It’s interesting to consider the factors that shape our future. It’s easy to let the currents of life move us through the ebb and flow of each day, without us really stopping to take note and consider where we are really heading. I think there are several factors that shape our future in an intentional way.
Gods Sovereignty – The heart of man plans his way but the Lord orders his steps. God is sovereign over the affairs of the universe and although you may seriously question the reality of Gods Sovereignty, due to the overwhelming amount of pain and suffering in the world, I find myself believing even more readily in the involvement of Gods Sovereignty in the trajectory of where the world is heading. A cursory glance of Scripture will give you a big picture perspective of Gods Sovereignty involved in the affairs of mankind both in past history and in future events.
Prayer – I think we underestimate the place of prayer in shaping the future. I see Gods partnership with humanity in prayer and His willingness to at times limit himself to our intercession or lack of. Prayer brings us into the mind and heart of Gods intentions for us and is the key communication tool in our relationship with God.
Obedience – 1 Samuel 15 gives us a classic insight into the importance of obedience from Gods perspective. I don’t think it’s what you do that ultimately matters but what you do out of what God has revealed to you to do. My own future has been shaped more so by hearing and obeying God than anything I’ve attempted in my own flesh.
Relationships – Life is a matrix of relationships and the people we are connected to shape so much of our personal future’s. Who you relate to and connect with speak volumes about you as a person and what’s important to you. Ultimately, our relationship with God or lack of is the critical piece of the relational puzzle that must be firmly fixed in the centre of our lives, for anything of significance to be positively shaped in our lives.
Prophecy – Prophecy is Gods revelation of the intention of his heart and mind for people, churches and nations. Each prophetic word from God is pregnant with possibility and must be kissed by a heart of faith for Gods intention to manifest in our reality. Prophecy can warn us of impending events sent to derail us. Prophecy can lift our vision and set our hearts soaring with faith in the midst of a valley experience. Prophecy needs to be tested, understood, interpreted and applied with wisdom for it to be useful in our lives, otherwise, we get defiled by it or lose the potential of it in our lives.
These are some of the key factors that shape our future more than most things. Can you add to the list? What would you say has been key for you in the shaping of your future? Dialogue welcomed.
Proverbs 13:12 ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick.’
Sometimes, you can receive a prophetic word that is flattering but simply not true. If we find our identity in Jesus, then we are not as prone to be a sucker for flattering words that are not based in truth. A person with an ambitious and insecure heart is more often seduced by an exaggerated or flattering word.
One problem that comes from believing wrong information is that we have wrong expectations about the future. Prophecy is meant to stir up our hopes and expectations but if what we hope for doesn’t happen (because the words not based in truth), then we are prone to be disappointed and hurt.
Deferred hope disappoints us so much that we can get into despair or even become angry with God or the prophetic ministry in general. Christians who are angry with God, cynical and critical in their spirits, don’t realise the problem is that they are heartsick over unfulfilled hopes and expectations. Don’t reject God or his prophetic word but interpret them correctly and if a word was wrong, stop believing it.
Be careful because if you become disillusioned and offended with God you can lose your spiritual vigour and the enemy can drive a wedge between you and God. We all have had expectations that haven’t become reality and sometimes this is simply because our expectation wasn’t based on truth. Check the source of your expectations and if they are of God, persevere in prayer until realised but if they aren’t, then change your expectation. It will only make you heart-sick.
The apostle prayed that the ‘Father of glory would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened to know and see’ (Eph 1:17-18).
What does this practically look like? It includes having our spiritual and or natural eyes opened to the unseen realm of dreams, visions, angels, demons or whatever else is relevant to the edification of others and ministry to the body.
You should ask the Lord to open your ears to hear his voice, both the audible voice and the whispering voice of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to enable you to feel his presence. You may feel a variety of things, including, external feelings of pressure, cold, burning, weightiness, wind or literal breeze around us. Internally, emotions may go from sobbing to deep inner awareness of peace and solitude.
The easiest and most basic way to stay spiritually alert is to regularly ask the question, ‘Lord, what are you saying or doing? Show me.’ Faint impressions are the most common manifestations we experience. However, if you don’t ask what God is saying or doing, then we will miss out on any opportunities that help us grow in our ability to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
Once upon a time there was a young man named Joseph… (Read Genesis 37-41 for context). Joseph was his fathers favourite son who made Joe a coat of many colours. His brothers despised him for his favour, even more so, when God gave Joseph two prophetic dreams of influence and power. They decided to throw him into a pit, sold him to Ishmaelite traders, who sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph while favoured by God was falsely accused of rape and sentenced to prison in Pharaohs jail. Two servants of Pharaoh were sent to prison for committing offences against the king and they both received two prophetic dreams, which Joseph interpreted by God’s gracious gifting in his life. Joseph was forgotten by the cupbearer whose prophetic dream saw him established back to his original position and Joe was left in prison for another two years.
Joseph was in God’s waiting room where you get prepared by God to fulfil your calling. Joseph is often characterised as a perfect individual but even he needed to be refined and prepared by God for his ultimate calling. All of us know what it’s like to wait in a waiting room. It can sometimes be very painful. Just as there are waiting rooms in the natural, so too are they in the spiritual and every persons waiting room is unique and looks different to anybody else’s. If we don’t recognise our waiting room, we will respond inappropriately to the season God has us in.
In God’s waiting room you watch other people’s dreams come to pass while yours is at a standstill. In God’s waiting room, you find it easier to interpret other people’s dreams, than you do your own. In God’s waiting room, no one who enters your life does so by accident. In God’s waiting room, you grope for mans attention rather than waiting for God’s timing. In God’s waiting room, you will want to complain about your hardships. In God’s waiting room, you will feel forgotten. In God’s waiting room, you are being prepared for your calling.
All of the above happened to Joseph and will most probably happen to you if you accept the invitation to the school of the Spirit = Gods waiting room. But the good news is that God will only keep you waiting in his room as long as is necessary to prepare you for what he has for you to walk in. Many are called but few are chosen. The few who get chosen to walk in a higher calling do so because they postured themselves for growth while in Gods waiting room. Will you accept the invitation?
The truth is, we don’t look hard enough for the amazing in everyday life. Too often we are content for the routine, rather than hungering for the mystery of God in everyday life. Life can get routine but it needs to be punctuated with shots of amazement from the presence of God.
God does amazing very well. He parted oceans, turned bitter waters into sweet, stopped the sun, shut the mouths of lions, raised the dead, opened blind eyes and revealed the secrets of people’s hearts.
It seems like this sort of amazing only happens when we watch an enthralling movie but walking with God should include moments of ecstasy where heaven makes contact with earth. To embrace an ethos of amazement in life we need to practice the presence of God each day (John 15:7) but we also need to make ourselves available for the mysteries of God to break into the mundane-ness of everyday routines. This dynamic of amazement shouldn’t just be expected in eternity but right now. Praying, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, is a call to live with an ethos of amazement right now.
I pray with the apostle that God would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know the hope to which you are called and the immeasurable greatness of his power (Eph 1:17-18). This is a pivotal key to living in the amazing of God!
Too often we try to share a message rather than become the message! In a world of competing brands, you are the best brand you could ever get. The Scriptures suggest, ‘our lives are a letter written to the world.’ When people read your life, what do they read?
In the Holy Scriptures, the prophet’s entire lives became God’s message to his people. A prophet was an active extension of Yahweh. Hosea married a prostitute to proclaim a message to Israel about it being a ‘whore’ in their relationship with God. Isaiah walked around barefoot and naked to communicate what was going to happen to Israel if they continued to rebel against God. Prophets didn’t share something external to themselves, they became God’s message and shared their lives with the people and this gave them authority to speak what God wanted his people to hear. As you can imagine, a tough calling to carry at times.
We can share a lot of things with others but we have no authority to speak on something we haven’t first lived out ourselves. What message are you becoming? What authority do you walk in, to share out of? You and I must become the message before we deliver the message. When you and I become the message, the impact of it will be far greater in the lives of people around us.
Embrace what God is doing in your life right now. Don’t try to run ahead and force his hand according to your desire. The Lord is writing his story onto your heart each step of each day. Your spiritual authority is directly connected to your relationship with your Heavenly Father and his power at work in your life.
The prophetic is the only one of the 5 offices that has a long and scripturally detailed history reaching back into the early origins of the Old Testament and God’s people, Israel. Understanding the historic origins of the prophet helps us understand how we are to operate in this ministry today.
There is a vast difference between one who stands in the office and one who prophesies in the moment. When God gives someone a word for the moment, the person is not responsible post the delivery of the word to stand in the office but a true prophet is called to wear a mantle that cannot be removed.
The word prophet comes from the Hebrew word nabi meaning ‘speaker’, one whose mouth has been touched to speak for God. Some think that a prophet is one who only foretells the future or speaks of things only God could know.The truth is, when prophets are called to speak, it is about anything God wants to address, the past, present or future, revealing things hidden or merely speaking of what is mundane and well-known.
The word ‘prophet’ was first mentioned in Genesis 20:6-7, describing Abraham as a prophet, in the context of healing. After Abraham we see the prophetic office established in Moses ministry, as the purpose of prophets was revealed: to listen to God for the people.
Today, it is still the same. God wants to have fellowship with his children and he wants us to listen to him. But some will not and others seemingly find it very difficult to hear God and this is where prophets are needed, because in God’s wisdom he speaks to his prophets on issues that he does not reveal and discuss with every one of his people. Until that time in the future when the perfect one comes and all will know him, from the least to the greatest, prophets and their office are necessary.
Don’t despise the Lord’s servants, the Prophets and their prophetic utterances but hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches.
Have you ever thought of personal transformation as engaging in conflict?
Often we think of change as being only a positive process but in fact to enter the transformation spiral is to prepare yourself for a bloody battle with your sinful nature. Preaching is spiritual warfare, not just with cosmic powers but with our flesh. The flesh will oppose anything of the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God stands in direct opposition to your flesh. This conflict is not dualistic, meaning between equal adversaries. God is supreme over every cosmic power and our flesh but nevertheless, there will be blood on the floor of your heart, one way or the other. By God’s grace and your faith, it will be your flesh and the enemy, needing trauma treatment, not your spirit and God’s purpose for you.
It’s official. God loves a failure! He didn’t want the beauty of his nature and the glory of the kingdom solely represented by the great, the good and the clever. He did not want a who’s who of humanity to portray his own magnificence.
God does not need to be seen in the right places with the right people. Jesus was criticized viciously for hanging out with the very people society detested. He chose to become despised and rejected.
God does not have an image problem. He chose people who had a history of failure. He chose people who had a history of not learning and who repeated their mistakes continuously. God chose people who are despised as being stupid by people who should know better. He accepted people who would require lots of training just to be normal, let alone successful.
He chose them because he wanted to love them in such a way that they would always be safe and whole, whether they were successful or not. He chose them so that his love for them could heal them of their foolishness. He has a wonderful capacity to enjoy us in our weakness.
He has a plan to make us successful through using failure for us and not against us. Failure does not demean the Father. His character and identity are so wonderfully secure that he is not afraid to know us, bless us and stand up for us.
Whether we are doing well or badly our identity is always in Jesus!
Proverbs 18:1 ‘Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment’
Proverbs 22:17 ‘Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise.’
Over the last month I have spent more time on the phone and in person chatting with key people in my world than I have for a long time. Why? Cause I need to hear the wisdom of others and so do you.I have always created space in my world for people I respect and admire to speak into my life but I think it’s specially important when navigating an important season in your life. I started my ministry running my own show and realised I needed to broaden the voices speaking into my life. Thank God for sending me godly men to speak into my world.
Studying the Scriptures and praying daily is hugely helpful and strongly recommended but is one key part of a holistic process of growing as a person. Without a community of people around us speaking into our lives, we can develop our theological ideas about life in a way that isn’t helpful to ourselves or even balanced. A disciple is a learner, a student who submits and commits to assume a posture of listening and learning. This includes from key coaches, mentors and peers around us.
I would suggest having a compass of relationships in your world that includes mentors (north); peers (east); protegé (south) and friends (west) that you have scheduled catch ups with regularly.
We live in a culture that promotes the independent autonomy of the individual. This is embraced at the individuals personal expense. Nothing can be gained in living by your own judgment alone. What you don’t know can actually hurt you. I prefer to learn from the mistakes and successes of others than learn the hard way through my own selfish isolation. Listen, if it’s good enough for Bill Gates to have someone speaking into his life, it’s good enough for you.
Can you actually name the person(s) who speak into your life regularly? Are they respected by others? Does their counsel ring true more often than not? Do you walk away from the conversation feeling better off for spending time with them? Do you enjoy their company or do you endure your time with them? Where can they best contribute to your personal growth and development? What have you learnt from them so far in your relationship?
These are all important questions to consider. It’s scary to think that some of us have no one speaking into our personal worlds at all. I encourage you to position yourself and make yourself available to spend time with that significant other person who will sharpen you up. We all need someone to speak into our lives!