Theme: Ordained to be a prophet
Text: Jer. 1:4-10; 1 Cor. 13:1-12; Lk. 4:22-30
It is God’s desire that His people prophesy. His desire came to pass on the Day of Pentecost when Joel’s prophesy was fulfilled. “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” Joel 2:28. Prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of this gift of prophecy is different from the ministry of prophets in the prophetic office. Prophets speak for God. All who prophesy are not prophets, however all prophets prophesy. Not everyone is called to be a prophet but every believer is called to prophesy having received the gift of prophesy from the Holy Spirit.
A prophet called to the prophetic office speaks for God. He says what God tells him to say. He foretells the future only when God reveals His purposes for the future.
A true prophet receives revelations from God. These are supernatural revelations of the Holy Spirit that could not be known by the natural mind. He also receives supernatural instruction concerning what action is required to solve a problem for which there seems no natural answer. A true prophet has the gift of discerning spirits. By the discerning of spirits, a prophet will know whether a particular manifestation is from the Holy Spirit, from the human spirit or from an evil spirit.
The prophetic office is given by God and not man with a purpose and plan for your life that is different from every other person. Jeremiah was called to the prophetic office. It is impossible for someone to proclaim he is a prophet with a prophetic office and thereby be one. “And no man takes this honour to himself, but he that is called of God” Heb. 5:4. When Jeremiah tried to resist, the Lord said, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you”. God had plans for Jeremiah that Jeremiah could not understand at the time. “See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” Jer. 1:10. When Jeremiah spoke the words of the Lord it was as if the Lord was speaking Himself and history is a testimony that everything written in verse 10 came to pass. The prophetic office is not an easy one as many assume today. Jeremiah spoke God’s word even when he knew the consequences for displeasing the king. The false prophets were rewarded and he almost died in a cistern. In recent years there are many self anointed and self appointed prophets at work in the Church. No man takes this honour to himself; it is a call of God.
There are some who are called to the prophetic office but all believers are called to prophesy, to the prophetic ministry. Some of these gifts are available to all who prophesy and we need to be careful of their misuse. The prophetic ministry according to 1 Cor. 14:3 consists simply of “speaking to people for their up building and encouragement and consolation” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the Church this prophetic ministry serves to build up the members. Encouragement serves to stir up the believers and improves their participation in the activities of the Church. Even unbelievers need encouragement to come to Church. A very important prophetic ministry of believers is that of consolation. There are many people in our Churches that are just waiting to hear a word that will comfort them and cheer them up.
We often underestimate the need to encourage and comfort others. A woman who needed to hear about the love of God had her life transformed when a believer told her about God’s love for her. She became a devote Christian and wrote the book “I dared to call Him Father” In this book, Bilquis Sheikh, describes the unusual journey of a prominent Muslim woman from Pakistan coming to a personal relationship with Christ. Her disappointment with life led her to carefully study the Koran to find purpose and hope in life. When she failed to find what she was looking for in the Koran her attention was directed to the Bible. In it she soon discovered that God loved her and Christ died for her. She accepted God’s message of hope and surrendered her life to Christ. She suffered persecution for her faith both emotionally, materially, and socially. In spite of everything, she spent the rest of her life testifying to the Muslim world about Christ. If a word of prophesy to a Muslim could dare her to call God Father, how about the many believers who are just waiting for a word of exhortation and consolation? We are not all called to the office of a prophet but we are all called to edify, exhort and console. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit who we received when we accepted Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Prophets and prophecies are not infallible and words spoken by prophets, or prophecy, must be carefully examined and weighed as to their accuracy and agreement with Scripture and scriptural principles. The reasons for this are the many false prophets in our midst. Paul commands us not to despise prophecies but to test them. This implies that not all prophecies are true or right. When tested Paul advices that we hold fast to what is good. This is an indication that there will sometimes be things that are not good and should be discarded.
What a true prophet foretells must come to pass. Today we are hearing many false prophecies that can only come from false prophets. These false prophets know what the people want to hear and know what their beliefs are and by telling them what they want to hear can further their own personal greed. When Elijah prophesied there would be no rain for three and a half years it happened just as the prophet said. He also knew the result would be a famine but he also knew that God would make a provision for him. When Naaman obeyed the prophet Elisha, he was cleansed from leprosy. No matter how ridiculous it may seem God fulfils whatever He says. Today so called prophets are using the name of God as if He were a visa contractor for the American or British government. They use the name of God to destroy families by attributing failed activities to family members they claim are witches. I wonder why the women themselves, who are very often the victims, believe them instead of rejecting their false prophecies.
We should see other people as God sees them. Their value is not how we see them but how God sees them. They may not seem like much in our estimation, but it is who they are in God’s eyes that matters. Have you ever had a fifty Ghana Cedi note? If that note fell in the mud and was trampled upon, spat upon and was dirty, would you still have use for it. Of course - it is because its value is still the same. You do not decide its value. Everyone is valuable in the sight of God and we can influence lives by prophesying to them in the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many who need to be lifted up, encouraged and comforted. Let us exercise the gift of prophecy under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in a way that brings praise and glory to the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen!