How to Share Words From God in a safe, wholesome, God-honoring way.
The one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3).
Prophecy. Pretty much every time I think of the word, I think of some negative or scary thing someone has told me came from God, such as, “God told me you are supposed to be in charge of women’s ministry” or God says he will heal you if you only lay down your need for control” It’s unfortunate that I think that is pretty much everyone’s response when they hear that word. It’s weird, almost creepyish and definitely very old-testament-ish.
One time when I was in high school, a friend invited me and my best friend Lisa to her youth group since she always visited ours and we had never been to hers. When We got there, all seemed normal. There was a worship time, a small teaching time, and then…. the talk about gifts of the Holy Spirit took a wild turn. The man stopped mid-sentence and blurted, “Wait. God is telling me something. Everyone yelled their amen’s and praise the Lord’s.
My friend Lisa and I often talked abut God’s miracles and loved him with all of our hearts. We were wholehearted believers. But…this man went from a quiet whisper to a gigantic shouting preaching voice in 3 seconds flat. I startled a little, and so did Lisa. He started yelling, “God is telling me that some of you all do not speak in tongues! How can you call yourselves worshippers of the Holy Spirit when you deny His power and language? How can you communicate the deep things of the spirit without the language of the holy one?”
My friends and I were slightly amused, because we were sarcastic teenage girls. We nervously giggled. The man pointed at me and Lisa and shouted, “YOU MUST REPENT, THUS SAYETH THE LORD OF HOSTS”. Right after that, he continued in his very loud preacher voice, “Now…God is telling me that those of you who already have received a the gift of tongues, go stand against that wall… Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t know why he is sayingthat, but OBEY! About seventy five percent of teenage boys and girls and adult youth group leaders clamored metal chairs and hustled to the wall. He then said, “The Lord is telling me that all of you need to start speaking in tongues NOW!”
They all, in unison, began yelling, chanting, and raising each of their voices, louder than the next. The man, again, said, “You who are left…the Lord of hosts need you to RUN to the wall, partner up with ones speaking in tongues, and mimic every syllable that comes out of their mouths until you begin to flow in the Holy Spirit language. Go! Run! Be reborn.
There were three people left in the audience on folded metal chairs. Me, Lisa, and an elderly woman looking utterly bewildered, politely smiling, but not running like the rest. God bless her.
The man began SHOUTING. With his eyes closed, “The lord is telling me, wait a minute, the Lord is telling me there are wicked and arrogant sinners here that refuse his anointing. This is your time! Run tothe wall! Run to the wall!”
He then opened his eyes and pointed his finger at us, two very bewildered teenagers. No teenager likes to be pointed out in a crowd for any reason. So, me and Lisa stood to our feet, pushed our chairs back and RAN the other way to the very tiny Sunday school bathroom to hide.
Our friend found us there later and profusely apologized. Needless to say, she didn’t ask us to come to her youth group ever again and we were glad.
This is a nightmare story, and if my friend and I had been alone, or couldn’t brush it off, it could have been a very emotionally destructive occurrence. But we were together, knew who we were in Jesus, and had a very good story to tell afterword’s. We were ok.
Story Number two.
I had a friend in high school named Mike whose father was a drug dealer and addict. He had a brain aneurysm on a Wednesday. I remember it so clearly, because of how devised Mike was when he called to tell me. I prayed for his dad. Everyone did.
That night at Mike’s church, his pastor stood in front of his congregation and prophesied that Mikes dad would be healed, restored and redeemed to Jesus by the next Wednesday. Mike believed his pastor, because this pastor had always been his spiritual leader. Why would it be a mistake? Mike trusted this man implicitly, and he called me later to tell me his good news. I worried. Everyone who knew him worried, even though of course we wanted his dad to be healed, restored and redeemed by Jesus. We wanted nothing else.
For a week we prayed for him. Wednesday came, and Mike’s dad passed away shortly after noon that day. Mike and his mother went into a deep depression, Mike was never the same, first for losing his dad, second for losing his faith in God and the church. I hope and pray that wherever he is, He knows that Jesus loves him, and some pastors are doing their best with what they know. Pastors mess up sometimes too. And some pastors are just very messed up.
Mikes pastors mistake wasn’t funny like what Lisa and I experienced. It was lethal. His prophecy wounded our friend so deeply that he never was quite the same. His prophetic word destroyed, did not build up. What could have this pastor done differently? What could Mike have done differently?
We tend to fall into two different categories when it comes to sharing a prophetic leading/prompting: Too timid or too bold. Our hope is to find the balance of humility and authority.
Story number three
When Rob and I were working in full time youth ministry, we taught our teenagers about the ways God can speak to us. That he is and always will be faithful. Around that time, I started to see rainbows every day. In the sky, in magazines, on tv, on stickers in the grocery store, in random magazine adds. Every single day, I would see a rainbow. I asked God, “What is this? Why? I know by now this is you God. No one could have planned this.” His gentle answer came back, “I am faithful to you, to your family, to all generations.” Around the same time, God had given Rob an image of an eagle. He heard God say the eagle was about strength, leadership, dignity. Strong spirits. We knew these two symbols were what we were supposed to pray over and share with our teenagers. Teenagers have way softer hearts than most adults. They may have rough exteriors, but inside, they aren’t too jaded by the world yet. Some, yes, but generally, their souls were still malleable and could be coaxed and melded by the authority of God’s word in us, through us, in them, in the word of God.
These were prophetic words and images that God gave us. Just like that, the kids in our youth ministry started seeing these symbols everywhere. It was sort of a private thing at first with the kids who were a part of what we called the extreme team. They told their friends, who told their friends, and so on. They started praying for a revival. That God would show his strength and faithfulness to their homes, their schools, their generation. Their faith way exceeded my own.
We were on a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico. One of the places we went to evangelize was in the town square. One of our team slogans, was, “If you’re not up, you’re down. “Kids who were sharing the gospel were up, kidswho weren’t, were on the sidelines, doing the hard work of praying. Mobs of people came over to us. We were a curiosity, no doubt. Juarez was a very dangerous city, and they ogled at us dumb American teenagers singing horrible vacation bible songs with horrible American dialect of their Spanish language. It did not matter. Those kids were fierce, and boldly approached the throne of Jesus. They prayed for salvation of these souls.
All of a sudden, dark clouds began to form over the plaza where we stood. The kids raised their hands to the sky and prayed the rain clouds away. I kid you not, it began to rain to the north, south, east and west of the square in which we stood. They held their arms to the sky, praying some more, non-phased by the apparent miracle. After the teens spoke, we disbursed throughout the crowd and began to speak to the audience members through translators, or if they spokeEnglish, we spoke one on one.
Rob happened to be praying for two young men. He asked them, “Are you ready to accept Jesus and invite him into your lives as your lord and Savior?” The instant he said that last word, a lightning bolt shot down from the heavens and hit a transformer directly across the street. The men jumped, and loudly with fear n their voices replied “YES” We must do this.” The wind began to blow, and the storm surrounding us dissipated.
The kids were celebrating with joy the obvious presence of the Holy spirit. The people quietly left, and we gathered our team in a huddle. One student lifted her face, the newly shining sun on her face, pointedstraight up, with almost a look of terror, we all looked up. Above the plaza, over our team, there was a rainbow in the sky. Some began to weep. I was too awe-stricken to do anything. And then, we realized that the monument we were standing around, at the very top there was an eagle. There are no words to convey the depth of the blessing we all knew we were ap part of. We sang, we celebrated like wild party people all the way home. Jesus was in our presence. We knew. We knew with everything in us that God is faithful. He loved us enough to show us. We knew to our depths that God was our strength, just like the eagle. He was our deliverer from the evil in ourworld.
We were all permanently changed by this. First the prophecy of the rainbow. God promising his faithfulness to us. Then the promise of his strength through the eagle.
Were these prophecies damaging in any way? Was anyone’s soul harmed from trusting in God’s faithfulness or in his strength? How do we know if a prophecy someone gives us is real or fake? True or misleading? It’s not easy, but there are some parameters that are helpful:
Five Internal Markers of Authenticity
Revelation from God carries greater love than your own thoughts. It is also characterized by a deeper wisdom, insight, and kindness. There will be times where you’ll think to yourself, “Wow! That is good stuff!” and you’ll know there is no way you could possibly have dreamed that up yourself.
- Something that is from God will often cause a resonating response within you. You have a sense of holy reverence, or great excitement and expectation, or conviction of sin (which comes with hope and not condemnation), or a deep peace that might well be in contrast to the circumstances.
- A prophetic word also carries within it the seed of faith to see it through to fulfillment. What we mean is that when someone embraces a word, there is a release of strength, perseverance, and desire to follow the Lord on the pathway that He is highlighting, in spite of any obstacles
- There is a sense of simplicity and clarity about the arrival of the prophetic message. : While we might need to wait in God’s presence for a little while to hear from Him, don’t forget that a prophetic word will usually come simply and easily. The actual revelation tends to gently float down upon us or springs up on us.
- The voice of Jesus will have a net-positive impact strengthening, comforting, and encouraging.Jesus says I come that they might have life and have it to the full. The prophetic word will be life-giving. Jesus does not work in shame or condemnation. Not ever.
Between these three stories, which brought life? Which brought hope. All of the people giving the prophecies were genuine. They thought they were doing the right thing. Where are the differences? Sit with your 4 or 5 people and ask one another to come up with some thoughts
Most importantly, remember the love. Jesus is love. People speaking harmful or hurtful words claiming they are directly from the mouth of God should ALWAYS be questioned. Our God is a God of love. Remember the fruits of the spirit -Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If the word you are sharing with someone else lines up with all of these, I’d say it was safe to share, if not, just don’t. You’re not helping, and possibly harming that person.
The best and most consistent way to hear from God is the B-I-B-L-E. God’s word is life and love, and all good things.
*The KC Underground has been studying the book “Hearing the Voice of God” by Alex and Hannah Absolom. I shared portions of their book above.