Passion: A Divine Job Description

     “When he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged….When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. ” John 16:8-14 NLT

       I learned a long time ago that while God, in His work, may seem random, that is an illusion of the highest order. God never does anything without a plan. We humans are the ones who shoot from the hip and play things by ear.

      So when God planned the church, the sending of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was not an afterthought. He was not an add-on to church history just for good measure. His arrival and work were as minutely planned as the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

    In John 16 Jesus outlines the Holy Spirit’s job in the church.

1. He will convict the world of sin

2.He will convict the world towards righteousness

3. He will convict the world that judgment is coming

4. He will reveal to the church all of God’s future plans.

In short the Holy Spirit is the liaison connecting Earth and Heaven. He alone is invested with the authority and power to convince men of their sin, reveal the pathway to righteousness and clue mankind in about God’s progressive timetable. The church cannot do its work without the Holy Spirit….But,good golly Miss Molly, we have tried.

      Let’s be real, Holy Ghost is definitely an out of the box thinker. He gets His job done, for sure, but I would never think to do it the way He does. For instance, I never would have chosen tongues as the first sign of my coming. Then again, no one can argue with the results: After all, 3,000 gave their hearts to Jesus on that day.    

     Whatever we may think of His methods, though, we don’t get a say in Holy Spirit’s job performance. He is God. Jesus and the Father commissioned Him and we don’t get to relieve Him of His duties. Further He is not random. He has a reason for everything. Every gift has a purpose and should be gladly received. Every miracle has its place and points to the Christ. Every leader called and commissioned by the Holy Spirit is raised up for a purpose that fits directly into His plan. Nothing done in relationship with Him is a waste or unfruitful. If He ordained it the results are with Him even if we do not see or understand them.

     the Holy Spirit came to take up Jesus’ place at Jesus’ command and the church desperately needs Him to do His job particularly as we see the end approaching.

     He has told us the end is near (you have heard it in your heart). I am so thankful that He is fulfilling His other roles as well! Let’s commit to allowing Him the privilege of convicting people of their sin and showing them the way to righteousness in Christ! Oh church let us allow the Holy Spirit more freedom in our lives than ever before!

The Branches of Men Part 3

       In the Millenium the accursed will be those who refuse, in spite of all that will have happened, to follow Christ in his new government.

        “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach  a hundred will be considered accursed.” Isaiah 65:20

    These accursed ones then will be the third branch of men living in the Millenium. They will live and dwell among the race of immortal men and the race of long-lived men. But their span of existence will be much shorter. Somehow disease will still affect them. Age will still take them. Perhaps they will be survivors of the tribulation who received the mark of the beast. Perhaps they will be descendants of those reprobate ones. Perhaps they will be rebellious descendants of the righteous men and women who repopulate Earth. Whoever they are it is these individuals who will organize into nations and oppose Christ.

     For those who conceived  an entirely peaceable kingdom during the Millenium I would say that peace is the general rule, but as with all things earthly there is always an exception. The prophet Zechariah seems to agree.

     “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zec. 14:16-18 NIV

     Perhaps war will not ensue directly after Jesus takes the throne but we know eventually it will come. These accursed ones will grow in population until they rise to threaten the entire world one last time.

     “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth-Gog and Magog-to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” Rev. 20:7-9 NIV 

     It is a frightening thought that the power of sin is so great that there will be those who, even after walking through the terrors of the Tribulation, even after seeing Jesus ascend the throne of nations, will still oppose God’s rule.

     There is a line from “Come Now Is the Time To Worship” that is very telling here.

     “One day every tongue will confess You are God. One day every knee will bow. Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose you now!”

      I am choosing Jesus now so that my hope may be secure in that Thousand Years! My life is already hid with God in Christ and so it shall remain. How about yours?

Joel: Great and Terrible

     “Then after I have poured out my rains again, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions .In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike. “I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth–blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon will turn blood-red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives.” Joel 2: 28-31 NLT

    ” Great and terrible”. Now there are two descriptive words that we seldom see used together in a sentence.

     “How was the party Frank?”

    “Oh you know great…and terrible.”

     The two don’t seem to go together do they? A careful read leaves us scratching our head. Well which is it Joel great or terrible? It can’t be both.

     Honestly most of us just gloss over the words and settle for “Jesus is coming. I get to go to Heaven! It’s all good.”

     But words are important and God is trying to tell us something about that day. The day of the Lord will be “great”  that is to say”gadowl”. I think  a better translation for our modern ears would be “intense”. When we say “great” today we mean “super” or “very good”. God doesn’t mean that. The Day of the Lord will not be a good day for God or planet Earth. God does not delight in the death of people, even wicked people. Lots of people are going to die that day at the hands of God in judgment.  Further it will be a “terrible” day, a “yare” day. This word we sort of get. The New Living Translation interprets the word as “terrible”. Only God isn’t saying it’s going to be a terrible day like some rainy Monday. He means it will be a terrifying day a day that inspires the dread you feel in the moments before Freddy Krueger massacres his next innocent victim. 

     Revelation tells us a little more about the Day of the Lord:

     “And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These miracle-working demons caused all the rulers of the world to gather for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God Almighty….And they gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place called Armageddon in Hebrew. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. And a mighty shout came from the throne of the Temple in heaven, saying, “It is finished!” Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And there was an earthquake greater than ever before in human history. The great city of Babylon split into three pieces, and cities around the world fell into heaps of rubble. And so God remembered all of Babylon’s sins, and he made her drink the cup that was filled with the wine of his fierce wrath. And every island disappeared, and all the mountains were leveled. There was a terrible hailstorm, and hailstones weighing seventy-five pounds  fell from the sky onto the people below. They cursed God because of the hailstorm, which was a very terrible plague.” Rev. 16: 13-21 NLT

    Great and terrible indeed. The Scyfy channel isn’t far off in its tales of woe, dread and planetary calamity. Al Gore has it right when he talks about coming superstorms. They’ve just got the source wrong. It’s not science it’s Jesus! It’s judgment!

     Further it’s not far off. The time is at hand. You might ask how I know that. Go ahead ask.

     “How do you know JE?”

     O.K. I’ll tell you how. I’m alive that’s how. I am a practicing Pentecostal and I am sign of the coming end of days.

    Joel said, “In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike” ( Joel 2:29 NLT). In other words in the days just before judgment God’s Spirit will be poured out for everyone to receive. That outpouring is the pentecostal baptism evidenced by the speaking of tongues according to the apostle Peter. Listen to Peter’s words from Acts Chapter 2.

        “On the day of Pentecost…everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,] as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability….Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this.  Some of you are saying these people are drunk. It isn’t true! It’s much too early for that. People don’t get drunk by nine o’clock in the morning. No, what you see this morning was predicted centuries ago by the prophet Joel: `In the last days, God said, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit upon all my servants, men and women alike, and they will prophesy….” Acts 2:1,4,14-18 NLT

     You already know the rest of the prophecy. I have to say that the return of Pentecostalism to the church in the 20th century is perhaps the second greatest sign of the approaching Judgment Day.  The greatest sign is…well that’s another post. Suffice it to say we are close. Let us pray that  work of the church will be effective as Jesus second coming draws near!

Embracing the Real- The Context

     I have been “in pentecost” as they say, for almost thirty years. In that time I have seen some amazing things. I have seen backs straightened and legs lengthened. I have seen people prayed over and healed from cancer the very next day. I have been present when words of wisdom and knowledge were spoken in a service and caused healing of hearts and relationships broken for years. I know people who have met and been ministered to by angels and far more besides.

     I have also seen the gifts of the Holy Spirit abused to lift up men and their ministries rather than Jesus. I have been present when people used the gift of prophecy to fight personal battles in the church rather than encourage the body towards unity. I have watched helplessly as the root of bitterness has blocked the gift of healing and has been mislabeled a lack of faith.

     The abuse of the gifts over the last several decades has led many pastors to “throw the baby out with the bath water.”  Some doctrinally sound pentecostal churches have become practically non-pentecostal in their experience.

     Misuse of the supernatural gifts comes when a person has the wrong attitude towards life. The context of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is love. Anytime we do not use the gifts out of a loving mindset we are bound to abuse them.

     Sometimes I think we read I Corinthians 12:1-11 as though it stands by itself untouched by any other Scripture. But these verses sit plunk in between I Corinthians 11 and I Corinthians 12: 12-13:13. Go read them. They are all about love and respect for one another in the church.

     Paul wasn’t having an ADD moment when he switched from talking about respect for the body of Christ to talking about spiritual gifts and then back to talking about the body of Christ and love again. He was letting us know that the only way the gifts operate correctly and effectively is in the way of love.

     When we see misuses of the gifts we are seeing people who are using the gifts out of anger, resentment, selfish ambition, or even fear. Can I tell you the gifts can manifest in such cases and be completely right and yet still be completely wrong.

      I have heard people give words of knowledge or prophecies which were completely accurate but because they were given in anger or out of a place of selfishness they fell completely flat and brought no glory to God. It would have been better for the person to have never spoken at all!

    This calls for great wisdom. The answer for misuse of the gifts is not to ban their use but to correct the context of their use. Where people are using the gifts out of a heart of love toward their brothers and sisters, as well as the world, the gifts are trained and made effective to supernatural results.

    Let us learn the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts! A-men

    Please send me your thoughts on the way of love.

Embracing the Real- The Words

     Friday nights were called “Feast of Fire” services. I led worship with a group of teens and our staff evangelist preached every week. The evening always ended in a prolonged altar call. Sometimes we would pray for an hour or more as the Spirit of the Lord moved among the people. We saw many amazing things during that season.

      One night a woman came forward as we were anointing with oil. She asked me to pray for her husband who was “having a very difficult time”.

     I stretched out my hand and placed it on her forehead as I began to pray.

    About thirty seconds into the prayer the Spirit of God told me to pray for legal issues to be cleared up. Now when I receive these strong impressions out of what seems to be left field I generally don’t just go with them. Usually I stop and ask the person if what I am feeling is in any way, shape, or form close to the mark. This time however the impression was so strong I could almost not help but pray immediately.

      “Lord,” I prayed “I ask for any legal issues that are arising in this family to be dealt with. Please sort them out and bring them to a quick conclusion. I ask for this husband that you would grant him favor and protection.”

    The woman began to weep. It was a secret that her husband was in the midst of a lawsuit. He was experiencing incredible anxiety as he faced the trial.

    Another time I was at the altar praying over what seemed to be an insurmountable relationship problem. A person I was close to had somehow through the course of events become an enemy. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know why the person was so angry or what I had done to deserve their treatment. In my eyes I had been fair and had even gone the extra mile to preserve the relationship.

    As I was sitting crying out before the cross, the word of the Lord came to me suddenly, “Get up now. Go to the person and apologize for your impertinence towards them and your brashness.”

   I thought about it for a moment and actually considered waiting on the word but the Lord came to me again. “If you do not go now you will permanently lose favor and cause yourself great harm.”

    I got up and did what the Lord commanded.

    In the meeting that ensued I was granted favor and forgiveness by the person. The resulting reconciliation (though not permanent) ended up protecting me from a great loss I could not have foreseen. The meeting stopped an undermining that was taking place without my knowledge.

      The word of knowledge and the word of wisdom are two powerful weapons in the Pentecostal Christian’s armory.

     The word of knowledge is the ability to know something that is hidden from plain sight.

      The word of wisdom is the ability to supernaturally troubleshoot and solve problems that you do not have the ability to solve yourself.

     The gifts are practical and greatly useful in prayer. How many times have you come to a situation that seems to big to even pray about? It is the word of knowledge that is needed when you ask “Lord show me how to pray.”

    The word of knowledge is that “aha” moment when you suddenly go from confused mutterings before God to, “I know exactly how to pray about this now!”

    The word of wisdom comes in that moment when you are standing before your broken down car and suddenly see the answer. It is that instant when you know exactly how to fix what is wrong, even though five minutes before you couldn’t find the latch to pop the hood.

    How do these gifts come? As every other one of the gifts through prayer and much prayer at that. As we said at the beginning of this study. If you are going to walk in the power of the baptism, you are going to have to do your homework.

    As Paul said, “Let love be your highest goal, but also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives.” I Cor. 14:1

    Tell me have you been encouraged to desire the special abilities the Spirit gives?

To the Hemmed In

     Dear readers in light of our recent topic matter, I thought it might be good to include this example of a gift I was given to share with our church just recently. JE    

     I knew Sunday before service that the Lord had a word to give to the body at Cornerstone. Even as I prayed in my morning devotions I began to feel that familiar stirring. I waited and prayed asking the Lord to confirm that the word was for the church and not for some other time. Then I prayed for an opening during service. It came just before communion and I shared with the church what God had put in my heart.

    After several days of prayer I have felt to share it with you as well.

     Hear this word of the Lord. I have heard the prayers of my servant asking for a habitation among this people. So I have come in response to his prayer to inhabit and manifest among my people.

     As in days of old when I inhabited the place between the wings of the cherubim, now I dwell between the praises of my people.

     Behold I am with you always even to the end of this age.

     I come to speak to those who are hemmed in.

     You say to me “Lord I have an enemy before me.”

     You say to me “Lord I have an enemy behind me.”

     You say to me “Lord I have an enemy to my right side.”

     You say to me “Lord I have an enemy to my left side. I cannot move.”

     I say to you “Your answer will come to you in the midst of your stillness. I counsel you, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ It is God who is the vindicator of the righteous.”

    I tell you ” Commit your way to the Lord trust in Him and He will do this. He will make the righteousness of your cause to shine like the noon-day sun.”

     You are not the waymaker. I am the Waymaker and I make a highway in the desert and I will make a way where there seems to be no way.

     It is time for you to stand still and let the Lord fight your battle. I have told you before trust no more in the arm of flesh for it will avail you nothing.

     I promise you joy unspeakable and full of glory. In My presence is fullness of joy and at My right hand are pleasures evermore.

     I tell you ” Come into My presence. Put yourself at My right hand and you will have joy and pleasure as you face your situations and afflictions. Let go of the world and seek the arm of flesh no more. I will open the pathway. Let me open the door and when you see the pathway I open walk in it. Stop pushing against the doors I have closed.”

     This word was received on Sunday August  15, 2010.

      I would love to hear your thoughts.

Embracing the Real- The Gift of Faith

      It was a year  ago, my sister received what she  believed was a call to the mission field. For the last eleven months she has set her eye on the prize.

     Plans had been falling nicely into place until three months ago. An $18,000.00 set-back arose threatening to derail everything.

     As always the nay-sayers came out of the wood work. “I guess it’s not God’s will…. Gee that’s too bad. It would have been such a fulfillment of your dreams to have gone.”

     But my sister operated in the gift of faith and responded with just a bit of righteous indignation. “Look this wasn’t my idea. God wants me to go. The $18,000.00 must be provided that’s all.”       

      Watchman Nee said, “”Faith follows fact and feelings follow faith.”  Faith is simply a decision to trust in the facts. Doubt, then, is a lack of trust in the facts. I want you to notice that neither faith nor doubt have their foundation in feelings. They are decisions.  As with everything else in the spirit realm faith is based not on how we feel but on how we believe (decisions of the heart as opposed to decisions of the soul).

     We have faith in all kinds of things: We have faith that 2+2=4. We have faith that if we plant a seed in the ground something will grow. We have faith that if we go to work this week we will get paid next week. Why? Because these things have a proven track record. They are established facts in the world we live in.

    Now Christian (or saving) faith comes when a man embraces the fact that Jesus died for sin and when that man decides to act on the fact by repenting and committing his life to follow Christ. The reason not everyone experiences this saving faith is that the facts are in dispute. While no one the world over would doubt that 2+2=4, lots of people doubt that Jesus died and rose from the dead.

     Satan has muddied the sociological waters with his lies. So while Jesus death, resurrection, and saving grace may be more true than 2+2, sin in man and the added lies of other gods make Jesus’ claims seem doubtful to some. But not to me. I have chosen to have confidence in the facts of Scripture and lack confidence in any ideas that contradict it.

    Now the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith goes beyond that. The gift of faith involves being confident in what God has said to you personally and refusing to accept anything contrary.

    Paul the apostle was operating in the gift of faith when he insisted on going to Jerusalem even after the prophet, Agabus, revealed that doing so would cause his arrest (Acts 21). The gift of faith kept him moving forward against the feelings he surely must have felt.

    It may be that the gift of faith is the most common of all the gifts among Spirit-filled Christians. I believe many may operate in this gift without even knowing it because they are simply convinced of the facts.  Even though they feel frightened to step out, it just makes sense and seems very natural rather than supernatural. It is this gift that makes onlookers admire and fear the stalwart hearts of believers operating under its influence.

     It is the gift of faith that has caused Pentecostal believers to witness even in the face of danger. It is the gift of faith that has caused women to stick with marriages to hard-hearted abusive husbands until the unbelieving spouse received faith. It is this gift that has caused others to remain faithful to Jesus even when it meant abandonment by family, loss of property, and death.

     The end of the gift as Watchman Nee said is that feelings follow faith. When we start trying to live our Christian lives by how we feel rather than the facts of Scripture, we end up disappointed and cynical. But when we trust in the promises of Scripture first against our feelings eventually they line up with what has been spoken in the Word.

     My sister insisted that the Spirit had called her and that the money was His issue not hers. She committed the issue to prayer.  I am sure there were moments of intense frustration and fear but she refused to change her confession, “God will provide”.  God did! Within two weeks the entire amount was provided on a timeline that will have her paid off by spring!

     How do you think she feels now?

Embracing the Real-The Gift of Healing

      The gift of tongues is considered, by many in the theological world, to be the ugly step-sister of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. If this is so then the gift of healing must be considered her identical twin. This  darling of dunamis  evokes  some pretty diverse reactions among us, believers.

      There are Bible teachers whom I highly respect who believe that healing is not for today. In their view if a person has a spiritual problem they should see a pastor, but if a person is sick they should see a doctor and only a doctor.

     There are other teachers whom I respect just as deeply who feel that healing is not only for today but should be the normal experience of all Christians. Some will go so far as to say that if a Christian becomes ill it is because of some lack in his spiritual walk.

      I feel casting your lot with the extremes of either camp is incorrect. They  are far  too simplistic to be accurate. To say that divine healing is not for today is to do violence to the doctrine of Scripture.  On the other hand to say that divine health is the right of every Christian is to deny the revealed truth in the stories of Scripture.

        If we say healing is not for today what do we do with scriptures like James 5:14:

        “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick…” James 5:14,15 KJV

What about Mark 16:18 or the command in Matthew 10:8?

     On the other hand to say that as Christians we must always be healthy and sickness can never be allowed in our lives is also an extreme . Scripture does teach  intrinsically that no healing we receive in the “vale of tears” is permanent. Lazarus is once again dead  and the eyes of Blind  Bartimaeus have once again gone dark.

     Don’t get me wrong I believe in divine healing. I believe it is the right of every Christian to seek for and expect healing. I think we should probably be seeing more healing in the American church. I even agree that we miss out on a lot of healing because of unbelief and sin in the church. However I take an exception with the idea that every believer should get every healing every time he asks. I don’t think it’s that simple.

     Now I don’t have enough space in this blog to develop each of the points I am about to make. So I expect that I am about to raise some eyebrows. I invite questions and comments. Let’s just say some of these ideas, as to why healing is not just a simple “dab ‘em and its done”, are truths held in tension  within Scripture so I doubt we will all agree on any  of these points. Greater men than me have put in their two cents and have been rebuffed so…

Why the gift of  healing  is just not that simple:

  1. Because in this world God does not always get His way in every situation. Certain things in this world limit our limitless God (let that bob around in your head for awhile and see what you make of it).
  2. Our physical well-being is not God’s primary concern. He will forego healing if it negatively affects His kingdom purposes.
  3. Healing like the other gifts is about confirming the gospel message.
  4. Healing is often a pathway, a journey and not a moment (even when it is spontaneous).
  5. Healing like every other gift of God relies on us discovering the will of God in each situation according to John 15. While I believe it is God’s will to heal all our diseases it may not be his will to heal them today.

     The gift of healing does not work by formula. There is no ritual that guarantees its success. As men and women of God filled with the Holy Spirit we are called to operate in the gift of healing. But there is no three-step program to making this work.  Instead God wishes us to spend time praying for each circumstance separately to divine His will and pathway for healing in each opportunity. So we pray and wait until we have an unction from God.  When knowledge comes, healing’s pathway will follow.

Tell me some of your healing stories.

Embracing the Real-The Gift of Miracles

     The road to the Fitchburg Assembly of God winds from Winchendon up through Rindge over through Ashby finally emptying out in Western Fitchburg in a patch of thick woods. In the morning it is a pathway directly into the halo of the rising sun.

     On a morning many years ago my uncle was driving that road accompanied by his son and one of his nephews. As he crested one of the hills the sun’s dazzle blinded him. He swerved instinctively away from the bright light and ended up on the wrong side of the road. As his vision cleared he saw the car coming directly for him. There was no time to move out of the car’s path. The other driver hit them and then was on the other side. There was no shudder of metal crushing metal, no breaking glass, just two cars meeting at full speed and then moving through each other to go on their way.

     Miracles are those happenings in life where the laws of nature are suspended leaving natural men shocked into awe. In the face of miracles even the most stout believer utters the words “I can’t believe it!”

      Jesus performed a miracle when he calmed the storm with a word, when he walked on water, and when he raised the dead. Philip the evangelist performed a miracle when he was teleported to Azotus. Peter performed a miracle when he raised Dorcas.

    Miracles and I mean real miracles do happen today. Cory Tenboom experienced a miracle in the prison camp when her vial of vitamins sustained the whole dormitory for an entire year never running out. Brother Andrew received a miracle when God made an entire trunk of Bibles vanish before the eyes of communist border guards.

    We serve the God of the impossible possibilities. It is not without reason His word says “With God all things are possible.” If we are walking in the way the Lord commands we are unstoppable. The gift of miracles is that which enables the believer to walk on when all others are stopped dead in their tracks. It is why we can say “The gates of Hell will not prevail against the church.”

     The seed bed of miracles is the prayer life of the believer. Since miracles reside out of the realm of the humanly possible, the only thing we can do to bring them about is pray.

     Have you ever experienced a miracle?

Embracing the Real-the Gift of Prophecy

     The orchestra was playing softly. The worship leader had just finished leading a stirring hymn and was encouraging the people to worship the Lord with the blessing. There are moments in a service when suddenly a hush descends upon everyone simultaneously. The atmosphere is distilled into a thick holiness that stuns the senses into a peculiar mixture of somnolence and brilliant awareness. Such a moment presented itself and the leader fell silent.

      A woman from the back spoke forth in a loud voice, “Thus saith the Lord…”

      She went on to explain that the Spirit of God was being quenched by sins in the body. One by one she went on to list the things which were being done in secret which required repentance. She encouraged the people to rise up and turn to God so that His Spirit could work supernaturally again in the congregation.

       Paul, the apostle, wrote in I Corinthains 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”

       A certain amount of confusion exists concerning the gift of prophecy as it is outlined in Scripture. Most think of prophecy as prognostication, seeing the future, even  clairvoyance. Really though prophecy is more forth-telling than fore-telling.

      Prophecy is, simply put, bringing forth a message from God to a body of believers. It may involve revelation of a future event but many times it is simply encouragement or instruction which helps the church to move through a certain event in its corporate life. As Paul wrote, “…he who prophesies edifies the church.” (I Corinthains 14:4 b)

      The gift of prophecy is not to be exercised lightly; It requires wisdom and great obedience. There are rules:

1. Prophecy must edify It must enlighten,  it must encourage and instruct to improve  moral, intellectual, or spiritual understanding.

As an aside. I am not a big fan of what many people term “hard words”. The story I opened  with is an example of a hard word. I have found they almost never produce the desired result. Usually such a word is better held, reported to the senior pastor, and then given under his advisement.

2. The word must be biblical

This must seem obvious. But I have heard people give words that are contrary to Scripture believing they are speaking to some kind of loophole or giving new revelation (this is a particular temptation when dealing with personal words of prophecy). The gift of prophecy is subject to the Word of God and the Bible is our ONE authoritative rule for faith and conduct. The gift is not even on equal footing with Scripture. Scripture first then prophecy lines up with it!

3. Prophecy is a gift that must be judged by others who have the gift. “And let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern.” I Corinthians 14:29

In our church after a prophet speaks our pastor will ratify the word if he feels it is of the Lord and timely. If he feels it is out of time or incorrect he will pass the prophecy by and speak privately to the person who gave it after service. the gift of prophecy must be pastored. Many times people speak a word that is from God but they add or subtract from it out of fear or confusion. Again we are not dealing with Scripture here. People make mistakes (particularly when they are new to the gift). However mistakes publically made must be corrected and dealt with so that no harm is brought to the body.

     I cannot tell you how the gift operates in everyone’s life. I can tell you how it has come to me:

1. Unction-

 Usually when I am about to be used in prophetic utterance it begins as an unction. An unction is a strong sense of the Lord’s presence.  To me it feels like my insides are on fire and I am going downhill on a rollercoaster all at once.

2. Formation-

 As the unction increases I begin to receive a very strong inner impression of the word God wants me to speak. Seldom do I just start speaking without having and idea of what I am going to say.

 3. Prayer-

   As the word of the Lord comes I begin to ask the Lord if the prophecy is to be shared or just held onto for prayer purposes. I wait for an answer. I do not move forward until I know. I always wait for an opening, a proper place to share. If a proper spot for the message is not found I hold the word and send it via e-mail later to my pastor.

4. Follow-up

 Always after service I try to write the word down so I will remember it. Many times I receive a word in service and do not get to share it until several weeks later. Often I end up sharing it to several different groups of people. It’s odd how it works. I will receive a word of prophecy during a Sunday morning service and never get the opportunity to speak but then I will be leading worship on Wednesday night and the Lord will bring the word back to my mind and will tell me to share.

The gift is marvelous and the body of Christ needs it. Eagerly desire spiritual gifts brothers and sisters and especially the gift of prophecy!

What are your experiences with prophecy?