At the start of the new year I thought it would be nice to ask God for a sign, a prophetic word or a vision for the year ahead. I thought it showed respect and appreciation for God’s input. “What am I to do to further Your kingdom?” I prayed. I fasted for several hours. I wrote in my prayer journal and waited, and waited. I got no reply.
Should I seek out someone with a prophetic gift? In the past, when I ask someone to practise their prophetic gifting on me, they looked at my grey hair and said, “God is not finished with you yet. There is more to come.” I already knew that much. Just as most prayers for healing go unanswered, most prophecies are not from God. This is not to say that some sick people are not gloriously healed and some prophecies are very helpful and accurate. But, a lot of them aren’t. If you Google last year’s prophecies for the year just completed, you will find the prophets mostly got it wrong. So, I take this year’s crop of prophecies with a pinch of salt.
Do we need a sign at all? When Jesus had completed his mission on earth, he instructed his disciples what they should do.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus intended the church to continue teaching its members to do these things. They would not have to seek signs or look for further revelation. In fact, to do so would be to go AWOL. Consequently, my three points for this year (or any year) are as follows.
1. Proclaim the Gospel
Making disciples requires us to proclaim the gospel. Jesus went about proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God is near. Adding people to the church through baptism is what the church is supposed to be doing, whether we see revival or not.
2. Teach Everything Jesus Taught His Disciples
Once people are added to the church, Jesus said to teach them everything he taught his disciples, this includes the use of the gifts of the Spirit. Possibly the church isn’t very good at prayer for healing, prophetic words and casting out demons is because it is not taught in church. Yet, Jesus taught his disciples these things. I suggest our teachers themselves are ill equipped. Possibly they don’t like to be seen to fail. In not trying to heal the sick, we deprive ourselves of the joy of seeing Jesus heal a sick person through our ministry.
3. Love One Another
Jesus mentioned that his disciples should teach people what he commanded us, which immediately brings to mind the new commandment.
“…34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Too often we maintain our comfortable lifestyles using the excuse that we haven’t been called or gifted to do anything in particular. God has given us free will but we shirk responsibility for making a decision to do something. The needs around us are immense and we can’t do everything, but we can do something. Jesus’ teaching is the sign we need and his Spirit goes with us.