Identifying your Battlefields and Getting New Tools to Fight: A Half Day Retreat
Every once in a while you hear a sermon that grips your heart and suddenly the words are hanging mid-air in technicolor, and you KNOW these words of life are for you. These are the words that don’t just engage your mind, they engage your spirit– and something is activated deep inside you.
In the charismatic framework, they would call these “prophetic words” — timely, Spirit-filled messages for you, a group, or the church, but I’ve heard many such messages in multiple frameworks, they just don’t call them ‘prophetic.’
At any rate, I heard a powerful sermon this week that feels like a technicolor message of life for each of us, and more broadly for the Church. Graham Cooke, a British pastor, was awakened at 4am with a specific story in Scripture that He felt God gave him for the church NOW. His charge to us all resonates powerfully with other things I am hearing from God personally and globally.
This sermon was so meaty, with such fantastic questions about the battlefields of your life and what God has equipped YOU uniquely to do in life, that I have used it as a springboard to create a mini personal retreat. If you have never done a half-day retreat (3-4 hours), this is a structured way to get a time to connect with your heart and God. We often write personal retreats for people when they come to visit our hub.
If you need fresh words about something you are battling in your life, if you need new vision for what to do with your life, if you want to explore new ways of praying and experiencing God… this retreat for you. May your spirit be activated just like mine was!
(Tuesday, July 17, 2018: UNFORTUNATELY, Graham Cook’s ministry has removed the link from YouTube. We will try to connect with them to investigate other options of access, but for now, you will have to use the sermon notes or cliff notes in italics below. For all you audio learners, so sorry!)
Preparation: Consider setting aside 3-4 hours to explore Graham’s prophetic word to you and the church. This is something you can easily do on a shortened work day, while the kids are at school, or in an dedicated evening. Find a place where you will be undistracted: get out in nature, go to a coffee shop (if you are not too distractible), lock yourself in your bedroom, or sit in the sanctuary or chapel at a local church. Bring a journal or something to record what you hear– these are words of life you will want to remember.
- CENTER. Take a few minutes to quiet your heart. Try and become present to your hunger for God. How badly do you need to hear words of LIFE about your circumstances, about your purpose, or about His activity in your life? Spend a few minutes talking with the Lord about your hunger.
Psalm 81:10 tells us, “Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.“ This is a promise that you need to step up and claim today. Engage your body with your heart and tilt your head back like a little bird and open your mouth wide open (yes, literally do this!). As you are sitting there with your mouth open, ask the Lord to fill you with good things. He knows exactly what you need: hope, discernment, wisdom, perspective, strength. God’s going to give you some food for your soul, today!
- LISTEN. Listen to the sermon delivered on June 10, 2018 to Bethel Church in Redding, CA. You can listen while you drive or walk, but there are so many nuggets, you will want to take notes. You can find the sermon on youtube at this link:
- RECORD. Don’t worry about taking complete notes on the sermon, I’ve included that here: Graham Cook’s Sermon Notes. Instead, write down the phrases that jump out to you. The Holy Spirit will highlight things as you listen that grab your attention— those words are for you. Write them down.
- THE SCRIPTURE. This sermon focuses on a story in 2 Kings 13:14-18. You may want to list for yourself what each of the items in the story symbolizes (i.e. the window=opportunity, the east= new dawn, etc)
- REFLECT. Graham gave us some fantastic themes to engage with around God’s providential timing, His desire to battle FOR us, and a new release of power over our personal calling in life.
Take some time to engage with some of the concepts of his sermon (quotes from the sermon are italicized). Some themes and questions will jump out to you more than others. You may want to sit with the questions over several days or simply go where your heart leads you. Linger in the places that stir your heart. Engage with the questions— and write down your answers.
A WORD FOR NOW (the East Window)
A window of opportunity has opened. We are coming into the end of an age. We need to receive ALL that God is releasing. We may think we need to open the east window. We pray for the opening of the windows of heaven. The window IS open. NOW. Something is HERE— not something is coming.
Windows do not open for long. They are seasonal. An opportunity for a place of renewal and transformation. Renewal= permanent. Opportunity= seasonal. When the opportunity of a lifetime comes makes sure you act within the lifetime of that opportunity. You have a short season to be permanently changed.
This prophetic word has been in the heart of God for a while— he’s been waiting for the desperation. For all the ground of your life to be turned up and you are ready to do it God’s way. He wants more of me becoming what I’m meant to be. To take us from what is good to what is best. Don’t walk in measure when fullness of measure is available.
Take a few minutes to list some of what is going on in your life and the world around us. What areas in the ground of your life are turned up— where are you feeling desperate to see God act?
Picture a window from heaven opening and God pouring out His Spirit like water over everything you wrote down. THIS is the moment God is releasing these promises over you. THESE are the circumstances in which He wants to display His power! Thank God that He is near and ready to act. Even if you don’t ‘feel’ God is near, make this statement in faith: “God, I believe you are here and want to move in my life. I invite your Spirit to invade all the circumstances of my life. Help me to see your hand at work.”
GOD IS GOING TO BATTLE FOR YOU
There is a series of battles coming to the church as a people. This is a different kind of battle, one that many of us may have seen before. This is not imitated by the enemy; he is not responsible. This is a war whose origin is in the heart of God. He is coming to fight FOR us. And whatever is in your circumstances right now that is contrary to Him, His Kingdom, to who He is & His call over our lives, He is going to make war against it.
He is about to launch a first strike over the enemy. He is starting trouble & He is going to finish it. He is giving us now a certainly of victory, & we are going to learn how to stand in the power & substance of that Victory.
There have been battles over health, employment, family, financing, sin, bad habits, mental health, immortalities, depression, business, leadership, revelation. We’ve been held back from claiming realizing our supernatural inheritance.
Our lives are in trouble now & God is going to trouble the one who has been troubling us. He is looking for enemy activity, evidence of our inability to change. In the process He will disarm the enemy & rearm us with weapons of warfare to cause us breakthroughs on the left & on the right. God is stepping into our lives to reclaim territory. He will produce in this process an anointing to break out of the trap of the enemy, out of our circumstances & bad habits, so that the Lordship of Christ may be fully evidenced in our lives.
Make a list of some of the battlegrounds of your life: broken relationships, things that control you, fears you carry, places you have lost hope for change, areas that need healing, etc. What are your current struggles of trust in your life and with God?
Sit with the reality that God is going to battle on your behalf. Picture him moving in with His power to each of these different situations. What would it look like for His power and love to be released onto your battlegrounds?
If music is how you connect to God, spend some time letting Kari Job’s song, “You Are For Me” wash over you.
WE WILL PARTNER WITH GOD IN BATTLE
These battles that God will wage in & through us will be the making of us, they will serve us. They will be our training ground & our proving ground. The Lord will teach us obedience, authority & power in these days.
He’s going to literally train our hands for war. Every attack of God upon our circumstances will become a place of increase & prosperity within that situation. Every weapon of God will release us & prosper us to thrive in the kingdom.
We may feel like we’re in the trenches now suffering, but God is going to go over the top to take on the enemy & we must go with Him, secure in His power to protect us.
In these battles God is establishing us in our rightful place, & we will discover that these battles will become the place of our enlargement. In these battles a window of opportunity has opened for something new to happen.
We’re coming into the end of an age & the church must be positioned to receive all God is releasing. There will be some easy fights & some hard fights. But the harder the fight the bigger the breakthrough. Remember He says, “I will fight for you. You must learn to fight with Me. Stand with Me in faith & you will see the salvation of God & His awesome power to deliver & set free.”
Picture the battlegrounds of your life again. Now picture yourself on the battlefield. What do you look like? What are you wearing? Do you have any special gear? How are you feeling?
Now look around for Jesus, remember He is there battling FOR you and WITH you. Does He have anything to say to you? Does He have new weapons He wants to give you?
Look at those battlefields again, and sit with the truth that these are the places God will train and develop you. These are not just inconveniences or problems you need to fix. THESE are your training grounds to unleash your true self– the person God created you to be. Spend some time thanking God for these battlegrounds. Consecrate the battlegrounds and yourself to Him anew today.
THE ROLE OF GOD’S WORD AND YOUR OBEDIENCE
The window is open. God will fight for you. But you will need to learn to shoot. Learn the power of obedience. If you don’t shoot you don’t get anything. Learn obedience. Become obedient. Continue to obey. This is a season of power, breakthrough, warfare for success, AND a season of obedience. We must learn, apply, and submit to something we will have forever. We must learn to cooperate with word and spirit.
We cannot be causal about the word of God. The word of God is what goes in your hand. You must identify the word of Lord to me in this season. Stop being lazy with promises of God. Use them more effectively.
Learn to get tough with our own situations. Learn to be strong in the word. Learn to grow as a soldier. The tougher the circumstance, the stronger anointing will grow in you.
Sometimes God keeps us weak and vulnerable to allow Him to be our everything. In this season, some situations will resist initially— designed to give us opportunity to press into the Lord. Prepare to be stretched, but the power gained will be great.
Think about your battlegrounds and the areas of your life where you are struggling to trust God. Has He spoken specific words of encouragement to you about those situations in the past? Write those down as a reminder.
Has He spoken words of instruction in the past? What words have your failed to follow through or half-heartedly obeyed? Where do you need full obedience in something? If specific disobedience and neglect come to mind, spend some time confessing these before God.
Do you need a fresh word from God about your situation? Ask Him to speak something new—you might get a Bible verse, an image, a strategy on how to approach things, a person to talk to, a song, etc. Write these down and grab hold of these promises for this next season of battle!
YOUR CALLING AND PURPOSE HERE ON EARTH
God wants to break you into the vision that He has for you. There are some things you need to see about yourself — you need to see in the Spirit to see what God sees. Gideon was hiding in wine press in discouragement when God called Him. He was called a mighty man of valor long before he saw himself that way.
You must break through mindsets you have about yourself. Prophecy and warfare combine to make breakthrough. Prophecy is fulfilled through battle. 1 Tim 1:18— prophecies were used to FIGHT. Prophecies are personal swords in your hand. We have to learn what a good fight is (and it’s not losing!).
Men & women of war will rise up. There will be a breakthrough in intercession. We will see a worship anointing that will touch the throne of God. You will write a new album of prophetic praise for warfare. A river of encouragement will rise up that will touch the state, the nation & the nations. A prophetic community will rise that knows how to fight. An army will emerge in the audience of the church.
Spend a few moments picturing what the world would look like if the Church rose up in all her power as God intended. How would you live your life differently? How would our communities be transformed? How would our resources be used? How would the marginalized be treated: orphans, widows, immigrants, abused, homeless, LGBT community, and the voiceless among us? THIS is what God longs to release NOW.
Ask God to give you a picture of how He sees you. How does He want to use you in this season of outpouring? Ask Him if there is a new anointing are you to experience and enjoy in this next season?
Are there limited mindsets about your battlegrounds or your gifts that God wants to expand today? What lies do you believe about your situation or yourself? Write those down because you want to make a statement today that you are not going to live into that lie anymore.
Make a list of the lies you have been believing about yourself or your circumstances. Renounce those lies by praying, “ I renounce the lie that ______________________. I will not align myself with that anymore.”
Now ask God for the TRUTH that you are to receive. Write it down. These are the types of words that Graham is talking about– specific words of healing and promise spoken over you that you will need to hold to and live into. Spend a few minutes writing all the truths you are opening your heart to receive today about your battlefields and how God has equipped you.
Strike the Ground
Don’t think you are going to get away without ‘striking the ground’ just like they did at the end of the sermon. 🙂 Your faith may have been activated but there is power in turning the faith into a symbolic action. May I suggest you find some way to strike the ground– get a stick, use your fist, but have at it! And don’t be timid like Jehoash, the king in the story, enter into the spirit of this invitation– be BOLD!
Close your time by thanking God for all He has shown you today. May we each grab hold of the individual promises given us and live into this season of God’s Spirit moving in power!