Hear The Prophetic Voice

2 Chronicles 20:20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem: believe in Jehovah your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

 

      The prophetic voice and vision, that the prophet brought forth as a spokesman for God, was taken seriously when destruction was about to take place within a nation. Life and death were dependent upon following the instructions of the prophet who had inquired of God. The Lord’s clear directions came down to deliver some and destroy others. Hopefully, those needing God’s help were delivered of the calamity surrounding them. God rarely, if ever did anything among His people without first revealing His plans to the prophet. Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets. God gives revelation knowledge and instructions to the prophet, and the prophet in turn gives the people warnings, instructions, and admonitions. With this method of interaction, Almighty God could meet the people’s needs and direct their lives in the will of God.

 

      We can see this ordered relationship taking place when God is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Gen. 18:17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? The judgment that is planned for Sodom and Gomorrah is explained to Abraham and Abraham begins to reason with God as to whether destroying the righteous along with the sinful population was the right thing to do. Sadly the only righteous found in the city was Lot, and by default his family. The conclusion that this interaction with Abraham leaves with us, demonstrates that had there been a few righteous souls in these two locations, God would have had mercy and spared them. Gen. 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous.

 

      The prophet’s word was not always welcomed. The people did not always appreciate nor want to believe the prophetic Word of God when the prophet expounded upon God’s warnings. King Zedekiah wanted Jeremiah to prophecy nice and favourable outcomes for himself and the lives of the Judeans. As if God was subject to the prophet. Jeremiah ended up incarcerated because he was obeying God and telling the king and the people exactly what God said was going to happen. Jer. 32:3 Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, “Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. 4 Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. This was not uncommon for the people to take their anger toward the Lord and lash out at the prophet conveying God’s testament.

 

      A surprising amount of people do not like it when the word of a prophetic utterance brings convicting truth to a heart. The result of this word can hurt immensely when a person’s heart is set on a particular path or desire and God brings a different instruction for them to follow in their life. We should be grateful that God is directing our lives for our good, but it is still our choice whether we will despise or obey the word. The prophetic instruction is not always comfortable to obey, but it is needed if we are going to grow in the maturity of our faith. 1Thes. 5:20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.

 

      We who live in the dispensation of the New Testament, have received through our new birth in Christ, the prophetic abilities of Jesus. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, have received Christ’s prophetic gifts that live and can be discerned within our souls. It may not always seem apparent because we are seeing through a dark lens, as the Apostle Paul describes it, but nonetheless, we still have the light and insight of the Holy Spirit’s prophetic understanding available to us. I believe this is why we are admonished to covet the gift of prophecy. We can prophesy words that bring healing and uplift the spirit within the hearts of mankind 1Cor. 14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

 

     When Jesus ministered as a prophet, He brought life and direction. John 1:48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Jesus ministered to people’s hearts by bringing a prophetic insight into the depths of a person’s soul. He could touch the spot within a heart that when healed their lives would be changed. This was the case with the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well. She was looking for fulfilment through the men she had lived with but found no solution to her deep longings. However, just one encounter with the Lord’s loving grace and He met her need. John 4:18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true. The prophetic insight hit her heart. John 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Not only was her life changed but the people of the town were also changed. John 4:40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. This one prophetic word in season brought about a two-day revival of faith in God. John 4:41 And because of his words many more became believers.

 

      Jesus foretold the fall and destruction of the temple. Mark 13;2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” According to the historian Josephus, the temple was captured and destroyed a generation later. Jesus used His gift of prophecy as well as His office of a prophet. We need to discern between the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy. Just because I have a few prophetic insights into what the Lord is teaching me on a particular subject, does not mean I have been called to the office of a prophet over a nation, state or country. The gift of prophecy is for all believers in Christ. Because of our salvation through Christ, we must protect the prophetic voice of the Spirit that arises within us. This puts a whole new seriousness on the words we speak to ourselves and each other. May we covet the gift of prophecy and may we use this gift to wash one another in the healing words of the Lord.

 

Till My Time Has Come

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.

      

      All my days have been written in the Lord’s book. Until the last page and sentence of what has been written about me is fulfilled, through Christ’s grace I will try to keep my heart and mind in line with what God created me to fulfill. Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began. Our life’s pursuits are often askew when we try to live as we think life should be. We move through life trying to succeed according to what the world calls success, but do we understand what God says success is? We don’t know what we don’t know and many years can go by before we realize we have been pursuing the wrong ambitions and walking on the wrong trail, often leading to nowhere. What we thought was chasing a dream turned out to be chasing hallucinations of grandeur Eccl. 2:17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

      I realize that meandering one’s way through life and bouncing from one concept of success to another might be adventurous and feel free-spirited, but like the Prodigal Son, many end up floundering at a pig’s trough of discontent trying to find meaning for their lives. Luke 15:16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. God has a way of doing things, and His ways are far different than ours. We do not adjust well to what is contrary to our nature, and many times God asks us to do things that seem to cut against the grain of our will. However, if Christ is our Saviour, and we are freely walking with the Lord, our will begins to lean toward God’s will as He engrafts His eternal moral holiness into our hearts and minds. The thing we need to remember is that when we accepted the sacrifice of the cross within our hearts, our nature began to change into the redemptive person God knows us to be in Christ. We need to walk in this redemptive gift until our time has come to leave this earth.

      We all have an allotted amount of time that God has given us, and until our invitation has come to meet our creator face to face, we need to live, seek and ask of God throughout our lives. This is not a maybe I will call on God, or maybe I won’t type of existence. Relationship with the Lord is a full-time existence. As the writer of the Hebrews wrote, we need to run and endure the race set before us. Heb. 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.

       When we live our lives in Christ and mature in His righteousness, we begin to comprehend that as we take part in this race, we do not have to come in first, second, or four hundred and forty-seventh. What becomes important to the Lord, and within our lives, is that we finish this life-long race that has been set before us and that we complete it with the grace God has given us. The race we run in is not a race of being perfect as a man describes perfection. Perfection for our lives is found in Jesus, and through His perfection we run our race and even if we fall we are still perfect in God’s eyes. Prov. 24:16a For though a righteous man may fall seven times, he still gets up.

       After the race has been run, and our lives have created their history within the salvation God gave us, we will eventually receive the victor’s crown. 2Tim. 4:8 In the future there is reserved for me the victor’s crown of righteousness for being right with God and doing right, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that great day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing. We do not have the luxury of slacking off and becoming complacent of heart. Our time is short on the scale of eternity. How often have you put something off until one day the need to do what was put off doesn’t matter anymore? It ran past its usefulness date and now there is a small sorrow pinching at your conscience wishing you had done it. Eccl. 4:7 I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun.

       I believe this is why a bucket list becomes so important to some people as they near the evening of their lives. Do we all have regrets and wish there was a possibility of a do-over for some segments of the years gone by that we lived? Yes, we all have those sore spot blunders we could have done differently. However, those days are done and gone and we are alive today living with the results of a lifetime of choices. The question is, what are we going to do with the time we have left? Hopefully, we are going to accept the promise that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning and we will live within the fullness of His mercy. Lam. 3:23 Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. Maybe fulfilling a bucket list of things God wants for our lives might be a good idea. Let’s try this listed item for today. Matt. 22:37 Jesus declared, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38  This is the great and first commandment.

 

We Only Have A Lifetime

Ecclesiastes 12:13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.

 

      I was listening to a brother in the Lord lamenting about his struggles in his faith, and he said, “How long will this battle go on in my heart? I have the Lord’s righteousness through Christ living within me, and yet, I struggle to obey some of the simplest instructions of the Lord.” I thought of some battles I was wrestling with, and said to myself, “Thank God, we only have a lifetime to get it right.” I was not being flippant, I was being grateful that the Lord gave us His righteousness and we can walk in it for the rest of our lives. Rabbi Berel Wein wrote – It is our nature to filter all rules and laws through our own intellect. If somehow it makes sense to us then we are willing to obey but if we are not able to rationalize the command to ourselves then we feel that we are not obligated to obey. This is the crux of the matter that the flesh wrestles with – do I submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit or not? My heart wants to obey God but my flesh wants its own way.

 

      I see this dilemma at different times working within me when I FEEL I am not obligated to obey. Yet, this is not what the Lord asks of us. They are not the Ten Suggestions or The Ten Platitudes. They are The Ten Commandments. The first commandment deals with all the issues of life. It says, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. If I break this commandment, I have in effect, broken every other law of God. This command establishes the fact that I cannot act as a god determining whether or not I will obey the Word of the Lord. How can I dispense or make righteous judgments and live in Godliness when not obeying the Lord? 

 

      If I set myself up as a god in my life, then it will be difficult to hear the Almighty God when He points this sin out to me. It will also be a slippery slope to breaking all of the Lord’s instructions that He gives me. James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole Law, but shall stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all. Obeying the first commandment determines whether I will love the Lord with all my heart, and my neighbour as myself. If I am on the throne of my heart, then obviously God and my neighbour are in line behind me. Rom. 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? How do I keep myself off the throne of my heart?

 

      Obedience to God within the ability of our flesh is near impossible. It’s worse than that, it is impossible to obey God one hundred percent of the time. This is why we need a Saviour. As the Apostle Paul describes in his battle with obedience to God’s Word, we see his struggle is real. Rom. 7:23 But I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body in its appetites and desires, waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members. We can only overcome the battle of submission to God’s leading through Christ’s righteousness. Our self-righteousness does not have any holy substance that holds up next to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We fall short of His perfection.

 

      We only have a lifetime to embrace this message of hope so that it remains strong in our hearts. The fact is, it will take a lifetime of coming to the Lord daily and declaring our need for His love and righteousness that is freely given to us through Christ. We will always need the love and discipline of the Father who keeps us saved through His Son. We will always need the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort our souls. John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. We will always need God every step of our lives. 

 

      The Word of the Lord points out that we will have battles to win and egocentricities to overcome in the realm of our will. However, the Lord has given us His armour to fight the selfishness that we wrestle with in our hearts, plus the ability to overcome the tricks, seductions, and temptations of the enemy. When we look around at the circumstances in this world, it seems overwhelming and that a lot is coming against us, but we need to remember that God is for us and that our victory has already been won through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We only need to accept this eternal and wonderful gift of salvation, and then allow God to shape our hearts into His Son’s likeness and be the author and perfector of our faith. Heb. 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

      Now Saints, is this transformation of willpower and submission to the authority of Jesus Christ to be the Lord of our life going to be a walk in the park? No, and no again! If it was a matter of monastic ritualistic observances it might be easier because we would be in charge of the rules we are willing to suffer for. However, there is a reason for the scriptures saying “Fight the good fight of faith. They that overcome shall receive a crown. Resist the devil and he will flee. Give and it will be given to you. Pray for those who persecute you. The list goes on forever. This is a warfare for the mind, soul and spirit of our being, and praise the Lord who is the captain of our faith. He has won our victory and we must get up and take the victory He has given us by faith. Thank you, Lord, for our lifetime gift of salvation.

 

The Excellency Of Our Mantle

Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

 

      The Lord has given to the body of Christ the ministry offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the perfecting and equipping of those who have accepted Jesus as Lord. These mantles of God’s calling are to be entered into with joyfulness and gravity of heart, with the understanding that we are responsible for the illumination God gives us through these God-given callings. There is a ministry that we have all been given, and that is the Ministry of Reconciliation. 2Cor. 5:18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. We do not need a special invitation to be reconciled. God expects us to minister this grace to one another. Every Christian carries this mantle.

      We often hear pastors and ministers expounding on the fact that we are to have a spirit of excellence toward God and how we are to carry the mantle God has placed on our shoulders for the building of His Kingdom. The scripture often referenced to bring out this idea is taken from the book of Daniel. Dan. 6:3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. Also, the story of Samuel the prophet is mentioned because the words of prophecy that came from his mouth never fell to the ground and could be counted on to be true. What Samuel said happened. He was known to be honest because God confirmed Samuel’s prophetic words, and he carried his mantle with excellent forthrightness. 1Sam. 3:19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and He let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. Everything Samuel proclaimed proved to be reliable as he walked in a spirit of excellence.

      Being wrapped in God’s authority and graced with the presence of the Holy Spirit to help us represent our Lord is not to be taken lightly. You may not be called to bring a prophetic message to the nation, but you are called to bring peace and reconciliation within the walls of your home. The spirit of excellence starts at home. It begins within our character through God’s direction, which can only be found in the presence of the Lord. Maybe this is why the Lord says “Few are chosen,” because we do not step up or respect the magnitude and measure that the joy of our salvation brings to our hearts. Matt. 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen. The gift of God’s salvation brings a responsibility of thankfulness for all the Lord has done for us and given to us through Christ.

      I am impressed with Elisha, and his desire to have Elijah’s mantle of blessings upon his life. Elisha made sure he stayed close to Elijah before God took him. 2Kings 2:12 As Elisha watched, he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And he saw Elijah no more. So taking hold of his own clothes, he tore them in two. 13 Elisha also picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah, and he went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. I don’t think there was any power per se in Elijah’s cloak. I think the power of faith was in Elisha’s heart. He wanted to carry the mantle of God so he could best walk in God’s presence. Elisha was looking for that spirit of excellence prominent in Elijah’s life. A double portion of anointing was coveted by Elisha, and God honoured the request of his heart because Elisha saw the mantle of God’s calling as the most precious of holy gifts.

      We can become complacent in our attitude toward church attendance, regular Sunday services, Ho-hum homilies, and getting the parishioners out on time for Sunday brunch. In all our religious activity it is easy to lose sight of what the Lord wants to manifest within our souls, families, and communities. Isa. 29:13 Therefore the Lord said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is but rules taught by men. How do we reach the heart of the nation if our hearts are not given over to the salvation and instructions of the Lord? How do I preach righteousness to city hall if I am not disciplined in the righteousness of the new birth in Christ? How can you become a voice and participant in the mission field, when you can’t even clean up your room, get to work on time, or take time out to talk with your saviour and Lord? A spirit of excellence is developed through discipline in the Word of God.

      If there is no excellence of spirit at home there will be very little excellence of heart in the endeavour you take part in within the Kingdom of God. I’m not saying that you will not be loved or encouraged by God to keep going forth in the work within His kingdom. I’m saying, that if anyone applies an honest effort to walk in the righteousness Christ gave them through faith, the Spirit of God will affirm within their heart a desire for the next step of maturity. As we grow in Christ’s excellence, and receive the full gift of salvation that has been lavished upon us, we will cherish the grace that was given to us. Eph 4: 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The ministerial offices of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers have been given to the church so that we are equipped with the full measure of what the Lord expects out of His body of believers.

      The mantle of salvation will help us walk in the excellence of His Spirit. Let us thank the Lord for the mantle He has placed on our lives. As we righteously walk with it, may we have the faith to declare the wonders of God’s love. Thank you, Lord, for the excellency of the Spirit of Christ who lives within us.

Religious Competition

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not value or compare ourselves against those who flaunt themselves, for those among them who compare themselves are not wise.

The Sermon on the Mount expressly addresses the ways humanity can and does corrupt religion. Jesus points out the importance of keeping our relationship with God intimately personal. Not to turn our relationship with the Almighty into a religious competition for worldwide viewing and bragging rights of self-righteousness. Matt. 5:20 But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! Jesus was saying, “Don’t be like the hypocrites or the scribes and Pharisees who make a point of their whole religious existence as something to impress and be seen by the public. Stop trying to out-righteous one another with open exhibitions of ritual activities that have no bearing on what God calls righteousness.”

Matthew chapter 23 is an account of Jesus exposing the hypocrisies of the Pharisees, Scribes, Herodians, Sadducees and religious leaders who were taking part in and practising religious zeal. The act of serving God had become a competition of who could out-righteous who on the big stage of godliness. The Lord shows us that this misguided zeal is not of God. This demonstration of self-righteousness creates arguments and bitterness which eventually develops into an us and them social order. Luke 18:10  Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. In this case, the them was the tax collector.

History demonstrates that the wars that have been fought over religion have been nonstop since the beginning of time. I’m not going to take time to talk about the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the Holocaust, but in my lifetime the Communist Red Guards persecuted many Christians and destroyed churches in the late 1950s. We also had the Catholics and the Protestants blowing each other up in the early 1970s to the 1990s in Northern Ireland. We quaintly call that period of religious history The Troubles. Within the last few years, many of the Muslim nations have been at odds with the rest of the world and the conflict for religious supremacy is killing thousands. The casualties in all this warfare are the children, the elderly, and civilians who want peace in their lifetime. No one is winning the religious competitions because it is not what God wants of us.

James points out what pure religion is. This might be the place to start exercising what God wants. James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. In another verse, God says this is the thing to do. Micha 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? There is a lot of elbow room in this area of service in God’s Kingdom. Not many are jostling to be first up in taking care, being kind, and walking humbly toward orphans, and widows while staying unpolluted by the world. The Lord wants us to have a relationship with Him so that we have an understanding of how to love each other. Only in Christ can this miracle take place, otherwise, religion on its own becomes an arena of competition.

When we walk circumspectly before our God and hear His voice leading us, we will not have time to compare ourselves with others and get involved with the religious competitions of the day. 2Cor. 10:12 For we dare not value or compare ourselves against those who flaunt themselves, for those among them who compare themselves are not wise. When we are together in eternity, I don’t think we will be trying to outshine each other with the rewards God gave us. I am sure we will be genuinely full of joy toward each other for the reason that through Christ we were all redeemed and found our way home. The love that we will express for God and our fellow man will all be because of the sacrifice that Jesus gave of Himself and not the religion we practice on earth. If this is going to be the eternal outcome, then why not put away the limitations we create through our fears? Let us love one another now as the Holy Spirit leads. We need not compete with each other for the love of God, We already have it. Blessings.