In this series on Prophetic Perspectives I have talked at some level about how we hear and give prophetic words and the need for Revelation, Interpretation and Application. Yet how do we receive? There are three primary ways of receiving, the scriptures, the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit, heart and mind, and through other people speaking to us.
Receiving from the scriptures requires first spending some time in them then having some understanding of how to apply context and weigh what is said in light of the broader counsel of scripture. Receiving from the Holy Spirit requires learning to dial down and listen and being aware that we have a spirit He speaks to and through and an ability to go back and apply the scriptures to what we believe we are hearing. Receiving from others requires a receptive heart and an ability to go back and apply the scriptures to what we are hearing. Yes, no matter how we hear or receive we must always come back to the scriptures.
Let me share a story of my own receiving. I share this story because in September of this year it will have been 24 years since this experience marked my life and because a very recent experience (Wednesday July 9) tied back to what happened in 1990. In September of 1990 I was at a Vineyard Holiness conference in Edmonton Alberta. On the last night of the conference I had been at sessions during the day (1 of about 4,000 people) and was standing in the foyer area talking to someone I knew while waiting for my wife to join me for the evening session. While the other fellow and I were talking a woman came up and interrupted us, apologized and said, “I don’t know if you have noticed but I have been staring at you all day. Every time I look at you I see you with a long white beard, wearing a Jewish skull cap and holding a large open book. The Lord said to tell you He is going to fill the book and to give you Leviticus chapter 8.” That was basically the extent of the exchange. I could not tell you what she looked like, don’t know her name and don’t know if I ever saw her anywhere again. I knew some of the spiritual gifting of the fellow I was talking with and asked him what he thought of what had just been shared with me. He responded, “That’s a true word. I see you carrying a large jug of living water on your shoulder and you want more water to give to people.” At the time I received this, being deeply spiritual and discerning, I did not in fact even look at Leviticus chapter 8 until I arrived home hours later! Yet I have never forgotten this seemingly mysterious exchange of an unsolicited prophetic experience.
So how do I receive and process that and how does it relate to the 9th of July 24 years later? Other than the fact that my beard is not long I am working hard at the white part! An important note here is that just as in many prophetic experiences described in the scriptures, the image is often not literal but meant to convey something. If this were a true word from the Holy Spirit it didn’t require me growing a long white beard to fulfill it. The white beard represents age and wisdom. The empty book to be filled was what the Lord wanted to do in my life and the message was that it would be filled when I was old and Leviticus chapter 8 was part of the message as was the kippah/yarmulke worn on my head. I won’t go into all the details of what these things meant and mean to me but will note they are still significant in my life.
Very consistently to respond to prophetic words like this we are required to do something. We do well to remember that in walking with Jesus He won’t do our part and we can’t do His part. My part in this was to be faithful. In fact one of the verses I received from the Holy Spirit a few years later related back to this experience and has long guided my life.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)
So in this experience I have shared what the book and beard meant. The jug with living water referred to teaching, giving people something to quench the thirst in their spirits and souls. Fast forward to the present day – on July 9 I was at the prayer and worship group I help lead. A discerning child thought we should get into two rows facing one another and each go through and have the others pray for us, which we did. The significance for me was the ongoing impact of what I received in September of 1990. As I walked through the two rows and had people pray for me some important and personal things were said. The key for me however was that I was slowly walking through the line with my palms open in front of me as if holding open a large book. Not what I would normally do. I could see in my mind many pages with writing all over them and in places blank sections. The Holy Spirit took me back to many things that have filled in the intervening years and connected to September 1990. My sense while walking and receiving prayer was that Jesus was going to continue to fill the book and would also fill in the gaps I saw.
My point in all of this is that if the Holy Spirit shares something with us through another we need to weigh and discern it before Him and if it bears witness with our spirit seek to cooperate with His grace to see if realized in our lives. I have received many things from many people over the years and many have been very significant and I think all important. Yet this word from a stranger who took a risk and shared something has been very important over the last 24 years and I believe will continue to be significant as I move forward. So, if He prompts you to speak to someone take the risk and share and pray they are in a place to receive.