I am on a journey to demystify the prophetic ministry. I am loving these journey, learning from the Father and taking steps towards this being less mysterious. In part 1 I shared how I have in the recent past struggled with the prophetic ministry. I shared how this struggle was fed by the fear of human-dependence that I have seen this ministry breed. God led me to read the book of 1 Corinthians 14 and as I was studying these chapter, I came across this article that seemed to summarise my fears – almost from my head to the paper it was written on. Here’s what it said:
Tom Stipe, in the forward to the book Counterfeit Revival, speaks to this problem of prophecy eclipsing the Word. He says:
After only a couple of years, the prophets seemed to be speaking to just about everyone on just about everything. Hundreds of . . . members received the ‘gift’ of prophecy and began plying their trade among both leaders and parishioners. People began carrying around little notebooks filled with predictions that had been delivered to them by the prophets and seers. They flocked to the prophecy conferences that had begun to spring up everywhere. The notebook crowd would rush forward in hopes of being selected to receive more prophecies to add to their prophetic diaries . . .
Not long after ‘prophecy du jour’ became the primary source of direction, a trail of devastated believers began to line up outside our pastoral counseling offices. Young people promised teen success and stardom through prophecy were left picking up the pieces of their shattered hopes because God had apparently gone back on His promises. Leaders were deluged by angry church members who had received prophecies about the great ministries they would have but had been frustrated by local church leaders who failed to recognize and ‘facilitate’ their ‘new anointing.’
After a steady diet of the prophetic, some people were rapidly becoming biblically illiterate, choosing a ‘dial-a-prophet’ style of Christian living rather than studying God’s Word. Many were left to continually live from one prophetic ‘fix’ to the next, their hope always in danger of failing because God’s voice was so specific in pronouncement, yet so elusive in fulfillment. Possessing a prophet’s phone number was like having a storehouse of treasured guidance. Little clutched notebooks replaced Bibles as the preferred reading material during church services.
The picture depicted in the book is nothing short of sad, and yet a very accurate reality even today. Somehow, we still have the ability to make the most beautiful things God made, and destroy them. It is the wretchedness in our souls, but for Christ!
And so with this fitting description of my fears, the question that still remains (and which I touched on in part 1) is so what. Do we ignore the gift of prophecy? Do we totally hide away from it? Do we ignore the words of Paul:
I Cor 14 5a-b: I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.
The answer for me was a big no. If we treat the gift of prophecy as a form of leprosy, we will have given the enemy more grounds to play with. Instead we go to the Redeemer of our souls and we ask Him teach us how to engage with these gifts. Take away the fear, take away our ability to misuse this gift, and in its place make us like our forefathers, Abraham, Joseph, David and all the others.
A lesson from the forefathers…
As I have meditated on the words of 1 Cor 14, I have found that our forefathers modelled how to deal with prophecies. When I think about Abraham, God released a prophetic word to him, “I will make you into a great nation”. He takes the word and runs with it, He leaves the nation to an unknown world, he goes to his mission field, fights his battles and every so often when he has forgotten the promise that God made to him, God would graciously remind him those words and in the process He would edify him.
Then there’s Joseph, a prophetic word is released of his brothers bowing to him. However, there is no record of this man pursuing the word. Instead he faithfully lives in the mission field of prison, pits, battles etc, he may have every so often been encouraged by the dream, but he never makes it his business to pursue it.
Or David, a true warrior who faithfully serving His King in his mission fied. Every so often, he goes back to the Father to contend for the promise, but never ever once does he get stuck there…Or Peter who Christ prophesied of his fall but that He would raise him up. And he falls as it was prophesied but because of God’s word over his life (and not his pursuit of it), he stands!
If any of these men had gotten at the prophetic words, we would not be speaking of them today. If they had gotten stuck in the moments pursuing those words, I don’t know where they’d be. But they got edified, they trusted Him to fulfill what HE said, and kept moving to the mission ahead. Every so often they went back to contend for the words that God gave them (David) or every so often God resent the words (Abraham) or even the words were said once and all hell broke lose so that the words seemed like a far distant (Joseph) but in each of these cases its their faith that was counted for them and not the words they were given. Abraham did not even live to see the words fulfilled. Imagine if his life had been about pursuing the fulfillment of the words!
As I have meditated on these words, God has cemented the lessons I shared in part 1:
- God does and will continue to use the prophetic ministry;
- The prophetic ministry, like every other gift, exists to edify not to be the reason for life, the reason for life for believers is to ‘Go and Make Disciples’;
- Don’t hold back from giving or being a recipient of the prophetic ministry, but be clear what they are for, to edify, if they become more than that, we risk opening ourselves up or others to idolatry;
- My mission is to go and make disciples…so the edifying should lead me back to the mission field, not produce an self-inward looking life but an outward-Christ focused life. that is sure He’s on top of even the inward stuff and so we are able to focus on the mission field.
Where this started
There are prophetic words I was given when I started Lapid, that did not make sense then. Now that I think back, those words were meant to encourage me to soldier on. I hardly understood them then, i spent too little time on them but they had build me up enough to go to the mission field. Now they make a lot of sense.
There are prophecies I have received in the recent past that have blow me away, I believe them fully, but I know they are sent to edify me and so I don’t spend too much time in them. My work is to remain faithful in the mission field,every so often God may lead me to contend for a word, but that’s never distracted by what the mission is…
Walk the walk, let God feed you through the whichever means He chooses. In the end all these gifts should lead you to be about producing only one thing, “Go and make disciples….”