SPIRITUAL ENCOUNTERS & THE WAYS OF GOD
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
FIRST STOP: ANOINTING. SECOND STOP: WILDERNESS.
Almost without delay, following Jesus’ heavenly encounter with the Fathers love, Jesus is led by the Spirit into what would be the greatest trial of His life to date. 40 days and nights without food or water and a toe to toe bout with Satan himself! Consider for a moment that the same Spirit who descended upon Him and baptized him with heaven, is very same Spirit that is now leading Him into a month-long lonely struggle culminating in a personal encounter with the angel of hell.
Seriously?! Either this was a cosmic mistake or the genius of God’s leadership.
Work that one into your pnuematology*.
THE ‘HIT LIST OF HELL’
True Holy Spirit encounters can serve to acquaint you both with the person of heaven and powers of hell. In Matt 3:16-17Jesus was both immersed in water and in the person of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit baptism would ultimately stand as the very foundation of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:18-19) a ministry with a specific objective: to destroy the works of Satan (1 Jn 3:8). The open heavens, the Father’s declaration of love, the Holy Spirit’s descent–this whole dramatic prophetic experience wasn’t some flash in the pan conference moment; it was a real-deal heavenly encounter that made Jesus a great threat to the kingdom of darkness. The anointing of the Holy Spirit resting on Jesus did indeed mark Him with heaven–however, this is a reality which ultimately meant He would soon be marked/targeted by Hell. In short, Jesus’ experience/relationship with the Holy Spirit placed Him on the ‘hit list of hell.’
PASSING THE TEST
I believe that it was the wisdom of God for the Spirit to lead Jesus into the wilderness struggle. Following every great heavenly encounter is a struggle which God can use to test the affections of His servant and prove the efficacy of His anointing. In the wilderness Jesus’ loyalty to the Father was tested as the enemy did his best to compromise God’s plan for His Son. As well, the anointing of the Spirit would prove sufficient for destroying the works of Satan and His evil schemes. In the end the Father’s word to His Son was tried and tested. As a result, the word could take root in His heart and serve as a living and abiding word in Him, an anchor to His soul.
A glorious end to what I call the ‘blueprint’ for true heavenly encounters.
A WORD FOR TODAY
It is critical for this Heaven-hungry generation to learn the ways of God in Holy Spirit encounters. Impartation of the Spirit without an education in the ways of God is a fire-cracker blast that ends in a brief moment and sets nothing a blaze. Life in the Spirit is less like a fire cracker and more like a forest fire!
There is a call today for the church to marry encounter and discipleship in the training of the next generation. We must know both prophecy and process, anointing and administration, intimacy and exploits, etcetera, etcetera. For far too long we have emphasized one or the other and perpetuated a broken model that won’t truly make a people ready for King of Glory. Choosing between the two is like choosing between a river and it’s banks, a flame and it’s burning, wine and it’s wineskin. It’s not that we don’t any longer have to choose so much as it is we cannot any longer afford to choose.
May God raise up a generation who can receive the full anointing of the Holy Spirit, pass their test and overcome every evil devil that rises against them because of that glorious anointing, in Jesus’ name.
*Pnuematology: the study of the Holy Spirit