Let me share with you two situations out of the many that I have been involved with as a church leader. The negative first and then the positive. I had someone speak to me with regard to something that the Bible makes very clear. Without disclosing the details, what they were informing me was, that they had heard from God. Even though I tried to explain to them that what they were proposing to do was wrong because the Bible clearly stated otherwise, they announced that they were still going to pursue this course of action and in fact they did so. The evidence they cited as to why they should continue with this course of action was that their friends said it was ok! The Bible is God’s word over all situations and our feelings and decisions are subject to it, right?
Having said that, in another situation a church member came up to me during an open-air service and said he had heard from God about a person somewhere in the crowd. I, in fear and trepidation, gave out in detail what he said explaining that this was God speaking. A couple of minutes later a man I had never met before came and introduced himself to me and explained that “the message” was for him! In a short time we led him to the Lord and he became a treasured member of our church. He was reconciled to his family and gave me a power drill. (Don’t know why I put that in!) As you can see, hearing from God is not as simple and easy as we might think it is.
We are still in Genesis 41 and continuing to look at Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams God gave to Pharaoh. What we are looking at here is the second part of two blogs looking at hearing from God, so if you are reading this for the first time can I suggest you read my previous blog first.
Here we see that God’s word was recognised. It’s wonderful when God speaks with indisputable power and authority. Pharaoh (a pagan ruler) recognised instantly that what Joseph was saying was from God. He recognised that God was speaking through Joseph.
This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Genesis 41:37-38
When God’s word comes in power it proves itself. It carries it’s own convicting power. When God speaks we shouldn’t have to ask is this right? We know God’s ways, we know God’s word, His words prove themselves. When Paul says in Thessalonians his gospel came with full conviction, who had the conviction? Paul or his hearers? The answer is both did. If we know the character of God, and we know his word, when God’s word comes the speaker and the hearer are fully convinced it is God.
Joseph’s gift was recognised by Pharaoh. When the Church is functioning as it should then gifting will be recognised. You don’t have to self-promote or push but rather gifting is seen. However, you do have to exercise your gift. Joseph was bold enough to interpret the dreams. You don’t need to manipulate but equally you should not sit back and wait. Without straining, Joseph, at the right time, was lifted into the position God had been training him for. Pharaoh recognised that God had revealed the future to Joseph, he recognised that Joseph had God’s hand upon him to be the administrator Egypt needed.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” Genesis 41:39-40
Once Joseph had tried to force his gift on his family but now he is doing it God’s way. Open to God’s voice he exercised obedience with humility. God gives us the authority in his time. God would reward him with more than he had before.
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. Genesis 41:41-42
As Joseph rides in the second chariot the people call out “bow the knee”. He is acting under authority. Hearing from God does not mean you push and promote your gift to whomever will give you an ear. Too many times I have had people walk into meetings introducing their gift and imposing their ministry before they even said “hello”! Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and yet he is obedient to the will of his Father. Hearing from God is not a matter of promotion and position. Joseph ruled Egypt in order to be a blessing to the nation, in order to serve Pharaoh and to honour his God.
If you do hear from God then be subject to local church leaders and be accountable.
God’s word to Joseph was tangible and the fulfilment of it proved it was from God. Let’s put this another way, if there had not been seven years of plenty, then it was not from God. If there had not been seven years of famine, then it was not from God. God always keeps his word, if it appears that he does not, then it’s simple it’s not God, it’s the cheese, or good intentions, or feelings, or manipulation. This is simple and yet profound, God will do what he says. When weighing a prophetic word over time, look at the fruit.
Be faithful with your gift. Joseph had been utterly frank and straightforward with Pharaoh, he didn’t add anything to give what he said more weight. (I once knew someone who when they prophesied made their voice wobble to give it what they thought was more authenticity). Some add fifteen thus said the Lords! Give what God has given you, no more and no less.
The famine would affect a very wide area and soon put Joseph in contact with Canaan. Joseph had given up any expectation of seeing his father or his brothers again. His new life, including a wife and now children made him forget his father’s house (vs 51). What he didn’t know then, and what we don’t know as we hear from God and share it is, that what God has given us is part of God’s wider and deeper plan. It’s not about your gift and it’s not about the fact that someone has something to share from God with you. God has a much bigger plan than that. Here we find out that God has a plan for the line of Jacob. Joseph probably looked back wondering what his past life was all about? What were the dreams he shared with his family all about? Perhaps how foolish and unwise he had been in how he had shared those dreams, and yet God has a much bigger plan, and his plans will not be stopped. The story is moving towards a great climax when God’s word in every minute detail is about to take place.
You, may not know yet why God has spoken to you as he has but, he did speak as he did because he has higher, greater, wider and deeper plan that is beyond your shudder at what God has just revealed. A word from God is simply this….get ready!