Prophetic Word For 2008?

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The last several years, I’ve proclaimed a "prophetic word" concerning the upcoming year in regards to the local congreation where I serve.

Mostly, it’s been a theme, an idea, a focus that I have believed God wanted to emphasize during that year.

Generally, it’s consisted of a single word.

For example: 
2007 – Reclamation
2006 – Infiltration
2005 – Awakening
2004 – Proclamation
2003 – Devotion
2002 – Breakthrough.

Each year, I ask God to help us embrace these words throughout our local body.  Most of the time, I find that these words come to represent areas of testing, both in my own life and in the church.

Prophecy Series – Lesson 14: Prophetic Outreach

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[size=large]Prophetic Outreach[/size]

1. Ultimately, all spiritual gifts and ministries are about reaching out to others with the Kingdom of God. Mark 16:14-20

A. The Kingdom is meant to be shared. Matt. 10:7-8

B. You and I and every believer is meant to have a supernatural ministry defined by Christ-like character and empowered with Holy Ghost manifestations that point others to the Father. Gal. 5:22-23

C. Specifically, prophetic ministry can have the impact of bringing real, honest conviction to an unbeliever. 1 Cor. 14:24

2. It is time for the church to look beyond itself to the people who are lost.

A. If we will learn to develop a heart for the lost, we will be motivated by love and desire to prophesy. 1 Cor. 14:1

B. The Bible is full of examples of the Lord using supernatural prophetic ministry to reach out to the lost.

– Joseph and Pharaoh. Gen. 41:15-36
– Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 2:26-49
– Peter and Cornelius. Acts. 10:9-48
– Philip and the Ethiopian. Act 8:26-38

C. Jesus utilized prophetic ministry as one way to gain the attention of doubters, unbelievers and the uniformed and break through the walls that guard their hearts and minds.

– In Nazareth. Luke 4:14-21
– When calling Peter. John 1:42
– When calling Nathanael. John 1:45-51
– When meeting the woman at the well. John 4:1 3.
It's time to really believe that God wants to work through us to reach the lost.

QUESTIONS: A. Are we waiting for God to drop prophetic ministry into our laps before we can trust that He might want to use us this way? Why?

B. Are we eager to prophesy? Are we zealously pursing this spiritual gift? What is standing in the way?

C. What might prophetic ministry to the lost look like?

Prophecy Series – Lesson 13: Developing Prophetic Partners

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[size=large]Developing Prophetic Partners and Accountable Ministry Teams[/size]
1. God desires to utilize ministry teams.

A. He uses the "five-fold ministry" team to build the church. Eph. 4:11-16
– They prepare the saints for ministry. Eph. 4:12
– They encourage and strengthen the church. Eph. 4:12
– They help bring unity to our faith and understanding. Eph. 4:13
– They help us reach maturity with our character and behavior. Eph. 4:13
– They help us turn weaknesses to strength so that we aren't toppled by false teachings and persuasive deceivers. Eph. 4:14
– They helps us learn to hang on to one another. Eph. 4:15-16

B. God also uses ministry teams within a specific aspect of the five-fold ministry. Acts 11:19-30
– Healthy prophetic ministers are meant to serve in team-work with the rest of the church.
They stay accountable and connected. Acts 11:19-26
Prophetic ministers often work together. Acts 11:27-30
– God wants to raise up prophetic teams in the church. Acts 13:1-4, Acts 15:32-34

C. God uses all kinds of people in prophetic ministry and wants to use you.
– Sons and daughters; Men and women; Young and old. Acts 2:17-18, Acts 21:7-9
– Though God desires that all of us should prophesy, we should prayerfully consider if He is specifically calling us to be part of a larger prophetic ministry team in the local church. 1 Cor. 14:1; Rom. 12:6

2. There are requirements and responsibilities that are placed on those who God wants to use as part of a prophetic ministry team.

A. Joint vision. – To be a resource in the church, providing prayer and encouragement into peoples' lives.
– To help release a flow in inspirational prophecy in the church, bringing edification, exhortation and comfort.
– To help hear, understand and pray through revelational prophecy in partnership with the church leadership.

B. Submission to leadership.
– Individuals maintain a teachable spirit and a humble heart.
– Team members understand their role in building the church and not working against appointed leaders.
– There is cooperation with and promotion of established ministry guidelines.

C. Open accountability.
– Team members maintain healthy relationships and avoid a "Lone Ranger" mentality.
– They walk in the light concerning marriage finances, home life, work ethic and more.
– They invite accountability. They allow and encourage scrutiny.
Ex: "I want to give you the right to ask me any awkward question regarding any issue in my life, at any time, as you see fit."

Prophecy Series – Lesson 12: Handling Wrong Prophecy

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[size=large]Handling Wrong Prophecy[/size]

1. As with any spiritual gift, it is inevitable that people will make mistakes and have errors with prophecy. Rom. 3:10

A. Healthy churches will create an environment where people are free to fail. Maturity doesn’t come without growth and growth doesn’t come without growing pains.

B. A “free to fail” environment is marked by grace, acceptance, honesty and loving correction. Col. 3:12-15

C. Growing individuals can cause others hard work and sometimes a little heartache. But all people have worth and value and what God is doing in them is worth the hassle of proper development.

D. Stepping out in the supernatural is like painting a bullseye on our backs while yelling “shoot at me!” We become targets for the enemy and for the religious. When dealing with one another, we should set our hearts on redemption, not persecution.

2. To help properly discern errors with prophecy, we should remember to distinguish between false and poor prophecy.

A. False prophecy is deceptive and deliberately leads people away from God. Jer. 23:16-18,26
– False prophetic ministry can develop where there is a lack of accountability and the lack of being rooted in a local church.
– False prophecy happens when people prophesy from their own spirit; they have seen nothing and are simply inventing words.
– False prophecy deliberately speaks what others want to hear. 2 Tim. 4:3-4
– False prophecy is sometimes used to gain control of people’s lives, usually for reasons of personal gain, wealth and/or ministry advancement.

NOTE: False prophecy is not an insignificant thing. It opens the door to dark human and demonic activity. Such words should be rejected, broken and treated like a curse.

B. Poor prophecy occurs because of inexperience and poor habits that have gone uncorrected.
– Poor prophecy is prophecy that has become impure because it has mixed in too much of our own thoughts and words, distorting the words the Lord has given.
– Poor prophecy can occur among groups that expect that all prophetic words are given spontaneously. Thus a lack of reflection, listening and prayer causes revelational words to be given prematurely, without the full counsel of God.
– Poor prophecy occurs where there is the lack of a on-going Scriptural foundation and a regular prayer time with the Lord. It becomes dependent on the mood of the moment.
– Poor prophecy can occur when it must rely on physical sensations.

3. Some churches work to avoid false and poor prophecy by staying in the preventative mode.

A. Prophesies from the body are often frowned upon.

B. Those who really feel like they must share must pass through the “platform police.”

C. This method lends itself to poor discernment, high pressure, and a lack of follow-up which contributes to meager learning and development.

D. It’s my desire that our church would operate in a loving, corrective mode, not preventative.

4. False or poor prophecy should be corrected, but whether that is done privately or publicly depends on the nature of the circumstance.

A. Many supposed “words” that are discerned to miss the mark should be gently acknowledged as what they truly are, someone’s individual thought or feeling, and then set aside.

B. At all times, such correction or comment should be done without any heat or edge in our voice. We operate in a spirit of love! Remember that a soft answer turns away wrath. We need to stay mild, kind, soft spoken and smiling. Prov. 15:1

C. Occasionally, leadership may be given no choice but to give a public rebuke. The goal in the moment is to neutralize what is said and return the meeting to its original focus. Such rebukes should only take a matter of seconds and work to take the sting out of the situation, not add to it. Further correction will need to be done privately.
– Some words need to be redirected to their proper place and time, such as directional or corrective prophecies.
– Condemning words need to be acknowledged as not being the voice of the Lord. Care should then be given to bring the focus back to Jesus through prayer, worship, or other activity.
– People’s personal opinions and attitudes need to be pointed out as such and presented with an alternative outlet.

5. Private encounters are the place for corrective remarks and constructive criticism. Gal. 6:1

A. Prophetic words should be evaluated.
– Attitude?
– Method of delivery?
– Was it screened properly?

B. Growing prophetic people should be instructed.
– What guidelines and boundaries should be considered in the future?
– What suggestions does the person have for increasing the effectiveness of the word?

C. Potential prophetic people need to be loved and valued. It is not right to simply “drop” people because of a supposed difficulty. Matt. 18:15-20
– Friendship decreases tension and helps people to keep from disguising frustration as prophecy.
– Relationships are always a key issue in the spiritual development of people.

Prophecy Series – Lesson 11: Prophecy In The Local Church

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[size=large]Prophecy In The Local Church[/size]

1. The church is God’s idea. Matt. 16:18

A. The church is a called out group of people who are brought together through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

B. The church is described as:
– A Body. 1 Cor. 12:12-28
– A Bride. Rev. 21
– An Army. Philippians. 2:25; 2 Tim. 2:3-4
– A Household. 1 Tim. 3:15
– A City. Rev 21:2

C. We don’t have to be part of a local church for very long to discover that there is a big gap between the ideals of scripture and what we often experience.
– A major goal of the church is to produce people of maturity, people who live in the real world but who are also reaching out with all that’s in them through desire, prayer, and practice to reach the ideal. Eph. 4:11-16
– Some people look at the gaps in frustration and walk away. The balanced disciple will role up his sleeves and press forward. Philippians 3:13-14

D. Prophecy help to lessen the gap between where the local church is and where the church can be.
– Prophecy reveals and crystallizes the mind and heart of God to the people.
– Prophecy encourages, exhorts and comforts.
– Prophecy builds up both individual members and the church as a whole.
– Prophecy helps foster a sense of closeness between God and the people.
– Prophecy encourages people to be better than they are, to keep moving upward.
– Prophecy can serve as a catalyst to get everyone moving together in the same direction.

2. Here are some thoughts for actively engaging prophecy in the context of the local church.

A. Inspirational prophecy is appropriate in corporate gatherings of worship and prayer.
– Services.
– Home Fellowship Groups.
– Public Settings.

B. Those who are learning and first stepping out into inspirational prophecy should review their prophetic words with a proven leader.

C. Revelational prophecy should be offered first to leadership before being offered publicly.
– Write it down or record it.
– Allow leaders to reflect and pray and for the Lord to touch everyone’s heart.
– Stay accountable. Don’t go to friends and associates. Keep the word between you and the leadership.
-Meet with the leadership and allow them to plan the next move.
– Prophetic words that signify major changes in direction need to be more than pronounced; they must rather be woven into the fabric of church life in layers and increments.

Prophecy Series – Lesson 10: Levels of Prophetic Gifting

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[size=large]Levels of Prophetic Gifting[/size]

1. God has commanded us to pursue the gift of prophecy. That means that all of us are meant to prophesy. However, there are differences in the level of prophetic gifting that He will release from person to person.

A. Always remember that the degree of prophetic gift development in a person’s life does not equate to higher degrees of spirituality or “rightness” before God. Rather, it is simply part of God’s intended design and calling in a person’s life, and He shapes us differently according to His purpose.

B. High levels of giftedness and anointing are not signs of high character. Spiritual gifts and fruit develop differently in our lives.

2. The operation of prophecy through our lives is kind of like a swimming pool. There are different depths of giftedness and not all of us are called to swim in the deep end. However, we are all called to get wet!

A. The gift of prophecy is like the shallow end of the pool where everyone can safely jump in and enjoy. It is the inspirational prophecy that works to encourage, build up and comfort others. 1 Cor. 14:1, 5

B. Prophetic ministry is like the part of the pool that gets steadily deeper. In involves a greater level of faith as one begins to trust God for more specific and revelational words. The ministry begins to broaden to affect more people and more situations. Rom. 12: 6

C. The office of a prophet is the deepest part of the pool where only some are called to swim. A prophet has come into the place of regularly hearing from God and serving as His mouthpiece. A prophet will often speak to churches, cities, regions and even nations. Their concern will be for holiness, purity and preparing the Bride of Christ. They will also be concerned with seeing others released into prophetic ministry. Eph. 4:11

3. All areas of giftedness are meant to grow in effectiveness. Often, the key to that growth is training.

A. Training is the difference between someone who just splashes around in the water and someone who can swim.

B. With prophetic gifts, training greatly increases our learning potential, helping us to filter out our own thoughts and the voice of the enemy and to hold on to the word of the Lord.

4. It is important for the Church to note the similarities and differences between Old and New Testament style prophets.

A. The New Testament has a way of taking the principles and teachings of the Old Testament to a new level in order to bring people back to God’s original intent and purpose.

B. OT and NT prophets are similar in the following ways:
– Similar titles.
– Both acts as a mouthpiece for God.
– Both are engaged in “forth-telling” and “foretelling.”
– Both receive and/or communicate prophecy through word of mouth, dreams and visions, actions and symbolic behaviors, deep burdens and by the written word.
– Both are concerned with the morality of God’s people and operate with a strong sense of social justice, speaking out against corruption. They both tend to call all people, everywhere, to repent from idolatry, sin and unfaithfulness.

C. OT and NT prophets have significant differences:
– OT prophets provided guidance and direction to individuals who could not hear from God for themselves; they represented the absolute voice of God to the people. NT prophets do not tell people what to do, but rather confirm what God is saying. There is a recognition that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and that people can hear the Lord. 1 Sam. 9:4-10,
– OT prophets were very straight forward with rebuking and warning people and were often used to denounce others and their sin. In the church today, prophets minister by exhorting, by example and by confirming. Prophetic messages are tempered by the Gospel message of grace. Rev. 19:10
– OT prophets tended to be eccentric, intimidating, and demanding individuals who were often feared and found to be troubling. They were strangely independent, not easy to receive and typically unpopular.
– Christian prophets, by contrast, must exhibit the fruit of the Spirit with all grace and humility. Additionally, they must be accountable members of the Body of Christ, live under authority and work as part of the overall five fold ministry team. Acts 11:19-30,13:1-3
– OT prophets typically provided either a blessing or cursing ministry in order to keep God’s people in line and under the umbrella of God’s authority and will. In the New Testament, prophets serve as a building and equipping ministry, working alongside apostles, to see that the Church is properly grounded, established and developed. Eph. 2:20, 4:11-16

D. Specific functions of the New Testament prophet include:
– Training believers to hear the Lord for themselves.
– Teaching believers how to find and live in the will of God for themselves.
– Instructing and training others in the gift of prophecy, helping churches establish a proper framework for this gift.
– Bringing forth the word of the Lord through inspired preaching or by supernatural prophetic utterance.

Prophecy Series – Lesson 9: Judging And Weighing Prophecy

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[size=large]Judging and Weighing Prophecy[/size]

1. Prophetic ministry is meant to release strength, encouragement, direction and focus right from the heart of God. To ensure that this is done well, all prophecy (and prophectic ministers) should be tested. 1 Thess. 5:19-22, 1 Cor. 14:29

A. We may need to retrain our thinking concerning judging and weighing prophecy.
– It is scriptural and right to do so.
– No one’s ministry is exempt from the judging process. God wants all of us to be accountable.
– It is not disrespectful or disloyal to weigh the words of others.
– Local leaders need to submit themselves for judgment even as traveling ministers are required.
– The judging process is vital because it removes any enemy influence and helps to firmly establish God’s purposes in our hearts and minds.

B. Where someone is resistant to this kind of accountability, there is a problem.

2. Guidelines for prophetic ministers:

A. The prophetic minister is a member of the Body of Christ; he or she is not an isolated figure. Therefore they must function in fellowship and co-operation with other members of the Body.

B. Prophetic ministers must be accountable for their gifting.

ACCOUNTABILITY QUESTIONS
– Are they rooted in a local church? Are they submitted to the leadership in the church?
– Are they endorsed by their local body to minister away from home?
– What remedy have we got if things go wrong?
– Do they present themselves as a superstar, or a small part of the church as a whole?
– Do they work in partnership and agreement with other prophetic ministries?

3. Criteria that should be considered when judging prophecy:

A. Decide if it strengthens, encourages and/or comforts.
– If the effect of the prophecy is to bring confusion, condemnation or discouragement, it should not be accepted, and sometimes may need to be forcefully rejected. 1 Cor. 14:3
– The final purpose of prophecy is always positive, not negative. A fully negative prophecy has either been tainted by human influence or has been given prematurely. Jer. 1:5-10

B. Test the spirit behind the prophecy.
– Every prophecy has three possible sources: the Spirit of God, the spirit of man or an evil spirit.
– We should discern the spirit behind the prophetic word, even before the words, because prophecy communicates “spirit to spirit” as well as into our mind and intellect. Even if a word contains some inaccuracies, we can still receive the spirit of it.
– The testimony of Jesus is the spirit, or the essence of prophecy. The spirit behind the prophecy should lead us to the feet of Jesus. Rev. 19:10, Acts 16:16-18
– Remember the Holy Spirit makes His presence felt by His fruit. Love, joy, peace, goodness, etc., will be present when He is moving.

C. Determine if the prophecy conforms to Scripture. Is. 8:20
– We must always build our lives on Scripture, not on prophecy.
– Prophecy must never be used to establish doctrines that can’t be fully found in the Bible alone.
– Sometimes prophecy may address an area not clearly addressed in the Scripture. Then we must be very careful not to violate the principle of scripture in a given area.

D. Be sure the prophecy glorifies the Lord Jesus. 1 Cor. 12:3
– Because it is of prime importance to the Holy Spirit to bring glory to Jesus, any prophetic word, dream, vision, revelation or impression will work toward that end. John 16:14
– If the prophecy ultimately creates a dependency in people to rely on the prophetic minister instead of hearing from God for themselves, it has a wrong focus. It exalts man instead of Jesus.

E. Consider if the prophecy is manipulative or controlling.
– With the immature and with those with impure motivation, prophecy can be unjustly used to make others do something they otherwise wouldn’t, to get people to take sides on an issue, and/or for dishonest gain.
– Prophecy can be wrongly used to build a following that points to the one ministering instead of to Jesus.
– Control and manipulation are rooted in witchcraft. The nature of witchcraft is to control and dominate through mystical or spiritual means. Gal. 5:16-21

Signs that we could be dealing with manipulative or controlling prophecy:
– It usurps the will of others.
– It works to pull rank. “Donít question me, Iím the man (or woman) of God!”
– It allows for excessive flattery and the crossing of ethical boundaries.
– It carries severe warnings of dire consequences if the prophetic minister is not heeded.
– It will resist outside perspective and accountability.
– Overuse of the phrase, “The Lord said,” “Thus saith the Lord,” or “Well, the Lord told me.”
– There is a hyper-spirituality that strives to make everything mysterious and mystical, keeping the flow of prophecy away from the “common people.”

F. Distinguish between false prophecy, poor prophecy and weak prophecy.
– False prophecy is centered in deception. It engages in a subtle, and often deliberate, attempt to lead people away from the Lord by elevating individuals, ministries, and/or revelations. False prophecies are to be rejected.
– Poor prophecy is that which mixes human thoughts and motives with an actual word from God. Poor prophecies should be corrected with the Bible. 1 Thess. 5:19-22
– Weak prophecy is that which is given too soon. Speaking is chosen as the first option instead of prayer, reflection, study, submission to others, etc. Weak prophecies should be returned to the incubator of intercession.

4. If all of us are going to eagerly pursue the gift of prophecy, then we must all eagerly pursue a life of accountability, humility and love. 1 Cor. 14:1

A. The accountable heart willingly submits itself to times of testing without regard for status or reputation.

B. The humble heart will gladly receive correction without taking offense, becoming defensive, or coping an attitude.

C. The loving heart will hold people more dear than giftedness and not allow mistakes, discrepancies and disagreements over prophecy to interfere with loyalty, commitment and compassion toward one another. There is no room for bitterness or anger concerning these matters in the heart of the mature believer.