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Steve Thompson is the executive vice president of MorningStar Publications and Ministries in Charlotte, N.C. He also oversees the prophetic ministries of MorningStar Fellowship. A gifted teacher and prophetic minister, he travels throughout the United States and abroad as a conference speaker. Steve and his wife, Angie, live in North Carolina with their three children: Jon, Joshua and Madison.
"You May All Prophecy!" is published by MorningStar Publications, ISPN 1-878327-96-8, copyright 2000.
Many questions about prophecy and the prophetic ministry abound. But what is prophecy? Thompson defines prophecy as "speaking divine encouragement" as well as "hearing from God and speaking what you hear in order to build, comfort, or encourage someone." God gives us spiritual gifts through which he manifests prophecy.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 states: "To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing, by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another interpretation of tongues." Three of the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are revelatory. These are word of knowledge, word of wisdom and discerning the spirits.
A word of knowledge is knowledge of a specific fact about a person, place or event that was not obtained through natural means. A word of wisdom is a divine revelation of the will, plan or purpose of God for a specific situation. And discerning of spirits is the ability to recognize and distinguish between types of spirits and anointing. Thompson states: "Words of knowledge, words of wisdom and discerning of spirits are gifts in the same way that guns, ammunition, and grenades are gifts for a soldier. They are divine empowerments to operate in the supernatural revelation and power of God."
It is important to understand that receiving a revelation is only part of a prophecy. An impression from the Lord would be useless if we don't know what to do with it or how to interpret it. This is why we need to understand prophecy in three parts: revelation, interpretation and application.
Revelation is the information God gives without us having prior knowledge of the situation. The information can be given in the form of dreams, visions or impressions or a knowledge. Interpretation is receiving an understanding of what God gives us. And application is the way the revelation is applied.
Thompson spends some time developing some of the ways that God communicates supernatural revelation to us. These include impressions, through our five senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste), various levels of visions and dreams. (We already explored these in detail in Lesson 9.)
Interpretation is the stage of a revelation where most of the mistakes are made. The key to effective interpretation is to have a close relationship with God and to know His Word. By doing so, we learn about His character and the things He likes and dislikes and should thereby be quick to recognize whether a source is of God.
Thompson writes: "Interpretations are often derived through an interplay between our understanding of interpretative principles, our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and our heart attitude. To accurately interpret God's mind, we must also possess His heart."
There are four hindrances that may cause us to misinterpret a revelation. These are opinions, offenses and bitterness, sin and spiritual bondages as well as carnal judgment.
Application - Administrating Prophecy
A crucial element of the propehtic is Knowing how to apply a revelation. God wishes to speak His heart as well as His mind when He ministers through us. Therefore, it is important that we honor God and His people as we minister in His name.
It is important to recognize the level of authority God has given us in the setting we are ministering in. Usually we don't have authority in areas we do not have responsibilities over. An example is if our neighbor sees our children doing something he doesn't like and then comes into our back yard to discipline them. Clearly, this neighbor would be out of order. Even though he is an adult, he would not have the authority to discipline our children. What he could do, however, is to let us parents know about the situation so we can handle it. Since we are responsible for our children, we have authority over them. However, if we ask our neighbor to watch our children we are giving him authority to also discipline them as necessary.
The same principle applies to the prophetic. Some believe they have authority to speak into any situation, but that is not necessarily the case. Just because God gives you revelation of a problem when you are visiting a church doesn't mean you have the authority to bring correction to that situation. If you don't have responsibilities in that congregation, you do not have the authority either. In this case, it is advisable to take the revelation to the leadership of that church and let them determine how to apply it.
Thompson writes: "Authority in the church does not come from revelation; it comes from responsibility."
Of course, there is the possibility that the leadership doesn't feel that the revelation you received applies to them. If that happens, that is their prerogative. You have done your part in delivering the message to the appropriate channel. The rest remains in God's hands.
"All our seeking to become prophetic should lead us to a greater devotion to the Lord Himself. If it does not, then we need to make serious adjustments in our approach. This is the heart the Lord is looking for in us: First, that our first desire is to know Him; second, that we long to know the power of His resurrection (the empowerment He has for us); third, that we are willing to share in His sufferings and be rejected as He was; finally, that we are willing to lay down our lives for our friends, just as He laid down His life."