Responding to Personal Prophecy
By Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
The apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:14-15, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to your through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.”
Personal prophecy, as Paul mentions here, is for the upbuilding and encouragement of individual Christians, and of the Church at large. It was true in the First Century, and it is still true in the Twenty-First Century.
But like none of the other spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament, personal prophecy has the greatest ability to bring edification on the one hand, and to damage on the other hand -- based on how the believer responds to the prophetic word.
To help people properly engage with New Testament prophecy, I have listed some practical ways that a believer in the modern-day church can and should respond to a personal prophetic word.
Record, Read and Meditate upon the Word
It is recommended that all prophetic words be recorded and that the should be transcribed and kept for future reference. These words can then be reviewed with one’s pastor or spiritual covering as a means of counseling and as a way to track spiritual growth.
When reviewing a prophecy, it should be noted that not every element of the word will be applicable to the recipient’s present experience. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, the apostle Paul writes, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.” This Scripture warns us to prove and judge prophecy, not the prophet, if some elements may not seem to relate at the present time.
If a person does not understand a portion of a prophetic utterance they should be careful not to reject it immediately as false. It may be that the word refers to something that is yet to come in the person's life and they do not yet have knowledge of it. Instead, the person should put the word "on the shelf" for prayerful consideration at a later time.
Witness To and then War a Good Warfare with the Word
In the proving process, we accept and receive that which is timely and deals with the past or present in an accurate way. 1 Timothy 1:18 tells us to prepare for warfare with God’s prophetic words to us at hand; “I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight..."
Do Nothing Different unless Definitely Directed By God
When a prophetic word refers to transitions in life such as romance, geographical moves, changing churches, and so forth, it is important that a person never make hasty changes until prayer, godly counsel and much reflection are made. Through careful prayer, counsel with spiritual leadership and cautious small steps of faith, God’s purposes can be established in the believer's life.
The Bible gives many examples of caution in the face of a prophetic word. We see in 1 Samuel 16:13 that David tended sheep for many years after being told he would be king. Jehu received very specific instructions in his anointing as king concerning what he was to do in 2 Kings 9. King Jehoshaphat was shown in 2 Chronicles 20 to follow all the divine directives in detail. It is imperative that we not only hear God’s word, but also listen for the way and the timing on how that word is to be fulfilled.
Remove All Hindrances to Receiving the Promise
When dealing with personal prophecy, a Christian must be willing to judge him or herself to make certain they are able to hear from God. Attitudes that can hinder our hearing from the Lord include negative mind-sets, an inflated or a low self-image, pride, self-justification, blame-shifting, self-preservation, people-pleasing, carnal reasoning and procrastination. Hidden or unconfessed sin or unforgiveness can also hinder our ability to hear from God.
A biblical example of a person needing to judge himself was King Saul. When the promises of God were presented to him, he rationalized God’s directives and chose what he wanted. This brought about God’s judgment on his life and he never received the promises of God (1 Samuel 15).
Wait Patiently upon the Lord
We are told in Isaiah 40:31 to wait patiently upon the Lord. The principle of waiting on the Lord is found throughout Scripture. The biblical meaning of waiting is active, expectant faith.
Allow God to Form Character in the Process
God’s primary intent in the life of the believer is to call leaders and to test every area of their lives in preparation for ministry. Prophecies given to us about future ministry should be received with joy, and with respect for the process God will use to prepare us for that leadership.
Men in the Bible like David, Joseph, Abraham and Moses were tested first before they were given dynamic ministries. Women like Deborah, Esther and Priscilla showed themselves to be women of character. God developed these people through testing, trying and time.
The foundation of a person’s character will determine the height of the person’s ministry. God’s timetable of ministry revolves around our growth and maturity in Him and our willingness to allow Him to be Lord in every area of our lives.
Receive God’s Promise in Faith
The Scriptures show us that people of God have missed God’s best for them by not receiving His Word in faith. Hebrews 4:2 says, “For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.”
While the accomplishment of any prophetic directive is largely up to God, our role in the process is to put aside doubt, and to give God freedom to make whatever changes in us that are necessary to bring about His plan.
In order to exercise faith to see God’s prophetic word fulfilled, Rev. Chuck Clayton makes these suggestions:
“If you have received personal prophecies from the Lord, or your church has received prophetic words, go back and read over them again. If you’ve neglected them, repent and commit yourself to responding in faith instead."
“What has the Lord said to you? Begin to say it with Him. Confess it to yourself and to others. Once you’ve started confessing God’s word to you, it’s time to act on it as well. Take those refresher lessons for that instrument God said you will use in worship. Start that Bible correspondence course to prepare yourself for the mission field. Set aside the money you’ll be needing to make it all come to pass. Get ready to see God’s prophetic word bear fruit."
“Finally, flow with the authority God has place over you and in you, and join with others to exercise corporate faith — both for the words given to you and for the words given to the whole congregation."
Peter declared in Acts 2:17 that the prophet Joel was speaking of the Church age when he proclaimed, “I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy.”
In 1 Corinthians 14:39, 40 the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.” The Greek word used in this passage for covet or desire earnestly is Zeloo, which means to have great desire, to be jealous over and to be zealously affected. This term notes a fervency of mind and emotional jealousy, as a husband would be jealous for his wife. The only divine attributes that the church is told to covet are the gifts of the spirit.
The reason that God calls for us to covet the gifts, especially prophecy, is that these manifestations are not for our own benefit, but primarily for the benefit of others. It takes an unselfish, dedicated Christian to be raised in purity and maturity in their ministry.
The Gifts of the Spirit are a manifestation of God’s love and grace. God continues to reveal Himself to individuals and groups of Christians in the Church today to mature them and to bring about His plan and His Kingdom in the Earth.
He wants you to eagerly desire to be used in the gift of personal prophecy so that He can make Himself known to lost and hurting people through you. What a privilege it is to be His minister of reconciliation to his lost sheep (2 Cor. 5:18-20). We are His ambassadors in the earth today. He desires for believers to walk in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit to see the Great Commission fulfilled so that those who are lost in darkness can come to know Him as their Father.
Now is the time to "let all things be done, decently and in order"!
What do you think about personal prophecy in the Church? Give your feedback.
More on The Holy Spirit
Spiritual Gifts Seminar Webcast
Log on to CBN.com every Thursday and Friday evening, 7 p.m. (EST) to be a part of this live, interactive ministry experience. Watch previous sessions
Judging Personal Prophecy Through the Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice
Christ's Commands and the Gifts of the Spirit
Personal Prophecy and God's Guidance
Prophets and Personal Prophecy by Dr. Bill Hamon
Prophets, Pitfalls and Principles by Dr. Bill Hamon
When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson
The Voice of God by Cindy Jacobs
The Beginner's Guide to the Gift of Prophecy by Jack Deere
Growing in the Prophetic by Mike Bickle
Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice by Craig von Buseck
Other Recommended Spiritual Gifts Resources on Shop CBN
Clayton, C. 1992. Faith and the Prophetic. Hagerstown, MD: Covenant Printing.
Basham, D. 1971. A Handbook on Tongues, Interpretation and Prophecy. Springdale, PA: Whitaker House.
Bickle, M and Michale Sullivant. 1995. Growing in the Prophetic. Eastobourne, England: Kingsway Publications Ltd.
Bonnke, R. 1994. Mighty Manifestations. Orlando, FL: Creation House.
Gundry, R. 1994. A Survey of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Harper, M. 1964. Prophecy, A Gift for the Body of Christ. London: The Fountain Trust.
Hamon, B. 1992. Prophets and Personal Prophecy Teacher’s Guide. Santa Rosa Beach, FL: Christian International Publishers.
__________. 1987. Prophets and Personal Prophecy. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
__________. 1991. Manual for Ministering Spiritual Gifts. Santa Rosa Beach, FL: Christian International Publishing.
__________. 1990. Prophets and the Prophetic Movement. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
Lewis, C. S. 1943. Mere Christianity. New York: Touchstone.
Nuber, K. 1992. Proper Prophetic Procedures. Erie, PA: Grace Fellowship Church.
__________. 1992. Principles and Practices for Fulfilling Personal Prophecy. Erie, PA: Grace Fellowship Church.
Robertson, P. 1984. Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Schultz, S. 1990. Restoration of the Modern-Day Prophet. Santa Rosa Beach, FL: Steve and Eileen Schultz.
Yocum, B. 1976. Prophecy, Exercising the Prophetic Gifts of the Spirit in the Church Today. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books.
Williams, J.R. 1988. Renewal Theology: God, the World, and Redemption. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Kevin Nuber Principles and Practices for Fulfilling Personal Prophecy (Erie, PA: Grace Fellowship Church, 1992).
Chuck Clayton Faith and the Prophetic (Hagerstown, MD: Covenant Printing, 1992), 38.
Bill Hamon and Steve Schultz, 20.
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