How to Handle a Prophetic Word

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Our generation is hungry for the paranormal. People everywhere are looking for answers, and their search has led to an obsession with various forms of spirituality that are devoid of God's light and full of the lies of the enemy—witchcraft, astrology, necromancy, sorcery, spiritism and so on. Many have come to depend on psychics for the answers they seek.

We live in a time when the lost, often unwittingly, "[exchange] the truth of God for the lie" (Rom. 1:25). Scripture foretold of this time: "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Mark 13:22).

To lure the unsuspecting into their web of deceit, psychics often market themselves with such titles as "accredited psychic," "proven psychic" or "registered psychic." They sometimes gain prominence because well-known celebrities who claim to have been helped by a psychic empathetically tell TV viewers they, too, can be helped. A few psychics even proclaim that the gift they display comes from God.

People who are at a low point in their lives are generally the most vulnerable to this deception. But surprisingly, the same hunger is portrayed in the church.

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I am not talking about Christians who consult with fortune-tellers, although it may shock you to learn that hordes of God's people do so. What I am addressing is the temptation of Christians to make "fortune-tellers" out of those in the church who have a prophetic gift.

Prophets, Not Psychics
For some reason, the church has begun to view revelatory people in the same way the world views psychics. They believe that prophetic people should have an answer for everything the inquirer wants to know. They treat prophetic individuals as if they were "Christian psychics."

On several occasions earlier in my life, I experienced this type of feeding frenzy. In my immaturity, I succumbed to the demand of hungry inquirers who were a part of the body of Christ or who sat in the pew next to me. However, I have learned that we as prophetic people do not need to be driven by this demand.

We are not in competition with occult practitioners. Nor are we to take the place of God, who longs to speak individually to each believer through His Holy Spirit. The Lord gives all of us the assurance that if we call on Him, He will answer us in ways that will astound us (Jer. 33:3; Matt. 7:7).

At the same time, God gives some individuals prophetic words and insight that we need to hear, just as He gave His word to Ananias to deliver to Saul before he was known as the apostle Paul (Acts 9:17). To everything, however, there is a time and a season (Eccl. 3:1, 7).

In the midst of the feeding frenzy for prophetic words, some people gifted with revelation may wonder how to respond to the demands facing them. They may ask, "If I 'know' the answer to someone's question, should I feign ignorance or lie?"

On various occasions, I have watched a friend of mine, who is very mature in his prophetic gift, exhibit great humility. Although God has revealed many things about future events, and the economy in particular, to him, my friend has felt impressed by the Holy Spirit not to reveal publicly everything God shared with him.

Instead, he committed what the Lord showed him to prayer. When he was asked publicly about the economy, I watched with amazement as he responded with godly wisdom to the hungry demands of others. Although my friend had a clear word from God, he wisely said to eager inquisitors: "The economy is a very complex thing and has confused even the most educated men. What do you think God is saying?"

With his reply, my friend did not lie or violate God's confidence. Instead, he responded as Jesus often did—by answering a question with a question.

From God's perspective, everything has a proper time or cycle. Though God may reveal future events or the answer to a problem to a prophetic person, He may not release the person to share the information at that time. We must walk in the spirit of wisdom and discern the proper times and seasons.

God, who does know all, has granted to us as prophetic people a sliver of revelation. Therefore, we do not need to appear as prophetic know-it-alls. We do not always have to have "the" answer to a question or issue that is posed to us.

In fact, one sign of spiritual immaturity is attempting to answer everything that is asked of us. Remember, "even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive" (Prov. 17:28). Usually, it is insecurity and a need for recognition that cause a person with a prophetic gift to respond prematurely and with presumption.

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