PROPHECY OR CRAZY?
Has someone ever told you something and you go, “Wow, that’s exactly what I needed to hear! I’ve literally been praying about that. That’s such confirmation.” Therefore, you act on it.
Wonder if it’s not as clear. Wonder if it seems like it could make sense but you’re just not sure. Wonder if it’s a big decision or change and you’re not certain you can overcome your fear/hesitation unless you know for sure it’s from God. Wonder if it’s just crazy.
We’ve been in some of these situations many times. Sometimes it’s crystal-clear that God is speaking, nudging, and even pushing us through words from a friend. At other times, it’s hard to know whether it’s God’s voice or our own selfish desires implying, assuming, and concocting that it’s His.
This weekend we’ll be talking about gifts like prophecy. Is it real? When do you know? How do we test?
Prophecy is a big church word that’s often misunderstood. I used to dismiss it because I thought people were claiming they knew more than the Bible.
But it makes sense now and with the proper understanding and application I do believe this gift still exists today.
It also seems to be crucial to the body of Christ. Paul tells us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1)
And as one bible commentator put it, “With proper teaching a church will not die. But without prophecy it will never live.”
Quick definition & delineation:
First, prophecy is the telling-forth of God’s message to build up, encourage, validate, or confirm, through a statement or message in praise of God, or a word of instruction, refutation, reproof, admonition, or comfort for others. Prophecy is always in accord with His word and His current work and it’s communication that has been revealed or disclosed to a person by the Holy Spirit. (see our list of gifts and their descriptions here)
Second, modern day prophecy is NOT contradicting, changing, or adding to canonized scripture.
In fact, that’s the first way to know if a prophetic word is from God.
Here are 5 basic ways to know if it’s God’s voice:
#1. Does it align with God’s Word (scripture)?
Never should you accept something anti-biblical. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.” We’re not supposed to despise prophecies, but we are supposed to test them. Anyone can make anything up and claim it’s from God. People abuse this authority all the time. We are not supposed to be like little children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:14) This is one of the many reasons why knowing truth is so imperative.
There are a lot of false prophets. How do we know who really has the gift?
Remember gifts are from the Holy Spirit and all gifts would exalt Christ, point to God and scriptures, elevate truth, and oppose worldliness.
From my experience, people who share their prophetic gift are humble, would not claim in certainty any interpretation or action to take, aren’t concerned with a title, and they would recommend to test with God’s word, pray, discern with your spouse and other believers.
#2. Pray and ask God for confirmation
You are a child of God and as a child of God, he’ll speak to you. In John 10:3 Jesus says we are his sheep and we hear his voice. God spoke to Samuel as a child.
“The Lord came and stood there, calling as to other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ And the Lord said to Samuel: ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle” (1 Samuel 3:10-11, NIV).
At various points of our business-ministry we’ve hit forks in the road. As we contemplated and prayed about our next steps, we’ve had strong, gifted people in our lives who shared prophetic visions, words, and messages, not even knowing what we were going through.
We felt convicted, encouraged, and motivated; but we still took it to prayer. I often suggest to pray right before you fall asleep. Ask God to reveal an answer. Many times after waking, He’s hit me with a sign of some sort to confirm the answer.
He’ll guide us. Like Samuel, we just have stop and listen.
#3. Discern with your spouse
Your spouse tends to know you best. They’ll be able to decipher objectively if something applies to you or not, whether you’re interpreting a prophecy God’s way or your way, and whether you’re getting sucked into deceit or a genuine truth.
If someone came to me and said I was going to be a singer, my wife would sincerely and confidently tell me that no matter how much I want to believe that; it’s an inaccurate prophecy! She knows no matter how bad I want to sing, I’ll always sing badly!
In all seriousness, a prophetic word might come to you about leaving your job, or selling the house, or having another child, or enlisting in the mission field. You’ve tested it with scripture. You’ve prayed about it. What does your spouse say?
If they say they’re going to leave you if you go that route then most likely you’ll need to dismiss that word, instruction, admonition, or revelation (unless they’re just not participating in God’s program yet)!
#4. Consult with Other believers
If you have reviewed scripture, prayed, discerned with your spouse, and you’re still not sure, it’s time to bring in outsiders. I’m in conversations with some mentors and brothers in Christ right now about a big business decision. I said it feels like a supernatural force is pushing us to do it, and people are sharing unsolicited words of encouragement to go for it, so it feels like this is from God.
Especially when it’s a big decision, doesn’t make sense, and doesn’t seem humanly possible, it’s time to enlist guidance from others.
Godly counselors will ask: is this going to honor and glorify the Lord or is this about you?
Close people in your life help you sift through muddled vision by objectively examining your heart, also testing with scripture, and siding with the Lord. Proverbs 15:22 states, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” Biblical guidance also tells us that when prophets speak, others (including all believers, that’s you too) are to carefully judge, weigh, and evaluate what is said. (1 Corinthians 14:29)
Finally, something to consider if someone speaks into your life…
#5. How well do you know them?
Do you have a history with someone who speaks-forth to you? Are they typically accurate? Is their track record pretty consistent? That would usually mean they are reliable.
Agabus was a new testament prophet we see twice in Acts.
In Acts 11 he predicts a famine. The apostles and disciples trust him so much that they collect money from the church at Antioch and bring it back to the church in Judea. Agabus was right. A famine did happen and because of their action, the Jerusalem church was prepared for it.
Agabus must have been credible. They trusted his prophetic gift so much that when he spoke, they listened.
In fact in Acts 21 the disciples are telling Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem. In walks Agabus and tells Paul he’ll be bound and it won’t be pretty. The disciples beg even more not to go. Paul responds, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we became quiet, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”
I’m sure they still tested, prayed, discerned, and sought Godly counsel. I’m sure Agabus did the same. All to say, I do feel relationships matter. If a wacky person I don’t even know approached me with a message, I would be hesitant to even waste time on it.
Then again, I would probably engage in this process just to make sure.
- Does it align with scripture?
- Pray and ask God for confirmation
- Discern with your spouse
- Consult other believers
- How well do you know them?
As always, never take my word for it. Try it for yourself today.
And it might just be an absolute game-changer for you and everyone in your life.