forgive you for talking that way about Him and for taking His name in vain. So I did! And I cried, and I begged, and I pleaded. But it was the first time that I really had in my mind the idea that God was personal. There was a Being there and that He could be offended. And I had better watch my p's and q's. I cleaned up my language and from there, I learned to develop a respect for God thanks to my mother.
[Steve] I think your mother was probably related to my mother.
[Darris] Old school.
[Steve] Old school—yeah right. I think for me, I grew up in a family that loved God, respected God, taught me about God, but I think in many ways I was acquainted with God but I didn't really know Him. In some ways, I had a relationship but, really just more of an acquaintance than really a friend or seeing God as a Father.
I came to a certain point in my life, that my life was hanging in the balance. I was in the hospital. I was by myself in a strange town, far away from home, and at that moment the only one I could turn to was God Himself. And I prayed like I had never prayed before and I knew He was there. And He heard my prayer and that started me on a path to really get to know God.
So it was that moment, I think that I really met Him for the first time personally, and that changed everything. And it took a while for that journey to find the right path, but I think that was the moment for me that I realized God does hear my prayers, and He is there, and He does make a difference in your life.
[Gary] It's interesting. As you both were talking, I was thinking about my childhood. And one of the things that drew me to God was the fact that my parents just—He existed. They knew it. He existed. It was part of our lives. It was part of what we did every day. It was part of what we talked about. And, that relationship began to form at a very early age, which shows you the importance that parents have on teaching children and actually leading children to God.
[Darris] I do think so. I think that appropriate parenting, responsible parenting, from those who, parents who fear God, is a way by which any of us can begin to understand really that God is a loving parent. He is a father. He cares for us. And when that example starts at a very young age, it makes a world of difference. But, it can also be something that a person can develop in later years no matter what type of childhood they had. God wants to be understood as a father.
[Gary] Well, every one of us has to come to the realization, it's not my parents' God. It's not my church's God. It's my God. I'm involved in this personal relationship. Now, all of us struggle with maintaining that personal relationship. Is there things you do in your life to help maintain that personal relationship with God?
[Steve] I think it's a challenge in the world that we live in today with so many things going on and so many distractions that can pull us away from God. That, certainly prayer and Bible study, they are irreplaceable. But one of the things I think that gets me refocused is God's Sabbath day. That His Sabbath day is a time that you come together and, collectively as a family. And since God has revealed Himself as a father and Christ as our elder brother, we come together as His family to really worship Him and to praise Him. And it takes that time, that day, on His Sabbath day, to come together and praise Him. And it just keeps that connection, no matter what else is going on in life, to come together and worship Him and put Him first and foremost on that day. I think is really a special thing that really draws us closer together as His family.
[Gary] Isn't it amazing that the seventh-day Sabbath is almost ignored in much of Christianity? You know, in my life, I have thought about things that have drawn me closer to God and I find sometimes I can spend all this time in this intense prayer, meaningful prayer with the Father, but we're told to pray in Jesus' name. And there are times it's just like, "In Jesus' name, Amen." It's like ritual! And I have found myself at times, literally going back, getting back on my knees and saying I'm sorry. I apologize to the Father and I apologize to Jesus Christ because it's rude! We are to acknowledge Christ and pray in His name. And to not do that, it says the Father won't hear us.
Now, we just have a little bit of time left. But, if someone comes to you and says, I'm struggling with my personal relationship with God. What little sentence of advice would you give them?
[Darris] I think prayer has to be at the heart of it. I think a person has to learn to let go of themselves in prayer in talking to God. And it doesn't always have to be on your knees. You can talk to God on a walk. You can talk to God in nature. You can talk to God just, you know, wherever you may be. The act of going on our knees is one of humility, but learn to be instant in prayer. And, I think that that's a key to getting over some of the hurdles that we have.
[Gary] Go, one quick, one quick sentence.
[Steve] Well, and I think it ties in with that. You know He's there. He's always there. And so you can call out at any time because He's there and He understands. He knows us.
[Gary] If you long for a deeper relationship with God, you need to get your free copy of Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? One important section in this study guide—Why Were You Born? —will help you discover God's future for you.
And, to help you discover God and know Him and His Son in a more intimate relationship, we'll also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine.
To order your free copy, call: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv.
Strengthen your relationship with God right now. Truly get to know Him.
Here at Beyond Today and the United Church of God, we would be happy to hear from you. We have more than 200 congregations in cities across the United States, plus dozens more throughout Canada and Australia—and in many other countries around the globe. We have qualified pastors and counselors who would be happy to help you in your Christian journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Go to our website and click on the "Contact" link and find a congregation near you, call one of our pastors and share your story. We are here to help.
Would you like to meet God? You can get to know Him better. You can have Him more involved in your life, if you are willing to follow God's plan for your life. And then there will be a day, someday, when you will meet Him face to face.
Jesus Christ is returning to change His true followers into eternal, spirit children of God.
And this is why every week here on Beyond Today we invite you to join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !