Thursday, May 13, 2010
Here Comes the Judge - How Do We Know It's God?
I think the perceptions of most church folks, when it comes to the prophetic, fall into one of the following categories.
-1 That it is ancient history – I haven’t thought about God sending some one to speak over me.
-2 I know there is prophecy, but it is rare, not very personal. And it’s too general.
-3 Prophecy can only be encouraging so anything negative is not God.
-4 It happens, but it won’t happen to me.
-5 It’s been abused and misused – therefore it is really just too much trouble.
-6 Prophecy is a way of life for the Christian, and should be for the church.
-7 The supernatural gifts ended with the apostles deaths - LOL!
Well, I am a 6! But I have been 1 through 5 at some point in my walk. I have never been a 7.
I am going to assume that you are interested in what a prophecy is, or what it might be like. HERE is a story about my first one. HERE is a story about another one and how all that turned out.
First, prophecy can be as simple as a Bible verse that is made personal and meaningful to you. My wife and I went to hear a speaker, and while he was preaching he said these words. “You, did you know, you are in the Army of God?” (1 Chronicles 12:22) And as he said it, he pointed to my wife. It was personal, and powerful. It was God speaking to her.
Other times I have seen a much more direct and accurate form of prophesy. There are those called out of an audience by name. This was by men who did not know them at all, just to speak destiny in some sort of missions. I had a pastor that was originally from Iceland and the prophet couldn't pronounce his name, so he spelled it! He prophesied his brief US pastorship, and a move back to his home country. The prophecy took about 6 years to come to pass, but every word was perfectly accurate.
So, what would you do if God had someone speak a word over you? Run out and make it happen, be so skeptical that it would be meaningless, or fall somewhere in between? They are good questions don’t you think?
Here are some steps and suggestions for judging prophecy and prophetic words whether they are for you personally, for your small group or even your church. And yes, Virginia, some folks still prophesy over nations.
-1 Write it Down!
Most meetings that I have been to, the words are recorded to hold the minister accountable, as well as provide the recipient with a record of what God is speaking to them. In more intimate settings, this is not always the case. Whatever the situation, write down everything! Think of it like a personal Bible passage – you’d want to get every nuance of the utterance, and prophesy is the same. If it's God, you'll want to pull it out every so often.
Jeremiah 36:2 Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you.
Once the “word” is written down, you take away the inflection and accent of the speaker. Some prophetic people have a personal style of delivery. Jeremiah, for instance, was the “weeping” prophet. Others in the kingdom have some odd deliveries which can be somewhat distracting. I know one fellow who sings them over you. The music is beautiful, but it is hard to hear both the music and words. Just remember the water sometimes tastes like the pipe.
-2 Check the Scriptures!
As you read it over, check to make sure that the word does not contain any scriptural contradictions. I would dismiss a word if it was going to take me consciously committing a sin, to have it come to pass. Scripture is the final authority and anything that contradicts scripture must be rejected.
Does the word exalt and glorify Jesus? (John 16:13-14; Rev. 19:10) Does the word edify the church?
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men (1 Cor. 14:3) And some times there is comfort in coming clean and repenting.
Beware, just because a word makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that God is not intending for you to grow into it. I taught my kids math in anticipation that they would one day go to college.
-3 Check with God!
Look for the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. If you are accustom to having a witness to the things of God, it is a good test. If you have no experience with prophecy, what you heard/are reading may in fact, not be something that you are interested in partaking of. (Col 3:15) But I assure you, just because you don’t want to marry a pastor, or be a missionary in Guatemala, doesn’t mean that God is setting you up for a change of heart. I’m just saying. Be sure to highlight any conditions. IE: God will, if you will. If you don’t do your part, God doesn’t have to do His part, now does He?
-4 Track Record and Character!
Who is it that gave this word to/in the church, or spoke it over you? Do they have a track record of accuracy and humility? A good pastor, instead of worrying about abuse - he will build a file on the prophetic person recording his words, there accuracy, and the ones that come to pass. It shouldn’t take long to see what type of gifting and anointing prophetic people have. Beware, not all prophetic people are of the best character (nor are pastors, and evangelists!). Do not discount the fact that God can use a donkey to deliver a word of needed.
-5 Praying It Through!
I don’t know what your prayer life is like, but a prophetic word can supercharge it. I often read mine back to the Lord and then meditate on what He might be saying. The prophecy becomes my prayer script. In the early days, I received some stuff that seemed damn near impossible. But because it had passed test 2 and 3, I had to consider it.
It is often in this step where God may point out some changes that you need to make to line up with the word. If you are going to run a marathon for God, then maybe it is time to quit smoking. You get the idea.
Ask Him to show you if any parts of the word are not from Him and to confirm the parts that are from Him. I have received a few words over the years that were so very much Him - with one sentence that didn’t make sense then, and still doesn’t today. Don’t reject something because of one part. The prophecy is subject to the prophet - and some times they miss things. Pastors preach bad sermons too. Happens.
-6 Life Context!
Compare the word against other things God has spoken to you maybe in prior prophecies, personal prayer times and other forms of godly input. Sometimes prophecies create a burden, other times they confirm one. Is this new, or another nudge in the direction you already know you should be taking?
You do not always need to act immediately on a word from the Lord. Sometimes we need to wait for Him; for His timing and for circumstances to present themselves. This is especially true of predictive, directive or calling/gifting words. God, is faithful! He will confirm it to you. He won't call you to do something tht He will not empower you to do. Be certain, you may not feel prepared, but that only means you'll have to rely on God, and isn't' what faith is all about?
-8 Don’t Think, Respond!
We need to respond to God’s word, not carry them out. It is easy to try to conform our lives to a word, when what we need to do is conform ourselves to the image of Christ, and let destiny unfold before us. Do not "read into" the word what you want it to say. I had a friend that was a meeting and his girlfriend received a word about getting married. She thought it was him, but he was dumping her that night,. It was a rough evening for both of them. About a year later she met her husband is very happy - it's funny to all of us now.
I once received a word about my kids coming to live with me after my divorce. Each time I went to court for a custody hearing, nothing happened. It didn't happen until they graduated High School. It was disappointing at first, but not wrong.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
There are a few things that can keep you from getting a word or having one come to pass in your life.
Attitude – Bad attitudes about spiritual gifts or the style of the prophecy may hinder you from what God actually wants. And if the word seems like it would take a miracle to get you there, remember God does miracles.
Bad theology - it is wrong to think that there are no spiritual gifts today. There is too much ink in the Bible, too many folks that have the real deal. Think I am wrong? Well, take it up with God and search it out like treasure.
Sin – sometimes personal sin can significantly delay, or in some cases negate your destiny. This is particularly true of addictions and sexual impurity. Sin has consequences. The inverse is also true. Sometimes people that are in sin can still deliver prophetic words that are accurate and godly. No, I don't know why.
Prophecy in church services and gatherings are pretty well covered in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 - well unless you tore those pages out.
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge (1 Cor. 14:29)
By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. (2 Cor. 13:1)
Rom. 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
And finally: God sometimes allows false or misguided people to speak to test and humble you (2
Chronicles 18). They may speak of great things. They need to be tested. God
sometimes even allows true prophets to give a purposely misleading word (Psalm 18:26).
In the end, it is your relationship with God that will help you judge a prophecy for you, your church, or even the USA.
Be filled with the spirit, love others and earnestly desire the gifts - especially prophecy.
How about you, care to tell us about your experiences?