A mom shares: “One day in our church nursery, I was rocking two very unhappy babies and tending to three needy preschool children. All five of them were loudly voicing their sadness the way babies and preschoolers sometimes do. In the complete opposite spirit, I began singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children’, and peace began to infiltrate the atmosphere. The preschoolers began to sing with me, and complete peace came. Only minutes later, a dad came to pick up his child and said, ‘Wow! It is so peaceful in here.’ I love it when Holy Spirit shifts the atmosphere, and we get to partner with Him to bring heaven to earth!”
Ever have those days where you feel hit from all sides and yet do not know why? Ever feel like a python squeezes you to the point you can’t breathe? Or feel like you are in a war without a name? There is the natural realm with our flesh – all things on earth. There is the heavenly realm which is all things in heaven. But there is the spiritual realm that operates between the two. Satan is the ruler of the spiritual realm. (Adam was, but he gave the keys to Satan in the garden). There is more to what we see and hear. There is an atmosphere of things unseen all around us. Have you ever felt so much love in a room or house? Someone is releasing that into the atmosphere, and you are coming into that presence. Have you ever gone somewhere and fear met you at the door? Again, it is an atmosphere that has been released. Jesus has authority over everything (Matt 28:18), and we can change the atmosphere in His name. How do we do this? By discerning what is being released (and not assuming it is just you) and releasing the opposite spirit. Let me say it this way: tell hell to go in Jesus’ name. Invite heaven to come. In today’s age, much fear and doom are being released by people’s words, the news, social media, etc. I have been on active alert to loosen the spirit of fear that is behind it and command it to go. I have been aware that my declarations of hope, life, and peace are crucial in this hour for my own spiritual health and those around me.
Years ago, I felt attacked relentlessly, and it was intense. All I could do was lie on my bed feeling all alone, completely consumed, and like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a pit. Ever been there? I eventually reached a dangerously low place in the pit and realized if I did not fight my way out, I might not get out. I knew from experience that this was never a good place to be. I texted a handful of prayer warriors who I knew would bombard the heavenlies on my behalf. I called a friend with whom I could be real and messy. I talked to my mentor and bared all with her. Then, the revelation breakthrough came: I HAVE AUTHORITY OVER THIS! A few days later, I was watching the news and heard of a major story that confirmed what I was feeling/sensing that day. I realized at that moment that I was feeling it for a reason. I became hungry not only to discern what I was sensing in the atmosphere but to be an active participant in releasing heaven in those situations. What you speak, declare, and pray is powerful and has the power to change situations, circumstances, and outcomes. Proverbs 18:21, James 5:16, Matthew 28:18.
HeartWork – Let’s walk this out. Sit quietly for a moment and take a few breaths. What are you feeling/sensing? Fear? Peace? Joy? Strife? Confusion? Comfort? Love? Discern whether what you are feeling is in heaven. Will we experience that in heaven? If not, then you have authority over it. Searching for a Scripture that backs up His truth can be helpful. Say you were feeling anxious and are led to Philippians 4:6. You can declare, “Anxiety, I loosen you to go now in Jesus’ name. You may not speak to my emotions. I invite Holy Spirit to fill me with His power and love.”
A great tool for teaching children their authority is to take a spray bottle and catch them off guard by spraying them. Teach them that, like a sneeze, we are always releasing something into the atmosphere. When we throw a tantrum at the store, we aren’t just doing that to Mom but to everyone around us. When we hit our siblings, we are releasing that into the atmosphere. When you are kind, that gets released, too. As you teach, keep surprising them with sudden sprays that fall onto their skin. We release those things into the atmosphere when we release God’s love, respect, honor, kindness, joy, etc. Which one do they want to release? Since my kids have a grid for this now, all I have to say is, “Hey guys, what do you think just got released into the atmosphere?”
Now practice it in the days to come. Before going into a store, ask everyone how they are feeling. I call it “check your gut.” After being in the store for ten minutes, ask the kids how their gut feels now. Oftentimes a child will say, “uncomfortable,” “afraid,” or “not okay.” This is their way of saying something is going on in the atmosphere around them. Teach them it is not coming from IN them, but around them. Someone else ‘sprayed’ that into the atmosphere. We can grow in asking God what He wants us to do.
We can teach children to take the spiritual temperature of a room and then release the opposite. There is power in the name of Jesus that shifts things in the atmosphere everywhere we go!!
As we drove through multiple states, one can pick up on the atmosphere a town carries. We passed a section where extra large billboards promoting adult stores littered the highway. It was impossible not to see them, and it wasn’t just one, but one every mile or so. My eyes became so heavy I pulled off and sent the kids and friends into the store to browse, giving me a quick five-minute shut-eye. When I closed my eyes, I got this nasty image in my mind that was so X-rated it was vile to me. I ignored it, but as I attempted to get some rest, it returned again and again. I realized the thought was not coming from within me but rather on me and sat up to take authority over it. I asked God to show me what He saw and saw this taller-than-a-building, demon-looking creature on the side of the road with long claw-like fingernails. Asking Jesus to reveal what He wanted me to know, I heard, “He is stationed along the highway and taps their minds with sexual images luring them into the store (that was promoted on the billboard).” I asked the Lord why it was so big and tall and heard, “He has been fed well” (meaning every time someone bites the bait, he is fed and grows stronger). I sat up and realized I was not going to get my rest but was rather on assignment and said, “Well, then I am going to starve him,” and began releasing the opposite in the atmosphere. At the next stop, the encounter was so strong upon my heart that I shared it with each of my children individually and said, “I just wanted you to be aware if you begin having unusual thoughts, it isn’t you but something coming upon you,” and two of them admitted they had been battling nasty thoughts and having a hard time taking authority over it. We prayed, released it to go, and ushered in peace and purity over them. Not every thought is coming from within yourself but sometimes trying to come ON you to get you to partner with it as if it were your own. Discerning the difference is key.
We were on a ministry trip and my son could not shake his attitude. After days of it wearing us all down, I sent him to retire early that night. I heard him crying in his bed and went to him. He began to say, “Mom, I am so angry, but I don’t know why.” At that moment, I knew what was going on. A well-known Christian leader said earlier that day that they could barely sleep at night because of all of the anger in the church (over a particular issue). I led him through a prayer to take authority over the anger and to release the opposite (peace, unity, clarity), and instantly his little body shifted. If you have a child who can ‘flip like a switch’ out of nowhere, it could be that they are very sensitive to the atmospheres around them. I was this way as a child, and it brought about a lot of conflicts because no one, including myself, understood why I could be perfectly fine one moment and angry or filled with anxiety the next. In my mind, nothing was bothering me, but it was like something had come over me. Once I realized I was coming into an atmosphere of ‘stuff,’ I began to learn how to take authority over it and flip it.
Discerning the spirit or atmosphere is not the same as being judgemental. However, someone immature in that gift will feel like they are being judgemental. The enemy will attempt to shut it down through condemnation and whispers of accusation. “You are sooooo judgemental.” When you have eyes that see something, ask Jesus, “Jesus, is this from within me or around me?” If it is within you, deal with it as a character issue of judgment or a critical spirit. If it is around you, then you are operating in the GIFT of discerning things, and that is something God wants you to grow in learning how to use that gift. He doesn’t allow you to see or feel something to crush you. He is inviting you to partner with what He wants to do through you in the world around you.
As my children wrote their Christmas lists, I began to think of the gifts I wanted to give them. God had been highlighting to me that the gift of discernment is going to be essential in the days to come. It is just that – a gift. We don’t earn it, but we can ask for it. The Word says many will fall away because they could not discern (tell the difference between) what is not of the Lord. They will embrace what feels or sounds right, even though it is from the wrong kingdom. They will fail to walk in discernment. God does not look at the outward but rather at the heart. The gift of discernment is the pair of eyeglasses that helps us to see what He sees. The antichrist spirit will, at times, look, sound, and feel so close to the real thing but must be discerned as a counterfeit. Parents, go after asking for an increased measure of discernment for each of your family members.
HOW TO TEACH DISCERNMENT – Go to the local craft store and purchase a fake apple, lemon, or banana. Then purchase from the grocery store one that looks similar. Call a family meeting and blindfold the kids. Make it fun and silly. Set before them each fruit and ask them to feel them. Which one should they eat? Move the fruit away from them across the room and have them take off their blindfold. Now ask them which one will nourish their bodies. Bring them to your children and liken the gift of discernment to that game. God will tell us deep inside of us what is true and what is fake. What is holy and what is unholy. What is right and what is wrong. What is from our Father and what is from the father of lies. Spend some time praying for an increased gift of discernment for each family member.
In the days ahead, practice discerning things as a family. **Increase exercises in “Let’s ask Jesus.” **Ask, “What is Holy Spirit showing you about that?” **Check your gut – how are you feeling? Then walk into a store or new atmosphere and check your gut again – how are you feeling? We can discern the atmosphere by paying attention to what it feels like. I was fine in the car, but I felt afraid and worried as soon as we walked into this store. Discernment lets you know it isn’t you but the atmosphere.
Kids feel what is going on in the atmosphere even when they don’t have words for it. I actually think they feel it more because they have not yet built coping mechanisms and walls to shut it out like many adults. God doesn’t want us to manage it, nor does He want us to ignore it. He wants us to overcome it with the authority given to us through Jesus. If you feel an increase of unrest in your home, overcome it by pulling your family in closer. Home should be the safest place on earth. Have a family meeting and forgive hurts and offenses. Intentionally have a family night to connect and laugh together. Increase worship or soaking music. Pray about what is going on as a family. Remind your children how big God is by telling them stories of His incredible power in other challenging stories in the Bible. He always comes through and always knows what He is doing (always). Hug them and then hug them some more (yes, even teenagers who act like they don’t care). Remind them of who they are (not performance). Ask Jesus to show you what your children need today.
Your children need to know they are covered, safe and secure, and our job as parents is to be that verb!
Maybe we should stop asking, “What is wrong with me?” and begin to ask, “What is going on that You are allowing me to feel?” God allows His children to feel the atmosphere so they can be agents of change on earth. I went away for 24 hours alone and felt great. I was beaming with excitement and joy, but I felt heavy and super sad when I walked into my room. I went to sleep and had a strange dream about death. I woke up, unable to shake this heaviness. Finally, I got the sense, “this is not me, but the atmosphere.” I prayed for the OPPOSITE to come and fill the place, and immediately it shifted.
We do not need to understand every detail of what is going on for God to use us. Heaviness is not His Kingdom, and I had authority in Jesus to release it to go and invite His peace, joy, and comfort.
After having the world shut down for so long, many thought once everything is opened, all will be well again. I took the kids for a drive-thru lunch and noticed cars parked in a lot that has been bare for months. I soon learned that the local stores were opening. With three teen girls, we clearly needed to join the party and do some shopping. We exited the car, full of giddy joy and excitement. Our masks were on as we waited our turn in line before entering. We grabbed our cart, and something profound happened. The atmosphere was intense. It was eerie, unpleasant, and super heavy. All of the girls reported this weird feeling of being in trouble (fear). There was little joy in shopping in an atmosphere like that. We left, and as I pondered it deeper, He showed me this. The oppression was never about the economy closing, the inability to be out in public, or the lack of shopping. The oppression was about the SPIRIT BEHIND IT. If that is not dealt with in each of us, it will remain, and we will continue to carry it around with us. Opening the stores will not resolve it because it isn’t a financial issue but a spiritual one. Yes, it manifested IN the natural and HAS affected our economy, liberties, freedoms, etc., but we do not do battle in the natural when it is a spiritual issue. Oppression is a spiritual issue and can’t be fixed with tools in the natural any more than one can put a band-aid on a broken heart or rebuke a broken bone away. We have to have the right tools for the issue. What to do? Keep breaking the tension with fear and in your own heart. As believers, we can be in perfect peace everywhere we go.
In the days leading up to the day I wrote this lesson, I was attacked endlessly. At the eleventh hour, I took some time in my room. All I could do was lie on my bed feeling all alone, completely consumed, and like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a pit. Ever been there? I eventually reached a dangerously low place in the pit and realized if I did not fight my way out, I might not get out. I knew from experience that this was never a good place to be. So, I texted a handful of prayer warriors I knew who would bombard the heavenlies on my behalf. I called a friend with whom I could be real and messy. I talked to my mentor and bared it all to her. Then, the revelation breakthrough came: I HAVE AUTHORITY OVER THIS! That which kills, steals, and destroys will always be around me, but within me is the ability to release that which brings life, joy, and blessings!
However, the key to releasing it is a VERB! We must ‘do’ something about the situations around us, not in the natural but in the spiritual realm. Old, religious, spiritual mindsets disempower us by saying we can only allow ourselves to be in ‘clean environments.’ Things that are spiritually unclean, messy, or different aren’t fit for the godly. To believe these lies is to deny Jesus’ ministry on earth. The true sons of the Kingdom of God know who they are and aren’t afraid to release heaven in the areas that need Him the most. Another spiritual mindset that renders us powerless believes that God isn’t big enough, and if He wanted something done or changed, He would do it Himself. To believe this is to deny Jesus’ words on earth! He said He has all the authority and then commissioned US to go out and do ‘greater works’ than He did. Jesus never sat by passively saying, “I guess Daddy doesn’t feel like raising you, Lazarus. Sorry.” No, Jesus got His Father’s perspective, and then Jesus DID IT! He then passed that baton onto us. This is where the Kingdom gets exciting!