Often we Christians can get ourselves off track spiritually by listening
to any wind of doctrine prefaced by these three little words: "the Lord
says." And then without weighing those words, we do as the wise "prophet"
has said, and inevitably hit a snag in the road ahead.
Maybe you truly believed God told you to marry someone, when in fact the
person you thought was right might not have held the same opinion, might
not have even held your same beliefs. Or perhaps you blindly went into some
business deal after receiving a personal prophecy over your life, only to
be stuck in a venture that has taxed you emotionally, spiritually, relationally,
You ask yourself, "What did I do wrong? Was I not following the Lord?"
Warnings Against False Prophets
Please hear what I am saying to you brothers and sisters in Christ. Be
not fooled by those words that seem like they are from God but prove not
to be, for even the Bible warns us that we have to be careful not to be
taken in by the words of false prophets. In Galatians, Paul warns the brethren
by saying, "I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who
in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through
Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the
Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those
who twist and change the truth concerning Christ" (Galatians 1: 6-7). Not
everyone who calls forth the name of the Lord is truly hearing from the
Lord, but only those who do the will of the Father.
In 1 Timothy 1, Scripture tells us more about those who teach false doctrines.
Writes Paul to Timothy in verse 7, "They want to be teachers of the law
of Moses, but they don't know what they are talking about, even though they
seem so confident." From this verse, we can glean that just because someone
is zealous and sincere in their desire to tell some good news does not mean
they are in tune with the Lord and His ways; in the same way, just because
someone is a member of your church, doesn't mean that everything that comes
from his or her lips is revelation from the Lord.
So how do you know if the words another speaks over your life are true,
or if it is the words of a false prophet?
Determining Whether a Word is From the Lord
First of all what is proclaimed in the name of the Lord must not ever,
ever contradict Scripture, so you had better know what God has already said
in His Word, the Bible. Beyond that, though, issues can get a little vague,
a little gray. I mean, gosh, some of the things God told his own people
were very specific. Like Noah. He had to make the Ark a certain number of
cubits and out of a very specific kind of wood.
But, you say, those were the days before the Word became flesh. Now that
Jesus is alive and living inside of us, how do we deal with those very specific
personal words? How do we react to someone who tells us we will be getting
married within the next year, or getting an amazing inheritance of some
specified amount, or be some famous missionary in China?
God Confirms His Will to You
Here is my challenge and one of my standbys when someone tells me what
they think God's will is for me and it just happens to be a very, very specific
word. And this might help you weed out truth from error even within the
Christian community, because we are not perfect, and unfortunately, we as
Christians don't always hear the Lord correctly. So I challenge you with
this thought: When has God revealed His will for your life that He has not
confirmed it some other way, through your friends, through your family,
by the desires already in your heart, by His Word? If something is God's
will for your life, He will confirm it to you. And if you are abiding in
Him as the branch does with the vine, then you will hear and see and know
when that confirmation is bestowed on you.
Mother Mary: A Case in Point
Since this is the Christmas season, let me offer you some examples from
the life of Mary and Joseph. Mary has been told first by an angel named
Gabriel that she would conceive a son, although she was but a virgin, and
give him the Name Above All Names, the name of Jesus, and he would reign
without end forever (Luke 1:26-33). You can read the account from The
Book and this should help you to see what I am trying to show you.
Okay, so Mary gets a prophecy from the angel of the Lord. But let's remember
for a moment that although this is the first time Mary has heard anything
as amazing as this by way of an angel, it is not really the first time she
has been made aware. Sort of déjà vu, Mary, being Jewish and a God-fearing
young girl, would likely have known some of the Scriptures of what we know
today as the Old Testament. In Isaiah, for instance, chapter 9 foretells
the birth of Christ. This passage reads, "For a child is born to us, a son
is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will
be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end.
He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor
David" (verses 6-7, The Book). For one familiar with the Lord, it
wouldn't take too long to put two and two together and realize that God
first spoke this word to Mary in His written Word.
God could have stopped with that Old Testament Scripture, but obviously
Mary needed to know that that word was meant for her personally. Enter the
angel Gabriel. From Gabriel she got a pretty specific word which reiterated
some of what she knew from the words of the prophet Isaiah, like the idea
of Jesus sitting on the throne of David and reigning forever as the Most
High. But God didn't stop there. It was so important for Mary to know that
this was truly God's will for her life that He let her know it was true
through someone she respected and loved.
Remember when the angel told Mary that Elizabeth, who was considered to
be barren, was in the sixth month of her pregnancy? Now we can just think
that the angel told this to Mary to show her that God can do the impossible,
that God was capable of doing miracles with Elizabeth just as He was able
to work a miracle in Mary's womb. True. And this is a good word to us. But
don't overlook a second point here: If the angel hadn't told Mary that her
cousin Elizabeth was pregnant too, would Mary have gone to see her? And
if Mary hadn't gone to see her, guess what? We wouldn't have that amazing
prophetic revelation straight from the lips of Elizabeth herself.
Not long after the angel left her side, Mary was on her way to see Elizabeth.
When Mary finally came into the presence of her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth
was overjoyed. It says in Luke 1:41-43, "Elizabeth's child < leaped
within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave
a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "You are blessed by God above all other
women, and your child is blessed. What an honor this is, that the mother
of my Lord should visit me!"
What just happened? Elizabeth just confirmed to Mary what the angel had
spoken, for later Elizabeth says, "You are blessed, because you believed
that the Lord would do what he said" (Luke 1: 45). How did Elizabeth know
that Mary had a crisis of belief not too long before visiting Elizabeth?
I mean, Mary being but a teen wasn't quite sure how this whole virgin birth
thing would be possible. That's a pretty big crisis of belief. But Mary
believed and she gained favor with God and somehow Elizabeth knew this.
So how did Elizabeth know that the son Mary was carrying was in fact the
Lord Jesus Christ? Well, we know from verse 41 that she was filled with
the Holy Spirit before she spoke those goose-bump provoking words. Something
inside of Elizabeth (and I am speaking about more than just the joyful leap
of her infant John inside of her womb) said that Truth and Life just stepped
inside the door.
This whole scene was instigated by God. Did you see it? It wasn't an accident
that Mary went to Elizabeth and that Elizabeth proclaimed that, indeed,
the Lord Jesus would be Mary's son. That was spoken confirmation number
First there was an angel who made specific what had already been predicted
by the prophets; and then there was the Holy Spirit inspired word of a relative.
Wow. Pretty cool.
But that's not all.
Now what could possibly be needed? Old prophet, angel, word of a relative.
Okay, how about more human testimonies, maybe some people who didn't know
Mary at all? It was done.
There were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. We sing
it at Christmas, but realize, friends, that this really happened. While
doing their usually daily tasks, this group of nameless Shepherds get a
message from,yep, another angel. They realize that the Savior of the world
has been born in Bethlehem and the angel even tells them what the Lord Jesus
was wearing! How's that for undercover surveillance work : location and
clothing! The shepherds embark on their holy journey to find the Christ
child after an amazing encore from millions of jubilant angels. In Luke
2:17, it says the shepherds told Mary what the angel had told them.
So does Mary know by now that she was going to have the Savior of the world
as her firstborn child? You bet!
What's the tally now? Let's see: angel, Old testament prophet, words of
a relative, words of some strangers, second-hand account of the words of
yet another angel. Phew!
But we still aren't done yet.
When the babe was officially named Jesus in Luke 2: 21, Mary and Joseph
took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, according to Jewish
law. It just so happened that the day that Mary and Joseph were to present
Jesus in the temple, there was a godly man named Simeon who knew from a
prophecy over his life that he would see the Messiah with his own two eyes
before he died. By the leading of the Holy Spirit, as it says in Luke 2:25-
28, Simeon went to the exact location where Mary and Joseph were waiting.
And as he held up that little baby, Simeon said, "Lord, now I can die in
peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior you have given to all
people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory
of your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32)!
Truly amazing. God gave Mary a whole host of confirmations, which all said,
"Yes, Mary, this is it. You are going to birth the Savior. And I am going
to make sure that you don't forget that this is what I want for you. I love
you enough to show you again in case you doubt anything already revealed
to you along the way."
Angel, prophets of old through the written Word, prophets of her day through
the spoken Word, a dearly-loved relative, some simple strangers who shepherded
for a living, and some non-coincidental circumstances -- that is quite a
testimony of God's hand at work.
How We Can Know God's Specific Will for Our Lives Today
My challenge to you as you have seen for yourself, as have I, about the
gracious way God works is that you, too, would pray and wait and look for
those confirmations from the Lord before you automatically conclude that
something is truly and unarguably the Will of the Lord for you.
If we would but turn our ears to His words and our face to His glory and
our knees to the Holy ground on which He treads, if we would but submit
our thoughts to Christ for a still moment, a still hour, to just seek out
His face, then God will show you the path, whatever it is, whether it be
a general principle, or something as specific as what Mary was told.
Be blessed this holiday season by knowing that your God is not only faithful
to His promises, as He was with Mary, but if you need a little extra help
in knowing just how real those promises are, He is behind you every step
of the way on the path towards His kingdom. All you have to do is wait for
the bread crumbs along the way.
More from CBN.com's Christmas section
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