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

Test & discern Personal Prophecy, … from man or from God?

How does one discern whether a personal prophetic word is really a word from the Lord?
(even if the word was given by a prophet)

When a “The Lord said …” or “The Lord spoke to me … ” is given to a group of people from an anointed or well-known leader, …. should one personalize it, and receive it  as a personal word from God ?

We’ll first look at some characteristics of prophecy,
followed by examples in the Bible,
and close with some thoughts.

Prophecy in a nutshell

A prophecy is a word/message given through another person that is relevant and specific to the person receiving it.  The person giving the prophecy is just a messenger of the message.

A prophetic word is not received or perceived through natural means — eg. human intellect, or what is available from the news, Internet (LinkedIn, Facebook, google, twitter etc), or from human senses, intuition, study, empirical evidence/observations, hypothesis, speculation, etc.

A true prophetic word come from God.

Prophecy can be forth telling  or foretelling, insight & foresight.

** Forth-telling – A word that speaks directly to one’s current situation now,  Insight.

Isaiah 50:4 (NKJV, NIV)
“The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

A word in season to him who is wearya word (or Bible verse) that is clearly relevant to one’s situation, or speaks into one’s situation.  Relevant, precise, contextual, and clear.

Not just any Bible verse, or speaking in generalities.
However, if it is a Bible verse/passage, … speaks into the situation of the other person,  that sustains the weary.

** Foretelling – a word about the future,  Foresight.
here’s an example

Acts 11:27-29 (NASB)
27 Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.28 One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world.
And this took place in the reign of Claudius.

Upon hearing the prophecy, the disicples followed up with a responsive action.

29 And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.

The foretelling prophecy was clearly verified as true, as it came to pass.  The great famine took place in the reign of Claudius

In Acts, the church had prophets who ministered to the people,
besides teachers, helps, administration gifts.

Acts 13:1, 15:32 (NASB)
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.

1 Corinthians 12:27,28 (NASB)
27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

Examples of personal prophecies — Paul received personal prophecies from Agabus and Ananias (Acts 21:10,11, 22:12-16).   Agabus spoke and acted out the prophecy.  The prophecy came to pass in Paul’s life.
Paul reminded Timothy of the prophetic word spoken over his life (1 Timothy 4:14).

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about the gifts of the spirit for the common good, to  bless the members of the body of Christ, of which the gift of prophecy is one of them.

1 Corinthians 12:1,  14:39-49 (NASB)
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

14:39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

1 Corinthians 12:7 (NASB)
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

In the New Testament, prophecy is found in the churches of  Jerusalem (Act. 11:27,28), Antioch (Act. 11:27; 13:1), Ephesus (Act. 19:6; Eph. 4:11), Caesarea (Act. 21:911), Rome (Rom. 12:6), Corinth (1Cor. 12-14), and Thessalonica (1Thes. 5:20)

Here’s some characteristics of a true prophecy.

1 Corinthians 14:3 (NKJV, NLT)
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.

Acts 15:32 (NASB)
Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.

1 Corinthians 14:31-34 (NKJV)
For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NASB)
Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

Revelations 19:10 (NASB)
… For the testimony of Jesus
is the spirit of prophecy

Deuteronomy 18:21, 22 (NASB)
21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’
22 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.

Prophetic words should lead us closer to Jesus,
and His will;  brings us to focus on Jesus, and glorify Jesus.
Generally, prophetic words bring peace, comfort, encouragement and edification/strengthening,
 not confusion.
Prophetic words are delivered in an attitude of God’s love.
A foretelling prophecy comes to pass, and can be precisely verified.

Sometimes, God sends His messengers to warn us, … correct us.
(eg Nathan’s message to correct David in 2 Samuel 12)

Let a righteous man strike me — that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me — that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it …
Psalm 141:5 (NIV)

God creatively speaks.
Prophecy can also be presented through actions or song or art, etc.

Acts 21:10 (NASB)
10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

In this account, besides speaking the prophecy, Agabus also took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands.
In the Old Testament, the prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel were also led by the Lord to act out prophecies.
The Psalms contain many prophetic references to Jesus, … in song.

Further examples:
Ezekiel was led to make a 3D model.
Hosea’s marriage and love for his wife was a sign to Israel.
Jeremiah prophetically bought a field from his  relative just before the exile.
Jonah’s interesting experience with proclaiming God’s word to Nineveh was a prophetic message to Israel,
and Jesus referenced Jonah to the Jews about Jonah’s experience in the big fish.

Hence, listen or observe for the key essence of the prophetic message, … not just individual words, or actions.  For example,

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:8 (NASB)

Heaven and earth will pass away,
but My words will not pass away.

Matthew 24:35 (NASB)

Though expressed in different words/metaphors, what Isaiah and Jesus said in these 2 verses
are essentially the same message.

How to recognise and discern false prophets?

Jesus said,

John 8:43-47 (NASB)
43 Why do you not understand what I am saying?
It is because you cannot hear My word.

44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.

Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

The devil and the nature of his words,
and his character —  a liar, … father of lies,
a murderer,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy …
John 10:10 (NASB)

Whenever we feed ourselves with the devil’s lies and ways,
… we cannot hear Jesus word

Jesus and the nature of his words,

45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 
46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin?

So faith comes from hearing,
and hearing by the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 (NASB)

We need spend time to know the truth, … the word of Christ,
and to know our Father, the good Shepherd, personally,

in order to discern God’s truth, … from the devil’s lies,
… to spot the genuine … from the deceptive fake.

If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 

47 He who is of God
hears the words of God;
for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

John 10:4, 5 (NASB)
When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them,
and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him,
because they do not know the voice of strangers.

Are we listening to our good Shepherd daily, … following Him,
…. or prefer to listen to strangers, … enticing us to stray from Him?


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

4:24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” …

8:18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. …
Mark 4:24,  Luke 8:18 (NIV)

This is what Jesus taught on the sermon the mount:

Matthew 7:15-20, 24 (NASB)
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

16 You will know them by their fruits.

Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes
nor figs from thistles, are they?

17 So every good tree bears good fruit,
but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit,
nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit
is cut down and thrown into the fire.

20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

False prophets are inwardly ravenous wolves, bad trees,
a bad tree bears bad fruit
A good tree produces refreshing, nourishing good fruit, … eg. grapes, figs

Hence, observe the character of the messenger,
the fruit of the messenger.
you will know them by their fruits, … a sheep or a wolf ?

Matthew 7:22,23 (NIV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one
who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘
I never knew you.
Away from me,
you evildoers!’

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine
and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

As Jesus pointed out, … these prophets did not live out God’s word in their own lives — evildoers.
Do they live out God’s word themselves; faith in Jesus?

Hence, Paul constantly reminded himself,

No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave
so that after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:29 (NIV)

False prophecies, like bad fruits,
… come from a bad tree.

Observe the messenger , … then listen to his/her words.
Observe the walk, … and see if its synonymous with the talk.
A true prophet lives out God’s word,
… is a doer of God’s word.

Check out the fruit, … before buying into it.

“Have any of these prophets bothered to meet with me, the true God?
bothered to take in what I have to say?
listened to and then lived out my Word?

Jeremiah 23:18 (MSG)

This is further elaborated by John,

1 John 2:4-6 (NIV)
Whoever says, “I know him,”
but does not do what he commands
is a liar,
and the truth
is not in that person

But if anyone obeys his word,
love for God is truly made complete in them.

This is how we know we are in him:
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

The fruit of obeying God’s word is love, and Christlikeness,
live as Jesus did.

When a prophet or ‘prophet’ does not live out God’s word,
do what he commands,
the truth is not in that person,
is a liar.

Jesus is the truth (John 14:6),
the word of God is truth (John 17:17),

The truth sets people free, … no longer in bondage or fear (John 8:32).

1 John 4:1-7, 16 (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. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

They are from the world
and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.

We are from God,
and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Dear friends, let us love one another,
for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God
and knows God.

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

A true prophet, knows God personally, acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, does not speak from the viewpoint of the world, and has the character of God’s love – lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

As a corollary, the recipient of a prophecy should also not interprete the personal prophecy 
from the viewpoint of the world,
but rather with the help of God’s Spirit who is with him/her,
through prayer and daily reading of His word.

acknowledges Jesus Christ
Does the messenger point his listeners to Jesus,
… or to other people, … or to himself ?

viewpoint of the world
Does the prophecy sound like a mashup of projections and extrapolations from various news sources?
Is it reactive to the news reports?

Does the messenger quote Bible?
Is message of the messenger, in agreement with the Bible?
Are Bible verses quoted out of its original context?

Is the Bible viewed from contemporary eyes, … without reference to what it meant to the original hearers?

Is the messenger promising something without conditions,
i.e. a blank cheque?

Does the messenger’s followers quote the messenger,
more than the word of God?

Jesus said,
Sanctify them by the truth;
your word is truth.
John 17:17 (NIV)

Sanctify them by the truth
Beyond outward displays of power, prophecy, prosperity,
does the message or the messenger lead people to walk closer to Jesus,
with character & life change?

Continuing on in John’s letter,

1 John 4:18-21 (NIV)
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command:Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Hence, not someone who sows fear or hate or division.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear
Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 Corinthians 13:2, 14:1 (NASB)
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.

14:1 Pursue love,
yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts,
but especially that you may prophesy

1 Corinthians 13:9 (NASB)
For we know in part
and we prophesy in part;

A prophecy lights up only a part of God’s plan,
one step at a time.

Deuteronomy 18:21, 22 (NASB)
21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’
22 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.

If the prophecy is foretelling, it should be clearly verifiable that it has come true, based on factual evidence.
Hence, prophecy should not be vague, ambiguous or speaking in generalities,
… else, it will be hard to verify and validate.

In the earlier example, Agabus’ prophecy was fulfilled.
And this took place in the reign of Claudius.

Foretelling prophecy — objectively verified & confirmed later as fact, that it happened.

In order for it to be verifiable, it has to be clear and precise in its details.
For example, here’s a word given to the centurion, Cornelius in Acts,

Acts 10:30-32 (NASB)

30 Cornelius said, “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, 31 and he *said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’

Joppa … by the sea … house of Simon … a tanner by trade
… a guest named Simon Peter staying there, … whom Cornelius has never heard or met!

accurate, precise GPS direction for Cornelius to locate Simon Peter.

For another example, see 1 Samuel 16:1-10.

A Bible example

While reading 1 Kings 13, found an interesting passage where a prophet gave both a true and false prophecy in the space of 24 hours,
i.e. one word was from God, … while the other was not.

Both words were given to the same man —  a prophet from Judah.

This prophet from Judah was sent by the Lord to Israel to give a prophetic word to king Jeroboam of Israel.  His word was accompanied by a demonstration of God’s spirit (1 Kings 13:1-6) — the pagan altar was split apart and the ashes were poured out from the altar,  Jeroboam hand withered, and through the prophet’s intercession and God’s mercy, Jeroboam’s hand was miraculously healed.

A bit of background on 1 Kings — 1 Kings was written in the form of a chronological history of the events, triumphs and failures of the kings of Israel and Judah, and the prophets who directed them to follow the Lord.
In some ways, the book reads like a news account, where mainly facts and actions are recorded.  Hence, it helps not to read into the story what is not recorded (eg.  thoughts, intentions, etc).

Let’s pick up the story after his prophecy to the king.

1 Kings 13:7-10 (NASB)
Then the king (Jeroboam) said to the man of God (from Judah), “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel.

Besides having a word for king Jeroboam,
prior to coming to Israel,
the Lord had given the prophet from Judah a word for himself to follow, i.e.
‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’”
i.e. fast, … do not stop to receive the anyone’s hospitality in the land, and take another route to return back home.

He obeyed this word,
he went another way and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel.
He even rejected the king’s reward, and invitation
if you were to give me half your house I would not go with you

Continuing on the story,

1 Kings 13:11-23 (NASB)
11 Now an old prophet was living in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the deeds which the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words which he had spoken to the king, these also they related to their father.12 Their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” Now his sons had seen the way which the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he rode away on it. 14 So he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.”

The words and deeds of this prophet from Judah was  publicized around the city that day.

An old prophet in Bethel, Israel,
was keen to meet this prophet from Judah, he went after the man of God.
And he found him, sitting under an oak.

15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.”

16 He said, “I cannot return with you, nor go with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.17 For a command came to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.’”

The old prophet extended hospitality to the prophet from Judah.

However, the prophet from Judah declined the offer,
explaining the word God had previously given to him,
‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.’”

Continuing with his declined invitation, he added,

18 He (the old prophet) said to him, “I also am a prophet like you, and
an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying,
‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’”
But he lied to him.

19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water.

The old prophet firstly gave his anointed credentials,
I also am a prophet,
His age in the ministry also gave him further credibility.

Then he added a supernatural experience
an angel spoke to me    

sounds quite spiritually convincing …

These 2 steps set the spiritual stage for what he was going to say next
… a prophecy
by the word of the Lord
‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’”
He emphasised that the word came from the Lord,
a ‘Thus saith the Lord .. ‘

All well-packaged … feels and looks like the real thing.

the truth was,
But he lied to him.
A false prophecy.

For another example of a prophet giving a false prophecy,
see Jeremiah 28 about Hananiah  the prophet.
Hananiah was corrected by Jeremiah.

However, Hananiah did not repent and faced the consequences.

But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized
as one truly sent by the Lord 
only if his prediction comes true.

Jeremiah 28:9 (NIV)

Back to the story in 1 Kings.
Although the prophet from Judah initially declined the invitation,
he received the old prophet’s word as a real word from God,
19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water.

Why the old prophet lied, the condition of his heart, and what happened to him in the end … are not mentioned, so let’s leave it as that, and not speculate about it.

20 Now it came about, as they were sitting down at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; 21 and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, saying,

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the command of the Lord, and have not observed the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you,22 but have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which He said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water”;
your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers.’

Interestingly, while they were dining,
(not in prayer, or any spiritual activity, … not at church)

the Lord spoke through the old prophet,
this time a true prophecy,

The prophet from Judah was rebuked for disobeying God’s word of instruction.
He will die outside of his homeland, Judah.

23 It came about after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 Now when he had gone, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body.

And true enough,
the true prophecy came to pass
— the prophet from Judah died in Israel.

Deuteronomy 18:21, 22 (NASB)
21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’
22 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.

True prophecies come true.

In order for a prophecy to be verified,
it has to be clear, distinct and precise
eg.  your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers,
Not generalities, or filled with ambiguous spiritual imagery which is open to various interpretations;

1 Corinthians 14:8, 9 (NASB)
For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound,
who will prepare himself for battle?
So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

Borrowing from Paul’s metaphor,
prophetic words must be clear, so that it can be understood,
ministers (encourage, comfort, strengthen),
and verifiable (if it is foretelling).

What can we learn from this account ?

** Listen to God first

The prophet from Judah heard the Lord’s instruction directly and personally to him
‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.’”

He had  NOT   personally  heard the additional instruction,
a change of direction — to follow the old prophet to his house, eat bread and drink water;  break his fast.

** God takes His word very seriously.

Not heeding to His word, … sometimes can bring serious,
… even fatal consequences.

Let’s respect and honor His word.
Revere the Lord.

Honoring His word, is honoring the Lord.

Let not good intentions or ambition blind us in discerning His direction,
and interpreting His word.

On a side note, … consider,
does the prophet or ‘prophet’ honor the word of God ?
Content, … filled with man’s word … or God’s word?

** God’s word, the Bible, … is also … God’s will for our lives.

God speaks through our daily reading of His word.

Your word
is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path

Psalm 119:105 (NASB)

We are guided by God’s word.

Personal prophecy should  not  substitute or supersede God’s word.
Thus, don’t worry if one has not received a personal prophecy over a matter.

 You will seek Me
and find Me 
when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 (NASB)

God speaks, … are we listening?

** How open are we to non-favorable words?

Do we only accept or expect words that are favorable to us personally,
while filtering out the rest that was spoken?

In the story in 1 Kings 13, … the true word of prophecy given, … was not a favorable word.
In the letters to seven  churches in Revelation, besides receiving commendation from the Lord,
… a few received serious warnings.

Agabus prophecy to Paul in Acts 21 was about the dangers ahead for Paul.

Besides prophecy, … God does speak in creative ways to us,
…. eg. Balaam’s donkey, Gideon’s fleece.

Is one seeking prophecy, … to confirm one’s own well-meaning intentions/agenda?

A previous blogpost on prophecy,
Our good intentions, ambitions … or God’s inspiration, direction?
(click here)

** Test all prophecies,

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV)
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Do not quench the Spirit
We are advised not to immediately dismiss prophetic words prematurely, or ban all demonstrations of the Spirit,
but to test all things, and hold fast what is good.

In this case, for the prophet from Judah, he should have personally checked with the Lord in prayer
whether this change of direction was really from Him.
Call a time-out and seek the Lord personally about the prophetic word,
before taking any action.

Test the personal prophecy personally.

No need to be fast, and rush.

If one hears nothing, then lay it on the shelf, until one hears clearly from the Lord;  take no further action on the word.
If the Lord wants us to know something, he will definitely let us know through our daily reading of his word, and further confirmations.

Honestly, God desires us to walk in His will, … more than we really do.

…“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
1 Corinthians 13:1 (NKJV)

When a prophecy is given to a group,
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
1 Corinthians 14:29
It should be judged, discerned, weighed, evaluated by others,
and not just received immediately or blindly.

When God speaks a message,
others (preferably, not knowledgeable of the situation)
should be receiving a similar and relevant message from the Lord as well.

Here’s an example:

2 Kings 2:3, 5 (NIV)
The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked,
“Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”

The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him,
“Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”

Elisha, the prophets from 2 geographically separate cities,
both at Bethel & Jericho heard a similar and relevant message.
They confirmed the Lord’s message.

Hence, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” 

On the flip side, be careful of herd mentality, following the crowd,
and confirmation bias (i.e. the tendency to seek out views that support one’s pre-existing views & dismiss contrary views).

To avoid echo chamber effects, or confirmation bias,
its perhaps better to have total strangers confirming words.

** People are fallible,  including ourselves.

Always look to the Lord, seek Him.

Both were prophets.  Both had instances where they heard the prophetic word correctly and accurately.
Yet, … there was a fatal instance.

We are not perfect, we make mistakes in hearing God.
That’s why we need to test, discern, judge, evaluate prophetic words.

** Let’s not be swayed by credentials, supernatural experience, reputation.

The old prophet was a total stranger to the prophet from Judah.

The old prophet shared his ‘anointed’ credentials.
His age also added to his credibility.

He even mentioned his supernatural experience of angels speaking to him, … to add further credibility.

(Footnote:  After Jesus ascension, there were a number of times God sent an angel  to people in the book of Acts
— Acts 1,5,8,10,12,27)

Galatians 1:8 (NASB)
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel
other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

Be extra careful when folks brag about their credentials, titles, qualifications, “name dropping”,
and spiritual experiences,
more than
Jesus and His Word.

Revelations 19:10 (NASB)
Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus;
worship God.

For the testimony of Jesus
is the spirit of prophecy

When Paul was addressing the ‘super-apostles’  in the church at Corinth, he said,

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
2 Corinthians 11:30 (NIV)

I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle,
including signs, wonders and miracles.
2 Corinthians 12:12 (NIV)

demonstrate God’s glory here and now, … rather than past glories.

 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved,
but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:17 (NIV)

In his previous letter to the church in Corinth, Paul also wrote:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NASB)

A person’s claims and credential as a prophet (or whatever),
should be validated by a demonstration of God’s spirit and fruit,
not just mere words or CV.

** Follow Jesus and His word … not the messenger.

In the old covenant, only certain ones were chosen,
anointed with God’s Spirit.  Only these heard God directly.

In the new covenant, through Jesus sacrifice for us, we have a a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

Hebrews 8:6 (NLT)
But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

Hebrews 8:10-12 (NASB)
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
11 And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
12 For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”

Acts 2:16-18 (NASB)
16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

17 And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.

By God’s grace,
we all can know the Lord personally,
hear Him speak to us directly,
be led by His Spirit,
be filled with His Holy Spirit,
and prophesy.

The only mediator is Jesus, Jesus, our High Priest.
No more human intermediaries, like in the old covenant.
Praise God!

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

** God honors His word … not the messenger

Notice even though the old prophet gave a false prophecy,
later he gave a true prophecy from the Lord.

We are accountable for the message,
not the messenger.

Hence, rightly or wrongly, let’s not get overly concerned about the messenger, … he/she is accountable to God.
Focus on the message.

In the Bible, there was once, God even used a donkey as the messenger to rebuke a prophet.

Here’s an interesting outlier example,

John 11:49-52 (NASB)
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all,
50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

God is sovereign.

Isaiah 40:7,8 (NASB)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

God’s word endures forever.

** Accountability.  We’re accountable to hear from the Lord directly & personally, … and seek God for our actions;  … (even if an old prophet gives a prophecy).

** Prophecies can be received or given in non-spiritual settings or activity, i.e. supernaturally-natural.

In this instance, they were both dining when the old prophet received the true prophecy.

Ultimately the best GPS for direction is the word of God that we read everyday.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path
Psalm 119:105 (NASB)

In  another post, Discerning Man’s plans & blessing, Fulfilling God’s Purposes & Prophecy – David & Nathan (click here),
is a Bible example where a true prophet first gave a personal opinion,
… and later, a true prophecy, that negated or superseded his opinion.

Another Bible example

When Samuel anointed Saul,

2 Samuel 9:3,  10:1-3 (NASB)
Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to his son Saul, “Take now with you one of the servants, and arise, go search for the donkeys.”

10:1 Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his (Saul) head, kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance? When you go from me today, then you will find two men close to Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found.  Now behold, your father has ceased to be concerned about the donkeys and is anxious for you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ Then you will go ….
(Samuel  then prophesy to Saul a few future events in his life)

When Saul God-incidentally met Samuel,
Saul was out looking for his father’s lost donkeys.  (see also 1 Samuel 9:15-21)

Note the level of detail prophet Samuel gave Saul:
* When?  … today
* Who? … two men
* Where? … close to Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah
* What the men will say to Saul?
* What? … the lost donkeys
* What’s Saul’s father feeling?
an almost 360 degree view on the concern of Saul.

Each one specific, … and verifiable.

Often Prophets operate in both the gift of prophecy, and the word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8).  In this account, there are a few words of knowledge spoken by the prophet Samuel — Saul was out looking for donkeys, … where Saul will find the lost donkeys (exact location), … and his father back home was getting anxious about Saul;
i.e. the anxious thoughts in the hearts of Saul and his father, and the solution.

1 Corinthians 14:24, 25 (NKJV)
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.
25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face,
he will worsip God and report that God is truly among you.

A word of knowledge is a verifiable present existing fact about the person or others around him, which the person delivering the prophecy does not know in the natural — i.e. such information cannot be picked up by natural senses or reasoning.  The word of knowledge,  helps confirm that the Lord is speaking a prophetic word, especially if both are total strangers;  in this case, Saul had not met Samuel previously.

In this account, the word of knowledge helps confirm that indeed God’s spirit is speaking;
hearing a complete stranger say what is upon one’s heart, and then a word on what one has yet to know.

Samuel was also a well-established prophet in Israel, and recognised as a prophet by others.

1 Samuel 3:19-21 (NASB)
19 Thus Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail.20 All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because theLord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

It helps if the person giving the prophecy has an established prophetic track record of prophecies coming to pass, or prophetically speaks relevant words into the hearts/situations of believers … is of sound Godly character (humility, love, fruits of the spirit, etc), … careful with words, and … recognised by others for the gift in them.

On another note, Saul was out,
faithfully working for his father,  … at work,
… searching donkeys,
not searching for an anointing.

One well-known example of confirmations of present existing facts
embedded in a prophetic word from God,
is found in the God’s word given by the angel Gabriel to Mary,
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.     (prophecy)

36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”     (existing fact for confirmation)

Mary hurried to visit Elizabeth to confirm that Elizabeth was indeed pregnant in her old age, as spoken by Gabriel.  (Luke 1:39-56)

Further thoughts:

Promises given in prophecy are not blank cheques, there are conditions we have to fulfil in order to walk into them. (similar for Bible promises)

We should always seek the Lord, and hear directly from him.
Its good to start with a prayerful response, and seek Him.

Personal prophecy should not contradict the word of God,
or twist Bible verses out of context and beyond its original meaning.

Hence, in order not to be deceived,
we ourselves need to know the truth of God’s Word, .. firsthand.

Jesus prayed
Sanctify them in the truth;
Your word is truth

John 17:17 (NASB)

Personal or corporate prophecy should not be more important or take precedence over the word of God,
… but be subjected to and judged by the word of God.

For example, only two of Agabus’ prophecies were recorded in Acts.
The prophecies of Judas and Silas were not recorded in Acts.

John 8:31,32 (NASB)
31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him,
If you continue in My word,
then you are truly disciples of Mine
32 and you will know the truth,
and the truth will make you free

Paul’s exhortation to pastor Timothy,

1 Timothy 4:12,13 (NIV)
12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

i.e., at church, fellowship groups, etc
… focus on the scriptures,
focus on living out the scriptures.

The scriptures, … is also … the revealed … will of God  for our lives.

2 Timothy 3:13-17 (NIV)
13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Scripture equips the believer for every good work.

Personal Prophecy is not fortune telling.

Our heart response to the Lord is key to personal prophecy,
i.e. draw us closer to God,
aligning our hearts to God’s will and purposes.

Consider Hezekiah,

Isaiah 38:1-8 (NASB)
In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’”Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord,and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city.”’

“This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that He has spoken: Behold, I will cause the shadow on the stairway, which has gone down with the sun on the stairway of Ahaz, to go back ten steps.” So the sun’s shadow went back ten steps on the stairway on which it had gone down.

To balance Hezekiah’s experience, here’s an example in David’s life, where his prophecy was not superseded with another prophecy.

2 Samuel 12:14-18, 21-23 (NASB)
And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.  
14 However, because by this deed you  have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” 15 So Nathan went to his house.

Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. 16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.17 The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. 18 Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died.  ….

21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ 23 But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

God is sovereign.

In both Hezekiah’s and David’s situations,
they both drew closer to God as a result of the personal prophecy.
Then Hezekiah prayed to the Lord
David inquired of God, David fasted,
and also, David wrote Psalm 51.

With or without personal prophecy,
we are all to personally seek the will of God in our lives.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven
Matthew 6:10 (NASB)

In seeking the will of God, perhaps its good to subject prophetic words to the counsel of mature believers who hear the Lord, and personally know us and our walk with the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:29 (NASB)
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

Acts 15:28 (NASB)
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us

Proverbs 11:14 (NASB)
Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

If possible, avoid using phrases such as”The Lord said …” or “The Lord spoke to me … “, so that we can be open for correction by the counsel of others, as there may be possibility that we or our prophetic friends heard wrongly.

Others can help us discern and bear witness of God’s direction.

Matthew 1:41,44 (NASB)
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby (John) leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy ….

Prophetic words can be shared in an unassuming conversational way in one’s natural tone and language, without causing a scene or alarm (particularly for people not exposed to prophecy before).

1 Corinthians 14:31,32, 40 (NASB)
31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets;
33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

14:40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

Right timing in sharing a word, helps others to receive it.

Sometimes when one receives a prophetic revelation about someone else,
it may be for us to pray and intercede for them,
instead of telling them immediately.

Prophesy, … not gossip, not speculate.


In conclusion,

Be led by His word.

Prophecies are helpful, however they should be tested.
Personal prophecies of direction serve as confirmations of what God has, or will reveal to us personally.

Luke 9:35 (NASB)
Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying,
“This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”

John 10:4, 27 (NASB)
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

27 My sheep listen to my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.

Jesus did not say
only prophets know His voice and listen to His voice.

He says:
My sheep listen to my voice
I know them, and they follow me

Lets also not forfeit this great privilege to hear our Shepherd’s voice personally, ourselves.
Our shepherd wants to lovingly and faithfully guide us in our life journey.

Ministry Spirit & Truth | Prophecy

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
February 1, 2016

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




This entry was posted on February 1, 2016 by in Daily Rice, Ministering Spirit & Truth, Prophecy and tagged .
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