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Effective Prophetic Ministry Through Suffering


This is an excellent teaching by Zac Poonen.

While reading I was reminded of the account of Jesus feeding the multitude in Matthew 14:14-21: of his blessing, then breaking the loaves before the disciples passed the pieces out to the multitude. This has always been a clear picture to me of what God has to do before we too, ‘can be passed out’ to others, in the service of the Lord. Most of us don’t like the breaking part: we cry out against it, refusing to trust the hands doing the breaking. We don’t like to endure this, for it means much suffering.

In the Book of Hosea, we find that God made Hosea feel His heart by making him marry an unfaithful wife. That was a painful way for Hosea to learn the truth. Which man would be willing to marry a girl who he knows, from the outset, will be unfaithful to him and will commit adultery with other men? It was a heavy price that these prophets had to pay in order to be prophets.

When Hosea’s wife was unfaithful to him, he was told to keep on loving her. At one point she even went and sold herself as a slave to another man. Hosea then paid money to buy her back. And he still kept on loving her. But even after he bought her back, she still kept on committing adultery. Hosea must have found it very difficult to bear with her.

As he went through this struggle, God told him, “Now you can understand how I love my people. Now go and preach to them.”

As a result, even when Hosea spoke sternly to God’s people, there was a note of compassion in his message of holiness. What did he emphasise? Holiness and God’s unchanging love. These two themes were the burden of all the prophets: Holiness in God’s people and God’s unchanging love for His people even when they are in spiritual adultery and gone astray. God’s desire was always to bring His people back. He disciplines them. But then He wants to bring them back to Him after the discipline is over.

Jeremiah said, “After the discipline is over, God will bring you back.” Hosea said the same thing. Holiness is what God demands. When He doesn’t find that in you, He will discipline you. But His love is so great that He will then speak tenderly to you and bring you back into fellowship with Him, saying, “How can I give you up? How can I let you go? How can I forsake you? My heart cries out within me. How I long to help you!” (Hosea 11:8-Living)

This is how true prophetic ministry should function in the church too.

A true prophet in the church today will have the same burden that the Old Testament prophets had for holiness among God’s people. And He will be moved as they were, by God’s unchanging, longsuffering, compassionate love, that perpetually desires to bring His backslidden people back to Him and to genuine holiness. There should be a prophetic ministry in every church, if it is to be kept alive and functioning for God as it should. That was Hosea’s basic theme. And so God allowed Hosea to suffer.

God told Hosea, “Go and marry a prostitute. Some of her children will be born to you from other men.” (Hosea 1:2).

What a price to pay to be a prophet! How many would want to be prophets? God may not require you to do today what Hosea did. But the principle remains the same that He has to take us through deep suffering in order to get us to feel His heart.

Read the suffering that the apostle Paul went through – many dangers, many beatings, imprisonments, being beaten with rods, robbed, not having enough clothes to keep himself warm, not enough food to eat (2 Cor.11:23-28). The purpose of all that was to make Paul live close to God’s heart so that he could listen to God’s heartbeat and feel as God felt, When we go through trials, we come very close to God’s heart. We hear His heartbeat and we feel that, as we speak to His people.

There is a lot of difference between such a preacher and a man who has just acquired a lot of knowledge by reading books and by listening to sermons.

Do you want to serve God? Do you want to preach the way God wants you to preach? Then ask God to help you to feel His heartbeat. That will not come by just studying the Bible in a classroom. It will come by going through trials. It will not come merely by attending meetings or reading good Christian books – even though all that is good. We all have a great lust for knowledge and we may think, “If only I can get more Bible- knowledge I can serve the Lord.”

You may look at some servant of God today and say, “I want to serve the Lord like he does.” Yes, you can do that. But only if you allow God to crush you by taking you through deep sufferings that others may never know about. Every true servant of God has gone through hard trials that others know nothing about, and most of the time he won’t even tell others what he has gone through.

Hosea teaches us that the only way to effectively minister is by going through deep suffering in one’s personal life.

God does this by different methods for different people. He does not have a standard syllabus for all of God’s children. He taught Hosea through a difficult wife. but He taught Jeremiah without a wife, by putting him in deep pits. And He taught Paul without a wife too. So the procedure is not the same for everyone. But the principle remains the same: You have to suffer if you want to have a ministry from God.

Paul said, “I have gone through many trials – and the strength I received from God in that suffering is what I can now pass on to other people” (2 Cor.1:4).

Without such experiences, we will only pass on dead knowledge to people.

From his experience of suffering, Hosea began to preach (Chapter 4 onwards). He used some very strong words in his message. But the background for all these strong words came from the sufferings he had been through. Our sufferings don’t make us soft. No. We have compassion for God’s people, but we will be firm with them.

In Hosea 6:5, God describes true prophetic ministry: “I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces. I have slaughtered you with my words, threatening you with death.”

It’s not an easy ministry to cut people to pieces.

But remember that Hosea himself had been cut to pieces by God’s dealings with Him in his married life. And it was from such a school of suffering that Hosea spoke. If Hosea had not had all that suffering in his private life, he would have spoken these words in a harsh way.

Don’t try to imitate Hosea’s words if God hasn’t taken you through the deep valley of suffering. It is very exciting to act like a prophet in the pulpit. You can get honour for that. But if you try to imitate a prophet without God leading you into the sufferings that the true prophets underwent, you will be a false prophet.

First of all, ask God to help you through deep experiences whereby you get to know Him – experiences of trials, sufferings and pain. Then God will make you His mouthpiece to many people.

Walk with God in secret. Humble yourself under whatever God sends in your life.

**

“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth”

12 comments on “Effective Prophetic Ministry Through Suffering

  1. For me that wasn’t very sound Godly theology.

    There was to much me doing to obtain to a particular status with God and man in it and not enough of the Sovereign Grace of God.

    God is. Period!

    God creates. Period!

    When one realizes what Peter said here one finds odds against what Zac says there:

    1Pe 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,

    This article, for me, did not “ring” True.

  2. Bless You PJ
    ..this piece tells to the core, as to whý there are so many false ‘evangelists ‘ around

    my guess is, that the pain, the prophets go through, will expose every hidden place in their own heart
    ( places, from what they themselves even are unaware of ) ,
    so that when their time of ministry comes, they will not be vulnerable to the tricks of the devil – who will attack them exactly there

    ..apart from the clearly false prophets, the next category – but harder to destinguish – are those, who teach errors between the truth, because of deep unhealed pain
    ..or unresolved and buried matters of the heart… and these finally causes them to stumble; devastating the flock with them..

    thank You again
    Lone

  3. Michael,

    I thought it was very true…

    Some of the most powerful ministers i’ve met went through some of the greatest trials and suffering, many prior to receiving a call to preach, etc..a few, even through out their lifetimes.

    The authors points below are true:

    A true prophet in the church today will have the same burden that the Old Testament prophets had for holiness among God’s people. And He will be moved as they were, by God’s unchanging, longsuffering, compassionate love, that perpetually desires to bring His backslidden people back to Him and to genuine holiness.

    There is a lot of difference between such a preacher and a man who has just acquired a lot of knowledge by reading books and by listening to sermons. Paul said, “I have gone through many trials – and the strength I received from God in that suffering is what I can now pass on to other people” (2 Cor.1:4).

    Without such experiences, we will only pass on dead knowledge to people.

    I would much rather hear a message preached or a word given from one who knows more then just how to quote scriptures; the devil knows scripture. But when one has ‘lived’ the scriptures he speaks, and/or has themselves gone through the trials, sorrows, loss, etc. he speaks about to others, there is a huge difference!.

    I think of David Wilkerson; a man of God who has the heart of the Savior. If you know his life’s story then you know he has suffered much–but the suffering drove him even closer to Jesus and made him who he is today. One who ‘hears’ God.

    I don’t believe all are called to suffer or to be broken in the same manner OR even necessarily to the same degree. But then again, not all are called to be a preacher or prophet of God.

    Contrary to what most Christians do not believe, i do believe that those who are called to be a prophet of God do pay a price. I cannot think of one who didn’t…

    one other point he made is also true:

    Every true servant of God has gone through hard trials that others know nothing about,…

  4. ..this piece tells to the core, as to whý there are so many false ‘evangelists ‘ around

    my guess is, that the pain, the prophets go through, will expose every hidden place in their own heart
    ( places, from what they themselves even are unaware of ) ,
    so that when their time of ministry comes, they will not be vulnerable to the tricks of the devil – who will attack them exactly there

    Loneman i believe you’re right.

    We know there is nothing like trials and suffering to truly reveal a persons heart..

    The false prophets today believe one can just attend a ‘prophet school’ and practice prophesying in order to be a prophet. They like the notoriety and authority they believe they gain from the position also. But they are empty vessels with no real word from God to give, so they just make up stuff; charging money for their empty words…

  5. Too bad there aren’t any real Prophets. But then again, I suppose you don’t need to be a Prophet to tell the truth. That is good enough I think.

  6. PJ,

    we only know in part. I utterly amazes me how differently I see things than you and still learn so much from you!

    thanks

  7. Another thing about the “false prophetic” is, they are always hungry for “power” and are willing to pay for it.

    They also need followers who pay them to be false!

    And when the getting gets rough, they wilt by getting rough. Just look at Kim Clement or Todd Bentley or, or, or. They all are tyrants:::>

    Act 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
    Act 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
    Act 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
    Act 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
    Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
    Act 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
    Act 8:24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

  8. The differences are not difficult to distinguish between the True and the false on some very very basic levels.

    Here would something to look for in a True Prophet or Shepherd of God’s redeemed peoples:

    Act 20:33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
    Act 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
    Act 20:35 I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

    Rom 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
    Rom 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.
    Rom 15:3 For even Christ pleased not himself: but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

    2Co 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
    2Co 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
    2Co 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
    2Co 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
    2Co 1:7 And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

    Being around the false is going broke and being broken into and raped and pillaged, stolen from, killed and destroyed.

    Such is the life of sheep!

  9. How very true. The story of Hosea, i have never looked at it quite like this. This has taught me a new meaning on suffering.

    The love of god is indescribable in how it reaches out, and will not let go. No wonder his word says love will cover a multitude of sins.

    Today i must let the holy spirit examine me, as we all should. I long to do the will of God, to reach out to those who are hurting and suffering. But i must first understand the true meaning of suffering, knowing it bears good and healthy fruit.

    thank u for your post.

  10. Thanks PJ,

    This spoke to my Heart !

    Blessings All !

  11. But then again, I suppose you don’t need to be a Prophet to tell the truth.

    That’s true Ricardo..

    we only know in part. I utterly amazes me how differently I see things than you and still learn so much from you!

    Know in part…yes, Michael i see that more and more every day. We can all learn from each other! I’ve been enlightened or challenged here on this blog by you and many MANY others who have commented, more times then i can say. I love it! It helps me grow…

  12. Richard,

    The love of god is indescribable in how it reaches out, and will not let go. No wonder his word says love will cover a multitude of sins.

    Beautiful insight brother.

    But i must first understand the true meaning of suffering, knowing it bears good and healthy fruit.

    amen. You know while going through trials, tribulations, and even prolonged suffering, to whatever degree, we are not aware of the change it is producing deep within us. It only shows on the outside much later. And you’re right, its in the fruit which is produced.

    If we can accept it as God working in us, good fruit will come forth, but if we instead, grow bitter and angry at God at our appointed lot in life, bitter ugly fruit will be the result.

    Its all in learning to trust God.

    I like the words of John MacDuff:

    The Furnace of Affliction! It is God’s meeting place with His people. “I have chosen you,” says He, “in the furnace of affliction. I will keep you there, until the purifying process is complete; and if need be, in a ‘chariot of fire’ I will carry you to heaven!”

    Some fires are for destruction, but this is for purification.

    He, the Refiner, is sitting by the furnace regulating the flames, tempering the heat; not the least filing of the gold but what is precious to Him! The bush is burning with fire, but He is in the middle of it; a living God in a bush; a living Savior in the furnace! And has this not been the method of His dealing with His faithful people in every age?

    First, trial; then blessing. First, difficulties; then, deliverance’s. Egyptian plagues- darkness, brick kilns, the Red Sea, forty years of desert privations; then Canaan! First, the burning fiery furnace; then the vision of “one like the Son of God!”

    Or, as with Elijah on Carmel, the answer is first by fire, and then by rain. First, the fiery trial, then the gentle descent of the Spirit’s influences, coming down like “rain upon the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth.”

    Beloved! “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you . . . but rejoice!”

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