Prophecy

A Word for the Prophetic Movement

by Mark Sandford,

In mid-April I began to feel purposeless, as if I were going nowhere (in spite of the fact that the opposite is true). I felt heavy and dead, and could take little joy in ministry. I have encountered many prophetic people who have been feeling the same way. But when I tell them why, their heavy feeling lifts.

Have you been feeling this way? Here's what I'm sensing. A change is coming in the prophetic movement. The movement began with a vibrant vision: we would rediscover the prophetic gift and office, and bring them back into the life of the Church. Joy came to many as prophetic words were fulfilled, but immature zeal has had its way. The need for accountability has been eclipsed by a quest for the excitement of prophecies (especially personal ones). We want so much to hear from God that we often fail to test prophetic words, as Scripture commands (1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 1 John 4:1).

Although the Bible regards false prophecies as a very serious matter, too many Christians treat them as a non-issue. A prophetic leader may give false prophecy after false prophecy, and it doesn't even occur to followers to test his words. When even our watchmen are not held accountable for their actions, who is left to warn teachers who would stray into heresy or pastors who would fall into sin? Ample objections come from the internet attack dogs who spew their vitriolic fire hoses not only on fires, but on the very fire of the Holy Spirit. But not enough prophetic voices are speaking out with the balance of firmness and compassion needed to protect the precious gifts with which God has entrusted us.

I sense that in order to protect His children from themselves, at this point the Holy Spirit is applying loving discipline by sending thousands of prophetic Christians into what St. John of the Cross dubbed, "the dark night of the soul." . If you are feeling the heaviness I have described, you may be one of them.

Or, if you have already been through the dark night, such feelings may signal a call to pray for others who are entering into it. God often causes us to feel what others feel, to prepare us to pray from a stance of empathy rather than judgment. If this describes your situation, you are probably beginning to feel lighter even as you read this, for you are realizing that the emotions you have been feeling are not your own.

In the sixteenth century, in his book, "The Dark Night of the Soul," St. John noted that when Christians discover spiritual gifts and mystical experiences they too often fall into spiritual pride, either knowingly or unknowingly, desiring to use these to gain notoriety. Some, aware of this temptation, become overly scrupulous. They desperately attempt to scrub every imperfection from their souls, unaware of a hidden motive to find peace in their own perfection rather than in the arms of a gracious and forgiving God.

St. John saw both of these reactions as expressions of "spiritual gluttony." Through his own suffering he learned that whether we are ravenous for notoriety or perfection, God cures us by putting us on a "spiritual diet." The following are signs that this is happening:

-- You may no longer find pleasure in the things of God or life in general.

-- You may no longer easily feel God's presence, have mystical experiences or hear prophetic words.

-- You may find it difficult to pray, feeling little or no enjoyment in it.

-- You may feel spiritually dead.

-- Because of all this, you may feel like God has abandoned you.

-- You may feel like you are backsliding.

--You may feel like everyone has forsaken you, especially your friends.

You may take all this to mean that God has removed His presence. Quite the opposite is true; He has increased it! It only feels like He has removed it, for two reasons. First, during the dark night you may feel like you are walking from a dimly lit room into full sunlight. The brightness of His holy presence can seem blinding, so that you can't see the light of His presence until the eyes of your spirit slowly adjust. Second, Malachi 3:3 says that God refines us like gold and silver. His increased presence can heat up the metal of your heart, causing dross to surface more quickly. You can become so aware of your sins and the deadness of your soul, that at first you do not perceive that His presence has increased.

You may also think the dark night is punishment or reaping for wrongdoing. It is not; it is God's way of leading you to despair of relying on your own strengths, abilities or gifts. In the process, you may discover sins you were previously unaware of, but these did not cause the dark night; they were merely revealed by it. So don't blame yourself for the dark night; be thankful that God is using this experience to build humble character that reflects more of His likeness.

How long must the dark night last? St. John suggested that in order for it to be effective, it should last at least a few years, but that is not absolute; there are many exceptions. It will last however long it takes to get you to the point of despair of self and then beyond it, to where you can abide in Christ, resting in the knowledge that without Him you can do nothing (John 15:5). Only God knows how long that will take.

Meanwhile, do not try ever harder to hear God or spend extra hours in fasting or Bible study in order to jump-start your stalled spiritual sensitivities (not that you should avoid these activities, but do avoid basing them on this motive). Rather, lean into God's embrace and cling to Him like a child in need. Jesus said, "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them" (Mark 10:15-16, NAS).

To live in Jesus' embrace is, quite simply, God's goal for the prophetic movement. For what is the ultimate purpose of any prophecy, whether it be a word of encouragement, a warning, or even an announcement of impending discipline? Simply to draw us closer to God. What, then, is most destructive to the prophetic movement? Focusing on prophecies instead of God.

For those of you who have been feeling the heaviness in brothers and sisters who are entering the dark night, pray that this will not be a time of torment for them. Torment will come if they strive to recover the thrills His gifts once gave them. Pray for the grace to let that go and to embrace the choice fruit which God designed this season to produce -- sweet contentment in the arms of a loving God. Imagine the babies Jesus took into His arms in Mark 10. Were they prideful? How could they be?

Babies have no gifts or achievements in which to take pride. Did they seek gifts instead of God? Babies know nothing of such things. All that matters to them is the rapturous heart-to-heart and spirit-to-spirit flow of the Father's love. "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." How we squirm in His arms! We would rather be down on the floor where we can play with our spiritual toys.

If you go through the dark night, spend a great deal of time in the quietness of God's embrace. Choose to soak in His presence, even if you cannot yet feel it. Eventually you will! The wait will cultivate patience and humility. Having endured a period without spiritual accomplishments, more than ever, you will know that you truly can do nothing in the power of your flesh. You will become more aware of your shortcomings and sins, yet be far less self-conscious and more self-accepting than before.

And when you finally begin to imbibe the deep satisfaction of the Father's love, it will make you "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3), for you will no longer feel the need to become rich in spiritual gifts. When gifts come, you will enjoy the God who gives them. When they are absent, you will enjoy God.

When the dark night has made you into a child who knows no reason for pride, it is then that God will increase the gifts, not only because you can be trusted with them, but because there will be less danger that you might use them to bring harm to yourself and others. And although you will be more able to feel God's presence and power, you will no longer see feelings as the measure of God's presence and power.

Lust for emotional highs will fade within the placid stillness of God's heavenly hug. And you will be able to invite others into that peace; you will be able to speak the truth -- even hard truth -- from no other motive than love.

Not everyone's "dark night" will look exactly like that outlined by St. John of the cross. Throughout Scripture we see saints who experienced elements of it, but each one's list of woes had its own configuration. What was common to all is that their time of suffering always led to the same blessed place.

David wrote, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1 NAS). But he also wrote many of the most joyful Psalms. Job complained, "I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me" (Job 30:20, NAS). But his life after his time of trial was twice as blessed as before (Job 42:12 NAS). In Lamentations 3:1-33, Jeremiah mentioned many of the elements of the dark night. He complained, "He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light (vs. 2, NIV). "Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer" (vs. 8, NAS). "My people...mock me in song all day long" (vs. 14, NIV). "I have been deprived of peace" (verse 17, NIV). "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord" (vs. 18, NIV).

Although Jeremiah's prophetic gift brought him nothing but rejection from his countrymen, he found his blessed place in God's embrace: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (vss. 21-23).

In Lamentations 3:24 (NIV), Jeremiah said, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait on Him." This outlook was what got him through his trial, and the increase of this outlook was the end-result. What is your portion? The extent of your gifts? The "high" they make you feel? The admiration they inspire in others? Being right when others are wrong? Your mind might protest that this is not so, but only God knows your heart. He knows how long it will take you to learn to really live the words, "The Lord is my portion."

You may pray that the length of the dark night be shortened, but do not be dismayed if it is not. I sense that for many, it will last for the next three to four years. For you, it may last for any length of time within that time period. During that season, prophecies may be scarcer than before. Spiritual highs may be harder to come by. But afterward, you will find yourself in a place to be guided by a new vision -- one centered on the simple premise that it's all about the Father's love.

Jesus said, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24, NIV). In order to bear the fruit God intends, the current prophetic movement must die -- not die off, mind you, but die to its present form and state, to be resurrected into the balance that God intends for it.

"The Lord is my portion." When this season passes, for those who have allowed God to have His way, this may become the catch-phrase of the new vision for His prophetic movement.


Standard
Prophecy

A Word for the Prophetic Movement

by Mark Sandford,

In mid-April I began to feel purposeless, as if I were going nowhere (in spite of the fact that the opposite is true). I felt heavy and dead, and could take little joy in ministry. I have encountered many prophetic people who have been feeling the same way. But when I tell them why, their heavy feeling lifts.

Have you been feeling this way? Here's what I'm sensing. A change is coming in the prophetic movement. The movement began with a vibrant vision: we would rediscover the prophetic gift and office, and bring them back into the life of the Church. Joy came to many as prophetic words were fulfilled, but immature zeal has had its way. The need for accountability has been eclipsed by a quest for the excitement of prophecies (especially personal ones). We want so much to hear from God that we often fail to test prophetic words, as Scripture commands (1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 1 John 4:1).

Although the Bible regards false prophecies as a very serious matter, too many Christians treat them as a non-issue. A prophetic leader may give false prophecy after false prophecy, and it doesn't even occur to followers to test his words. When even our watchmen are not held accountable for their actions, who is left to warn teachers who would stray into heresy or pastors who would fall into sin? Ample objections come from the internet attack dogs who spew their vitriolic fire hoses not only on fires, but on the very fire of the Holy Spirit. But not enough prophetic voices are speaking out with the balance of firmness and compassion needed to protect the precious gifts with which God has entrusted us.

I sense that in order to protect His children from themselves, at this point the Holy Spirit is applying loving discipline by sending thousands of prophetic Christians into what St. John of the Cross dubbed, "the dark night of the soul." . If you are feeling the heaviness I have described, you may be one of them.

Or, if you have already been through the dark night, such feelings may signal a call to pray for others who are entering into it. God often causes us to feel what others feel, to prepare us to pray from a stance of empathy rather than judgment. If this describes your situation, you are probably beginning to feel lighter even as you read this, for you are realizing that the emotions you have been feeling are not your own.

In the sixteenth century, in his book, "The Dark Night of the Soul," St. John noted that when Christians discover spiritual gifts and mystical experiences they too often fall into spiritual pride, either knowingly or unknowingly, desiring to use these to gain notoriety. Some, aware of this temptation, become overly scrupulous. They desperately attempt to scrub every imperfection from their souls, unaware of a hidden motive to find peace in their own perfection rather than in the arms of a gracious and forgiving God.

St. John saw both of these reactions as expressions of "spiritual gluttony." Through his own suffering he learned that whether we are ravenous for notoriety or perfection, God cures us by putting us on a "spiritual diet." The following are signs that this is happening:

-- You may no longer find pleasure in the things of God or life in general.

-- You may no longer easily feel God's presence, have mystical experiences or hear prophetic words.

-- You may find it difficult to pray, feeling little or no enjoyment in it.

-- You may feel spiritually dead.

-- Because of all this, you may feel like God has abandoned you.

-- You may feel like you are backsliding.

--You may feel like everyone has forsaken you, especially your friends.

You may take all this to mean that God has removed His presence. Quite the opposite is true; He has increased it! It only feels like He has removed it, for two reasons. First, during the dark night you may feel like you are walking from a dimly lit room into full sunlight. The brightness of His holy presence can seem blinding, so that you can't see the light of His presence until the eyes of your spirit slowly adjust. Second, Malachi 3:3 says that God refines us like gold and silver. His increased presence can heat up the metal of your heart, causing dross to surface more quickly. You can become so aware of your sins and the deadness of your soul, that at first you do not perceive that His presence has increased.

You may also think the dark night is punishment or reaping for wrongdoing. It is not; it is God's way of leading you to despair of relying on your own strengths, abilities or gifts. In the process, you may discover sins you were previously unaware of, but these did not cause the dark night; they were merely revealed by it. So don't blame yourself for the dark night; be thankful that God is using this experience to build humble character that reflects more of His likeness.

How long must the dark night last? St. John suggested that in order for it to be effective, it should last at least a few years, but that is not absolute; there are many exceptions. It will last however long it takes to get you to the point of despair of self and then beyond it, to where you can abide in Christ, resting in the knowledge that without Him you can do nothing (John 15:5). Only God knows how long that will take.

Meanwhile, do not try ever harder to hear God or spend extra hours in fasting or Bible study in order to jump-start your stalled spiritual sensitivities (not that you should avoid these activities, but do avoid basing them on this motive). Rather, lean into God's embrace and cling to Him like a child in need. Jesus said, "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them" (Mark 10:15-16, NAS).

To live in Jesus' embrace is, quite simply, God's goal for the prophetic movement. For what is the ultimate purpose of any prophecy, whether it be a word of encouragement, a warning, or even an announcement of impending discipline? Simply to draw us closer to God. What, then, is most destructive to the prophetic movement? Focusing on prophecies instead of God.

For those of you who have been feeling the heaviness in brothers and sisters who are entering the dark night, pray that this will not be a time of torment for them. Torment will come if they strive to recover the thrills His gifts once gave them. Pray for the grace to let that go and to embrace the choice fruit which God designed this season to produce -- sweet contentment in the arms of a loving God. Imagine the babies Jesus took into His arms in Mark 10. Were they prideful? How could they be?

Babies have no gifts or achievements in which to take pride. Did they seek gifts instead of God? Babies know nothing of such things. All that matters to them is the rapturous heart-to-heart and spirit-to-spirit flow of the Father's love. "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." How we squirm in His arms! We would rather be down on the floor where we can play with our spiritual toys.

If you go through the dark night, spend a great deal of time in the quietness of God's embrace. Choose to soak in His presence, even if you cannot yet feel it. Eventually you will! The wait will cultivate patience and humility. Having endured a period without spiritual accomplishments, more than ever, you will know that you truly can do nothing in the power of your flesh. You will become more aware of your shortcomings and sins, yet be far less self-conscious and more self-accepting than before.

And when you finally begin to imbibe the deep satisfaction of the Father's love, it will make you "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3), for you will no longer feel the need to become rich in spiritual gifts. When gifts come, you will enjoy the God who gives them. When they are absent, you will enjoy God.

When the dark night has made you into a child who knows no reason for pride, it is then that God will increase the gifts, not only because you can be trusted with them, but because there will be less danger that you might use them to bring harm to yourself and others. And although you will be more able to feel God's presence and power, you will no longer see feelings as the measure of God's presence and power.

Lust for emotional highs will fade within the placid stillness of God's heavenly hug. And you will be able to invite others into that peace; you will be able to speak the truth -- even hard truth -- from no other motive than love.

Not everyone's "dark night" will look exactly like that outlined by St. John of the cross. Throughout Scripture we see saints who experienced elements of it, but each one's list of woes had its own configuration. What was common to all is that their time of suffering always led to the same blessed place.

David wrote, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1 NAS). But he also wrote many of the most joyful Psalms. Job complained, "I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me" (Job 30:20, NAS). But his life after his time of trial was twice as blessed as before (Job 42:12 NAS). In Lamentations 3:1-33, Jeremiah mentioned many of the elements of the dark night. He complained, "He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light (vs. 2, NIV). "Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer" (vs. 8, NAS). "My people...mock me in song all day long" (vs. 14, NIV). "I have been deprived of peace" (verse 17, NIV). "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord" (vs. 18, NIV).

Although Jeremiah's prophetic gift brought him nothing but rejection from his countrymen, he found his blessed place in God's embrace: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (vss. 21-23).

In Lamentations 3:24 (NIV), Jeremiah said, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait on Him." This outlook was what got him through his trial, and the increase of this outlook was the end-result. What is your portion? The extent of your gifts? The "high" they make you feel? The admiration they inspire in others? Being right when others are wrong? Your mind might protest that this is not so, but only God knows your heart. He knows how long it will take you to learn to really live the words, "The Lord is my portion."

You may pray that the length of the dark night be shortened, but do not be dismayed if it is not. I sense that for many, it will last for the next three to four years. For you, it may last for any length of time within that time period. During that season, prophecies may be scarcer than before. Spiritual highs may be harder to come by. But afterward, you will find yourself in a place to be guided by a new vision -- one centered on the simple premise that it's all about the Father's love.

Jesus said, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24, NIV). In order to bear the fruit God intends, the current prophetic movement must die -- not die off, mind you, but die to its present form and state, to be resurrected into the balance that God intends for it.

"The Lord is my portion." When this season passes, for those who have allowed God to have His way, this may become the catch-phrase of the new vision for His prophetic movement.


Standard
Letters

Fulfilling the Law and the Prophets

Abolish is a strong word.

People quote Matthew 5:17&18 at me, to say “See! We still need to be under the Law! Look! See!”

These verses reads, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

I have to admit, if you grab that verse, yank it out of its context, ignore the bit about the Prophets, and try to use it as a club to support a need for the Law (or at least the 10 Commandments), then it kind of fits. If you squint.

Let’s look at this a little more closely, a little more objectively, shall we? Is Jesus really saying, “Psych! I’m not really freeing you from the Law!”? Or is Jesus saying something else.


That “Something else” could be several things:

  1. Perhaps the context tells us some things?
  2. There may be a Jewish metaphor here that we’re not catching because we’re not first century Jews. That might change the meaning here.  
  3. He might be talking about a purpose of the Law and the Prophets that he’s going to fulfill.
  4. He might be talking about and end of the Law, but one that is not His doing.
Let’s look at these possibilities one by one.

1. First, what does the context tell us? This is in the middle of a sermon where Jesus is completely re-interpreting their understanding of the Law. The entire chapter is about Jesus saying, “You’ve heard the Law taught this way…. But I tell you this other thing instead.”

So it’s not reasonable to assume that this is about submitting to the Law, at least not without some more evidence to work with. It’s more reasonable to infer that Jesus is doing away with how that Jewish culture has always understood the Law, and replacing that with a completely new understanding. 

2. Is there a Jewish metaphor here? I’m glad you asked. Yes there is. Jesus says the Law is valid “until heaven and earth pass away.” Well, when is that?

We, in our 21st century, science-based world interpret that literally, and if Jesus were speaking on CNN or the Discover Channel, that would probably be a reasonable interpretation. But that is not how his audience at the time would interpret it, so it’s not permitted for us to impose a 21st century interpretation onto this first century document.

If you look at the phrase in scripture (http://nwp.link/2idn9Ml), it’s used more than 120 times (NKJV). In general, the words are used together to describe “Pretty much everything we know” (which was *much* less than what we know today!), but when used together, it’s specifically addressing the abode of God (see: http://nwp.link/2j2nNR5, especially Isaiah 66:1 and Jeremiah 23:24).

In fact, this view was so prevalent that eventually the temple and its courtyard in Jerusalem became known as “Heaven and Earth,” and was spoken of as immovable. The temple itself, the “dwelling place of God” was Heaven, and the courts, particularly with the court of Gentiles, was “the Earth. In more poetical language, it was described as “Where Heaven and Earth meet.” (https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/grawhe)

3. The structure of the sentence clearly points to the fulfillment of “The Law and the Prophets.” We’ve taught for generations (correctly) that the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus, and this passage in Matthew has been part of that teaching. Certainly, the reference to “the Prophets” would not be part of a declaration of keeping the Old Covenant Law.

These verses are clearly saying that the Law was still in place as Jesus made the statement; it hadn't been fulfilled yet. Recently, I fulfilled my obligations on a loan. Until that loan was fulfilled, I kept making payments. If I missed even one payment, maybe the last payment, then the loan was in default, and the bank had the right to seize my property and sell it off to cover that payment.

But when I fulfilled that loan, when the payments were done, then the loan no longer has any power over my behavior (“Payments are due!”) or consequences (“…or we’ll seize your stuff!”). I was now free from that law.

4. The Old Covenant Law was still in place when Jesus spoke these words about the Law being fulfilled. It was already “obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away,” (Hebrews 8:13), but it didn’t finally “vanish away” until the last possible second: exactly one generation (40 years) after Jesus’ death, when the Jerusalem, the temple (“Heaven & Earth”) and perhaps most significantly, the genealogical records of Israel were all destroyed. Without those records, it was impossible to determine who was a descendant of Aaron, and therefore qualified to be a priest and to make the sacrifices the Law demanded.

When Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD (a description of which is in Matthew 24, in answer to the question of “When will the stones of the temple be thrown down?”), the Old Covenant finally breathed its last and died, completely fulfilled in Christ.

So these verses are not a statement that Believers need to keep the Old Covenant Law. They were a warning that while the Law was still in force when the words were spoken, that Law would end soon. Romans is blunt: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness….” Done.

And Jesus didn't just end Ten Commandments. He ended 613 laws; he ended all of them. All of that is dead. It was obsolete. It wasn’t needed any more.

You see, all of those commandments were the "terms and conditions" for the Old Covenant. And he ended the Old Covenant. (The Epistle to the Hebrews describes it pretty well, better than this article has room for.)

So when that broken down, obsolete covenant was replaced with a New Covenant, the terms and conditions of the first covenant (all those laws, and the priesthood, and the sacrifices) were all replaced with the terms and conditions of the New Covenant as well.


So anyone who names the name of Christ is not under the Old Covenant, and not obligated – not even a smidgeon – to the terms and conditions of that obsolete covenant. We share in a New Covenant, and no man can serve two masters. 
Standard
Letters

Fulfilling the Law and the Prophets

Abolish is a strong word.

People quote Matthew 5:17&18 at me, to say “See! We still need to be under the Law! Look! See!”

These verses read, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

I have to admit, if you grab that verse, yank it out of its context, ignore the bit about the Prophets, and try to use it as a club to support a need for the Law (or at least the 10 Commandments), then it kind of fits. If you close one eye and squint the other. 

Let’s look at this a little more closely, a little more objectively, shall we? Is Jesus really saying, “Psych! I’m not really freeing you from the Law!”? Or is Jesus saying something else.

That “Something else” could be several things:

  1. Perhaps the context tells us some things?
  2. There may be a Jewish metaphor here that we’re not catching because we’re not first century Jews. That might change the meaning here.  
  3. He might be talking about a purpose of the Law and the Prophets that he’s going to fulfill.
  4. He might be talking about and end of the Law, but one that is not His doing. 
Let’s look at these possibilities one by one.

1. First, what does the context tell us? This is in the middle of a sermon where Jesus is completely re-interpreting their understanding of the Law. The entire chapter is about Jesus saying, “You’ve heard the Law taught this way…. But I tell you this other thing instead.”

So it’s not reasonable to assume that suddenly he breaks his train of thought and talks about submitting to the Law, at least not without some more evidence to work with. It’s more reasonable to infer that Jesus is doing away with how that Jewish culture has always understood the Law, and replacing that with a completely new understanding. That is the context.

2. Is there a Jewish metaphor here? I’m glad you asked. Yes there is. Jesus says the Law is valid “until heaven and earth pass away.” Well, when is that?

We, in our 21st century, science-based world interpret that literally, scientifically, and if Jesus were speaking on CNN or the Discover Channel, that would probably be a reasonable interpretation. But that is not how his audience at the time would interpret it. So it’s not permitted for us to impose a 21st century interpretation onto this first century document.

If you look at the phrase in scripture (http://nwp.link/2idn9Ml), it’s used more than 120 times (NKJV). In general, the words are used to describe “Pretty much everything we know” (which was *much* less than what we know today!), but when used together, it’s specifically addressing the abode of God (see: http://nwp.link/2j2nNR5, especially Isaiah 66:1 and Jeremiah 23:24). This is describing the Jewish temple. 

In fact, this view was so prevalent that eventually the temple and its courtyard in Jerusalem became known as “Heaven and Earth,” and was spoken of as immovable. The temple itself, the “dwelling place of God” was Heaven, and the courts, particularly with the court of Gentiles, was “the Earth. In more poetical language, it was described as “Where Heaven and Earth meet.” (https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/grawhe)

So the Law and the Prophets are still valid, under Jesus’ new interpretation, until the temple was destroyed. That’s what it meant to the writer and the original readers of the Gospels. We cannot impose our 21st century cosmology onto the text.

3. The structure of the sentence clearly points to the fulfillment of “The Law and the Prophets.” We’ve taught for generations (correctly) that the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus, and this passage in Matthew has been part of that teaching. Certainly, the reference to “the Prophets” would not be part of a declaration of keeping the Old Covenant Law.

These verses are clearly saying that the Law was still in place as Jesus made the statement; it hadn’t been fulfilled yet. Recently, I fulfilled my obligations on a loan. Until that loan was fulfilled, I kept making payments. If I missed even one payment, even the very last payment, then the loan was in default, and the bank had the right to seize my property and sell it off to cover my failure. 

But when I fulfilled that loan, when the payments were done, then the loan no longer has any power over my behavior (“Payments are due!”) or consequences (“…or we’ll seize your stuff!”). I was now free from that law. 

Jesus was declaring that the fulfillment of everything the Law and the Prophets spoke about was upon them: they were about to see the realization of everything they’d been waiting for for the last couple of millennia!

4. The Old Covenant Law was still in place when Jesus spoke these words about the Law being fulfilled. It was already “obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away,” (Hebrews 8:13), but it didn’t finally “vanish away” until the last possible second: exactly one generation (40 years) after Jesus’ death, when the Jerusalem, the temple (“Heaven & Earth”) and perhaps even most significantly, the genealogical records of Israel were all destroyed. Without those records, it was impossible to determine who was a descendant of Aaron, and therefore qualified to be a priest and to make the sacrifices the Law demanded. Legitimate sacrifices could never be re-instituted.

When Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD (a description of which is in Matthew 24, in answer to the question of “When will the stones of the temple be thrown down?”), the Old Covenant finally breathed its last and died, completely fulfilled in Christ.

So these verses are not a statement that Believers need to keep the Old Covenant Law. They were a warning that while the Law was still in force when the words were spoken, but that Law would end soon. Romans is blunt: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness….” Done.

And Jesus didn't just end Ten Commandments. He ended 613 laws; he ended all of them. All of that is dead. It was obsolete. It wasn’t needed any more.

You see, all of those commandments were the "terms and conditions" for the Old Covenant. And Jesus ended the Old Covenant. (The Epistle to the Hebrews describes that termination pretty well, better than this article has room for.)

So when that broken down, obsolete covenant was replaced with a New Covenant, the terms and conditions of the first covenant (all those laws, and the priesthood, and the sacrifices) were all replaced with the terms and conditions of the New Covenant as well.

So anyone who names the name of Christ is not under the Old Covenant, and not obligated – not even a smidgeon – to the terms and conditions of that obsolete covenant. We share in a New Covenant, and no man can serve two masters. Dont try.
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Letters

Prophetic Exercise: The Judge’s Bench

Since the prophetic gifts are for the real world, think of a real world person that’s going through some trouble, someone you’ve been praying for recently. Write down their name.

Now look in the Spirit, and look behind you. You see there a tall, oak, judge’s bench. Jesus is standing there, smiling, waiting for you.

He takes you around to the far side of the bench, and up the stairs behind it. But rather than sit down himself, Jesus sits you in the great chair behind the bench. When you take your seat, you’re find that you’re wearing black robes, and you have a wooden gavel in your right hand. Are you wearing a white wig, too? 

Take a moment, if you need to, to deal with the emotions of being in a place like this. Ask him questions if you need to, but don’t argue with him. This is your assignment today, if you choose to accept it.

Now look out over the judge’s bench. From your new vantage point, see your friend, whose name you wrote down. Observe them for a minute as they go about their day. As you’re watching them, let Jesus show you his love for them, his compassion for the crud they’re going through. Rest there for a moment, feeling his heart for them.

Then Jesus reaches over and touches your eyes. And now you can see more clearly from the bench, and with his help, you begin to see the cloud of miserable, filthy, little spirits that have been harassing your friend. Recognize their crimes, their trespasses, their rebellions against their rightful king and against your friend. 

Jesus leans over and whispers, “Judge them!” Identify them, their names and their crimes. Recognize, by the Spirit who’s in you, the name, the assignment, the work of one of the demons harassing your friend. Speak that name out loud, and bang the gavel as you do name it. Write it down if that helps.

Then watch what happens next. When I did this, as I spoke the name, as I named each spirit, it was as if my gavel moved on its own, gently tapping, “Guilty as charged” to each of my charges, and with each tap, a beastie was bound. Soon, I got into it, reaching into my spirit for the discernment of each spirit and shouting its name, its crime. The gavel would bang and the demon was bound.

Look around. Do you see angels in the courtroom? What do you see them doing? Consult with Jesus: what is his counsel on the work you’re doing?

This isn’t a game. This is literally life and death, but don’t interpret that to mean that you can’t enjoy the work you’re doing. Get into the work. Reach deep within your spirit to accurately name each spirit, and as you name it, watch as it’s snatched from the air around your friend and bound. Observe what happens to it next, if that’s revealed.

You may or may not have gotten to each of the demons harassing your friend when you feel that you’re done, when you feel the grace for this work lift, or when you hear Jesus say, “OK. That’s enough for this time.” Don’t stay there beyond the grace for the work. Your friend is destined to be an overcomer; they need something to overcome.

It helps me to go back through the session’s work: declare your friend’s freedom, thank God for your friend’s freedom from each of the spirits that you bound today. And when you’re done, perhaps as an act of worship, burn the list: don’t keep a record of hell’s work in their life.

Now, by my counsel, I’d recommend that you don’t talk to them about this experience, not for a long, long time, and this is for your benefit, not theirs. We tend to think, “Well, I bound up a spirit of self-pity, so they won’t be falling into self-pity any more!” Yeah, that’s not how it works.

If you bound the spirit of self-pity, then that spirit of self-pity isn’t plying its trade in their life any longer. But that doesn’t break years of self-pitying habits, or generations of self-pitying traditions. It means that spirit isn’t working there any more, not that they’re perfect now. 

And of course, don’t stop praying for your friend.  
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Letters

Prophetic Exercise: The Judge’s Bench

Since the prophetic gifts are for the real world, think of a real world person that’s going through some trouble, someone you’ve been praying for recently. Write down their name.

Now look in the Spirit, and look behind you. You see there a tall, oak, judge’s bench. Jesus is standing there, smiling, waiting for you.

He takes you around to the far side of the bench, and up the stairs behind it. But rather than sit down himself, Jesus sits you in the great chair behind the bench. When you take your seat, you’re find that you’re wearing black robes, and you have a wooden gavel in your right hand. Are you wearing a white wig, too? 

Take a moment, if you need to, to deal with the emotions of being in a place like this. Ask him questions if you need to, but don’t argue with him. This is your assignment today, if you choose to accept it.

Now look out over the judge’s bench. From your new vantage point, see your friend, whose name you wrote down. Observe them for a minute as they go about their day. As you’re watching them, let Jesus show you his love for them, his compassion for the crud they’re going through. Rest there for a moment, feeling his heart for them.

Then Jesus reaches over and touches your eyes. And now you can see more clearly from the bench, and with his help, you begin to see the cloud of miserable, filthy, little spirits that have been harassing your friend. Recognize their crimes, their trespasses, their rebellions against their rightful king and against your friend. 

Jesus leans over and whispers, “Judge them!” Identify them, their names and their crimes. Recognize, by the Spirit who’s in you, the name, the assignment, the work of one of the demons harassing your friend. Speak that name out loud, and bang the gavel as you do name it. Write it down if that helps.

Then watch what happens next. When I did this, as I spoke the name, as I named each spirit, it was as if my gavel moved on its own, gently tapping, “Guilty as charged” to each of my charges, and with each tap, a beastie was bound. Soon, I got into it, reaching into my spirit for the discernment of each spirit and shouting its name, its crime. The gavel would bang and the demon was bound.

Look around. Do you see angels in the courtroom? What do you see them doing? Consult with Jesus: what is his counsel on the work you’re doing?

This isn’t a game. This is literally life and death, but don’t interpret that to mean that you can’t enjoy the work you’re doing. Get into the work. Reach deep within your spirit to accurately name each spirit, and as you name it, watch as it’s snatched from the air around your friend and bound. Observe what happens to it next, if that’s revealed.

You may or may not have gotten to each of the demons harassing your friend when you feel that you’re done, when you feel the grace for this work lift, or when you hear Jesus say, “OK. That’s enough for this time.” Don’t stay there beyond the grace for the work. Your friend is destined to be an overcomer; they need something to overcome.

It helps me to go back through the session’s work: declare your friend’s freedom, thank God for your friend’s freedom from each of the spirits that you bound today. And when you’re done, perhaps as an act of worship, burn the list: don’t keep a record of hell’s work in their life.

Now, by my counsel, I’d recommend that you don’t talk to them about this experience, not for a long, long time, and this is for your benefit, not theirs. We tend to think, “Well, I bound up a spirit of self-pity, so they won’t be falling into self-pity any more!” Yeah, that’s not how it works.

If you bound the spirit of self-pity, then that spirit of self-pity isn’t plying its trade in their life any longer. But that doesn’t break years of self-pitying habits, or generations of self-pitying traditions. It means that spirit isn’t working there any more, not that they’re perfect now. 

And of course, don’t stop praying for your friend.  
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Letters

What Covenant Was That, Again?

The Old Covenant was all about blessings & curses (Deuteronomy 28). So that's what Old Covenant prophets spoke about. That’s why Jeremiah & the others were declaring judgments and curses and such over the nations and the peoples who defied what they knew about God.

That was the Old. That’s dead and gone.

The New Covenant is all about blessings and forgiveness. So that's what New Covenant prophets speak about: it’s the work of the New Covenant prophet to declare God’s blessing, God’s forgiveness, God’s Kingdom, to declare that they way to God is open!

You can tell a whole lot about what covenant someone is operating in by the words they speak (or write).

• If someone regularly talks about needing to avoid doing this or that, or about needing to honor this festival, that holiday, they’re working under the Covenant that’s about works and whose end-game is about blessings and curses. They’re under the Old Covenant. Don’t go with them, unless you want to walk away from what Jesus has done for you.

• If someone regularly talks about how this preacher is wrong, about how that doctrine is heretical, or about how this country or that people group deserves judgment, they’re working under the Covenant that’s about works and whose end-game is about blessings and curses. They’re under the Old Covenant. Don’t go with them, unless you want to walk away from what Jesus has done for you.

• If their message is more about “Change how you think about God so that you can participate in the Kingdom of Heaven which is right here among us!” (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15) then they’re working under the New Covenant where the Kingdom of God is “at hand” (or “within reach”) of all of us, and where the King of this Kingdom literally “became a curse” (Galatians 3:13) in order to remove curses from us, and from our words.

Here’s the short version: generally, if someone is preaching about “you need to change!” they’re probably preaching the Old Covenant. If they’re preaching about “Come to Jesus and be changed!” then they’re preaching the New Covenant.

Come to Jesus and let him renew your mind, your way of thinking.
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Letters

What Covenant Was That, Again?

The Old Covenant was all about blessings & curses (Deuteronomy 28). So that's what Old Covenant prophets spoke about. That’s why Jeremiah & the others were declaring judgments and curses and such over the nations and the peoples who defied what they knew about God.

That was the Old. That’s dead and gone.

The New Covenant is all about blessings and forgiveness. So that's what New Covenant prophets speak about: it’s the work of the New Covenant prophet to declare God’s blessing, God’s forgiveness, God’s Kingdom, to declare that they way to God is open!

You can tell a whole lot about what covenant someone is operating in by the words they speak (or write).

• If someone regularly talks about needing to avoid doing this or that, or about needing to honor this festival, that holiday, they’re working under the Covenant that’s about works and whose end-game is about blessings and curses. They’re under the Old Covenant. Don’t go with them, unless you want to walk away from what Jesus has done for you.

• If someone regularly talks about how this preacher is wrong, about how that doctrine is heretical, or about how this country or that people group deserves judgment, they’re working under the Covenant that’s about works and whose end-game is about blessings and curses. They’re under the Old Covenant. Don’t go with them, unless you want to walk away from what Jesus has done for you.

• If their message is more about “Change how you think about God so that you can participate in the Kingdom of Heaven which is right here among us!” (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15) then they’re working under the New Covenant where the Kingdom of God is “at hand” (or “within reach”) of all of us, and where the King of this Kingdom literally “became a curse” (Galatians 3:13) in order to remove curses from us, and from our words.

Here’s the short version: generally, if someone is preaching about “you need to change!” they’re probably preaching the Old Covenant. If they’re preaching about “Come to Jesus and be changed!” then they’re preaching the New Covenant.

Come to Jesus and let him renew your mind, your way of thinking.
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Prophecy

When Darkness Comes Into the Light

For a long time, I’ve been praying that the things that have been hidden in darkness would be revealed in the light. Many of you have been praying similar things.
I’m not stopping those prayers (please, don’t you stop either). But I’m adding to it: I’m praying that those that see the things drawn out into the light would recognize them, would understand them, and would take wise action based on what they recognize and understand.
There’s a lot of dark stuff going on in hidden places in our world. It has to: there’s so very much light increasing all around, that the darkness is not just where dark things are most comfortable, but now, that’s the only place where the dark things can survive.
As I pray these prayers, I expect hidden things in governments to be brought into the light and recognized. I expect people to recognize and condemn atrocities in the Middle East and in Asia. I expect that dark things in the medical community and the business world will be revealed, perhaps most especially where those two worlds overlap. As I pray, I expect that hidden things in the education systems will come to light and surprise many.
Demonic strongholds will be uncovered, and – if we’re attentive – torn down. Demonic plans will evaporate to dust. Sins and influences that have been hidden in darkness will be uncovered; some will scurry away to find more darkness, and others, unable to hide, will find their end when a Saint notices them and wields their sword of the Spirit on them.
But it won’t only happen “over there.” This trend toward disclosure will also happen “over here.” And it’s probably good that it does. There’s darkness in the Christian religious system as well, and if we’re violently honest, there’s probably a measure of darkness in most of our lives that we’ve completely lost track of.
I suppose these will come into the light as well.
But I also expect that we’ll see our hopes and desires come to light, and surprise many, even surprising ourselves. And it won’t just be us, it will be many people, shaking their heads, as if awakening from a dream, and marveling at the dreams and visions that are in their own hearts.
I expect that as we pray, we’ll see the “sons of God” emerge from their hidden place, and take their places in the Kingdom of God, and no, I don’t really know what that will look like.
And best of all, our Magnificent Bridegroom, who has been hidden by the weeds and distractions of the world will no longer be hidden. He will be seen as he really is, and as we see him, we’ll be transformed.
I look forward to walking in the fulfillment of these prayers. Would you care to join me? 
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Devotionals, Letters

When Darkness Comes Into the Light

For a long time, I’ve been praying that the things that have been hidden in darkness would be revealed in the light. Many of you have been praying similar things.

I’m not stopping those prayers (please, don’t you stop either). But I’m adding to it: I’m praying that those that see the things drawn out into the light would recognize them, would understand them, and would take wise action based on what they recognize and understand.

There’s a lot of dark stuff going on in hidden places in our world. It has to: there’s so very much light increasing all around, that the darkness is not just where dark things are most comfortable, but now, that’s the only place where the dark things can survive.

As I pray these prayers, I expect hidden things in governments to be brought into the light and recognized. I expect people to recognize and condemn atrocities in the Middle East and in Asia. I expect that dark things in the medical community and the business world will be revealed, perhaps most especially where those two worlds overlap. As I pray, I expect that hidden things in the education systems will come to light and surprise many.

Demonic strongholds will be uncovered, and – if we’re attentive – torn down. Demonic plans will evaporate to dust. Sins and influences that have been hidden in darkness will be uncovered; some will scurry away to find more darkness, and others, unable to hide, will find their end when a Saint notices them and wields their sword of the Spirit on them.

But it won’t only happen “over there.” This trend toward disclosure will also happen “over here.” And it’s probably good that it does. There’s darkness in the Christian religious system as well, and if we’re violently honest, there’s probably a measure of darkness in most of our lives that we’ve completely lost track of.

I suppose these will come into the light as well.

But I also expect that we’ll see our hopes and desires come to light, and surprise many, even surprising ourselves. And it won’t just be us, it will be many people, shaking their heads, as if awakening from a dream, and marveling at the dreams and visions that are in their own hearts.

I expect that as we pray, we’ll see the “sons of God” emerge from their hidden place, and take their places in the Kingdom of God, and no, I don’t really know what that will look like.

And best of all, our Magnificent Bridegroom, who has been hidden by the weeds and distractions of the world will no longer be hidden. He will be seen as he really is, and as we see him, we’ll be transformed.

I look forward to walking in the fulfillment of these prayers. Would you care to join me? 
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Prophecy

My Introduction to the Prophetic: A Testimony

It was the late 1980s. The prophetic movement was expanding rapidly, but, as is usual when we grow rapidly, was awkward and clumsy and bumped into a lot of things.  
I was attending a Vineyard conference in Canada. The leaders supported the prophetic movement, but didn’t want to lose our grounding in the Word of God, so the conference was on the Bible, and how the Word of God related to the prophetic. The keynote speaker was going to be Dr. Gordon Fee, the brilliant theologian, one of my favorite Bible scholars. I was looking forward to the conference, as I’d only had a small introduction to the prophetic movement, and I loved the Word of God.
The first session started, before any introductions, with some outstanding worship, and then, as was the habit in those days, a prophet stood up to minister. This was the first time I’d ever met John Paul Jackson, and I’d heard he was a pretty gifted prophet. His hair was still dark back then.
John Paul called two or three people out, and told them what was on their heart, and gave God’s insight and prophetic promises for them; judging from the tears and shocked looks, I infer that he prophesied accurately.
Then he called out a guy sitting near the front, and then he really went to town. He spoke about the man’s dreams and visions for a while, while the man nodded sagely. Then John Paul got a funny look on his face, and declared that this man, a Canadian resident, had very substantial influence in several US cities, and he named six or eight cities where that influence was particularly strong.
Then John Paul spoke of the man’s love for the Bible, and named several books in the New Testament, including First and Second Timothy, Philippians and 1 Corinthians, that were particularly meaningful to him. The man was in tears, as John Paul described how God was incredibly pleased with the man, with his life and his ministry, and how his ministry would grow substantially in the future.
John Paul prayed blessing on the man, and sat down, exhausted. Then the host of the conference stood up, and asked the man whom John Paul had been ministering to to please stand. He stood, holding a tissue to his face, and the host introduced John Paul Jackson to Gordon Fee, the keynote speaker for the conference, and he confirmed that the two did not know each other, and had never met.
He then went on to describe how Dr Fee had written commentaries on the New Testament books that John Paul had named, and how he was a member of the team that translated the NIV Bible. The American cities that John Paul had been puzzled about Dr Fee’s influence in, a few of these were cities where Dr Fee had taught, where his children now lived and pastored a church, and where individuals he had mentored were now ministering.
The host then announced a coffee break for the conference, while the keynote speaker wiped his tears and regained his composure.
A few years later, Dr. Gordon Fee was appointed the editor of the notable evangelical commentary series, the New International Commentary on the New Testament of which his commentaries on 1 Corinthians and Philippians are a part.
This was my introduction to John Paul Jackson, and my first real baptism into the reality that the prophetic gifts were more than the beginner’s toys we’d been playing with.
  

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Prophecy

My Times with God

Sometimes it was in the morning, if I was able to drag myself out of bed. Mornings were my preference, and before too long, this confirmed night owl was up before the sunrise. Sometimes it happened before retiring for the night.

More often, I just grabbed an hour or so wherever I could. I remember many times in an abandoned church building near where I lived, at my dining room table, in an empty classroom or lunchroom or conference room or a table at the library. Often times I parked for a while in a rest stop, or some wide spot in the road between here and there.
The first thing after I sat down was usually a sigh, and I’d just sit there for a few minutes. Then I’d open my knapsack or reach to my bookshelf and pull out three things: my Bible, my journal, and a mechanical pencil.
But before I opened any of them, we’d talk. “Hi Dad. Love you! I’m looking forward to what you’re going to show me today. Help me to see, eh? Help me to recognize what you’re showing me, please. Thanks. You’re awesome!” And I’d open both books at the ribbon.
In my Bible, I was working my way through one of the books, section by section. Most translations have headings dividing up the text: I’d tackle no more than the space from one heading to the next.
In my journal, I listed the date and the passage, and then I pushed that book out of my way, and I devoted my attention to the Bible.
I read the passage through. You know the way you read a text book assignment that you don’t love? Yeah, this was not that. I read it slowly enough that my attention didn’t drift. If I could, I’d read it quietly out loud.
During this time, I turned my imagination loose to walk among these people, hear the sounds, smell the smells of the story I read. If I was in an epistle, I’d listen for the apostle’s tone of voice, and I’d imagine how the people it was addressed to felt as they read it. If I felt like it, I’d look at a few cross references, but I guarded against bunny trails.
But more than anything, I waited for the light to go on. Invariably, one verse would catch my attention, as if my Father were pointing to it, and saying, “Look here, son.” Sometimes it was just a word, or a phrase. Maybe it was a repeated word. Or an idea that never actually made it into words.
If it didn’t happen the first time, I’d go back and read it again. I’d often underline the verbs, using a set of markings I developed for myself after years of this. If there was a list of things or a progression, I’d number the points. Sometimes I circled adjectives and adverbs. Sometimes I’d ask questions, of the text, of Father, about what was going on. But everything was just keeping me involved with the text until my attention was drawn to one part.
That signal was like arriving at the X on a treasure map. It meant “Dig here.” That was the real assignment.
The first part of digging was to write – legibly – the verse that stuck out to me into my journal. And then I go to work to interact with that verse, that passage, to dig for treasure in that spot. I figure that the investment of an hour was just about right, and good success would probably show evidence of at least one full page, more or less, of reaction in my journal.
So I looked closely. My personal Bible always has cross references, but is never a “Study Bible.” I don’t want to hear what other people think. I want to discover what God thinks, and see if I can make my own thinking line up with that.
My first step was pretty often to “center myself” and to dig into that little nudge itself, the nudge that said, “Dig here.” Often, that would give me some direction for my searching or meditation.
I used different tools to dig. Sometimes I would literally outline the sentences, like in English class in high school. Sometimes, I chased down the cross references, both those in the margins and especially the ones in my own heart.
But sometimes, it was just meditating on my one verse, reflecting it, asking questions of it, that brought the reward.
For example, when reading through Mark 8, I was caught by verse 31: “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
This time, I found myself outlining what I saw in that verse:
1)      What are the “many things” he would suffer? (I listed them, cross referenced to Matthew 20:19 for details.)
2)      Who rejected him? (I listed them.)
3)      He would be killed: he doesn’t say by whom.
4)      He’d rise again after 3 days.
And as I was writing the outline, I realized I was thinking most about the fact that Jesus had never discussed this before. He was only free to talk about it after verse 29: after they realized that he was, in fact, the Messiah they were looking for.
I wrote for a while on what it must have been like, knowing that this terrible stuff was coming, and not having anybody – not a single person on the planet – that he could talk to about it.
I meditated for a while on how he himself learned of it, since he had been born as a normal baby (cf Philippians 2 and Hebrews 4:14,15) and he had to learn all this stuff in his own times with Father. I reflected on what that first conversation might have been like, when Father talked about what was going to happen.
And I realized that Jesus got his direction from – more or less – from the same thing that I was doing just now.
And I was done. Either I was out of time, or “the anointing lifted,” or something else. And that’s the point: I’m not looking to write a pretty article from this (though that came from it once or twice). I’m not looking for some big and powerful conclusion.
The big conclusion isn’t the point of this. The point is that Father and I have time together in his Word. Years later, I realized that he was training me – through these times – to hear his voice, and that it was remarkably effective. But even that training wasn’t the point. The point was our time together, our relationship.
Now, why have I just told you all this? It’s because of something I heard in our time together: I had the sense that some folks are pretty well grounded in hearing Father’s voice, but others are still scratching their heads and wondering how we do that?
Father showed me that during our times together, he was teaching me how to hear him, how to hear his voice and how to recognize his voice. And it seemed to me that he was suggesting that someone might want to follow the trail that he and I cleared together.
If you want to learn how to hear Father’s voice well, this is one way to learn. It has the additional benefit of giving you a solid grounding in the Bible.
If you decide to follow this trail, you have my blessing, and more important, Father’s. May you have as much fun in your time with Father on this trail as I have! I know he’ll enjoy his time with you!

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Prophecy

A Vision of the Puddle.

I was visiting with a friend the other day, talking about what God was up to on the earth today, and I envisioned this picture. (In Churchspeak, “I had a vision.”)

I saw the devil, and he was watching you. And as he saw you emerging from your hidden place, as he saw you beginning to walk in your identity as a child, as an heir, of God, as he watched you shake off “every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares you,” I realized he was standing in a puddle. A yellow puddle. A warm yellow puddle.

Around the planet, the saints of God are coming out of their hiding places; they’re shaking off the snares of the enemy. Around the world, believers are beginning to believe, and are devouring the Word and learning who they really are, and what they’re really armed with. Around the Earth, wounded ones are healing the sick and raising the dead; some of them, without being healed themselves, are healing others in great numbers and with great determination.

And it’s scaring the piss out of hell.

This is one of the main reasons that “all hell is breaking loose” in some places: because all hell is terrified of the people of God growing from just being “Christians,” to becoming “Sons of God.” This is hell’s “fight or flight” mechanism kicking in, except that they have no place to run, nowhere to hide, so they have to fight.

This is also why we’re seeing so many earthquakes, so many storms, on the earth, in my viewpoint. These are the birth pains of the mature sons of God. And it’s also why so many believers are groaning, crying out for more, no longer content with sitting on a wooden pew once a week to be the primary manifestation of their relationship with God.

Romans 8 declares, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”

This is happening today, right now. This is going on in you, today, right now. If you’re one of the ones wanting more of God – whether you want more of his presence, more healings, more people to know him, more signs and wonders: whatever! – then you’re one of the ones that are making the devil piss his pants.

Good for you! Keep up the good work! Don’t let down your guard, but keep pressing in! Keep manifesting heaven on earth!

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Nehemiah 4:17: “Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.”


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Devotionals, Letters

Some Thoughts About the Purpose of the Prophetic

How many times has it happened that a prophet gives a word to someone you know, and you think to yourself, “They missed it! That is SO not them!”
                                               
Sure, it might be a muffed prophecy; the only guy who never muffed a single prophetic word was murdered for it a couple of thousand years ago. Nowadays, we all completely miss it occasionally. It’s like the man said, “Now, we see in a glass darkly.”
But it might not be a failed prophecy. That’s actually the goal sometimes. The goal of the prophetic is NOT to declare what everybody already knows.
The prophets declare the goal, solution, the finished product, the end result of God doing something in the person’s life. And sometimes they declare it as early as when God is just beginning work on the project. They’re “declaring the end from the beginning.” If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, how do you aim?
So when God speaks to a destitute homeless guy, “I see you as a man of substance, a man of wealth,” he’s probably not saying “This is they way you are now, in case you didn’t know.” No, he’s more likely saying, “This is your calling, this is your destiny. If you come with me, this is where you could go. Do you want in on this?”
Or he might say to the destitute homeless guy, “I see you as a leader of men,” and that may not show up the way we expect it to. The English language – especially American English – is not God’s first language. When he speaks of a “leader of men,” he may not mean what you’d mean: a recognized position of appointed leadership or power. 
I’ve known guys that chose to be homeless so that they could reach those that nobody else would reach. Their leadership was often just conversation between bunks in the local mission. They are indeed “leaders of men,” but nobody except the homeless guys they lead recognize it.

Really often, the fulfillment of the prophetic promise doesn’t line up with our expectation of what it would look like. But it does line up with the word.
Second, the prophetic declaration releases God’s resources to bring about that which they declare. 
When God speaks to the destitute homeless guy about wealth, that declaration, when activated by faith, is releasing the grace of God, the power of God, to gather wealth to the guy. Power to accomplish the word is carried by the word.
That doesn’t necessarily mean people will hand him cash money, though I’ve seen that happen. It may mean that God is lining up an educational opportunity, or bringing him an advocate, or giving him an idea for an invention, or lining up other, unexpected circumstances to make it happen. 

And fairly often, it’s true about prophetic words: “If you don’t declare it, it won’t happen.” 
If we want to be in on what God’s doing, we can discern what God is breathing on in the prophetic declarations (1 Corinthians 14:29), and then join in with that. We can add the prophetic word to our worldview and begin to see and relate to people according to the things that God has said to them.
Or we can bury the prophetic declaration, and the power that it carries to accomplish the thing of which it speaks, under our own unbelief and jealousy and resentment, and kill the word.
It’s our choice.

Come join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic. 

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