The life of a true follower of Christ can be defined by a number of attributes and we can test this by what the scriptures say.
*A true Christian is not popular with the world.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (says Jesus)
* A true Christian forsakes ungodliness.
Titus 2:12 “..teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteous and godly in this present world.”
* A true Christian relies on the authority of scriptures on all matters of life and godly service.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”
* A true Christian understands that life on this side of eternity is not always fair but trusts in His sovereignty and providence.
Psalm 135:6 “Whatever the Lord please, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”
* A true Christian seeks to invest in God’s kingdom rather than their own.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
This month, I have started to study the book of Jeremiah. The commentary I am reading in conjunction with the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament is Warren Wiersbe’s ‘Be Decisive, Taking a Stand for the Truth’ which I highly recommend.
The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to take a public and unpopular stand for God’s truth and by studying his life, we too can be encouraged to do the same.
One of the reasons I have chosen to look at Jeremiah’s life is that his ministry as a God- chosen prophet was powerful and God led. My hope is that Blended not Shaken Ministries is the same and that I can emulate some of the traits seen in the prophet Jeremiah. But another reason has stemmed from the rise in prophetic ministry in this era. Unfortunately we seem to have many so called and self professed ‘prophets’ today.
The basic definition of a prophet is a ‘truth teller”, one who communicates God’s words. While I believe there are prophets today and their ministry is needed, I fear there are too many calling themselves prophets when they are not and are leading people astray in the meantime. I have listened to a few ‘prophetic words’ from a couple of people who call themselves prophets and have both bemused and ill at ease with what they say and how they conduct themselves.
Below are a few questions to ask ourselves as to whether a ‘prophet’ is in fact a prophet by biblical standards:
1. Have they received this gift of prophecy from the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor. 12:28-29)
2. Do their words agree with scripture or what the Lord has previously spoken? (See 1 Kings 13
3. If they are speaking truth, will it/has it all come true, word for word ? (Jer. 28:9)
4. Are their prophetic words being confirmed?
5. Are they living godly lives? (Jer. 23:14)
6. Do they speak truth with humility? (Look at Jesus’ life and ministry)
7. Do they announce sin before promising blessings? (Lam. 2:13b-14)
8. Do they offend many? (Is. 30:9-11)
9. Do they never predict ‘new truths’ about end times? (Rev. 22;18)
(Excerpts taken from article by Julie Ferwerda, Cross walk. com)
If a person who has identified themselves as a prophet answers ‘no’ to some or all from this list, they need to be avoided. Those who are actually not prophets but claim to be, charge fees to churches for their ‘ministry’, are very popular and proud and only focus on blessings rather than repentance from sin.
If we look at Jeremiah’s life, he was defined as a:
-destroyer and builder
-pillar and wall
-long distance runner
This list doesn’t equate to an easy life to me! And certainly DOES NOT define many of the so called prophets out there today!
God showed Jeremiah that:
1. Godly service is not easy. It’s likened to running a long distance race; it’s not for the faint- hearted!
2. The life of service becomes harder not easier. Like Jesus, Jeremiah’s own family opposed him and misunderstood him!
3. The life of service gets better as we grow and mature. With every new challenge and trial, God was allowing Jeremiah’s ministry skills to grow and develop.
The Lord continues to remind me of these truths. I need to rely on the on- going sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit as I walk out this life and His call. Although the life of true and godly service doesn’t come naturally to us, as we battle our carnal nature that leans towards selfishness, it’s comforting to know that there have been many that have gone before us, like Jeremiah, who were ordinary people, set apart by God for God’s work. I look forward to studying the book of Jeremiah and passing on what I’m learning to my readers.