Training Your Senses: The Gift of Discernment

As an American Baptist pastor, l was accustomed to being around hurting people. They wept in my office. They poured out stories of confusion, abandonment, and betrayal. As a pastor I longed to help, but often I could only refer them to therapists for counseling. Sometimes they got better. Sometimes, they didn’t.

In the late 1980s the Lord began to re-shape our ministry. His call on our work and lives was to minister deliverance. But in the process, God dismantled our expectations, revived and renewed understanding of spiritual gifts, and generally remodeled our theology and vision of the Body of Christ. As if the Lord had hit a heavenly switch, as we prayed for people, spiritual gifts lit up all over.

A group of earnest intercessors and prayer warriors came together. People reported strange, out-of-the-box experiences. Their theology was shaken in the presence of words of knowledge, visions, and prophetic words. The gift of discernment exploded, although we really had no understanding of the gift.

During ministry sessions I asked team members to write down impressions, words, or visual images they received. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit would confirm by giving the same revelation to more than one person.

All this time, I didn’t feel, hear, or see a thing spiritually. Nothing.” Then I began to feel a peculiar pressure on my head during some prayer sessions. I approached a trusted friend who often saw physical manifestations of angels and demons. I told her I was feeling this pressure and asked what she saw.

She replied that she was seeing some demons. With that information, a slow process began by which the prayer team members and I grasped what was happening in us and our ministry.

Team members reported unusual, unexpected, physical sensations like nausea, shaking, pressure, pain, or tingling. Not everyone had such experiences and, among those who did, the reports were as varied as the people reporting them. I stumbled upon the realization that when prophetic team members said, “There’s a demon here,” I experienced physical pressure on a particular place on my head.

A Gift by Any Other Name

Most Christians have been taught that the gift of discernment allows believers to examine natural or spiritual
actions, events, doctrines, or practices to determine whether they are good or evil. Most Christians have also been taught that discernment is the God-given ability to determine whether a spirit is godly or demonic.

Although these understandings are biblically accurate, failure to address the means by which discernment occurs has left many believers to rely on an intellectual process of analysis and application of scriptural truths and principles. Within this understanding, discernment becomes skilled decision-making or the ability to weigh evidence and deduce answers. In 1 Corinthians 12: 7-10 discernment is listed not as a human ability, but a spiritual gift:

Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. To one is given…the message of wisdom…knowledge…to another faith….to another gifts of healing….miraculous powers… prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits. (NIV)

The New King James renders this phrase “discerning of spirits.” Elsewhere it is translated “discernment of spirits” (NRSV), and “distinguishing all spirits” (NASB). In the New Living Bible this text is paraphrased as “the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking.”

I sought understanding of this spiritual gift. I received a call from Dr. Tom Hawkins, a scholar and Dallas Theological Seminary PhD graduate involved in ministry to severely abused people. The Lord was about to explain to me a new understanding of His word.

Tom Hawkins told me that he had received a Word of Knowledge. He gave me the passage, Hebrews 5:11-14. He told me that he believe this was a chief passage for what was happening to me. I opened the Word and read these words:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature who, because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (NASB, author’s emphasis).

The final words, “solid food is for the mature who, because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil,” shone like a floodlight. For more than a year I and the prayer teams had struggled with questions about physical sensations we had experienced. Why did one member’s hands get numb when he prayed? Why did another feel pain in her chest? They’d experienced smells like rotting garbage, high-pitched shrieking sounds, heat, cold, physical discomfort, and even laughter. They’d asked the Lord more than once, What does this mean? They were on the verge of finding some answers.

The book of Hebrews says mature believers are ready for solid food of “teaching about righteousness.” Verse 14 then describes one route to maturity, saying, “the mature, who because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

Discernment is not child’s play. It is a mark of the mature Christian. According to 1 Corinthians 12:10, discernment is a spiritual gift. But as the writer of Hebrews clearly teaches, this gift must be developed by constant practice. Only then will discernment become a sharpened weapon of spiritual warfare. Only then will God’s people become acquainted with “teaching about righteousness” in this area of discipleship and training in godliness.

This made sense to me and the prayer teams. After all, teachers review notes and practice presentations. Everyone in every field gains maturity through practice. Why should we assume spiritual development is different?

I addressed the prayer teams, “In the spiritual areas of life, we immediately assume if we can’t do a spiritual activity correctly the first time, what we’re doing must not be of God. Hebrews 5:14 says practice is necessary. We’re to practice the use of our senses.” The goal of this practice is to train our five physical senses to distinguish between good and evil.

Evangelicals commonly teach discernment as an intellectual process of analysis and application of biblical principles leading to logical conclusions. The writer of Hebrews, it seems, flies directly in the face of that understanding. Discernment is described as a sensory rather than an intellectual process. How can this be?

Although some translations, including the NIV, render Hebrews 5:14 as train themselves, the Greek is most accurately translated as train (or exercise) their senses. The text refers specifically to the five physical senses of touch, hearing, smell, sight, and taste.

The writer of Hebrews is saying discernment operates through the physical senses. Discernment is tested with the mind by rightly applying Scripture. This insight completed the jigsaw puzzle of understanding for the prayer teams and me.

I catalogued their experiences, “Team members have had physical reactions to the presence of demons, angels, witchcraft, spiritual powers and authorities….They’ve smelled sulfur and rotting garbage…I have heard the Lord speak my name. I have worked with people who have heard the Lord speak audibly, angels sing, demons talk and laugh, and the sound of horses’ hooves thundering by.”

Is Sensory Discernment scriptural?

Throughout history many of God’s people have experienced both godly and demonic presence with their senses. Even a cursory reading of Scripture reveals a consistent pattern.

God’s voice was heard by Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:8), by Abraham (Gen. 12:1), Moses (Ex. 19:19), Joshua (Josh. 1:1), and Samuel (I Sam. 3:4). After Jesus was baptized by His cousin John, how many people heard the voice of God say, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased?” This event was of such importance it was recorded in the Gospels of Matthew; Mark; and Luke.

When Jesus commanded demons to identify themselves in Mark 5:9, they said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” The text indicates the demons said. Therefore, it is logical to assume Jesus heard.

God’s people see into the spirit world. God appeared to Moses in the physically real though symbolic form of a burning bush (Ex 3:2). God used an angel to appear and speak to Abraham (Gen. 18:1-2). He showed himself to Joshua as an angel with a drawn sword (Josh. 5:13).

Scripture also records evil manifesting in physical, “seen” forms. In Exodus 7:12, wooden staffs were transformed into snakes both by God’s power and Pharaoh’s magicians’ occult magic. God’s power was good, and the magic of Pharaoh’s servants was evil, but the results of both were visible in the natural world.

Both good and evil appear in visions. The prophet Isaiah saw the Lord in a vision rather than with his natural eyes. He described in detail, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne…the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphs, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces…” (Isa 6:1-2).

As recorded in Revelation 13, John saw satan (or a manifestation of the enemy’s evil) in a vision. He described “the beast” in vivid detail.

The following passages record experiences of taste from biblical records. Ezekiel, and John, writer of the book of Revelation, each received a vision in which they were given a scroll to eat. Ezekiel wrote, “So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (Ezek. 3:1-3). John received a scroll from an angel. He wrote, “It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour” (Rev. 10:8-10).

The Bible rarely refers to spiritual presence or realities being perceived through smell. Paul writes of the “aroma of Christ,” the “smell of death,” and the “fragrance of life” (2 Cor. 2: 15-16). Are these poetic metaphors or is Paul referring to actual smells with which mature–and discerning-believers were and should still be familiar? In addition, Chapters 5 and 8 of Revelation describe bowls of incense. The smell and visible smoke of incense appear to be a physical manifestation of the prayers of the saints.

Both good and evil are revealed by touch in Scripture. Peter saw, heard, and felt an angel. Acts 12:7 records that an angel bathed in light appeared to Peter. The angel “struck Peter on the side” to wake him and said, “Quick. Get up.”

In I Kings 19:7, the prophet Elijah fled from Queen Jezebel. Hungry and despairing, he lay in the desert and prayed for death. An angel of God prepared food and touched Elijah to wake him from his exhausted sleep.

In Mark 9:20, evil manifested physically. A young boy was possessed by what Jesus named a “deaf and mute spirit.” The moment the demon saw Jesus, it “threw the boy into a convulsion.” This passage should be carefully noted. Western reasoning would lead to the logical conclusion that this boy suffered from a biochemical/neurological imbalance resulting in epilepsy. However, Jesus operated in discernment as well as human logic. Although elsewhere He recognized physical illness, here He named and took authority over demonic spirits.

The teaching of Hebrews 5:14 coupled with confirming Scriptures established the foundation I and the prayer teams used to share, examine, and test their sensory experiences. Hebrews 5:14 became alive in our ministry. The “solid food” of discernment did produce fruit of greater maturity as the prayer teams grew in confidence, authority, and trust in the power of God’s living word. As they began to understand and use discernment, this gift emerged as an important weapon in the battle for deliverance, healing, and spiritual freedom.

Source and more information in the following link
http://aslansplace.com/language/en/training-your-senses-the-gift-of-discernment/

31 Days of Blessing by Max Lucado

31 Days of Blessing by Max Lucado

Go today in the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the promise of your life and the promise of his return be the hope of your day.

“Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the Lord Jesus Christ with his mercy to give you life forever.” – Jude 21

Twenty – A Blessing from the Cross
Ponder the price God has paid to purchase you. Be aware of the blood that was shed to make you holy and righteous. Know the peace that only he can give and the grace that only he can offer. Reflect that love in every step you take today.

“You do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Twenty-One – A Blessing for God’s Love
I pray that today you will realize the gift of God’s love—the incomparable love of the Father for his child. Such a love! A love that you sense with the passing of the breeze and coolness of the air. A love that comes not from one on earth , but the incredible love from One in heaven.

“God is love. ‘Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. Love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.” 1 John 4:16, NIV

Twenty-Two – A Blessing for Peace
God has given you his son. He has given you the Word. And he has given you his promise. May all three enrich your life, strengthen your work, and bring you peace.

“As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live in him. Keep your roots deep in him and have your lives built on him. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always be thankful.” Colossians 2:6-7

Twenty-Three – A Blessing for Sharing the Message
Because the Father never closes out his passion for reaching people, I pray that today you will pray for those in your world who have yet to meet him. As you offer up the names of family members, friends, co-workers, may God see your heart for sharing the message with them. He will hear your earnest plea.

“God is fair; he will not forget the work you did and the love you showed for him by helping his people.” Hebrews 6:10

Twenty-Four – A Blessing for Courage
May God give you the confidence of Daniel to face any crisis. May you have the assurance of Moses and Abraham that God is on your side. May you be willing to let God work things out according to his plan and in his time. Never interpret God’s silence as God’s absence.

“Lord, even when I have trouble all around me, you will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, you will reach down and save me by your power. Lord, you do everything for me. Lord, your love continues forever. Do not leave us, whom you made” Psalm 138:7-8

Twenty-five – A Blessing for Prayer
Be a soldier of prayer. Seek the Father before, during, and after your time of struggle. May the Spirit constantly remind you of the need for prayer, and of the Father’s desire to hear your voice.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayer, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.” Ephesians 6:18

Twenty-Six – A Blessing for God’s Ambassadors

Radiate the peace of God wherever you go. Speak as Jesus spoke, touch as he touched, love with the love of people who look forward to heaven. May you restore God’s love in the lives of those you meet today.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV

Twenty-Seven – A Blessing for Gratitude
Have a grateful heart today. Everything you have comes from God and belongs to him. Share with others with a happy heart. Imitate the love of Jesus in dealing with others.

“Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things.”Psalm 128:1-2

Twenty-Eight – A Blessing for Forgiveness
May you know the healing that comes from forgiving others. Relinquish any anger in your heart and remove any bitterness from your attitude. Lay these burdens at the foot of the cross. Vengeance is not yours—vengeance is God’s. Forgive others as you have been forgiven.

“Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:32

Twenty-Nine – A Blessing for Revival
The father is faithful. His dreams have never died. He is the great dreamer. May be invigorate your faith today, rekindle your love for him, and renew your commitment to make a difference in your world.

“Be alert. Continue strong in the faith. Have courage, and be strong.”
1 Corinthians 16:13

Thirty – A Blessing for Joy
He is the God of peace. He is the God of joy. May Emmanuel, who came to be with us, be with you in every step of this week’s journey. May you feel his presence throughout this day. And may you reflect his joy in all you do. Go with God.

“Lord, let me live so people will praise you.” Psalm 143:11

Thirty-One – A Blessing for God’s People
Now may the God of grace and peace let his face shine upon you. Be aware of his relentless tenderness and devotion to you. Sense the power of his spirit. Be kind to others as he has been kind to you. Give grace as he has given grace to you. Grant the message of salvation to someone as he has granted it to you. Go in peace.

“This promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away. It is for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:39

Source:https://maxlucado.com/read/topical/31-days-of-blessing/

Prayer for a cheating spouse

“Dear Heavenly Father,

We come to you because there is a pain in _______________’s heart that runs so deep only you can repair it.

Lord, we trust in the goodness of you, but the goodness of people is not as reliable. Lord, I ask that you give __________________ the courage and wisdom to listen to your still small voice and protect his/her emotions as _________________ obeys what you tell him/her.

Lord, this will be the hardest task for ______________ to do, but he/she is able because ___________________ is not relying on himself/ herself this time. _______________ will completely rely on you for his/her strength. Please fill _____________ with all the love that he/she needs to make the decisions that are healthiest for him/her and the family.

Bless this child of God with the right people to surround and protect him/her with the proper support. Give _____________the courage to reach out for prayer and sound counceling.

Ground _______________ in the truth of your word, and show_______________ how precious he/she is in your sight. Build _________________’s self-worth in what you have to say about ____________________.

We cast down the worship of (name the spouse____________________). He/she is _______________ wife/husband, but ____________________ is not God.

_____________________ will not be put in God’s place in _________________’s life anymore. Give ____________ the power to see when he/she is becoming unbalanced in his/her love for his/her wife/ husband, as this is another form of idolatry and you do not take that lightly.

Lord, ______________________-desires to serve and honor you.

We ask that as he/she submits to you as the God in his/her life you will reward __________________quickly as this situation is heartbreaking and confusing. You are not the author of confusion so speak wisdom, understanding and strength to ________________.

In Jesus precious name, give ______________a double-fold increase in faith, trust and love for you and keep holding his/her hand as he/she walks down your path.

Gently turn his/her heart toward you, Lord and as he/she seeks your face, heal that heart so that ________________ will never be the same again. In Jesus’ name, we thank you for all that you are doing in the spiritual realm, for we go by faith not by sight, Amen.”
http://www.shalombewithyou.com/marriage-2/prayer-for-a-cheating-spouse/