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How do we respond to prophecy?

This past Sunday, Pastor Dan spoke from the story in 2 Kings 5 about Naaman’s healing from leprosy. A servant in Naaman’s house encouraged Naaman to seek help from a prophet for healing. But when Naaman received the prophet’s message to go down to the Jordan River and wash seven times, Naaman became angry. Surely this silly washing ritual wouldn’t be the source of a cure. Naaman went begrudgingly to the river, imagining that nothing would happen and that he would feel like a fool. But verse 14 finishes the story for us:  “So Naaman dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!”

Many of us have felt like Naaman. Someone in our lives gives us a “prophetic” word that begins with the caveat of “I feel like the Lord wants me to tell you…,” or “I just feel like I ought to say to you…” These conversations make both the deliverer of the message and the receiver of the message uncomfortable. We often aren’t sure how to respond. Do we reorder our lives? Do we let the word stew in our minds? Do we try to make it happen?

Or maybe you have been in a time of prayer or you’ve been visiting with a friend and you have felt an impression to share a verse from Scripture or an image that you’ve seen in your mind’s eye, and you’ve felt uncertain. Is it the Holy Spirit prompting me to share this impression with my friend? It is my own desire to encourage? Or is it just the pizza that I ate last night?

What do we do? Should we just avoid this whole area of spiritual life completely so that we don’t risk error?

Naaman was certainly glad that he didn’t ignore the prophet’s word. At first he was tempted to dismiss the message as foolish, but in the end, it turned out that the prophet’s instruction was a conduit for God’s healing power to show up in Naaman’s situation. The water wasn’t what healed Naaman. Nor the washings. Naaman’s reluctant faith and reluctant submission combined with God’s powerful work brought the healing.

When you or I receive a word from someone (whether an impression, a feeling, a sense from the Lord, a leading, or whatever!), we’re responsible to God to listen. The word may seem foolish. It may come from someone who we think is crazy. It may make no sense at all. That’s okay.

Relax. Don’t reorder your life. Just listen. Don’t stew over the word. Just listen. Don’t get anxious. Just listen.

And after you listen, pray something simply like this, “Lord, if this is a word that you are trying to deliver to me, please speak to me and confirm it. If not, let it fall away.” Then, move on. You don’t have to worry, because the same Holy Spirit that presumably prompted the person to deliver the word to you lives inside of you! Right?! The Holy Spirit can speak to you too. And the Holy Spirit will speak. If the delivered word is meant for you from God, then the Holy Spirit will let you know. Either it will be confirmed by some outside circumstance or it will resonate with you. Or maybe like Naaman, a colleague will compel you to “just try it!”

And if you are on the other side of the table and you feel like the Holy Spirit may be prompting you to share a word or verse or impression with someone, run it through the James 3:17 test first:

“The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”

If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to deliver wisdom from above, it will pass this test. If it doesn’t pass this test, don’t deliver it. If it will inspire anxiety, don’t deliver it. Ask for spiritual direction from a pastor about the message. Many times what the Holy Spirit reveals to us is revealed so that we will pray and intercede. Not everything that is revealed is meant to be shared.

One of the great mysteries of God is that He seems to love to work through his people. He uses us to carry out his plans and his work. So don’t be surprised if he gives you a word to share with someone or if someone shares a word with you. If you’re the deliverer, run the word through the James 3:17 test. And if you’re the hearer, pray for the Holy Spirit to confirm the word or let the word fall away.

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening!

-Pastor Hunter

4 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Thanks for this Hunter! Praying for you from Lexington

  2. Beautiful written word, my brother.

  3. How very helpful, Pastor Hunter. Well said.

  4. Beautiful and inspired words. Thank you for the invitations to enjoy the website.
    Rebecca Lopez from Gaylord in Florida.