Monday, April 13, 2009

Listening for God to Speak

“Despise not prophesying” (1 Thessalonians 5:20).

The Bible only tells us things that we need to know. And even some of that is way over our heads, for that is far down we have fallen! He says here that we are not to despise prophesying – this must be said because left to ourselves we most certaily would despise it. Let me explain.

The word despise means “to deem unworthy of consideration; to discount as unimportant and insignificant; to dismiss without any regard.” In our Western culture of logical facts and fixed statistics, things like prophesying tend to be viewed as more than a little loopy.

And of course, it doesn’t help matters when many of those who do the prophesying are in fact loopy individuals; men and women with electric eyeballs and frazzled appearance, one chapter short in the book of social protocol, and too often quite dramatic in their methods of delivery. And, speaking in King James English doesn’t help matters either.

Neverthelss, the word of the Lord stands sure; and He tells us to not despise prophesying. But what exactly is this thing called prophesying, and how can we recognize it when it happens?

Prophesying, by definition, means “to speak under divine inspiration.” It is the act of giving a timely message from God to a person, or to a people. It may concern the future, but most often deals with some present situation. And always, according to the Apostle Paul, the result will be “edification, exhortation, and comfort”(1 Co.14:3).

The gift of prophesying may express itself in many ways. A sermon on a Sunday morning may be filled with prophetic life, as the pastor brings a timely word from the Lord to his congregation. Or a conversation over a cup of coffee may be the ocassion when a prophetic word breaks through the otherwise casual moment. Sometimes a song playing on the radio can be packed with such personal meaning and happen at so timely a moment, that the person hearing it experiences God’s presence speaking to them through it.

There are in fact many ways in which God may speak a prophetic word to us, and tomorrow I will give you seven ways to recognize when He is doing it.


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