Soon after the earthquake in Haiti a few months ago, I received an email titled, “Was Haiti really the wrath of God?” I almost deleted it. Would this prove to be another “prophetic” word explaining the news after the fact? I grow weary of the hysteria that arrives by email every time devastation happens somewhere in the earth. Where is the voice that speaks before the event – something like the prophetic voice we find in scripture? It turned out to be in the email I had just received; it was one of the most prophetic messages I’ve ever gotten.
It came from a friend, Mark Swiger, a missionary evangelist. Mark doesn’t claim to be a prophet, but he has conducted large open-air campaigns in many nations. Mark is a man of the Spirit, and his mission demands that he move in the gifts of the Spirit.
Last September, he had ministered at a church in Haiti. God had led him to speak on this text:
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:4-5)
Mark preached that earthquakes, falling towers, and other disasters were not special judgments, as though the victims of the disasters were worse sinners than everybody else. He said these things happen because we live in a fallen world, where laws of gravity and imperfect construction practices can lead to disasters.
But God isn’t willing that any should perish. Mark went on to say that we can all repent and walk with God in such a way that if a disaster is pending, He can speak to us and guide us out of the path of harm.
Mark noted in his email that he had no idea of the impending disaster, but God did. It would be about four months later that the twelve days of the earthquake and its aftershocks would occur.
Not everyone who heard Mark’s message was spared, but some were. Here are his words: “I had no idea that this church would soon be at the very epicenter of one of the most violent earthquakes in world history. It was totally destroyed. Reports are coming in that hundreds of its members are living in an open field. Many are injured. Some have died. Many have been miraculously spared. Some were dug out of the rubble with little or no injury after many days. All need food and water…”
Mark’s was one of the ministries that was able to help with the relief efforts in Haiti. See more at http://www.markswiger.org/, or read the email he sent – https://gospelsmith.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/was-haiti-really-the-wrath-of-god/
After I read Mark’s email, I felt that God had addressed several issues other than Haiti, earthquakes, or judgments. Three convictions emerged.
First, God can speak to any of His people, whether they are prophets or not. They don’t have to go to all the prophetic conferences or read the latest prophetic emails to hear His voice. All they have to do is cultivate an ear to hear whatever God wants to tell them.
Second, Mark hadn’t foretold the earthquake. But what if he had? What could anybody have done about it? How could they have prepared? Instead, the word God gave Him told people the answer before they knew there would be a problem. Those who heeded Mark’s message were now in position to hear from God, and perhaps this is why so many were found unharmed, by the time rescuers dug them out of the rubble.
Third, I was convicted by the way Mark shared his testimony. There was no sense of “I saw it first.” Instead, Mark notes that he didn’t know what was coming, but God did. Often when we give testimonies, they come across as a testimony of our own greatness as men and women of God, not that God is great. Our testimony then becomes part of our press kit, a way to promote our ministries. Mark chose a different approach.
Each of these three convictions has made an impact on me. I began to sense I needed to encourage the whole body of Christ to cultivate an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. This conviction has shaped a project I’m working on now, a 31-day devotional, “Learn To Hear From God”. And as I’m adding videos with short testimonies to each day’s entry, I’m asking God for much grace so the testimonies will show His greatness and not center on any spirituality I might think I have.
Do you have any testimonies of times when God has saved you from disaster by speaking to you? I have only a few; like most Americans, I am rarely in a life-threatening situation. But more than once God has told me such things as “He is not going to stop,” when another car sped towards an intersection. I could have ignored God because I had the right of way, and I would have been in an accident. But in each case, I took God seriously, drove accordingly, and did not collide with the car that ran the stop sign or the red light.
Physical protection is not the only need God will speak into. About a week before I faced brain surgery to remove a large tumor, Jesus spoke these words to me: “I am the Vine, you are a branch, and My Father is the Husbandman. When He comes to prune you, don’t focus on what’s been cut away. Focus on abiding, and more fruit is inevitable.”
Within two weeks, I was in intensive care after my surgery. Doctors and therapists were checking to see if I could still speak, read, walk, and do other things most of us take for granted. It would have been terrifying, but God had spoken to me ahead of time. I knew that if any of my faculties returned slowly, I didn’t have to be afraid. Eventually, I would be more fruitful than I had ever been before – all I had to do was keep abiding.
But I have to say what Mark said. I didn’t know what specific upheaval was about to come, but God did. The word He spoke gave me grace to walk through a crisis with a smile on my face – just as Mark’s message in Haiti prepared a congregation for an unimaginable calamity.
God can speak into needs of any kind, but the point is clear: every one of us will face challenges as we live in this fallen world. If we cultivate an ear to hear what God is saying, we can count on Him to give us needed strength or wisdom as we make our way through life.
Meanwhile, many prophets have started ministering in schools of the Spirit, in churches, conferences, or other settings. Years ago, prophets felt called to serve people by hearing from God for them. Today, God is telling many of the prophets to start equipping people to hear from God for themselves.
A few years ago, I received many prophetic messages by email. Now, as often as not, I receive emails that announce equipping meetings or schools of the Spirit that last for a few days or weeks. I’ll take a moment to announce my own.
I’m posting a 31-day devotional with articles and videos, exploring the theme, “Learn To Hear From God” – so far, I’ve posted the first seven days. For the introduction with its links to each of the seven days, click http://www.squidoo.com/31-day-devotional-learn-to-hear-from-god. The materials for days 8-31 are coming soon.
So here I am, a traveling minister, pruned by the Husbandman for a season, and under doctors’ orders not to travel, especially by air. My materials online are simply a way to fulfill the prophetic mandate God has given me.
But I’m just one among many equippers. We all can give what God has given us. This is why you’ll want to draw from not just one, but from several. God is sending a variety of equippers because He wants to train the whole church to be Spirit-led.
I’m not writing about this because I secretly believe crisis is coming. Even without a crisis, we need to hear from God. He may want to make you into a Joseph or a Daniel, so you can make a kingdom impact on your generation. Or He may be setting the church up for a revival as mighty as the Welsh revival, where Evan Roberts was led to urge the people to obey the Holy Spirit instantly.
We can cultivate a lifestyle of acting on what God speaks to us. Those of us who do are sure to collect many testimonies of divine appointments, ministry opportunities, remarkable provisions, and disasters averted. This can be your life.