My church is currently preaching through 1 Corinthians. We just finished looking at the manifestations of the Spirit otherwise known as the gifts of the Spirit. If you are not familiar with what Im speaking about read 1 Corinthians 12-14.
One of these gifts is prophecy. Now prophecy is simply a message that is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit for you to share with someone that is to encourage them, comfort them and build them up.
Over the last week I’ve thought back to all the words that have been spoken to me during the course of my my life and how many were what I like to call “An On Time Word”. Meaning this Spirit inspired message was something I needed to hear to help encourage me or guide me.
I specifically remember a time when I was a youth pastor. My now father in law called me before I was getting up to preach and said “Hey I’ve been praying for you and just felt like you need to pray for protection before you leave tonight.” After service I stopped at the gas station before I took my girlfriend, now wife, back home. As I was filling up the car the Spirit reminded me of my father in law’s word and brought a passage from 1 Thessalonians 5 to mind:
“Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
Being the good charismatic I am, I didn’t want to quench the Spirit, so I prayed “Lord, i’m not sure what this is about, but protect us as we drive”. I left the pump and not 30 minutes later my car was thrown into a ditch and I missed a light pole by inches.
I can remember one Friday having plans to go out on a date and engage in temptations that go along with that. I worked for a little burger joint and one of my first customers of the day was a man I didnt know too much about at the time but I knew he was at church sometimes. He said “Paul, do you want to hear the word of the Lord?” Sarcastically I said “Yes, sure”. He replied “The Lord says dont be stupid.” I stood in shock. He returned later that afternoon inquiring about my evening plans. I knew I had been outed by the Lord. I was never sarcastic with this man again.
When I share on this topic sometimes people take it lightly. But I don’t, you want to know why? Because for me a word of prophecy saved me from hitting a light pole, helped me from being mugged in a foreign country, helped reveal deceptive people in my life, and on I can go. As 1 Corinthians says prophecy in the church is a sign of God’s presence among his people. These words encourage me and remind me that God is with me.
What better apologetic do we have for the gospel other than God is among his people. Not perfect people, but rather God is dwelling among flawed, selfish, unloving, sinful people. If that is so that means his presence among his people is not based on works but rather the unmerited favor of God himself. That’s Gospel!
So I echo Paul’s words “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:1