The Gift of Prophecy - Part 1
Heavenly Father, we just come before You now, and we ask that You'll teach us, that our hearts would be open to what Your Spirit, now, would speak through Your word. Lord, we are interested to find out what our place is in the body, not only our position but our gifts. Lord, we, indeed, want to be filled with your Holy Spirit. We ask that in Jesus' name, Amen.
When Peter preached his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, he said, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your young men shall see visions. Your old men shall dream dreams. And on my menservants and on my maidservants, I will pour out of my Spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy."
When Paul wrote to the leaders of the Church at Thessalonica, he said "Do not quench the Holy Spirit," or as another translation puts it, don't douse the Holy Spirit don't put out the fire of the Holy Spirit in your fellowship. And in conjunction with that, he wrote, "Despise not prophesying." Despise not prophesying. Jesus predicted it. It was predicted by Joel, Peter quoted it. And Paul said, now don't despise it, don't quench the Holy Spirit.
I think that there are two areas that the Holy Spirit can be quenched when it comes to prophecy, when it comes to any spiritual gift. Number one is just out and out neglect. Because it's more convenient to deny that those gifts, that prophecy, exists altogether. It's more convenient that way because then you don't have to put up with the weirdos that come in.
And, indeed, that's one safe place to be. It certainly isn't a powerful place to be. Because any time gifts are exercised, kooks show up, guaranteed. And so, many will just neglect gifts, altogether. They'll just say, I don't believe they exist. I don't want to exercise them. I don't want people to think we're weird. So we just won't do that. Let's neglect it. And so because people aren't open to them, they don't receive any of them.
Have you ever been in a restaurant drinking coffee, and after about the 45th cup of coffee, when the waitress comes by and wants to fill it up again, what do you do? You put your hand over it. It signifies don't give me another caffeine fix. I'm not having anymore, let's just close it off right here. I think sometimes the Holy Spirit just kind of walks by with his jugs saying, who can I fill? And we go, oh, no, put the hand over the cup.
The second area of quenching the Holy Spirit is not only neglect, but it's ODing on it, which it means overdose. Some people can't exist, they think, without a word from the Lord. They'll get in their car, Lord, should I go right or left? Give me a word. Lord, should I choose chocolate or vanilla? I just need-- speak to me, Lord. What should I choose?
Of course, I'm being a little bit-- I'm overstating it, but you know what I mean. Some can't function unless they have some kind of a personal direction from a prophet. They feel totally helpless. They can't rely on the principles of God's word because they don't know it well enough. They don't know how to walk by faith, they need to walk completely by sight. I need a new revelation, a new direction.
In some cases, this new direction, or prophecy, takes precedence over the written word, the revelation. There are some circles where the rhema revelation of God, a new freshly spoken word of God, takes precedence over the written word of God. And so you can neglect it altogether, or you can OD on it.
Now, because of that, there has been reactions. People react to things they see and they don't like. They see abuses, they turn away. I've been in situations where upon waiting for the Holy Spirit to flow, somebody will do something really strange, and someone who is a little bit leery of the whole thing sees it and goes, aha, I knew it's strange. And because someone misrepresents the Holy Spirit-- it, indeed, is not the Holy Spirit, a writ misrepresentation of Him-- then, they recoil and they think, well, let's just forget it. Let's just not be open to it anymore. Then we don't have to put up with it.
I've been in a situation where a man came up and said, "Thus sayeth the Lord, you're to be my wife." And she had a wedding ring on, she was married to somebody else. And he told her by a word of the Lord, that she was to leave her husband and come follow him. Abuse.
Perhaps you've heard statements like this, "Thus sayeth the Lord, I know that there are 10 people here, tonight, in this assembly that have $1,000 each." Abuse. People say, who wants that garbage? If they're going to use the gift of God to manipulate people out of their funds or into service for God or into doing something in the Name of the Lord, people will retract.
Also, a lot of them are just inaccurate, wrong information. When it comes to prophecy, in certain utterances of prophecy, there is a predictive element. Certain predictions are made. When they don't come to pass, if they're continually inaccurate, people say, this is weird. That person has spoken for 10 times, and none of them have come true. It's totally inaccurate.
I want to straighten out the idea of what prophecy is in the New Testament. So we're going to look at it in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, just so we can distinguish between the two. Because people have an idea that the gift of prophecy is just good preaching. Guy gives a good sermon, you think, now, that's the gift of prophecy.
I do, certainly, recognize that prophecy and teaching, preaching can go together. Many times there's clusters of gifts, and I've experienced that element of prophecy in teaching and preaching. But there is a difference between preaching and teaching.
When Joel spoke about prophecy, and Peter quoted it, it was obviously something that was different than Peter's sermon that was going on. Also, in Acts chapter 13, there is a definite distinction between prophets and teachers. They are named separately as having distinct and separate offices.
I like what Donald Gee says about the balance of spiritual gifts. You see, whenever you walk in the middle of two extremes, nobody's really going to be comfortable with you. If you say, well, I'm just hyper-dispensational, I don't believe in it, great, we've got you pegged, we know what to think of you.
If you say, I'm hyper-charismatic, I dance in the aisles, froth at the mouth, and jump up and down every day, people go, now I know where you're at, I know how you think, I know how to peg you.
If you say, well, I'm sort of in the middle. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit, and I think they're an operation today, but they can't be taken to an extreme. But I don't deny them altogether, I think that you need to have a balance with the word of God, you're going to get it from both sides. How come you don't agree with me? How come you don't agree with me?
Donald Gee, in speaking about a balance of spiritual gifts, said this, "All of the word and no Spirit, and you dry up. All of the Spirit and no word, and you blow up. Enough of both and you grow up." A balance, oh, that's so true.
For some, it's just the word, the word, the word, and never a chance to experience what God speaks about the Holy Spirit through His word. Then there's those who say, who cares about the word? In fact, in some meetings, it's the ultimate if the guy didn't get to his sermon. Oh, we just praised and sang and it was glorious and we had moving of the Holy Spirit. It was so awesome! Guy didn't event get to preach, wow. Like, that's the ultimate. Blow up. Enough of both and you grow up.
In the Old Testament, prophets were channels, not in a new age sense, but in an old age sense. They became spokesmen for God. God conveyed His message through human instruments.
Now, I don't know how you picture prophets. I don't know if you picture them with robes and staffs and yelling at people and having halos or whatever. But the word in Hebrew for a prophet or to prophesy is [HEBREW]. It means, simply, a spokesman, one who is authorized to speak for someone else.
If you were to send someone to give a message for you because you couldn't go yourself or didn't want to go yourself, that person would become a prophet. He would be your voice, your representative. And so the prophets were speaking God's message to people at different times in different ways, as we read last Sunday night in the book of Hebrews.
And we get some insights under the qualifications of prophets as we look at the Old Testament. The first real prophet, according to the Bible, was Moses. Now, here's a man who, for 40 years, was educated in Egypt. He had a PhD in Egyptology. He was educated by Pharaoh, classically trained, well-educated.
The next 40 years, he became a shepherd out in the middle of the desert, and a husband and a father, learned tremendous lessons by the Lord. Finally, when he was 80 years old, God called him to be a [HEBREW], a spokesman, a prophet to the nations, to the nation of Israel and to Egypt. God, when He wanted to speak, spoke through Moses. He was the one, narrow instrument that God used.
What's interesting is that Moses didn't want the job. He said, "Lord, I pass." Number one, he had a speech impediment. Number two, he felt like he lacked confidence. And so he said, "No, get somebody else, Lord. I don't want-- I can't handle this job." There was a reluctance.
He felt totally uncomfortable to do the job, which is one of the most important characteristics, I believe, in God using a person. And I think that's one of the distinguishing marks that a leader will look for when it comes to someone with spiritual gifts, including the gift of prophecy. I think there needs to be a humility, in fact, in many cases, a reluctance.
Because the opposite is presumption, many times. "I want this, I want it, I'm going to do it. I want to be seen before the people. I want them to think I'm spiritual. Come on, pastor, give me a chance. Give me a chance." Moses said, "Hey, don't get me, man. Forget it." Why was he so reluctant to take the job? I want to show you. Deuteronomy chapter 13.
It says in verse 1, "If there are rises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass of which he spoke to you saying, let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them, don't listen to the words of that prophet or the dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and you will walk after the Lord your God and fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice.
And you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him, but that prophet or dreamer of dreams shall be put to death because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you must put away evil from your midst."
So if someone came and said "Thus sayeth the Lord, you're following the wrong God, follow my gods." If you were turned away to pagan gods, you were to kill that person. Now, you say, what does that have to do with Moses? Well, let's go on to Deuteronomy chapter 18.
Deuteronomy 18, in verse 20 it says, "But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, how shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You shall not be afraid of him."
The job description of a prophet was tough. You can't turn a person into idolatry, and you have to be 100% accurate. If you're not 100% accurate, it wasn't God speaking. And if it wasn't God speaking and you said "Thus sayeth the Lord," they take out and kill you. So God says, "Moses, I'm calling you to be my spokesman. "Pass, Lord. Pass. What if I'm not hearing you every day correctly and I say something because I'm angry?"
In fact, you remember, Moses did speak something when he was angry. He misrepresented God. God said, "Moses, I want you to go to the rock and talk to it. I don't want you to beat it, I want you just to tell the rock to bring forth water. Just start talking to that rock over there."
The children of Israel were so rebellious at Moses' leadership, Moses took a rod and he started beating the rock. And he yelled at the children of Israel, "Must I smite this rock to bring forth water?" And he took out wrath and vengeance, misrepresenting God. And God had to pull him aside and say, "Mo, I'm sorry. I'm not going to let you into the promised land, you can only look at it from a distance and see all of the promises you would have had, but you won't have because you misrepresented me. You handled my word incorrectly." God didn't kill him, but God did worse, in Moses' eyes.
Now, being a prophet was not popular even when you did hear God's voice. When Moses spoke forth the word of God and it was accurate, a lot of people didn't like it. When Samuel spoke forth the word of God, it hurt people. When Jeremiah spoke forth the word of God, people put him in the dungeon. It wasn't a popular job. It wasn't a glorifying job. Prophets didn't have radio programs, television programs. People didn't write them letters and say, you're such a wonderful prophet. They said, we want to kill you because we don't like the word you're saying. It wasn't easy.
And so they took Jeremiah, they canned him, they put him in prison. While he was in prison, he said, "OK, God, I quit. I've had it. Here's my resignation. I've spoken in Your Name and look what it's gotten me. I'm in jail. Forget it. I'm not going to prophesy anymore. I'm not going to even mention Your Name, Lord." Imagine saying that. I'm not going to even mention God's name at work.
The very next verse, Jeremiah says, "But His word was burning within me like fire in my bones. I couldn't just hold in, and I had to let it out." But it wasn't a popular job. It wasn't an easy thing.
Now, God spoke in the Old Testament through dreams, picture language, through visions. God often used the people themselves as visual aids, like we spoke about Sunday night. They became pedagogies in biography, that is, they became the visual example of what God was doing.
So Jeremiah takes a big jar and he goes to the Kidron Valley. And God says, "In the sight of all the people, throw the jar down in front of them and get their attention." So Jeremiah goes [BREAKING NOISES], and it breaks in front everybody and everybody looks. Imagine walking into a restaurant, taking a big jar and going bam. And then, as everybody looks at you, go now, that's what God's going to do to all you guys. That's what Jeremiah had to do, people didn't take kindly to it.
God got his message across to the nations. Now, there is a difference between an Old Testament prophet and a New Testament prophet. This is it, basically. The Old Testament prophets primarily foretold the word of God, the bulk of their prophecy was futuristic. This is what God's going to do to all the nations who hate Israel. This is what God's plan is for the nation of Israel. This is God's future plan for the Messiah, the millennial kingdom.
The New Testament prophet forthtells, or simply speaks forth, the word of God, and it's not necessarily predictive. It can be, there's an element of it, but not necessarily.
Here's the difference, the Old Testament man of God, the prophet, was a mediator, a go between. When God wanted to speak, He usually spoke through an isolated individual at a specific time. Although there was an overlap of a few prophets, there were usually time periods where God chose one person as a mediator to represent Him before people.
Jeremiah, however, made a prediction about the new covenant. Do you remember what he said in Jeremiah 31? He said, "'The days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel." And he said that there is going to come a time when people aren't going to need one spokesman for God, telling them, know the Lord, know the Lord, know the Lord.
For, he says, "All believers shall know Me." All of them are going to have a relationship with God. They're not going to need a go between, a mediator, and especially in the New Testament, we don't need one, do we? For, Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man.
So the prophet predicted a time there'd be a new covenant, we wouldn't need a mediator, we wouldn't need one spokesman to foretell and to mediate and arbitrate between us and God, for we'd have Jesus. And because of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us-- "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy."
Now, I want you to turn with me to the New Testament to 1 Corinthians chapter 14. 1 Corinthians chapter 14 is rather a lengthy chapter that speaks about tongues and prophesying in the public assembly. And now, it's obvious without going-- and you can go through the chapter, I recommend that you do, we have gone through it before.
But the crux that Paul says is that, now, if you're going to take tongues and prophecy in a public assembly, and you're going to ask me which is the best, prophesying is the best in the public assembly because people can understand it. People can understand tongues unless there's an interpreter. And even in the public assembly, there are limitations for it. If a person speaks in tongues, there always must be one at a time, not everybody's shouting at one time. Every single one must have an interpretation. There should be two, at the most three, after three people have done it, you close it off.
When it comes to prophecy, he says, "Earnestly desire the best gifts." He says in verse one of chapter 14, "Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. For no one understands him, however, in the Spirit, he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification, exaltation, and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
I wish that you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied. For he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless, indeed, he interprets, that the church may receive edification. But now, brethren, if I come to you with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?"
To a lot of people this gift is so mysterious. They think that there's going to be some mystical, strange experience that overtakes them. And because they look for the mysterious event to occur, many people never receive this. I would dare say that many of you have been used by God with this gift, and, perhaps, you didn't know it. Or, perhaps, you wondered, what's going on? I don't know why I felt led to share that. In this afterglow or in this kinship, I don't know, but it was burning in my heart. And you didn't know what it was.
I spoke to a guy who didn't believe in spiritual gifts. We were at a meeting, one time, and as we were waiting on the Lord and we were exercising spiritual gifts, this guy came out with a prophecy, and afterwards he was shaken. "What did I do? I never done anything like that." "Well, you just prophesied." "I did? I don't believe in that. " "Well, I'm sorry, but you did it."
And let me show you in the Scripture where it says how it operates. The people are looking for the very mysterious, much like the gift of tongues, as we will discuss in the next several weeks. They think, well, you know, I've heard all the testimonies about tongues. That all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit just, kind of, grabs your mouth. You just start flapping and talking, you have no control. Consequently, they're never open to it because they've heard wild stories about it. And so they're not open to it. Same with prophesying. It's not all that mysterious.
Perhaps, you've been in a meeting. Let me see if this is your experience. You've been at it one of our after glows, and there's been something burning on your heart to share. You felt like, I needed to share this, and you go, nah. That's nothing it's just me, it's not the Lord. I just made that up. I'm not going to say it. And you've suppressed it, but all the while you felt like you needed to share it.
Now, I know that's the experience of many of you because a lot of you folks have shared that with me. God has laid something on your heart to share in a time of waiting on the Lord and you just haven't done it.
There were, in the New Testament, recognized prophets, that is, people who were specified as prophets in the New Testament church. There was Agabus. He was known as a prophet, he foretold the future. He told Paul what was going to happen to him. But there were people who were not designated as prophets, who prophesied. And I want to show you what I mean. I want you to turn back to Acts chapter 19, the book of Acts chapter 19.
It says, beginning in verse 1, "And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples, he said to them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' And they said to him, 'We haven't even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.' And he said, 'Well, then into what were you baptized?' And he said, 'Into John's baptism.' And Paul said, 'John, indeed, baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is Jesus Christ.'
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and they prophesied. And there was about 12 in all."
These guys were just fresh. These were baby Christians, they didn't know anything. Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? What's the Holy Spirit? You mean they didn't tell you? No. Well, let's pray right now. They were baptized, and they laid hands on them. They began to speak in tongues and prophecy. They weren't designated as prophets, yet they prophesied. They spoke forth a truth of God to the 12 and also the elders who were sitting here.
Remember something, folks. Please remember this. There is room for growth in spiritual gifts. You don't have it in one package, completely polished when you get a gift. And there's room to make mistakes and fail and learn from the mistakes and move on.
When a person is given the gift of teaching or evangelism, they're not always polished. Oftentimes, they're scared to death to speak to people. They get up in front of a crowd and they go, ooh. But it's OK, the Lord moves through them, and then the next time it gets easier. They sense that they have a gift, people recognize they have a gift, but it's not polished. It, as it is being exercised, becomes more polished, becomes used greater by the Lord, as they step out. But there's room for growth in any spiritual gift.
And there's going to come times, hopefully, where you're going to take that first step when the Lord lays something on your heart to share at a meeting that's set aside, where you're waiting on the Lord, you're in worship, and you're going to want to speak out. It'll be at an afterglow, and somebody will say now, let's just wait on the Lord for this, you're going to go, oh I'm afraid, I'm scared. Take the step. Take the first step.
You know, I found out that the word prophesy, the Hebrew word, the Hebrew root of the word prophecy, means to boil over or to overflow.
Have you ever shaken a Coke bottle? You shake it, maybe you've done it when you're a kid, and you open it up and squirt it all over somebody's face. Sometimes God shakes you up. It's boiling over, it's frustrating to keep it in. You've got to release it. Take a step. It's not going to come, maybe, that smoothly, at first, but take the first step. See what the Lord does with it.
A child, a baby, he doesn't know how to walk as soon as he's born. He doesn't jump out of the cradle with his Nike's running around the room. It takes time. He learns to crawl. He stands up, he falls over. He starts taking a few more steps, pretty soon he learns how to walk. Later on, he learns at a jog. Later on, he learns at a run. But you take the step, you take the first step. And as you learn, you learn as you go.
I want you to turn out acts 21. It says in verse 8, "On the next day, we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who is one of the seven, and stayed with him." One of the seven deacons back in Act 6.
Now, this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. It wasn't just confined to the male species, these women prophesied. Four unmarried, single girls. I think that's great, quadraphonic prophecy. I don't know if they did it all at once. But there seems to be a distinction between the fact that they, indeed, used the gift of prophecy and those who were designated in the position or office as prophets. For we read in the very next verse, "And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea."
Here's the point I'm making: you don't have to come with a cataclysmic, tremendous thundering of a prediction to prophesy. It can come so simple. It oftentimes is a Scripture, a reminder of a promise of God. Or it could be something fresh that will build up or encourage, speaking forth God's message to one individual or a group of individuals.
It doesn't always have to be in first person, singular, Elizabethan English. Thus sayeth the Lord, oh my children. It doesn't have to be, It can be. But see, we get this because we've heard it that way. Well, that's the way it always has to be. Oh my children, I sayeth unto thee-eth. It can be very simple, and it be in your own personality. And you have to see how it fits with you. There's room for making mistakes. God is not going to thunder you or crash you with lightning if you make a mistake.
Now, I want you to turn back to 1 Corinthians, chapter 14. We have just a few minutes, so let's get through this. 1 Corinthians 14, and it says in verse 3, "But he who prophesies speaks edification, exaltation, and comfort to men." And that's a very important verse, when it comes to prophecy, because this describes New Testament prophecy. When a person speaks forth a word for the Lord, it has to fall into one of these three categories: edification, building up, exhortation, or comfort. Edification, exaltation, or comfort.
Edification or strengthening, building up, remember, it is not tearing down. I don't know why, but some people have this idea that prophecy is their God-given excuse to be a demolition crew for the Holy Spirit. And I've seen people give such condemning words, and whenever I hear a condemning word-- "Oh, my foolish children. You idiots." I say, "You're out of order. Quit right now, that is not of the Lord." Because it's not edifying. It's not exhortation, which means to encourage. And it's, certainly, not comforting. That's called the gift of condemnation.
Now, people don't know that's a gift because it isn't. They just call it the gift of exhortation or the gift of prophecy. But it has to follow one of these: edification, exhortation, and comfort. Now, exhortation, or some of your translations say encouragement, is when somebody speaks forth a word, it is a prophecy, and it makes the person want to try. It doesn't drive them away from the Lord, it doesn't make them feel like a rat. It makes them want to try again, it makes them feel encouraged, it spurns them on to do something for the Lord.
If you were teaching your child to ride a bicycle and he fell over, would you scold him? "You dummy, can't you ride a bike? I showed you once." No, you'd encourage him, wouldn't you? You'd say, "Good try, that's OK." You give him affirmation, you'd encourage him because that's going to make him want to try harder.
And then comfort, speaking forth God's comfort. God is still on the throne. You're going to be OK. You're going to make it through, the Lord is still with you. Edification, exhortation, and comfort.
Now, I want you to turn back-- keep your finger here or your Bible marker here, and turn back to the book of Acts chapter 13. Because there is a part of prophecy that is predictive, that does tell the future, even in the New Testament. In verse 1, it says, "In the church that was at Antioch, there were certain prophets and teachers, " two different offices, "Barnabas, Simeon who is called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manean who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord--" I love that phrase.
Ever think about ministering to the Lord? We often pray, Lord, minister to me, minister to your people. How about, Lord, I'm going to minister to You today. In praise and adoration, God is blessed. "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I've called them." How did he do it? Did a voice thunder out of heaven? No, because we read in other parts of the New Testament that God used other prophets. Here, there are prophets and teachers.
No doubt, the Lord spoke through these prophets a message: "Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the work that I have called for them. Then, having fasted and prayed, they laid hands in them and sent them away." Oh, I wish churches would do this today. When there is a vacancy in the pulpit, when there's an office that needs to be filled, instead of just taking resumes and applications and voting on it, praying and fasting and getting the mind of the Lord over a period of time to know what the mind of God is. They fasted and prayed, the Holy Spirit spoke.
| want you to turn to Acts chapter 20, verse 22. Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders, and he said, "And see, now I go, bound in the Spirit, to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me--" but notice this-- "except, that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my race with joy and the ministry that I have received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Paul says, I'm going to Jerusalem, yet everywhere I go on the way, the Holy Spirit's telling me, Paul, this is what's going to happen. But Paul said, I don't care, I'm going anyway. I know that when I get there, I'm going to get chained, and all these things are going to happen, but I'm still going anyway.
Turn to the next chapter, chapter 21. Verse 10, it says, "We stayed many days." This is where we left off a few minutes ago. "A certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea, and when he had come to us, he took Paul's belt."
Now, notice what he does. "He bound his own hands and feet, and he said, 'thus says the Holy Spirit. So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him to the hands of the Gentiles.' And when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.
And Paul answered, 'What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready, not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.' So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, 'the will of the Lord be done.'"
Do you remember when Paul was first saved, and God woke up Ananias? And He said, "Ananias, go into Damascus. There's a man named Saul who's been praying, and he's received a vision that a guy named Ananias, you, are going to come and see him. So go and see him.
Here's the message you're to deliver to him: say that you are a chosen vessel, Paul, unto me. You're going to bear my names before Gentiles and kings, and you will suffer many things for my name's sake."
Now, that was told Paul at the beginning of his ministry. He didn't run from it. He just said, well, I'll live my life for the Lord. I got a word from Him that I'm going to suffer. Everywhere he went, that was confirmed, over and over again. Your going to be beaten, you're going to suffer, you're going to be bound in Jerusalem before the chief priests. But those words of prophecy were not original direction, they were confirmation. You following me? They confirmed what God was doing all the way through.
Now, if somebody comes up to me and says, "Skip, thus sayeth the Lord, thou shalt move to Española." I'm not going, simply because what if that person is misreading God, isn't hearing from the Lord? What if that person is not in tune? What if that person's vision or prophecy was from the burrito he ate 10 minutes ago? I'm not going to-- I'm in Española because this guy couldn't control his hot sauce? Forget it.
I'm not going until it's confirmed by the Lord, the Lord does a lot of other things, confirms it in my heart, I get direction through the word of God, through the council with others, as God sets up the circumstances. I'm not just going to go for it. I'm going to weigh it out. But the Holy Spirit was continually telling Paul his confirmation to something that was told him at the beginning of his ministry.
Now, I want to close-- oh, hate when I don't have time-- in chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, real quickly. Verse 26 says, "How is it, then, brethren, whenever you come together, each of you as a Psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, and interpretation, let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two, at the most three, each in turn, and that one interpret. If there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silence. For you can all prophesy one by one that you may learn, and all may be encouraged."
Then he says, "And the spirits of the prophets--" verse 32-- "are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the Saints."
I think we're going to have to finish this up next time. It's over time, now. So let's pray.
Heavenly Father. I just ask now, in Jesus' name, that you will open up our hearts to your Holy Spirit moving in our lives. I pray that none of us will come short of the gifts that You desire to give. I pray, Lord, that we will not squander our full potential in You, but Lord, You'd, as we wait on You, let us understand what Your will for us is. Lord, I pray that You will create out of this body, a group of mature believers, able to go forth and correctly represent You. In Jesus' name, Amen.