God’s Model for Prophecy

Spirit of truthIn our last post, I listed steps I use in meditating on Scripture. Today, I’m sharing something the Lord showed me as I meditated on a particular verse. Let’s start with the verse, John 16:13:

… When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.”

The NIV renders “He shall not speak of Himself, as, “He will not speak on His own.” The NASB puts it, “He will not speak on His own initiative.”

In this verse, God has given us the Holy Spirit as our role model for how prophecy is supposed to be carried out. And should it not be that way? The Spirit is our teacher (John 14:26).

Furthermore, Jesus followed this same model while on earth. He said, “He Who sent Me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him” and, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father has taught me, I speak these things” (John 8: 26, 28).

A true prophet parallels the Holy Spirit (and Jesus) by not speaking on his own initiative. He speaks only what he hears from the Lord. This is what is meant by speaking as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). The prophet does not get ahead of God or speak presumptuously. He does not speak what he thinks is right, and then expect God to back him up. He waits to hear God first, and then he speaks.

Unfortunately, some modern-day prophets are not following the model given to us in John 16:13. A popular teaching in prophetic circles says we can “step into” prophecy at will: merely decide to prophesy and just start speaking in faith. God then supposedly backs up the prophet by filling his mouth with the word of the Lord. As a result, we are seeing far too much presumptuous prophecy coming from natural understanding or wishful thinking. Inner anxieties, faulty theological mindsets, and a desire for personal recognition can also contribute to inaccurate prophecy.

In addition, some prophets start out with a genuine, kernel word from the Lord, but then add in their own interpretations as part of their “word” without clearly explaining to their listeners, “This part is what I heard God say, and this part is what I think He might mean by that.”

In the next verse, John 16:14, Jesus adds this about the Holy Spirit: “He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive what is Mine, and shall show it to you.” Continuing with the Spirit as our model, any true prophetic revelation must in some way glorify Jesus. If a word or vision is genuine, it will always point back to Jesus, for He is the absolute Center of all. He never gives His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). The word might not speak of Jesus directly, but it will ultimately cause us to turn our hearts to Him in greater reverence.

I have majored on just part of what John 16:13 has for us. It also promises that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, will guide us into all truth. I had been pondering this verse in response to a prophetic word I had come across. Some of the things said by the prophet troubled me, and I used this verse as my prayer to know the truth: Spirit of truth, please guide me into all truth. Is this prophet speaking rightly or not? I want to align myself with You. By the end of the day, I had my answer. The Holy Spirit enlightened me with His perspective by recalling to mind some Scriptures which refuted what was being claimed by the prophet.

John 16:13 also promises, “He will show you things to come.” The Lord is eager to share with His people what is yet ahead, so that we are not blindsided. He doesn’t tell us everything, but a good many times He desires to give us glimpses into the future, if we are willing to listen.

Such a rich verse! The Word of God brings life and strength to us. I will not be the same, since seeing these things. I hope sharing what I have learned will be a blessing to you, too.

Personal Prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

 

 

How to Meditate on God’s Word

Bible meditationMaking a regular practice of meditating on God’s Word was not always a part of my devotional life.  For many years, I consistently read the Bible, and I learned a great deal that way. Sometimes, when I was intrigued by a particular verse, I did a little study — looking it up in other translations, perhaps checking out the meanings of a few words in Strong’s Concordance, maybe seeing what commentaries had to say about it. But meditate on it? Not so much.

Why? Because I didn’t know how. It was one of those things nobody ever taught me. Then, a couple of books came my way, which helped me to see that I was missing a very important component of how God wants to interact with us through the Bible.

The Art of Praying the Scriptures, by John Paul Jackson
The Healing Journey
, by Thom Gardner

I like to make things as simple as possible, both for myself and others, so what I share today won’t be as detailed as their methods, but if you would like to go deeper, I highly recommend both books.

So, how do I personally meditate on God’s Word?

I ask God to give me a verse or passage. 

  • Once I’ve asked, I may hear from the Lord right away, or I might need to keep asking Him for a day or two.
  • He then brings a verse or phrase from Scripture to mind. If I don’t know where it is in the Bible, I locate it in a concordance or by searching for it in Google.
  • Or, in my regular course of reading, a verse just comes alive to me. Either way, I know that this is the verse or passage God wants me to meditate on.

My process:

  1. I write out the verse in a notebook I keep just for Bible meditation purposes.
  2. I read it aloud several times, and think about it.
  3. As I do that, a particular phrase from that verse may seem to be particularly meaningful, so I focus on that part.
  4. I ask God if He would like to bring a picture (which is a mini-vision) to mind which goes along with the verse or phrase, and then I wait for His response. If I receive a picture, I either try to draw it or describe it in my notebook.
  5. If God is not already flooding me with thoughts about the verse (usually He is), I ask God to speak to me about the verse. I write down whatever He says, or whatever insights He gives.
  6. At this point, I frequently start to remember other Bible verses which go along with my meditation verse. I write those down, too, and I explain in my notebook how they fit with the verse I started with.
  7. I ask God to show me how to apply the verse to my life, when applicable.
  8. I thank Him for what He is revealing to me.
  9. I may pray the verse back to Him, if that seems to fit.
  10. I try to remember the verse throughout the day. As I do that, God may give me additional insight. If He does, I return to my notebook and write it down.
  11. I go back to the verse the next day and think about it again, to see if the Lord has additional revelation for me in it.
  12. I sometimes repackage what I have learned by restating it in a FaceBook and/or Twitter post. That solidifies it for me, but it also inspires and blesses other people.

Twelve steps might seem like a lot, but they are only general guidelines. You don’t have to check them off point by point. I do this very informally, and all the  steps may not happen each time. The important thing is to commune with God over short pieces of Scripture so that you are thinking about Him more and growing in knowing Him better.

The amount of time I spend on a particular verse or passage varies. It may be one day, or a week. I sense in my spirit when the mission has been fully accomplished. Sometimes I come back to it again many months later.

I do not meditate on a single verse in place of reading the Bible in larger chunks. Consuming bigger portions of the Word daily is also important. I usually incorporate Scripture meditation into my morning prayer time, while reading at length in the evening works well for me. Everyone is different, so use whatever method is best for you.

Do you have additional suggestions you would like to share? Please comment!

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Are You Among the Least?

Do you ever feel like you are one of the least of Jesus’ disciples? Maybe your “least” means least of the intercessors, or the prophetic people, or the singers in the choir, or the teachers, or the soul-winners in your acquaintance. It doesn’t really matter what your least is: this post is for you.

I deal with feeling like the least a lot, especially when it comes to intercession or prophecy, my particular functions in the Body. I’ve gotten to know some of the people who read my blog regularly, and I tend to admire them for how succinctly they hear the Lord and how they are able to turn what they hear into such powerful prayer. And then, there is their great faith for answers. Or their ability to move boldly in the word of knowledge or personal prophecy. It’s easy for me to wonder, “What do I have to offer these folks in my writing? Aren’t they already miles ahead of me?”

That’s the way I was feeling some weeks back, and I realized I needed to get free of such a mindset. After all, doesn’t 2 Corinthians 10:12 warn us, “… But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”? Whether we’re comparing ourselves to others and thinking we’re a notch above the rest, or whether we go the other direction and think we’re on the bottom rung of the ladder, it isn’t in line with God’s view at all.

So, as I was asking the Lord to help me break free from my little inferiority stewpot, He brought to mind John 15 — that familiar chapter where Jesus talks about being the Vine, while we are the branches — “For without Me, You can do nothing” (v. 5).

I started to see myself as one of the branches, attached to the Vine, with an abundance of other branches surrounding me, also attached to the Vine. Each of us who is connected into Jesus as a healthy branch has the same sap flowing to us — the life of His Spirit within us. And because of that continual flow to us, we each produce fruit for Him in just the right amounts. Some branches may have a few more grapes clustered on them than others, but that doesn’t really matter a whole lot, because all are doing what they are supposed to do — bearing fruit. It is only when the sap supply is cut off that the branch becomes withered and dried, so that it doesn’t produce fruit like it should.

If grapevine branches could think, would they obsess about whether they were producing as many grapes as the branches around them? I suppose we can’t really know for sure, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t. They are just enjoying being connected to their vine, the source of all which they produce.

In the same way, whatever we do completely depends upon Jesus. We can’t strain harder to produce fruit and voila! our straining suddenly brings miraculous results. It is Jesus the Vine Who makes it all happen. Sure, we have to cooperate with Him by listening to the Spirit’s promptings and acting upon them, but as long as we are doing that as best we know how in our present stage of maturity, we produce the intended fruit. It may not look exactly like someone else’s fruit, and it may not ripen as quickly, but it is still fruit, and it is good in the Lord’s eyes.

Living in performance mode has become so much the norm in today’s church scene, that most of the time we don’t even recognize what is happening to us — or how wrong it is. Here in America, our independent, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps work ethic influences our perception of self-worth: If I just try harder, I can do more for Jesus. If I can’t prophesy with all the pizzazz of Sister Susie, I’m not as valuable as she is. If I’m not a superstar with an audience of 5,000, I am insignificant.”

1 Corinthians 4:7 puts our function in the body of believers into better perspective: “For Who makes you different from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now, if you received it [as a free gift from God], why do you glory, as if you had not received it [but had somehow come up with it on your own]?”

The Lord also reminds us that each of us has been given unique purpose and custom-designed functions within His overall plan: “… Every man [or woman] has his proper gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

So let’s find joy in Jesus, our Vine. And let’s rejoice that we get to be one of His branches, whether large or small, enjoying His sap, bearing fruit as He designed us to do. We can be thankful that we are part of a bigger picture, working together with all the other branches. It’s all about Jesus, not us, anyway.

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 7) — Keys for Overcoming (cont.)

People conflicts are responsible for a lot of the spiritual warfare we go through. We get distressed mentally and emotionally when we are in disharmony with others. Offenses try to take root inside, and we find ourselves feeling bruised, barraged with critical or angry thoughts, experiencing fear of what might be coming next. The next three keys deal specifically with warfare over people issues:

Remind yourself that people who are giving you grief are not the real problem. This is probably one of the main ways we miss it in spiritual warfare. Much of our soulish thinking has to do with smoldering resentment of ways people have offended, annoyed, or wounded us. We carry on imaginary conversations with them —  telling them off, putting them in their place, rehearsing what they said or did over and over again.

We need to be aware that people who give us a bad time are mere instruments of the enemy. Evil spirits are pulling their strings — to yank ours in response! This is why Paul reminded us, “For we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Quite honestly, even our Christian brothers and sisters can be real tools of the devil, although often unwittingly. They say stupid things, we feel devastated, and we don’t even stop to consider where it is really coming from.

Overcome by praying blessings upon those who hurt you. In Matthew 5:44, 45, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ….”  While this is a familiar Bible passage for many of us, it seems that walking it out has been all but lost in the Church today.

When we speak blessings upon those who mean us harm, choose to respond with kind acts toward them, and, especially, pray good things for them, several changes take place:

  • We increase in being like our Father in heaven, because we are choosing His ways.
  • Sustained prayer for others inevitably leads us into loving them. This is a spiritual principle. After a while, we don’t have to grit our teeth and endure around them, because we take on the Father’s own love and compassion for them. The change inside ourselves can be amazing!
  • We pave the way for the person to be softened and freed from his bondage, especially as we release benevolent prayer for him. The enemy’s hold on him is weakened.
  • Many times, those who have persecuted us will have a change of heart toward us, as they experience our kindness. Love wins.
  • Even if the person continues to treat us badly, our Father sees. He returns the blessing we have bestowed upon our adversary back to us.

Commit to staying inside the walls of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. That’s the “love chapter.” If you are going through a struggle with how you feel or think about a person, fill yourself with this passage daily. Determine to align with it. Yep! This will take some dying to self!

Final thoughts:

Sometimes you need others. No matter how strong or mature in the Lord you are, when you are embroiled in a spiritual battle, sometimes you need support. Surround yourself with believers who will pray with you, listen to you, cry with you, and share their insights. We all need friends who care and who can be trusted, who will love us in our weaknesses and stand with us when we are under attack.

I know some of you may not feel like you have that in your local church. Perhaps a home fellowship, such as a prayer or Bible study group, can meet the need. My husband and I have developed close relationships through a couple of home fellowship groups we are part of.

You may be able to find a support group through people you engage with via social media. I have gradually gotten to know some trustworthy people in this way. They have become wonderful friends with whom I can share, even though we’ve never met in person.

It will take time to establish trust with others, so start making these relationships happen now. Being transparent and expressing need involves risk, because it makes us vulnerable. Test the waters a bit before a spiritual crisis arises. Generally speaking, you will be surprised by how caring people can be.

Losing a battle is not the same as losing the war. In every major conflict, you’re going to lose a few battles. That’s why the Lord said in Proverbs 24:16, “A just man falls seven times, and rises up again,” and in Psalm 37:23, 24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD…. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

If you fail, as long as you get back up and fight again, you will win in the end. Jesus is there to help you. He is The Overcomer, and He’s committed to bringing you through.

This concludes our Personal Spiritual Warfare series. I’d love to hear your tips for how you have overcome. By sharing, you will encourage others.

Previous: Part 6 — Keys for Overcoming  

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann

 

 

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Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 6) — Keys for Overcoming

It’s not enough to identify problems and then be told by someone to overcome them. I want to be given practical tools to get me there. Maybe you’d like that kind of help, too. Here are some steps to help you win those personal spiritual battles you encounter:

Get used to the idea that you are in a war. 1 Peter 1:13 exhorts us, “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Girding up the loins” refers to how people of Bible times prepared for battle. They tucked their long robes up into their belts, so that their legs were free to move unhampered. “Be sober” means to understand the seriousness of what we’re involved in and to stay on the alert. “Hope to the end” indicates that we’re in this for the long haul. Individual battles may be short or prolonged, but the war lasts throughout our lives. We can’t quit at any point. If we stay at it, we will assuredly finish our life-race well, because the Lord Himself is right there fighting with and for us.

Corral your mind.1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “We have the mind of Christ.” Now, that’s the truth, but walking it out requires some effort. We have to continually “be sober; be vigilant, because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We have to “resist him steadfastly in the faith” (v. 9). This means we don’t let our thoughts flow unchecked. When we notice our mind going places which are not in keeping with the way Jesus would think, we need to “cast down [those] imaginations, and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The Holy Spirit is willing to expose those wandering thoughts to us, if we invite Him to. But it is up to us to keep on bringing them back to where they should be. This takes practice. Sometimes it is exhausting, especially if we are dealing not only with our own soulish nature, but with thoughts implanted by the devil.

The secret is to keep at it. If you notice wrong thoughts dozens of times a day, every time you corral them and push the reset button, you have taken a few steps toward ultimate victory.

Take a worship break. — If you have already taken authority in Jesus’ name over any evil spirits which might be bombarding your thoughts, worship can refocus your mind where it needs to be. It’s great to keep worship music playing in the background, if you can. Worship music changes the atmosphere around us. But take it a step further. Go beyond listening to worship music, to actively doing the worship yourself – out loud, if possible. Worship connects us spirit-to-Spirit with the Lord, and when our spirit-man is in the right place, it can help our mind to line up as well.

Focus on Jesus more than the battle coming against you. – This goes along with taking a worship break. The enemy wants to get us obsessed with him and the problems he is causing. When we put our attention on him instead of the Lord, we play into his hands: we end up giving him the glory which belongs to the Lord Most High.

Jesus wants us to fasten our attention on Himself, the Author of peace, the Deliverer, the One who has already overcome on our behalf. How easy it is to forget that the battle is the Lord’s! (1 Samuel 17:47). The moment we cry out for Jesus’ help, He goes to work for us.

So don’t spend all your time and energy on contending with the devil. Worship. Tell Jesus you are setting your heart on Him. Express to Him your confidence that He will take care of you and get you through.

Do the exact opposite of what you are tempted to do. – This is a simple, but highly effective, warfare tactic. We can frustrate evil desires, deflating their sails, by taking an opposite course.

Do you feel the urge to give somebody a verbal slap in the face (maybe because you felt like that’s what you got)? Be cordial and friendly instead. 1 Peter 3:8, 9 addresses this very issue: “… Having compassion toward each other, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or railing for railing. On the contrary, bless them, knowing that is what you are called to, so that you will inherit a blessing.”

Do you want to avoid or run away from someone who has hurt you – an individual, a pastor, or even a whole church fellowship? Conquer that flight desire. Show up, converse, be kind, participate. If you need to express that you have been hurt, try to walk through the reconciliation / forgiveness pattern Jesus laid out for His Church in Matthew 18:15-17. Don’t go into hiding mode.

Doing the opposite of the temptation is part of how we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). It disarms the enemy’s ability to manipulate us.

Next time, we’ll wrap up this series with some final keys for overcoming.

Previous: Part 5 — Long-Term Assault
Next: Part 7 — Keys for Overcoming (cont.)

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 5) — Long-Term Assault

After reading my last post, you may have thought, “She makes it sound like ending the enemy’s assault is so simple, but I’ve tried rebuking the enemy over and over, using Jesus’ name and pleading His blood, and I’m still struggling!”

Overcoming spiritual attack on our minds can be simple, but it isn’t always. You don’t need to feel like a failure if the struggle continues long-term. It isn’t necessarily your fault, and you are not alone.

Resisting the enemy and causing him to flee is not a mere formula. Sometimes, he keeps on insisting on having his way, especially when the stakes are highest (and we don’t always see clearly when that is). During such times, the battle can be severe and extended. It is absolutely essential that we continue to stand our ground and not surrender.

Some years ago, I went through a period of many months when the assault on my mind was incessant and exhausting. Every day, every few minutes, I had to deal with another thought, all of which had their roots in the fear of man.

My head swirled. I corrected one thought, only to have another follow on its heels. It was hard to focus on prayer, although I persevered. The torment was extreme. I cried out to the Lord to help me. I countered with Scripture. I commanded the enemy to leave. But pretty soon the thoughts were back again.

Hardly anybody outside my family knew this was going on — because I was afraid people would decide I was unstable if they knew. One day, a highly prophetic lady who knew nothing of my struggle shared a word she had received from the Lord for me. She spoke many blessings, but what caught my attention the most was that she said the enemy was attacking my thoughts intensely because he was trying to destroy my destiny. She assured me that the assault would come to an end, and my mind would be filled with peace.

Only the Holy Spirit could have given her this information. It took several months more before I saw the fulfillment of what she had shared with me. In the meantime I often cried out in desperation, “Lord, WHEN is it going to end? You said it would!” And it did end – suddenly. There was no special overcoming prayer moment which brought it about. It just stopped. The peace and quiet were wonderful beyond belief!

Since that time, I have talked with others who have been through the same thing. The assault they experienced was similar — but they got through it, just like I did. You can, too. Sometimes it is a huge comfort to know that someone else has been there before you and has made it to the other side.

So, what is going on when such extreme attack comes upon us? In my case, I had initially cooperated with the enemy by not recognizing the deception in the thoughts which had been injected. My own insecurities and the fear of man which I had unwittingly harbored fed the blaze until it got out of control. When I finally realized that I had let my thoughts go on at length in wrong places, I began the process back with repentance and greater vigilance to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The Holy Spirit was so kind and gracious during that time. He often intercepted the wrong thoughts by interrupting with His truth. And He comforted me in the midst of it all.

I asked the Lord why the torment went on and on. He responded by telling me He was refining me in the process. He also said He was allowing it so that I would grow strong for battle, as in Psalm 18:34: “He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.”

Another factor we could unknowingly be dealing with is the level from which the spiritual attack is coming. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” “Principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places” are beings which are high up in the command hierarchy of the spirit realm. Their involvement could have bearing on the intensity and length of the conflict.

What can you do to make sure you come through a long season of warfare against your mind successfully?

  • Entrust yourself into God’s hands. James 4:7 instructs us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We are assured that if we keep ourselves submitted to the Lord and continue to resist the devil, eventually he will flee.
  • Decide upfront not to quit. Ephesians 6:13 exhorts us, “Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Perseverance wins the battle.
  • Be diligent to use the Word of God to repulse the enemy. Ephesians 6:17 says to “Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” When we’re in the midst of a heated thought battle, pulling out the Word and wielding it may seem like extra work, but it is absolutely essential. Jesus, while being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), consistently used the Word to deflect the assault: “It is written.”
  • Worship your way through. That’s what Paul and Silas did when they were beaten and thrown into prison. The result? The doors were opened; their bands were loosed (Acts 16:25, 26).
  • If you fail, ask the Lord to help you get up and keep going. Psalm 37:24 says of the righteous person, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

If you persevere, you will win. The key is in not quitting.

In the final two posts of this series, I will share some additional practical steps we can take to win our personal spiritual warfare.

Previous: Part 4 — Discerning the Source of Thoughts
Next: Part 6 — Keys for Overcoming

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam