For many people, there are challenges that exist within their lives. Some of them are small and with careful thought, may be managed. Yet for others, such as Christians, those challenges may present themselves as trials, tribulations, afflictions, opposition, and even oppression. Sometimes it is hard to tell when the challenge lies within one’s self or if it is from an outside influence.
This afternoon, I attended a service with the IPV church under the direction of Pastor Cardenas. On this visit, I arrived with a little time to pray before the start of Sunday School class, and so I did. In my prayer, I expressed a desire to be open to the Holy Spirit and to receive from the lesson, praise and worship, as well as the sermon. Well, throughout the lesson, I found myself being distracted with thoughts, of which had little to do with the lesson. Through praise and worship, I also found myself distracted and wanting to worship but not really being able to do so.
Through the course of one song, I took a different direction. I began to apologize to God for being distracted and earnestly desiring to praise and worship Him through song. As I did so, the Spirit brought out an issue that lingered in my heart from earlier during the day. Hence, I began to express this issue unto God and to work it out with Him. Then I took a different direction. I began to rebuke Satan and his demons away from my family, belongings, and property. The more I did so, the more did my faith increase to do so. As I was concluding my spiritual battle, the pastor spoke and shared that he received an impression in his heart that there were some people going through some tough times; spiritual warfare.
As I stood by and listened to his words, my heart was in agreement with him. The pastor spoke of a time when Moses was in battle and lifting up his hands (Exodus 17:8-13). When his hands grew tired, the enemy would begin to overcome Israel’s army. Hence, there were two men who supported Moses by holding his hands up (one on each side); they won the battle. In the same manner, the pastor asked for people who had been going through spiritual warfare to arise and step forward unto the altar. So I did. Shortly after, the pastor asked for other people, leaders from within the congregation, to step forward and pray for the people at the altar. As the pastor continued to speak, I began to hear God speak to my mind; instructing me to begin to pray.
As I began to pray, I lifted my right hand. As the Holy Spirit led me, I prayed out in tongues and my arm began to tremble (as it often does when He is working within or through me). Shortly after, I began to prophecy to myself what the Holy Spirit was relaying to me through God’s Word. They were scriptures of encouragement, authority, purpose, and victory over my life. As I had begun to prophecy, a brother in Christ stepped up behind me and prayed for and with me for a long time. When God had completed this work, I sat down for a while and thanked God for what He had both done and spoken to me. I also wondered who was the person or people who prayed over and with me.
After some time had passed, people began to go back to their seats. Then the pastor asked for those who were done praying to hug the person that was close to them; who had prayed for or with them. I looked around and wondered. Then a man came to me and gave me a hug, it was the pastor’s brother. Then another man also came over and gave me a hug (I still need to learn his identity). Nonetheless, I was grateful for their role in what God had in store for me.
After this tremendous time with God, the offering was gathered and prayed over. My mind was clear and I was able to be attentive to the message that was presented. It was amazing how much it was in parallel to something I wrote the previous evening.
In closing, sometimes the intention to be open to God can be hindered by challenges, in my case, spiritual warfare. However, once the identity of the challenge is made, it can be handed over to God and the Holy Spirit will help us in addressing it to Him. Once the matter is addressed, we can openly seek God and delight in praise and worship, as well as receive from His Word. Amen!
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R. A. Gómez