Did God REALLY Show Them That?

Image by fsHH from Pixabay

When prophetic people speak of supernatural experiences they’ve had, sometimes it can be confusing or intimidating. How do you argue with, “I was caught up into heaven and saw ________.” Or, “Jesus came to me and told me this, word for word”? Or, “Gabriel appeared to me with this revelation”? Our inclination is to think, “Well, it must be so, if she saw or heard it, especially because she has a bazillion online followers, and they all think it’s the coolest revelation ever!”

Maybe, maybe not. The Lord explained it to me this way: “Seers can see wrong, just like hearers can hear wrong.” Even well known prophets can be fooled by their imaginations or by lying spirits posing as Jesus or God’s angels. Yes, that makes me uncomfortable, too, but we have to face it. Didn’t the Lord warn us, “…Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14)? Prophetic seers can also misunderstand something they really saw, and then almost turn it into a doctrine for the rest of us.

We shouldn’t have to say this again, but it seems we do:

Any prophetic revelation which goes against something in the Bible isn’t true, no matter who is giving it.

It doesn’t matter how convincing it sounds or how sincere the person telling it is. It’s not so.

I think we should also be cautious with revelation which doesn’t directly oppose Scripture, but isn’t supported there either. We may not have to reject it completely, but maybe it should go in the “I don’t know, so I’m not going there” box in our minds.

Some questions to consider:

In visions which go beyond what Scripture tells us, was the person seeing something literal, or was it a parable-like explanation of how God works?

For instance, one lady described a vision of little spirits nestled in the heart of the Father. She said this means we preexist as spirits in heaven before we are physically conceived here on earth. It’s a commonly accepted belief in Charismatic circles, but did you know there is no biblical basis for it?

So, what could seeing spirits in the heart of the Father be about? They aren’t literally dwelling there as already-created beings. It might simply mean we’ve always been on God’s mind and in His plans. He loves us before we even exist — because He is outside of time, bringing His purposes down into time.

Or, how about the body parts room in heaven seen by many? It could be literal, but perhaps it’s just a vehicle to explain that God can create new parts in us if we need them. It doesn’t necessarily mean a room with a catalogued inventory of parts exists.

In the Bible, sometimes God comes down to our level by using pictures and words we can understand to get His message across. An example is the phraseology in Genesis 18:21, concerning Sodom and Gomorrah: “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which has come to Me, and if not, I will know.” One would think in a surface reading of those words that God was clueless about what was happening until He left heaven to see it with His own eyes. But we know from other Bible verses that He knows everything from beginning to end (Examples: Isaiah 46:10 and 1 John 3:20). In this instance, He just chose language to convey an idea on our level of thinking.

If God sometimes uses language in this way in His Word, He might do it in visions too. His Word also teaches concepts through parables, so we should realize many visions are parabolic in nature as well.

Does God reveal new mysteries about Himself today?

If it is really about Him and His ways, it is somewhere in the Bible already. Sometimes He brings revelation to the forefront which has been forgotten or neglected by His people for a long time, but it has still been there in His Word all along. We’re just rediscovering it.

Where is that in the Bible?

In Charismatic circles, we’ve accumulated a few generally accepted beliefs which are actually contrary to Scripture. They are often based on visions from celebrated prophets which have been told and retold, until after a while, no one seems to question them anymore. It’s sort of like Ben Franklin’s maxim, “God helps those who help themselves.” Many people think it is in the Bible, just because they have heard it so often. We’ve got to start measuring long-held beliefs by whether they are actually in the Bible or not, and whether those ideas hold true all the way from Genesis through Revelation.

There is no viable reason why Spirit-filled people cannot equally be people of the Word. It isn’t one or the other. What the Holy Spirit has laid down in the Bible, He will not contradict or supersede through a vision. He does not play, “that was then, this is now” in how He speaks today. He is eternally consistent.

Let’s not be bamboozled into swallowing every vision and “Jesus told me” thing that comes along. Measure everything by God’s Word. Inquire of Him whether it is true or not. If we do that, we won’t get off into weird places.

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Got Questions About Current Prophecies?

prophecy, microscope

A few years ago, I wrote an article on how to discern whether prophets are worthy of listening to. If you have questions about all the prophecies floating around on the Internet, please start there. But then, I’d like to add a few thoughts on the subject.

In that post, I said if prophets get it wrong, they should admit it and ask forgiveness. That’s important, but we must also realize that some prophetic words take time to play out.

Currently, a band of Christian leaders is demanding that prophets repent of and retract their prophetic utterances about the 2020 election. This is premature, and the pressure being placed upon these men and women is not warranted. Many of them have a long track record of accuracy, balance, and sound teaching of the Word. Some sincerely took time to inquire of the Lord about whether they had missed it. They feel God has said to stand fast in what they have spoken. Having that conviction, for them to renege on their words at this point would be sin. So let’s wait it out a bit before getting on the critics’ bandwagon. Mocking prophets (or any other Christian, for that matter) is not pleasing to the Lord. He is doing something way bigger than any of us anticipated at first, so let’s be patient and give Him time to do the full work He has in mind. 

Sometimes prophets miss it when they assign specific dates to when things will happen. We’ve seen this mistake made time and again. It’s usually not the seasoned prophets who make it. Young prophets are commonly cautioned, “No dates, no mates, no babies” (meaning, don’t put a calendar date on when something will happen, don’t prophesy who someone will marry or when, don’t prophesy pregnancies). Occasionally, mature prophets step over that boundary, and it works out beautifully. But more often than not, it’s a flop. So, when I hear somebody say something is going to happen on a specific date or within a limited time period, I take a wait-and-see stance, with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Prophecies do not always mean what we interpret them to mean, especially if symbolic or ambiguous language is used. Don’t read into a word whatever conclusions your brain immediately jumps to. Even the prophet delivering the revelation can err in his assumptions, only to realize down the road his interpretation was inaccurate. Look at the word or vision for exactly what it says and no more. Over time, the meaning will unfold more clearly.

Be really careful with visions and dreams, because they are often symbolic. I’ve heard  prophets declare a specific, literal thing was going to happen just as they saw it in a dream. Yet, being a symbolic dreamer myself and knowing how that works, I realized what they saw was perhaps not going to work out exactly as they had seen it. In many cases, these dreams and visions are genuine. The people who have them really are hearing from God. But they are immature in their gift, needing to be mentored and refined for a while yet before releasing their words to the world. No, they shouldn’t be doing their thing on YouTube, but give them grace and time to grow. Don’t condemn them. Perhaps God will bring someone to help them in their immaturity, much like Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos under their wing in his early days as a teacher, in Acts 18:24-26.

In listening to prophecies given by others, there are a few other things we should keep in mind:

1.)  Foretelling the future is not the only purpose of prophecy, but it is still a legitimate expression of it in modern times. Some have tried to disparage futuristic prophecy, saying it was only a function of Bible-era prophets. This thinking denies the reality of all the prophecies in our day which have accurately come to pass. Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit came, He would show us things to come (John 16:13). His promise has not been rescinded.

2.)  A major purpose of prophecy is to build up, encourage, and comfort the Church, according to 1 Corinthians 14:3. I personally receive a lot of encouragement and comfort from listening to trusted prophets.

3.)  Prophetic revelation is useful in showing us how to pray. Sometimes its purpose is to reveal what to pray against, so it does not happen. My favorite example of this type of revelation is in Amos 7:1-9, where God gave Amos three visions. After each of the first two, Amos pleaded with the Lord not to do what had been shown, and God’s response was, “It shall not be.” God told Amos upfront that He was immovable on the third one, so Amos didn’t pray against it.

One of the reasons we must carefully discern prophecy is so we know what to do with it — whether to embrace it as a done deal, pray in agreement with it until it happens, or intercede against its fulfillment.

4.)  While it’s great to hear God speak through others, we should prioritize hearing Him for ourselves. Firsthand revelation from our Lord is precious and should be sought after. Receiving via others can be helpful, but if that is the only way we hear from God, how sad! How would you feel if a dear family member only communicated with you by messages relayed through a third party? Yet, I know believers who are content to never hear the Lord speak to them one-on-one.

You don’t have to be highly prophetic to hear God speak to you. It is the heritage of every believer, including information about the future. John 16:13‘s promise, “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth … and He will show you things to come,” is for all of us.

May we grow in understanding, discerning, and wisely using prophecy. It is a gift from God, vital to the Church for our present day.

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intercessor training

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

(Lots of info on prophecy in this book, too.)

An Ax, a Broom, and Some Trees

sweeping broom

I would like to encourage those of you who are questioning, “Why are these terrible things happening in America, and is God going to do anything about it?”

Around ten years ago, while praying for our nation, I had a vision of an ax whacking at a large tree root. The scene then shifted to a foundation pavement made of stone, with a broom sweeping it completely clean.

When we see tools performing their tasks, but we don’t see the person using them, this can indicate God’s invisible hand is at work. I understood this vision to mean that God was going to destroy unholy behaviors, institutions, and ideology in the U. S. at the very root, and that He was going to clear away whatever was not pleasing to Him that had been erected upon the foundation stones of our country. In this sweeping process, I particularly noted that the foundation itself was solid and undamaged.

Around the same time, I had another vision. I saw a jigsaw puzzle of a political map of the United States (the type of map where each of the states is shown in a different color). It was suspended horizontally, with a safety net underneath it. I got the idea that even if the puzzle crumbled, it would be OK, because the safety net was there to catch the pieces. Then I heard, “Underneath are the everlasting arms.” I understood that God was intending to take care of our nation, no matter what troubles struck.

These visions both came to mind today, as I read Isaiah 61:1, 3, 4, which speaks of Jesus:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me …

To appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 

A lot of things have long been deeply corrupt in our nation — even over many generations. Grievous injustices have been perpetrated upon Black people, Native Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic groups. I believe part of the current chaos is due to those wrongs needing to be righted. The social justice movement, which is fueled by secular humanism, is mankind’s misguided attempt to fix genuine problems without God’s help — and this approach will fail in the long run. However, God also sees the injustice and is dedicated to setting things right. Sometimes He allows upheavals birthed in humanism to bring issues to the surface, so that He can deal with them. We are in such a time, when God’s righteous justice is starting to be implemented.

We have deep-seated corruption in our government, education system, media, and other areas of society which must be dealt with. Voices clamor to persuade us that what God calls evil is good (and we’re not loving if we can’t see it their way). Unfortunately, many Christians have bought into the lies and are in agreement with humanism. It’s a spiritual battle raging on many fronts all at the same time, with one source at its core — Satan.

Now more than ever, we need God’s eyes to see — discernment which only the Holy Spirit can give. But God has heard the appeals to heaven. He will most certainly intervene, as we continue to believe on Him and cry out for truth and righteousness to prevail.

The ashes we sit in will be turned to beauty, our current mourning over sin in America will be turned to joy, and the heaviness many believers are experiencing will be thrown off in days to come, as we erupt in praise for what the Lord has done.

As we stand firmly with the Lord in believing His promises, He calls us trees of righteousness. (Trees often symbolize people who stand resolute, unshakable, and strong.) Paul exhorts us to lay hold of this solid, unwavering position in 1 Corinthians 15: 57, 58: “But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

We can find hope and application in Isaiah 61:4. God plans to use His people in this nation to “build the old wastes, … raise up the former desolations, and … repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.”

Be confident in the Lord, continue persevering in prayer, and be poised to do whatever He says on a moment’s notice in the days to come.

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intercessor training

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

The Fear of the Lord

Last week, my husband and I were at a worship gathering where the focus of the evening was the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord encompasses many things. The most obvious is that when we fear Him, we hold Him in unutterable awe and reverence. The Bible speaks of trembling before Him: “Do you not fear Me?” says the LORD. “Will you not tremble at my presence…?” (Jeremiah 5:22).

The Bible also gives us a word picture in Revelation 1:9-18, where John, the beloved disciple who had rested upon Jesus’ breast during His earthly ministry, sees Christ in His glory and falls at His feet like a dead man.

Besides the awe and trembling aspect, we know that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).

But as I pondered the fear of the Lord in that worship setting, what gripped me big-time is that when we fear the Lord we trust in Him and take Him at His Word. This is probably a major area where most of us fall short in reverencing Him. It wounds His heart when we harbor unbelief over things He has clearly promised in the Scriptures and in personal promises He has given us. When we don’t trust and believe Him, we insult the very core of His nature.

I know, I know. Circumstances sometimes scream loudly in opposition to what the Bible promises say. We’ve seen too many people that the Word “didn’t work out for.” I don’t have any answers for those things, except that we don’t always have the complete information and we don’t fully understand the timelessness of God’s plans. I struggle with the seeming failures as much as you do. But I felt the Lord was impressing me with the idea that it is time to forge ahead in trust — and in unswerving belief — no matter what it looks like. That is challenging, and yet it is what He is calling us to do.

Part of our struggle with fearing the Lord by persevering in trust and belief is our desire for independence. We want to think we can fix our own problems. It’s hard to stop ourselves from frantically searching for answers generated by our own ingenuity. This is why self help books have become so popular. Fearing the Lord involves humbling our hearts before Him and admitting to God (and ourselves), “I can’t do this. I need You. I lay myself at Your feet, utterly dependent upon You.” Personally, I find it more than a bit scary to not be in control of things. Maybe that’s you, too.

So, what can we do about our lack of trust and belief? About our low level of the fear of the Lord? Of course, we’ll need to continually renew our mind with Bible passages which assure us that God is trustworthy, good, willing to help, and an absolute promise keeper. The more we read and meditate on His nature, the more we are able to place greater confidence in Him. Recalling God’s past faithfulness to us, and then thanking Him for what He has already done, can also be a faith lifter. We can ask Him to show us quickly when we are starting to fall into the old patterns of unbelieving thought and action, so that we can correct course.

But I think the main step is to admit our shortcoming and cry out to Him to bring a supernatural change within us. Just like we often can’t fix whatever problems we are facing, we can’t make our lack of trust and belief go away just by determining to do better. If our fear of the Lord is woefully small, the Holy Spirit is the only One Who can truly rectify that. He just wants us to ask and keep asking.

I pray for our nation to experience a sovereign work of the fear of the Lord, so that believers and nonbelievers alike know the Lord’s majesty and tremble before Him. I pray for myself and for those of you who are diligently seeking Him that we would experience the fear of the Lord in a far greater measure than we already know it. May we get to that place of awe-filled utter dependence on Him that is unshakable. May He do it by His grace and power.

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intercessor training

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Broken, Repaired, Valued

Kintsugi
“New Kintsugi” by Kate at Flickr.com. Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Image modification applied: blurred background.

Kintsugi (golden joinery) is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a glue mixed with gold dust. The thinking behind it is, what has been broken and put back together again is beautiful. The vessel is appreciated for both its original appeal and how it has been artistically restored. The imperfections are there for all to see, but now have become part of the object’s charm. The piece has not only survived, but is now lovelier and stronger than it was before.

I was reminded of this intriguing art form and the concept behind it when I saw it in a vision as I meditated on Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

No matter what happens to us in this life, God always turns it to our good. He will not allow anything less, as we put our hope and trust in Him. Not one life-shattering episode is wasted or ignored by Him. He is committed to using every bad thing which comes our way, whether it’s something beyond our control or a consequence we bring on by our own foolishness. And He deliberately transforms us so that we possess greater beauty than we had before all that pain and loss devastated us.

In fact, Jesus’ body was broken in the Atonement so that we could be put back together again. He still bears the nail prints, but they are glorified. I wonder just a little if that’s the way it will be for us in the resurrection — if the emotional scars will still show, but somehow they will be glorified, making us even more indescribably beautiful.

We tend to have a throw-away mindset in Western culture. It’s hard for us to understand someone valuing a shattered vase enough to painstakingly put it back together again. And yet, that is what God wants to do for each of us. Perhaps that is why, according to Isaiah 61:3, Jesus came “to appoint to those that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, so that He might be glorified.” 

If you have been broken, bruised, or chipped by life, know that it isn’t over. God offers you a powerful promise in His Word, in Hosea 13:9 — even if the reason you are broken is because of destructive things you have done to yourself: “…You have destroyed yourself; but in Me is your help.” Your heavenly Father is waiting for you to cry out to Him to fix or reverse the damage, no matter how severe it is. He is able, willing, and eager to restore you. He will lovingly pick up your pieces and put them back together.

He loves you and values you just as you are right now — but He won’t leave you there. He’ll fashion you into a new and better work of art.

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how to pray

How to Pray and Read the Bible,
by Lee Ann Rubsam