Managing Prophetic Expectations

Across cultures, continents, and chronology; in fiction and in history, ancient rulers and despots always appointed people with access to supernatural insight. Divination was the basic tool for direction in matters of State and for success in spiritual warfare.

After all, foreknowledge is power, so any and all divine help was sought after and welcomed. King Arthur had Merlin, Liu Bei had Zhuge Liang, Aragon had Gandalf, Pharaoh had Joseph, King Saul had Samuel, and King David had Nathan as their personal and court prophets.

But, for every celebrated and successful prophet, numerous others died brutal deaths if their prophetic words failed to please the king. If they were allowed to live, they spent their remaining years in ignominy and obscurity.

Nebuchadnezzar threatened to kill all the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers, and burn their dwellings if they could not reveal the contents of his dream. The prophet Isaiah was sawn in half and stuffed into a tree for decrying sin and idolatry, and the prophet Jeremiah was pitifully persecuted for prophesying unpopular truths.

As a matter of historical fact, prophets have often been killed by those they served, so it’s not surprising if history repeats itself today, as anger is still directed towards modern-day prophets.

But should that be so?

After all, no one kills an usher who mistakenly leads visitors down a section that ran out of seats. A worship leader who sings a wrong note is not automatically punished with a revoked church membership. A disagreement in doctrinal dogma or scriptural interpretation doesn’t get the senior pastor instantly fired.

Yet, we’re more than ready to condemn a prophet if his prophetic word does not come to pass. We’re quick to declare him a false prophet, triumphantly quoting Scripture while revealing a stark shortfall in the dispensation of grace towards the prophetic ministry in the wider Body of Christ.

This was true in the Early Church as well. In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he had to exhort the young church to not treat prophecies with contempt. Considering miracles, prophecies, and supernatural acts of healing were commonplace in the days of the New Testament apostles, I believe this despising of prophecies stemmed from the apparent non-fulfilment of the words given, not from a lack of belief in the prophetic.

Years ago, when I first read 1 Thessalonians 5:20, I wondered, ‘Why and how would anyone treat prophecy with contempt?’ I’ve since come across many facets of what that looks like over the years, so I shall list a few briefly.

1) Dismissing the Gift
When one has been bitten, he becomes twice shy and decides to never to believe these ‘charlatans’ again. Just because it didn’t rain when it was supposed to means it’ll never rain again. There’s no such thing as a weather forecaster.

2) Demonising the Prophet
When one confuses the ministry office of the Old Testament prophet with the New Testament one. The OT prophets received dreams and visions directly from God to lead and guide His fledgling nation and warn them against the consequences of idolatry.

There was no room for error because the stakes for their survival and calling were too high. Post-Pentecost, when the Spirit of Jesus was released upon us all, we’re all supposed to flow in the prophetic gift, which thankfully, DOES allow room for error.

That’s why we know in part and prophesy in part. That’s why we’re supposed to test all spirits and prophecy. Pointing fingers at the errors of anointed prophets only proves that we’ve not done our own due diligence. Labelling an entire company of Jesus-loving, Christ-exalting people as a band of false prophets for getting a prophetic word wrong is really an indictment on the state of our own hearts and consecration.

3) Disavowing All Involvement
After tasting and benefitting from honey, it now tastes bitter due to severe disappointment. It results in withdrawal, non-participation, and discontinuing anything prophetic. In fact, leaving the church is becoming an attractive option as well. Does it make sense? As the weatherman disappointed me, I’ll not go near anything related to meteorology ever again?

Brethren, this should not be so. Besides admonishing us to not despise prophecies, Paul also tells us to “Hold fast to what is good. Test everything.” If we’ve not tested the word and sharpened our own spiritual discernment, how dare we blame our brothers and sisters for falling short?

Have we checked and processed with our leaders and community and prayed against deception and for truth to prevail? Have we exercised grace, love, and forgiveness when our brothers and sisters stumbled in error? Never forget that the judgment we mete to others will be meted back to us.

‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.’ James 5:17 The Bible candidly reveals that Elijah, that great fiery prophet, was fallible, prone to exhaustion, depression, and self-pity. Even though he was so intimate with God, even though he was one of the greatest prophets, even after he experienced the miraculous and magnificent, he still got it wrong thinking he was the only true and faithful one who had not bowed his knee to Baal. But he was wrong by a wide margin. There were 7,000 others, and God called him out on that.

God is jealous for His prophets, just as He’s jealous for His Body. This is His time for refining and purifying a Church that has fallen into idolatry, pride and lukewarmness. This is a time for us to look within our own hearts first and destroy the plank within before we rush to remove the speck from others’ eyes.

If our prophetic discernment was correct this time, and the rest were all wrong, remember that the next time it might be us who see and prophesy the wrong part. So let’s be quick to bestow grace and mercy on our prophetic brethren and encourage them to sharpen and consecrate their gifts in humility once again so that the Body of Christ will be blessed. And let us make sure that we ourselves are walking circumspectly according to the pure Word of the Lord, led by His Holy Spirit and fulfilling the assignments that He has called us to complete.


Pastor Timothy Chong

The Strange Case of Obed-Edom

Obed-Edom is one of those people we don’t pay much attention to in the Bible. Maybe many of you reading this may wonder who he is. Obed-Edom appears for the first time in 2 Samuel 6:10, when David sought to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. The first attempt wasn’t done properly, and resulted in the death of Uzza. David was terrified and left the Ark in the house of a man called Obed-Edom. This is the protagonist I want to examine.
 
We’re told Obed-Edom was a Gittite. A Gittite is not Jewish, he’s a Philistine. Don’t forget that, not too long ago, the Ark was in the hands of the Philistines and God brought such a judgment of plagues on them that they quickly returned the Ark to Israel. They were terrified of read more…

The Love of God

Is the love of God a warm, fuzzy feeling? Is it doing good to others or is love simply an emotion etched upon some Hallmark cards?

God is love and 1 John 4:9 says, ‘In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.’ 

For us, the love of God is a second chance – it’s His offer to join His spiritual family and live forever in eternity. God’s love is divine love which many can never fathom. It’s different from the way we love.

Like a husband’s love for his wife with the flowers he brings her, the words of encouragement he offers, and dying to himself in doing household chores. As a parent, the read more…

Godliness With Power

2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, ‘But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.’

The last verse shook me to the core. We can actually have an external form of walking with God but lack the substance and power. The possibility that our discipleship and spirituality are not touching deep wounds and sin patterns is sobering.

The more I examined my own life, the more I realised I was increasing in knowledge but was in many areas still at an immature level of growth. Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. read more…

The Code of Honour

‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ Acts 13:22

I can think of no greater epitaph than to be known as a man after God’s own heart. This was God’s accolade of David, not just man’s. Wow! There are many reasons why David fits this description, but the one I’d like to share with you is this – David lived by a Code of Honour. Let me explain.

Perhaps the first thing that came to your mind was the fact that David had refused to exact retribution on King Saul. After all, this is the very person who had attempted to skewer him with a spear and who had relentlessly pursued him to snuff out his life. David felt horrible just for cutting off the skirt of read more…

Don’t Enter Heaven Empty-Handed

As economies restart in the post-Covid 19 reset and gear towards rebuilding in the ‘new normal’, one area which needs to be redefined and re-evaluated in our lives is the way we value the things important to us – our treasures.

Jesus has something to say about this. In Matthew 6:19-21, He admonished us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, but in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Then He concluded in verse 21 with this truth, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If all our money is invested in the things of this world, then our desires will also be constantly earthbound. In other words, your heart will always follow what you value as your treasure.

In verse 20, Jesus tells us where we read more…

What Happens to a Cow If You Don’t Milk It?

A healthy milk cow produces 30 litres of milk daily, twice as much needed for feeding her calf. That’s good news because humans need the excess it produces. If a cow isn’t milked at least once a day, the build-up of pressure in her udder causes great discomfort and could lead to skin rupture and serious conditions like mastitis. Can you imagine what happens on a farm where the farmer prohibits work on a Sunday?

A farmer who’s good to his animals knows that cows need to be milked – even on Sundays (I do fully believe in the blessings of Sabbath and the principles behind the 4th Commandment, to enhance our relationship with God and others). In Jesus’ time, He made it clear the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

In agrarian read more…

A Tribute to Bishop Satish Raiborde

What can one man do? To put it personally, how often have we wondered, “What can I do as just one person?”

The first time I was truly staggered by how much one single person can accomplish in his lifetime was when I was at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Walking through the 40,000 square foot complex that traced the life and work of Billy Graham left me breathless, mouthing to myself, “How can one man do so much in one lifetime?” There’s one more life that I know of that makes me think likewise – Bishop Satish Raiborde.

On Monday, 5 October 2020, around 11am, Bishop Satish was called home to glory. Bishop’s son, Pastor Nicky Raiborde, is a regular in our church. In fact, to be more poignant, Pastor Nicky has not missed a single read more…

What Does Jesus Think Of Our Generation?

Acts 13:36 – “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers…”
 
The God we serve is a God of generations. He’s the God who calls the generations from the beginning (Isaiah 41:4); the God Who’s forever known as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God who blesses the generations. And He’s the God who calls us to serve our generation as He did David.
 
Each generation is different from the one before and after it. Each has different characteristics but they’re interconnected. While God deals differently with each generation, what we do in our generation will have profound repercussions on the next.

It’s interesting that, when Jesus came, He dealt with the generation He was in and held them read more…

Seasons of Change

In Genesis 8:22, it says, ‘While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.’ Seasons come and seasons go and while Singapore doesn’t experience seasonal change like some countries, autumn officially begins on September 22 in the northern hemisphere.

God is with us in every season of our life and change is a part of life. Change can be perceived as good, like springtime bursting forth: with a birth, new friendships or jobs. Change can be perceived as negative when moving into the winter season: a death or friendships ending.

Change is a part of life. It happens whether we like it so we must learn to embrace it. Change for me has been moving homes five times since we started the work of the ministry, and staying in read more…

Being Hungry in a Place of Abundance

Nine years ago, I went through one of the toughest seasons in my life. For three years, I struggled in almost every part of my life. I faced discouragement in ministry, battled self-worth and identity issues, and my financial situation was not exactly rosy. To top it off, my family was also undergoing a financial crisis.

Yet, at the same time that season, I had the most powerful and significant encounters with God. They marked and defined who I am today. Looking back, I realised that, due to the trials in my life, I had a constant sense of need. I literally felt like if God didn’t break in, I wouldn’t make it through. I was desperate for God to move in my life. Crying out to Him on my bedroom floor till the wee hours for nights read more…

Wait for the Punchline!

I recently watched a very interesting segment on TED Talks where a comedian unpacked for the audience how comedy works. First there’s the setup, and then there’s the punchline. The setup is where the comedian uses his talents, observations, and resources to seize any opportunity to ensure that the audience is moving in the same direction as his storyline. The punchline occurs when he changes that direction in a way that they’re not expecting it. The results are revelation, fulfilment, and joy expressed through laughter.

Here’s an example:
Three men are about to be executed. The guard brings the first man forward, and the executioner asks if he has any last requests. He says “No”, and the executioner shouts, “Ready! Aim!” Suddenly the man yells, “Earthquake!” Everyone is startled and looks around. In the confusion, the first man escapes.

read more…

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