There was a smell and a sense of something that seemed to be moving throughout the room.    I was at the Woodway Campus attending a class called Missio Dei, Mission of God.  A ten week class, each week a featured speaker would share about the ministry they were involved in.  Some were involved in international missions, some national, and others were with local city based missions within in the church.

As I have mentioned before, one thing that I experience on a fairly regular basis is the scent of spirits, which is one way God uses the gift of discerning of spirits in my life.  Sometimes I know what the smell represents.  Other times, it will take experiencing it several times before I can see the common factor and identify the source.

This was one that I hadn’t experienced before.  It smelled like an alcoholic.  Not alcohol itself, an alcoholic.  Imagine if someone had been drinking for days until the drunken smell came out of their pores.

That is what it smelled like.

I was thinking, “What is this?”  I was more curious than anything else.  It seemed like an odd setting to have that particular smell and I couldn’t tell if it was focused on or coming from someone.

I left thinking that it was an interesting experience and made a note of it, but I didn’t think much more about it.

Two weeks later in the last class of the series, I smelled it again.

This time it freaked me out, because the day after the first time I smelled it, something had happened and there was a major drama.

When I smelled it this time I was thinking, ‘What is going to happen next?”

As the class was ending, I actually asked the little group at our table if we could have a closing prayer just with us.  I didn’t say, “Hey, there’s a demonic spirit here and can we pray about it.”   We just prayed and I slipped in a few words against it as I did.

When I got in the car, it was like I could sense it around my neck.   I called a friend as I was driving home and had her pray for me.

By this time, the smell freaked me out.

A couple of months pass and I was in my Hebrew class and I smelled it again.  Someone came in late to class and it came in with her.   It seemed it came in alongside her and then moved throughout the room.

But this time I was excited because I knew what it was.

It was discouragement.

As she came in she talked about her day, the word “discouragement” kept coming to my mind.   She’s a teacher, there was a lot of stress going on at school, and she drives two hours one way to come to this Hebrew class.

She had already had a long day and after class was over, she would have another two hour drive before her day was done.

After class was over, I caught up to her in the hall and asked her if she had been stressed when she came in.  She said yes and shared a couple of other things that had gone on.  I asked if I could pray for her before she left for home.

Do you know how sometimes you pray with someone and the presence of the Holy Spirit comes in as The Comforter?  That’s what happened.  It was so strong.

God just wanted her to know that He loved her, was there with her, and saw how much her heart was after Him.

It was awesome.

I think it was cool that this was February 13th, or according to the Jewish custom of counting days (the evening and the morning were the first day,) the start of February 14th, the day we remember St. Valentine.  Valentine was an encourager and all out for God.  (February 14th was also a minor Purim this year.)

God wanted to make sure that she got a Valentine, a love note, from him.

So what was the common factor between these three occurrences?

The first time I smelled it, the man speaking was Eric Nelson who works for Athletes in Action on college campuses.

Some of the previous speakers had been from foreign missions, and it’s easy when you listen to speakers like that to think, “Well, I’m not a foreign missionary” and then extrapolate that to think that God can’t use us in his mission to reach out at all.

This speaker was asking us to really examine where we were and ask ourselves, “Where is my Jerusalem?”

“Where has God placed me and who does He want to impact through me?  What unreached group is right in front of me?”

Eric shared that his “unreached people group” is college coaches.

That is where the smell kicked in.

Satan doesn’t want us even considering that the person we sit next to every day might need  to experience the love of God in their lives or a word of encouragement.

He wants to discourage us from reaching out, stepping forward, and standing firm.

The second time was at the very last class of Missio Dei.  The attendance fluctuated, but there were probably about 50 people that came consistently through the entire ten weeks.

Gary Thomas had just closed his teaching with a prayer that there would be at least five people in the class who were totally on mission for God and would be ready to be used wherever God wanted them.  During the discussion time at the tables just as the class was starting to break up, the smell, the spirit of discouragement came in.

Again, Satan will do whatever he can from keeping people from recognizing opportunities to be part of the move of God right in front of them.

This past weekend, I smelled the alcoholic smell again.  But since I knew what it was, it didn’t freak me out; I knew it was a prompt for intercession.

This was my week to teach in my daughter’s second grade Sunday school class.  Before class, there is a Team Kid teacher/leader meeting to give an overview of the lesson and activities and to start with prayer.

This week’s lesson was on Pentecost, on spreading the gospel to all nations.  One of the leaders, Paul, was talking about how some Christians think that God is distant, that he isn’t active in our lives, and that he isn’t moving and performing miracles.  And then he said:

“God is looking for opportunities to work miracles through us.”

Most awesome quote of the day. 🙂

Then one of the teachers shared an opportunity that God had given him in the past week to minister to a friend in the Philippines who was so discouraged that she was to the point of committing suicide.

He counseled her, shared Scripture with her, and then prayed with her.   A mutual friend who was there with her said the change in her attitude and demeanor was like night and day.

The other thing he share that stood out to me was he said that he had been through a lot of difficult circumstances himself lately.

When we go through difficult circumstances, God can use them to work in our own lives, but he can also use those trying times to help others.  When you’ve been through something and come out the other side, realizing that while it might not have been pleasant, you know that God was with you.  You come away with something.

Pastor McGowen says that what the verse, “We are more than conquerors through Christ,” means when we might go through trials, but we will come out with more than we went in with.

If we allow God to work in us and bring us through it, we will come out of it with a stronger relationship with him.  We will be able to stand firm in the future against whatever it was that we came up against.

We will be a more effective witness and encourager to others who are going through the same thing.  We can share with them saying, “I’ve been there, but God was too . . . you just have to keep walking with him to the other side.”

After the teacher shared his testimony, the smell of discouragement came in.  It did startle me for a minute, but then I realized that I needed to be praying against discouragement and for the encouragement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people there.

Then the Team Kid director asked us to keep in mind for people who might want to volunteer for the Sunday school classes next year as there were a few spots they still needed to fill.

I thought, that is what the spirit is trying to discourage, the door of opportunity by asking someone to be a part of Team Kid.

We need to be open to the promptings of God when he directs us because we don’t know what, in our opinion, little things will lead to.

We don’t know the influence that potential volunteer will have in the lives of the kids in the class.  We also don’t know the impact the act of volunteering will have in the person’s life.

I know that, for me, the one week a month I’ve volunteered in the past year has always ended up being a point of clarity.

I read a lot.  Sometimes I get bogged down in doctrine, theory, and different opinions.

Then I go to the Sunday school class and the key take away will be something like:

We have a Big God who does BIG THINGS.

God MADE me.  He KNOWS me.   He LOVES me.  He HAS A PLAN for me.

And

JESUS LOVES ME.

Jesus didn’t say you had to become a first tier theologian to know him.  He said we must become as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus didn’t say we have to understand every point of doctrine or obtain a bunch of esoteric knowledge . . .

To really get God, to experience his fullness in our lives, we have to have the trust of a child.

Keep it Simple.