“But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” (I Cor. 14:3 NIV)
A teacher once told our Sunday School class that prophecy today isn’t authentic unless it does one of those three things, and therefore it would always be pleasant or positive. Since the main subject of that day’s lesson was something else, I gave her comment little thought. I didn’t know much about prophecy at the time, Old Testament or New Testament.
Then one day I read Acts 21:10-14. The passage describes a prophet named Agabus, who came down from Judea to give Paul a prophecy about his upcoming trip to Jerusalem. It wasn’t pleasant or positive. “Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” (verse 11)
Hearing that, Paul’s friends tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem. They thought that since God was warning him about the dangers awaiting him there, that trip wasn’t God’s will for him.
But Paul knew that it was. The word Agabus delivered was encouraging and comforting to him, because it confirmed what the Lord had already shown him. “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16) He needed his friends to pray with him and for him, as he followed the itinerary God had set for him.
Once again this week I’ve gotten emails from several prophetic-type ministries, full of pleasant and positive words for 2015. Long-awaited answers to prayer are coming. Revival is coming. Awakening is coming.
I believe those words are authentic for many people. They will see breakthroughs this year, answers to their prayers. But at the same time, the Lord is still sending out the types of prophecies that Paul received. The following is one of them.
Why am I sharing this? Because just as in Paul’s day, prayer is needed, persistent prayer, unceasing prayer, informed and intelligent prayer, that in the midst of the increasing turmoil and tragedy, God’s will, WILL be done.
February 28, 2015
Last night I asked the Lord to speak to me, instead of me just talking and asking him for anything. About what? he asked. Anything you like, I said.
The world is winding down, he said. The era is ending. The planet is experiencing it right along with the people.
I thought about the record storms that have hit this country in the last month, record ice, snow, cold temperatures. And not just America, record-breaking weather has occurred around the globe. Consequences of spiritual rebellion being carried out in the physical realm?
As I was wondering what “the era” meant, he said, this era of grace.
“Where sin abounded” — and it is certainly abounding, I thought to myself — “grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20 KJV)
I thought about the hundreds or thousands of Christians being slaughtered for their faith in Africa and the Middle East. Yet at the same time, ever-increasing numbers of people are coming to Christ. Multitudes are being born again in the midst of unimaginable horror.
And I thought about the fact that those murderous inhuman beings are infiltrating the United States now. One recent headline said there are ISIS groups in all 50 states now.
They are indeed inhuman, the Lord said. They are no longer normal human beings, they have been co-opted by evil. There is no humanity in their thinking, no “fellow feeling” for babies, children, women, the elderly, anyone, not even those of their own ethnic origins. Not even those of their own religion.
They know only blood thirst, hunger for power, world dominion. Deceived, corrupted in the very core of their soul, they deceive and corrupt their own followers.
This era of mercy and grace and peace with God is more and more being shared by an era of grievous evil, which will certainly be followed by judgment and justice.
Chaos, disaster, destruction, mass murder, horrendous cruelty is accelerating, spreading as a plague across Asia, Africa, soon Europe and eventually the Americas. I was dumbfounded at what I was beginning to visualize, the possibility of it happening here in our own streets.
How long do we have? I asked him, before there is no more opportunity for people to hear the gospel and believe? Pray, was all he said. PRAY.
Pray what?! Pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. II Peter 3:9, “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentence.”