13/8/11 Jeremiah 13-15; John 15
S: Jeremiah 14:14-15 Then the Lord said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine!”
O: Jeremiah was not the only person claiming to have prophecies from the Lord in Judah at the time. Many of the others were saying that God would save them from their enemies. There are also other passages in scripture where people claimed to speak for the Lord but were wrong.
A: Since the late 80s, I've been in Charismatic churches or churches which are open to the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit today. I think that generally speaking, this is good because it was wrong for the mainstream Protestant and Anabaptist churches to claim that God no longer does miracles.
However, there have been many excesses of the Charismatic movement and one of them is encouraging false prophecy. So many times I have heard people "prophesy" and being encouraged to "speak a word from the Lord" over people. I've even been in "practice sessions" where we were paired up and asked to ask the Lord for a "word" to speak over our partner.
One church I was in, a beloved deaconess was dying of cancer and we kept up a 24-hour prayer vigil in the hospital waiting room. There was a book provided for people to write down prayers, and many people wrote down prophecies that this dear lady would be healed. She died. Nothing was done about the false prophecies.
Other people have felt bound to honour "words from the Lord" spoken over them by somebody, and ended up making poor choices.
Old Testament law actually said to stone prophets whose prophecies do not come true! (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) While I don't believe that we should do that in these New Testament times, it seems pretty clear that God views false prophecy as a very serious matter.
God can and does enable people to prophesy today, just as He can and does perform other miracles, even raising the dead. However, we'd better be darned sure that it is from the Lord before we say it is from the Lord!
To be fair, some Charismatics do practice saying "I think the Lord might be saying..." instead of a definitive "God told me...".
P: Father, help us to discern when You are truly speaking and when it is just someone's imagination. In Jesus' name, amen.