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There are three areas where our own hearts/desires/issues are likely to interfere the accuracy of our ministry hearing and imitate God's voice to us. These are areas where it is possible for us to think we are speaking for God and to be in error on that. They are:
We already talked about the first one, prophesying form our own emotions or opinions in the previous lesson. Now let's look at the other two.
Sometimes people come to us with a specific situation that they need to hear from the Lord in. And they will come to you and ask you to speak into this situation because they want to inquire of the Lord. They are looking to the Lord to give them practical advice for their situation. And This practice is scriptural.
We see an example of it in 1 Samuel 9, where Saul's father lost a herd of donkeys. He sent Saul and a servant to go find them. Saul looked for them for a couple of weeks with no success, and was about to give up. But his savant suggested that they go to the prophet in Zuph (Samuel) and inquire of the Lord where to look for the donkeys. And Samuel was able to find out for God what had become of the donkeys. There is a scripture precedence for having someone inquire of the Lord.
However, there are different levels of maturity in the prophetic, and not every one can move in this level of inquiry. Generally the ones who can honor this type of request are those who more at a higher level of gifting and who are fairly mature in their gifting. Personally, I seem to move in/out of the level to do this. I have had various people inquire things at various times such as where a missing object is located, which loan company to go with for a mortgage, whether or not to declare bankruptcy or continue a failing business in faith. A friend from Canada called me about his business one time and God gave me a clear word for him. He was discouraged and was ready to declare bankruptcy when a contract he depended on did fell through. In that case, God said very clearly that this business was ordained of God and God would not allow it to fail. Against all odds, he held on to the business when anyone else might have closed it down. Then God came through for him with some funding from a surprise source. After a while the business was secure again. However, a different friend also wanted direction on his business and on that one the Lord was silent. I had a friend who misplaced some documents and God told me where that friend put them. But another friend lost her wallet and wanted God to tell her where it was, and God did not tell me.
Some people always hear clearly from God on these types of inquiries, and others do not hear at all. Then there are those (like me) who hear some of the time but not all of the time. I believe that inquiring of the Lord is a valid practice.
However, we must be careful that we don't fall into the trap of trying to advise the person at the same time that we are trying to seek the Lord on their behalf. Sometimes God will want us to speak prophetically into their situation. Other times, God may want us to offer godly counsel of biblical advice instead of prophesying to them. In the first, God speaks to them directly through us. In the latter, we drawn on our own knowledge and insights (often with wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit). We need to understand which one we are doing and we must not confuse one with the other. Otherwise we can end up speaking for ourselves and claiming that we are speaking for God.
The other thing we need to consider is that at times a person will ask for a word from the Lord when what they really need is godly counsel or advice. For instance, one time one of my GodSpeak volunteers called me and said "Teresa I desperately need a word from the Lord right now." I asked her what was the matter. She began describe this terrible conflict in her life, involving the pastor and a few other people from her church. She was very upset and said she needed desperately to hear from God.
As I listened to her description of the situation, it became clear that she had some boundary issues as well as some wrong thinking and misunderstandings of Bible principles of authority. What she needed was not a prophetic word from the Lord. She needed some loving godly counsel that would help to clarify misunderstandings of Bible principles, help her with some personal and relational issues related to boundaries, etc. She was in pain and in distress, so she was looking to the Lord for help. And yes, God wanted to help her, but He did not want to use prophesy to do it.. The type of help she needed was loving godly counsel to help her grow and mature as a person and in her walk with God, as well someone to let her feel cared for and loved.
This is just one example of many times when people come seeking a word from God, but God wants to do something other than giving them a word. We need to be sensitive to God's leading. We also need to be careful that we do not offer counsel or advice in the guise of a "thus sayeth the Lord." When God is saying, we want to speak His words with clarity and accuracy. But there will be times when God wants us to minister from our own counsel and wisdom and love. In those times, we need to be clear that what we are speaking is our own godly counsel and not a prophesy.
Prophesying From Pride Or Defending Our Words
The two biggest dangers for those who are new in the prophetic is 1) falling into pride or 2) trying to defend our words if someone doesn't receive them.
There are different reasons that someone might not receive a word we give. The most obvious is that the word might not be valid word. It is possible that we simply made a mistake on a word and delivered something God was not really saying. The word may have inaccurate facts (words of knowledge in it). For instance, you may tell the person that they have been struggling with fear and God is about to alleviate that fear and give them His peace. If the person has not been struggling with fear, they will not relate to the word and most of them will tend to reject the whole word when part of it is inaccurate.
People can also reject valid words. The word might touch on a blind spot, or it might address an area that that they are not willing to have God touch at that moment in time. Or it might be one of those "not yet" words that does not make sense given the person's current context, but will make sense sometime in the near future. For instance, a friend of mine was given a word that God would provide for her finances and she did not have to fret. That word did not make any sense to her. She was doing well financially and had been doing well for a long time. She was not rich, but she never went without anything she wanted/needed either. So that word did not mean much to her when set got it. But the next day, she was laid off work (along with several hundred fellow employees). She started to look for a new job but discovered that the job market was very tight, there just did not seem to be any jobs out there to interview for. So she started to worry. Then God reminded her of that word. Since her circumstances had turned, the word suddenly made a lot of sense to her and was very encouraging. But the word was given the day before she lost her job, so it did not make sense to her at the time she received it.
If the word is a God word, then it is God's responsibility to defend that word, not yours. Your job is only to deliver the word and to let the Holy Spirit deal with the heart of the hearer. If God is addressing a blind spot or an area of rebellion and the person rejects the word, God is very capable of bringing that word around again through a different source. Our job is to deliver the word God gave us. it is never to argue or debate with the person or to try and convince them to receive the word. The message comes from God, and God is able to be much more convincing than you are. So let Him be the one to defend His prophetic word.
If it turns out that the word was not a true God-word, the Holy Spirit is not going to bare witness to the person's spirit about it. And when people don't get that inner witness from the Holy Spirit, they will be less likely to receive the word. If it is a bad word, God may even put a check in the person's spirit. Of course, if we have missed it on a word, then we don't want the person to receive that word. If we give a word that is not really from God, we want God to cover our mistake by letting that word roll quickly off the person and not effect them much.
But if we have some pride issues, we may not be willing to admit to ourselves that we might have made a mistake on the word. We will unconsciously try to blame the person for not receiving it, assuming their heart is closed to God. Pride would prefer to blame the other person instead of attaching any blame or error to ourselves.
That type of pride is probably the greatest down fall for those who are newer in the prophetic. At times it will drive them to defend their words, or possibly to give follow-on words that are really the voice of their own pride speaking. They become emotionally engaged and hear their own voice (pride and upset) imitating God's voice and telling them the faults of the non-receptive person. Some of them turn this into words and end up issuing prophetic rebukes or judgment words to the person who did to receive the original word. This is a very dangerous practice. You should never try to prophesy to someone when you are felling upset with them. There will be a very good chance that your own heart will imitate God's voice and give you a false and negative word for that person.
God still speaks to us today. But there are "other voices" that can try to imitate God's voice to us. One is the devil and the other is our own spirit (e.g., our heart or issues or desires). This is true both in our personal hearing and in our ministry hearing.
So God has given us two truths that we can use to evaluate what we hear, to judge whether it was really God's voice or one of the imitations. The first (and primary) truth is God's written word, the Bible. The other one is direct revelation of God's character and nature.
Once we know Who God really and what He is really like, we can better determine what He is (or is not) likely to say to us. We get to know Him from the Bible and from our direct personal experiences with God, where He reveals His character and nature to us. We always put the greater weight on His written word because it is not subjective. But we should not discount our experiences with Him, because God likes to reveal Himself to us and teach us what He is really like.