walk in the word
Category: Your Walk With God
“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.” Psalm 25:14
What’s the deal with climbing mountains? Mountains have always been wrapped with mystery, and I guess there’s something there that sort of beckons us.
It’s the very same in God’s Word. Mountains are often reported as places for powerful, personal encounters with God.
Have you ever had a mountain-top experience with God? It brings a flow of joy and peace that eclipses any other human experience. A mountain-top experience is “a temporary, uncommon encounter with God that is meant to give us a fresh awareness of His reality and nearness.”
A biblical mountain-top experience involves your mind: You learn something new about who God is.
A biblical mountain top experience involves your emotions: You feel overcome by a greater awareness of God’s reality and His nearness of your life. There’s kind of a veil that drops and you’re overwhelmed by how great He is and how close He is, and how real He is.
A biblical mountain top experience involves your will. God’s not into giving you thrills. When He shows up in our lives in a powerful, dramatic mountain top way, it’s so that we would do something differently, that we would be different. And as we come down off that mountain, we’re impacted, not only in what we know and what we feel, but in what we do.
In Mark 9, Jesus’ disciples had a mountain-top experience which provides a good criteria for evaluating our own encounters with God. The goal of our study here and on the broadcast this week is to understand how they happen so that we can seek the Lord, and find Him, in that personal way.
Here’s the context. In Mark 9, Jesus had been teaching the disciples for a whole week about the suffering that was to come at the cross, and then He says, “Okay guys, we’re going on a field trip.” So He invites Peter, James and John to join Him for the greatest mountain-top experience of all time. Verse 2 says He “… brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and He was transfigured before them.”
That word transfigured is a cool thing. It literally means, “metamorphosed,” changed into another form. How weird would that be? You’ve walked around with Jesus for three years and all the sudden the veil of His humanity drops away and the surpassing supremacy of His glory is revealed. There in front of you stands Christ as the second Person of the trinity and the Creator of the universe! It’s like you’re watching “X-Files,” but it’s the real thing!
What’s interesting to me is that in the parallel passage in Luke, we learn that Jesus didn’t tell the disciples, “Hey guys, come up on the mountain. I’m going to show you something that you’ve never seen before.” Instead He said, “Let’s go pray,” (in Luke 9:28). And they did pray, but a lot more happened.
You say, “Well I’d like to see a lot more happen in my life.” Then here’s the principle: Mountain top experiences often emerge from the regular spiritual disciplines of our lives. Don’t expect God to show up in your life in dramatic ways if you don’t show up before Him in faithful, consistent ways.
There are those who would say that they’ve had a dramatic personal encounter with God, but the reality is that they come down more focused on themselves. “Oh I went over to this church and a great thing happened to me. And I’ve got this incredible thing going with God now.” It’s almost as if to communicate, “Well God must think really highly of me to have done this for me.” Not!
When you come into real contact with God, your focus isn’t on yourself; it’s on Him. When those disciples came down from that mountain, and when we come down from a dramatic personal encounter with God, we are so overcome and overwhelmed with the glory of Christ. We don’t feel big, we feel small! We’re looking for a little tiny corner to hide in, because we see the greatness of Almighty God as revealed in the glory of His Son, and it’s consuming and overwhelming! That’s a mountaintop experience.
Check it out for yourself: every single time that God reveals His glory and power in Scripture, people are on their faces! When God shows even a fraction of His glory, God’s people are overcome with fear, the fear of God.
You say, “Oh I don’t want to know about the fear of God; I only want to know about the love of God.” Psalm 36:1 says the foolish person has “no fear of God before his eyes.” Please hear me—we desperately need a fresh move of God’s Spirit to create in us a sense of reverence, respect, and fear for Him. In this context, fear is the heart attitude which seeks a right relationship to the fear’s source. Fear says, “I can’t afford to be in a wrong place with God.” If you are a follower of Christ yet you allow sin to exist in your life for days, weeks, months, you don’t have enough fear in your life. The fear of God says, “I won’t go to bed tonight without getting this right. I can’t afford to not be in a right place with God. Hebrews 10:31 says, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
So that’s one way to discern a mountaintop experience: God’s glory is revealed, you have a fresh fear of Him, and it changes the way you live. Listen this week on the broadcast for three other ways your life is changed by a mountaintop experience with God.
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