Many of our adult members felt moved by the prophetic words from Pastor Doug. But the dictionary definition of prophecy has such a strong connotation of “prediction of the future”, so I will explain the gift of prophecy a bit here.
Firstly, prophecy is simply the communication of God’s word. Pastors “prophesy” every week in a sense as they seek to bring God’s message and clarify it for the congregation. All Christians are supposed to “encourage” one another with words that come from God, which is an act of prophecy. The Apostle Paul urges all of us to seek spiritual gifts, and out of all, seek to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1). Just as we teach all Christians to pray for people’s healing (not just to someone with the gift of healing), we teach all Christians to prophesy. Of course, with varying faith, results may vary. Some have trusted God more than others and obediently shared words that may not make sense to them. With greater hunger and risk, they see greater results.
Secondly, the gift of prophecy is not for direction but for confirmation. In the Old Testament, people needed prophets for “direction” from God. But in the New Testament, through Jesus, believers have received the Holy Spirit, who dwells in them forever. (John 14:16) He is the one who guides all believers into what is right. (John 16:13) So, the gift of prophecy today is to primarily “confirm” and “amplify” what God has already spoken in us believers. We can easily miss God’s voice as we worry, get distracted or become indifferent.
Two years ago, after house church conference, Jennifer and I visited a church that was known for prophetic ministries. One lady in the prophetic team shared prophetic words with me that God wants me to be renewed like an eagle that renews itself at the age of 40. I was exactly 40 years old, and she could not have known that without the divine knowledge from God. What encouraged me the most was not the content of the words per se, but the “confirmation” that God really cares for me and knows what my primary concern is.
Prophecy is like a spark that turns the gas fire on. But the purpose of fire is to cook something to eat, not to just keep burning. In the same way, the spark of prophecy should lead us into the daily act of eating God’s word for our souls. It will bring us closer to the one who wants to speak directly to us, as he did with the prophets of old who spoke to God face to face. (Exodus 33:11)