Building People of Substance for Works of Power
One day last Fall, I was in my office praying and reading my Bible. It was early, around 7 AM. The phone rang. The caller ID said “Lonnie Hilton.” I was a little anxious as I answered. It’s unusual for my pastor to call me so early in the morning. Whatever must be wrong? He seemed a little tentative as he spoke to me. He said the Holy Spirit said to tell me that we needed to make an announcement about our coming transition, or the church would be harmed. He knew we were planning to hand the Lead Pastor role to our associate, and we were praying about when and how. I thanked him and began planning how this would work. I took it very seriously, as Lonnie is a man with a track record. He loves me and our church, and he is very careful about saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” He has standing to speak into my life.
When anyone tells me that the Lord is speaking through them to me, I try to keep an open heart. In addition, I try to filter every word through biblical standards. When the word that is spoken, if received, will have a major impact on life and ministry, I want to be very sure this is God. In fact, when I stand before the Lord, He’s going to hold me accountable for it. He expects me to judge it. Interestingly, the very first thing Jesus taught about prophecy was how to recognize a false prophet. That is my first test for every prophetic word. What questions do I ask about the speaker as I decide the weight to give to the word they have spoken to me?
- What does their life produce? Jesus said I would know them by their production. Do they bring wisdom and peace to the discussion, or do they leave a trail of strife and confusion? Do they have a track record of lives being helped and encouraged to follow Jesus, or are people damaged and dismayed in their wake? Have they displayed consistency, loyalty and commitment, or have they bounced around, never sticking with anything or anyone long enough to be well known? Matthew 5:15-20
- Are they elders in the Body of Christ? Timothy received prophecies from the elders who laid hands on him. That means they had been around, following Jesus, long enough to be recognized by the brethren as elders in the faith. To evaluate a track record, there must be a track record. When it comes to speaking into my life, I am looking for a seasoned voice. 1 Timothy 4:14
- Does this person have standing in my life? I thank God for the manifestation of the Spirit, and the fact hat our God is no respecter of persons. But I am enjoined by the Scripture to submit myself to spiritual leaders. They are set in my life by the Lord, and those relationships are there for just such a time as this. God speaks supernaturally through the authority He has long since set over me in the Lord. Hebrews 13:7-9, 17
- Who is apt to benefit? Paul warned that false prophets would look to build their own ministry rather than the Kingdom of God. I have to ask, who profits if I follow this prophet? Is this word drawing me to Jesus and His message, or to the messenger and his ministry? Acts 20:29-30
Somebody Said: “Don’t do something just because somebody else did. Don’t operate on the other fellow’s experience. operate on what you know the bible said, and operate on what the Holy Ghost is saying to you.” ~ Kenneth E. Hagin
Scripture Reading: “Beware of false prophets. They come to you disguised as sheep, but in their hearts they are vicious wolves. You will know them by what they produce. “People don’t pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles, do they? In the same way every good tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good fruit. Any tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into a fire. So you will know them by what they produce. (Matthew 7:15-20 GW)
Thank God, He can use anybody. I have had powerful words from young believers that have turned out to be accurate. Balaam’s donkey is a frequently cited example of God using unlikely people. On the other hand, when you see who was available, the donkey was the most qualified individual there. God uses the available material. The important thing to remember is that you are responsible for what God says to you. He has given you His Word and His Spirit. Follow them.
Pastor Virgil Stokes
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
For many more resources, visit me at www.pastorvirgil.com.