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There are times where God causes you to live something out, and then speaks to you personally from it. Let me give you an example.
A friend of mine has a rebellious teenage son. One day he went out of his way to schedule a day off work to take his son to a sporting event that was sold out. The tickets were expensive and hard to get, but it was a game that he knew his son really wanted to attend. So the night before the game, my friend surprised his son with news of the next day's plans. Instead of being thankful, the son was rude. The bottom line was that he'd rather miss the game than spend time with his father. Disheartened, my friend gave both tickets to his son and told him to bring a friend instead. The son took the tickets, but never even said "Thank you."
My friend felt very hurt that this son didn't want to spend time with him. When he went to bed that night, he began to pray about it. During the prayer time, God asked him, "Do you still love your son, even after he treated you that way?" He said, "Of course I do!"
Then God reminded him of something that God had been putting on his heart to do--to set apart a whole day to just be with alone with God in prayer and worship, with the promise that God would really meet him during that time. God had put it on his heart months ago, but he'd not yet gotten around to it.
As that thought flashed through his memory, He heard God say to him, "Son, it hurts My feelings that you don't want to spend time with Me, just like it hurts your feelings that your son doesn't wan to spend time with you. But I still love you very much!"
My friend realized that he had made God feel the same way that his son made him feel. He began to apologize to God and decided that since he had the day off work anyhow, he'd do that all-day retreat with God. "Lord," he prayed, "I am so sorry that I put off spending time with you. I will give you tomorrow."
God had used his real life experience of his relationship with his son to speak to him about his relationship with his Heavenly Father.
His story actually had a "happy ending." God told him that He'd like to be the One to set the agenda for the day, and He was orchestrating something really nice for them to do together. The next morning at breakfast, his son apologized to him and said he'd decided he'd rather go to the game with his dad than with his friend. So the three of them-- my friend, his son and God--all went to the game together and they had a great time.
There are times when God uses our everyday experiences to speak to us personally, as per the above example. There are also times when God allows you to live something, then He uses it to speak a prophetic message for the body of Christ.
The me give you an example that happened to me on Saturday.
In order to understand the first story, I have to give you a tad of background. I had been experiencing a lot of pain in my right thumb and I finally saw a hand surgeon on Friday. He gave me a shot of cortisone and a brace that immobilized both my wrist and my thumb. I wore the brace for about 4 hours and found it was excruciatingly painful because it did not fit right. So I stopped wearing it.
The next morning, I went to a special meeting for pastors and ministry leaders in my area who have a "revival vision." The people sponsoring the meeting had put out a very nice refreshment spread, beautifully decorated and laid out. I decided to have a cup of decaf coffee just before the meeting started. I poured the coffee into a cup and added cream. The sugar was way back on the far side of the table, so I had to lean over the table to reach it. Just then, my right thumb gave out and the full cup off coffee dropped out of my hand. It splattered all over the nicely laid out refreshment table, making a horrible mess. The coffee disintegrated part of the paper table cloth, and made a big wet stain about two feet in diameter. I did my best to clean it up and others at the table helped me. But we could not fix the damage to the paper table cloth, and I had effectively ruined their beautiful layout. I felt terrible about it.
I realized what had happened and confessed it to the two people who had helped me clean up. My thumb had been weakened by the cortisone shot, but I did not realize it. I had assumed that it still had full functionality, and I tried to use it accordingly. But it wasn't strong enough for the simple task I'd given it, even though it had successfully performed that same task several times before without incident. The result was that I dropped the coffee cup and made a horrible mess.
I finally returned to my seat, still feeling terrible about messing up their beautiful spread that someone had co carefully laid out. The Lord spoke to me right then. He said, "Teresa, don't feel so bad. It is not nearly as big of a mess as many wounded Christians in My body make."
Then the Lord went on to tell me about how many in the body of Christ have been wounded and weakened by things like unforgiveness, hurt and offense. They assume that despite the emotional pain, they can carry on with their normal functioning. But in reality, they can't because they have been weakened. The problem is that they don't realize that they are weaker, and as a result, they end up making messes.
The Lord went on to tell me that this is the time and season where His children have to open themselves up to His "healings and dealings" so that they will be able to move on with Him in what He is about to do. If they don't get healed and restored to full functionality, they will be unable to carry the load that the Lord has for them in His plans and purposes, and they will be left behind.
That was a great corporate word, wasn't it! It came in an unusual way, with me spilling the coffee to discover that my hand wasn't working the way it was supposed to. (If you would like to see what the word ended up looking like, please check out the daily prophetic word for June 4 at www.godspeak.net/prophetic_word/6-04-07.html
Now here is the tricky part--sometimes God speaks to us personally from our life experiences; and other times He uses our life experiences to give us a message for the body of Christ. So how do you tell them apart? How do you know what is personal (just for us) and what is meant as a word for the body of Christ?
Some of what He says to us personally might sound like it could apply to the whole body of Christ, but He is speaking it just to us. Likewise, some of what He intends for the body of Christ might apply to us personally as well. So how do you tell which is which?
The answer is that we never prophesy in vacuum. We don't have to assume which is which and we don't have to sort it out all on our own. We go back to God and we ask Him about it. We ask God if what He spoke to us is intended as a prophetic word, or is just for us. We listen to what He says and apply it accordingly.
If we don't do that, we can cause real problems. We could end up speaking forth words of legalism instead of words of life if we take something intended just for us and try to apply it to the whole body of Christ. let me give you an example to illustrate. There was a time in my past when I used to love to read secular fantasy books. However, I had once been demonized by a spirit of fantasy and once I was set free from it, those fantasy books gave the spirit a "hook" to try and catch me again. It was wrong for me to read that type of books because it opened me up to the enemy. But it wasn't necessarily wrong for other believers to read them.
God told me to give up reading these books--that instruction was personal to me, specific to my background and individual needs; it was not intended for the body of Christ at large. If I had converted what He said to me into a corporate word, I would have been speaking legalism (dead rules) on them instead of words of life. Why? It would have been legalism because God has not given that particular restriction (not to read secular fantasy books) to the whole body of Christ--He just gave it to me.
Some of what we hear from God is intended for us personally, and not as a prophetic word. There are times when it is obvious to us which is which, but there are other times it is not so obvious. That is why it is always important to check in with the Lord before releasing a life experience as a corporate word.