Are there certain smells that you associate with specific people?   The smell of Old Spice always reminds me of my dad.  He wore it for years and it was one of my go-to gifts for him for a long time.

wintergreen lozengesPeppermint reminds me of my grandma because she would always give us a peppermint lozenge when she had her coffee.  It was a special thing.

As I mentioned in other posts on detecting scents in the spirit, I try to make a note of what I experience, when it happened, and what was going on.  I try to identify the smell if  I can, but I’m not always able to.  Sometimes it’s a familiar smell, but I just can’t place it.  Sometimes, it’s just not a smell I recognize.

The Sanctuary Smell

There is one particular smell that I experienced frequently, but I didn’t know what it was.

It was a light floral smell, a little bit soapy, but really fresh and really clean.

And there was always a feeling that went along with it, a fullness and happiness.  It is an awesome smell and every time I experience it, I feel like I’ve been blessed, that I’ve received a special gift from God.

I didn’t know what it was so I started calling it the Sanctuary Smell when I wrote it in my notes, because that is the closest thing I could compare it to, what I imagine the sanctuary of God to smell like. Sometimes I would describe it to people, and often then would say, “Oh, yes!  I’ve smelled that.”

But other than the awesomeness of it, I didn’t know what it meant specifically.   There didn’t seem to be a common thread through the times when I experienced it, nothing that I could put my finger on.


For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved 2 Corinthians 2:15

  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved  2 Corinthians 2:15 NASB

Experiencing the Sanctuary

I’ve experienced it a number of times, but these are the two occurrences that stand out most vividly. One was last year, January 6, 2013, to be exact.  It was Sunday, the Day of Ephiphany, and the youth pastor at our campus, Jonathan Gray, was giving the message.

It began during the worship time, during the offertory song when Judith Roberts sang, “Mighty Wind” (Let it Overflow.)  You could feel the presence of God and there were just waves and waves of the sanctuary fragrance.

Then again during the message.  It got to where I could tell when Jonathan was building up to a main point because there would be a wave of the sanctuary fragrance about thirty seconds before it, like it was preparing people’s heart to receive the message.

These are some of the highlights from message that I took down when the fragrance was particularly strong (I’d post the video of the sermon, but the sermon archive doesn’t go back that far. 🙁  )

  • “God’s promises are for today not tomorrow.”
  • He talked about how we had to “sharpen our axe” by studying the Word of God and that the Christian walk was “all about the edge.”
  • The importance of starting your day with prayer and incorporating fasting into your schedule.

It again came in waves as he told a story about before his daughter was born and hearing from the Holy Spirit.  (If I remember correctly, there was an issue with the pregnancy.) It was a really awesome message.  It was about making the most of our time and putting our relationship and connection with God as a priority.

The second time that really stood out to me was during a Friday night worship service.  They had a fellowship time, and then went into a time of worship.  It was like the Holy Spirit was so used to hanging out there that as soon as the music started, you could feel the presence.

The regular worship leader wasn’t there so they were using a playlist of Christian songs.  The music began with one artist, and then after about 15 minutes, songs from another artist started.  I didn’t recognize who it was, but when those songs started, the presence left.  I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about the songs themselves.  It was a Christian artist with Christian lyrics.

When I considered it later, I think it must have been that the second musical artist was singing for his own glory rather than the glory of God, and that is why the Holy Spirit left.

Then someone got up and started playing the guitar, singing to God.  The presence of the Holy Spirit came back and the sanctuary smell came in.  She didn’t think she was that great of a worship leader, she kept kind of downplaying her efforts.

But it was very obvious that God much preferred her praise because she was singing to Him rather than singing for herself.


But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 2 Corinthians 2:14 RSV

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.  2 Corinthians 2:14 RSV

Discovering the Sanctuary

I didn’t know what the common element between these occurrences until recently. I attended a home fellowship and when we arrived, someone was talking to a friend of mine about their plans, what was going on, and how God was working in her life.

Then she said, “I didn’t realize this until recently, but God took Abraham into his bosom.  They had a close, intimate relationship.” Right before she said the words, the sanctuary smell sprang up.  It seemed like it as soon as the thoughts entered her head, it came.

I was thinking, “Awesome!,” but I didn’t really understand the reason it came. Then a few days later on Wednesday at the Power Prayer class, it came again.

Pastor McGowen was praying for President Obama: that he would come to know him, that he would walk in God’s righteousness and justice, and that he would seek the truth and God’s wisdom.

That is when the sanctuary smell came .  .  . very strong.

That is when I knew what it was, what it meant.

The sanctuary smell is the fragrance of the Father’s heart.  It is God’s desire for us and his pursuit of a relationship with us.   It is his overwhelming love for us and his grief and heartbreak when we reject His perfect plan for us and insist on going our own way into bondage and misery.

Celebrating the Father

Father’s Day is coming up in a couple of weeks.  For some people, Father’s Day brings special memories of their day.  For others, it can trigger emotions and memories they would rather forget.

Regardless of your relationship with your earthly father, why not spend the next couple of weeks getting know your heavenly Father:

Who He is.

How regardless of the situation or circumstances, you can tell Him about it.  He will always be there for you.


download on itunes

Song:  It’s Gonna be Alright
Artist:  Dennis Jernigan
Album:  Kingdom Come


What He thinks about you, just how precious you are to Him . . .



And how much He loves you.


download on itunes

Song:  How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Artist:  Selah
Album:  You Deliver Me