Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 7)

propheticperspectiveAs you pursue living from a prophetic perspective, you will be surprised by things the Lord pulls up out of your own heart, which you didn’t know were there — fears, insecurities, idolatries, prejudices, attitudes, and offenses you didn’t know you harbored. This is part of the process He uses to propel us higher into His vantage point.

Our natural minds are like muddy streams, full of impurities, and we’ve been living in the murk for so long that we are not even aware of it. The Holy Spirit reveals our weaknesses so that He can clean us up. If we cooperate with Him in the cleansing process, our “stream” becomes crystal clear. We can see the way He sees and hear the way He hears.

As the Lord brings these impurities to our consciousness, rather than resisting His promptings or being horribly ashamed of ourselves, we can simply give them to Him, repent, and let Him fix them. You might pray something like, “Father, I didn’t know that was in me! Please forgive me, and change my heart. Remove any distortion from my thinking which colors how I view life, myself, and others.” As we humble ourselves and ask for His help, He is faithful to make the necessary changes inside of us.

Let the Lord use other people to show you weak areas in your life, too. We all have blind spots about ourselves — but people close to us have no problem seeing where adjustments need to be made. Although it is painful to admit we’re not perfect, having the courage to listen and to be willing to change takes us higher into who we are meant to be. The less we fight it, the faster we get there! Coming into seeing from the Lord’s viewpoint involves discipline, refining, and humbling.

Now, let’s shift gears a bit. Throughout this series, we’ve talked about listening to the Lord in various ways. We can also come up into God’s thinking by learning to listen to people. Listening carefully is a lost art in itself, which we really should attempt to re-cultivate.  But if we are to be truly prophetic people, we must learn to listen at a deeper level, through the ears of the Spirit, to what others are saying.

God always looks past the surface appearance to the heart. We can learn to listen to people’s hearts too, and in doing so, we become like Him.

I am convinced that much of the fragmentation which exists in the Body of Christ stems from jumping to conclusions about what our brothers and sisters are saying, missing the real meaning, and then developing bad opinions and feelings about them based on inaccurate hearing of the intent of their words. If we will make an effort to listen thoughtfully and ask questions when we do not understand one another, we will hear differently. In listening with the ear of the Holy Spirit, we are required to apply the charitable love criteria laid out in 1 Corinthians 13.

Step one of listening to people’s hearts is getting past hearing their outward words in order to understand the motives behind the words. But it must go deeper still. Even wrong motives may be spawned by a cry for help or love which needs to be responded to even more than the motive itself does. A motive is often a symptom of a deeper root which needs to be dealt with. It takes patience and careful probing to get at what is in the heart. But if we will take the time to do it, asking the Lord to give us His ear, God will be able to use us to bring healing to hurting people.

In our next post, we’ll deal with some prophetic perspective “don’ts” and conclude by summarizing the main points of this series.

Previous: Part 6  

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 6)

propheticperspectiveIn previous posts in this series, we talked about gaining a prophetic perspective by

1.)  Slowing down in prayer and Bible reading, so that we can listen to what God has to say.

2.)  Asking for God’s counsel in sticky situations and then waiting for Him to reveal His solutions, rather than forging ahead in our own understanding.

3.)  Asking Him what is really going on beneath the surface in perplexing events, and what He is up to in the midst of them.

Another factor in gaining prophetic perspective is learning to pay attention to our inner peace barometer. Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts ….”

Peace, or the lack of it, is one of the most common methods the Holy Spirit uses to impart His guidance to us. If we will practice listening to the peace level we have within, we will gain a lot of ground in obtaining God’s vantage point on given situations we face. You may have a seemingly great opportunity present itself, which your rational mind says you would be a fool to pass up, and yet if the inner peace is missing in your spirit, it is a big clue that God is not in the opportunity. Conversely, through a deep-seated sense of peace, the Lord might lead you into an adventure which is entirely His will, but which outwardly looks quite risky. The rule of peace in our hearts is a mighty tool to help us move with God.

We can also increase prophetic perspective by learning to watch for divine connecting-of-the-dots moments we experience. Many people we cross paths with are God-placed connections — people whom we would not expect to be so. We may have a seemingly random conversation with someone, and even think afterwards, “What was that all about?” At exactly the right time somewhere down the road, God will recall that conversation to our memory to assist us in finding His plan.

Here’s a personal example, from about fifteen years ago:

A friend and I were chatting, and she mentioned a surgeon who had operated on both a family member and a friend. Although he had done general surgeries for them, she happened to say that his specialty was intestinal surgeries. Without knowing why, I thought about the conversation a few times after that.

Some months later, my husband was diagnosed with a large tumor in his digestive tract. Any of the general surgeons in our city would have been willing to operate on him, but the name of this particular doctor immediately was recalled to my mind. I felt certain it was the Lord’s leading, and we requested that he do the surgery. Through a random conversation, we acquired the best possible doctor — the only intestinal surgery specialist in our area. (And my husband is completely well today.)

Another way the Lord guides us into His perspectives is by connecting the dots in our thoughts between isolated bits of information. We suddenly have an understanding that multiple seemingly unrelated memories or ideas coming to mind are all part of one big jigsaw puzzle. By themselves, the pieces have little meaning, but when they are joined together, they indicate what God is doing or planning to do. This coming together of the pieces does not happen through logic, because our intellect would not be able to see the connections. It happens by the Holy Spirit interacting with our spirit.

Pay attention to repeat pieces of information which surface, perhaps through conversations, news articles, songs, sermons, prayers, etc. This is still another way God gets His thoughts across to us. What doesn’t make an impression the first time around eventually gets through to us through God-orchestrated repetition.

Once again, it is all a matter of listening for the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit. He occasionally drops revelation into us like a thunderbolt, but most of the time He speaks through quieter methods, so that we will learn to be intimate with Him. Learning to listen to His small nudges is part of the exciting adventure of coming to know Him deeply. Are you ready for the journey with Him?

Previous: Part 5
Next: Part 7

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 5)

propheticperspectiveWhen I thought to know this, it was too painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. – Psalm 73:16, 17

In Psalm 73, we have the story of a man who was perplexed and discouraged by unjust things he saw going on around him. Wicked men were oppressing the weak and boasting about it. They committed violent acts, opposed God, and made life miserable for righteous people. Yet they lived prosperously, their crimes went unchecked, and it seemed to the psalm writer as if God was oblivious to what was going on.

We live in such a world today. Injustice abounds, heinous crimes against humanity are committed, perversion runs rampant and is called normal, racism and anti-Semitism are on the rise. Evil is celebrated, and goodness is declared to be evil. And God’s people are persecuted for standing for Jesus and biblical truth.

In the midst of it all, it is easy to become frustrated, discouraged, fearful, or bitter. As a result, many who call themselves Christians are lashing out in response to what they see happening around them. They release angry, hate-filled words, not realizing that they have lowered themselves to the same level as those with whom they are so frustrated.

Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, discovered a better way. “I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” In other words, when he took the time to be with the Lord, to listen to Him and inquire of Him, he gained God’s vantage point. He remembered that the Lord is just, and that He will not always allow the wicked to get away with evil.

We can do likewise. When tumultuous events go on around us, we can enter into the secret place of God’s Presence and ask Him to show us what is happening beneath the surface.

“Lord, where are You in all this?” “Why did You allow this?” “How do You see this event?” “I see only senseless tragedy here, but what do You see?” “God, it looks like we have lost the battle. Is there some way You are going to bring good out of this?”

As we inquire of Him, He will give us His perspective, so that we can pray rightly. God’s viewpoint, when revealed, is often quite surprising. His big-picture purposes in how events play out are beyond what we could ever figure out on our own. He will always take whatever the devil means for harm to bring about righteous justice. Romans 8:28 alludes to this principle: “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.”

Furthermore, the devil and people he controls are mere pawns on God’s chessboard to bring His ultimate checkmate. The Lord sometimes uses evil events to bring hidden wounds to the surface so that they can be healed. He can then set things right in a greater way than if everything had simply sailed along smoothly.

When the Lord opens our understanding to see into His purposes, fear departs, hope arises in our hearts, and we gain fresh courage to partner with Him in higher-level intercession.

I encourage you to take your perplexities before the Lord. Ask Him to open your eyes to see as He sees. He will show you His plan and His prayer strategies. You will become a fearless overcomer, who cannot be shaken by what is going on in the natural world around you.

Previous — Part 4
Next — Part 6

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 4)

propheticperspectiveSir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This principle applies not only to motion, but to how many of us respond when people or events cause us problems. We immediately push back. At the very least, we attempt to fix the situation in the quickest, most direct way possible. I am by nature that kind of person. I want to get to the point and fix things without wasting time dancing all over and around the issue.

There is a time and a place for direct action and speech, but I’ve noticed that the shortest route is quite often not God’s way. I am learning that most of the time I get better results by asking the Lord to give me His counsel on how to handle something, and then waiting until I hear back from Him about it. This is true in finding out how to pray into complex circumstances, but it is even more needful when dealing with people. I might have God’s overall mind on a matter, but not His specifics on how to take care of it. If I wait for His inspiration, He will show me a way I would never have thought of to achieve the desired end or to resolve an issue. Here is an example:

A prayer group my husband and I were leading ran into some problems with a person who was praying negatively.  She had a genuine concern, but due to heaviness of heart and frustration, her prayers were coming across as curses, rather than blessings, toward those she was praying for. Usually when something like this happens, we just try to steer prayer into a better direction without addressing the issue at all. Sometimes people simply get a little off here and there temporarily. But this was becoming an ongoing problem over a number of weeks, and we felt it was time to talk with the person about it.

I was thinking in terms of having to bring correction — not a pleasant thing to do! I didn’t want to hurt the lady’s feelings, and I didn’t want to drive her away from coming to the group. But it wasn’t healthy to let it go on any longer. I pleaded with the Lord, “Can’t You just speak to her about it? I don’t want to do this! Please, just make the problem go away!”

After several days of sweating it out in prayer, the Lord finally shared with me an approach which did not involve direct correction, and would actually be encouraging to the lady instead. He gave me an unusual, specific angle on how to pray into the very matter which was so frustrating to her.

I called her, shared with her that I had been praying about her concern and that I felt God had given me some light on how we could intercede differently and get the answers she desired. We had a powerful time of prayer together and then talked at length about the deeper purposes of God, with both of us being blessed by each other. Instead of causing hurt or anger, our conversation ended up bringing hope and bonding us closer together. I could never have thought up such an approach by myself, but the Lord knew all along exactly how to take care of it.

Sometimes, as I have sought God for how to tackle a problem, I have discovered that I really did not have God’s mind on the matter at all, although I started out feeling certain that I did.

Someone close to us was about to make a major decision which I did not feel was wise. It also had the potential to adversely affect our immediate family. I prayed about it  for several days, laying my concerns before the Lord and asking Him to help the person see that she was making a mistake.

To my surprise, He showed me that what I thought was an unwise decision was really His leading. The circumstances which seemed to my practical mind to be obvious signs that our loved one was making a mistake were indeed obstacles standing in the way, but not indicators that she was stepping out of His will. The hindrances simply needed His solutions. He then gave me some ideas about how they could be removed.

Had I spoken my mind before getting God’s vantage point, there would have been hurt and frustration between us. But by the time we chatted, we were able to discuss what could be done to make her dreams come true. We shared a happy conversation from a place of agreement.

These examples are meant to show that if we learn  to wait on the Lord before tackling problems, He will give us a higher perspective than we could ever imagine. He can help us to receive better solutions than we could achieve with our own thinking skills. We have to be willing to calm down and listen, but the results are rewarding. It’s even fun to see what He comes up with!

Previous — Part 3
Next — Part 5

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 3)

propheticperspectiveIf we’re going to see the things which go on around us from God’s higher viewpoint, we will need to slow down and pay attention to Him. Last time we talked about slowing down in how we pray. Today we are continuing that theme by talking about how to connect with the Lord’s heart through slowing down in our Bible reading.

Reading the Bible in large chunks at one sitting is great, but meditating on small portions of what we read is also essential. Personally, I think quantity reading, with some in-depth study thrown in at times, should never be neglected. But absorbing Scripture in bite-size doses, where we take extended time to think on what we are reading, adds another dimension to interacting with the Lord through His Word. It is not a matter of choosing one or the other: we need both types of reading.

Some believers are afraid of that word “meditate” because of what New Age and Eastern religion advocates do, where they try to empty their minds to self-project themselves into other-worldly experiences. We are not in any way going there! Meditation, in the biblical sense, simply means to thoughtfully consider, chew on, or take time to digest. It’s time the Church stopped being afraid of this!

The Bible talks about meditating on the Lord Himself (this is part of waiting on Him in prayer, which we talked about in the last post), and also meditating on His Word. Psalm 63:6 says, “I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the night watches,” and Psalm 104:34 comments, “My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.”

Concerning meditating on Scripture, Psalm 119:97 says, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all day long.” Psalm 119:148 comments, “My eyes look forward to the night watches, that I might meditate in Your Word.”

Psalm 49:3 tells us that meditating on the Lord, His ways, and/or His Word brings wisdom and understanding: “My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.” I encourage you to look up “meditate,” “meditating,” and “meditation” in a Bible concordance. You will be surprised how much the Bible has to say on this subject.

I like to do my quantity reading in the evening, but I often meditate on a phrase of Scripture when I first start praying in the morning. If I start out early in the day by mulling over a small piece of the Word, I’m likely to return to thinking about it at other moments all through the day.

How do you pick a verse to meditate on? I often simply ask the Lord to put one on my heart. Sometimes He immediately surprises me with one I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. At other times, a verse catches my attention during my regular course of reading.

I read the verse or phrase through several times, praying it back to the Lord for myself, thanking Him for it, or simply talking to Him about it. I may look it up in several translations or use Strong’s Concordance to check out the meanings of the original Hebrew or Greek words.

I write the verse or phrase down in a notebook, along with any insights or related verses which come to mind. I may move on to a new verse in a few days, but if it keeps sticking with me, I will continue to chew on it for a week or two. The time frame isn’t important. You don’t have to do a new one each day. Just don’t be in a hurry.

If you are still not sure how to get started, John Paul Jackson wrote a book on the subject which may help to clarify things for you. It’s called The Art of Praying the Scriptures (Amazon affiliate link).

Besides slowing down in prayer and Bible reading, we also have to learn to slow down in our responses to problematic circumstances which arise, and that’s what we will talk about next time.

Previous: Part 2
Next: Part 4

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy Sale

Personal Prophecy Cover 400We’re having a sale on our newest book, The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy, at Amazon. The e-book edition regularly retails for $2.99.

Today, May 18, through Thursday, May 21, until 2:00 p.m. PDT, it  will be on sale for only $.99.

The sale continues from  Thursday, May 21 (starting at 2:00 p.m PDT) through  midnight (PDT) of Sunday, May 24, for $1.99.

If you are an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited member you can read it for free.

Also, the print edition of The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy is now available at Amazon for $7.99. If you buy the  print edition, you have the option of downloading the e-book version for free.

Thank you for taking a look!
Lee Ann

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 2)

propheticperspectiveI said in our last post that we can learn to recognize what the Lord is thinking through time spent with Him in prayer and through practicing keeping our spiritual senses tuned in to Him. To a certain degree, we should also keep those senses attuned to the people we encounter, our surroundings, and our circumstances — but attention to the Lord must be primary, or our perspective will become skewed. Let’s talk about some practical steps we can take to get there.

The first step is to slow down. We can teach ourselves not to be in a big hurry — in prayer and in reading the Bible, for a start. However, this idea of not being in a hurry goes beyond our prayer and Bible time. It is going to be the thread throughout this series, because hastiness is the biggest way we fail to sync with God’s viewpoint. Our natural-minded soul is always desirous to furnish ideas which may sound right, but if we are going to have our spirits hear what the Holy Spirit has to say, we’re going to have to hush the soul, with all its insistent urges.

Let’s start with slowing down in prayer. When you come to prayer, before diving into intercession, spend time in worship, praying in tongues without a particular focus and simply staying quiet before the Lord.

If you feel the Lord is putting someone on your heart to intercede for right away, go ahead and move with Him in that, and then return to worship and listening mode. I am not trying to establish a rule that you have to worship and be still for a specified amount of time before you can bring petitions before the throne. Sometimes the Spirit leads us into intercession quickly, and we should obey His promptings. But it is also true that our minds like to distract us from worship and quietness by suddenly flooding us with the remembrance of umpteen needs to pray into. Have some paper handy, and write those needs down to pray into later.

I often prefer to wait upon the Lord in complete silence, but sometimes I like to have peaceful worship music playing in the background. If you don’t own a lot of music, YouTube is a great place to find what you need. You might even want to subscribe to my channel there. I’ve created a lot of playlists of my favorite music, most of which is worship-oriented, and I’m adding new things all the time, in a variety of styles.

It is OK if you never do get to intercession some days, especially if you have a limited amount of time to pray. The Lord can still bring needs to mind throughout the day for which you can lift a quick prayer. You can pray in tongues here and there, and accomplish intercession that way, too, while you are doing other things. We don’t always have to pray for hours into everything. Short, to-the-point prayers can be very effective in receiving answers, and the more time you spend simply waiting on God, enjoying His Presence, the more you are going to be able to accomplish a lot via short intercession — because you won’t have to dance all around the issue before receiving God’s counsel on how to pray. And if He does want you to be involved in focused, lengthy intercession, He’ll give you the time and the way to do it. So, don’t feel guilty about taking more time just to be with the Lord than you spend in intercession. It’s OK — really!

When we do intercede, the temptation is to look at the problem, have a desired solution in mind, and then immediately begin attacking in prayer. Take your spiritual sword in hand and start slashing, right? Not usually right – but this is what our natural man wants to do.

It’s far better to ask the Lord how to address the issue, and give Him time to reveal His angle on it. If you’re anything like me, this is not going to be easy for you. It takes discipline. But it is worth the wait, as you will end up praying with more effective results.

Some things we pray into are not urgent. We have the luxury of waiting for a few hours or days to hear the Lord’s counsel before we begin interceding. However, that is not always the case. And when the need is urgent, that’s when we are tempted the most to move into slash-attack panic prayer, which can be pretty earthly-minded.

When we need answers quickly, we can still ask the Lord to help us get His perspective, and then briefly listen for His cues before beginning, even if only a few seconds are available to do that. Even if you have to launch out in prayer without much (or any!) revelation of how to proceed, He will be faithful to adjust your prayers, as long as you have a heart of wanting to hear Him and follow His leading.

So, living from a prophetic perspective starts with slowing down so that we can pay attention to the Spirit. It starts with prayer. Next time, we’ll talk about slowing down in our Bible reading.

Previous — Part 1
Next — Part 3