Category Archives: prophesying

Disliking success

DISLIKING SUCCESS

Jonah knew God. Jonah heard God speak. Jonah didn’t like what He (God) said – so he ran away.

We know the story.

He was asked to go and preach to a certain ‘bunch’ of people.

These people were sinners (‘who isn’t’ we might ask?), but they needed to give up their wrong ways and acknowledge God.

They did!

And guess what? Jonah did not like the result of his successful preaching.

This has to be one of the most contradictory stories in the bible. Preachers preach to be successful, to see results, to bear fruit. Having done so, Jonah was not pleased.

First he did everything he could to – not preach.

A whole series of events including a dive to the depths of the sea into an unknown/unspecified species of fish.

At the end of the day – Jonah had God – so demonstrate His sovereign hand in his life, that he could only obey, after much rebellion and refusal to do as he was bidden.

I remember teaching Jonah’s story and perhaps I wasn’t the first to establish that Jonah was on a downer.

He went down to Joppa, down to the harbour, down into a boat, down into the ‘hold’ in the boat, down into his bed, down into the sea and down into a fish.

He came up in a rather sickly but necessary way onto the shore again.

He then decided he had better just do what God asked him to do.

Humility is going down before the feet of Jesus. All who genuinely do so will come up again and follow Him.

As we call folks to obey Christ and accept His salvation – rather than do so, some will set-off on their journey to the depths, or having reached the depths of being on a downer, I hope-they-will-learn from Jonah and come back-up by obeying God.

We all, like sheep, go astray. We think our way is best. There is a way and it seems right to us (it is our own invention) – but the end of it – is death.

There are many plans in a person’s heart but the counsel of God above and beyond our thinking and decision making – will stand.

The biggest part of a Christian’s life is not our performance as in doing good –  but rather with the awareness of our imperfections and shortcomings – we embrace and appreciate with humility the fact that God should choose us to be his sons and daughters, as we exercise faith in Him.

We would have been among those who listened to Jonah’s repentance message, demonstrated by the fact that we listened and responded to Christ’s message.

If you are in any way like myself, you will not be celebrating a life lived the way you wanted it to be. 

One hundred percent pleasing to God would be wonderful. But in my own estimation I fall far short.

Nevertheless I rejoice because Psalm 32 says:

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

At that time in history the Ninevites enjoyed the experience of Psalm 32. Regardless of what subsequent generations of Ninevites did.

Every generation is confronted with the same message – a message that won’t be categorised as ‘cool’ or ‘newly current’, because it’s as old as time itself.

It will never change and defies man’s so called intellectual advancement, scientifically or in any other way.

The Message is clear: John 3/16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Jonah probably saw the Ninevites as a threat to his own nation because of their barbarous ways.

They stand as an example illustration of how even the most hardened individual(s) can turn and be changed by the Power of Christ and His salvation.

What is Your will?

WHAT IS YOUR WILL?

God cannot readily trust mankind with profound and important things to do with His will being done and worked-out in history. I Corinthians 2/14

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

To trust our fellow-human beings is quite a task – never mind – God trusting us, with divine information.

Think how difficult it is to rely on people – even those of the most trustworthy kind.

The tongue slips, in giving information that should have remained unspoken, facial expressions betray something in answer to an enquiry made by another, regarding something and someone who shared with us in confidence.

We utter words that are actually lies:

‘We must get a coffee sometime…’ but it never happens – the utterance had no substance other than politeness.

‘Oh yes – I will be definitely there, see you then…’ They don’t show up.

‘We will get back to you sir, and let you know…’ They don’t.

‘I will come around on Tuesday and give you an estimate’. Tuesday arrives – no tradesman.

Some will say what they think you want to hear, rather than tell you what they really think. This is a form of lying.

We are taken into confidence with someone’s private information, exclusively (we are told) being shared with us – and we respond with: ’Your secret’s safe with me’.

Until someone else mentions it to us – how did they find out?

Another example could be, when another human being we trusted – just betrayed that trust and blabbed the ‘something’ we shared in confidence.

How could God possibly share with such characterless humans – anything of His plans for the present or for the years to come?

What God does do, is give us scriptures in which we find statements like this: 

[Colossians 2/3 …in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.]

The ‘in whom’ refers to The Father God and Christ His Son.

And it is only as a human being gets into a relationship with God The Father through Jesus The Son, and that relationship is one of proven mutual trust, that anyone can, in any way, qualify for sharing in The things of God, prophetically.

Are there prophets today? Yes, but none will ever add to scripture.

How many secret things concerning God’s daily business, of a prophetic nature, are shared by God, with anyone alive today?

This is known to God alone. But God throughout history has had His men and women. To whom special grace is given. I would add because they have God-developed character.

Conversely it’s often been said if God can use a donkey to speak, then He can choose for reasons best known to Him, someone who has still a lot of maturing to go through. (II Peter 2/16).

He has for instance perfected praise through the mouth of babes. (Matthew 21/16).

So exactly what God is looking for is best known to Himself, the one who sees all things.

He knows the human heart and mind. He knew for example that a *Saul of Tarsus would become one of His most trusted followers, even though he was persecuting the church Christ died to give birth to.

With whom He shared things that were written down as the authenticated and pure Word of God. *Paul the apostle even heard words (God-given) that needed to remain unspoken in this world. (II Corinthians 12/3).

Has anyone reached that place of intimacy with God The Father, through Jesus The Son – whereby God imparts wisdom and understanding that includes insight into His current plan for the earth and all who live in it?

Other than the things already in The Scriptures – this Holy Spirit given insight belongs to those who dwell in the secret place of The Most High, under the (metaphorical?) shadow of The Almighty. (Psalm 91/1)

Also to properly understand Scripture is a call to intimacy with God. There is no substitute for this. No theological degree will take the place of intimacy with God.

This is what we often refer to as the difference between head and heart knowledge.

So what is God’s will for today? What is God outworking amidst this beginning of sorrows taking place upon the earth?

That’s for God to know and for us to find out. Bearing in mind that the ‘secret things belong to The Lord’. (Deuteronomy 29/29)

Paul says ‘behold I tell you a mystery…’ (I Corinthians 15/51)

Only God can open our understanding to mysteries, hidden within the divine counsel.

We are entering into times when that which has been established for many years is going to be challenged, starting with the truth that The blood of Jesus Christ alone, can cleanse from sin.

Starting with the fact that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.

Starting with the fact that The Bible alone, contains both the hidden and revealed will of God.

But it (the Bible) cannot be separated from The Hand of The Holy Spirit – otherwise it is the letter that kills.

Mankind can and does corrupt the scriptures with his private interpretations. (II Peter 1/20)

I (perhaps like you?) ask the question: “Lord what is your will for today?”

My biggest query is [and I held an open forum meeting with men of God to answer this]: ‘Lord what do you require of us in light of the days we are entering into?’

That Forum back in 2019, did not produce any earth-shattering conclusions, and I am still asking the question.

There are obvious answers. But what manner of persons we aught to be, and what way should we respond as the church, will be found by those who have not bowed the knee to Baal already. 

The Rest? 

Matthew 7/

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Therefore I ask again: Lord what is your will? And pray ‘let it be done on earth as it is in heaven’.

Prophesying today

PROPHESYING TODAY

It is dangerous to ‘generalise’ when we have limited information.

Limited information can cause a limited conclusion. A faulty judgement can therefore be made about a given scenario.

Jumping too quickly to conclusions.

However, in some situations in life, in extenuating circumstances, a decision needs to be taken quickly, because

of how a particular scenario will or might play-out and effect us personally.

This ‘deficient information factor’ makes that decision hard to make.

We do our best – and proceed to make the decision, even with inadequate information, because if it goes a certain way, it will perhaps effect us personally.

I would imagine those who deal in the stock market, find themselves in that situation daily (?).

It can be, that we may not have the time to make full enquiry. And our decision as a result can be a good one or a bad one – as time will usually tell.

We can best hope that by our necessary decision making, no one gets hurt or damaged, as we make the decision.

I’m thinking of how people resign from a particular position they occupy, in perhaps a company, a political party, a Medical Practice, a church etc.

Making their decision, but not basing it on full knowledge, sometimes just suspicion.

It is still true to say, that unless one undertakes a thorough comprehensive research study, our lack of information can cause us to form the wrong conclusions.

The Bible says in James 1/So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; . It’s easy to reverse this – speaking with limited knowledge and without proper discernment, and in self-righteous anger (quick to wrath), making wrong judgements.

Biblically we are exhorted in different ways to be careful about judging given situations or people. 

Some make the mistake of thinking we are never to judge anything. The bible doesn’t teach this – but it does call us to ‘judge righteously’ according to the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus said: John 7/

24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

The spirit in which we judge is also of paramount importance. Anger and bitterness in our hearts and we have judged wrongly already, and must hear ‘judge not that you be not judged’.

Matthew 7/ v1“Judge  not, that you be not judged.

It may seem now that I am about to change tack to a different subject, but that’s not what I am doing.

Because I am thinking of the discernment necessary and the full knowledge needed, of what is said – before judgements can be made in response to modern day prophetic utterance.

Prophecy in the bible in it’s basic definition is simply ‘inspired utterance’. Jesus spoke with supreme wisdom and perpetual inspiration/revelation. 

Those who penned the scriptures were given Grace of an unequalled kind. No one (as in ‘ordinary’ Christians) prophesying since the Apostles and prophets, chosen by Christ, will be given that same calibre of Grace. Therefore they will not speak as authoritatively.

That does not mean that someone with a true gift of prophecy (inspired utterance), will not speak with authority.

Just not of that particular unique kind that penned The Word of God.

The Bible cannot be added to, it remains perpetually in the hand of The Holy Spirit to accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. Isa. 55/

11 

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Whether this ‘accomplishing’ takes place in the individuals heart or in accomplishing the task of giving to mankind foreknowledge of the future, in prophesying what is to come.

But modern day, inspired utterance, still calls for men and women to be in touch with God.

We are exhorted to speak as the ‘oracles of God’.

1 Peter 4:11

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

Some Christians live more incomplete lives than others, when they exclude from their experience the possible exercise of Spiritual Gifts, as found in I Corinthians chapter 12 etc..

Even those who believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and therefore accept the ‘manifestation of The Holy Spirit’ doctrinally, (another way of saying ‘the gifts of The Spirit’) – even so, may not fully manifest those gifts.

Certain cessationists dismiss the Gifts of The Holy Spirit – as not being for today.

If the manifestations of The Holy Spirit, are not taking place today – it is not because God has turned the tap off, or that such a thing is not possible, but rather for the reason, that  they are not sought for fully, or not allowed in the assembly of God’s people, usually as a result of cessationist theology or limited revelation/experience in the leadership.

The lack of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit may also be because of the ‘falling away’ that is happening on the earth and even in the churches. We read of a somewhat parallel time in the time of Samuel the prophet: 

I Samuel 3/1…And the word of the Lord was precious (rare) in those days; there was no open vision.

The gifts are not as manifest as in previous eras. (This can also be the result of how much there is – full or limited pursuing thereof): Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 

Those who accept the gifts, rightly so, as being for today – may not, however in practice, manifest them in the church.

Prophecy is for every member – we may all prophesy one by one.

All may speak ‘inspired utterances’.

These utterances of the spoken gifts are as follows – prophesy, speaking in different tongues and interpretation, word of wisdom, word of knowledge.

There are other gifts, or manifestations of The Holy Spirit, but the above are the spoken gifts.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

When it comes to prophesying – we are told: 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 

All prophesying’ does not make us all prophets.

A prophet is someone who has a proven track record in words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophesying by forth-telling or fore-telling.

The fruit of which gives help, direction and deliverance to the church.

It may entail foretelling, but must include:

 3 (But he who prophesies speaks)… edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

Except, on the rarer occasions when it can contain correction or rebuke, depending on the situation. Such correction should come from an established proven Prophetic ministry, that God has set in the church.

The rest of the church present, where a prophecy is given, are meant to engage in discerning if the prophecy is brought by The Holy Spirit and does not violate the principles of God’s Word.

29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 

We must be careful to:

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Unfortunately some dismiss anything prophetic, when we are told we can all prophesy, (and the Word of God cannot be broken).

We must judge firstly the prophecy – and after this depending on the fruit in their lives – if need be – then the vessel who brought the prophecy.

If what they are – in themselves, clearly shows them to be false prophets, or carrying a wrong spirit, or disrupting and damaging the people of God, then they need to be subject to the sanction of the church.

But – and this brings me back to my original point – full or limited knowledge…

If a foretelling prophecy does not come to pass, being of a foretelling nature, the first thing to establish is – is it completely wrong? Genuine prophets can make mistakes, but this does not mean they are to be dismissed as charlatans.

To dismiss them out of hand, is to get the cart before the horse. We are to judge the prophecy, as to it’s correctness or otherwise. But if it is wrong, we should not automatically disqualify the prophet.

Unless he/she has a track record of damaging the church, causing confusion, and perhaps obtaining a ‘following’ through dishonest gain.

Titus 1:

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 

The Gifts or manifestations of – The Holy Spirit are for our profit as the Church. 

And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

There can be a lot of ‘hype’ in televised prophesying, especially in a certain country. But we need to see-through the hype and ask the question ‘Is this of God?” Secondly is this person a true servant of Christ – who loves The Lord.

Not easily or immediately discernible sometimes. But we must not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’.

Regarding foretelling and not the less consequential type of prophesying, (edification, exhortation, and comfort), here is the safeguard:

Deuteronomy18

21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

There is both warnings for those who hear the prophetic word, in this passage:

 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

And for the prophet who prophesies:

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

However these warnings aught to be heard in the light of the greater Covenant of The New Testament.