If you have read any of my posts, up to this point, you know that some of them can seem a bit “off the wall”. As I am trying to step out of my comfort zone and share my journey more publicly, I am writing on a topic today that I am still in the process of discerning, Spiritual Gifting.
We all have our own personal relationship with God and with that comes intimacy. For me, it has been such a personal and intimate relationship (the most intimate relationship in my life) that it has been difficult to share, with others, the intricacies of that relationship. God knows the true cries of my heart, Psalm 34:17 and he knows the number of hairs on my head, Luke 12:7. Just how we each have a unique fingerprint which identifies who we are, we each have a unique and personal relationship with God.
To try to put into words how my communication with the Holy Spirit works, I’d have to start by saying we have our own Love Language. He speaks to me and comforts me in specific, special ways that only I understand. The verse James 4:8 comes to mind, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” As I have spent more time in the word, in prayer and praise – combined with humility and obedience, my relationship with God has increased. The Holy Spirit indwells in our heart the moment we invite Jesus in and that gives us guidance and direction, but I have been experiencing the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit coming upon me, at an increasing rate over the past year. One of the unique ways God speaks to me on a regular basis is through dreams and visions. As creative as God is, the imagery he uses to communicate in this way is a bit bizarre, to say the least, but he is consistent with his messages to me and is teaching me how to understand this new language that is unique to our relationship.
A few nights ago, I had a dream about walnuts in my mouth. Again, if you have read any of my posts, you have seen me write about different objects in my mouth: popcorn, canned dog food and broken glass. All of this might seem a bit odd, but I have learned that when God give me a dream about something in my mouth, I am to speak and share that dream with others. In this case, the walnut represented my mind. God was telling me, through my dream, that he wanted me to “speak my mind”. When I woke up, I wasn’t completely sure which topic God wanted me to “speak my mind” about, but as I prayed for more clarity, he revealed that he wanted me to share what I have been learning regarding spiritual gifts.
We are familiar with the spiritual gifts referenced in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:
Wisdom – Knowledge – Faith – Healing – Effecting Miracles – Prophecy
Discerning Spirits – Speaking in Tongue – Interpreting Tongue
I’ll be honest when I say that most of my life, I have fully accepted, and understood, the spiritual gifts of wisdom, knowledge and faith. I haven’t openly embraced the gifts of healing, effecting miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits and speaking in tongue. As I have grown in my maturity, God has taken me off “spiritual milk” and has moved me to “solid food”, Hebrews 5:13-14.
The two gifts on that list that God has really been growing, challenging and maturing me in recently are prophecy and discerning spirits. If you had told me, even a few months ago, that I would be writing a post on this topic, I would have laughed at you, but as God has been gently equipping me for ministry purposes, I thought I would share a few things I have learned about each of these gifts.
Prophecy can be received from the Holy Spirit in many different forms. A book that I have been reading, which has been extremely encouraging is Developing Your Prophetic Gifting by Graham Cooke. The prophetic gifting that God seems to be developing in me is that of a seer prophet. This gift also seems to tie together with discerning spirits. The gift is very visual and the visions come in different forms. I had received dreams, intermittently, over the years, but I received my first open vision last September. I won’t go into the details, because it was very personal, but I did want to share the experience. I was around 4am, I was laying in bed awake, I opened my eyes and saw a 3D, full color, moving image. Best way to describe it would be to call it a hologram, but it was crystal clear, like an HDTV image. I didn’t truly believe something like that could happen, until I saw it with my own eyes. Immediately, God spoke to my soul and told me what the image represented. After I received and believed what God spoke, he started giving me images on a more regular basis. These have come in various forms. Some of them are closed visions, where I am awake, but my eyes are closed, and I see a scene take place in front of me. Some of them are personal while others are related to other people. When they are related to other people, it first and foremost gives me specific ways to pray for that person, but in a few instances, I have felt the Holy Spirit lead me to reach out to that person to offer comfort and encouragement.
As with anything, as soon as God gives a good gift, the enemy tries to come in and create confusion. Soon after I started receiving visions from the Lord, which resulted in a peaceful feeling in my soul, I started receiving very disturbing images as well, both in open and closed visions. Immediately, a red flag would go up in my spirit and I quickly realized that there was no purpose behind the images, it only resulted in fear. This is where the gift of prophesy ties into the gift of discerning spirits. Again, Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” All of this took me to the point of actually being afraid to go to bed at night because I wasn’t sure what I would see when I woke up. As we are promised throughout scripture, we have the authority and ability to overcome the power of the enemy, Luke 10:19, so as soon as a negative image would appear, I would tell it to leave with my authority and it would go away. As soon as I started claiming that authority, the negative images happened less frequently.
The last thing I wanted to briefly touch on is with both of these gifts, the Holy Spirit utilizes all 5 of our physical senses to communicate. (Reference back up to the verse in Hebrews 5:14, our senses are trained to discern good and evil.) Again, I am fortunately/unfortunately someone who has to learn through experience before I take someone else’s word on something. It never occurred to me that if we are given 5 senses in the physical realm that God could use all 5 of our senses in the spiritual realm as well.
I have always HEARD the Holy Spirit speak to me and now I was SEEING visions and objects in the spiritual realm. Following the visions I then started to feel the Holy Spirit TOUCH me and recently I have been SMELLING fragrances (frankincense and roses). I haven’t experienced TASTE yet, but I have been reading the book Secrets of the Seer by Jamie Galloway and he references tasting honey at one point. As with everything, God has a good purpose for allowing us to participate with him in ministry in this way. He doesn’t give harmful gifts to his children, Luke 11:11-13. How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? These are all gifts of the Spirit, used to communicate with and encourage others. As God reveals himself, and is increasing my dependency on him more, it’s not simply about the “experience” of operating in the spiritual realm. It’s about recognizing God’s presence in every situation and knowing how to respond, “let us not simply live by the spirit but walk by the spirit.” Galatians 5:25.
It is all part of developing an intimate love language to then be used to spread the gospel and encourage others.