Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Prophecy or self deception, presumption? God’s direction, or Our good intentions, ambitions?

As believers we readily acknowledge decide
… trusting the Lord to direct us
is part of walking with him daily.
However, putting this into practice in decision making may not be so easy, … especially when there are competing voices of good intentions/ambitions in our midst,  … as we try to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit;

Proverbs 16:2,3 (NIV)
All a person’s ways seem pure to them
   but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
   and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV, NLT)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Trust Him,
lean not on our understanding,
submit to Him, seek His will,
commit to Him,
check our motives.

Does good … necessarily mean God is in it?


 

While reading 1 Kings, found this interesting story,

1 Kings 22:1-12, 15-30, 32-37 (NIV)
For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”

Situation: — Peace between Aram and Israel.

The good intention/ambition:– start a war to reclaim back Ramoth Gilead from the enemy, Aram,  as Ramoth Gilead belongs to Israel.  map1
Ramoth Gilead was originally a Levitical city of refuge in the land alloted to the tribe of Gad (Numbers 35)

Perhaps for  king Ahab … the cost-benefit analysis, the ROI, or whatever yardstick he used, etc … showed that investing in this course of action would be the best option.

And, after all,
isn’t God for us?

Presumption … or faith?

Risk management? … Ahab thought he needed a partner to co-invest with him, to share the risk, to ensure success.
So he roped in his neighbor, Jehoshaphat.

So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”

But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel,
“First seek the counsel of the Lord.”

Jehoshaphat was game for it.
However, he also wisely suggested to test this good, noble intention/ambition.littleangel
– First seek the counsel of the Lord 

Is the Lord with us on this?

OK, Jehosphat,
Ahab replied, … let’s crowdsource for an answer,
what’s our crystal-balling analysts predicting?

So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

“Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”

likes2The 400-prophet choir in unison declared victory,
a triumphant vision for the future.
400 ‘likes‘ and ‘hi-5‘s  — ‘Go, knock them out‘!

Everyone likes to be on the winning team,
with an optimistic future.

However, …
Jehosphaphat was not fully convinced, he discerned something was amiss, and called for a timeout.
Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?

The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.

So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said,
“Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”

There is still one prophet,
disklikesone that Ahab personally disliked,
because he says what Ahab disliked to hear.

10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them.

11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”

12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing.
“Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said,
“for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

As they waited for Macaiah,
all the 400 prophets confirmed with one another that there will be victory.
400 loud, noisy voices clammering to be heard.

Can anyone think and discern clearly above this caco-phony  voices?

celebrateOne of them, Zedekiah even gave a dramatic showmanship delivery with theatrical props.
Emotionally charged, entertaining, captivating,
… but, is the Lord in it?

On a side note,
Be careful, if messengers need to drum their “prophetic” message over and over again to others.
(Repeat exposure to an advertisement may become manipulative.)
It’s not the messenger’s job to get the listener to respond in a certain way.

Even … the Lord’s name … is thrown into the prophecies to give the project a stamp of authority, authenticity and approval!

the Lord will give it into the king’s hand
When the authority of the Lord’s name is thrown into prophecy,
its not easy to correct the messenger,
as one will be arguing that the Lord’s word is wrong, incorrect;
its hard for the messenger to admit they heard wrongly.

Ezekiel 13:1-2, 6,7, 9
The word of the Lord came to me:
“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! …


Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words.
Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when
you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken?

My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.

Let’s be careful,
you say, “The Lord declares,”
though I have not spoken

Hence, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God
(1 John 4:1)

Interestingly, sometimes folks may go round and round, …  asking people or prophetic persons …. seeking ‘yes’ people, … until someone ‘confirms’ and agrees with their intentions that they had already decided to execute.
Hence, its best not to cast pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6)

Sometimes, out of self ambition, one can want something so badly,
that one is ready to believe anything or anyone that concurs with what one really wants;  hence, justifying one’s course of action with a “confirmation”.

Sometimes, unfortunately, … we gravitate to ‘what we want to hear‘,
rather than ‘what we ought to hear’.

People do not believe lies because they have to,
but because they want to.

— Malcolm Muggeridge

By selective listening and filtering,
subjective cherry picking,
we reinforce our decision/viewpoint bias,
which grows in intensity and emotion,
effectively silencing & ignoring all other viewpoints,
My way” … has deceptively cloaked itself … to become “God’s way“.

From self ambition, … to self deception,
blinding us from the truth.

Objectivity buried by bias.

Presumption … or faith?
What’s the difference?

The word ‘presumptuous’ appears once in most translations of the Bible:
When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:22 (NASB)

spoken presumptuously = the Lord has not spoken. 

Faith is based on God’s word, God’s direction & confirmation,
God’s authority.

Presumption, assumes God’s sanction and agreement,
without His authority or authorization.  A groundless belief,
even though the intention or ambition appears noble, or even godly.
History is littered with many things done “in the name of God“.

Jeremiah 17:9, 10 (NIV)
The heart is deceitful above all things

    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

10 “I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”

David’s prayer

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23,24 (NIV

Back to the story.
Multiple, multiple confirmations from the 400 experts who claimed to hear from the Lord,
…. how could this go wrong?
A surefire, guaranteed investment?

Is the democratic majority always right?
When everyone says the same thing, … soaring opinion polls, viral ‘likes‘,
… then, it must be true, … it must be right,
isn’t it?
… or is it?

Delusional madness of crowds, or wisdom of crowds or peer-pressure?
Herd behavior?

Back to the story,

There is still one prophet 
Even though he did not want to acknowledge it,
deep down, … Ahab knew there was one true prophet – Micaiah

It would take a wise and brave man to stand up,
and say something completely opposite, and contrary to this boisterous 400 prophets.

15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”
“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”

Micaiah first answered the king by his human spirit, parroting the other prophets, in agreement with them.
Micaiah told Ahab the king, what Ahab wanted to hear.

Interestingly, Ahab saw through Micaiah’s charade,
angryand insisted on the truth in the name of the Lord,
Ahab asked for truth (!?!?)

In a sense, .. in jest, Micaiah’s pretense mirrored Ahab’s pretense,
calling out Ahab’s bluff.

17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

Micaiah’s word by the Holy Spirit was dire … a dead shepherd (king).

18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

Then, Micaiah took everyone to see what was happening in the spiritual realm,

19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’

22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.
“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.
“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

28 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”

As Micaiah physically stood before the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah dressed in their royal robes, sitting on their thrones,
Micaiah saw in the Spirit, the awesome glory of the Most High Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him,
… and the Lord said
Micaiah heard,
Micaiah heard the Lord above all the noise & commotion around him.

A lying deceptive spirit was enabling the 400 prophets to unitedly prophesy success, falsely.  An invisible higher power was manipulating, ‘pulling the strings’ of the 400 prophets.

Even though their prophecy sounded tantalising wonderful,
it was a false unachievable hope.

In truth, God had given the warning — disaster.
False prophets, all 400 of them.

The Lord has decreed disaster for you.
Micaiah gave Ahab God’s merciful warning, …God’s final plea,
it was now up to Ahab to decide,
with his hands on the driver’s seat.

Ahab requested, .. and heard the truth,
does he want to obey the truth ?


 

A quick word on deception …

Jesus said,
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!
John 8:44,45 (NIV)

The natural, native language of the evil spirit is lies, deception.
no truth in him
He was a murderer

Truth comes from the Lord and His Word, Jesus said,
I tell the truth

And, all he desires from us is
believe Him
Have faith in Him and His word,
instead of succumbing to the devil’s lies.

The deceiving spirit saidI will entice (פָּתָה) him”
i.e. deceptively create an irresistibly alluring, tempting, addictive mirage
pandering to the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, pride of life (1 John 2:16),
and stealthly, slowly reel in the captive prey.

To ensnare Samson, … the Philistine leaders told Delilah, the prostitute,
Entice (פָּתָה) him, and find out where his great strength lies …”
Judges 16:5 (NKJV)

“Take heed to yourselves,
lest your heart be deceived (פָּתָה),

and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them
Deuteronomy 11:16 (NIV)

פָּתָה is translated as deceive and entice.

And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one
Matthew 6:13 (NIV)

Like us, Jesus was also tempted by the devil,

Matthew 4:8-10 (NIV)
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

The devil was saying, “Hey Jesus, … let’s strike a quick and easy deal.  Instantly you will win the whole world without dying on the cross.  Why wait, … why suffer … when you can have it right now!”
Call right now, … in just one easy payment,
you’ll win the world.

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!
For it is written:
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve him only.’”


 

Back to the story,

 29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

Even though both kings heard the word by the Holy Spirit,
they still chose to listen to the lying spirit,
and pursue their ‘good’ intentions/ambitions.
Its not so easy to swallow our pride, and retreat.

Sometimes, we can justify to ourselves,
deceive ourselves
that our ‘good’ intentions will honor God (somehow),
… like in this case ‘claiming back Ramoth Gilead, for the Lord is with us
after all we are the people of God, isn’t it?
Sounds like a compelling argument
… but, is the Lord in it?

Perhaps, … rejecting 400 trusted advisors would be politically incorrect,  or even political suicide.  Imagine the headlines on the local media the next day.
‘Saving face’ damage control.

Perhaps, … doing nothing about Ramoth Gilead would make the leaders appear weak, passive, uncertain, … and the subordinates may quickly lose confidence in their leadership..

Or perhaps, the grandeur vision of ego-boosting history-making triumph was too hard to resist for  the making of a strong leader.

Or perhaps the adrenaline thrill of the chase, gambling with risk got the better of them.  Forbidden fruit tastes extra sweet.

Or perhaps over-confidence in their combined might.

Or the 400 simply out-shouted Micaiah.

Whatever it was … they still wilfully went ahead to battle.

It takes courage to rise above
the relentless tide of popular opinion,
personal ambition, greed,
and say ‘No!‘,
picking the right battles, the right investments;
— strength & integrity in leadership.


But, ….

What if … ?
What if … Micaiah was right …

We need a risk mitigation plan …

Ahab ‘cleverly’ hatched a plan to mitigate the risk,
the king of Israel disguised himself
(
he took some  ‘acts of god‘ insurance)

However, at the battle,

32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.” So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, 33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him.

34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. ..
 36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town. Every man to his land!”

37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there.

The Lord had already spoken His Word.
Suddenly … a random stray arrow … bypassed all detection and defences,
accurately hit right smack between the sections of the armor
of the disguised Ahab … bullseye!

Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely,
the Lord has not spoken through me.”
Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”

Micaiah’s word came to pass, he was vindicated.
Micaiah, a true prophet.
The 400 false prophets word was a lie.

 “When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
Ezekiel 33:33 (NIV)

Like Ahab, its easy to disguise intentions/ambitions under the cloak of spirituality and religious devotion, … packaged, re-branded, marketed into whatever palatable form,
… however,

without the belt of truth,
Ahab walked into the battle with only the armor of man,
… without the armor of God.
(emperor’s new clothes)

Deception tries to rob us of our belt of Truth.

The consequences:

shockJehoshaphat almost lost his life due to his disobedience.
Ahab died, and the Israelites lost the fight.

Resources wasted barking the wrong tree;
a detour, distraction.

Sadly, well-meaning productive lives sacrificed on the
altar of good intentions/ambitions.
A trainwreck.

Its interesting that though Jehoshaphat was the first one to say seek the counsel of the Lord … and Ahab insisted that Micaiah tell the truth in the name of the Lord
… and, even though both of them heard the word of the Lord,
they somehow had little intention to obey the Lord.
embarassedDoesn’t that sound like us,
the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41),
and as the voice of our own good intentions/ambitions grows louder and louder.
Or, …
hand praywill pray about it‘,
with little desire to follow-through,
to obey.

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
The heart is deceitful above all things

    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

The Lord says,
My son, give me your heart, 
    and let your eyes delight in my ways
Proverbs 23:26 (NIV)

In a sense, the two kings were so blinded by their ‘good’ intentions, ambitions
… that they missed God’s direction.
(a biblical word for blinded = hardened)

The Lord was not in their project, conquest.

Success, achievement … at any cost,
or character, faithfulness, honor the Lord.

O Lord, have mercy on us,
may we not take your Word lightly,
may we heed your Word.

10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord,

    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
    give me an undivided heart,

    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;

    I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 86:10-12 (NIV)

With regards to overcoming the devil’s schemes and deception, James advice:

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud

    but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:6-8 (NIV)

Humbly submit to God.
Get our hearts right with God.
Worship & serve Him.
Then, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

 Jesus when He was tempted by the devil,
Jesus said to him,
“Away from me, Satan!
For it is written:
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve him only.’”

Come near to God and he will come near to you
As we daily draw near to the truth of God, Jesus said,

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31,32 (NIV)

The kings spoke all the right spiritual words,
however, their actions/execution spoke even louder than their words,
revealing what’s truly in their hearts.
and over time, plainly visible to others.

17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Matthew 7:17,18 (NKJV)

The challenge for us … is to walk our talk,
and follow-through with what we say.
Integrity, faithfulness.

 All a person’s ways seem pure to them
   but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Proverbs 16:2,3 (NIV)

Over time, the real fruit will be revealed,
the truth will be seen.

These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Matthew 15:8 (NIV)

For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!
For it is written:
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve him only.’”

Matthew 4:10 (NIV)


 

In conclusion,

It begins with having our hearts in the right place,
acknowledging who really is our source of success & blessings.

There are many decision making tools to help us make critical decisions — cost/benefit analysis, ROI, consulting experts, crowdsource, follow the crowd,
predictive forecasting models, risk analysis, Delphi, etc, etc
or
WIIFM (what’s in it for me),
‘got to grab it quick, .. before someone else grabs it’
etc, etc

whichever tool/tools or reasoning we use,

fundamentally as believers,
after all the analysis, projections and due diligence have been done,
its a question of our true priorities,
as Jehoshaphat pointed out,
First seek the counsel of the Lord ?

1 Samuel 14:35,36 (NLT)
35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first of the altars he built to the Lord.
36 Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.”
His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.”

But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”

“We’ll do whatever you think is best.”
or
Let’s ask God first.”
What’s our priority?

Matthew 7:13, 14 (NIV)
Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it.

14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it.

It costs to follow Jesus,
it costs Jesus His life to redeem us.

1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

     as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
     and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Finally,
you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken
This Biblical account also clearly demonstrates that there are 3 voices we can listen to
— our human spirit, … evil spirits … the Holy Spirit.

1 John 4:1 (NIV)
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV)
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt
21 but test them all; hold on to what is good,
22 reject every kind of evil.

Then the Lord asked me,
“What do you see, …
Jeremiah 24:3 (NIV)



Epilogue:
Micaiah paid a heavy price for prophesying the truth, Ahab sentenced him
“Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.” 1 Kings 22:27

Obedience has a price (in Micaiah’s case),
so does disobedience (in Ahab’s case)

When Jehoshaphat returned back to Jerusalem, the Lord rebuked him through Jehu the seer (2 Chronicles 19:1-3)


On a side note, found this interesting observation from a New York Times article:

When our bathroom scale delivers bad news, we hop off and then on again, just to make sure we didn’t misread the display or put too much pressure on one foot. When our scale delivers good news, we smile and head for the shower. By uncritically accepting evidence when it pleases us, and insisting on more when it doesn’t, we subtly tip the scales in our favor. — Daniel Gilbert


Decisions | Prophecy

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
August 25, 2015
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License

 

 


 

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This entry was posted on August 25, 2015 by in Daily Rice, Marketplace, Ministering Spirit & Truth, Prophecy, Serving Quietly, Work and tagged , .

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