Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.
Welcome to the fifth installment of God is the Ultimate Travel Agent! We’ve learned a lot in this series already, such as what it means to devote yourself to following the path that God has for your life, comprehending the wonderful “good news” of Immanuel…that God is with us everywhere we go, and humbling yourself to receive direction and insight from the Holy Spirit. It isn’t enough to be moving fast in one direction, because if that direction is leading you towards destruction, it’s better to stand still and wait on the Lord to hear where your real destination lies. Last time we discussed how to position yourself to receive revelation from God; now we will delve further into the ways that God speaks to us and imparts knowledge into our souls.
Given to You by Prophecy
Possibly the most dramatic way God can give you direction and meaning in life is via the prophetic gift in others. When godly people under the anointing of the Holy Spirit speak words of knowledge (divine awareness of current or past truths) and prophecy (divine foretelling of future truths) into you, the course of your life may be forever altered.
In the verses cited above, Paul instructs his young protégé, Timothy, to remain steadfast in his calling to be a teacher of the Word and to instruct his fellow believers in the faith. What I find fascinating is that Timothy’s gift was not something he just happened to have when he received Christ but was given to him by the laying on of hands by the church elders. Paul also mentions the prophecies for Timothy earlier in chapter 1 verse 18, and the laying on of hands in 2 Timothy 1:6. The elders, including Paul, saw in Timothy the ultimate person that God had created him to be, and Timothy very likely had little awareness of this spiritual reality. A wise man once said that the spiritual reality is always superior to the physical reality, and that’s essentially what prophecy is all about — taking that which is true in the Spirit and declaring it forth into the world around us.
I encourage you wholeheartedly to seek out sincere Christians who believe in the gift of prophecy and words of knowledge and allow them to lay hands on you and speak into your life. The blessing you will receive from hearing those words spoken over you is incalculable. Many facets of my life at the present time only came to pass because of a prior prophetic word. I can honestly say I would still be floundering around trying to figure out what to do without that inspired direction that flowed from the throne room of God.
Another huge, though tricky, area of revelation is in dreams. Dreams are funny things. We dream by day and we dream by night. Our daydreams reflect the missing aspects of our lives that we long to acquire, and our dreams in the night reflect our most intimate fears or aspirations. The key is discerning where in the midst of dreaming God is. Because God most assuredly is there.
A few years back, my mom bought a book that talked about the ways God speaks to us through dreams when we are asleep. I’ll be honest with you: I thought it was a load of horse manure. Yeah, a few people in the Bible heard from God via dreams (sometimes via angels in dreams), but come on. Give me a break.
Then I had what I can only describe as a God dream. I woke up with a conviction in my spirit like nothing I’d ever felt before that this dream was holy and was from God. I then proceeded to have a series of dreams, dozens of dreams, over the course of only a few months that were all filled with spiritual insight and direction. I have yet to experience such a season of revelation as I did at that time.
If you are interested in placing your sleep and your dreaming under the authority of the Holy Spirit, here’s what you can do. Ask God to give you revelation in your dreams. Don’t be discouraged if you still have the usual wacky or bizarre dreams for a while that we all have. Keep asking Him to touch you, and sooner or later I believe you’ll wake up from something profound — possibly even Biblical or ministerial in nature — with a feeling that God wants to tell you something. Write down the dream immediately, even if the clock reads 3:17 AM, and then go back to sleep. In the morning, you can pray and ask God to give you an interpretation of what the dream meant. Sometimes it’s good to go to someone else with a gift of dream interpretation via the Holy Spirit and see what they perceive. In my case, I usually find that there is a knowing in my spirit of what the dream meant literally the moment I wake up from it — that’s often how I know the dream was from the Lord.
This is probably a post all its own, so I’ll try to keep it short, but one of my favorite ways to hear from God is just talk to Him. Talk talk talk. Don’t ever give up. Ask Jesus to show you a picture of Himself in your mind, and then just focus on Him and talk. Tell Him what you love, what you hate, why you’re happy, why you’re sad, why you’re lonely, why you’re enthused. Talk about the weather. Talk about your health. Talk about your job. Talk talk talk talk talk. You see, we as Christians have been beaten down into thinking that God only communicates to us through Scripture, and therefore all we can do is pray in some kind of pseudo-spiritual manner and then try to read the Bible to get an answer. Oh, of course that will work. But it’s not the only way. You can also just talk. When you talk, listen. Don’t just speak words, but pause and wait for an answer. Sometimes the answer comes as words (and don’t be surprised if you don’t hear some huge gigantic voice like in the “Ten Commandments” movie), sometimes as just a “knowing” in your spirit, sometimes as images or impressions, sometimes even as music or a song. Other people get strange sensations in their body. I often just get a feeling of overwhelming peace and serenity.
How do you know you’re hearing from God, and not just demons or your own head? Ah, the big question. My only reply is that the more you submit yourself to the Spirit of God and stay steadfast in His Word (that’s why it is very important to know Scripture!), the more you will know the peace and comfort of His Spirit that accompanies any revelation He gives you. Remember, if you ever receive anything that contradicts Scripture, you will know it is false. Remember the famous “love” chapter of 1 Corinthians 13? Read that. God is Love, therefore, what you receive from the Holy Spirit always rides on the back of love. So if you receive revelation that denies who God is, who His people are (the Church), requires you to hurt or deceive your fellow man in any way, or that gratifies your flesh or ego regardless of the welfare of others, then it is not of God.
Stay true to the faith, and weigh every prophecy carefully. There have been many abuses in the Church over the last several decades due to the egregious misuse of the prophetic gift, so use discernment, wisdom, and sound judgement as you seek the Lord for revelation. Some people snub prophecy because of abuse, but that’s like outlawing cars because they can run over people and kill them. Cars are simply vehicles that carry things to their destinations. It’s how they get there that counts. Prophecy is simply a vehicle that carries a supernatural word. It’s what we do with the prophecies we receive that counts.
We have more access to divine insight and counsel than most Christians are willing to admit. Let’s not shirk our responsibilities out of fear or religious traditions. Remember, God is speaking to us, all the time. Maybe if we had the courage and the humility to listen to what He has to say, we would discover the incredible, miraculous, and awesome destinies that He has for our lives and for the worldwide Christian Church.
Next week’s installment will be the last one in this series, and I want to focus squarely on how to put all we’ve learned into practice. You may want God to hold reign over your life, you may be willing to let Him lead you on a grand new adventure, you may be seeking Him for spiritual revelation, but how do you take all that and translate it into concrete change in your life? Good question. Let’s find the answer together!