Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Prophetic Word

By: Poul Madsen

THE prophets of the Lord met their greatest problem and their most dangerous opponents in the persons of the false prophets. In the Old Testament there were swarms of these, and they were always in the majority. The Bible teaches us that the downfall of the people of Israel was occasioned by their listening to the false prophets instead of heeding the messengers of the Lord. All spiritual calamity is caused by listening to the wrong things, accepting falsehood and so becoming deceived.

The false prophets were hardly ever called this but usually described as prophets. They prophesied in the name of the Lord and frequented His Temple. Many of them attended the schools of the prophets and were familiar with the scriptures. They experienced spiritual ecstasies, did symbolical acts and spoke convincingly: the large majority of the people accepted them unquestioningly as speaking for God. They could tell the crowds that they had had wonderful dreams and seen marvellous visions; they spoke about the future with confidence, and they were listened to with appreciation and pleasure.

The true prophets are hardly ever distinguished as such, but just like the others they are called prophets, or prophets of the Lord. They were often quite alone and always in the minority. Happily most of what the false prophets said has long ago been forgotten. Hardly anything of their work has been preserved as have the prophecies of the true prophets. Therefore it is not difficult for us to discern between the false and the true prophets of the past . If, however, we had been their contemporaries, would we have been able so to discern? The question is not irrelevant, for each generation has its share of prophetic utterances demanding discernment, and the problem of distinguishing between true and false speaking in the Lord's name will become more and more important as we approach the coming of the Lord.

Prophetic speech is speaking in the name of God and on His behalf -- in other words, what we call preaching. The prophets were preachers; they all spoke on the Lord's behalf, they all introduced their messages with: 'Thus saith the Lord' and they all had some kind of association with a profession of faith in Him. (I am not thinking of heathen prophets, the prophets of Baal and Ashera and such like. These were quite different and easy to distinguish.) What was not easy for the contemporary people of God was to discern between true and false messages in the Lord's name, for those speaking all seemed so convincing, and all sought support from the promises of God's Word.

The prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah especially give us an insight into their continuous conflict with the false prophets, revealing how often their own inspired messages were countered by these deceived men. Ezekiel emphasises that these so-called 'colleagues' prophesied out of their own heart (see Ezekiel 13:2 and 17). They spoke because a situation arose where they felt that they must say something. This does not sound so unreasonable, especially when we remember that the situation in which the people found themselves was often catastrophic, calling for some word from the Lord. Yet they did not get direct contact with Him but spoke out of their own heart, and this was the basic reason for the way in which the people were led astray. It stands in complete contrast with the words of Jesus. He never spoke out of His own heart, but only said what He had heard the Father say. Paul did the same: "As of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ" (Danish -- "Out of God we speak in Christ before the face of God") (2 Corinthians 2:17).

WORDS can be extremely dangerous. We not only influence others but also ourselves by what we say. It often happens that it is our words which form our thoughts and opinions, whereas they should spring from and express them. Having spoken in this way, we are apt to become bound by our own words, and then our wrong opinions take hold on us and we become prisoners to them. From this state of bondage we are all too ready to continue bombarding other people with our words. The prophets of Ezekiel's day followed their own spirit, without having seen anything from God (Ezekiel 13:3). Today we would say that they spoke subjectively, that is to say from their own feelings and the imagined inspiration of their own senses. Far too often we hear a talk which begins with: 'I feel that ...' and continues with some thin discourse which has little or no [61/62] substance. Surely to follow your own spirit becomes the same as preaching yourself, drawing attention to yourself, whereas Paul said plainly: "We preach not ourselves" (2 Corinthians 4:5). He knew, as we should also know, that God frowns on this kind of preaching.

Ezekiel tells us that these prophets saw vanity and prophesied lies, even while they were using the orthodox formula: 'the Lord saith' (Ezekiel 13:6). The amazing thing is that they themselves expected that their words would be confirmed by the Lord. They were acting in what we would call 'good faith'. They were not aware that the Lord was not with them. They were subjectively convinced that they spoke on the Lord's behalf and that He would act in accordance with their words. That was why they spoke with such confidence, the people being persuaded by their very earnestness.

Jeremiah gives us the basic description of the difference between true and false prophets. As to the latter he says: "They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:16). This corresponds to what Ezekiel had to say about subjective preaching, which sprang from the prophet himself and not from God. In order to attract the attention of their hearers, these prophets often said: "I have dreamed, I have dreamed" (Jeremiah 23:25). This made people listen with wrapt attention, captivated by these strange and attractive men who had had such a marvellous experience as a dream in which the Lord had spoken to them. 'What more can we ask for?', they said to one another. 'If it was a dream it must surely be from heaven.'

BECAUSE these false prophets spoke out from themselves according to the situation in which they were found, they spoke the kind of words that the people wanted to hear. In the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, God's people were in the most acute crisis condition. Jerusalem was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, and they wanted to know how it would turn out. What should the prophets say? Their own heart, their own spirit, urged them to proclaim to the people some good news that the Lord was about to intervene. This was the kind of message that the people's desperate plight demanded and it was naturally what they all wanted. What is more, their reasoning suggested that the Lord simply must intervene -- He could do no other. Firstly because the remnant of Judah who were left in the land were beset by heathen, and surely God would never let such a remnant be given over into the hands of idolaters. Then Jerusalem was God's chosen city which could therefore never be overthrown. Finally, and most important of all, it was the place where stood His holy Temple, the house which Solomon had built, the house which had been filled with God's glory. Was not the mercy seat there in the Holy of Holies? Had not the Lord Himself promised that when the people were in need and prayed towards that house, then He would hear and would deliver? What else could the prophets proclaim but an optimistic assurance that for His name's sake, the Lord would intervene and repeat the marvellous deliverance which He had given when the Assyrians besieged the city in the time of Hezekiah? They wanted to say it and the people wanted to hear it and would have no patience to listen to anything other than this man-made 'gospel'. Before we hastily condemn them, should we not ask ourselves if under such conditions we would be able to discern and reject this message of deliverance as utterly false? Would we perhaps be beguiled by the wrong use of the name of the Lord?

Remember, it was God's people and not the heathen who welcomed this kind of ministry. It was they who allowed the false prophets to hold their attention and gain their popularity as fine preachers. They enjoyed hearing what in their own hearts they would have liked God to say. When Jeremiah stood up boldly among them and said: "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these" (Jeremiah 7:4), who could accept that this was the true word of the Lord? Not one of them. How could he say that it was not the temple of the Lord when their past history and their present reasoning told them that it was?

Jeremiah also said: "The prophets prophesy lies in my name; I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake I unto them: they prophesy unto you a lying vision, and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their own hearts" (14:14). He advised the people: "Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon; for they prophesy a lie unto you" (27:14). Who was prepared to accept such a message? Nobody! In their eyes, Jeremiah was a traitor who, in its most desperate situation, [62/63] deprived the nation of both courage and hope. Like Ahab of old they said: "There is one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord. but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kings 22:8). So they acclaimed the prophet Hananiah as a real spokesman for the Lord, and greatly enjoyed his dramatic promise of deliverance when he took the bar from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck and broke it (28:10). No hasty reply came from Jeremiah. He just went quietly away and waited until he had fresh instructions from the mouth of the Lord. His experience was sadly like to that of the Lord Jesus who later prophesied among these same people of Israel: "Because I say the truth, ye believe me not" (John 8:45).

THE reason why Jeremiah so differed from the prophets of his time was that, unlike them, he "stood in the council of the Lord, that he should perceive and hear his word; he marked his word and heard it" (23:18). He was a man who sought quietness in the Lord's presence, a man who waited on God and listened to Him. He knew that his own thoughts would not be the same as God's thoughts and that his own ways would be different from God's ways, so he neither listened to the people nor to his own ideas, but made it his business to keep close to the Lord and be sensitive to His voice. Others could make themselves popular by telling the people what they wanted to hear, but he could only seek the mind of God and then proclaim it. God's thoughts were so diametrically opposed to what the people thought and wanted, that nobody would listen to Jeremiah.

"The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak faithfully. What is the straw to the wheat? saith the Lord. Therefore I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words everyone from his neighbour. Behold I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy lying dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting: yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; neither shall they profit this people at all, saith the Lord" (23:28-32). As we have already said, words can be very dangerous. If such words purport to come from the Lord they are the most dangerous of all unless, of course, they are truly from Him and not just human opinions. Those of us who speak to others in the name of the Lord truly carry a very heavy responsibility. The fact that some of those prophets were sincere did not alter the case at all; they were false prophets. deceiving themselves and leading others astray.

WHAT can we say about the true prophets? Firstly that they were all men who trembled before the Lord and His word, men who were quick to listen and slow to speak. Moses would rather not have accepted God's call; Jeremiah also asked to be excused; while Isaiah cried: "Woe is me for I am undone" (literally, 'I am silenced'). None of them were masters of the word of God, but all were mastered by it. As men with contrite hearts and humble spirits, they constantly stood in the council of the Lord. When we compare ourselves with them, we may well ask whether we are at all competent to speak in the Lord's name. Have we become professionals, glib talkers, polished preachers? Do we write or speak because we like to do so, because others invite us do so, or under divine constraint? Would we prefer to be silent? We need to beware of being carried along with the tide of the many who readily speak and write in the name of the Lord today.

There were times when Jeremiah determined never to preach again, but the Lord overrode his decisions and sent him out again with the fire burning in his bones. Elijah wanted to hand in his resignation and was ready to run away. The angel of the Lord, however, met him and led him to the mount where he was re-commissioned and sent back to the task. Amos refused to call himself a prophet at all -- he was a dresser of sycamore trees. None of these men wanted to speak. That is probably why they were the very men to do so.

So again I ask, What about us who have been so ready to speak and write on spiritual matters? We must take nothing for granted in our ministry. Paul trembled at the responsibility of the task. He understood that even the forming of the message, that is the right choice of words, was of the utmost importance. 'Pray also for me that I may preach it with the right words,' he appeals, 'for you cannot preach the gospel with words taught by man's wisdom, but only with words which the Spirit teaches' (1 Corinthians 2:13). Since, then, not only the content of the message but also its expression in words is the responsibility of the man who speaks on God's behalf, we certainly need earnest prayer before we speak. [63/64] We need to spend more time in God's council chamber and we need to speak when God gives a message and not just when people want to hear us, to speak as 'in the sight of God'. It may well be that we shall use less words when we so speak, but they will be true and life-giving. Above all we need much closer communion with Him who is Himself the Word.

www.austin-sparks.net/mags/ttm-5-4.html

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Three Realms of God’s Presence

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

God Wants You:
The Lord desires you greatly. In fact, He wants your fellowship in such an intense way that the Bible tells us that the impulse to seek God begins with Him. God knows that the human heart is not capable of seeking Him, so God gives the human heart strength to do it. We simply don’t have the hunger or desire, but God places that hunger and desire in us.

We are told in Scripture that hunger originates with the Lord Himself: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).

That is why we are told, “Draw me, we will run after thee” (Song of Solomon 1:4). Until we are drawn by the Lord, we don’t have it in us to seek God. Therefore, the psalmist wrote, “Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name” (Psalm 80:18). He knew he had to be quickened and drawn before he could call upon the Lord.

Hunger is the sign of life in a believer. One of the first symptoms of illness is the loss of appetite. When hunger is gone, a person is increasingly open to more sickness and weakness. Real believers are hungry, and that hunger is placed in the heart by the Lord Himself, drawing you into His presence.

Three Realms of Prayer:
When we study the subject of being in God’s presence, we should always go to the source. The Old Testament gives a map for entering into His presence. That map leads us from the outer court to the Holy Place, and then into the Holy of Holies.

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

In this passage, the Lord presents three realms of prayer—the realm of asking, the realm of seeking, and the realm of knocking. Each area has a unique purpose in obtaining direct access to the throne room.

When Moses, under God’s direction, built the Tabernacle in the wilderness, he built it with three distinct areas:

Outer Court. This area was surrounded by a linen fence, and within it stood the altar of sacrifice and the laver.

Holy Place. In this room was found the candlestick, the table of showbread, and the table of incense.

Holy of Holies. Here was placed the ark of the covenant and the golden censor.
In the Tabernacle are revealed the three realms of prayer and the presence of God.

The Outer Court – the Realm of Asking
The Lord Jesus tells us, “Every one that asketh receiveth” (Matthew 7:7). Asking is where we begin and results in abiding in Christ. As He said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

Asking begins in the outer court. This is where we make our requests known to Him: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).

That is where we ask and receive. That is where we come to the Lord and make our desires and needs known to Him.

It is also where we are cleansed by His blood as we confess our sins—where we find Him faithful and just to forgive us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). For it is in the outer court that we find the altar of sacrifice, where the work of the cross and the blood of Jesus avail.

The outer court is also where we find the laver, the Word of God, and it is in this realm of prayer that we remind the Lord of His promises. We do this by asking according to His will, according to His Word: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14). That is why David cried, “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2).

The outer court, where we make requests, is where we fight the devil and our own desires. It is outside of where God is. There is no quickening power there, no presence of God there. It is a place of the altar of sacrifice and confession of sin.

Sadly, this is where too many people stop their prayers. They confess their sins. They ask for God’s help. Then they say “Amen!” and leave. They leave before experiencing the victory that is found inside the second realm, the Holy Place.

Only when we wait in the outer court, overcoming the flesh in this first realm, are we granted the privilege of advancing to the next realm.

The Holy Place – the Realm of Seeking
In the Holy Place, the seeking realm, stood the candlestick on one side and the table of showbread on the other. As the high priest entered and looked toward the veil, he would see the table of incense.

God commanded the priests to burn incense on the golden altar every morning and evening, the same times that the daily burnt offerings were made. The incense was to be left burning continually throughout the day and night as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

The incense was a symbol especially of the prayers and intercession of the people going up to God as a sweet fragrance. God wanted His dwelling to be a place where people could be drawn to approach Him and pray to Him.

God seeks before He is sought! You cannot seek God until He has sought you. We all want to seek God on our own, but beginning this process in the flesh will bring failure. We must wait until He quickens us. That is what happens when we enter into the first realm of prayer.

It is here in the Holy Place that the Holy Spirit grants you the power to seek the Lord. In we read:

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14)

It is in this realm that you begin to find the Lord and liberty from all captivity. It is here that God Almighty gives you illumination through His Word. It is here that you receive the truth of God’s Word. And it is also here that you will be nourished and satisfied by the promises of God, for it is here that you find the table of showbread.

Seeking the Lord, finding Him, and finding the fullness of your liberty will cause your heart to be filled with His Word. It will cause you to erupt in worship and prepare you for the greatest privilege a Christian will ever know—the knocking world.

The Holy of Holies – the Realm of Knocking
The third realm of prayer and God’s presence, the Holy of Holies, is the place of knocking and partnership with God. God speaks in the Holy of Holies. He does not speak in the outer court or the Holy Place.

The seventh chapter is one of the longest in the book of Numbers. It deals with the day the Tabernacle was fully set up, detailing the offerings. Then in the very last verse of that chapter we read these amazing words:

And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him. (Numbers 7:89)

Moses had to enter into the Holy of Holies to be in God’s presence and to hear God speak. How glorious that moment must have been! It still is today, for the deepest form of intimacy with the Lord takes place only in the Holy of Holies.

There are no shortcuts. You have to go through the process. You have to come to the outer court and get on your knees, making your requests known to God in the first realm. It is easy to get distracted in the outer court because there is so much activity. The flesh is still in control. You get tired and worn out. You cannot hear God’s voice there, so it gets easy to give up.

Sometimes I spend an hour and a half or two hours in the outer court. You have to wait upon the Lord, asking. Suddenly you become aware that Psalm 80:18 is taking place. God is drawing you toward Him. You enter into the second realm of prayer, starting to seek the Lord. He continues drawing you. Time moves much more quickly as God allows you a foretaste of His presence, but it is nothing like what awaits you inside the Holy of Holies.

You must wait. That is the key. Most people will not. They get stuck either in the outer court or inside the Holy Place. They are distracted. They lose desire. They accept only a foretaste of God’s presence.

When you wait upon the Lord, though, you begin to experience a newfound strength: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Suddenly spiritual strength is restored. All the tiredness you felt in the outer court and Holy Place starts to go away. You become aware that you are increasingly drawn into God’s presence. In the Holy of Holies you understand what Moses meant: “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight” (Exodus 33:13). God shows the way so we can say with Moses, “That I may know thee.”

The third realm becomes reality, as the psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In the outer court, the first realm, we find asking and activity. In the Holy Place, the second realm, we have seeking and intercession. But in the Holy of Holies, the third realm, we experience quietness.

There His presence overwhelms me. I become soaked with tears. My heart cries out for more of Jesus, yet I don’t want to talk and break the calm. It’s the most glorious place! In the Holy of Holies you hear the language of the heart where “deep calleth unto deep” (Psalm 42:7). You become aware that you are in the presence of the Creator! Your spirit comes alive as never before!

The physical realm is the outer court. The soul realm is the Holy Place. But the spiritual realm is the Holy of Holies. It is where the flesh and soul are no longer in control. The silence is the product of abundance. You understand the meaning of the verse, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God” (Zephaniah 1:7). A holy hush permeates your soul. A wonderful peace floods over you, sweeping over your spirit, and overwhelms you.

The Calling to Communion:
Charles G. Finney, a Presbyterian minister in the 1800s, became an important figure in the Second Great Awakening, so much so that he was called the “Father of Modern Revivalism.” He knew amazing depths of God’s presence and wrote, “No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart.… These waves came over me, and over me, one after another, until I recollect I cried out, ‘I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.’ I said, ‘Lord, I cannot bear any more,’ yet I had no fear of death.”

Such intense, ecstatic, intimate worship in God’s presence cannot be described with human words: “The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

The Lord is asking us to come daily into the outer court to make our requests known and to receive blessing from His giving, loving hands. He is asking us to come daily into the Holy Place, seeking Him until we find Him. And He wants us to come daily into the Holy of Holies, where we can experience intimate communion with Him.

And that is my prayer for you, my friend!

Benny Hinn
http://www.bennyhinn.org/

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Building Watchman Towers of Prayer and Intercession

God is calling Christians to watch and pray. Are you on your post?

Are you building walls of religion or towers of prayer? Your answer could denote the difference between a woe-filled fate and a fulfilled destiny.

Prophets obsessed by the fear of man or unholy desires will not fulfill God’s ultimate plan. We must be careful, then, not to prophesy according to the party line in order to establish and preserve popularity in ministry circuits. If we fall into this trap we find ourselves in danger of perverting the gift of God by building walls of religion.

True prophets are not always the most popular five-fold ministry gift on the block because they are bold enough to release a word of the Lord that deals with sin or that warns the local church of potentially unpleasant circumstances coming down the proverbial pike. In order to properly carry this mantle, genuine prophets must build towers of prayer.

False prophets build walls of religion that lead people astray with fabricated edification, misleading exhortation and counterfeit comfort. “These evil prophets deceive my people saying, ‘All is peaceful!’ when there is no peace at all! It’s as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to hold it together by covering it with whitewash! Tell these whitewashers that their wall will soon fall down” (Ezekiel 13:10 NLT).

Verily, verily, the whitewashed walls of religion are going to come tumbling down in a heap of self-righteous rubble and the false prophets are coming down right along with them. Let’s not forget that Jesus pronounced woe on the Pharisaical hypocrites, calling them whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (Matthew 23:27).

You can’t whitewash sin. You can’t whitewash religion. And you certainly can’t whitewash false prophecy. We must guard our hearts in order to maintain a pure prophetic flow and a life of prayer that will wash away the plans of the enemy instead of fortifying his deception by watering down the truth for the sake of acceptance.

True prophets may not always have the flare, charisma or appeal of their false twins, but who said they are supposed to? Jeremiah wasn’t the most popular prophet in his time, nor was Ezekiel in his day. John the Baptist had his head served up on a silver platter for warning the people of the looming decision between everlasting life and eternal hellfire. But they were the unadulterated mouthpieces of God. And so it should be.

One of the key disparities between the true and the false prophet is prayer. The Bible says the foolish prophets discussed in the 13th Chapter of Ezekiel did not stand in the gap or make up a hedge for the house of Israel so that it could endure the battle. These diviners did not intercede in prayer to protect God’s people.

True prophets, by contrast, may not win any popularity contests in the local church, but they will sacrifice to make intercession. Instead of building walls of religion, they build towers of prayer; watchtowers in the spirit that allow them to see the assignments coming against the local church. They take that revelation and use it as spiritual mortar to make up a hedge in prayer.

You can’t separate a prophet from prayer any more than you can separate an evangelist from preaching the Gospel. The very first time you ever see the word “prophet” in the Bible, it is connected to prayer. In the Book of Genesis when Abimelech took Abraham’s wife, the Lord said, “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live…” (Genesis 20:7). So while not every intercessor is a prophet, every prophet is an intercessor.

Consider the prophets of old. They were often called watchmen. Scripture reveals three types of prophetic sentinels whose mission is to stand guard, keep watch and report what they see. We find Old Testament prophets on the walls, walking in the streets of the city and in the countryside.

“I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence…” (Isaiah 62:6) Watchmen on the walls are positioned to see far distances in the spirit and discern whether friend or foe is approaching. The watchman gives word to those in authority so they can decide whether to sound an alarm of welcome or an alarm of war. In today’s local church, these watchmen help protect against enemy attacks. Every prophet is called to this post.

“They surround Jerusalem like watchmen surrounding a field, for my people have rebelled against me, says the Lord,” (Jeremiah 4:17 NLT). This relates to the prophets in the harvest fields. Prophets have a clear role in evangelism as watchmen who protect Gospel-preaching efforts against the destructive work of principalities and powers that keep the lost from hearing the truth. Prophets should be deployed on local church outreaches and international missions to watch, guard, pull down and destroy opposition to the Good News.

“The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city” (Song of Solomon 3:3; 5:7 NIV). In today’s times, this watchman is assigned to stand guard over the Body of Christ to see emerging problems. This is a larger responsibility that carries with it a heavier prayer burden and greater implications for the Church at large.

The point is anyone who stands in the five-fold function of prophet should keep their spiritual binoculars around their neck and watch. But not just watch – watch and pray always. Anyone carrying a prophetic mantle needs to closely examine the fruit of his or her ministry. If we have prophesied peace unto popularity, then we need to repent. We need to trade in our whitewash for some substantive mortar and start building towers of prayer that will bring genuine edification, authentic exhortation and legitimate comfort to God’s people.

Let us not be foolish prophets who build our ministries on the sands of seduction for the sake of acceptance because Jehovah promises that rain will pour from the heavens, hailstones will come hurtling down and violent winds will burst forth against those whitewashed walls and expose them (Ezekiel 13:11-12).

Instead, let us build our ministries on the Rock and prophesy the mind of Christ so that when the hurricanes of religion come against the local church and when Jezebel hurls her spiritual sleet at the sanctuary and when the winds of witchcraft blow against the walls, the foundation of our ministries and our local churches will be fortified to stand and withstand in the day of battle.

Jennifer LeClaire is the editor of The Voice magazine. You can visit her online at www.jenniferleclaire.org

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Strange Fire: Mystics in the Church of God

Something is wrong, bad wrong! Are there mystics, soothsayers and spiritists in the Church of God?

Many people are pursuing prophetic ministry and it seems there is no lack of confusion surrounding its proper function. Whether you are called to prophetic ministry or just serving Christ with all your heart, you will be faced with many odd, even strange things that will require much spiritual discernment during your walk with God. Spiritual discernment will come from the Holy Spirit and find confirmation in many Scriptures throughout the written Word of God.

Let me say this: The Holy Spirit is not strange, weird or mystical. He is the third part of the Trinity. He is a gentleman, a statesman and a loving Spirit Who lifts up Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He is not a female presence. He is not an “it,” a “thing,” a “mist,” a “feeling” or some orphic force.

History has introduced many divagating leaders with strange manifestations. Your advantage is 4,000 years of written biblical history, from Adam to Christ, to serve as your guide to accuracy. One cornerstone for staying biblical is using that written history as your foundation for measuring truth. When strange things happen, look to the Word for biblical examples. If you can’t find any, then something is terribly wrong.

Experiences, even vivid, powerful, and supernatural ones, are not measurements for truth. In my generation I’ve seen meetings where gold dust, feathers, gems, and people barking and roaring like lions were showcased. A search through the Scriptures gives no evidence that the Holy Spirit used any of these manifestations to confirm Christ’s resurrection. These are only a few examples of strange fire.

Someone may tell you the things of the Spirit can’t be understood by the natural man. That’s not true at all because the Holy Spirit can be understood. He never violates the written Word. The things of the Spirit are understood by the logos, the Bible (Hebrews 4:12). Again, the Holy Spirit is not strange, weird or mystical.

Prophets of Deception
In my generation, Jezebel and Baalim prophets are the prevailing enemies of true prophetic ministry. In the last 20 years these spirits have grown sophisticated. They’ve built their own network of churches, followers and training schools. They’ve written books and produced many training videos. These spirits intend to hijack the prophetic ministry and hold themselves out to be the “experts” in the field. They condemn criticism as irrelevant, unloving, ignorant and judgmental. Hopefully by the time you read this material you will see their folly and will escape their deceptions. More than likely things will grow worse. If so, you will find them as your strongest opponents.

The prophetic groups of Jezebel and Baalim – and others you will encounter – have all types of strange signs and wonders in their meetings. Just remember not all wonders, no matter how mystical and exciting, are from the Holy Ghost (1 John 4:1). Even legitimate miracles in meetings do not confirm these ministers are flowing right. Scripture says, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23).

One particular trait among some ministers is the love of money that finance extravagant lifestyles. Some who embrace these spirits are merchandisers. A merchandiser sells prophecies, healings, religious oils, potions and various products that reinforce their message. Typically they work within their own networks, focusing on getting as much money from people as possible. They have all kinds of gimmick offerings that manipulate people. They are always recruiting followers to join their groups. I have seen some work every kind of evil when it comes to stealing from God’s people.

One young man, we’ll call him Scott, hooked up with one of these merchandising networks. He came to meet with me recently, looking to repent. Scott offered up his ordination papers from the various ministers within the network and renounced his involvement. He went on to reveal the purpose of their many conferences: to raise money, not to advance the ministry of Christ. After these services the organizers divide the offerings among themselves. Scott shocked me when he shared the mindset of these merchandisers. They believe that the amount of money one raises confirms the level of one’s prophetic anointing.

For several hours, Scott spoke of many individuals, some well-known and others obscure. He disclosed numerous evil strategies for meetings across our nation. I learned that they even merchandise one another! They look for young na├»ve upstarts to turn into devils like themselves. There is every sort of evil working behind the scenes among these people. These are “professional prophets.” They watch videos and listen to audio with the intent purpose of learning the sayings and particular mannerisms of true ministers of the Gospel so they can imitate them (Jeremiah 23:30). Avoid them and don’t do any meetings with them – and don’t attend them. Beware their accolades, flatteries and smiles toward you. At first they will flatter you. If that works, then they will merchandise you. If that doesn’t work, they will blackball you. Just remember, if you can be flattered, you can be bought. Christ’s servants are not prostitutes.

Psychics, Mystics and Spiritists
A spirit of rejection may attack you if these leaders shun you. If you feel that way just think of it like this, rejection is protection. You don’t need anybody’s approval save Christ’s. God’s servants can’t be bought at any price! Don’t try to learn anything from them. You are not a psychic, mystic, spiritist or soothsayer. You are a minister of Christ. You have a responsibility to use your gift as a faithful steward to serve the Body of Christ. The purpose of the anointing is to establish and advance the Kingdom of God, give witness to the love of God and confirm to the world the resurrection of Christ our Savior. True prophets are also called to turn the heart of people toward God, walk in holiness, confront sin and build the Church of Christ. Avoid fame, accolades from men and vain glory, and mind your motives in all things (Proverbs 4:23).

The flow of New Testament prophets is primarily used for edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3). This gift also helps turn logos, the written Word, to rhema, a life-giving Word, as the Holy Spirit wills. Again, New Testament prophets are not physics. A psychic uses demon powers to prophesy. As already said, prophets are not mystics. A mystic is one that uses spirit counterfeits to appear like they have some sort of special access or favor with God.

False prophets can release fear and curses. I have heard some tell people they are endangering themselves if they don’t obey their prophetic words. That type of stuff is nothing but witchcraft. Bind it up and carry on for Jesus. No prophet is anointed by the Holy Spirit to curse people. Paul said “bless and curse not” (Romans 12:14). Cursing is a sure sign of a false prophet. Baalim, a true prophet gone bad, did the same and lost his life for it. God doesn’t send storms, hurricanes and earthquakes to judge people, cities and nations for their sins. Jesus said these things would increase before His return. Yes, one day their will be a judgment of the living and the dead but fear does not lead people to Christ. God’s loving kindness, the good news does, and the offer of forgiveness of sin to the repentant (John 3:16).

Searching Hidden Secrets
Prophets of Christ depend only on the Holy Spirit and the written Word of God. They don’t need objects from people’s clothing, locks of hair or photos to assist their prophetic utterances. Nor will they need to astral project into the spirit world. True prophets will not blend the New Age teachings of the god-self into their teachings or try to unlock hidden meanings or secrets within Scripture. They will not sell prophecies, potions or elixirs. They are not occultists, soothsayers, mediums or shamans. Occultists search for hidden secrets and “knowledge of the hidden.” They use various methods to find obscured ‘truths’ like numerology and the reading of Hebrew symbols and letters. Numerology is the study of relationships between numbers and objects needed by spiritualists for divination. Kabala practitioners, for example, look for knowledge of the hidden in numbers and symbols. This is not biblical!

I have seen people use the Hebrew calendar and its annual symbols to prophesy events of the coming year. This is not the working of the Holy Spirit but the sign of ancient Babylonian soothsayers. Jannes and Jambres are biblical examples. Scripture says the secret things belong to our Lord and what He has chosen to reveal are found in His Word, only occultists search for the forbidden. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Some things will not be easily discerned. In some cases you will have to wait for the appearance of fruit (Matthew 7:17). As you wait for the fruit to appear remember that the Holy Ghost doesn’t produce unstable, bizarre or flaky people. They will be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. They will be full of love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Beware unholy mixtures. Don’t knowingly preach with amoral teachers, preachers, musicians or singers – and don’t sit in their meetings, either. You will find that some in error are very talented but talent does not usher in the presence of the Holy Ghost. Talent is seen in skillful performances and useful for entertaining. Entertainment, however, will not change hearts. New Testament prophets are called to turn hearts to Christ, not put on a show for people.

Avoid the gold, the glory and the girls. This is an old proverb that will help you make it. Yes, God will prosper you because obedience to His Word always brings a measure of prosperity. Scripture says, however, that “The love of money is the root of all evil.” As you minister don’t forget that all the glory belongs to God. Scripture reminds us, “He will not give his glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8). Finally, beware of sexual sins. When you get married, stay faithful to the spouse of your youth. Sexual sin has destroyed the ministries of thousands of people before you arrived on this earth. It can take you out, too.

Polished Showmanship
As already said, avoid strange fire. Strange fire is the introduction of something foreign into the ministry, message, church, prophecy, prayer, offering or ‘anointing.’ The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire and lost their lives (Leviticus 10:1-10). The ministry is a holy ministry with holy servants serving a holy God.

The prophet’s gift is not to put on a show. Prophets are not entertainers. Deceitful prophets are showmen and know how to work a crowd. Polished showmanship, no matter how mystical, seemingly spiritual or entertaining is not the anointing. You may live in a time where the difference is not clear and God may use you to bring clarity. Some revivals attract strange fire. You can read the history of the Welch revival in Whales and the Azusa Street revival in North America for examples of strange fire that got into the meetings.

When you’re not sure of things beware the ministry of novices and seek counsel from the trusted old-timers, those gray haired saints that have been walking with Christ for a long time. The safest are those that have been in the ministry a minimum of 25 years and have lasting fruit. Don’t look to beginners even if they appear to be highly anointed (1 Timothy 3:6). I have seen these young ‘superstars’ come and go. The race for God’s ministers is a long one. It’s a marathon race that’s completed at heaven’s finish line.

The very things that are the strangest, the Jezebel and Baalim prophets, will present themselves as the experts. You should also know that moves of the Holy Spirit are not confirmed by the number of people attending the meetings or by the endorsement of celebrity Christian personalities. Only by the Word, witness and fruit can you know for sure. Even some fruit is misleading. As already said look for lasting fruit, changed lives, salvations and glory for Christ alone.

Some of what I have written will probably grieve you. That’s good. If it doesn’t something might be wrong. If you are going to walk closely with God, you will be required to die much inside along this journey. Many things you see will sadden you. Lamentations, morning and woe will be your traveling companions. These will prompt you to intercede for Christ’ will to be done in the lives of your brothers and sisters in the Lord. The good news is that you can make it and bring honor to Christ along the way. The Apostle Paul said it best, “Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Avoid strange fire and watch for the return of the King of Glory, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Article Here - The Voice Magazine
Also: Jonas Clark Website

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What To Do With A Prophetic Word

Oftentimes people ask me what to do when they receive a prophetic word from the Lord for someone else. Do they share it with the person to whom the Lord is speaking about? Do they keep it to themselves and pray? Do they do nothing?

First, let me say that the Lord has a purpose in everything. He will not tell you something about a person, city, nation — or even yourself — just so you can be ‘in the know.’ Knowledge is never for knowledge’s sake. It is to be applied. So doing nothing is never the right response.

Second, let me say that when the Lord gives you a prophetic word, praying for the person, situation, city, nation, etc., is never the wrong move. In other words, you can’t go wrong praying. It may very well be that the Lord has called you to intercede based on your newfound knowledge from Him so that He can bring change to a situation or help a person in need. Prayer may not be the final action, but it’s a good place to start.

So how do you know if you are supposed to release the propehtic word to an individual or over a city or circumstance? I always tell people this: The same Lord that gave you the prophetic word will tell you what to do with it — if you ask. Don’t sit and wonder what to do. Remember, the Lord didn’t share His secrets with you so you could get puffed up with knowledge. He told you so you could take action. So ask the Lord.

Wisdom asks the Lord before releasing something He shows you over an individual. Sharing what the Lord showed you might not edify, comfort or exhort that person. It might rather embarass or make that person feel exposed. If the Lord is showing you a weakness or need a person has, it may very well be that the Lord is showing you so that you can intercede for that person or come alongside to help without uttering a prophetic word.

So, again, when you get a prophetic word, you first response should be to inquire of the Lord, “Father, what do you want me to do with this knoweldge? Do I share it with the person or pray on their behalf?” The same Lord that gave you the word will tell you what to do with it. The Lord will give you an unction to prophesy. Without that unction, we should watch and pray and wait for the Lord’s next instruction.

Share this entry with your friends!

Jennifer Leclaire
www.jenniferleclaire.org

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen


151270: A Time of Departing 2nd Edition

A Time of Departing 2nd Edition
By Ray Yungen / Lighthouse Trails

Ancient mystical practices are being introduced into countless churches under the umbrella of the spiritual formation movement. Also known as contemplative spirituality, this belief system has roots in mysticism and the occult. A Time of Departing exposes the truth about the new spirituality that is entering the Christian church.