PREACHING AND THE PROPHETIC (WEEK 9)
I. Introduction: One of the things God uses as a catalyst to bring even greater life change with and through our preaching ministry is the operation of the gifts of prophecy and revelation. The prophetic ministry helps people realize we are not just giving a lecture, but we are hosting the presence of God; Jesus is here and is excited to bring us into a living encounter with Himself that will change our lives.
I Corinthians 14:24-25 says that as we prophesy, even unbelievers will be convicted of sin and judged by what we say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God declaring, “God is truly here among you.”
A. Defining prophetic ministry. Prophesy is generally “forthtelling”, the “now” word of God. It isn’t a new word necessarily as much as a “now” word. Its purpose is to give a revelation that leads to an impartation of salvation, healing, faith…. It can bring a revelation of the Spirit to a person in a way that leads to breakthrough. It is a catalyst of faith. It can suddenly change people’s expectation of what God wants to do for them and has available for them.
“Prophecy looks and pulls out the gold in the middle of the dirt of people’s lives.” -Kris Vallotin
It helps people realize God is close and powerful and is excited to connect with them in a living way, today. A prophetic word can have the effect that a dream had on Jacob when he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16)
B. Some other observations:
1. The purpose of prophecy is to confirm and make real what God is saying.
It is not to be the source of people’s guidance. In fact, when I tell people to judge a word I simply say, “If this isn’t confirming anything God has been saying to you just put on the back shelf. I either missed it or it’s for a later time.”
2. It works hand in hand with revelatory gifts like word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, and word of wisdom. In the Old Testaments “seers” and “prophets” would work side by side.
3. I’m convinced that prophetic words and insights are part of the tool box God wants to make available to us. Prophetic impressions are often there but missed or overlooked because we haven’t had our spiritual senses trained to discern them. We are like Samuel when he first heard a prophetic word from God.
II. Ways the prophetic can dovetail with the ministry of the Word, that takes place in teaching and sermon preparation and delivery
A. In our preparation of the message.
Effective preaching begins with effective listening. As we are in our study, God wants us to press in, and expect to hear “what the Spirit is saying to the church.” A prophetic unction comes from spending time in prayer, worship, and praying in the Spirit for the people.
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2
As I’m praying over the Scriptures and the message, I’m asking the Lord how He wants to bring Heaven to Earth? What is the miracle in the message He wants to bring? I’m asking to see “what the Father is doing?” What is God doing in the people that I’m supposed to confirm?
*Some impressions I receive are to be shared; most are to be discerned and prayed. It is wonderful if you have a team praying with you and discerning what God is saying.
B. In the delivery of the message.
It is helpful if you have prepared in such a way that you don’t have to read the points of your sermon. While you are delivering your message you want to be focusing on the people but also “tuned in” to the Holy Spirit and His flow. Bill Johnson uses the analogy of “Preaching with the Dove on your shoulder.”
A wonderful time in the message to give a prophetic word is as you are giving an application. Examples:
“Even as I speak, I sense someone here is hearing and has heard a voice saying that this can’t apply to you because…”
“I have this sense as I talk about the Father heart of God, there is someone here, who when you were a child felt like you were your Daddy’s favorite, then your dad left home and you felt like you were no one’s favorite. But God is telling me to tell you that you have always been His favorite even from the foundation of the earth.”
“As I prayed here’s a list of some of the labels, I feel the enemy has put on someone here…”
C. At ministry time or invitation time.
I like to say, “As I prayed, I felt impressed that perhaps God was showing me specific ways He wanted me to pray…” and invite different people to respond to the message and then calling those words out.
It can be wonderful if you have a prophetic team. Some of the most powerful times of ministry is when we have asked people to stand in response to a word. This is where the revelation gifts flow beautifully with the prophetic. The principle is “what God reveals God heals.” It is in ministry time that multiple people can then operate in the prophetic during personal ministry time.
Our second step of the ministry model is “the diagnostic decision” where we ask Holy Spirit why the person might have this condition. Often a word of knowledge that helps direct the prayer is catalytic.
At the end of the ministry time a prophetic word to confirm, encourage, and anchor in the work the Lord has done for that person is so key. Prophetic words often bring an increase in the anointing and a release of faith for signs and wonders. One of the most powerful things to discern is when someone has themselves received a gift of faith. Peter saw a man had faith to be healed. (Acts 14:9)
III. Some keys to facilitating and growing in the ministry of the prophetic in your preaching and delivery
A. Understand and teach the church and your team to understand prophetic protocol.
Our goal is to demystify the prophetic so that it fits and flows with our value of being naturally supernatural in a gathering for our non-members.
Some key values:
1. New Testament prophecy is not like the Old Testament. We are not speaking the direct words of God; we are reporting something we believe God has brought to mind that is to be tested and witnessed to, not assumed.
I Cor. 14:29 says “Let two or three prophesy and the others judge.” If prophetic ministry is not governed and judged, it will become despised.
Prophetic words are not just to be tested as to whether they are scriptural, but to be tested for how they are to be interpreted and applied.
The emphasis is on encouragement and comfort, helping people see how the goodness of God applies to an overlooked or unseen area of their lives.
2. The overarching context of the ministry of spirit is that it is to be governed in a way that it operates “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40). It means that it fits within the context of the goal and purpose of the service as developed by those with governing responsibility. We see from I Corinthians 14:26 in general meetings, the goal is to develop church services that are meaningful and intelligible to believers and non-believers who may be attending at the same time. The goal is that everyone is strengthened. In I Corinthians 14:32 Paul says, “Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns.”
It is key for leadership to decide and define the best way for a prophetic word to be given. We should only welcome those to prophecy who are willing to submit to that flow. A danger comes when a person who is prophesying sees themselves having a special position from God that would be different in a service than someone giving a testimony, announcements, or a special song.
3. If this gift is going to be developed in the church, there needs to be places where people can practice and grow as they get feedback and learn to test and be tested.
We invite people to learn in the context of small groups where they can grow even as they miss it. A good learning environment is one in which those who hear a prophetic word give feedback. If the prophetic word is right-on, we say “bless God for that word,” or if they miss it, we say, “bless you for stepping out and taking a risk to learn to minister prophetically.” Samuel got to the place where “not one word fell to the ground.” I believe that came with the mentoring of Eli in a safe environment.
B. Learn how you can grow in your prophetic gifting.
1. Be part of a team where you can learn together.
2. Become aware of your “prophetic profile.” When your prophetic gift is awakened, how do you most often sense God speaking?
a. You see a picture.
b. You read words in your spirit.
c. You have dreams.
d. God uses your imagination.
e. You feel impressed to start writing.
f. Words bubble up inside as you speak out.
g. In worship or prayer, you suddenly just know things about the future or a person or about what God wants to say.
h. It flows when you sing in the spirit or speak in tongues.
C. Boldly step into an expectation that God has called a prophetic person: (Jeremiah chapter ONE).
1. Know you are called to speak on the Lord’s behalf. “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb I set you apart as a prophet” (1:5)
2. Learn to listen; practice discerning and articulating God’s voice “You will go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.” (1:7)
3. Discern what the word is, what it is for, and how it is to be shared. “Look I have put My words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” (Vs. 9-10)
4. Describe what you sense. “Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” (Vs. 11)
5. Expect God to move, boldly anticipate and take a risk to help people. respond. “Get up and prepare for action.” (Vs. 17)