Encounters with the Lord

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Acts 9:1-6

Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians when he had a life-changing encounter with the Lord. Jesus showed up in such a powerful way that it knocked Saul to the ground and blinded him. This was the beginning of the Pharisee Saul becoming the apostle Paul.

Encounters with the Lord change us. But not all encounters are like the one Saul had. Throughout the Bible we see people having encounters with the Lord in different ways. And in the New Testament church, because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, those encounters only increased in variety.

What follows is a list of a variety of different encounters that are available to us. This list is not exhaustive but instead representative of the variety of ways Jesus encounters us through the Spirit. There are as many kinds of encounters as there are characteristics of Christ.

1. Mercy Encounter: most Christians have had this kind of encounter with the Lord. This is when the Lord reveals our sin and our unworthy state as we stand vulnerable before the Lord and He pours out his forgiveness upon us. As His grace and mercy envelop us, we feel free from the guilt and shame of our sin. We feel washed clean and made right with the Lord. Tears often accompany this encounter.

2. Truth Encounter: this is when we have been shackled by a lie (or lies) and we didn’t even know it. The Lord reveals a powerful truth to us through scripture, through prayer, through a sermon, or through a friend. That truth rocks us to the core and breaks the chains of the lie we had been believing. Jesus is the Truth as He comes with a fresh perspective and sets us free. An “ah ha” feeling, a feeling of new revelation and new perspective, often accompanies this kind of encounter.

3. Love Encounter: this is when the Love of the Father gets poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We may have felt unaccepted or unloved until this moment. When God’s love pours out on us we feel totally accepted and cherished as a child of God. Performance mentality is broken off of us. We finally accept that we don’t have to earn God’s love. We just bask in it. More than tears, weeping often accompanies this kind of encounter. Others have felt what they can only describe as liquid love pouring onto them.

4. Power Encounter: this is when the power of God shoots through someone’s body like electricity. These encounters most often happen during prayers of impartation, prayers for healing, and prayers for deliverance. The power of God surges through someone physically and they have physical reactions to it. They often tremble, shake, fall to the ground, have muscle contractions, and sometimes experience pain. It makes sense that our frail human bodies would have a hard time handling the power of our omnipotent God. Sometimes, especially if this kind of encounter is new to someone, it is a little frightening because a person can lose control of their bodies for a moment.

5. Peace Encounter: this is when the peace of Christ comes and blankets us. We suddenly go from a mind filled with anxiety, fear, worry, and grief to a complete calm. All the anxiety, fear, and worry leave. We feel totally at peace. Our problems that seemed so huge before melt away. The problem doesn’t change but we see it differently now. We are confident in God’s ability to work in any situation. We are not worrying about the future nor trapped in the past. When the peace of Christ blankets us, we are completely present in the moment. A sense of total calm mixed with unconditional hope often accompanies this kind of encounter.

6. Joy Encounter: this is when the explainable joy of the Lord fills our hearts. This is not joy based on people around us or our circumstances. This is an outpouring of joy from the heart of God. Sometimes there is a feeling that a person is so filled with the Spirit that they feel intoxicated or high. The heaviness of life, despair, depression, and hopelessness immediately evaporate as they are overwhelmed by the joy of the Lord. This joy encounter can be momentary (just a few hours) or it can last days. People often experience uncontrollable laughter even when nothing around them is funny.

7. Fire Encounter: this is when the fire of God comes upon a person. This is a kind of power encounter. The person feels heat all over their body or in one particular part of their body. It gets so hot that the person often sweats profusely though no one around them is warm. This can be localized if someone is praying for healing for a particular part of the body, or it can be felt all over if the Presence of God is all over a person.

8. Vision/Dream Encounter: this is a revelatory encounter where God gives a person an open vision. An internal vision is when God gives us a picture or a scene in our mind’s eye. That is a much more common experience than an open vision. An open vision is when a person is stopped in their tracks by seeing a spiritual vision externally with their physical eyes. We see this kind of encounter many times in the New Testament. Those with prophetic gifts will have more of these kinds of encounters. This kind of encounter can also happen while we are sleeping if Jesus comes to speak to us in our dreams.

9. Angelic Encounter: this is when a person sees with their physical eyes an angel near them. Often the angel has been sent to do something or say something to them. The angel is never worshipped as they are simply servants in the Kingdom of God. But the experience of seeing an angel can shake a person and cause a level of holy fear. The angel often has just been in God’s Presence and, like an aroma or a kind of radiation, the residue of God’s Presence can be felt on them.

10. Fear of the Lord Encounter: this is when a person encounters God’s Presence and God reveals to them just how close He was to them. When that revelation hits, the awesome fear of the Lord falls upon them. The awareness of just how awesome, powerful, holy, and glorious the Lord is hits a person all at once and it’s terrifying. Holy fear envelops them. Shaking, weeping, and repentance often accompanies this kind of encounter.

I know all of these encounters are real and available to us as followers of Jesus because I’ve had most of them. Though I’ve never had an open vision, I have had inner visions and I’ve had good friends who’ve experienced open visions. Though I’ve never had an angelic encounter, I have good friends and loved ones who have. All the rest of these I’ve experienced firsthand. And this is only a list of 10. There are so many attributes of God and encounters with Him that await those who pursue Him.

We don’t pursue the encounter, we pursue Jesus. We go after Him with everything we are and He meets us where we are with a unique encounter just for us. Encountering Jesus through the Spirit is life-changing. Every time we have an experience with Him we are changed by it. We get a taste of His nature and His character and we want more. And as we get to know Him, we want to be just like Him.


Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 

Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast.

The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace.

Judges 6:17, 19-24

Gideon had an encounter with the angel of the Lord but wanted evidence that it was really him. So Gideon made an offering, and, with one touch of the tip of the angel’s staff, the offering was consumed by fire. We’re not sure here if Gideon was dealing with an angel or some manifestation of God Himself. Maybe this was the pre-incarnate Son of God.

Gideon seemed to come to the realization that he was in God’s Presence. This realization absolutely terrified him. Over and over again in scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, we see that there is an aspect of being in God’s raw Presence that is completely terrifying. There is a holy fear that comes upon people. This isn’t because God is scary but because He is pure power in His majesty. There is something about his overwhelming holiness that makes human beings instantly aware of our sinfulness and lowliness. In these moments, the “fear of the Lord” moves from just being a concept about honoring God into a tangible reality that they can feel in their bones.

Seeing Gideon in a state of complete terror, the angel of the Lord (likely the Lord Himself) said, “Peace!” This sounds really familiar.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!

John 20:19-21

When God says the word “peace,” it changes atmospheres, quiets storms, and has tangible effects on people. When God speaks “peace” He’s not just saying, “It’s okay.” When God says “peace” He is releasing the atmosphere of the Kingdom of God into the kingdom of the world.

Gideon feels the effect of peace being spoken over his life so much that he actually sets up an altar in that place and calls it, “The Lord is Peace.” In other words, when God speaks peace into our lives He is imparting an aspect of His very nature to us. Isaiah 9:6 prophesies that one of Jesus’s titles would be “Prince of Peace.”

Is there chaos in your life? In your heart? In your mind? Are you bound by fear and anxiety? If so, then peace is what you need, and God is the source of the kind of peace you need. Hear him speaking “Peace” to you today!

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:5-7

Releasing Peace

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.

Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 

Matthew 10:7-13

Jesus sent out His disciples to do what He had been doing–preach the message of the Kingdom, heal the sick, drive out demons, raise the dead. They had freely received the authority of Jesus and now they were to freely give it away, freely release it to people in the surrounding towns. And they were to take nothing with them as they went. They were sent out with total dependence on the Father to provide for them.

Jesus gave them a strategy for entering a town to do supernatural ministry. They were to find a “worthy person” and stay at their house until they leave the town. They were to give the household their greeting. In the Jewish culture, the greeting was to say “shalom” which means peace.

Jesus then advises that they let their peace rest on the house if the home is deserving but to take it back if it is not. When Jesus sends out the 72, He says something similar in Luke 10:

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.

Luke 10:5-6

I believe this indicates that peace (as well as other aspects of the Kingdom of God) is something that believers can “release” into an atmosphere and onto people.

Every aspect of the Kingdom can be found in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” One of the fruits of the Spirit is peace (Galatians 5:22). So, I believe the Holy Spirit in us can release His peace through us into a room and onto a person. In other words, the peace that resides in us can be sent out of us to rest on a house or on a person.

Philippians 4:7 says, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Peace here is described as something that can stand guard like a sentinel. It is something that can rule like a king. The peace of the Kingdom is not a weak, ethereal, whisp that evaporates with the slightest disturbance. The peace of God is dominant, invasive, and blanketing in the best possible way.

The peace of the Kingdom is a peace that dominates chaos (see Mark 4:39). The peace of Christ has the ability to rule; it has the ability to guard our hearts and minds from anxiety, fear, and worry. I believe this means we can see the impact of peace when it comes to rest on a person or in a room.

As followers of Jesus filled with the power of Spirit who walk with the delegated authority of Christ, we have the ability to release tangible peace wherever we go. I’ve experienced moments praying for people where I released the peace of Christ upon a person and watched as peace completely blanketed them. The peace of Christ completely dominated the fear, hopelessness, and despair they were just experiencing moments before.

I believe that sometimes when we are waiting for God to bring peace into a situation, He is actually waiting for us to release peace into the situation.

Where can you release peace today?

Let Peace Rule

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with grace in your hearts. 

Colossians 3:15-16

We are to let the peace of Christ, the peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), rule in our hearts. The word translated as “rule” is the Greek word brabeuó. It means “to act as an umpire, making the call in a conflict between contending forces, to arbitrate.”

The idea here is that there are different things contending for your heart. Fear, anxiety, worry, doubt, chaos, criticism, hopelessness, confusion, stress, and much more are all contending for a place in our hearts. We are commanded to let peace be the guiding principle, the final word, the thing that makes the decision as to what stays and what goes. Let peace call balls and strikes. Let peace decide what is safe to stay in your heart and what gets called out. In other words, if it doesn’t line up with the peace of Christ, it doesn’t get to stay.

How do we do this?

We get some clues in the passage of Scripture that follows.

  1. Be thankful! Gratitude invites peace.
  2. Let the word of Christ (or message of Christ) dwell in us richly. Staying regularly in God’s word invites peace.
  3. Teach and admonish with wisdom. Applying wisdom to our lives invites peace.
  4. Sing to God, with grace in our hearts, all different kinds of songs, hymns, psalms and songs from the Spirit. Worship focused on the grace that’s been poured out for us invites peace.

These simple but profound spiritual disciplines establish an environment of peace in our hearts.

Into Practice

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:9

Sometimes Christians wonder why they aren’t experiencing more peace in their life. After all, they believe the gospel, they believe in Jesus, yet they wonder where their peace has gone. We get a clue as to what happened in this passage.

The pathway to peace is putting it into practice. It’s not enough to learn, to receive, to hear or to see the gospel on display. We must actually take it and apply it to our daily life. When we put it into practice, when we obey–when we live it out–that is when we experience the God of peace who is with us.

For example, it’s not enough to learn that we must forgive because we are forgiven. It’s not enough to receive forgiveness and hear about forgiveness. It’s not enough to see forgiveness in action. All of those things help us gain understanding about what forgiveness is and why it is important, but they won’t bring us peace until we actually forgive the person who hurt us. It’s when we “put it into practice” that we experience the God of peace fill our hearts and minds with peace.

So if there is unrest or the absence of peace in an area of our life, we have to ask ourselves if we are putting the gospel into practice in that area. Often it is as simple as sitting quietly for a few minutes, listening to worship music, and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that we aren’t putting into practice. Once the Holy Spirit brings it to the surface, thank Him, ask for forgiveness, and ask what it looks like to put it into practice. Don’t be surprised if you see pictures in your mind’s eye or hear thoughts that clarify what to do next.

A Peace of God

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

In our prayer time with the Lord, there was meant to be an exchange. We come with our burdens, our heavy yokes, our anxiety, our worry, our stress, our frustrations, our failures, and we give them to God by prayer and petition.

Then we shift into gratitude, praise, and thanksgiving. This shift allows us to let go and receive all that He has for us in that moment. Many times we’ll feel God’s love; we’ll sense that He is with us and for us. There may be a release of joy that wells up from inside of us. But most often the thing that comes and wraps us like a blanket is the peace of God.

God’s peace transcends all understanding. It doesn’t make sense that we should be feeling such a calm and a peace in the midst of these storms of life, and yet that is exactly what we experience in God’s Presence.

Like a fresh coat of paint, God’s peace doesn’t just change the color of our heart and mind from dark to light, but it also seals, protects and guards our hearts and minds for the rest of the day. It protects us from the natural weathering that can happen to our emotions and our thought-life.

The Greek word here translated into the word “guard” refers to a military sentinel or guard. Another way of saying it is that God’s peace is militant. Sometimes we think of peace as a fluffy, white blanket. The connotation here is much stronger than a fluffy, white blanket. Picture instead a stern, special ops soldier assigned to be your body guard in a war zone. That is what the peace of God does as we get harassed by the anxieties of the world. It aggressively guards our hearts and minds.

Jesus said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

New Shoes

…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 

Ephesians 6:15

Literally in the Greek this sentence reads, “and having bound under the feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” The imagery here is someone taking the leather straps of a sandal and wrapping them around their feet until the footwear is firmly in place. But instead of the leather of a sandal, it’s the preparation, readiness and firm footing of the gospel that secures the traction of a Christian.

It is significant that Paul describes the gospel not as the gospel of salvation or the gospel of Jesus or the gospel of grace (though it is all of those things), but instead the gospel of peace. It is the peace of the gospel in our lives that prepares us for battle and secures our footing.

Another way of saying it is that fear and anxiety undermine our footing when we try to stand firm against the enemy. Fear trips us up in battle and anxiety makes us stumble.

We know from boxing that in any kind of hand-to-hand combat, the one with the secure footing is the one who wins. The power of a punch starts in the footing, travels up through the legs and hips gaining momentum, and is released as the shoulders rotate and the arm extends. The balance and footwork of any fighter is 90% of the battle. This is true for us as well.

Our balance and footwork in the battle against the enemy starts with being prepared with peace. Philippians 4:7 says, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Speaking about Jesus, Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he himself is our peace.” And if we still doubt the power of peace, Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Make no mistake, peace is a weapon!

How do we get this peace that sends fear and anxiety running?

Paul teaches the Philippians, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”(Philippians 4:9). In other words, live out the gospel, put it into practice, and you’ll find peace following you everywhere.

The writer of Hebrews puts it this way, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”(Hebrews 12:11). The disciplined life of following Jesus produces not just a little peace, but a whole harvest of peace.

Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” This necessarily means we are not letting other things rule in our hearts like anxious thoughts, fears, and worries about the future.

All of this points to the fact that peace must be pursued. It is a fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of a disciplined life in Christ, the fruit of a life that refuses to give fear or anxiety an inch in their heart or mind. “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control”(2 Timothy 1:7 NET).