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.