Prophets Need Community

 

All the believers were together and had everything in common.”

Acts 2:44

Sometimes it just seems easier to go it alone.

For those of us who are ‘prophet-shaped’ and find ourselves drawn to prophetic ministry, there is often a temptation to turn our backs on the wider Christian community and run to Elijah’s ravine or John the Baptist’s desert: that place where it’s just ourselves and the voice of God.

After all, many of us need a place of quiet and solitude to be able to hear God clearly: a place where we don’t have to explain or defend our prophetic sensibilities; a place where we can pursue the sweet presence of Jesus uninterrupted.

And when we look at prophetic people in our churches we often find that they occupy those more isolated places: perhaps disconnected from a thriving community, and often on the very margins of church life. Isolation and separation are temptations for many prophets. When you can hear God so well by yourself it’s easy to end up thinking, “I don’t need anyone else – I can hear God!”  When you have encountered misunderstanding and even rejection because of your prophetic calling it’s very easy to emotionally and spiritually withdraw from the Christian community you are part of.

But an isolated prophet is an unaccountable prophet and this is a dangerous place for prophets to occupy. The most precarious place for prophetic ministry is right on the edge of things – a long way from the leadership, a long way from the central heartbeat of the church, a long way from accountable relationships. And in this place it’s all too easy for the prophet to end up being a critical voice outside the church – manifesting the spirit of independence and refusing to submit to any counsel or correction.

To gain a biblical perspective on prophetic ministry it’s important to see the huge shift that happens as we move from the old to the new covenant in respect to the role and ministry of prophets. The prophets of the Old Testament often had to minister as ‘lone-rangers’: they were sometimes a single voice in the midst of a corrupt and rebellious nation; often with a message addressed at unbelievers. They were working in isolation and alienation.

But the New Testament paints a very different picture of prophetic ministry and the context it operates in. Community is the crucial lens through which we must now view prophetic gifts, and as we look at the New Testament model of prophecy we see that its true home is a healthy, thriving community of God’s people. The church has become the centre of prophetic activity: a family of listeners, who discern God’s voice together.

New covenant prophets need community. It was all very well for the likes of Jeremiah and Co to minister in isolation, but under the new covenant a commitment to community is the deal for everyone, regardless of what our five-fold ministry is. Jesus never let his disciples do anything by themselves: they even had to find a donkey as a pair. So in order to have a balanced and fruitful ministry we have to overcome the challenges of community and pursue deep fellowship with our fellow believers.

It’s vital that prophetic people have a strong inward dimension to their lives, fully embedded in community, with healthy relationships with other believers. God created us to be social beings and his design for his church is that we are one body. In fact the love that Christians have for one another is the mark that identifies us as Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35). We are all called to live out our faith alongside others.

Prophets need a sense of belonging, so that when they bring a word to the church, they are listened to because they are part of the family. A leader’s job is to help prophets find a supportive community. But more important than that is the need to create a culture where prophets can gain a vision for community, so that they are able to maintain a soft heart towards the body – a heart to build up the body.

So we have to create an environment that draws prophets close to the centre and ensures that they are firmly embedded in community; a place where prophets feel loved, accepted, valued, and invited in. We want to create a culture that communicates that the prophets, and all that they bring, are valued.

A strong culture of community, enhanced by the right sort of language, is going to be key for the healthy development of prophets. A strong community will naturally create trust, and it’s worth recognising that many prophetic people have to overcome their fear of judgement and rejection in order to mature and thrive. It’s really important that prophets feel that they can trust their community not to reject them if they share revelation.

And a strong community will create an environment of healthy submission and mutual respect: the prophet is happy to submit to his/her leader because they are part of the same family.

If we are sensing the temptation to go it alone, here are some searching questions we can ask ourselves that will help us stay focused on loving and blessing our community:

  • Am I committed to my church community?
  • Am I submitted to my leaders?
  • Am I accountable about my life and my prophetic ministry?
  • Am I making myself vulnerable to others?

Looking to Jesus in the Gift of Prophecy

When I was a teenager, I wore one of those WWJD (What Would Jesus do?) wristbands, alongside a FROG (Fully Rely on God) one. It’s so important to look to Jesus in all that we do in our lives, to stop and ask ourselves, what would Jesus do? I found this really helpful at school, but the fashions changed and I stopped wearing my band. Not because I didn’t believe in stopping and thinking about what Jesus would do, but because the band had become a fashion item, and it was no longer in fashion. However, the importance of the question remains. This question is central to our faith as people that want to imitate Christ. Therefore, it must be important in prophecy too. So, in this blog post, I will be exploring what it looks like to imitate Jesus in prophecy.

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” We also see in John 12:14 that Jesus says “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus continually taught about the importance of faith and belief. When I teach people how to hear from God for the first time, I always start by asking them to recognise where God has spoken to them in the past. Perhaps a Bible verse has stuck out to them, or they have felt peace or unrest when making a decision. By encouraging people to recognise where God has spoken to them in the past, it helps to build faith and belief that God has, and does, want to speak to them. Jesus promises us that faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain! So let’s pray to God for faith that God speaks to us, based on the fact He has promised us He will.

One of our favourite verses here at Accessible Prophecy on prophecy is 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Follow the way of love, and eagerly pursue spiritual gifts, especially prophecy.” A key aspect of this verse is that “Follow the way of love” comes before “eagerly pursue spiritual gifts.” We see this demonstrated in the life of Jesus, as Jesus always operated out of compassion and love. (Some examples of this are Luke 7:13, Matthew 15:32, 9:36, 14:14, 20:34, 6:34, Mark 8:2-3, and John 11:34-38.) It’s so important when we prophesy we are rooted in love, and love first. If we prophesy out of a place of anger, resentment, loneliness or hurt, it is very easy for our own agenda’s to get in the way. However, when we operate out of God’s love and compassion, our only agenda being love, God’s love is channelled through us.

It can be really easy to get caught up in the experience of prophecy, rather than getting caught up in the one who speaks to us. In the New Testament, we see Jesus return to the Father, and take space on his own to rest with Him. We see this for example in Luke 5:16 after Jesus healed a man with leprosy, people were gathering all around him “but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” This is integral to our walk with God too, particularly if we are inputting into other people’s lives by giving them prophetic words. Jesus recognised and acted on the importance of withdrawing from people and the busyness, in order to spend time with the Father. It can be quite tempting to ‘do’, rather than to ‘be’, but Jesus had the balance right, and that meant spending a lot of time alone with his Father, enabling him to go out and ‘do’ empowered by the Father’s love.

You’ll notice that Jesus never says “I think I have a prophetic word for you,” or “I feel like God might be saying…” Nor does he ever say “Thus says the Lord!” That doesn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t prophetic, or that God didn’t speak to him- quite the opposite! Jesus operated his whole life on hearing from God, as we see in John 5:19. “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” He was one with God and therefore was always listening to Him. As we are united with God, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are one with God too. This means we are able to operate from a place of hearing God’s voice always too. However the majority of us will not do this. Maybe because we don’t know how, because we haven’t had enough practice, or because we haven’t given God permission to do so. As we look to Jesus, let’s aim to hear God always as he did, and to operate our entire lives around hearing from God, not just when we give God permission. This will take practice, and to begin with it will take being intentional, however the more we let God’s voice in, the easier and more natural it will become. (If you want to grow in this, consider reading this blog, which gives a few ideas on how to be intentional and learn to hear God’s voice.)

So, let’s do as Jesus did. As you look to grow in the gift of prophecy, remember to have faith that God does and will speak to you, to operate out of love, to always go back to the Father, and to aim for a place in which you are always and continually hearing from God, as we see demonstrated in the life of Jesus.

by Joanna Millward

Prophetic Art

 

This month we interviewed John Rainford who is passionate about using the prophetic in his art.

Who are you?
I’m John Rainford, I’m married to Louise and we have two beautiful daughters. I work for the health service as a sonographer, doing ultrasound scans for patients referred by doctors, helping to make a diagnosis. From school age, art has always been a passion of mine. The only reason I didn’t choose art as a career was because I listened to a careers advisor who recommended I went down the science route instead! It’s interesting speaking to my professional artist friends, as they tell me having art as a hobby rather than a job means that art gives you more pleasure, rather than being something you have to do. Having said that, if I managed to make a career out of art that would be amazing!

What is Prophetic Art?
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, prophecy is all about pointing to Jesus and to the things of the kingdom. You can have a painting of a field of flowers that is just a painting of a field of flowers. However, when you paint a field of flowers prophetically there will be all kinds of things God is speaking to you about in that painting as you paint it. Images are very powerful in our culture, and God uses art in a way to reach people’s hearts to speak to them. Of course there is cross over as God can also speak through “secular” paintings and not every image produced in a prophetic setting will speak to people. The difference is that as you are prophetically painting, you are listening to God and worshipping him through your art.

How did you get into Prophetic Art?
In our prophecy team at church, we looked at our passions and what we would like to see happen in the setting of a church gathering in terms of the prophetic. This is the meeting that helped start prophetic welcome in our church which has been going really well, and also making sure we recorded any prophecies brought to the gathering. My idea was that I wanted to see prophetic art take place in the gatherings. This was something we had seen before in church, but the people that used to do it had left. So Cath said “Yes! What’s the next step?” This led me to liaise with church and get the chance to start painting within the morning gathering. Since then I’ve painted a few pictures whilst in the gathering. The first one was based on the topic “Home.” (You can see this just above this text.) This got me well and truly out of my comfort zone, I hadn’t prepared myself for how vulnerable you are standing at the front painting a picture! It’s been a year and half since then and I’ve been invited every now and again to paint at the front of church since.

What’s the difference for you between painting ‘normal’ art and painting prophetic art?
The difference between using your own imagination to paint and having a picture from God to paint is really significant. I think it’s a similar distinction to how when I read a book, I will visualise what the characters look like, whereas someone else may never have thought to do that, so won’t have a picture in their mind of what a character looks like. So using my imagination to paint, rather than the Holy Spirit, doesn’t give me the same sense of awe as when God gives me a picture in my mind’s eye of something to paint. When I paint in the prophetic I use skills that I’ve learnt and am developing, but I also listen to God while I’m painting and this brings a sense of awe while I do it in God’s presence. It’s about stepping out with God in it and engaging with him. I can barely remember the last time I painted something just for the sake of it rather than painting something prophetically.

How does it help you to engage with God?
Because of the way I’m made, the times I’ve spent soaking (resting in God’s presence), worshipping and then drawing have been really significant. As believers in Jesus we don’t just have our sins washed away but we have the righteousness of Jesus given to us so that we are righteous and can please God. That being able to please God, that my sketches are pleasing to God really encourages me. My little sketches are pleasing to God! It’s really interesting what God spoke to me through the harvest field painting. I tried drawing a few sketches beforehand just drawing, but at the end of my soaking time, I felt God say to put my sketches aside and start with a blank canvas and he would give me what I needed. I feel God takes me through steps of faith where it gets more nerve wrecking in one sense, but I know that he is faithful.

How do you go about painting a prophetic picture?
It’s been different on different occasions. Sometimes I’ve gone with something I’ve had quite a clear picture of in my head already. Other times, I really haven’t. Having talked to Oliver Pengilley (a fantastic prophetic artist) about this I’ve discovered he has had a similar journey too. Sometimes you know what you’re going to do but other times you have no idea. On those occasions, I’ve just begun by painting and worshipping, putting colour on a canvas and just using the skills I have and saying “God I want to praise you in this.” Prophecy comes from a place of love, so I like to show my love of God through my painting. One painting I started just by making little swirls on the canvas, simply having fun with God and enjoying his presence and then gradually something started to build up which eventually led me to know where to go next. It’s about engaging with God in every step, asking God “what should I do next?” I recently chatted to another prophetic artist, Oliver Pengilley, he as a professional uses a lot of reference photographs and pictures and I use these too, learning how things look and using those to help me make a picture. I use my skills as an artist, but prophetic art is all about coming from a place of intimacy, I always soak before a painting, so it’s about spending time with God in doing this thing that I enjoy.

How do you use prophetic art as worship?
Just like a musician can sing and worship God by raising their voice and playing an instrument, a painter or artist can paint to worship the Lord. It’s interesting that scripture says “don’t make graven images” it’s important that you’re not lifting your art above God, making sure that it’s not seen as putting something in the way of God, but that it’s actually something engaging with the Holy Spirit and praising God. It’s knowing the pleasure that God has in us deriving from the fact that we are his children and he delights in us worshipping him by doing a painting. It’s something that at home I haven’t really done much, but it would be good for me to get into the habit of saying God I just want to paint for you not for the purposes of anything other than worship, more often that I am now.

Do you think those who aren’t artistic could benefit from prophetic painting?
Absolutely! Oliver Pengilley ran a workshop at our church a couple of weeks ago and we had a few people that hadn’t painted since school age and it was a very positive experience for them. One of the ladies who was there had felt God say “I want you to paint for me” so she was there not having painted since school, and it was getting out of her comfort zone but it was really positive. The number of people that said “this is incredibly relaxing!” was very encouraging. There’s a sense of disengaging with many of your thoughts and stresses that are occupying your mind and just focussing on worshipping God through painting. It can be quite therapeutic, people came in with crowded thoughts, but then just focused on God and the painting so lots of people found it distressing. A lot of people who have quite a lot of brokenness or hurts find art very therapeutic hence art therapy. A lot of people say “I can’t do that” but I think everyone can learn to be creative, not everyone will create “masterpieces”, but everyone can learn to engage with art, have a go and have fun with God.

Do you have any tips for those wanting to give it a go?
“The longest journey starts with a single step.” You just need to show up and have a go. Grab a pencil and paper, spend time waiting on God, maybe reading the word of God, perhaps a good place to start is by looking at one of the Psalms and meditate on the word of God and let that be you inspiration. Then just begin, don’t be discouraged if what you see isn’t what gets put on the paper, just keep going and learning. Also, it would be great for us in gatherings to have times where you might have a couple artists doing things because it would be interesting to have two prophetic artists and see how God speaks through both in different ways. It’s all about willingness to have a go, all the amazing artists you see all had a first time for doing it. So I think it’s about just stepping out and seeing what God speaks through your drawings whether they’re just a mix of colours and shapes, or a master piece.

Where can we see your art, potentially commission a piece?
I have an e-mail address jrpropheticart@gmail.com if you want to get in touch or commission any art, currently I don’t have a website but it is something I need to get cracking on with. I’ll update you when I have one!

A note from Jo:

John painted my husband and I a prophetic picture for our living room when we bought a new house. It’s so lovely to have a painting that you know has been painted in worship to God, with the Holy Spirit’s input on what you will see when you look at it. This painting is based on a few different verses in the Bible  that were highlighted to John as he was worshipping God and praying for us such as Psalm 121:1-2 and Isaiah 40:31, and also on the way in which God speaks to both Shaun and I. I love water, waterfalls, rivers etc. and Shaun loves the imagery of the temple in the Bible so John was able to include those in the painting for us as well. I’ve also enjoyed doing a little prophetic art myself, although it’s only doodles in my journal, I find that God really speaks to me through the pictures that I find myself drawing.

 

All the pictures featured in this blog post are prophetic paintings by John Rainford.

Prophecy and Words of Knowledge

This blog is written by John White on some of his thoughts and observations on words of knowledge, and follows on from his previous blog on prophecy and tongues, which you can read here.

Scott Bader-Saye in his book “Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear” writes: “I used to think that the angels in the Bible began their messages with “Do not be afraid” because their appearance was so frightening. But I have come to think differently. I suspect that they begin this way because the quieting of fear is required in order to hear and do what God asks of us. Fear makes it difficult to replace Jesus’ ethic of risk with an ethic of security. In the end, following Jesus requires that we step out “into faith’s daring””.

God has given us amazing spiritual gifts, but to use these gifts, we have to quieten fear and step out into faith’s daring. This stepping out in faith can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to words of knowledge. Have I truly heard a word of knowledge from God? And what if the word is claimed by someone in the gathering? And what happens if nothing happens when the condition to which the word of knowledge refers is prayed for?

In my experience, there is a tendency in church circles to ask for words of knowledge before a church meeting, and then to hunt around in the gathering for a home for them! My desire is to see a sharpening up in accuracy and clarity in words of knowledge. It is about stepping out more and more into faith’s daring.

Here are some definitions of prophecy:

James Ryle: “Prophecy expresses the heart of God through the words of man to a person/group in any given situation for the purpose of building up in faith.”

John Wimber: “It is the supernatural ability to speak the mind of God on a given subject at a given time by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

Wayne Grudem: “Telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.”

Mike Bickle: “Prophecy is the testimony of Jesus’ heart for His people.”

Words of revelation (prophecy, words of knowledge, tongues/interpretation) open people’s eyes and ears to God.

A word of knowledge is information given supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. It may relate to past or present circumstances. The word points to what the Lord wants to do for someone, sometimes uncovering hidden causes underlying presenting symptoms in the person’s body or life. As with prophetic words and pictures, words of knowledge show the recipient that God knows and loves them (cf. John 4:16-19, 29, 39). Recipients are encouraged to request or open up to ministry when they would not otherwise have done so. They can have a powerful effect when praying with non-believers, as they encounter the power and presence of God in a non-religious way.

Words of knowledge can come in a number of ways. They can be thoughts or impressions. They can be stationary or moving pictures. They can come as sensations in the body, where there were none previously.

We may see the word of knowledge, either as a picture, vision or dream of a body, situation or incident.

We may read the word of knowledge, as a word or words superimposed over a person’s face or body.

We may hear the word of knowledge, either audibly or in our mind’s ear.

We may know the word of knowledge, experiencing a certainty in our spirit, or a sense of power in our body, or physical sensations (for example, heat, heaviness or tingling on our hands, showing that we should lay our hands on the person to whom the word of knowledge is spoken).

We may feel the word of knowledge as a strange or unaccustomed pain in our body where none was previously experienced.

We may say the word of knowledge spontaneously, speaking it out without previous thought or intention.

With the exception of personal and private tongues, the exercise of spiritual gifts requires public risk. So, how do you know if the words of knowledge are right?

It may sound obvious, but there is only one way – speak the words out and use what you have been shown. There must be humility, wisdom, love and gentleness shown. I think that it is so important for Christians to ask God for His permission to share or speak out words of revelation (prophecies and words of knowledge). Christians never gossip; they just share! It is so easy to blurt things out immediately; but sometimes it is best to wait for and discern the right time and occasion for the word spoken out or shared. Great care is required over sensitive issues. We can so easily underestimate the effect and power of receiving words of knowledge. If in doubt, stop. If in doubt, speak to a leader and check out the facts.

How do I get better at receiving words of knowledge? Jesus tells us to ask and it will be given (Matthew 7:7-11). I cannot emphasise enough the importance of expectation. We need to take every opportunity to exercise words of knowledge.

Expect God to give you words of knowledge. Ask God to give you more detail.

Expect words of knowledge to be specific. Too often, words are given that are very vague and general, that could apply to any number of different people in the gathering. I long to see specific and direct words of knowledge that there is no doubt within the gathering as to whom they apply. General words about, for example, someone struggling with back pain are not as powerful as a word about a slipped disc at L3/4 in the spine.

We all have our own spiritual vocabulary, through which God speaks to us in a way unique to our thinking, understanding and seeing. We need to ask God to grow our spiritual vocabulary, so that we can learn to hear and recognise His voice.

Paul writes in Philippians 4:8-9 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practise these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Also, in 1 Corinthians 2:16 – ““For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

So as we step out in the exercise and use of spiritual gifts, we need to have a Christian mind, one that is capable of thinking God’s thoughts after him. This is a plea to use the whole of God’s counsel, to read, meditate and act on God’s Word, the Bible. Let God’s Word inform our minds as we step out in words of knowledge.

What is a Prophetic Culture?

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to work alongside many different churches and support them as they grow a healthy prophetic culture. I spend a lot of my time thinking, talking and writing about the kind of prophetic culture that will bring tremendous blessing to God’s people – and have an impact on the world around us. Prophecy is great! It’s one of the most important gifts God has given his church. And it is certainly within reach of every church to develop a healthy and mature prophetic culture. But what exactly do we mean by this?

A prophetic culture is not primarily about structures and activities, but is about values and principles. To be strategic in growing such a culture it’s important to address issues of culture before structure.

A healthy and biblical prophetic culture is going to have these key hallmarks:

  1. Word and Spirit

To grow a holistic prophetic culture, both Word and Spirit need to be encompassed, so that there is healthy engagement with both the Bible and the person of the Holy Spirit. People need to understand how the two interact with each other and how we should grow in engagement with both of them.

  1. Discipleship and Accountability

A prophetic culture needs to be grounded in a culture of discipleship and accountability, where everyone knows that their primary calling and identity is that of a disciple. Discipleship is at the very heart of our Christian faith. It’s about choosing to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, hearing him and obeying him.

A discipleship culture is one where we regularly ask ourselves, “What is God saying to me and what am I going to do about it?” – and where we are accountable to others about the answers to these two key questions.

  1. Community

A prophetic culture also needs to be grounded in community. This is the crucial lens through which we must always view prophetic gifts, and as we look at the New Testament model of prophecy we see that its true home is a healthy, thriving community of God’s people. Prophecy is not designed to exist in a vacuum.

Prophetic ministry that is grounded in community will counteract the consumer tendencies inherent in society, because the focus naturally shifts to the community hearing God together, rather than it all being about a few individuals. The more we practice listening to God together, in our local expressions of church, the more we will take on the identity of the flock of Jesus hearing him corporately, with everyone having a valid contribution to make.

A thriving Christian community is one made up of all ages, and one of the best ways to grow a healthy prophetic culture is to release the children and teach them how to prophesy. In fact kids generally find it much easier to hear God’s voice because they tend to have much less emotional ‘baggage’ to get in the way. We recently had all the children praying and prophesying over the adults at the end of a Sunday service, which was a blessing to all concerned, and a great picture of community coming together to engage with God.

  1. Rooted in the Father’s love

A healthy prophetic culture will be one where people are secure in the love of their heavenly Father and their identity as children of God. As we seek to develop prophetic ministry in our churches it’s vital that the foundations of this ministry are a deep understanding of the Covenantal relationship that God calls us into. We can live our lives in the knowledge that the most loving, kind and generous person we will ever meet is extending his arms to us and constantly watching over us. In this relationship we experience amazing love, acceptance and forgiveness; all of our needs for affirmation and approval are met; we know that God is pleased with us.

As we journey deeper into Covenant we find the antidote for legalism and striving. We can’t strive to hear our Father’s voice – we only hear him from a place of love, rest and security.

  1. Expectancy

To grow a thriving and effective prophetic culture it’s important that we become expectant and confident that God will speak to us if we ask him to. This is not about a few faith-filled individuals, but about a community that expects to hear God’s voice. It’s about a corporate attitude of expectancy. Too often the reason we are not seeing the Kingdom of God break out in our midst with signs and wonders is because we’re not actually expecting God to do much, and we’re certainly not putting ourselves in the place where we really need God to speak. As Graham Cooke writes,

Expectancy is the lifeblood of moving in the Spirit.”

  1. Multiplication

One of the things that excites me most about a mature prophetic culture is that it is multipliable: it reproduces itself. We first of all have to demystify the prophetic and make it accessible for everyone. To effectively multiply prophetic ministry we need to do it in such a way so that others can imitate us. We have to give people a framework to climb on. So this means not just doing ministry at the front of church, but being close enough to people so that they can see how it works in our lives on a day-to-day basis. It means inviting people to come and join in with us.

  1. Mission

A mature prophetic culture will always have a strong outward dimension. It sees prophecy as a gift not just to be kept within the confines of the church, but one to be taken outside the church walls, and to be used as an effective tool in evangelism. As we learn to hear and communicate God’s will and intention, his Spirit will always be directing us out into the world. As our spiritual hearing becomes clearer and sharper we will inevitably find ourselves tuning in to the missional heartbeat of God and speaking his words of life to people.

I lead a local huddle with five members of my church, and in this huddle I see the microcosm of a thriving, dynamic prophetic culture:

  • Joanna and Shaun lead a missional community that is focussed on the area of Hillsborough. They are committed to building a community that is confident in the use of prophetic gifts to the extent that these gifts can be taken out into Hillsborough and used to reveal the goodness and love of God to people.
  • Tony is working alongside one of Sheffield’s ‘Healing on the Streets’ teams and regularly goes out on the streets to share words of life with passers-by.
  • John is a talented artist and paints prophetic picture  in response to what God is saying to us as a church. These wonderful paintings are a visual aspect of the worship life of our church.
  • Joanne helps leads the Prophetic Welcome team at church. Once a month a trained team welcome people as they walk into church by giving them prophetic words

All five are being regularly discipled through my huddle and are motivated by a desire to serve the church and extend the Kingdom through the prophetic gifts God has given them. They are also committed to the principle of multiplication and are regularly investing in others.

How to Grow in the Gift of Prophecy (Prophetic Activations)

Together with my husband and a couple of friends, I lead a missional community called Navi. One of the visions for our community is that everyone in it will learn to hear from God for themselves, for each other, and for people we meet on the street. We have a group of people who are all praying to hear God more and hear His voice more clearly, but who are very varied in their experience. follow-the-white-rabbitSome have been growing in the gift of prophecy for years, and others are at the very beginning of their journeys. Every other week when we meet together, we do something called a ‘Prophetic Activation’ to help us grow in the gift of prophecy.

It’s important once you have decided that you want to grow in the gift of prophecy and hearing God’s voice, and you have asked God for the gift to start listening. However, telling someone to ‘just listen’ isn’t very helpful if you’ve never done it before. Therefore, I have put together a list of ‘Prophetic Activations’ which we use in our missional community which will hopefully help you on your journey to grow in the gift of prophecy.

But firstly, what is a Prophetic Activation?

A Prophetic Activation is an exercise to help us grow in the gift of prophecy by practicing. Activations aim to help us learn how God speaks to us, and how to decipher when it’s God speaking and not our own thoughts. This is one of the biggest battles we face when we begin to grow in the gift of prophecy- “How do I know it’s God speaking, and it’s not just me?” There is no simple answer to this- all we can do is practice. The more we step out in prophecy, the clearer God’s voice will become.

team-472488_1280It’s important that when you try these exercises, you try them in a small group of Christians who feel safe with one another. Make sure everyone knows that you’re allowed to get it wrong. The important thing here is not to get it right, but to move forward on our journey to getting it right. Learning from our mistakes help us on that journey, more so than always getting it right does!

Basic Activations- for beginners

  • Bible Character
    • Get into pairs. Ask God “which bible character is my partner like?” Who pops into your mind? Share with your partner whoever that character is. Now ask God, “why is my partner like that character?” Share again whatever pops into your mind about that bible character.
  • Fruit
    • Get into pairs. Ask God “what fruit is my partner like?” Whatever fruit pops into your mind, share that with your partner. Now ask God, “why is my partner like that piece of fruit?” Again, share with your partner whatever it is that pops into your mind. This one often makes people laugh as it feels silly. Laughter is a great way to relieve pressure and enjoy the process of learning.
  • Bible Verse
    • Get into pairs. Ask God “what bible verse/passage do you want to speak over my partner?” It’s likely that God will bring a few verses/passages/stories to mind that you know well. The better we know our bibles, the better we are likely to be at this activation. Share with your partner the verse that is on your mind for them. Don’t start preaching to them, or explaining what it means, but ask God what you think is significant about that passage for your partner in that moment.

These activations are purposed to help us get rid of some of the noise going on in our brains. Although limiting God to a piece of fruit may feel silly, it helps us to focus. After sharing with your partner, ask them what felt right and what felt wrong. It may be that you got it completely wrong! That’s absolutely fine. Keep praying, and keep trying. The more you get it wrong, the more you know what not to do.

Blind Activations

cute-15719_1280It’s often easy to ‘cheat’ at prophecy by using facial clues, or by going on knowledge that we already know about the person. This is often why it’s so difficult to prophesy over those closest to us, such as our spouse, because we know too much about them!  These next few activations are designed to help us be completely dependent on God, rather than what we already know. They also help us practice for when we prophesy over strangers, rather than those we know and feel safe with.

  • Blindfolded
    • Get into groups of between 3 and 8. Blindfold one person. Then, silently nominate one of the others in the group to be prophesied over. The blindfolded participant then asks God for a word for the nominated person, and shares it while still blindfolded.
  • Names in a hat
    • This works really well for a large group. Write your names on a slip of paper, then fold it up and put it in a hat. Mix them up! Now everyone takes out a slip of paper but they can’t look at the name on it yet. Ask God for a prophecy for the person on the slip of paper. God knows who it is, but we don’t! Now take it in turns to share the word you have. When you have said what the word is, open up your piece of paper. That’s who it was for- it could even have been your name on the paper meaning you have prophesied over yourself!
  • Prophecy Consequences
    • Get in a group of at least 6 in a circle. Everyone needs a piece of paper. Write your name at the top of the paper and then fold over so you can’t see your name, but there is the majority of the paper left unfolded. Now, collect all the pieces of paper together, shuffle them, and hand them out. Do not look at the name you are given. Next, ask God for a prophecy for that person- whatever comes to mind is fine. Write it down underneath the fold, and then fold over what you have just written. Then pass this piece of paper to the person on your right. Continue asking God for prophecies for each of the pieces of paper you are given, until you run out of space on the paper. Now unfold the paper and hand it to the person on the top.

These activations are great practice for when you go out on mission and know nothing about the person you are walking up to. The final two can also help us to prophesy over ourselves without even knowing it. This can be very encouraging as often we are braver with prophesies over other people, than hearing God for ourselves. I remember one lady prophesying that the person was a great leader, to then find she’d spoken over herself something she never would have said otherwise. It was a very powerful moment!

God Speaks in Different Ways

candy-171343_1280So far, you may have found some of these activations easier than others- that’s because we are all different and God speaks to us all in our own language and ways we understand. The following activation aims to help you understand in what way you find it easiest to hear from God, and to help you grow in the other ways.

  • Word/Picture/Bible Verse/Sense
    • Get into groups of 4. Name yourselves A, B, C and D. A asks God for a word for B. B asks God for a picture for C. C asks God for a bible verse for D. D asks God for a sense/feeling for A. Spend some time listening to God and then share with each other. Then swap who is doing what. A asks God for a picture for B etc.

I find it easiest to hear God through pictures, however it’s really important that I don’t limit God to this. You may also find one easiest, which is brilliant, but make sure you are also practicing the other ways as we don’t want to miss anything God says to us. You may also find that each of these ways (word, picture, sense etc.) feed into each other; it can be difficult to separate them. Don’t worry too much, just give it a go!

 

I hope these prophetic activations help you on your journey to grow in the gift of prophecy. They have definitely helped me on my journey, and are also helping those in our missional community to step out and listen too.

If you are finding it difficult to find people to do these with, but want to grow personally in the gift of prophecy, you may consider joining one of our skype coaching huddles. Read more about those here.

What is Anointing?

As a mother of three girls aged 18, 16 and 12, who are all wonderfully different, I am acutely aware of how dangerous it can be to compare ourselves with others. Having to navigate the teenage landscape of exam results, friendship groups, proms, ballet classes and boyfriends, it sometimes seems like every aspect of my daughters’ lives involves comparison with others (including their siblings) and the need for us as parents to provide constant affirmation and reassurance.

And it’s not much better in the church, particularly when it comes to prophetic gifts.

If we’re honest with ourselves, many of us spend far too much time comparing ourselves unfavourably with those around us – making judgements based on what we perceive to be evidence of other people’s anointing and giftedness. This way of thinking is rooted in insecurity and is quite detrimental to our own spiritual growth, and actually ends up preventing many people from learning to hear God’s voice for themselves –

 “I could never be as spiritual/anointed/gifted as that person… so why should I bother trying to hear God myself?

I’m very aware that in certain church circles there is what might be (somewhat cynically) described as a prophetic hierarchy. Everyone knows who the most gifted prophet is, and everyone knows the criteria used to judge relative levels of prophetic anointing: which usually boils down to how many angels have been encountered, how accurate the ‘reading of my mail’ has been, and how ‘spot on’ their words of knowledge have been.

Now I willingly put my hand up and confess to having used these very criteria from time to time in assessing the relative levels of ‘anointing’ of many of the prophetic people I have known over the years. There is something in our human nature that likes to categorise and stratify, to judge and measure, but at the end of the day it’s really unhelpful.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t recognise and honour gifted prophets and appreciate the gift they can be to us. Let’s be thankful for them and the potential they have to hugely bless the community. It’s important that churches can answer the question “Who are our prophets?” – because they can then release them to serve the church with their ministry.

measuringupAnd as a prophetic person myself I am always hungry for more. I want to hear God more clearly and I long for an unhindered flow of revelation. So there is a temptation to use this same judging criteria against myself – sometimes in a healthy way, giving thanks for what God does through me, but perhaps more often in a negative way as I compare my prophetic ministry with others.

Now of course at its basic level the prophetic is simply about hearing God’s voice, and some of us find that easier to do than others. I have spent a lot of my time over the last ten years helping people hear God more clearly and I love doing this. Paul tells us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1), and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be sharper, clearer and more accurate as we exercise the gift of prophecy.

But the problem with judging and measuring different levels of prophetic ‘anointing’ is that it causes us to be introspective and self-focused, rather than focused on equipping others, and it reflects a very one-dimensional view of the prophetic. It leads us to asking the wrong sort of questions.

 Rather than measuring each other’s levels of anointing, and comparing ourselves with other people, a far more profound question to ask of ourselves is “Am I living a prophetic lifestyle?”

I met a friend for a coffee a while ago and he asked me a question along the lines of “What does it mean to be a mature prophet?” In giving him my answer I realised that over the last few months I’ve come to have a much more holistic understanding of prophetic expression and ministry. I believe that a truly prophetic lifestyle is one where we:

  • Reveal: reveal the Father’s heart and the light of Jesus to people
  • Equip: help other people to hear God for themselves
  • Steward: be good stewards of whatever He gives us

Did Jesus measure anointing?

John the Baptist was the last – and greatest – of the old covenant prophets. Jesus said of him, “Among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28), but when we examine his ministry we find few prophetic utterances recorded in the pages of the scripture. His significance was not in the quality or quantity of the prophecies he delivered; he was the greatest prophet for the simple reason that he prepared the way for the Messiah and bore witness to Him.

 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him.  Luke 1:76

lynDyjGSR9eR57ouPIEE_IMG_woodsAll John really did was prepare the way for Jesus. Our understanding of John’s role and ministry should inform our perspective on prophecy. There is something about the mature prophetic ministry which opens up the way for Jesus, that goes ahead of the Lord and makes hearts and minds ready to receive His message.

And as I look around at my prophetic friends, the ones I most want to imitate and follow are not necessarily the ones who can tell me what I had for breakfast yesterday, but the ones who are so captivated by the love of God, and who are so committed to following Jesus wherever He leads them, that their whole life is a beautiful prophetic picture: God is revealed to everyone who meets them.

 For all of us who desire to really grow in the prophetic, it’s worth reflecting on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. The message of this parable is to be good stewards of whatever we are given. Jesus says that if we are faithful in a little we will be given much. We need to take what we’ve got and invest it well, even if it’s really little.

Some of us wait a lifetime to receive what we consider to be a reasonable level of ‘anointing’, but it’s the people who are prepared to step out in faith with the smallest level of prophetic proficiency that will see the greatest return on their investment. I’m always incredibly challenged by the people I know who, with grateful hearts, put whatever gift God has given them to work with utter determination.

 Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Matthew 25:21

So let’s choose to have a mature and healthy approach to growing in spiritual gifts and anointing. It’s not about comparing ourselves with others. Rather it’s about pursuing God’s heart, seeking to be a blessing to others, and being faithful stewards of whatever gifts He gives us.

 

 

Absurdity, Obedience and Listening to God

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Our blog this week is written by John White, one of the members of the Accessible Prophecy team.

You know the scenario. You have just used your smartphone; you put it down; you walk out of the room to make a cup of tea; you walk back into the room; and you cannot remember where you put your phone. I’ve just used it a minute ago. Where is it? Ridiculous!

Another scenario; you are driving down to Cornwall. After the tediously long M5, you have reached Exeter and join the A30. A dual carriageway that goes all the way down to Penzance, bypassing Okehampton, Launceston and Bodmin. But what’s this! Just north of Bodmin, the A30 becomes a single carriageway, which results in a massive back up of traffic going north and south. Everything was going really well until this massive traffic jam. Why is there a six-mile single-carriageway bottleneck in a very busy arterial dual carriageway? Ridiculous!

Now you may be thinking that these scenarios, which were my experience over the summer, reflect more on my forgetfulness and impatience. Yes, sadly, there are times when I go upstairs and forget why I have gone up in the first place. And, yes, I am the world’s most impatient person. I enjoy playing patience; but to be patient for an hour, a day, a week or whatever, that is just asking for the impossible!

It is absurd that I can mislay something so quickly. It is absurd that on a major highway, taking holidaymakers into Cornwall, there should be a six-mile bottleneck. I am feeling distinctly grumpy! Absurd!

This has set me thinking. Why ‘absurd’? What does the word really mean? Where does it come from?

Some of you may be familiar with Samuel Beckett’s play, ‘Waiting for Godot’. There is a line in the play –

Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful” Samuel Beckett, ‘Waiting for Godot’.

Here we are introduced to the absurdity of human life, where human existence is portrayed as meaningless or ridiculous.

The word ‘absurd’ has an interesting root. It comes from a Latin word, ‘absurdus’, consisting of ‘ab’, meaning ‘from’, and ‘surdus’, meaning ‘deaf’ or ‘inaudible’ or ‘indistinct’

So, the root of absurdity is inaudibility or indistinctness.

In George Bernard Shaw’s play ‘St Joan’, one of the characters asks Joan of Arc why the voice of God never speaks to him as she claims it speaks constantly to her.

The voice speaks to you all the time,” she says. “You just fail to listen.”

One of the reasons why I think that God’s voice is inaudible or indistinct is that we are not attentive. We fail to listen to God.

The Bible shows us that God speaks: to Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden; to Abraham; to Moses; to the judges, David & the kings, to the prophets; through Jesus Christ to the disciples; to the early church; and finally to John on the island of Patmos in Revelation. God does speak, but he does so in a number of ways

Job 33:14 – “For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it.”

Let me just highlight some verses from the Bible …

Dt.6:4,5 – “Hear, O Israel: ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere, at the very heart of the covenant relationship between God and his people, there is a requirement to hear God and to love God. Our listening to the voice of God becomes a pathway to our loving God.

Lk.10:39 – “She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”

I can imagine Martha thinking that it was ridiculous that Mary was not helping her when Jesus came round. How absurd to sit and listen to Jesus, when she should be giving me a hand! Well, we must never let our ‘busyness’ take priority over listening to God.

Mk.9:7 – “Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’”

Peter had great plans to build three monuments to the Transfiguration experience. But God knew better. Monuments can only ever look backwards. Peter needed to listen to, and follow, Jesus.

Jn.10:3,4,27: “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. … My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

I find this verse really encouraging and challenging at the same time. On the one hand, it is encouraging, because I am no longer my own, but Jesus’. On the other hand, it is challenging, because Jesus expects me to hear his voice. It is obvious, because in any relationship there is a belonging to each other and hearing each other

(Jn.8:47 – “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”).

Apart from our lack of attentiveness, there are also times when God’s voice is inaudible or indistinct. I am wondering whether this silence has to do with ‘absurdity’. We so crowd our lives out that we leave no space for God to speak into our lives. Materially purposeful lives, but spiritually purposeless lives.

I was reflecting on Isaiah 50:10-11:
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Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.”

Isaiah is not speaking of moral darkness, but of a time of great difficulty, hardship or need. It is in then that we experience the sound of God’s silence. We feel that God has abandoned us, or at the very least has stopped speaking to us. The absurdity of the inaudibility of God’s voice? Or should it be the absurdity of our ‘busyness’ and inattentiveness to hear the voice God?

When we are very busy and not spending time listening to God, we can be tempted to run ahead of God. As Isaiah puts it, we can create our own light, instead of waiting for God’s light.

meT391cWhen I am too busy for God, when I am inattentive to his voice, when I am spiritually dull, I know that I am deadly. Knives that are dull, or blunt, are deadly and dangerous to use. Knives need to be sharp to be effective. I am only ever truly sharp when I am alive to God’s voice. The answer to my spiritual dullness is to be attentive to the voice of God.

The danger of living a spiritually absurd life, inattentive to the voice of God, is that I begin to live in the ‘what was’, living out of memories, living off yesterday’s fruit. I don’t want to remain in the ‘what was’. I want to live in the ‘what will be’, because it means that I am moving forwards. Movements, by definition, move forwards. ‘What will be’ takes me forwards into a better future. Monuments, by definition, look back to a past season of ‘what was’, going nowhere and gathering dust.

If absurdity is all about the inaudibility of God’s voice, then my second word, ‘obedience’ is about listening. The Latin verb ‘obaudire’, “to listen”, is the origin of the English word ‘obedience’. Listening is a form of obedience. We can be very selective in our listening, in our obedience. But selective obedience is not obedience; it is convenience.

I am reminded of that strange incident in 2 Kings 13:14-19, when the king only struck the ground three times and then stopped. Elisha was angry with him, because he should have struck the ground five or six times for complete victory.

Is there a correlation between striking the ground and complete victory, or is this about the king’s disobedience? Perhaps, Elisha told him to strike the ground five or six times, but he decided to limit it to three strikes. Was he disobedient, or afraid of looking foolish, or did he think that he knew best?

Listening to God requires our obedience. It means letting go of what we think we know best. It means not being afraid of looking foolish. The more we know God, the more we will recognise his voice, the more we will listen to him, the more we will obey him.

 mgyl2fOTwenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

In my heart, I want to live a life where I can explore, dream and discover all of God’s plans and purposes for me. But to do that, I need to be spiritually alive, not living a dull or absurd life inaudible to the voice of God.

In closing, I am reminded of Song of Solomon 2:14-15 –

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

So when I am in absurd situations, or when I have made absurd choices, when I have failed to listen obediently to the voice of God, then I need to cry out to God to see his face, to hear his voice, and to repent of my sins (those little foxes) that spoil my relationship with him.

Hebrews 3:7 –

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice”.

Today, I am saying yes to obedience and no to absurdity.

Now, where did I put my phone?

Receiving Prophecy: God has spoken to me, what do I do now?

When we start to hear from God, for ourselves and through other people, it is important to know how to take hold of what God says to us, and to respond well. It can become all too easy to simply enjoy a prophecy in the moment and then forget about it the next day. However, God is very intentional in the way He speaks to us, and we need to take on the discipline of being intentional in the way we respond to prophecies.

“Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

Here we can see that the Bible tells us not to take prophecy lightly, but to test everything and hold on to the good things that God says to us. So how do we do this? How should we respond? What should we do when we receive a prophetic word, or God speaks to us directly?

I have been immersed in a prophetic culture for three years now, and in those three years I have learnt how to do this.

So, here are my top 5 tips on how to receive a word from God well. I’ll be using the example of a simple prophecy given to me in the past, “God loves you,” in order to demonstrate how to do this.

1) Write it down!

This is absolutely vital. Even if you hwriting-in-diary-786818-mave recorded the prophecy on your phone, I would recommend you also write it down when you get the chance. By writing it down, even if you don’t have time to process it immediately, it is easy to come back to. I personally have a journal specifically for prophecy, so that I don’t mislay loose bits of paper with God’s words for me on them! Also, I am far more likely to purposefully pick up my prophecy journal and flick through it, than to go through voice recordings on my phone.

By doing this:

    • All my prophecies are in the same place.
    • I don’t forget prophecies which I am given.
    • I am able to look back on prophecies from the past and see the fruit from them.
    • I am able to come back to prophecies which were given to me which I didn’t have time to process when they were given to me.

When I look back at old prophecies, I really do see fruit from them, so I cannot recommended enough getting your own journal dedicated for prophetic words.

2) Weigh it

Weighing prophecy is essential in order to check that the word you have been given is wholly from God. When we weigh a prophecy, we do not judge the person who has given us the word; we are testing the word that was given.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself and God, which should help you identify whether or not the word is from God.

• Where has it come from?
        o The Holy Spirit
        o My own agendas
        o An evil spirit
• Does it align with scripture?
• Does it strengthen, encourage and comfort?
• Does it point to Jesus and glorify Him?
• Does it resonate, and bring a sense of peace?

If the answer to these questions are the Holy Spirit and yes, then it is time to respond to the prophecy you have been given. If not, give the word back to God and surrender it to Him, ask Him to bring it up again in a different way if it is in fact something He wants you to deal with.

The word “God loves you” is a definite yes to all of these questions. An evil spirit would not tell me that God loves me as that would go against its agenda. However, it is very much like the Holy Spirit to want me to know I am loved. It aligns with scripture, strengthens, encourages and comforts me, points to Jesus and resonates with what I already know. Therefore, I move on to step 3.

3) Reflect

Now you know that the prophecy is from God, it’s time to start thinking about what it might mean. I like to journal my thoughts about it, as writing is something which gets my thoughts flowing. However, you may choose to have some soaking time in order to think about it, or perhaps you like silence. We all hear God in different ways as I explored a few months ago in this blog post, so find a way to reflect which works for you. Once you have reflected on your own, talk to someone else you trust about it too and reflect upon it with them.

Here are some questions you might like to ask yourself when reflecting on a prophecy:

• Does it relate to anything that has been said over me before?
• Is it to do with a particular situation in my life right now?
• Is it an encouragement to change my behaviour?
• Does it resonate with anything I’ve been learning about God recently?
• Why has God chosen to give me this particular word?
        o Is it simply to encourage me and make me feel affirmed and loved?
        o Does God want me to process something deeper?
        o Does God want me to take action?

I very much like to be led by God in my reflecting time. I ask God what He is saying about the prophecy I’ve been given, and ask Him to guide my reflection time. Sometimes I don’t really need to ask many questions, I simply ask God “What is your intention for me with this word?” and then I trust that my thoughts and reflections are guided by the Holy Spirit.

With the word “God loves you” there are many different things God could be saying to me. Perhaps my heart is broken and He wants to heal it with His love. Or maybe I am acting like someone who is unloved and He wants me to change my behaviour. I could be feeling lonely and this could be an encouragement that I am not alone, or God could be encouraging me to go deeper in His love and experience more of it for myself. Even a very simple word such as “God loves you,” which may not seem very personal, has a personal intention specifically for me and therefore it requires reflection and response.

If God tells you that you are loved, then you must begin to know that you are loved; live it, act like it, and be strengthened by it. Do not just let words from the King roll off your back, but allow them into your heart, and be transformed by them.

4) Take it to Jesus

mhGyknCOnce you have reflected on the word for yourself, and discussed it with a friend, repent of anything you have done which has hurt Jesus. For example in this word “God loves you” I need to repent of when I have forgotten that God is there for me and loves me.

Say sorry to God for any wrong behaviours, then hand over that sin to Jesus. I find it very helpful to picture myself handing over that sin to Jesus, and then I ask Him to show me what He is doing with it. You may get a sense that He is pinning it to the cross to die with Him, or perhaps He takes it from you and puts it behind Him so that you can no longer see it.

It is also key to note that repentance doesn’t mean just saying sorry and carrying on, but it means to turn away from it. Therefore, leave behind the sin that God has spoken to you about, and turn your eyes towards Jesus.

5) Make a plan and stick to it!

This one can be difficult. Some people love reflecting on what God says to them, but then never do anything about it, and go straight back to the way they were before. Many other people may not reflect on the word before making a plan straight away, and then fail to stick to it because there hasn’t been a heart change. To respond well to God’s words, we need to make both a heart change, and an external one.

Therefore, once you have reflected and repented, make a plan as to how you are going to start acting on what God has told you. Don’t set yourself unobtainable goals, but set realistic ones which will stretch you and are also believable.

For my word, “God loves you,” I chose to read passages in the Bible which speak of God’s love, in order for His truth to settle on me even more. I also planned to, if ever I had thoughts of feeling unloved, stop in that moment and recheck my thinking, reminding myself of who God is, and what He thinks of me. I then told a close friend that I trusted these things, and asked her to check up on me and hold me accountable to the plans I had made.

So whatever your word is from God, make a plan of how you can hold onto the things He has said, and how you can act upon that word. Then, tell someone you trust about your plan, and ask them to hold you accountable to it.

Prophecy: A Covenant and Kingdom Perspective Part 2

Last month I blogged on “Rooting the Prophetic in Covenant” by adapting a chapter from my new book which is to be published later this year. You can read that blog by clicking here. This month is part two of “Prophecy: A Covenant and Kingdom Perspective” and looks at the importance of a kingdom mindset in regards to the gift of prophecy.

What is Kingdom?

The theme of Kingdom is the other great thread that runs through the whole of the Bible, and whereas Covenant is all about relationship, Kingdom is about responsibility.

Covenant draws us deep into the Father’s love whereas Kingdom sends us out from that place to, quite simply, change the world.

It’s important that Covenant comes first: otherwise we become driven, legalistic and task-focused. But without a deep understanding of Kingdom we will see little breakthrough and will be a people full of unfulfilled potential.

Kingdom is about the responsibility God gives to those with whom he has established a Covenant. It is about representing the King and taking the responsibility to act on his behalf and extend his Kingdom.

Kingdom and Prophecy

moRKKPGA Kingdom perspective brings great balance, and a necessary outward momentum, to prophetic ministry. There is a tendency for prophetic people to be quite content remaining in their prayer closets, happily pouring out their love and adoration to God, enjoying his presence. Which is all well and good, apart from the obvious lack of engagement with the world around them. This is where Kingdom comes in. Whereas Covenant is all about stepping back, and resting in the Father’s love, Kingdom brings motivation to step out in the prophetic. It makes prophecy active, dynamic and forward moving.

The Kingdom dimension of prophecy begins with us really understanding who the King is:

Jesus is the name above all names and all authority in heaven and in earth has been given to him (Matthew 28:18).

We can have great confidence in this. When we have a revelation of Jesus as the King of Kings, who has defeated even death, that revelation should increase our faith in the authority with which he speaks. When we hear his voice speaking into our lives we can know that his words are not weak and inconsequential – rather they have power to bring transformation.

  • God, what is your will in this situation?
  • God, where does your Kingdom need to be established in this situation?

Being able to look at the world and see where it needs to come into alignment with God’s Kingdom is helpful. One of the key roles of a prophet is to call things into alignment with God’s Kingdom. For example, to speak out about the injustice of poverty.

The Kingdom is about the King’s domain, and the more familiar we get with his domain, the more confidence we have to operate within it. As we get to know the nature of his rule, we can speak out aspects of the Kingdom with confidence and authority. As prophetic people we can look at the world and see where it needs to come into alignment with God’s Kingdom.

Prophecy and Kingdom in action

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As we learn how to operate in the gift of prophecy then our regular question should be, “How can I advance God’s Kingdom through this gift?” Thinking from a Kingdom perspective gives us a great sense of anticipation: that we can be about the business of the King and Kingdom – by doing something as simple as listening and speaking things out on his behalf.

The prophetic shows us where God is at work so that we can go and join in with him on Kingdom business. We know the Kingdom is at hand (Mark 1: 15), so let’s engage with the discipline of asking the Lord to show us. In every situation, and with everyone we meet, we can pray for eyes to see his Kingdom, and pray for further Kingdom breakthrough.

Representing the goodness, kindness and generosity of God is a key part of the calling of a prophet. As prophetic people, we have a responsibility to hear God’s voice and to channel his living word to those who need to hear it. We are called to live a generous lifestyle because we represent the King, and the King is very generous. Therefore it is important for us to be generous with what we have been freely given. Most of us will think this way in terms of money already (by tithing, for example.) However it is also important to be generous with our spiritual gifts as well as physical and financial gifts.

Testimony

Here is a testimony written by Joanna who has recently been learning to live with a kingdom mindset with her gift of prophecy.

“Having both a covenant and kingdom mind-set is relatively new to me. Three years ago I thought only of kingdom and little of covenant. However after learning about both, I now have switched and seem to operate far more in covenant than I do in kingdom. I have become very comfortable in the mind-set that I am God’s daughter and He is my Daddy and loves to give me good gifts. But, I have become too comfortable. I may well be hearing God for myself, however I am not using the gift of prophecy to bring God’s kingdom or to love strangers. I talked to Cath about it and she challenged me, asking what made me think this gift was just for me? This really challenged my way of thinking. Yes God will still love me if I say no to his calling on my life, He will never love me any more or less than he does today, no matter what I do or do not do. However, if I say yes to what God has on offer for me, how much could that gift bless other people and not just me? Am I being selfish by keeping this amazing gift to myself by saying no? Yes! God has offered me a gift which has the potential to massively bless people, and I believe he is giving me the opportunity to be a part of that blessing. I do not want to be selfish with the gifts God gives me, I want to be generous with the gifts I’m given, and I want to take responsibility for them. If God gave me £1000 and said it was for a certain charity, would I turn it down because the journey to give it was not easy? No, even if the journey was tough, I’d like to think I could be a channel for that money to be put to God’s use. In the same way, I need to take responsibility for the spiritual gifts God gives me which He has a plan for, God has generously given me the gift of prophecy, and therefore I need to be a channel for Him to use that gift for His intentions, His kingdom, His will and not mine.” Joanna Millward, Accessible Prophecy

  • Is there a challenge for you in this?
  • Are you asking God how to use your spiritual gifts to follow his will and bring His Kingdom?