This week’s topic is dealing with some of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life, specifically prophecy. Personally, I am not a dreamer. In my life, the number of dreams that stood out to me as meaning something is five. Now granted, I only remember (from my entire life) five dreams, so maybe there is nothing spiritual about them. I don’t know; I can’t figure out dreams. They are like abstract art made from recycled “trash” that requires you to smoke something and stand on your head to understand the message that was being sent. And adding prophecy to the mix? Well, it’s a mystery to me and very hard to explain. But here I am–writing on dreams and prophecies, hoping God gives me a vision for this article. OK, sorry–bad pun.
So to get started, let’s look at the manifestations and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The manifestations of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-11), as I was taught by my dad who was a pastor, is the supernatural, one-time outpouring of the Holy Spirit to create an impact for God, in other words – the “showy” part of Holy Spirit’s ministry. These manifestations include: words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues and interrupting of the speaking in tongues. The gifts of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:6-8) is the everyday jobs that Christians are given, these are described as parts of a body all working together to get a job done (i.e. bringing glory to God, drawing people to Christ). These gifts include: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation (encouragement), contributing (giving to others), leading and acts of mercy. The manifestations and gifts will be combined as the Holy Spirit works through us and as we grow in our walk with God. Using these two lists, we will explain three ways that the gift of prophecy was shown in Jesus’ early life.
Prophecy As Dreams/Visions
In Jesus’ life, Mary was given a prophecy by an angel (Luke 1:28-37), along with receiving a prophecy from Simeon when Jesus was being dedicated (Luke 2:34-35). Joseph was given many prophecies in dreams, once to tell him to go ahead with their wedding (Matt. 1:20-21), once to tell him to flee from Bethlehem to Egypt (Matt. 2:13), once to tell them to come back home and a final time to tell Joseph to stay in Nazareth instead of Jerusalem (Matt. 2:19-23). As we can see, the gift of prophecy can be revealed in three ways: dreams (while you sleep), visions (while you are awake) or as spoken prophecies. Prophecy is about seeing truth, either as an expansion of what is already known or a revealing of what is not yet known. You will ask more questions than most, and will constantly be looking for a deeper truth. People will come to you for advice or even for interpretation of their own dreams/life events. Why? Because you have the gift of seeing truth. You are not a teacher, so your advice may come out as “harsh,” but you are able to discern the truth much better than other Christians. Paul says that a person who prophesies should always do so with the intent of building up, encouraging and comforting other Christians (1 Cor. 14:3-4). An example of using the gift of prophecy correctly can be found in Acts 11:27-30, where a prophet is given a future truth, and the church responds by preparing for the upcoming disaster.
Do not be scared of God-given dreams and visions, instead pray for wisdom and discernment, which He has promised to freely give to all who ask for it (James 1:5). Ask that you learn to “put a guard on your tongue” to know how and when to speak (Ps. 141:3). Being told a prophecy does not make it a certain thing; look at the people of Israel. How many times did God predict doom… if they followed the path they were on? Yet, time and time again, they turned back to God just in time and the prophecy did not come true. Lastly, pray that the Holy Spirit will make this verse your anthem as you seek to use your gift for God’s glory: “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day long” (Ps. 25:5).
Prophecy As Words of Wisdom
The Magi were given wisdom to know Herod’s true intent with asking them to return to Jerusalem after finding Jesus (Matt. 2:8-12). Every prophecy given included manifestations of words of wisdom. Wisdom is defined as having discernment, that is, the ability to tell what is right and true from what is wrong and false. However, wisdom, as a defined by Webster, includes more than just knowledge; it includes a call to action. Once wisdom has spoken, it is assumed that the person will do something with the information. A word of wisdom as a manifestation is used by God to speak into a situation in a way that touches someone’s heart. For instance, Solomon was known for having wisdom to discern problems that were brought to him (1 Kings 3-4), and the people were willing to follow what he discerned to be the right choice. The same type of wisdom was given to Daniel when he was asked to interrupt the king’s dreams and visions. He was so known for having a manifestation of wisdom that he was hired into the government to give advice to the king (Daniel 2).
Did you know that wisdom is given to us when we spend time with God? Job says in Job 12:12, that with “the Ancient is wisdom” while another place in the Bible says that wisdom was with God when the world was created (Prov. 3:19). Paul says in 1 Corinthians that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man, but that the “this foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans…” (1 Cor. 1:25-30). We need to be careful when giving advice, because a God-moment to show His wisdom can be turned into foolishness if we are not speaking in the Spirit. Notice what James says about the wisdom of God: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 1:17). If we are being used by God to speak wisdom into someone’s life, we need to make sure our words and attitudes are lined up with James’ description of godly wisdom in this passage. As we pray to be used in manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the area of wisdom, we need to pray that the Holy Spirit will give you HIS words to say, “so that it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit speaking through you” (Mark 13:11).
Prophecy as Words of Knowledge
Knowledge is gained through learning, while wisdom is gained through experience. In other words, a bachelor’s degree in child psychology will give you the knowledge of having kids, but experience will give you the wisdom. Knowledge can be defined as “the perception of fact or truth; awareness; information.” It is common information that they were not supposed to know–for instance, a total stranger knowing where you fall in your family or what career you have. In Jesus’ early life, both Simeon and Anna were given wisdom to know that Jesus was the Messiah, and immediately began praising God for His deliverance of Israel (Luke 2). This gospel mentions that Mary was surprised at their greetings and that they knew Jesus would be great in God’s kingdom–something that had (so far) only been revealed to her, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi. Yet, they did not receive any special revelation of this, they “just knew.” This is how the manifestation of words of knowledge will usually work; a person will just know something, because it “fits” or “makes sense.” In this manner, they are able to help put together missing pieces of a puzzle, as they help a person better understand what is going on or be able to explain what God is saying to them.
Proverbs says that “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:6). Where can we find references to God speaking a “thus saith the Lord?” That’s right, the Bible was written as the Holy Spirit gave the word of God or as visions were received where God directly talked to someone. Who is allowed to have knowledge? Ecclesiastes 2:26 promises God will give it (along with wisdom and happiness) to anyone who pleases Him. Who can please Him? Those who follow His ways (1 John 3:22). It’s really that simple; God’s divine gift of knowledge can come to anyone who is trying to follow His ways, who is listening to His voice through His Word. And, yet, Hosea 4:6-7 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” Knowledge is very easy for the Holy Spirit to give to us; just spend time with God. As a prayer, try Psalm 119:66, which says, “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”
As we look to Jesus’ example of living the Christian life, we will obviously be able to see all of the gifts and manifestations of Holy Spirit working in His life. No, we won’t all have prophecy, but we should all grow to the point of hearing God speak in our lives, having godly wisdom and a divine knowledge which comes only as the Holy Spirit is working in our lives. I pray that this week the Almighty Power of God becomes real to you as you see His interventions and working in your life.