SIGN POSTS TO A DIVINE ENCOUNTER
THIS SERIES: EASTER MEDITATIONS
IN THIS COLLECTION:
1. A Lesson from David and Solomon: Live in Rest
2. Welcoming Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace
3.Mighty is the Power of the Cross
4. Walking into Rest: the Journey from Judea to Galilee
5. Meeting the Risen Jesus
6. Don't Worry about Your Life: Resting in Divine Provision
7. Signposts to a Divine Encounter
There is a difference between the omnipresence and the manifest presence of God. Omnipresence means that God is present everywhere at the same time. There are no places where He is not present, and He is present whether people believe in Him or not. Because this truth is not discerned with the senses, it often produces the idea that God is far-off, distant from the affairs of humanity.
What we long for is to experience His presence, to know that He has come close. The manifest presence of God is when we are aware of His presence in time and space. In those moments we know we have had an encounter with the living God.
We need to get hold of the truth that Jesus is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us. He has no favourites, He wants to come close to me, therefore I need to stay expectant, alert, and exercise faith. And I also need to respond to His overtures.
The stories of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection are interesting because it seems that at times He was recognisable as the Lord with whom the disciples had lived for three years, and ‘solid’ enough to take food and drink in their presence, but at other times they weren’t quite sure. Recognising the manifest presence of the resurrected Jesus was a new experience for the first disciples, as it is to many of us; however, their learning curve does provide us with some signposts.
SEVEN SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR…
1. The significant word: One word, ‘Mary’, was all it took to convince Mary Magdalene of Jesus’ presence in the garden [John 20:16]. Sometimes the Lord attracts our attention with a simple word or phrase. It may be an audible voice, but more often it’s the still small voice that Elijah heard [1 Kings 19:12]. We need a listening attitude.
2. Physical sensations: On the road to Emmaus the two disciples experienced ‘burning hearts’ as Jesus began to talk to them [Luke 24:22]. I wonder how many divine encounters have been missed because we have ignored physical sensations? For some it may be a rush of unexpected tears; for others, tingling fingers, an experience of heat or shaking limbs. We are all wired differently, and it is important to note that no one sensation is more ‘spiritual’ than another.
3. Revelation: most of us have had experiences when a passage of Scripture suddenly ‘speaks’ to us, or when we suddenly ‘see’ a truth [Luke 24:27]. Revelation should always lead us to encounter, so it’s important to push past the insight to a meeting with the author!
4. His fingerprints: Sometimes we can become aware that we have suddenly stepped on to holy ground. We become conscious that a person, conversation or situation has the Lord's fingerprints all over it, just like when Jesus was recognised by the disciples at Emmaus, because of the way He broke bread [Luke 24:30,31].
5. A shift in the atmosphere: Jesus had taught His disciples to expect a change to take place when they extended the common Hebrew greeting: ‘Peace be with you’ [Matthew 10:12,13]. It’s inconceivable that He would have extended the same greeting, without expecting it to have an effect [John 20:19]. Therefore, His arrival, after the resurrection, brought—and brings—a sense of descending peace.
The Hebrew word for ‘glory’ comes from a root word meaning ‘weight’. Sometimes during worship or in the midst of beautiful scenery, people feel a sense of weight in the atmosphere—there is a change which announces the manifest presence. And some people even register God’s presence through their sense of smell when a room becomes filled with a sweet fragrance.
6. A miracle: God doesn’t send ‘relief parcels’ in answer to prayer, He comes Himself. A miracle of healing, deliverance or provision announces His presence. And while miracles are a great blessing in themselves, they are also supposed to be great ‘signs’ which point us to the greater reality of our heavenly Father. The disciples were blessed with another miraculous catch of fish, which carried the promise of continued provision; but breakfast on the beach with Jesus probably was the highlight of that day [John 21].
7. Specific situations which carry a promise: Lastly, when we find ourselves in the situations where His manifest presence was specifically promised, we can, and should, expect God to show up. For example, the two disciples at Emmaus were ‘two gathering in His name’, and there as promised, was Jesus [Matthew 18:20]; during praise and worship, God declares He will come close and actually ‘take a seat’ on our praises [Psalm 22:3]; when we make disciples, He promises to be with us [Matthew 28:19,20], and when we break bread He comes present in the bread and wine [1 Corinthians 10:16].
In each of the above ways, the Lord announces He is present and waiting for us to respond. The question is, then what?
NEW SERIES: HOW TO FIND REST IN THE LORD
PASS IT ON
[Photo credits: Bruno Van Der Kraan (hole in rock); Javardh (feather); Joshua Hoehne (mobile) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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