Tag Archives: spiritual gifts

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 Prophecy Continued

 A few months ago, you may have seen my article series, Discerning Personal Prophecy. That series became a springboard for my newest book, The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy, which is now available as an e-book at Amazon. (The print edition is coming in a few weeks.)

The original blog series comprises about 35% of the book, with the balance being all new material. (Unfortunately, due to contract terms, the blog series is not available while the book is exclusively at Amazon.)

Here’s the book description:

Personal prophecy can and should be a great blessing from the Lord to His Church. It can also be an effective evangelism tool, when used rightly. But, as with any of the gifts of the Spirit, it must be cherished and guarded carefully. Those of us who are releasing prophecy to others must watch over the attitudes of our own hearts, so that our words are genuine and pure. And those of us who are on the receiving end of a prophetic word must use wisdom in discerning whether it is truly from the Lord or not, as well as maturity in how we respond to it.

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy explains how to discern personal prophetic words which you receive from others and what to do with those words once you’ve got them. It also gives practical guidelines for how to keep out of trouble when you are prophesying personal words to others.

Table of Contents:
Introduction
Receiving a Prophetic Word:

~  Discerning Personal Prophecy
~  Criteria for Discerning a Word
~  Why Hasn’t My Prophetic Word Happened?
Delivering Personal Prophetic Words:
~  Getting Started in Personal Prophecy
~  Guidelines for Moving in Personal Prophecy
~  Beyond Church Walls
Summing It Up

I hope you will take a peek at The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy  (and our other books too!) at Amazon.

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 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