Prophetic Ministry: Integrity  

Prophets [and other ministers], maintain your integrity lest you fall into error and bring discredit upon yourself, other prophets, and even the Lord. As a prophet of the Lord you should be representing the Lord. For as Jesus said, ‘He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.’ ~ Matthew 10:40-41 (KJV) Sadly, as many prophets can attest, even when you are faithfully serving the Lord, people will reject you, just like they did with the true and faithful prophets (of the Lord) in the Bible. Similarly to what Jesus said above, God said to Samuel the Seer, an honorable prophet, ‘…they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me…’ ~ 1 Samuel 8:7 (KJV) People will reject you because they have rejected the God who sent you so try not to take rejection personally.

In addition to rejection, you may have to deal with lack of support, which speaks to the heart of this discourse. Lack of support, to include financial support, is one of the reasons why prophets who start off on the right path end up going down the wrong path, which include charging for prophecies and manipulating people to give. When Jesus healed the 10 lepers, only 1 even bothered to return to simply thank the Lord (Luke 17:11-19). Or, as we put it nowadays, only one person returned to give a “praise report”. Chances are, few of the people the Lord uses you to help will even thank you or try to support your ministry with even some words of encouragement. Prophets have to battle discouragement, as the case with Elijah after the miraculous events on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18-19). However, just like how what happened to Jesus did not cause Him to stop helping others, or compromise His integrity, neither should you. Now that you have read the prelude, let us take a look at some things that could potentially sabotage the integrity of your ministry and your position with Christ.

Holy Spirit Led
The gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit IAW 1 Corinthians 12 and Galatians 5:22-23.

“…Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” ~ 2 Peter 1:21 (KJV) That standard has not changed; prophecy is as a result of being moved by the Holy Spirit. While some prophets prophesy more frequently than others, too many people misconstrue prophecy to mean giving personal prophecies (those that apply only to an individual). Most of the prophecies in the Bible were cooperate prophecies as opposed to personal prophecies. In fact, some of those prophecies would be misconstrued today as simply being preaching. One such prophecy was when the Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh (the second time) and He said, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.’ ~ Jonah 3:2 (KJV) Jonah did not even use the Lord’s name when he preached/prophesied in the city. Jonah simply said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.’ ~ Jonah 3:4 (KJV) But those were weighty Words from the Lord, much more than a typical sermon, that would have resulted in destruction if the people had not repented.

One of the errors current prophets make is by using the Lord’s name even though He had not spoken to them or commanded them to speak (Deuteronomy 18:20-22; Jeremiah 14:14, 23:32; etc.). In addition, many prophets fall into error by making proclamations in the name of the Lord, as if He is going to do whatever they say. Sadly, the end result is the prophets lose credibility and people become angry with the Lord when “prophecies” fail to come to past. There is a difference between a prophet saying, “I decree and declare…” versus “The Lord said…” The former is most likely words from a prophet while the latter is most likely the Words from the Lord. I prefer the latter because the Lord has an obligation to His Words versus the words of the prophet’s will.

Prophets, it is better to not use the Lord’s name and have something come to pass than to use His name in delivering a false prophecy, particularly a “prophecy” from your soul as opposed to the Holy Spirit of the Lord. If you start blasphemously misusing the Lord’s name, as if He is serving you instead of you serving Him, simply because of your title, you will become a ripe target to begin prophesying through an impure spirit (a spirit of divination, familiar spirit, etc.). The Lord said, ‘…if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people…’ ~ Ezekiel 14:9 (KJV) Study how one lying spirit deceived king Ahab’s 400 prophets, and they thought they had delivered a true prophecy from the Lord (1 Kings 22). If you want to play games with people’s lives, to include serving another “king” instead of Jesus, the Lord will hand you over so that you as a deceiver will get deceived. Many ministers invite prophets to their church with the expressed intent for the prophets to give out personal prophecies to attendees. Unfortunately, the prophecies do not have to be true Words of the Lord meant to provide exhortation, edification and comfort, but rather, to work people into a frenzy as a way of raising funds. Prophets, you are in error if you are making guarantees to prophecy to everyone in attendance. Even if the Lord gives you a prophecy for everyone, it does not mean He is commanding you to release it. You are committing an arguably more serious error if you have prophetic lines where you prophesy to people based on the money they have to contribute to be in a certain line. It does not take much to start receiving information that is divination (from impure spirits) instead of divine (from God) when money is a motivator. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).

Ravening Wolves

The previous comment about prophetic lines brings me to the issue of a prophet who starts off doing the right thing but begins loving money, like Balaam, about whom it is written:

  • “…Beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” ~ 2 Peter 2:14-15 (KJV)

 

  • “…But what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” ~ Jude 10-11 (KJV)

Prophesying for money puts one at risk for changing from being a prophet to becoming a diviner, like the soothsayer in Acts 16:16-18. Do not let any internal or external pressure cause you to become a fortuneteller, or one who prophesies deceits, in an effort to raise funds or followers. The gifts and calling of the Lord are without repentance (Romans 11:29), but do not prostitute your gifts or allow others to prostitute your gifts. Do not become a prophet for hire.

Now, don’t get me wrong because it acceptable for a prophet to accept “gifts” for delivering a prophecy under some circumstances, but woe unto the prophet who refuses to deliver the Word of the Lord unless he or she is compensated. Joseph and Daniel were handsomely rewarded for delivering prophecies to kings (Genesis 41:39-45, Daniel 2:48). But neither made it a requirement for the kings to give them anything. They simply let the kings know the revelation they were about to receive was made possible for the Lord, for His glory, and then they gave the Word of the Lord. Sadly, many people use the following Words from the Lord as an excuse to not contribute to a minister’s ministry: ‘Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.’ ~ Matthew 10:8 (KJV) But they conveniently exclude that the Lord continued by saying, ‘Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.’ ~ Matthew 10:9-10 (KJV) Which means, those who receive from a minister but do not contribute to the ministry in any way is basically saying the workman (minister) is not worthy of receiving anything in return. The minister may have paid $500 to make the trip for the Lord to use him or her to heal someone, but many people only consider that the healing was free. In addition, “For the scripture saith, ‘thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.’ And, ‘The labourer is worthy of his reward.’” ~ 1 Timothy 5:18 (KJV) Many people walk away from a ministry session feeling spiritually full while leaving the minister feeling empty, like an ox that has labored without receiving even some water in return to quench its thirst. Consequently, while some people are con artists that start ministries as a way to fleece others, others resort to those manipulative ways so they can survive. Even though the Lord will judge both groups of ministers for their deeds, do not think He will hold you guiltless in the case of the latter. There is a price to pay for being a stumbling block that contributes to or leads others into sin (Proverbs 28:10, 1 Corinthians 8:9, Romans 14:13, Revelation 2:20, etc.).

A Test of My Faith
Endure life’s fiery trials.

Isn’t it amazing how people will have no reservations, with the exception of the cost per hour, to pay a mental health professional to counsel or medicate their demons but will have a major issue supporting a minister who casts the demons out? I have spoken out against the misapplication of Scriptures, particularly Malachi 3:8-12, which is oftentimes used to manipulate people into financially supporting ministries. While it is sometimes based on greedy clergy, it is also attributable to stingy laity. When Jesus said, ‘…freely ye have received, freely give’, what have you freely given in return for what the Lord has used ministers to bless you with? Too many people interpret that to mean they should freely receive without giving. Of the 10 lepers Jesus healed, it was the 1 who returned to thank the Lord who was made whole (Luke 17:19). If you can call your pastor for him to counsel you on the phone, have you ever considered adding some funds to the collection plate to help him pay his phone bill?

Jesus preached the gospel but He needed funds too, especially since He gave up His secular job to enter into fulltime ministry. Do not assume that everyone in fulltime ministry is in it for the money. Many ministers have given up more lucrative jobs to serve the Lord and also you; they dropped their fishing nets to become fishers of people. The following serves as an example of how those Jesus helped supported Him in return:

“And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto Him of their substance.” ~ Luke 8:1-3 (KJV)

I hope you didn’t think this was going to be a one-sided discourse aimed at the shepherds, especially the wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

God, The Love of My Life (2)

Yet, bear with me because there is more. There are times when a prophet will deliver a message from the Lord where even a hungry prophet should not expect to receive an offer to have a piece of bread. For example, when Nathan rebuked king David (2 Samuel 12) or Isaiah told king Hezekiah to get his house in order because he was going to die (Isaiah 38:1). But there are times when a prophet will receive an offering because of the recipient’s desire, yet the prophet should refuse the “gift”. King Jeroboam offered the Judean prophet a reward but he declined based on the instructions from the Lord (1 Kings 13). Elisha also demonstrated discretion regarding when to accept or decline gifts from others. The Shunammite lady was very kind to the prophet (2 Kings 4). She fed him whenever he passed through her village, with no expectation of anything in return. She even went as far as to ask her husband to build guest quarters to accommodate the prophet whenever he passed through. The prophet accepted her offers, but then he later did something spectacular for her when prophesied that her lack of a child would come to an end within a year. She gave birth to a son, which basically meant the prophet did not take advantage of her but gave her more than she gave to him. It speaks highly of the Shunammite lady’s character to selflessly support Elisha’s ministry, and the Lord rewarded her for it. Again, like Jesus said, ‘He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.’ ~ Matthew 10:40-41 (KJV)

Breakthrough: When Jesus Sets You Free
Breakthrough: When Jesus Sets You Free

Elisha’s gratitude to the lady also speaks highly of his character. Many prophets want to be served instead to serve. Even though the lady served Elisha, he sought ways to be a blessing instead of a burden to her. Too many prophets are fleecing people, thereby leaving them in a financial bind, and straining and even shattering their relationship with the Lord. There is also another story of Elisha’s character. By the way, if you have read other things I have written about prophetic ministry, to include the book “Raised in the Wilderness: Rogue Reformers, Rallying the Remnant”, you may have noticed the one thing I tend to emphasize is a prophet’s character. A gifted prophet with bad character is a disaster in the making. Now back to Elisha. While he accepted things from the Shunammite lady, things were different with Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army who had leprosy. After the captain followed the prophet’s instructions to dip in the Jordan seven times and was cured of his leprosy, the gracious captain tried to give him gifts but Elisha refused. One of the hallmarks of a prophet is a person who leads others to God and that is exactly what Elisha did. That is evident when Naaman said, ‘Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.’ ~ 2 Kings 5:15 (KJV) Many people have misrepresented God by leading others to believe the Lord wants their money more than their hearts. Prophets, stop manipulating people into “sowing a seed” before the Lord will do something for them. By the way, the Bible never refers to money as a seed. However, Jesus said, ‘The seed is the Word of God.’ ~ Luke 8:11 (KJV) Prophets need to focus more on sowing that seed, the Word of God, as opposed to receiving financial rewards, like Balaam.

Too many prophets, and other ministers, manipulate people by misusing the account of what happened when the widow at Zarephath supported the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17). They stress how the lady was about to make her last meal for her and her son and then wait to starve to death. However, because she shared her meal with Elijah, the Lord performed a miracle and sustained all three of them for many days. In addition, when the lady’s son later died from an illness, the Lord used Elijah to resurrect him. Sadly, people who expect a miracle as a result of hearing ministers use this Scripture to fleece them seldom receive the miracle they expect. What most people receive is the angst of witnessing their hard-earned resources miraculously going from them to the deceptive/errant minister. As previously stated, prophecy of old was inspired by the Holy Spirit not people’s will. Operating from the soul (mind, will, emotions) is indicative of witchcraft, which is rebellion against God by trying to impose your will to cause others to do things against their will. The reason why those miracles happened was because both Elijah and the widow were adhering to the following instructions from the Lord: ‘Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.’ ~ 1 Kings 17:9 (KJV) As you can see, Elijah and the widow had both received instructions from the Lord. By the time Elijah showed up, the Lord had already instructed her to support him, she simply had to recognize him when he appeared. If the Lord directs you to support a minister or ministry, I recommend that you obey the Lord. And please, do not follow the manipulative teaching that you must give to your local church first. Some people have received more direction from a five-minute encounter with a prophet than five years in a church, yet they will support their pastor more than that prophet.

cover

While some ministers and ministries require more financial support than others, there are more ways to provide support than via finances. Again, one of the factors that contribute to some prophets going astray is the lack of support. I admire how when David was on the run from king Saul, the prophet (seer) Gad gave David some advice that saved his life (1 Samuel 22:1-5). Years later, when David took over as king, he had Gad among his company of prophets. Unless he was fasting, Gad (and the other prophets in David’s court) did not have to worry about having a place to stay or food to eat. Nevertheless, even though he was in David’s court, Gad was the Lord’s prophet as evidenced when the Lord used him to rebuke and proclaim judgment against David (1 Chronicles 21). Sometimes prophets have to refuse things so they do not compromise themselves and end up becoming a person’s prophet, like those who served Ahab and Jezebel, as opposed to being the Lord’s prophet.

Character
“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NIV)

Sadly, the Lord uses the prophets to bless others who do not even consider how they can help the prophets in return, yet they have no problems returning to seek the prophet for “a word”. When Saul and his servant went to look for his father’s donkeys, they decided to inquire of Samuel to see if the Lord would reveal the location of the missing donkeys. Please note how they did not want to enquire of Samuel without a form of offering to show honor to the prophet (seer):

“And he said unto him, ‘Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go.’

Then said Saul to his servant, ‘But, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what have we?’

And the servant answered Saul again, and said, ‘Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way.’” ~ 1 Samuel 9:6-8 (KJV)

Please note how they described Samuel as an honorable man, more on that shortly. They did not have a lot of money, but they wanted to at least offer Samuel something to show that they valued him and his services. But when they inquired of Samuel, he did not take their money. In fact, he had food waiting on them and he threw a feast in honor of Saul, who was about to become Israel’s first king. Whereas many people walk away from prophets with more than they bargained for, meaning they lost a great deal, Saul left Samuel’s house with more than he could have hoped for. Both prophets and the congregation have to be on guard against selfishness and greed. Some prophets started off doing the right things but lack of support contributed to them resorting to doing unsavory things.

Humble Pie
The Lord exalts the humble.

As promised, let us briefly examine what made Samuel an honorable man, beside what you have already seen. You may have noticed that Saul’s servant called Samuel a ‘man of God’. You may have heard me say it before but I am going to say it again. That term is used too loosely in today’s world. Being a Christian does not mean a person is automatically a man or woman of God. The term in the Bible is used to describe those who are in right standing with the Lord. For example, the angel of the Lord who appeared to Samson’s mother (in the form of a man) to announce Samson’s birth was called a man of God (Judges 13:6). In addition, the Bible mentions two prophets in 1 Kings 13, but the term man of God is used to describe the righteous Judean prophet as opposed to the lying Bethelite prophet. By the way, the latter was bold enough give a false prophecy in the name of the Lord (1 Kings 13:18). Men and women of God, do not tell lies in the name of the Lord, especially in an effort to manipulate others. The Bethelite gave a “soulish prophecy” (a form of witchcraft) by using his title for personal gain. Prophets, do not use your title or position to manipulate others because you will have to give an account to the Lord on the day of your judgment. With that being said, here is a great example of why Samuel was indeed an honorable man:

‘Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before His anointed: whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? And I will restore it you.’

And they said [to Samuel], ‘Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand.’

And he said unto them, ‘The Lord is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand.’ And they answered, ‘He is witness.’” ~ 1 Samuel 12:3-5 (KJV)

Prophets, if you are in error, repent before it is too late. Note how Samuel was willing to make restitutions if peradventure he had defrauded or oppressed anyone. Christ is a Savior and a Redeemer. Do not fleece the flock, which is His flock (John 10, 21). If someone is going to support your ministry, let it be because the Lord inspired him or her to support you. If the Lord directed others to support you and they failed, that is between them and the Lord. Never forget, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV) Stop compelling people to give, especially their money. In addition, if you have been misusing the Lord’s name, especially to fleece the Good Shepherd’s flock, hear now the Word of the Lord, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.’ ~ Exodus 20:7 (KJV) You cannot change the past to undo previous mistakes, but you are in control of what you do from this point forward. Take the time to maintain, or if necessary, repair your integrity. A prophet is not simply one who communicates for the Lord, he or she also has to represent the Lord with his or her character. Be like Job and maintain your integrity, despite the fiery trials of life and your ministry (Job 1-2). Many ministries are dying because of lack of support, and quite frankly, some of those ministries need to die because of how the ministers have dishonored the Lord. “‘For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in My house have I found their wickedness’, saith the Lord.” ~ Jeremiah 23:11 (KJV) Do not be a profane prophet.

Minister to the People
Minister to the People

In closing, being a prophet is not a position for one to take lightly. Keep in mind that Jesus said, ‘…that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.’ ~ Luke 12:47-48 (KJV) In addition, “Then the Lord said unto me, ‘The prophets prophesy lies in My name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in My name, and I sent them not, yet they say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.’” ~ Jeremiah 14:14-15 (KJV) Don’t play games with the Lord or His beloved and faithful children.

P.S. The Lord gave me the opportunity to give a sneak peek of this post on the following Blog Talk Radio program that aired on June 15, 2017: https://youtu.be/-lI8hIX7uJ4

 

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