Promises and Prophecies: what do ya do with them?


First of all, the word prophecy has a lot of theological, emotional, and spiritual baggage for most people. Most every Western Christian has at least heard an opinion on prophecy, and most probably have their own opinion as well. Is prophecy a gift that stopped with the close of the Bible? Wouldn’t allowing prophecy as the God speaking to us be attempting to “add to Scripture” or give someone’s words as great an authority as Scripture? While I do not intend to argue in depth about these questions or questions like it, I wanted to state my own opinion briefly. I believe that God speaks to us today, nearly constantly. I believe that prophecy is primarily a gift to encourage, edify, and build up the body by listening to specific encouragement from the Holy Spirit. I believe that Paul’s letters support these opinions. In this blog I will specifically address places where God has spoken prophetically into people’s lives through Scripture, personal devotions, and other believers.
Wherever you fall on the question of whether God speaks prophetically to us today, there are certain promises that God has made in our Scriptures. We have been promised that if we honor our parents then “it will go well with you,” that if we believe in Jesus Christ we “shall be saved,” that Jesus came in order for us to have “life and life abundantly.” These are just a few of the hundreds of promises God makes throughout Scripture. These that I have mentioned are general promises but I think there is room and the Living Word for God to make specific promises to us by highlighting certain Scriptures in answer to, preparation for, or as guidance in the circumstances of our lives. For example, while going through a particularly difficult time with fear as a child God (and my earthly father) encouraged me through Romans 8:15. As I went outside in the dark to take out the trash I would repeat to myself, “God did not give me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and of a sound mind.” This promise was made real to me in the circumstances of my life and nowadays I find myself relatively fear-free.
Now, chances are, God’s made you a lot of promises in your life and not just through Scripture. He has probably spoken through your quiet times, other people, and possibly just randomly throughout the day or through momentous events. One note of caution is that when you feel God is speaking to you about something (through others or through your own thoughts) you should always test that word against Scripture and wise counsel. This is what the Bible teaches when dealing with prophecy. The word doesn’t have to be straight from Scripture, but it must be consistent with Scripture and the principles it teaches. Either way, what do you do with the promises God has made you? First, write them down. This is crucial! You often will not be able to remember them in full if you wait even fifteen minutes to write them down. Now, God is the best reminder and the word of God doesn’t necessarily need to be remembered to have an effect so don’t be afraid you will “lose” a prophetic word. Second, test them with Scripture and someone you trust. Third, attempt to discern how they would apply to your life (practically, spiritually, and mentally). Often times this third step is not hard and often times prophetic words are to encourage/free/heal us in the hearing and digesting of them. Sometimes though we need to remember Mary’s example as she “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Sometimes a word needs to be pondered and tucked away in our hearts for years till it comes to fruition. This leads us to the fourth step: read them (because you wrote them down in step one) and ponder them and pray about them. This will do several things for you.
Part of what prophetic words are is God giving us His truth, plans, and encouragements about us to be our identity. Our identity is wrapped up in how God views us; however, in this broken world we often listen to other influences about our identity telling us we are not good enough, fat, stupid, guilty, dumb, disqualified, unaccepted, etc. God’s view of us is obviously the opposite of these things and the more we internalize His view, the more us we will truly be. Reading and praying over prophetic words will help you internalize God’s view of you and His plans for your life. It will also help you understand exactly what God was saying in a particular word. Like everything God says, you may find that it is living and speaking to you in new places every time you return to it. Lastly, reading and pondering and praying will help build up your faith in hard times and recall your gratitude in pleasant times. The words spoken over your life (through Scripture especially) should build your faith that you might quench the fiery darts of doubt and pain and fear and disillusionment that the evil one throws (or shoots) at you.
Now, wherever you are at in life, especially if you are feeling the doubt and pain, remember the promises God has given us. Remember where God has come through on His promises and encourage yourself in the places where you are still looking forward to God’s fulfillment. Let His words over your life define your plans, identity, and attitude (it’s hard to be mad when you remember that the God of the universe is looking out for you). If you haven’t written your promises down then do it! and if you have already then read it! Either way, recall the promises God has given you: for the Truth will set you free.

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