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Prophecy! Personal Prophecy! So much has been written on this subject since the mid-eighties, but just what is it? Simply put, prophecy is God talking. In my journey to understand prophecy the Lord gave me (Carolyn) an insight that satisfied me. The Old Testament and much of the New Testament is a collection of personal prophecies spoken to man by God or spoken to men for other men (the ministry of prophecy one to another). For example:
You get the point.
I (Carolyn) would, at this point, like to settle from the onset that it is our personal belief that the written, canonized Scriptures, the Bible, is to be the first and ultimate authority on God's speaking to man. All personal prophecy should be measured and weighed according to the truth, principles, and teachings of Scripture. However, the Lord is so much greater than any of us could imagine and has much more to say to us today than we can even imagine. We also understand that many negative things and even destructive things have happened in the name of the Lord through prophecy. And for that I share concern, (more about that in lesson two). But just as one doesn't refuse to use electricity because some were killed by it's wrong or negligible use, neither do we wish to abandon the gifts of the Holy Spirit (especially the gift of prophecy) due to the abuses and misuses of the minority. And minority it is. All over the world, men and women, boys and girls are being raised up by the Lord into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are being raised up to do what the New Testament says they will.
And when the unbelieving enter, they will have their hearts exposed and fall down declaring that surely God is among you. (1 Cor 14:24,25)
This is in direct fulfillment of Scripture:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your young men shall see visions. Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)
We, (Jim and Carolyn) invite you to join us in this series to share things we have encountered, learned, proven, grown in, failed at, and love about the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit - the gift of prophecy. I (Carolyn) write as one who began as a young believer in the use of the prophetic gifts under the authority of local church government (pastors and teachers). I write as one who the Lord has blessed to be under the training, accountability and mentoring of Apostolic Prophet Bill Hamon and the team of Christian International - Network of Prophetic Ministries. And I write as one currently co-pastoring a prophetic church with my husband (Jim) and traveling to churches throughout the U.S. and abroad, strengthening churches and individuals alike with encouragement through one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - the gift of prophecy.
This is our attempt to be a practical help to normal and sincere believers, like ourselves, who find themselves blessed with this gift of prophecy. We to share some of the things we have learned over the years. We trust it will also provide encouragement to lay people and pastors alike that the 'prophetic ministry' is a vital, wonderful and necessary gift Jesus gave to the church. Prophecy is God's gift to edify, exhort, comfort and guide people ever continually toward the Lord and a deeper relationship with Him. Along with this wonderful and necessary gift comes certain responsibilities and boundaries.
We hope to share some things that will help many in their own journeys to execute their grace giftings and Holy Spirit offices within these boundaries and responsibilities. Some of our personal history will be woven into this series. We will share our experiences of the grace of God and the prophetic ministry. We desire that you be encouraged to exercise this gift with dignity, purity, the fear of the Lord, and sincerity of faith in Jesus' name.
God loves talking to those who love Him and who are seeking His will, direction and thoughts. Many times we receive communication from the Lord and we say: "I was praying this morning and the Lord 'showed me', or 'said to me', or 'revealed to me' thus and such." That, in its most basic form, is prophecy (God talking). Taking it a step further, prophecy can take the form of another person 'hearing' a Word from the Lord and feeling impressed that he or she should 'share' that Word with that individual.
There are many Biblical accounts of the Lord speaking to one prophet or servant and telling them to go to another to deliver to them a "message" from Him. We should not put everything that we share with someone into the category of personal prophecy. But we must understand that the Lord still speaks today. He still uses prophecy as one means of communicating with us. So many of life's decisions depend on knowing what to do. The Lord can and many times does use prophets and prophetic people to be able to 'hear' wisdom from heaven to help, assist or plainly tell or confirm to someone what God's plan is for a specific situation. It's hard to find a Scripture to tell us if we should buy 'this' house or move to that 'city' or things like this, and the Lord wants to tell us what to do. We each should seek to develop our own relationships with the Lord in prayer and waiting on Him for His word and will to be revealed. But sometimes there needs to be another confirmation. And when a 'prophetic word' comes and when no one knew we were asking God about something, it gives great confidence that we did indeed hear from the Lord. And that 'word' even provides the confidence to step out and obey the Lord.
Our goal with this series of articles is to encourage you forward in the expressing of your gifting. At the same time, we will share principles and practical examples of how prophetic ministry can and should be rightly related and incorporated into the regular ministry of the Body of Christ. One thing I (Jim) love about the Lord is that He refuses to be put into boxes. I share that to encourage you that even if your story does not match ours (and it probably won't). He has numerous ways He goes about calling, training and releasing prophetic people and prophetic ministries in the church.
The Lord told Jeremiah:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. (Jer. 1:5)
This statement certainly gives an additional dimension to the topic of "calling, preparation and placement". God was preparing Jeremiah before he even entered this world! This brings up the whole issue of God's pre-ordained purpose and destiny for each one of us. It seems God begins to form us and put into us the raw ingredients we need, to be what He has planned and purposed us to be, from the beginning of our life.
The greatest success in life is discovered by finding, and fulfilling, your God originated purpose. But you must also cooperate with His plans through pursuit of your calling as Paul said in Phil 3:14
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
You can also frustrate His destiny in your life by dragging your feet through sin and rebellion.
So God is at work in us, forming us and training us, sometimes before we even know what He is up to. He is laying the foundations in us so that when the time comes for the anointing to come upon us we are adequate to do the job He calls us and commissions us to do. A very intriguing story related to this has to do with King Saul at the time he was coming into his Kingship. In 1 Samuel we see Samuel instructing Saul and saying...
Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man ... So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, "What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?" ...Therefore it became a proverb: "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (1 Sam. 10:6,9-12)
This story exemplifies the reality that there can come upon us a transference of anointing at a point in time, by coming among the "company of prophets". There can come a point when giftings are imparted and we are changed. There is such a thing as a transferable and impartable anointing from God. By the way, this does not insure character! Saul's insecurity and character flaws are what destroyed him in the end. (Selah)
David serves as an example of someone who was anointed by Samuel and functioned in his "prophetic-ness" for 20 plus years before finally coming into his ultimate placement. We can see the grueling processes David endured in preparation for his kingship. In my own case, I (Jim) caught glimpses of the fact that God had a call upon my life even as a youngster. Then there came a point in time for several years, when others would tell me I was "prophetic." But I had a hard time believing it because the gifting would only come in occasional spurts. Later came the time when I associated myself with a company of prophets and hands were laid on me. And it was as if booster rockets were put on my back and the ministry went into orbit. I then began to see the wisdom in God's previous painstaking character curriculum through the process of life. (For those interested in further study of the topic "God's Character Curriculum for Prophets-in-training" see the GodSpeak web site, http://www.godspeak.net/ps_lessons/ms1_index.html)
Carolyn's story was quite different. In Carolyn's case, she is an example of how God can be at work in a life ahead of time as well, but in a different way. For instance, she took speech classes in school and actually won first place awards for public speaking in high school. The night she surrendered her life to the Lord, it was prophesied to her that she would be prophesying within three months. She didn't even know what that was at the time, but within three months she was doing it!
It was July 17, 1977! I (Carolyn) remember that day. It was the day I gave my heart to the Lord as a nineteen-year-old young woman. I was in a ladies prayer meeting in Jonesboro, Louisiana, and the Lord was dealing with my heart. I knew He wanted me to turn to Him. I had been involved in many things that were wrong and creating crisis in my heart. I knew that yielding to the Lord would solve that crisis, yet I was afraid to surrender. Two women in that prayer meeting spoke to me assuring me that repentance would cleanse my heart of all sin and Jesus would use my life and fulfill me. One woman spoke to me during prayer. Her 'prayer', however, was a bit unusual. She was speaking in a voice with authority and command. She seemed to be delivering a message to me that didn't originate from her own heart or mind. I realize today that her message was a 'prophetic' message from the Lord that went inside my spirit and 'created' something in me. That's one function of the 'prophetic' ministry - to create. The Word of the Lord has the power to 'create' even today. Her 'message' to me was: " ...You will be prophesying within 3 months...." In my natural understanding I had no idea what that meant. But the weeks ahead would begin my journey into what I now know as 'the prophetic ministry'. This prophetic gifting continued to develop over a number of years through regular use (note: Heb. 5:14); and through the 'mentoring' that happened when we associated with a network of prophets, 11 years later. And consequently, the gifting went to even deeper levels and dimensions of anointing and ability.
Many times I've heard Dr. Bill Hamon repeat a statement regarding ordinations that he does not believe in laying empty hands on empty heads. That is, someone with the "goods" can impart anointing and gifting to someone else who has done their "homework" of proper preparation for ministry. The giftings and anointing imparted may then be preserved within the container of character and integrity.
I've also seen in my own ministry times when I (Jim) could lay hands on someone and a fresh anointing was imparted... and it was as if the dry kindling that God had put there suddenly was ignited and began to blaze. This is why God says lay hands suddenly on no man. That is, do not bless, commission or ordain someone prior to a great measure of character being worked into their life.
So, it is our conclusion that there is the work God does throughout our lives to prepare us for our destiny and purpose; plus there is the anointing that can come to us through association, mentoring and transference through the laying on of hands that moves us forward in our ability to do the work He calls us to do.
But even if we receive certain giftings and we can master the skill of "message giving", the Holy Spirit also has an agenda to make the messenger as well as the message. It is interesting to note that Balaam, whose story is in the book of Numbers, delivered very accurate prophetic words. He even gave the only Messianic prophecy recorded in the book of Numbers, but he was called a false prophet in the New Testament. Why? It was a character issue. So God goes about making the messenger as well as giving him the message.
God has an utmost interest in the character issue. And an important part of that is the character it takes to walk in unity and harmony in our relationships one with another and being properly related to the rest of the Body of Christ. (We will say more on that in further segments of this series.) I (Jim) will go even so far as to say that I have observed many well-intended Christians who have felt they could hear God for themselves to such an extent they had need of no one else to speak into their lives. And invariably they ended in deception. While we certainly can and should hear God for ourselves, God also wants us ever mindful of our need for one another.