Greetings from Ghana! I have the privilege this week to bring the message of “Work as Worship” and workplace discipleship for the local church to the Assemblies of God Ghana denominational leadership, who have 6000 churches across the country. We anticipate approximately 500 pastors from all over the country to gather in Kumasi from August 29-31. Please pray with us that this message may be received, and that information will move to application which then then turn into transformation!
I want to continue to look at Ephesians 4, as we seek to learn to become mature Christians, able to safeguard against false teachings. Last week, we looked at activating apostles, and this week, we turn our attention to prompting prophets.
I often hear this phrase from different speakers in Africa (taken loosely from Amos 7:14): “I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I will prophesy.” The actual verse says this: Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees.”
I love this verse because it reinforces the ability for those in business to also prophesy. Throughout Scripture, we find most people were engaged in business in some way – from patriarchs, to prophets, to disciples, apostles, and our Savior. Even the Levite priests had farms that they took care of when it was not their turn in the temple (Nehemiah 13:10).
But what does it mean to be prophetic? Being prophetic is to offer a new truth. In contrast, teachers expand and reveal more about a revealed truth. The book, The Church of Christ, by Everett Furguson, reminds us that individual prophets often only receive a part of a new truth and their message needs to be tested by the community because there are many false prophets. Lynn Cohick, in her commentary on the Letter to the Ephesians, says that prophets encourage, comfort, edify, and strengthen the church, and the gift of prophecy should be one that Paul encouraged the Corinthians to long for. Both men and women were prophets in the Bible. But delivering the message is just one part – the testing and judgment of the message by the people who hear it is critical.
Some people believe that God is speaking less to people today than in times past. But I believe that God has not changed. We, however, have become poorer at listening. At the same time, seeking power and prestige is a sin that is common to many, and for those who claim to hear the voice of the Lord, we also need to listen so that we can judge whether the word is from God or from the flesh.
I’ve never considered myself a prophet (not sure that Amos did either!) but there have been times when I have felt prompted to say something, which in hindsight seemed prophetic. I need to be open to hearing God’s word and will (which means listening prayer!) and then have the courage to speak it when He needs me to open my mouth! I believe that is true for all of us.
It’s true that some have a special anointing for prophecy. But that gift is not for them alone but for the equipping of the church. Those with that gift not only share what they hear from the Lord, but also teach us to know how to listen as well and develop that gift. All of us, like Amos, while we take care of the sheep or the tree farm, can listen and can speak truth into situations that are unique to us based on our spheres of influence.
This world needs truth as well as faithful, obedient, God-fearing truth tellers.
Are you open and willing to be prophetic in your spheres of influence? Are you listening to what God is already doing in your home, community, workplace? And when you hear prophetic voices, are you able to discern what lines up with who God is and what does not?
May we all continue to strive to grow in maturity and wisdom, so that we may “speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of the body, the Church.” (Ephesians 4:15)