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. “Don’t question me, I’m 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.

Prophecy Series – Lesson 8: Personal Prophecy

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[size=large]Personal Prophecy[/size]

1. There are times when God utilizes “personal prophecy,” the revealing of His heart, plan or purpose to an individual, to help that person move into the destiny He has prepared for him or her. Gen. 12:1-3; Acts 13:1-4; 1 Tim 4:14-16

A. Personal prophecy is never intended to circumvent the revealed written Word of God.

B. Personal prophecy is not a short cut to getting answers from God. It is not a “magic wand” meant to be used to set ourselves or others straight. It will not bring miraculous change to people’s character without them having to respond and submit themselves to the Lord.

C. If we are not prepared to obey the revealed, written Word of God, we may very well forfeit our right to hear a “now” or “new” prophetic word from God.

2. We need to understand the inherent limitations of those who are actively involved in prophetic ministry.

A. Prophetic ministers are not magicians and must not take the place of God in people’s lives.

B. When all our expectations are laid on a single prophetic minister, we can open ourselves to abuse (often unintended).

C. The expectation on a prophetic minister to provide continuous revelation without a break can lead to tiredness, lack of concentration, and pressure to perform, all leading to error and mistakes.

3. We need to understand the inherent limitations in the actual personal prophecies themselves.

A. Prophecy is incomplete. It doesn’t tell the whole story and it doesn’t speak to every aspect of a person’s life. 1 Cor. 13:9

– God only reveals what we need to know in order to do His will in a particular place and time. 2 Kings 4:27ff
– A prophecy is like a piece in a puzzle. It doesn’t give us the whole picture. Gen. 37, 1 Sam. 16
– If there are hidden problems, sins, areas of bondage or disobedience in our lives and yet we receive a personal prophecy that is wholly positive, we cannot assume that the Lord is unconcerned with those areas or that He considers it of no consequence. Ex. 4:19-26
– Sometimes, a personal prophecy may not speak into the part of our lives that we wish it to. It is important at that point not to react with disappointment but rather to trust the Lord, who sees the whole of our lives, and understand that He has a desire to touch a different area.

B. Prophecy is ongoing and developmental.
– The Lord doesn’t speak the totality of His heart to us in a single prophetic word. Instead, He speaks to give us a focus for now and the near future.
As we are faithful to walk in right relationship with God, He may very well release additional prophetic words that confirm, re-emphasis or re-establish or build on concepts and direction given earlier. An example of this can be seen in the life of Abraham.

* Abram receives an initial prophetic word at age 75. Gen. 12:1-5
* Abram receives a second word when he reaches the land of Canaan. Gen. 12:7
* Abram receives a third prophecy that re-emphasizes, instructs and gives new revelation. Gen. 13:14-17
* Abram receives a fourth prophecy that gives new insights as well as strengthens previous words. Gen. 15
* Abram receives a fifth prophecy that brings lots of new revelation and gives him a new name. Gen. 17
* Abraham is the indirect recipient of a sixth prophecy that affects His family and destiny. Gen. 18:17-19
* Abraham receives a seventh prophecy that comes after a time of testing, sealing all the earlier words. Gen. 22:16-18

C. Prophecy is provisional and dependent on obedience. There are no unconditional personal prophecies. They always speak to possibilities, not the inevitability.
– Our lack of response to prophecy can cancel it as it concerns us. Num. 13:1-3, 25-14:1-4, 26-30
– Our continued obedience and submission to the Lord becomes the platform by which God accomplishes His prophetic word in us. Gen. 22:16-18
– Disobedience before the Lord can cancel out prophecies from the Lord. 1 Sam. 9, 10. 13:13-14, 15:23

NOTE: There are unconditional prophecies in the scripture; God does give these kinds of words. However, they are not personal prophecies, but rather corporate words given to large people groups and they speak concerning God’s heart and plan toward man-kind as a whole.

Prophecy Series- Lesson 7: Guidelines For Prophecy

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[size=large]Guidelines For Prophecy[/size]

1. When operating in prophetic ministry, it is important to embrace appropriate guidelines. 1 Cor. 14:1, 26-40

2. When receiving a prophetic word, we should determine what kind of prophetic word it is.

CONSIDER SOME IDENTIFYING QUESTIONS:
A. Is it a “community word” or a “personal word?”
– A community word is when God wants to speak to a group, a church, a city, a nation, etc.
– A personal word is when God wants to speak directly into an individual’s life and circumstance.
– There is no such thing as a private word. Taking people off into a private corner to give them a prophetic word or prophesying outside the environment of public settings and the accountability of our spiritual leaders is poor practice and lacks integrity. God works in the light, not in the shadows. Matt, 10:26-27; Luke 12:3; 1 John 1:5

B. Is the prophecy inspiration or revelation?
– “Inspirational prophecy” brings refreshing, encouragement, and comfort. It moves people to worship and to follow hard after God. It releases the joy of the Lord, brings peace, causes faith to raise and produces a reverence for God. 1 Cor. 14:3
– A prophecy that is more than inspirational may contain elements of correction and/or new direction. This is “revelational prophecy,” and we need it to stay on course. Pr. 29:18

2. Revelational prophecy calls for particular guidelines and safeguards so that the word is properly received and acted on.

A. For revelational prophecy to have it’s God-ordained influence and impact, churches need to operate in a true foundation of love. 1 Cor. 14:1; 16:14
– Our hearts need to be constantly focused on loving one another, preferring one another, honoring one another, spurring one another on, encouraging one another and so forth. John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:9-13, 13:8-10, 14:13, 15:7; 1 Cor. 1:10; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2-3, 32, 5:21; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 3:13, 10:23-25; 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8, 4:9, 5:5, 1 John 3:11,23, 4:7-12
– Even the Trinity operates on this basis. Matt. 6:9; 17:5; John 5:19-20, 8:28, 12:50, 14:13, 15:26; John 16:7

B. Revelational prophecy should be submitted to local church leaders before being given. Hab. 2:1-3
– It is good, appropriate, and even necessary to write down such prophecies so that they can be studied, prayer over and digested. 1 Thess. 5:19-22
– Such words are submitted to church leaders because it is the God-ordained role of pastors and elders to lead local churches, not prophetic ministers. Titus 1:5-9
– Prophetic ministers need to work in concert with and in submission to pastors as it relates to local church government and direction. These type of ministries are not in competition, they are not set against one another, but are meant to complement each other and flow together.
– When this type of prophecy is left with appropriate leadership, the accountability for the word passes from the giver to the receiver. It is not the prophetic speaker’s role to ensure that people act on the word to their specification. Their role is to submit the word and then continue to walk in a Spirit of love toward people and obedience before God. It is the leaders who will give account to the Lord for the response. At the very least, they should take it seriously enough to judge.

– NOTE: Remember from Lesson Six, that frustration is an enemy of prophetic ministry and to following the Lord in general. When we allow our frustration with others to become a wedge between us, we have fallen prey to the demonic. The enemy’s purpose is to divide and rule. The Holy Spirit wants to increase our love and friendship. The enemy will work to make the issue seem more vital than it actually is. The unity of the Spirit among believers is more precious to God than any issue. When facing this kind of tension, the first step to receiving the prophetic word is always to lay the issue aside for a period of time until relationships, love and friendships, and our commitments to one another have been renewed. – These thoughts are borrowed from Graham Cooke, Developing Your Prophetic Gifting, (Sovereign World Ltd, Renew Books, a division of Gospel Light), 1994, p. 95)

– When revelation prophecy has been weighed, judged and approved by the church leadership, it can be released into the church with a sense of unity and joy that the Lord will use it to take the ministry to the next level.

C. Prophetic ministers who release words of revelational prophecy, giving either correction or direction, need to pay heed to their character more than ever. 1 Thes. 5:21; Luke 12:48
– We need to allow transparent access into our relationships, marriages, sexuality, finances, parenting, civility, how we run our homes and/or ministries if we are going to dare to step into revelational prophecy. Our private life matters! People can’t keep us accountable, we have to make ourselves accountable.
– No one’s individual character is 100% right, but there should be a place for honesty and character development. True humility will eagerly submit to issues of correction and repentance. James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6
– People who continue in blatant sin while trying to exercise spiritual gifts will discover an ever increasing gap in their personality, resulting in spiritual failure, emotional collapse, and sometimes mental breakdown, physical illness, relational difficulties and even a complete moral slide. Matt. 7:15-23

D. When receiving revelation prophecy, we should prayerfully consider the appropriate interpretation and application of what has been shared.
– When a prophetic word does not make sense to us, we should not try to impose our own interpretation.
– Prophetic words that don’t seem to fit should be placed on a side “shelf.” They should be remembered, but not focused on; they should not become the center of our attention.
– We should take the central issue, however, and use it as a basis for prayer.
Always remember that God has a divine timing for all things. The right word, correctly understand and received, can still go awry if we get ahead of God’s time table. We should focus on being ready, on being the kind of people that God can work through. Timing belongs to God, preparation belongs to us. 2 Tim. 2:15

Prophecy Series – Lesson 6: The Practice of Prophecy

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[size=large]The Practice of Prophecy[/size]

1. The Holy Spirit operates spiritual gifts in our lives as He wills, but we should place ourselves in the flow of His gifts through preparation, expectation and operation.

2. Prophecy comes into our lives in a variety of different ways and it is good not to get locked into any one particular way. We should stay open and with our hearts and spirits to anything that the Lord may want to do.

A. WAYS THAT PROPHECY CAN COME TO US:
-Visions. Some visions use ordinary, unremarkable things. Jer. 1:11-12 Others use strange, supernatural images. Acts. 10:9ff. Either way, God has a heart-felt, prophetic message.
-Dreams. Dreams are often symbolic. God likes to speak in parables and riddles so that we have to draw near to Him to understand them. Numbers 12:6; Job 33:14-15; Gen. 41; Dan. 1:17, 2:1-49
– Impressions. God will give us an inner conviction about something.
– Seeing/Hearing Words. We should ask the Lord what He wants to say about these things.
– Trances. This occurs as someone appears to “zone-out.” Actually, God has opened another reality to them. Acts 22:17-21
– Through Scripture. God may prompt us to share a verse and the Spirit uses that to speak the Lord’s heart directly to a person.

B. When listening for the voice of God, we must learn to be still. The doesn’t necessarily meant that we should go off to a quiet place (though that can help), but rather that we need to learn to still the clamoring inside of us. Ps. 46:10

3. When receiving prophecy, we need to really listen for what God is wanting to say.

A. Prophecy is often in two parts: diagnosis (what the problem is, what is happening) and prognosis (what God is saying, what is to come).
– It is not enough to point out what is wrong if we have no heart to lead to recovery.
– If we should receive something diagnostic, we should then step back into our spirit and ask the Lord questions: ‘Why are You showing me this?” – “What do You want me to do?” – “What is it that You want to say about this?”

B. There are three elements to prophecy. 1 Cor. 12:4-11

DIAGNOSTIC:
The Word of Knowledge – the sharing of information which opens up the issue.

PROGNOSTIC:
The Word of Prophecy- God speaking/revealing His heart regarding the issue.
The Word of Wisdom – how we are to respond to God.

4. When receiving prophecy, we should be sensitive to the Lord’s direction concerning what we are to do with it.

OPTIONS WITH EXPRESSING PROPHECY:
A. Make it a matter of prayer. Dan. 9:1-3
– Is there something more that God wants to say? Are both the diagnosis and the prognosis clear?
– Is the Lord working to stir up more intercession regarding a certain situation or issue?
– Should it be submitted to the church leadership for further prayer, reflection and analysis?

B. Share it. Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 14:1, 39-40
– Prayerfully consider if the prophecy is for someone else or for yourself. As a general rule, however, if w are eagerly desiring to prophecy, then we should expect that God will want to use us.
– All sharing with others should be done in a public setting.
– Consider how it should be shared. Should it be written down first? Should an appointment be made with other spiritual leaders? Is the Lord stirring a prophetic song, action, artwork or other expression?
– Remember that humility goes a long way. It is a good idea to preface sharing with something akin to: “I sense that the Lord would say this.” Ask for confirmation from the one(s) receiving.
– Be careful of King James style English or a sense of manipulation that some may feel through the dogmatic use of “Thus saith the Lord,” OR “God told me that…”
– Recognize that prophecy does not have to be some grandiose message. Many times God may prompt us to utter what might be obvious to anyone else, but is still what is needed in a specific moment. Prophecy speaks spirit to spirit as well as speaking to our minds.

5. At all times, it is important that we avoid negativity and judgmentalism when sharing prophecy. 1 Cor. 14:3

A. If we find it easy to give hard, negative words then there is something wrong in our spirits and in our understanding of the grace and goodness of God.

B. There is always a tension between where we are with God and where we are going (the ideal). Proper prophetic ministry will look to find a way to lift others toward the ideal. Healthy prophetic ministers will help build others toward the purposes of God.

C. We must recognize that frustration is an enemy to prophetic ministry.
– When frustration with getting others to “shape-up” begins to cloud our ability to maintain compassion and a loving heart, we are out of balance and our prophecies will be tainted.
– A prophecy must always be “Good News,” even if that news is “repent.”
– Prophecy will always work to strengthen and restore people’s dignity and respect.
– Frustration with others can also have a tendency to cause us to separate ourselves from relationships. That separation can contribute to a self-centered, rejection spirit. When the heart is not regularly open to the unconditional love of God flowing into it, prophetic ministers (like any other gifted minister) will have the tendency to become temperamental, overly emotional and otherwise abnormal.

6. When sharing prophecy, our focus should be on the Lord, not on people. We are not to be led by what we see or understand in the natural, but rather by the Spirit of God. 2 Cor. 5:7

A. When we allow prophecies to be shaped by how recipients look (the way they are sitting/standing, their clothes/appearance, or their general disposition/air), we ended up with a very soulish, human inspired prophetic word. It may sound spiritual, but will have no true revelation from God.

B. We should find our peace in the Lord alone. This is why we must maintain right relationship with Him at all times.

7. Though our attention for receiving prophecy should be on the Lord, we should be aware of how people are receiving. 1 Cor. 16:14

A. Are they overwhelmed by our lengthy use of words? We need to keep the main thing the main thing.

B. If we are going to ask the Lord to regularly use us to speak His heart into others’ lives, we should work to see that these words are recorded. Use of tape recorder, or good notes by a third person, help recipients remember what was said and allow for greater reflection and accountability.