"A Wish Come True"
TEXTS: Numbers 11:24-30; 1 Cor. 14:26-40; 1 Thess. 5:19-21; Acts 18:24-26; Isa. 28:9-13
1. Moses desires (or wishes) that all would prophesy (Numbers 11). Seemingly worn out from his ministry to God’s people, Moses finds himself longing that all would speak words from the Lord (he had carried the weight of this responsibility for an extended period of time). We see in the New Testament that Moses’ wish becomes a reality.
2. It is tempting to despise prophecy and exclude spontaneous utterances from taking place within a worship service. Why? It is messy, interrupts our “planned” flow of service, and can, at times, be confusing. But we must remember there is only one church service that gets recorded in the NT (1 Cor. 12-14) and the spontaneous utterances that take place in the service are viewed as a normative part of Christian worship. We are also directly instructed to refrain from dismissing and despising prophecy (1 Thess. 5:20).
3. Prophecy and the gifts of the Spirit can be messy, but that points us towards a powerful truth and reality. They are not supposed to feel/be easy! The Lord expects that we put personal effort towards discerning what is said. The individual believer has immense responsibility in determining what they hold on to and what they let go off (concerning the content of prophetic words). This part of Christian worship is not tidy and it communicates that it takes real effort on our part to hear and be led by the Spirit.
4. All believers can be used in giving words of prophecy, but we must make sure that we build up rather than instruct or rebuke. God doesn’t want His people receiving beat-downs. The act of rebuking and instructing is reserved for the office of overseer/pastor/elder.
5. Much of the instruction that Paul gives the Church at Corinth (1 Cor. 14) deals with ensuring that the gifts of the Spirit operate in an orderly fashion. He gives some practical help so that those who are present (at their services) will not be confused about what is taking place and being said. Those instructions deal with significant cultural issues and are not absolutes that should be applied to all cultures throughout all times (like women being silent in church). If we view them as absolutes, Paul's instructions contradict the context of the previous chapters and many other texts that are found throughout the NT. Rather, Paul's directives should simply steer us towards making sure that the spontaneous utterances that happen within our specific culture and worship services take place in an orderly manner that doesn't confuse those who are present.
6. Especially when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit, females will often be more sensitive to the Spirit’s work and guiding. They will be tempted to be “overused” and can often speak when they should refrain from doing so. Males will face the opposite temptation. They are tempted to be “ho-hum” about the gifts of the Spirit and can often dismiss prophesying while being stiff-necked.
7. We cannot stay “mum” concerning the gifts of the Spirit. Although spontaneous utterances can be messy, they are an essential part of God up-building His people. They provide a more perfect way of worshiping together and ministering to one another.
8. We can wrongly assume that God speaking to us always happens in a dynamic and demonstrative fashion. But the opposite tends to be true. God guides us little by little, step by step, and precept upon precept. This can make discerning the voice of the Lord a little strange and messy, but if we put the effort into doing so, we will be able to look back on our lives and graciously see the hand of the Lord moving us along and sustaining our souls.
TALK TO EACH OTHER: 1. What goes into discerning if a prophecy should be held on to or let go of? Do you have a process for determining this?
2. God allows some messiness in this part of Christian life and worship. Why do you think He did that? What does/should it communicate to us?
3. How should each gender approach and handle the temptations (Truth 6) they individually face concerning spontaneous utterances and the gifts of the Spirit?
4. What does it look like for a church in the 21st Century to have this part of the Christian faith operate within their worship services in an encouraging and orderly way? Do you have any thoughts concerning what could help churches do this in an orderly manner?
5. Why do you think the Lord has chosen to guide and speak to us little by little, line upon line, and precept upon precept? Why doesn't it primarily happen in a dynamic way?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following area(s):
- For the gifts of the Spirit to rightly operate within our church services