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THE PROMISE OF HIS PRESENCE

THE PROMISE OF HIS PRESENCE

(Luke 24:49)

“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.”


When Jesus was about to go to the cross and then ascend on high He gave a powerful promise to his disciples and followers: the promise of His presence. Although his bodily form that they had beheld the glory of the Father in, the glory of the Only Begotten Son through, would return to the bosom of the Father from whence it came, His presence would never leave them. In fact His presence returned only days later as the precious Holy Spirit came upon them in power as they tarried in the upper room according to his instruction. This is the promise that He gives to us all: the promise of his presence and the promise of his power if we’re willing to wait and tarry as those disciples once did.


MY EARLY YEARS OF TARRYING IN HIS PRESENCE


When I was a teenager I got gloriously saved at a youth conference in Los Angeles, California, after I traveled there from Alaska with my new youth pastor and the youth group of our church. I remember feeling the presence of God in the L.A. Convention Center as thousands gathered to worship the king. I remember being moved by the presence of the Lord, and without any doubt I answered the altar call to give my life to Christ in one of those services, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve never doubted my decision that day to follow Christ and serve him with my life.


Immediately a call for ministry manifested and I began to serve in my local church in the youth department, after school and on weekends, whenever I could find time to be there. I loved the ministry and I loved the mission of touching lives for Jesus, leading people to the cross, leading people into an intimate relationship with the Lord. In those early years of High School my only real expression for seeking God that had been imparted to me from my youth pastor and the church I attended was getting in the Word and worshipping the Lord. That was the best foundation I could have received, but I felt a deep hunger in my Spirit and I knew there was more. I just didn’t know how to get it. I went on like that for a few years, doing the best with what I had and what I knew, while still feeling like there was more. It was then when I was seventeen that I was introduced to the ministry of Benny Hinn.


MY INTRODUCTION TO THE ANOINTING


I was visiting a friend’s house, someone I knew from my youth group. It was a cool crisp fall day in Alaska. The kind of day that made the coffee taste just a little better in my home state in the north! I remember greatly respecting my friend’s mother who I held in high esteem as a very godly woman of prayer. Her house was full of book cases that were packed on each shelf with every christian book you could imagine. I remember thinking how much she must have loved God in order to read all those books and be so hungry for more of him.


When I made my way into the living room that day my friend’s mother was watching a christian television show which I found peculiar. A man was slowly walking back and forth on a large platform in a large arena somewhere in America waving his hand speaking in a funny ascent. The music seemed old and his clothes were all white. I had never seen anything like it. The youth group I was a part of and the church I attended was a little more modern I would say. My first inclination was to judge this man and say that most of what He was doing was for show, but by the grace of God I kept watching and as I did my life was forever changed.


On the show I saw this man move in the Spirit under an incredible anointing. Everywhere He walked people just fell over. Many of them were never even touched. Then I saw the miracles. Incredible miracles began to happen as people flooded to the sides of the stage to individually walk up on the platform and give their testimonies of how God had touched them. There was no doctor present, no one had run any tests, no one had taken any x-rays or MRI’s to confirm the claims of the people, but I knew in my heart as I watched that I was seeing my first miracles. This experience forever marked my life.


MY PURSUIT OF HIS PRESENCE


This began a new era in my life, and this was the “more” I had been feeling was available in my spirit for years now. The “more” was the anointing. The “more” was the truth and reality that we can grow in God, that we don’t have to stay stuck in our current level of relationship and encountering Him. God filled me with the revelation and belief that I could experience more of Him and that He could use me in a glorious way in his power, in his glory, and in his anointing if I did what God’s generals did to get what they got; if I devoted myself to the secret place and waited for the promise of his presence and power in prayer!


In response to the hunger that this experience awakened within me I ordered several of Benny’s books, and also other books by other saints who wrote about praying and walking with the Lord such as E.M. Bounds, Andrew Murray, Brother Lawrence, and others. My favorite books of Benny’s were “Good Morning Holy Spirit” and “The Anointing”, which He had released many years before. These books contained testimonies of Benny being visited by God’s presence and power, and the more I read, the more I consumed this content, the more hungry I became to truly know God in spirit and in truth.


I increased my prayer time and time alone with the Lord to hours every day. At first I didn’t really know what to do. Benny had talked about having sweet communion with his friend Holy Spirit in his room in Toronto as a teenager, but what did that look like? How did that work?


Soon I began to feel the presence of the Lord very strongly as it would flood the room, almost the moment I would shut the door and say, “Come Lord Jesus, come”! The presence and power of God began to envelope me like an electric blanket as I would stand in his presence and then lay flat on the carpet. Time began to fade during these sessions and it was not unusual for me to spend 4, 5, even 6-7 hours alone with the Lord as a teenager in my room after school and on the weekends. To others around me I seemed unusual. None of my other siblings in my home responded to God this way, and none of the other students in the youth group responded to the Lord this way either. At times I would be tempted to spend less time in the secret place with the Lord, and more time doing “normal things” that other teenagers my age were doing, just to fit in and feel more normal, but I feared losing what I had gained with the Lord. I feared losing the touch of his presence upon my life if I turned back. I couldn’t turn back. This was now my life. I was committed to the presence of God and serving the Lord. I chose the way of his presence and power. I chose intimacy with the Holy Spirit over a “normal American teenage life”.


VISITED BY THE LORD AT NINETEEN


Before long I found myself becoming even more extreme with my lifestyle of presence and prayer. I lost all desire to play sports (even though this had been a major part of my life since early childhood). I lost all desire to do things that I used to find so much pleasure in. I found myself sacrificing anything I could just to spend more time alone with the Lord.


Soon my four years of High School ended and I graduated in the spring of 2004 with honors. Immediately following my graduation I agreed to help my family build a house in a town in Alaska that was located about an hour and a half up the road from where I lived. This served as my summer job right after graduating. Once that was completed in August of that year, I returned to my parents home to seek the Lord and figure out what my next step would be as a young man who had his whole life ahead of him. It was at that time that I stumbled across an audio sermon online that a man named Todd Bentley had preached. The sermon was titled “Returning to Your Place of Visitation” and it was all about encountering the Lord in the secret place.


In this sermon Todd talked about his testimony, about how God had visited him when He was just twenty-two years old in Canada. He talked about how He found himself praying and spending 4-12 hours a day alone with God, and how the presence of God rolled in like waves of power and glory during this season. He talked about how at the end of this three month season of seeking the Lord daily for extended time in the glory that God visited him and commissioned him into full-time ministry. He described how immediately after this commissioning encounter He ended up in a Patricia King meeting in a neighboring town in British Columbia, and how at the end of the meeting Patriica called him up, laid hands on him, and confirmed what God had told him earlier in the day. From that day forward He entered the ministry and began to do what God had called him to do.


Although today, I’m sad to say, Todd has fallen away from the Lord and is living in a very dark place of sin refusing to repent of his sins, I still acknowledge how God used him in my life when I was a teenager. It was after hearing that anointed sermon in the fall of 2004 that I went to my parents and asked if I could take 5 months off from work and just seek the Lord day and night like this guy named Todd Bentley had. They graciously agreed to let me, and once again my life changed forever.


Within twenty-one days of me making that decision to seek the Lord with all my heart in the secret place for hours every day, the Lord Jesus visited me. He stepped into my room, appeared to me in the form of a vision, and anointed my head with oil. He anointed me for service that day, even though I had to wait until I was thirty years old, about eleven years from that time, to actually get into full-time ministry.


CONCLUSION


I share all of this with you, my dear reader, not to boast in my spirituality or devotion to God, but to present to you some of the possibilities that are available for those that devote themselves to the secret place of God’s presence and power; for those that are willing to wait for the promise of his presence and power. The hunger was awakened in me through listening to the stories of others talking about their walk with the Lord, and I pray that in this writing and in this sharing that I can pass on that gift to you which was once given so graciously to me by the Lord.


Since those early years of devoting myself to God’s presence and power I’ve seen extraordinary things all over the world. I’ve seen the blind see, the deaf hear, the cripples walk. I’ve seen demon possessed people thrown back by the power of God and convulse under the weight of God’s hand as the demon came out by the power of God. I’ve seen supernatural signs, wonders, and miracles manifest as I’ve preached the gospel, many times after not laying hands on a single soul! God has been so good on his promise to enrich my life with his presence, his nearness, his intimacy, and his voice, and He has been so good on his promise to use me in his power. I want to tell you today that the promise still stands. Those who respond to this call, to devote their lives entirely to the secret place, and to wait in faith upon the Lord for his spirit to visit them will indeed see the glory and goodness of God in the land of the living (Ps.27:13). The only question is are you willing to wait? Are you willing to give up your time? Are you willing to be called weird and unusual at times by those around you who do not understand the hunger you carry in your heart along with the actions and lifestyle that follows such hunger? If you are then you too will experience the Lord. If you are, you too will receive the promise of his presence and know his power in your life!


In His Service,

Stephen Powell


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