We are living in interesting times. As Charles Dickens wrote in a Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times."
During 2020, many people have seen an emphasis on the "worst of times" part. Can we skip ahead to some good news?
In the middle of it all, we need to hear from heaven. What is the Father saying about what's going on in our world today? One of the loudest voices shouting about what to expect for the future is the media. Have you noticed that it's rare for the news to report GOOD news? It's interesting to me how much we have come to rely on the news to give us the information we should expect for our lives.
No matter what the world is predicting, we can't write God out of the narrative.
How do we tune into the channel of heaven? In the same way that a news channel has a weather forecast, we can ask God to help us see a prophetic forecast of what's to come. Throughout Biblical history, God gave a preview of what was to come - we see this often in Jesus' ministry. So what is God saying? As I started to write down my thoughts on this topic. I realized I had a LOT to share, so I am going to do a blog series! For the next few Thursdays, I will be posting a weekly blog on the Purpose of the Prophetic (Make sure you're subscribed!) Over this blog series, I hope to shed some light on the important conversation we should be having about the times we are living in.
Before we get into a more in-depth conversation about the prophetic, let's talk about a a fundamental rundown of the term "prophecy."
What is prophecy?
The gift of prophecy is one of the 12 gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 and 14.
Essentially, to prophesy means to "speak forth." Prophecy has two main aspects: 1. "foretelling" (predicting what is to come)
2. "inspired speaking" (forth-telling, or calling something into being) Did you wince at the word "foretelling"? I know I did. The New Age movement has taken a sacred biblical concept and given it a negative connotation. As a result, much of the Church is afraid of prophecy—even though the gift is encouraged throughout the Old and New Testament. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul encourages believers that they should eagerly desire to prophesy! Sadly, much of the Church isn't getting this kind of teaching. And here's the thing: prophecy is a gift.That means you can't earn it. It's not a prize for super-Christians (whatever those are!) It's a gift meant to "build up, edify, and comfort" the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14.) And did you know It also has the ability to draw unbelievers to Christ?! I'll share some personal testimonies on that topic later! What's more, is that the prophetic is something you can cultivate and grow in your life.Yes, YOU! I've taught across the U.S. at many different churches, and when it comes to practicing prophecy, so many people get nervous to try. "I can't hear from God." or "God doesn't speak to me." are what I commonly hear from people who love Jesus with everything. When we start equipping them with practical tools to hear from God, you would not believe how it affects them! Tears of joy are a typical response! Relief. Wonder. Encouragement! Don't you just love Jesus?! Ultimately, the prophetic gift isn't something Christians should fear-it should be something we seek to understand and pursue. Do you desire to grow the spiritual gift of the prophetic in your life? I would be honored to help you! For the past several years, I have hosted prophetic workshops and online classes to help build a Biblical foundation for prophecy and get equipped in the prophetic gift. If you're interested in learning more about my next upcoming class, enter your email below (I promise I won't spam you!)
Seeing the Future
In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples what would be coming, including the promise of the Holy Spirit. Check out these verse from John 16:12-15:
“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 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. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me."
Did you catch how Jesus says in this passage says that "The Holy Spirit will tell you about the future." Other translations say, "The Holy Spirit will show you what's to come." At this point, the disciples had not yet encountered what the Holy Spirit would bring. It wouldn't be until Pentecost when the presence of God fell like fire on their heads that they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the prophetic was about to be unleashed on the Church. In Acts 2:17-21, Peter quoted the prophet Joel when he said, “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy..." In the next few verses in John, Jesus goes on to tell the disciples what they can expect to happen. It's going to get hard. Excruciatingly hard. Why did he tell them about the good to come in advance? He wanted them to know that the trial they were about to endure would have an end. He wanted them to be prepared for what they couldn't yet comprehend. Jesus was prophesying—or foretelling the future—to them good things before they were about to endure the greatest trial of all time: Jesus would suffer on the cross.
In the same way, Jesus had a personal prophetic promise that would help him endure his own suffering on the cross. As it says in Hebrews 12:2,
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Emphasis mine)
Jesus saw something good about his future—he saw that JOY was coming. And because of this prophetic promise, it enabled him to walk through the extreme suffering ahead.
A Word for the Battle Ahead
We can learn a lot from Jesus' example. An encouraging prophetic word doesn't eliminate suffering, hardship, or trial. In fact, an encouraging prophetic word can often be given right before a trial is to take place in your life. Of course, this isn't always the case, but it is one purpose of a prophetic word.
In fact, God has been burning a new word on my own heart this week about how we must trust the word God spoke to us in the light when it seems the darkest. To make sure you don't miss the word, please subscribe to my blog below!
What's interesting, is Jesus also says in the passage I referenced from John 16:12, "There are many things I want to tell you, but you can't bear it now." Jesus knew what the disciples could and couldn't handle, so he didn't share everything with them that was about to transpire. And the same holds true for us. If we knew what the road ahead would look like, maybe we wouldn't be able to bear the journey. Maybe we'd look at Jesus and say, "Nah, Jesus, I'm good!" And turn back to following our own will, our own way. But the JOY and treasure we'd miss out on if we did that! That's why Jesus often will share the JOY set before us, so we have motivation and hope to move ahead. (I'm preaching to myself now, y'all!) Some of the most significant, on-time prophetic words were given to me right before intense spiritual tests and battles in my life. I had no idea at the time the words were given that something difficult was about to happen—but God knew I would need strength for the battle ahead. This reminds me of what Paul spoke to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18:
"So Timothy, my son, I am entrusting you with this responsibility, in keeping with the very first prophecies that were spoken over your life, and are now in the process of fulfillment in this great work of ministry, in keeping with the prophecies spoken over you. With this encouragement use your prophecies as weapons as you wage spiritual warfare by faith and with a clean conscience." (Emphasis mine.)
Spinning with Joy
I remember one of the first prophetic words I was given. I received a long Facebook message from a girl I didn't know well from my college. Essentially, she randomly had a picture of me come across her mind and knew that God had a word for me. In the vision she saw, I was spinning with joy, my blonde hair twirling, as leaves fell around me. She said I looked totally free, totally joyful. She said the leaves represented things in my life that were going to fall away, but God was saying I could have joy in the midst of that. I was so excited when I got the word! I was new to the prophetic and had recently received a powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, just a few days later, I would be put through one of the biggest tests of my life. It's a long story (I'm literally writing a book about it!), but God brought a powerful revival to my small school through a friend and me. By revival, I mean people were getting radically touched by God supernaturally—and my whole school heard about it. Healings, miracles, signs, and wonders. Salvations. Deliverance. A bunch of us Southern Baptist kids began operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But it came with a huge personal price tag. People became offended at the radical move of God. Religious mindsets were challenged. As a result, I lost most of my friends, my dreams, and my reputation. Those things I lost, those leaves that had to fall to the ground, made room for God would have the first place in my life. Like I said, it's a loooong story.
However, that prophetic word I received right beforehand gave me a light at the end of the tunnel. It was the JOY set before. Now I can say I am thankful for the incredible experience God gave me to bring revival. It was worth the price he gave me the privilege of paying. No one can convince me that Jesus is not real and that He moves with mighty signs and wonders. I have truly encountered Him, and I know there is so much more to discover.
The Joy Set Before Us
Prophecy is truly a gift to the body of Christ. As I discussed in today's blog, a prophetic word can often give us strength for the battle ahead. A word can become the promise of God, the joy set before us. Prophecy over your life doesn't mean that you won't have a time where the word will be tested. So what do you do when that happens? You remind God of that word no matter what current reality looks like. You wage war with that prophetic word (pray it, declare it, cling to it, repeat it to yourself, constantly keep God's Word to you at the forefront of your mind) to position yourself for victory. When you do, you'll come out of the fire shining like gold, with a testimony of who God is to you, so others can see who God can be to them, too. Friends, life can be HARD! Plain and simple. but we serve a loving God who has promised to equip us with everything we need to overcome. He is faithful to walk with us throughout the journey of life.
And if He spoke a word, he will bring it to pass! "It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it." Isaiah 55:11 So if you find yourself thinking, "This word sounds too hopeful! It doesn't match my situation. It can't be God." Or
"This word doesn't seem like it's ever going to come to pass!"
Let God increase your faith and your hope today. Believe the words He's spoken to you. You need it for the battles of your faith ahead.
Continuing the Prophecy Conversation
Today I wanted to discuss one purpose of a prophetic word: when God gives us a prophecy as the "joy set before us" to endure a trial or test.
However, when it comes to the current expression of the gift of prophecy in the Body of Christ, a lot of people are asking a lot of really good questions like:
"There are currently many voices shouting prophetic words. But are they all from God?
"How do I know if a word is truly from God?
"Are they all truly sharing the full picture? Why are these words so positive sounding?"
"What about the Old Testament prophecies? They were pretty heavy and judgmental! How do we translate that truth to today?'
These are some great points of discussion! In the coming weeks, I hope to address more on this topic.
In my next blog, we will talk about: "Did God really say?"