Tag Archives: prophetic responsibility

Prophecy (Part 7): Maintaining a Pure Word

How do we make certain that the prophetic words we receive are pure?  How do we protect ourselves from deception?  There are several safeguards we can put in place, so that we consistently deliver accurate prophecy:

1.)  Stay in the Word of God, the Bible.  As I’ve mentioned at other times, the Bible is the infallible voice of God.  The more we read it, the more we know how God sounds when He speaks, what His character is like, how He thinks, what He would say and what He would not say.  The Bible is our training manual in the school of the prophetic.

2.)  Spend much time in prayer, especially in listening to the Lord.  The more time we spend in intimacy with Him, the more we will hear from Him. 

3.)  Keep a pure lifestyle.  Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.”  If you pollute yourself with compromising reading, TV and movie viewing, computer activities, etc., don’t expect to be able to hear God rightly.  If you indulge in sin of any kind — but especially unforgiveness and bitterness — it will taint your ability to deliver a pure prophetic word.

4.)  Be accountable and submit to the covering of church leadership.  I am speaking of personal, one-on-one relationship, not just the general covering of belonging to a local fellowship.  This is vital for the person who desires to grow in the prophetic gifts.  It is also painful, because being open to correction and teaching is humbling.  It’s not always going to be fun!

One of the mistakes frequently made by very gifted, but immature prophets and intercessors is running away from their spiritual mentors when the fire of correction gets too hot.  It’s fun to deliver exciting prophetic words to the pastor; it’s not so much fun to be occasionally told you’ve missed the boat.

5.)  Settle it in your heart that your prophesying is not going to be for personal recognition.  Commit yourself to the denying of self and an absolute abhorrence of self-promotion.  Remember, none of it is about or for you; it’s all about Jesus and the building up of the Body of Christ.  Any time we deviate from this principle, we end up in trouble.

Most of us want to shoot from being a Level One or Two prophetic person to a Level Ten, and just skip the steps in between.  It doesn’t work like that.  The way to becoming mature in the prophetic gifts involves a hard refining process.  God must get the self importance out of us, or we would destroy ourselves.  He loves us enough to humble us.

This wraps up the series on prophecy.  I’d love to hear your comments and questions!

Previous — Prophecy (Part 6): Misuse and Abuse (continued)

The Intercessor Manual

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Prophecy (Part 6): Misuse and Abuse (continued)

In the last post, we discussed how people manipulate circumstances, leadership, and individuals with their prophetic words in order to validate their own prophetic ministry.  Today, we will talk further about ways prophecy is often misused or abused.

Gathering a personal following through our words – It is a natural tendency for people to look up to someone who moves in spiritual gifts.  However, it becomes unhealthy when a prophetic person gathers a following of “groupies” who hang on his or her every word.  Often, loyalties are siphoned away from the rightful leadership of the local church by a “prophet” with the supposed word of the Lord.

An obvious sign of an unhealthy personal following is when the followers feel the need to frequently run to the prophet for personal direction, instead of inquiring of the Lord for themselves.  There is certainly nothing wrong with seeking out godly counsel, but there comes a point when seeking a prophetic word from another becomes akin to going to a fortune teller.  A prophet of integrity will encourage his followers to find out from the Lord for themselves, rather than using his influence to bind people to himself.

What did John the Baptist do, when there were those who continued to stay with him, once Jesus appeared on the scene?  He pointed them to Jesus.  And looking upon Jesus … he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” And the two disciples heard him speak and followed Jesus (John 1:36, 37).  John also said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).  We must always point people to Jesus, rather than forging inappropriate ties to ourselves. 

Exalting our word – When we cannot accept our leadership’s discernment that our word is not accurate, we’ve got a problem.  It is humbling to have to submit to a spiritual covering, but we need to.  Our pastor is there to help us grow.  Sometimes that growing process means we will be told that a prophetic word is not right.  Even if the word is right, and our pastor has just missed it on this occasion, we need to humbly submit to his discernment and correction.  If it truly was a God-word, it will bear out over time.  Don’t sweat it.  (This is extremely hard for all of us who move in prophecy.)

It is far too easy to worship our own “words from the Lord” and our ability to hear God speak.  Ultimately, this is worship of ourselves.  It is pride. 

“Touch not mine anointed.” – Have you ever heard this one?  I have.  Someone comes up with a prophecy which is discerned by trustworthy leaders, other prophets, etc. to not be a word from the Lord.  Instead of receiving correction, the “prophet” or his followers get defensive and start quoting this Scripture from 1 Chronicles 16:22.  (The verse refers to a story about Abraham, in Genesis 20:3-7, and how God protected him and Sarah from an unbelieving Philistine king.)

Of course we should take care not to label a prophetic word as false before it has gone through the appropriate discerning process (assuming that it does not obviously contradict Scripture in the first place).  We should also be very careful not to denounce or be scornful of those delivering prophetic words – but then, having scorn toward anybody is wrong, prophet or not!  Any one of us can be in error.  Those who are wise have enough humility and fear of the Lord to realize their own frailty – and to extend grace to those who err.

At the same time, however, prophetic people cannot hide behind “touch not mine anointed” to avoid the discerning process.  The implication is a threat: “Don’t you dare judge my prophetic word, or God will judge you!”  Such intimidation is evidence of pride and fear, pure and simple.

Enjoying the fulfillment of negative words – At times God may speak to us of calamity that is coming to a person or a group of people, or of an impending physical disaster.  As we have said earlier, the godly response is to intercede for mercy and a staving off of judgment.  Sometimes, however, even as we appropriately pray for the averting of the disaster, we have revelatory understanding that the judgment will still take place.  This should produce a great fear [reverence; awe] of the Lord in us.

When negative prophetic words come to pass we must never rejoice in the fulfillment.  Proverbs 17:5 admonishes us, “… he who is glad at calamities shall not go unpunished.”   When the fulfillment of such a word comes, our response should be a sincere sorrow for those who are suffering.  God is not pleased when we are more concerned about being right in our prophetic hearing than we are about the pain of the people affected. 

In summary, prophecy was never meant to give us personal advantage. At all times we must remember that our prophetic word does not validate us.  God never needs man to bring validation to a word He speaks, either.  He is well able to defend Himself without our help.

Next time we’ll talk about maintaining a pure word through a pure life.

Previous — Prophecy (Part 5): Misuse and Abuse
Next — Prophecy (Part 7): Maintaining a Pure Word

The Intercessor Manual

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Prophecy (Part 5): Misuse and Abuse

We need to have the fear of the Lord about our prophetic words.  It is a great privilege to hear God speak to us, and we should reverence every word that He speaks.  But there is a tendency to fall into pride when we hear from Him frequently.  It’s all about Him, not about us.  We must not forget that.  When we do, we fall into misuse and abuse of the prophetic word.

Here are some ways that prophecy can be wrongly used:

Validating self – When we release a prophetic word, and later on it comes to pass, if we feel we have to remind everybody that we had prophesied it, we’ve got a problem.  “I heard that!”  “I had that one first!”  “Do you remember that I said that was going to happen, back three months ago?”  We are trying to build up our own importance.  This is self-glorification, and it smells bad to those around us.

Manipulating through personal prophecy – When we want someone to do something we think they ought to do, it is mighty convenient to have a “word from the Lord” to nudge them in the “right” direction.

Many years ago, a young woman came to me with a “word from the Lord” for my life.  It was that I had my eyes in the wrong direction concerning marriage.  God wanted me to focus entirely on Him, and not allow myself to be distracted by the things of this world.  She said God wanted to show me a better plan about who I would marry than what I was now seeing.  The problem was, she and I were both interested in the same man, and she had perceived me as the competition!  Although I’m sure she did not mean to do wrong, and sincerely believed her word was accurate,  its effect was to try to manipulate my actions to bring about her desired results.  (For those who are curious, I’ve been happily married to that man for thirty years now.)

Even if our word about someone is accurate, if releasing it to the person could be manipulative, it is best to just keep it to ourselves.  If it is truly from God it will happen without our help.

Manipulating of leadership – There are more prophetic people than we could ever imagine who secretly want to rule the local church through their prophecies.  God gives the vision for the  church to the pastor (or the apostle, if apostolic government is in place), not the prophets.  This is not well understood by many, and needs to be taught.  Prophetic people aid the pastor (or apostle) by submitting what they are hearing.  Their words may help him better define the vision God is giving him, but finding the vision for the church is not the prophet’s domain.  For better understanding on this topic, I recommend reading Francis Frangipane’s article, Jezebel’s War Against Spiritual Authority. 

Manipulating circumstances to bring about a prophecy’s fulfillment – Self-fulfillment of prophecy is not always possible, of course, but when the decisions others will make are involved, prophetic people are sometimes tempted to try this.

Some years ago, a woman I know had a dream that involved a series of events, culminating in a person she knew leaving a particular ministry.  She told the person about the dream and the incidents that would lead up to his departure.  The series of events did happen one-by-one, but, do you see that by planting in the man’s mind what his response should be, she manipulated him and the circumstances?   She may have had a real word from the Lord, but by telling him he would leave that ministry when a certain string of events happened, she set him up to make a decision that would fulfill her dream and thereby validate her.  Her dream may have been fulfilled anyway, but by releasing her information inappropriately, she manipulated circumstances for a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We will continue discussing misuse and abuse in the next post.

Previous — Prophecy (Part 4): Discretion — Keeping it to Ourselves
Next — Prophecy (Part 6): Misuse and Abuse (continued)

The Intercessor Manual

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Prophecy (Part 4): Discretion — Keeping it to Ourselves

One of the reasons that prophecy leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths is the lack of discretion in proclaiming prophetic words.  We must be careful to deliver a pure word, clearly differentiating between what God actually said, and what we interpret from what He said.  We must also discern between what God is speaking literally, and what is symbolic – and when we are not certain which is which, we should wait on God for greater understanding.

When we receive words for our local church which go beyond encouragement and comfort, they should never be prophesied directly into the congregation.  Words which address the direction or vision of the Body should be brought to church leadership for discernment.  While they are being discerned by leadership, we must treat them as top secret, and wait for the go-ahead to share them.  This means we shouldn’t talk about them with other intercessors or prophetic people, or share them over coffee with our best friend, either.

We can save leadership a lot of time, and save ourselves a lot of grief as well, by making absolutely certain we are hearing from God, and that it is His intent for us to share it, before releasing our word to them.  Again, we must be careful to clearly state what was actually seen or heard, and what is merely our interpretation of what was seen or heard.

Did you know that not every prophetic word is meant to be shouted from the housetops?  Some prophetic words are for prayer purposes only, especially when the words are of a negative nature.  If you think God is communicating to you that something bad is going to happen to someone, please do not immediately go tell the person!  If what you are receiving is from the Lord, 99% of the time it is given so that you can pray that the bad thing won’t happen.  It never needs to be released to anyone.  God’s intent is not to fulfill such a word, but to avert it.  And if you pray that God would avert it, and the prophetic word is then never fulfilled, you did not hear God inaccurately; you did your job, and God’s purpose was accomplished.  Amos 7:1-6 tells of two incidents where the prophet Amos received visions of destruction for the sole purpose of averting those disasters through intercession.

A few years ago, a prophetic person in our area had a vision that within two weeks’ time there would be severe illnesses, calamities, and even deaths among several pastors of our community, and that this was a judgment from God.  The vision was shared with a few intercessors, some of whom confirmed that they were hearing similar things.  I was quite alarmed when I was told of this vision, and expressed that, if it truly was a word from the Lord, God’s will was to pray mercy and a staving off of judgment for those pastors.  A few of us prayed diligently for protection for them over the next two weeks, and at the end of the two weeks and beyond, we did not hear of a single pastor in our community having had calamity come upon them.

Several things were wrong about how the vision just mentioned was handled.  Very likely, it was never from the Lord in the first place.  The intercessors who “confirmed” the word were closely tied together and had similar unhealthy issues with the person who released the word.  Secondly, such a word should never have been circulated among other intercessors.  If released at all, it should have been taken to the prophetic person’s pastor and left up to him whether to pass it to a select group of discreet people for discernment.  Instead, it became a matter of gossip and eager anticipation of its fulfillment.  Thank God the prophecy never came to pass!

When we receive a prophetic word, especially one that concerns our local church or our community, we need to wait on God and ask questions such as, “What do You want me to do with this word?”  “Is there more You want to tell me?”  “Should I keep it to myself and pray about it, or should I release it to my pastor?”  “When do You want me to release it?  Give me Your wisdom on timing, Lord.”

Sometimes prophetic people receive, or think they receive, a negative word as a warning for someone else: “If you do not repent, then such-and-such will happen.”  Although this can legitimately happen, it is rare and is usually reserved for the mature prophet.  God will not often give such a word to someone who is not already in relationship with the person being warned.  Such words must be weighed very carefully before releasing them, and the prophet must make sure his or her own heart is clean from all personal ill-feelings toward the person they are prophesying to.  It’s amazing how many times “words from God” are really only our own issues coming to the forefront.  Repeat: legitimate prophetic warnings for others are rare.

Using discretion in holding onto or releasing our prophetic words will save us from much grief and embarrassment.  Discretion will protect the body of believers from confusion, offense, fear, and disillusionment (from a word not being fulfilled).

Next time, we will talk about misuse of the prophetic.

Previous —  Prophecy (Part 3): Discerning Between the Literal and Symbolic
Next — Prophecy (Part 5): Misuse and Abuse

The Intercessor Manual

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Prophecy (Part 3): Discerning Between the Literal and Symbolic

Last time we talked about “the presumption of assumption” — jumping to conclusions and extrapolating about what God has actually said.

Another problem we can run into is not knowing the difference between symbolic and literal language and visions.  If God says, “I am about to shake this city,”  or if we have a vision of an earthquake, does God mean He is going to literally send an earthquake, or does He mean He is going to shake things up in a spiritual sense – perhaps dealing with attitudes, removing people in power who are corrupt, or releasing revival?  Which is it?  We’d better find out before we start making a lot of noise about it.

Many dreams, visions, and phrases that the Lord uses were never meant to be taken literally.  Sometimes this is obvious, but at other times it is not.  We need to ask God for further light on what He is talking about before we release sensational prophetic words.  We had better know if God is really saying an earthquake is coming before we tell everyone that’s what is going to happen.

Let’s say you have a vision of a church in your town being engulfed in flames.  You have heard from several sources that there are integrity issues within that fellowship.  (This is gossip, by the way, whether it is true or not.)  Because of what you think you know in the natural, you assume that God is literally going to judge them by burning their building to the ground.  But, what if God was speaking symbolically, and what He really intends to do is set the people of that church ablaze for Him?  What if, in His mercy, He sends revival to them, and they become a consuming fire for Him?  What if you have already told everyone in your acquaintance that God is going to judge that fellowship by burning their worship center to the ground?  Ugly, isn’t it?

When we aren’t sure whether a word, vision, or dream is literal or symbolic, it is important to weigh it before the Lord and give Him time to pass more information our way.  We ask Him for more understanding.  We ask Him for wisdom about whether to share the word with a few trusted leaders, or whether to sit on it until we have more light.

Paying attention to minute details of visions, words, and dreams will help us to distinguish between literal and symbolic meanings, so that we can avoid misinterpreting what God is saying.  A friend of ours once had a vision of my husband and me on a ship in a heavy storm.  He said there was a lot of sickness around us.  He was troubled by his own vision, and I immediately began to feel afraid, since both my husband and I had been through very serious sickness in the past.  But, in asking into the details of what our friend saw, an entirely different picture began to unfold.  We were standing firmly on the tossing ship, while others around us were afraid and some were getting seasick.  We were skillfully navigating the waves, and were even smiling!  The vision was entirely symbolic, and was about our pastoral tendencies and our strong gift of encouragement.  We were people who could ride the seas of difficult circumstances without fear and help others in the church get safely through the storms as well.  Through the years, we have seen the fulfillment of this vision many times over.

Next time we’ll talk more about using discretion in delivering prophetic words.

Previous — Prophecy (Part 2): The Presumption of Assumption
Next — Prophecy (Part 4): Discretion — Keeping it to Ourselves

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

Prophecy (Part 2): The Presumption of Assumption

The biggest problem I see with prophecy, time and again, is what I call “the presumption of assumption.”  Most of the time when we prophesy and the prophetic word does not prove true, the problem is not with the word itself.  It is what we thereafter do with it.  We make hasty assumptions which color our interpretation of what God is saying.  One assumption leads to another, we extrapolate a little here, and a little there, and before you know it, we have a huge “word from God” – which is not.  We have presumed upon God’s original prophetic word, and it not only brings confusion and disappointment, but it also brings reproach against the Lord.

To presume means to take liberties; to go beyond proper limits.  It is the taking of liberties with what God has spoken that creates so many problems.  Let’s look at an extreme example:

Someone gives you a personal prophetic word: “I see Bolivia for you.”  Based on those five words, you assume you are to be a missionary to Bolivia.  You immediately quit your job and head off to Bible school so that you can be a missionary.  Or worse yet, you skip Bible school, sell everything you own to buy a plane ticket to Bolivia, and after wandering the streets of La Paz for three weeks without a clue what to do, you decide God has failed to perform His word to you.  You head home, totally disillusioned, never wanting to hear the word of the Lord again.

But what was actually said?  “I see Bolivia for you.”  Not, “Go to Bolivia,” not, “I have called you to be a missionary to Bolivia,” not, “Go to La Paz, Bolivia next week.”  You added a lot of assumptions to the original word, which could have meant a future as a missionary to Bolivia, but could have just as easily meant a call to intercede for that country.

Now, that’s pretty extreme, isn’t it!  The above scenario has other problems as well, such as acting on a prophetic word coming from outside yourself without having an inward confirmation by God speaking the same thing directly to you.  A decision that changes our lives drastically should be based on hearing many things from God personally and through the counsel of those we are accountable to.  But we make assumptions (and then presume to act upon our assumptions) every day on a smaller scale, whether it is someone else speaking the word to us, or whether it is what we are hearing for ourselves.

Let’s look at one more scenario.  Suppose you hear God speak to you that He is going to give you a healing ministry.  Immediately several prominent healing evangelists come to mind, and in your imagination you see yourself on a platform, laying hands on thousands of sick people, who then are instantly cured of whatever afflictions they had.  So far, so good.  Oh, did I mention that you are a mom with three children under the age of six at this season in your life?

You were always content before, but now you chafe at having to care for your little ones.  They are “in the way” of your word from God that you are to be traveling the world with your healing ministry.  Wait – did He say that?  No, He said He was going to give you a healing ministry.  He never said when, and He didn’t say it was a traveling ministry, and He didn’t say you would heal thousands, either.  But, if you listen to God, and ask for further light on the word, He may just tell you it is a few years off yet, or He may remind you of your deaf neighbor lady who would love to have you lay hands on her for healing.  He may start having people call you on the phone who want you to pray for them.

When we start assuming about what God means, and presume to move ahead on those assumptions, we make ourselves unhappy.  I know, because I’ve been there.  I’m still learning to be more careful with this one.  Assuming, and then presuming, is so common that probably every one of us has done it.

It becomes even more of a problem when we give prophetic words to the Church and then various people’s assumptions about interpretations are added in.  This is why we need wise people within our local body of believers to help discern and interpret prophetic words given to the Church.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

1 Corinthians 14:29Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

We need to be more careful.  If we take more care in understanding what God has said and what He has not said, life will be better for us and for those around us as well.

Next time: Discerning Between Literal and Symbolic Prophecy.

Previous — Prophecy (Part 1): Introduction
Next — Prophecy (Part 3): Discerning Between the Literal and the Symbolic

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

Prophecy (Part 1): Introduction

Prophecy.  The mere mention of the word creates a whirlwind of emotion in many people.  On the one hand we have those who believe the Holy Spirit still gives the prophetic word to individuals today, and on the other are those who believe all prophecy ended with the original twelve apostles.

I have mentioned many times before now that my particular circle of Christianity embraces the prophetic move of God.  We believe most heartily that Paul’s words to the Corinthian Church stand for the modern Christian as well:

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.1 Corinthians 14:1

Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.1 Corinthians 14:39 

With that said, I would like to share a few observations about prophecy and prophetic people, specifically about mistakes, lack of balance, and how we can do better.  God means for prophecy to be a blessing to His Church, not a source of division and wounding.  It is small wonder that some Christians have become jaded on the whole subject.  It doesn’t mean modern-day prophecy is bad, and it certainly isn’t God’s fault.  It’s our problem, and we need to make some adjustments.

Over the next few posts, I would like to address:

1.)  The presumption of assumption – getting the prophetic word right, but the interpretation wrong through jumping to conclusions

2.)  Discerning between what is literal and what is symbolic

3.)  Discretion – knowing what prophetic words to release and when, and what to keep quiet about

4.)  Misuse of the prophetic word for our own advantage

5.)  Maintaining a pure word through a pure life

Please stay tuned.  🙂

Next — Prophecy (Part 2): The Presumption of Assumption

NewIntMan100

From Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries