I have been a missionary both at home and abroad. I have traveled to dangerous inner-city ghettos and dusty, dirty African compounds. I have sung songs with poor children in the streets of Mexico and built houses for the homeless in the streets of New Haven. In all my travels, I found that there was only one thing I needed.
November 23, 2015 is the International Day of the Bible. Christians around the world are celebrating the Word of God, which has now been translated, at least in part, into over 2500 languages. In America, we also celebrate Thanksgiving this week, the beginning of our nation's freedom to worship God.
The day before I began writing this post, I spent a few minutes thinking about what I am most thankful for this year. God, family, and YOU - my readers - top the list, of course, but what really creates thanksgiving in me is that there is such a wealth of Christian resources available to so many of us around the world today.
Think about it: in the United States alone, there are multitudes of Bible-believing churches within driving distance, along with Spirit-filled conferences, prayer meetings, and worship gatherings. You can even get a ministerial degree online!
You might also have noticed that thanks to technology, I can link all the Bible verses I use on my website to Bible Gateway, a powerful Bible search engine (www.BibleGateway.com). Bible Gateway, in turn, circulates my blog along with many others to their readers around the world. Online study of the Bible is so common now that even in our church services, we often see people pull out their cell phones when the pastor says "please turn to the book of Hebrews!"
Advances in technology are not just impacting the US. In the 1980's it was prophesied that one day, Chinese workers in the rice fields would have 24/7 access to Christian programming - via a "device like a TV on their wrists." This was long before anyone had conceived the idea of smartphones and smartwatches. Today, Chinese readers make up the second largest group of readers for our "His Inscriptions" blog - outranked only by readers in the United States!
The Multiplication of the Word Brings Revival
The "smartwatch prophecy" was the last in a series of three events prophesied by Bob Jones that would happen before the "One Million Soul Harvest." We are living in an era of nearly unlimited access to the Word. The Holy Spirit, of course, knows no limits! We are also on the edge of a huge ingathering of souls. Some of you have prayed for years for corporate revival, and I believe we are very close. Here's why.
In the Bible, there is a recurring pattern, illustrated below:
Persecution of believers leads to multiplication of the Word, which then leads to revival in the Holy Spirit. A good example of this is found in Acts 4:16-31. The early church faced threats of persecution, which led them to pray the Word more intensely. As a result of prayer, the building where they were assembled was shaken and they "were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness." That's revival!
Jesus also illustrated this same pattern when He broke bread for the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21). The Word of God Himself took bread (a symbol of the Word), broke it (persecution), prayed a blessing over it, and it was multiplied. Thousands of people were revived - physically nourished - because of the multiplication of the Word. It was a natural example of a spiritual principle. (For another example, see Acts 12:24).
Historically, what seems to be the "breaking" of the Word - whether Jesus, broken in body, or believers, persecuted for their faith - results in multiplication of that same Word, and a stirring up of faith in others by the Spirit.
So on this day to celebrate the Bible, I am thanking God for His living Word that energizes and revives me. And I'm praying for you, precious readers, whether you are in America, China, or any other nation. I'm praying that you will pray the Word until you access the Spirit. And that you will pray in the Spirit until you gain deeper revelation of the Word. The Word and the Spirit are intricately linked, and powerful in combination! May you see a greater multiplication of the Word of God in your lifetime. May you pray the words of the Bible over the harvest of souls that has yet to come in to the Kingdom. And may you know the empowering work of the Holy Spirit in your life, reviving you and all those whom your life touches.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions. *Legal Disclaimer: I receive no compensation from the organizations described here, nor from links you click in this article. :-)
I had a dream this morning in which the Lord revealed two strategies of the enemy that keep His people from entering a place of intimacy with Him. At the same time, God released two prophetic revelations for breaking these strategies: scriptural keys that to help overturn demonic plans.
In the dream, I saw people being drawn down into the depths of a medieval fortress. Everything in the dream resembled the dark ages. I saw a damp cobblestone street that led into a dreary, medieval town. On either side of the street was a walled fortress, like a long, low palace that seemed to extend forever. The scene reminded me of a rainy day in medieval England: dismal, dreary, and dark.
The fortress, or castle, bore no resemblance to the kind of fairy-tale castles our children dream of. It had only low spires and was made of cold, grey stone. It did not have the height of a picturesque castle, either, being only one or maybe two stories high, and extending lengthwise through the town instead of vertically to the sky. Inside the fortress were dozens of rooms, each laid out next to the other. The rooms were unfurnished, no more than cold stone “compartments” in which to hold people. The entire city was sunken into a valley and seemed to descend lower and lower as I walked along the street.
In the beginning, I saw women dressed in neutral-colored medieval gowns, all with long, thick hair. Their hair was the only glorious thing about them, and I noticed the different colors and textures of each woman’s hair, which they all wore long. The women would come from a slight elevation to the right of the town, and descend into the street by the fortress.
But when they reached the town, I saw from behind them that their hair had been chopped short, and they were sick – so sick as to be vomiting in the street. I was told by a voice in the dream that if they did not keep moving, they would become deathly sick. And so the rooms of the fortress were filled with those who could not move forward any longer, who were sick and dying in that cold, damp place.
The enemy lives in an evil realm full of captives. He wants to cause us to exchange our glory for a lie, to live in the “dark ages” of a past from which we have been set free. One of the ways he holds us captive is through sickness and disease. The women I saw were bent over in pain and weakness, vomiting out their insides. There seemed to be no cause for this; it was simply the atmosphere into which they had entered, the defining characteristic of this evil place.
Thankfully, there was a second segment to my dream! An unknown but beautiful woman in the deepest part of the town chose to say that she wanted to leave the dark place. Having made her decision, she was instantly granted her wish. I was amazed: the enemy did not contest her decision, but rather, allowed it.
Instantly, from the air above and to my right, an invisible angel – a supernatural being – brought her a table and three chairs, all gleaming a transparent white, and set them on the side of a hill in front of me, just above the street. The hill, amazingly, was a patch of vibrant green grass, and the woman, now dressed in a pure-white gown, sat in one of the chairs to the left.
Facing her, I saw that even as her wish had been granted and she now had the ability to enter purer heavenly realms, the voice of the enemy was still speaking to her. She was told by the voice that she could leave, as long as she promised to “stay busy” in the Kingdom of light which she was entering. I knew that although she would enter into a better place with God, she would now be driven to distraction by the agreement she would make with the enemy to “stay busy.”
The dream ended here, but the Holy Spirit woke me with revelation. In medieval imagery, the Lord highlighted the difference between two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light.
The First Strategy and its Corresponding Revelation
It is the enemy’s desire to keep us in the dark ages, and one of the primary ways he does this is by keeping us sick. In fact, as the dream shows, sickness of soul or body is one of the enemy’s signature strategies. Its only end is death, and it is one way he robs us of the glory God gave us in the beginning. Sickness transforms us into captives, and will eventually lock us, cold, shivering, and alone, into the very cell-walls of his fortress. I saw many people trapped here because they had not continued to move past the demonic doctrine of sickness into the heavenly doctrine of healing.
Yet there was one who had escaped: the woman who with her words chose to say she wanted “out.” Joshua 24:15 is the heavenly key that unlocks demonic fortresses and releases us into supernatural realms: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
God has given us free will, or the ability to choose whom we serve. The first revelation we need is this: just as God honors our free will, so the enemy cannot remove our ability to choose.
The moment we choose life, angels are released to assist us. The table I saw represented a place of rest and covenant in the Trinity (three chairs). The Lord sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies, and causes us to rest in green pastures. (Psalm 23). And although this place of peace should be the happy end of our dreams, it is not.
The Second Strategy and its Revelation
The second strategy of the enemy is deception. For the enemy can still speak to us, even as we sit at table with the Lord. Until He comes, we will always be “in the presence of our enemies” (Psalm 23:5).
The second revelation is that we must choose NOT to enter into demonic agreements while we are seated at the Lord’s table.
While I rejoiced that the woman had sat down, clothed in white, with her long hair restored and her hope renewed, I saw also that her eyes were still turned toward the dark city. Her right hand was extended towards the voice. She was still listening to the voice, believing the lie that she must serve endlessly, tirelessly, in this new Kingdom she entered. In fact, she believed that the only way she would escape the darkness is if she made this covenant to work for her salvation. God’s intention is to bless, but the devil’s goal is to stress and oppress.
Historically, we see that the church has progressed along this same path. We left the dark ages through Luther’s Reformation and entered into a glorious new understanding of the accessibility of the Kingdom of Light. But we also maintained covenants with the enemy to “keep moving,” to earn our salvation, to stay busy and distracted, so that we would be prevented from enjoying the intimacy of the table God has prepared for us. Like Martha, instead of eating the meal, we are serving it.
I believe the deception of a “works” mentality is still affecting the Body of Christ, keeping His Bride from entering into the relationship of intimacy she should. True service flows out of a place of rest and fellowship with God. It is not the way into intimacy, but rather, an outgrowth of it.
An Appeal for Change
If you have made a covenant with the enemy to serve stressfully or endlessly in the Kingdom of God, I urge you to renounce that agreement today. Service is not your ticket to heaven, nor is a works mentality your guarantee of good standing with God. You are called to be the Bride of Christ, not His slave.
Your decision to choose Christ, to serve Him, is a marriage vow. As it was for the woman in my dream, the moment you choose God, all of heaven is released to usher you out of the demonic realm and into the Kingdom of Light. Your transference is immediate. The enemy does not have the power to stop you from choosing your deliverance. But he will continue to tempt you and try to enslave you with your own words of agreement to a lifetime of hard labor in a Kingdom that is known for freedom and rest, not slavery.
I urge you to renounce the slavery of a works mentality today, and to sit down at the table He has prepared for you. Spend all the time you need in fellowship with Him. Eat as much as will satiate your hunger for spiritual things. We need far more nourishment at His table than we allow. Enjoy the feast He has invited you to! It is a feast of intimacy and knowledge of Him! (See John 6:35)
Then, when you are full, you will have all the energy and stamina you need to get up and go out again. At His request, you will invite others to come to the table with you. You will serve joyfully, not under compulsion, so that others can enjoy Him, too.
Your seat is reserved for you. There is a placecard with your name on it, waiting. You have only to choose. Are you coming to the feast?
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions.
Are you ready to respond to an emergency? Would you be an effective leader in the midst of a crisis? How are you reacting to the disasters we are seeing on an international scale - would you be prepared to face one in your community?
As a little girl, my greatest ambition was to become a nurse. Somewhere around age 7 or 8, I had a minor "emergency" of my own. I broke my leg in a biking accident. It was a spiral fracture of the tibia, I think. Stuck beneath my bike wheel, I couldn’t move my leg because of the pain.
I cried for my baby sister (then 3 or 4) to go and get help, but she laughed and kept on biking. She was too little, too carefree, to understand. I cried for my father, who was mowing the lawn at the time and could not hear me for the noise of his motor. After what seemed like hours of yelling at the top of my lungs, I finally convinced my sister to run and get my mother, who was inside the house. By then I was upset, frustrated, and terrified.
What happened next made such an impact on me that I never forgot it. A trip to the hospital was in the cards, and I was placed on an exam table by a nurse. Hers was the first smiling face I had seen in several hours, and her kind eyes made contact with mine and calmed me. Gently, she explained that they would need to take an x-ray, which meant straightening my leg.
I panicked. I knew my leg would not straighten without pain. But this nurse knew how to position my leg just so. In an instant, my leg was straight, and it had not hurt at all! I was astonished, and I marveled at her ability to turn a painful and scary situation into one that radiated peace.
I remember not wanting to leave that nurse to go to the casting room. To alleviate pain and suffering – that was miraculous! To be so calm in the midst of a 7-year-old’s crisis – that was amazing! I decided right then and there that I would devote my life to becoming a nurse. Every scrapbook from subsequent years of my childhood bears notes in my mother’s handwriting to the effect that I would be a nurse when I grew up.
Although in the end I never pursued a nursing degree, I have chosen – perhaps unconsciously - to reach people in crisis, not only to alleviate their pain, but to extend the love and hope of Christ. I've spent countless hours ministering, praying, counseling, doing missions work, and even training as a volunteer first responder for my community. All because of a “first responder” who took her job seriously and made a powerful impact on me.
Retired USCG Rear Admiral Mary Landry calls this “purposeful work.” The desire to help others is a defining quality of those whom we call “first responders” in our communities: people like policemen, firemen, EMT’s, the military, and those involved in humanitarian work.
Emergency Management from a Spiritual Perspective
I had the honor of spending the day with 700 Massachusetts first responders last week, at MEMA’s* annual training conference. The theme of the conference was “Effective Leadership During Crisis.” As I listened to the speakers, the Holy Spirit began showing me the need for believers to think of themselves as spiritual “first responders.” He seemed to be asking: "Are you ready to reach lost, wounded, and dying souls with all the peace, benefits, and resources of the Kingdom?"
I thought of the end times. We are closer than ever to the types of crises, or tribulations, that the book of Revelation describes. We are also closer than ever to revival. Many of my friends are diligently preparing themselves for emergencies, storing up food, water, and other necessary items. Like the nurse I admired, they are ready to deal with what’s called a “routine” emergency.
But what about compounded or extended large-scale crises, the events for which we have no standard "recipe" for our responses?
Dutch Leonard of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, explains it this way: in recent years, our nation has become very good at responding to what he calls “routine” incidents. If there’s a fire or a flood, you send the fire department. If there’s an active shooter, you send the police. You follow the recipe. However, when disasters are extended or compounded (as with “Snowmaggedon” in Boston or the Oil Spill in the Gulf), the incident transcends standard responses. Suddenly we need to get out of the box, so to speak, and join forces with others to define a more creative and effective response. Traditional methods don’t work in unprecedented events.
For example, the National Guard is prepared to clear up to 4 feet of snow in Boston at a time. But 15 feet? 20? They are prepared to plow for one night, or maybe two, without sleep. But a week of storms? Or a “Sandy” level hurricane? Suddenly, a cross-disciplinary response is required. We need reinforcements. We need to work together and we need to find creative responses in these novel situations.
Some of the most pressing needs in our communities are identical to those in the church. In both natural and spiritual emergencies, we must move beyond pleasing our “constituencies” to serving each other sacrificially. Just as a standard emergency-response framework will be inadequate in a multi-level crisis, so a denomination-oriented church cannot provide a unified response to either tribulation or revival. There is a critical need for us to work together in crisis, to lay aside doctrinal differences of opinion and selfish ambitions and focus together on spiritual restoration.
Think of Joseph, an Israelite, who helped the Egyptians prepare for an extended famine. Led by the Holy Spirit, Joseph was motivated through a dream to respond to impending crisis. (See Genesis 41-47) His was an “out of the box” response! Joseph both worked with and provided for people he considered unbelievers, in a large-scale disaster that affected thousands.
Or consider a positive, large-scale spiritual event such as revival. When God brings revival, He doesn’t touch just a handful of people. Revival, like disasters, impacts thousands.
If you read Jonathan Edwards’ accounts of the New England-based revival in the 1700’s, you find immediately that in the midst of a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit across his state, every pastor, church, and believer needed to work together to respond to what amounted to a gigantic “crisis of the soul.” The unsaved were crying out for help, asking how to deal with the unbearably deep conviction they felt in their souls. Day and night, people were pounding on the doors of the church, looking for hope.
Someone needed to be available to tell them about Jesus. Are we ready for this? Are we the types of friends who will get up at midnight to provide spiritual bread for those who ask? Are we ready to work with believers outside of our own church or denomination to advance the Kingdom of God?
A Final Lesson from Boston
Retired Boston Police Chief Dan Linskey said something unique in his message on leadership in crisis. He stated: “It’s in the breaking of bread, not the exchanging of business cards.” Trusted relationships with others are far more valuable than a Rolodex full of potential contacts.
Dan was the incident commander-in-charge during the Boston Marathon bombings. I do not know if he is a believer. But in the midst of utter chaos that day, Dan said it was the people with whom he had drunk beers, shared meals, and built trust beforehand that helped him the most. In the midst of all the FBI, police, and medical activity happening on scene, it was the friend who stuck his head in the trailer and asked Dan, “What do you need right now? What can I do for you?” that mattered most. Why? Because Dan’s kids were home alone, and he needed someone to get to them.
I don’t think it’s an accident that Chief Linskey referred to the “breaking of bread.” It’s a picture of where Jesus wants believers to be: in intimate fellowship with each other and in communion with God. Only then will we be ready for whatever crisis comes next.
MEMA’s challenge to “work together” in crisis applies to believers, too. As God has challenged me, so I want to challenge you to move beyond traditional or denominational responses and work together under Jesus, your Divine Commander in Chief. Are you ready to extend all the peace, benefits, and resources of the Kingdom to a lost and suffering world?
Prayer: Father, I believe You have called me to be a “first responder” for Your Kingdom. Train me to be ready. Show me what I should be doing to prepare for both natural and spiritual crises, so that when they come I am available to reach others with Your peace, grace, and love. Give me the kind of calm, steady spirit that a first responder needs. Help me to use this “downtime” to break bread even with those outside of my usual sphere. I choose to build relationship with others throughout Your Kingdom, to strengthen Your Kingdom’s corporate response in both the revivals and the trials. Amen!
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions.
*MEMA is the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, a division of FEMA and Homeland Security.
Have you ever wished you could sneak into an intercessor's "prayer closet" with them and find out how they really pray? Maybe see if there's something you've been missing in your own quiet times? I have. I think one of the reasons why the "War Room" movie is so immensely popular for so many Christians is because it gives us a glimpse into what is usually a very private area of someone's life: their personal relationship with God in prayer.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting a friend of a friend, someone who - I had been told for years - loves to pray. When I mentioned this to her, she said, "You know, there's just nowhere else I'd rather be than in the Presence of God!" Her statement was far from clichéd. I could tell by the way she said it that she meant every word. I thought: wouldn't it be fun to get to know her better and discover some of her secrets to entering the throne room?
So I called her and asked if she'd do an interview with me so that you could meet her, too. She wasn't sure she had anything extraordinary to tell, but my sense was that the Lord felt otherwise. Her name is Carol. Here is what she told me.
Tell me a little bit about how you discovered an interest in prayer?
It began out of my own need. God put me into needy situations so that I would run to Him! My first child was a strong-willed child, and we used to butt heads quite often. In her teenage years, I had to get out of the house to pray for her sometimes, because it was so difficult. I used to pray, "Oh, God, I can't do this - HELP!" I started walking outside and praying for my neighborhood, too.
I grew up Catholic, and didn't come to know the Lord personally until my third child was born. I loved the peace and quiet of the Catholic church. I didn't read the Bible. I knew about God and could even pray, but I was missing a personal relationship with Jesus.
Through a series of events - a marriage retreat and a neighborhood Bible study on the book of John in particular - I accepted Christ. I was later part of the Catholic Charismatic movement and got baptized in the Holy Spirit, which greatly benefited my prayer life. Near the end of her life, my mother, who was a devout Catholic, used to be amazed at the "heartfelt" prayers I would pray for her, so different from the "rote" prayers of Catholicism. "That was beautiful!" she'd say. But they were simply prayers from my heart.
When and where do you pray? Do you have a "war room" or a favorite place to pray?
When I wake up in the morning, I typically spend some time before getting up just saying "Good Morning" to the Lord and praising Him for the day. It's a very peaceful, restful time just talking to Him before the day gets busy. I use this time to encourage myself because I know that the enemy often wants to get in right away and steal my peace.
There was a time when I was working, when I'd get up very early to walk, pray, and listen to worship music. One day I was walking my neighborhood at 5AM, and I had my headphones on. I was just singing and walking, and suddenly someone on the second story of a nearby house called out, "Do you know what time it is?" I hadn't realized how loudly I was singing!
These days, I am at the gym in the mornings, so my quiet times are typically after lunch. I have a favorite corner where I like to sit, be still, and enjoy His love. I usually have my Bible open and do my devotionals at this time. As He brings people to mind, I pray for them.
What do you typically pray for? Are there specific "burdens," people, or issues the Lord puts on your heart?
I pray daily for my family, especially for their protection. (Editor's note: Carol has three children and a healthy quiverful of grandchildren, so this keeps her busy!) Other "assignments" include the upcoming elections and candidate selection, and local pastors. There is an Asian woman who faithfully walks downtown and back every day, and because I seem to notice her a lot, I pray for her. I can't call praying for my neighborhood a "prayer burden," but since I do walk the area a lot I will often pray for the people in the houses I pass, asking the Lord to bless them.
There was a time when many of my friends had ministries of their own, but I didn't. I remember saying, "Lord, I don't have a ministry!" And His response was: "Your ministry is whoever I put you in contact with on a given day." Right now I'm reaching out to a leader in my tennis club who keeps asking me for prayer.
What is your biggest obstacle to prayer? How do you overcome it?
When I'm reading the Word, I might doze off sometimes, and I've found that when I read out loud it helps. I will even get up, walk around and read out loud. It keeps me awake, and helps me also to hear the Word when I read it. The telephone can be a distraction but I usually just ignore it! And when my mind wanders, reading aloud counters that distraction, too.
If you could give someone one key to growing their prayer life, what would that be?
Consistency. Perseverance. Hang in there, and don't give up! If you don't see the answers to your prayers right away, it can be very discouraging. It's like, "God, please give me patience... and could I have it right now?!"
Don't stop because you don't see immediate answers. If you give up, you certainly aren't going to see any fruitfulness from that! Stay connected to God and don't give up.
Apart from your own salvation, what is the most special prayer you prayed and saw answered?
I am the oldest of four girls. In April, 2014 my youngest sister, Judy, was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. None of my sisters had a personal relationship with Jesus. I have prayed for many years that they would see their need for a personal Savior and Lord. Because I was babysitting for my great granddaughter during the summer, I was unable to help transporting Judy to Dana Farber for treatments each week. It wasn't until the fall that I had the opportunity to take Judy for her treatments, usually with one or both of my sisters. I was still praying for her healing.
In December when Judy was in a hospice facility in Worcester, God made a way for me to be alone with her and talk about her relationship with the Lord. I was given the privilege to sing and pray with her. She expressed her desire to be with Jesus. That was on a Thursday... on Saturday she went to be with Him for all eternity! How great is our God!
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about prayer?
Sometimes I think we make prayer too difficult. The closer we are to the Presence of God, the more we will want to pray! When we don't know what to pray for, we can just agree with Jesus and ask for His plan for the person we're praying for. We can worship our way into the Presence of God. And we can always pray in the Spirit.
I talk to Him just like I talk to you, or to my friend. I treat Him like a person - there are no "Thee's" and "Thou's" in my prayers! There have been times when I couldn't pray because of physical or emotional pain. We all go through this. In those times, we need the Body of Christ to pray for us. That's how it should be. Again, it is our need that drives us to prayer. Be honest with God. You can pray anytime, anywhere. God always has time to sit down and talk with His friends.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions
My husband and I attended a wake this week for a young man who died in the prime of his life after a long struggle with addiction. He leaves behind a wife, two brothers, and parents who are also struggling, with questions like: “Why? Why him and not me, Lord?” Despite a wonderful show of support from family and friends, the situation is heartbreaking. No one should have to lose a child, and no words can touch that kind of pain.
I took a walk yesterday after visiting the boy’s family. Although I have known his parents for many years, I had met the boy only once, in their church. On that day, the Lord had given me a prophetic word for him, which I shared with his mother and then with him personally. At the time, I did not know the extent of what he was going through.
The wonderful thing about prophecy is that no matter how rough life is at the time, a word from God almost always conveys hope. I felt the love of God for this boy and knew that God envisioned good things for him – saw him as complete, competent, and strong in Him.
It is hard not to get excited about prophetic words when they come; they are like Jeremiah 29:11 in living color, with specific and personal applications for us. We feel God’s pleasure; we know that He is unquestionably for us. It is like the feeling we have when a teacher gives us a good grade on a test, tells us he believes in us, that we will become something great someday. Something in our soul responds deeply to this kind of encouragement, longs to become that wonderful person that has been described; could that really be me, we wonder?
I and this boy’s family believed that what was prophesied to him could really be him. That he could overcome the challenges he faced and turn his life around for the better. I know that his mother has stood her ground spiritually and prayed that word over him for many years since. In fact, when I saw his mother a few weeks ago, she told me how much she had appreciated the word I gave her son, and that she was still believing for those good things God had promised to manifest in her son’s life. Her words greatly encouraged me.
But he died.
And as I walked, I couldn’t help but ask God, “Why?” Why, when parents who are prayer warriors have battled courageously, do children still fall? Why, when a powerful word is given, do we miss it? Why, when we do wage warfare with the prophecies we are given, do we still sometimes suffer defeat?
This is what He said: “Prophecy is not a guarantee; it’s an opportunity.”
In other words, when God releases a prophetic word to you, it’s an open door. He lets you take a look at your future from His perspective, and promises that if you walk through that door with Him, He will do everything in His power to back His words to you. There are some things He will do, and there are some things we must do. It’s a bit like the cutting of a covenant: each party has responsibilities to fulfill. When you receive a word, you must ask: what is God's part? What is my part?
There are prophetic words for all of us in scripture (See Exodus 19:6 and Revelation 1:6), and there are personal prophecies that we receive through His people as we walk with Him. All are meant to encourage, exhort, and edify us – to help us envision a life of peace and fruitfulness when we do what He is doing. (See John 5:19).
Words of correction and direction may also come, with the intended goal of getting us back on track spiritually - always for our good. (For example, Jonah’s prophetic warning to Nineveh didn’t sound very encouraging on the surface. But it resulted in repentance. God’s heart is always for relationship, not destruction.)
However, most prophecies are not guarantees. They are conditional, based upon our acceptance of them by faith and by our willingness to yield or to seize the opportunities we’ve been given. I believe many of us are quick to accept prophetic words by faith – we even run after prophetically gifted people to get them – but not all of us act on them. Just as faith without works is dead, so prophecy without action becomes a missed opportunity. We have a part to play.
Though we pray, prophesy, disciple, give, and encourage others, the one thing we can never do is take away their right to choose, to make their own decisions based on the promises they are given. Sometimes people choose not to walk with God. Sometimes they walk with God, yet don’t take the steps needed to walk into the better future He invites them to experience while they are here on earth. This is a hard thing to watch from the sidelines, like a dropped catch on the football field or a wrong note in a concert. We cringe inside, we wish it had been different, we wish we could go out and “catch” the ball for them, run the touchdown, correct the mistake.
But we can’t.
In the end, I must both believe and act on what I receive. This is the way the Kingdom of God operates.
Overcoming our own fears, weaknesses, anxieties, or addictions is not an easy task. We need each other more than we care to admit. We need the encouragement that comes through the prophetic gifts, the pastoral gifts, the counseling, teaching and discernment gifts, and all of the other wonderful gifts God has made manifest in His Body. We need each other because without that encouragement, we do make wrong choices sometimes.
We’re at war, a war so evil and intense that precious lives are lost along the way. The enemy meant for me to be discouraged when things didn’t go the way I had hoped for this young man. He meant to quench my hope, to make me doubt God and question His wisdom. But he only strengthened my resolve. I cannot choose for another person what he should do. But the losses challenge me to encourage more, to prophesy more, and to pray more, because I see that our resolve must at least match that of the enemy’s. We must remain as committed to life and hope as he is to death and despair.
We serve a great God whose plan is unfathomable, whose Kingdom is eternal. In Him, nothing is lost, nothing is wasted. We will see this young man again in heaven. We celebrate all the ways he did acknowledge God. And we will pray, prophesy, disciple, love, and encourage as many others as God leads to us, in the hope that they will choose to accept their prophetic destinies and live the fruitful lives God is calling them to. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions.
Deborah Perkins is passionate about connecting others with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at His Inscriptions. To subscribe to her free weekly blog, click here.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.