Tag Archives: Word of Prophecy

Mary, Anna, and the Prophetic Word

And there was a prophetess, Anna . . . . She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Anna, a female prophet, lived her life in the Temple courts: she was dedicated to worship, fasting, and praying. Anna represents wholehearted devotion to God and commitment to enjoying his presence (Luke 2:37).

Like Simeon, her fellow prophet (Luke 2:25-35) spending time in God’s presence means knowing God’s heart, and to know God’s heart is to hear his voice, and to hear God’s voice is know his ways (Isa. 55:8-9). Immediately after Simeon’s word, Anna confirms that this child will bring about the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:38). To be the redeemer of Israel is to be the Messiah, the chosen one, who would free Israel from her bondage. Anna’s word further confirms to Mary and Joseph that the God of Israel has major plans for their son, bigger plans than they can imagine.

Luke does not record the Blessed Virgin Mary’s response to these two prophetic words, but we know that in another situation, she chose the “ponder these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19 KJV). Pondering is not passivity. Pondering says to God, “I trust your prophetic word, I may not understand it, therefore I will not talk about God’s instruction until he reveals its meaning to me.” Pondering is faith, pondering is waiting on God, pondering is giving God opportunity and time.

The season of Advent is a unique time for hearing and obeying God’s prophetic word. Like Simeon and Anna, we are called to Spirit-waiting, Spirit-listening, Spirit-anticipation, and Spirit-obedience. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are called to Father-directed submission, Spirit-led action, and Christ-follower trust.

We may not identify with Anna’s call to prophecy or her living situation, yet her commitment to the Spiritual Disciplines of prayer, fasting, and worship–a life focused in mind, body, and activity on engaging God–is a commitment we all can pursue.

“Anna,” The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, New Revised Standard Version with Deuterocanonical Books, eds., Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, and Eugene H. Peterson (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989), 1889.

Mary, Simeon, and the Prophetic Word

 

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’

Luke 2:34-35

On this blog, we have discussed the word of prophecy (1 Cor. 12: 10), its importance during the season of Advent, and how to respond when given a confirmed prophetic word. Today’s post focuses on the Blessed Virgin Mary as a model for receiving and acting on prophetic words. Luke 2:25-40 describes two prophetic ministers, Anna and Simeon, reaching out to Mary when the baby Jesus is being presented at the Temple for circumcision.

Simeon was united in Christ in righteousness, “righteous and devout” (v. 25a), yielded to Christ trusting his delay, “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (v. 25b), and remained in Christ enjoying his manifested presence, “Holy Spirit was upon him” (v. 25c). Simeon was intimate with God for Simeon knew his voice, “you would not die” until he sees Messiah (v. 26), and Simeon was led by the Spirit for he was directed by the Spirit “into the Temple courts” (v. 27).

Simeon’s prophetic word consisted of two parts: public in Temple (v. 29-32) and private to Mary (v. 34-35).The public pronouncement focuses on Jesus–God’s salvation found in the baby. This salvation is for the Gentiles and the Jews bringing about the healing of the nations.

Simeon’s personal word to Mary is strangely negative: the proud, self-absorbed, self-assured, and hard-hearted will be revealed (v34-35). Israel will resist Jesus’ ministry, and as result, their worldly, unbelieving hearts will be exposed.  In turn, Israel’s rejection of Mary’s son, the Son of God, will break her heart as well. [Stephen D. Swihart, ed., Logos International Bible Commentary(Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1981), 439.

Some may ask why Simeon’s word of prophecy is negative in tone, “Are not all prophecies to be ‘strengthening, encouraging, and comforting'” (1 Cor. 14:3)? “Are not all prophecies to be positive and uplifting”? A prophecy can contain a rebuke, correction, or warning and still be comforting and healing. When Jesus corrects or rebukes, he also gives the grace, the Holy Spirit’s enabling power, to obey his word of command. Jesus gives prophetic words to the seven churches of Asia: five of the seven are rebuked or corrected for their lack of holiness, obedience, or perseverance. Yet, all five are encouraged, graced, and offered a reward for choosing obedience (Rev. 2 & 3).

Simeon’s warning to Mary is the Holy Spirit’s way of helping Mary avoid the pain and shock of unexpected suffering and rejection. It is good that Mary knows now that her precious child’s future death will break her heart in the most painful of ways–the Cross.

Simeon and Anna are the senior citizens of Luke’s version of Jesus’ birth, and they know and understand more than anyone else. Of all the people that Jerusalem’s streets were teeming with the day that Jesus was named–the rich, the powerful, the young, the holy,–only Simeon and Anna are given insight into who is being carried into the Temple courts in his parent’s arms. In fact, they know more than Mary or Joseph, who are astonished at what Simeon says about Jesus. It is clear that God has placed great value on Anna and Simeon and that he does not think he is wasting the Holy Spirit on two seniors who have passed the prime of life.

Murray Andrew Pura, “Luke,” in The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, New Revised Standard Version with Deuterocanonical Books, eds., Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, and Eugene H. Peterson (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989), 1887.

Evaluating a Word of Prophecy

Assessing a Word of Prophecy

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

1 Cor. 14:29

Every believer can prophesy because every believer has indwelling within him or her the presence of the Holy Spirit. The word of prophecy has not ceased because the Holy Spirit has not stopped being our advocate, counselor, and guide (1 Thes. 5:19-22). In addition, the Holy Spirit endows every believer with the gift of discernment.

Evaluating a word of prophecy involves three elements: revelation, interpretation, and application. Revelation: Is a prophetic word genuinely from the Holy Spirit having a sense of eternity? Interpretation: What does the word mean to us? The correct interpretation is important as the revelation. Application: What do we do with this word?

The gift of discernment is insight from the Holy Spirit which enables a believer to know whether a practice, teaching, or gifting is from God, Satan, or a manifestation of the flesh (Luke 10:19, Acts 16:17-18, 1 Cor. 12:10). The Holy Spirit has not only graced the Body of Christ with prophetic guidance, but also, he has granted the church the ability to weigh prophetic words. Is a prophetic word from the Lord or simply a human creation? Is a prophetic word eternal, genuinely from the Lord, or a manifestation of the flesh, an emotional working up of concern? Could it be possible that a prophetic word is a distraction from Satan?

The gift of discernment operates in the congregation and within the leadership of the local church. This gift is enables the congregation to identify the source, content, and intent of a prophetic word. Individually, discernment is a check in one’s spirit with a question mark in one’s mind. A prophetic word may sound right, but does not register in our spirits as being from the Lord.

Certainly in these Last Days, the church needs the gift of discernment more than ever before. All types of false teaching and wrong-headed leadership are attempting to subvert local churches. We are not only called to discern, but are commanded to do so. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1-2).

One aspect of discernment is the ability to judge not by what our eyes see, or our ears hear, but with righteousness through the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11: 2-4). The Holy Spirit can show us whether or not predictions will come true. But this is not the highest level of discernment that he has to offer the church.

The Spirit of Truth is given to the church, especially its leadership, what promotes the love, testimony, and glory of Jesus. If the leadership of the church would follow resolutely after these three things—the love of Jesus, the testimony of Jesus, and the glory of Jesus—it would be very difficult for them to be deceived.”

Jack Deere, Surprised by the Voice of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 198.

The Word of Prophecy

The Word of Prophecy

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

1 Cor 14:1 ESV

Today, many believers express confusion and consternation over the nature and purpose of the charismatic gift of the word of prophecy (1 Cor 12:10; 14:1-5). We will examine the gift of prophecy and prophetic ministry over the next several days.

The word of prophecy is spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible speech, orally-delivered to the church gathered intended for the building up of the people of God. In other words, the gift of prophecy is not planned, we cannot make the Holy Spirit give us a word. Properly, the word is not self-generated, but insight and instruction from the heart of God for the people of God. Biblically, the word of prophecy is shared by an individual for the whole Body of Christ in a language that everyone can understand. A word of prophecy, even if given to just one individual, should be submitted to the whole congregation for discernment (1 Cor. 14:29).

Prophecy can be both foretelling, insights into the plans of God; and forthtelling, God’s word for our present circumstances. Prophecy is an important gift for the Apostle Paul encouraged us to “earnestly desire” the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14: 1) and prophecy has the ability to “strengthen, encourage, and comfort” the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 14: 3). New Testament prophecy is not inspired like scripture, but insights from the Lord for personal guidance and corporate direction.

In its broad meaning, prophecy is simply God communicating His thoughts and intents to mankind. When a true prophecy is given, the Holy Spirit inspires someone to communicate God’s pure and exact words to the individual or group for whom they are intended. It is delivered without any additions or subtractions by the one prophesying, including any applications or interpretations suggested by the one speaking. To be most effective, it must also be delivered in God’s timing and with the proper spirit or attitude.

Bill Hamon, Prophets and Personal Prophecy (Santa Rosa Beach, FL: Christian International, 1987), 29.

“Again”: A Prophetic Word

Bishop Charles “Chuck” W. Jones Shares a Prophetic Word from the Provincial Council of the Southeast Province of the Charismatic Episcopal Church

On Sunday night,  Nov. 15, 2009,  the Archbishop’s Council and the Provincial Council of the Southeastern Province (CEC) met for dinner in Thomaston, Georgia, before visiting with Bishop John Holloway and his family. After our visit, we drove to Peachtree City, Georgia, where we began a twenty-four hour fast. Monday was designated as our day of fasting and praying for our Province, each Diocese, and the CEC in general. Tuesday was set aside as a day of business, but Monday was committed to prayer and fasting. I do not think I am stretching it to say that our time on Monday was profoundly important and encouraging.

On Monday, it was a wonderful experience to watch these men cry out to God doing battle on behalf of the CEC, the church we all have been called to serve. During our time of prayer, a couple of significant prophetic words (1 Cor. 14:1-4) came forth, and as a council, we wanted to pass these words on to you for your encouragement.

The first word that kept coming was the word “AGAIN”. I am a New American Standard (NASB) guy but for some reason, I didn’t have my Bible with me.  However, I noticed a Bible on the altar rail, I picked it up because the Holy Spirit kept speaking from Jeremiah chapter 18. The Bible was Fr. David Paysinger’s which is the New King James Version (NKJV). This is important because the NASB does not use the word “again” in Jer. 18:4, but the NKJV does.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again (emphasis mine) into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

Jer. 18:1-4 (NKJV)

We have come through a time in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) in America where it seems that the vessel was marred in the potter’s hand. The aftermath of such trauma can be a deep sense of loss and logical doubts. We fear that we might not see our holy dreams realized. The Lord is saying dream “AGAIN”; hear the words you once heard “AGAIN.” Believe “AGAIN.” Labor with joyful hope “AGAIN.” Be excited about your calling, your parish, the three steams of convergence, and the CEC, “AGAIN.”

While sharing this prophetic word with each other, the Holy Spirit spoke a second time. He asked the question, “what day is this,” the answer was the 16th of November. Immediately, the Holy Spirit lead us to read Jeremiah chapter 16. As I read the chapter, I came across verse 16. Jeremiah 16:16 speaks about fishing and hunting for men. For several months now the Lord has been persistently speaking to me both pastorally and prophectically about being fishers of men.

Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the Lord, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

Jer. 16:16 (NKJV)

The Lord said, we are to be consumed and driven, as all true fishermen are, with capturing the hearts of people with the love of Christ. This prophetic word isn’t just about an evangelism strategy. The word is about asking the Lord to bring us and our  parishes into living union with the thirsting heart of Christ who seeks a fallen and broken humanity. Jesus longs for us to embrace his suffering heart for others. Having a heart for the least, lost, and lonely is where the blessing of God is found, where the anointing of the Holy Spirit is released, and where incarnational Christianity is realized.

God powerfully confirmed his word to us: the word was Jeremiah 16:16 on the 16th day. God’s use of numerical repetition is a common way in which he has spoken and confirmed his words to us in the past. This provincial council meeting was the first time we had met at Bishop David Epp’s church, and as further confirmation, Bishop Epps’ remembered that the 16th was the second anniversary of his consecration.

These events were all amazing coincidences of our Lord. He was shouting to us that we are to ask him to make us and our parishes fishers of men. We are not to stop crying out until our hearts are consumed with the LOVE of CHRIST for all human beings. We are to go forth with hope in our hearts knowing that the Lord has spoken “AGAIN.” The Lord is a second time calling the CEC to fulfill our destiny.

In Christ,

+Chuck Jones