Social media has changed the way that we experience life’s adventures through pictures, videos, and storyboards. Whether it’s the finished product of a job accomplished, meal enjoyed, or a well needed vacation in a breath-taking landscape, our friends and family, from a digital distance, can appreciate the artistry of what has been accomplished, tasted, and enjoyed. No matter how vibrant or visually pleasant the imagery is, there are some things that are just best experienced in person and firsthand.
Our personal relationship with the Father is no different. I believe that every story in both the New and Old Testament is given to beckon us to a place of the miraculous and supernatural and into a personal experience and intimate encounter with the Father. This significantly impacts us so our circle of influence can’t help but to be eternally changed.
Jesus illustrated such an idea when He was baptized by John the Baptist. In Luke 3:21b-22 we read, “…it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’” This moment marked the instant when Jesus’ ministry began, and miracles were accomplished. In the book of John, it records this same encounter, adding that the Spirit descended and remained on Jesus.
The story continues in Luke 4:1 stating that Jesus was filled with the Spirit and led by the Spirit in the wilderness. In Luke 4:14 it concludes the wilderness experience stating, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding regions.” It is important to mention that the filling, the leading, and the empowering needed for each of our individual calls and assignments comes from a personal experience and encounter with the Father through the Holy Spirit. These moments with the presence of the Father cannot only be read or heard about; instead, they must be experienced daily.
In 1 Samuel 3:1a we read, “Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli.” This implies Samuel’s involvement in the temple. He was an apprentice to the High Priest Eli. The word “ministered” here actually means “served.” Samuel was involved daily in the work of the temple and the obligations therein. This work would be commendable at any place of worship, but what I want you to see is in 1 Samuel 3:7a. It states, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord…” In other words, Samuel had been involved in the activity of ministry but had never had his own personal experience or encounter with the Lord.
Why is a personal relationship with the Father so important? I’m glad you asked.
When our relationship with God is based on the experiences of others there is no true belief or conviction from which to conduct our lives. Our choices and decisions are made based upon the perspective of others. When challenged by situations that oppose the life in us, there is no reservoir of power from which we can draw upon to face the challenge.
Jesus understood this idea and after He chose the twelve disciples, He gave them authority and power as they worked under His ministry. After Jesus concluded His assignment to redeem and reinstate mankind to its rightful place of honor and glory, Jesus then gave His disciples the same assignment – to go and bring liberty to all that were oppressed of the enemy.
John 20:21 says, “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’” Last month we mentioned that authority is given in the command and commission. But I don’t want us to stop there. In Luke 24:49 Jesus gave this important instruction, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father UPON YOU; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” To accomplish His assignment on Earth, Jesus had His initial moment with the presence of God that then continued as he went forward daily. As I mentioned, He brought the disciples under the umbrella of this experience to teach them what would be available once all was fulfilled. After redemption was accomplished Jesus commissioned them to go but gave the command for them to wait before stepping into their assignment so that they could have their own personal experience and encounter with the Spirit of God.
When we cultivate a lifestyle of presence that guides our life, we step into the experience of power and fullness that is released to enforce the Father’s will and bring order to the chaos of confusion that is in the world. Remember, prayer is the desire to bask in the intimate presence of the Father to hear and see His plan and purpose. From these times of focused attention, authority is commissioned and power is awakened in us to its greatest capacity.
Power from our personal encounter with God provides the ability to enforce order. It removes barriers and limitations that hinder the visions, goals, and assignments that we are purposed with and destined to fulfill. I believe we are living in a time that INTIMACY with the Father is the highest priority. From this we will be the church God has called us to be just before the return of Christ.