I became momentarily angry on a recent morning when I read a headline on a piece of "junk" email that came to me. The headline read, "5 Signs You'll Get Cancer." I say "junk email" because that is how I felt about it. Yet it was on an otherwise very credible email list I'd subscribe to.
After settling down, I refused to read even another word. I don't appreciate headlines that put fear into people and I'm certain some people will read that headline and then rush to read all the signs that PROVE they'll get cancer. However well-intentioned this "health email" was, from my perspective, the possibility to cause fear with that headline, and that story far outweighed any solution they might have to offer.
Why am I telling you this?
Because, this is an example of what NOT to do, when sharing communication from the Holy Spirit...and because what this headline did to the reader (in this case myself), causing fear, frustration and more – is the very opposite of what today's prophet (or prophetically gifted person) – inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit – will be seen doing!
The Scriptures in the New Testament clearly say that in 1 Corinthians 14:3: "But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them."
I know that many of you, just as I have, have encountered a prophetic word that has sent confusion, fear, embarrassment or shame – coursing through your mind, spirit and your soul. The likelihood is NEARLY 100% that this prophetic word, or your understanding of it, was not from the Lord at all. If you've received such a word, take it to the Lord. It is likely the Lord will tell you, "That wasn't Me saying that Word to you!"
Godly revelation has certain attributes – James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."
The revelatory gifts include, but are not limited to – a "word of wisdom" (1 Corinthians 12:8), a "word of knowledge" (1 Corinthians 12:8), and a "word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19). Any of the revelatory gifts, just like the gift or use of wisdom as in the above passages (James 3:17), is meant to edify, build up, encourage, be peaceable, be gentle, full of mercy, and so on... Except for very emergency situations, New Testament/New Covenant prophets will be seeking to bring comfort to you.
Can you imagine a prophet or prophetically gifted person coming to your church, calling someone out of the congregations and saying, "I'm going to prove to you that you have cancer and here are the 5 signs in your body that you're experience so you'll know that I'm right that you have cancer!" No, of course not. That "prophet" would last five minutes in your church before he was thrown out on his ear. Most people reading this would intuitively know that God just wouldn't do that through a prophet TO ONE OF HIS KIDS!
1 Corinthians 14:3 "But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them."
When I first looked into the way the King James Version translated this approach to prophecy, I was both surprised, delighted, and I couldn't wait to share it with others... Here it is:
1 Corinthians 14:39-40 "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order."
Now, it's important to remember that just before "covet to prophesy" the Apostle Paul, in the same passage, has just told the reader in 1 Corinthians 14:3 "But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them."
Taken together, the reason you are not only allowed to covet but ENCOURAGED TO COVET PROPHESYING TO OTHERS, it that it is a gift that encouraged, strengthens, and comforts the hearer.
But under the New Covenant (New Testament) there is one thing specifically mentioned that it is JUST FINE to Covet and that is Prophesying. When you see someone building up others, encouraging them in their walk, and you say to yourself, "Man, I'd LOVE to have that gift. I truly WANT the same thing he has (or she has) of prophesying to others. I just covet that gift." I'm telling you (today's reader) that the Bible itself is telling you (my paraphrase) "this is OK to Covet...this is one thing you SHOULD COVET." Another version describes it as in 1 Corinthians 14:1, "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy."
In 1 Corinthians, Chapter 14, if we are told in several ways to Covet, to earnestly desire or eagerly desire the gift of prophecy, the purpose of that instruction from the Lord becomes obvious. Why would God tell you to Covet or earnestly desire that which you could not have? He wouldn't!
This means the very thing you COVET and EARNESTLY DESIRE, if that thing is PROPHESYING, then that is a GIFT openly available to you and you should begin to practice hearing the Lord for yourself and for others.
To learn to prophesy is a gift that grows over the LIFETIME of a Believer, but it you start today and you begin to practice that gift under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, then that is one gift you can already say, "I HAVE THAT GIFT! I desired it EARNESTLY because God told us to desire it earnestly, and now I'm already beginning to learn to encourage and build up many in the Body of Christ through the gift of prophesying to others!"