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I had this amazing week. It started on a Sunday, where the Holy Spirit met me in a wonderful way during my devotions before Church. If that had been all that happened that day, it would have been a great day for me -- but God had even more in store for me. Church was exceptional that day, God showed up big time during the ministry time. Many people had very powerful experiences with God, and I had my own experience with Him.
First, God spoke to me and made me some promises that seemed to be in direct response to my prayer time that morning. I wanted more of Him and was so hungry for Him and had been telling Him how I wanted more of His Lordship and presence and power and anointing in my own life and ministry -- in short, I wanted more of Him and I wanted more of His anointing on my ministry. I had been crying out to Him very seriously about this for three weeks. And it had sort of come to a climax during my devotions that morning. Now during the ministry time, God met me and spoke to me about an increase of His presence, power and anointing in my own life and ministry. It was so much what I wanted to hear that I was afraid that maybe it was just the desires of my heart imitating God's voice to me instead of really Him. So He told me that He would use prophecy to confirm to me what He had been saying directly to me on that very day. I kind of expected that would happen during the ministry time, but God did not do it that way. However, I had a very unusual experience with God during the ministry time where I was "frozen in place" for an hour and a half. I knew the hand of God was upon me but I did not fully understand what He was doing.
That evening I was in our prophetic chatroom and one of the ladies in the room got a word for me. Suddenly everyone in the room seemed to be giving me words... and these words were telling me the same thing that God had spoken directly to me at the service that morning. He had prophetically confirmed it the same day after all, He just did it differently than I expected. Those words carried a "promotion" of sorts and also a lot of promises from God that matched what I had been praying for. I was so blessed and ministered to that I had a hard time getting to sleep that night... I kept dropping into worship and waking up. God met and blessed me so much on that Sunday. It effected me all week long. My devotions and prayer time seemed to take on a new dimension for several days after that. God met me in such wonderful ways and I was so close to Him.
Wednesday was a very important day for the prophetic teams at church, which I oversee. We had our first prophetic service, where people come to the service and members of the teams take turns selecting a person to prophesy to. God had given me the vision for this a couple of months before, telling me it would thrust many of our team members to the next level of the prophetic. I had fasted and prayed that day, and God was so close to me all day, speaking to me, giving me direction and details for that evening's prophetic service and making encouraging promises to me for the team members. And God came through on His promises that night. And the Holy Spirit showed up with great anointing on the team. The service went incredibly well and it was a major milestone for our prophetic team.
I felt so close to God from the fast that I continued fasting a few days longer. God seemed closer and more tangible than usual. It was an incredible week for me.
But things changed on Saturday. First, I had trouble sleeping the night before, so I woke up tired. There was this outreach in Richmond that our church participated in, and I went to that. The directions I had been given were wrong and it took me quite a while to find the place, so I arrived late. They broke us into teams. Now, God had spoken to me before telling me that I was supposed to go to the shopping mall to prophesy to people and pray for physical healings. But that team was "full," and they put me on some other team. I won't go into the details, but it was a frustrating afternoon. We ended up being assigned to a place that was inappropriate for the cultural mix of our team, and the people there were not at all receptive to receive any sort of prayer. I was led by the Spirit to a few places away from our table where I had a couple of powerful witnessing experiences. But it was mostly a low key day. About 2:30 myself and one other lady left the "prayer booth" to go pass out tracts at a local mall. I did get to prophesy to unbelievers or pray for the sick that day.
They had a city-wide rally that night, where our pastor Rodney was the main speaker. But I was tired, so I skipped the rally and went home. In fact, I was so tired (and a little frustrated with the day) that I skipped my devotion time and watched TV instead.
The next day was Sunday. I had to teach in the adult Sunday school class, so I got up very early to prepare my material. I also did my devotions and prayer time before I went to church, and they seemed "dead." It felt like I showed up but God didn't -- quite a change from my experiences of the previous week. At church, someone came up to me to tell me how powerful the service I skipped was, how the Holy Spirit broke out and met people powerfully. Someone else told me that just after I left the prayer booth, people started lining up for prayer. I felt frustrated when I heard those reports, like I'd missed out. Then, to make matters worse, the Sunday school class did not seem to go very well. I thought I was sharing some really good material, but the students just did not connect to it.
I felt discouraged about how Sunday school went and when service began, I had trouble entering into the worship until it was almost over. Then I felt discouraged about missing most of the worship as well, when it was so clear that everyone else was really connecting with God. It seemed like no matter what I did, I missed out. (Have you ever had days like that?)
I went to bed early, but I woke up at 1 AM. As I woke up, a thought went strongly through my mind, "God has delivered you over to the tormenters, that is why you can't sleep." That made sense to me. I'd had a pretty frustrating last two days and my devotions and personal intimacy time with God had gone sour. I was having trouble sleeping multiple nights in a row -- that must be it. I must have accidentally offended God and He had delivered me over to the tormenters. So I began to pray and ask for mercy and forgiveness. I was not sure what I'd done wrong, so I wasn't sure how to repent of it and make it right. I went up to the computer and began to play a mindless computer game. Two hours went by. As I played the computer games, I tried to figure out what I had done wrong to make God deliver me to the tormentors. I asked Him to show it to me.
My mind wandered back to the previous weekend when it seemed that God met me so powerfully, speaking to me privately and confirming it with prophecy. And there was that thing where He froze my feet to the ground. Then I began to convince myself it had not really happened... Maybe I just did not move for an hour and a half because I wanted God to touch me so I made it up and fooled myself. Maybe that was why God was mad at me. Well, what about the prophecies? I had received 13 of them from 13 different people all telling me what God had spoken privately to me. Could I make them up or manipulate them to happen? No, I could not. I had not told a soul about what God had said to me that morning. There was no way I could have manipulated those prophecies. No, that was something outside of my control. God had given me a promotion of sorts that day. It did not make sense to get a promotion one Sunday and a week later be delivered over to the tormentors. How had I gotten so messed up?
"Teresa, don't put your focus on your problems or behavior. Put it on God's nature. What do you know Him to be like?" The voice was in my thoughts, but it was sharp and clear. I suspected it was God speaking to me, so I began to pay attention to it.
"I know Him to be loving and forgiving." Immediately several scriptures came to my mind that said that about God.
"Ok, so if you were to repent and run back to Him, would He push you away?"
"No, of course not!"
"Then why are you thinking and behaving like He has pushed you away? You have just spent the last two hours crying out to Him and asking to be right with Him, repenting for whatever you did wrong, asking Him to show it to you. From what you know of God, what would His response to you be?"
"He would forgive me." But I did not feel forgiven.
"Don't trust your emotions right now. Trust what you know to be true of God from His nature and from your previous experiences with Him." I was suddenly reminded of a sin I'd fallen into about a month before, and how I became aware of it midstream, repented and ran back to God. I knew I had hurt God, but He forgave me instantly and there was no punishment, no separation. I was amazed at His love and mercy and at how quickly He restored me to fellowship in Him.
"If God did that for you when you were clearly in the wrong, don't you think He'd do that for you now, when you are crying out to Him for forgiveness and mercy, even though you don't know what you did wrong?"
"Well, yes." That certainly made sense and was consistent with the God I knew and served.
"God doesn't change. His nature remains constant. Why would He treat you differently now than He did then?"
"No, He wouldn't. And what was your response when He forgave you last time?"
"I did not want to do that sin anymore." I really didn't. I had ended up in three or four situations that could have led to the same sin, and I was repelled by the idea of doing it again and each time asked Him to help me not to sin -- and He helped me each time I asked. I had felt the hurt and pain that my sin had caused God, and yet He forgave me so freely. I sure did not want to do that to Him again.
"Teresa, do you think God is an idiot?"
"Of course not!"
"Then why would He turn you over to the tormenters when you have a heart after Him like that?" I knew it was a rhetorical question, but the answer was so obvious -- He would not. I began to realize my own feelings could deceive me, but God would remain consistent to His nature and I could absolutely count on what the Bible tells me about Him. I could also count on my past experiences with God which taught me that He was faithful. I could feel the cloud over me lifting as I reminded myself of what God was like and how loving and faithful and forgiving He was.
This conversation went on a bit longer, telling me that God is not dyslexic. He would not "promote" me one weekend and then throw me away the following one. God is purposeful and intentional -- He has a plan and He follows it. So no matter what my emotions and thoughts had been trying to tell me, I must put my focus on Who God really is and what He is really like. The conversation lasted for a good half hour.
Then God told me to go read about where He showed His glory to Moses in Exodus 33 and 34. That same longing for more of Him began to rise up in me as I read that. And then God came and met me. I had a nice time of fellowship with Him and then He told me to go back to bed and get some sleep. As I did so, I asked Him what had happened. How had my thinking and feelings gotten so messed up? How had I been able to go so quickly from that place of intimacy to thinking God had thrown me away and given me over to the tormentors? God answered my question in a dream. He showed me that this was actually spiritual warfare, where the enemy was coming against me to derail me so that I would not continue to be effective with God to build His kingdom.
And that experience is the reason that I am writing this teaching series. The truth is that there is a war going on. When we work with God, when we prophesy, when He uses us powerfully -- we attack Satan's kingdom and take territory away from him. And Satan responds by fighting back -- by attacking us however we are most vulnerable. For me, and for many others like me, it is by causing that low after the high and trying to discourage us. And when I allow him to get My focus off of God and unto myself and my circumstances, then he succeeds for a short while. He might attack others in the area of health or finances or personal attacks against their character and integrity.
But if you prophesy and speak the words of God, you tear down Satan's kingdom and he is going to fight back. We are in a war, and we need to be prepared for the counter attack, so that the devil is not able to take us out with it.