Say it don’t change it
“One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)”
We do not know how Agabus gave this message from God. But it was clear that something of an upcoming doom would be widespread. A warning to prepare themselves.
It takes courage to bring such a ‘negative’ word.
It was the last Sunday of January 2000 and I was facing a packed congregation during the evening service. They had come to see a special event from a para-church organisation led by a man who had recently joined our church with a ministry that reached out to the vulnerable of society. I had not seen the church so excited for a long time. Even the negative people were ultra positive. God was with the church and leading us into a whole new season. It was all I could have hoped for.
Then I began to receive a message from God during the last song:
“I believe the Lord is saying that this relationship is like an engagement , tonight is that engagement but it is going to get better for it is leading to a marriage.”
However, that is not what the Lord gave me to say. I changed it.
I had kept the singing going for longer, for I was battling with the actual word that was given me, a repeated verse of the song may give me time for clarity. If members only knew that they have sung so many extra songs because the Pastor was just trying to work out what to do!
You see the actual word was:
“I believe the Lord is saying that this relationship is like a marriage, tonight is the wedding but it is not going to last for it is leading to a divorce .”
But I was surely wrong. The signs all around would indicate this was God. He was moving in the church.
So I changed it. I could not give such a negative word. I truly believed God wouldn’t give such a word, it must be me, I was making this up.
I got home that night and after repenting and with tears I promised God I would never change a message He gave me ever again. If He would be gracious to use me with words again I would be honourable to them. The following Sunday graciously the Spirit spoke to me again, again it wasn’t a ‘nice’ word, it was a warning but I was ready to say it exactly as I was hearing it: “The Church would have to walk past a snarling dog but we must know it is chained. The dog is only barking it will not hurt us.”
The next morning I was recording that message through the PA system of the church. I felt I needed to keep it. Though I was on my own I was soon joined by the leader of the para-church organisation. With the sound of my voice going through the speakers I became embarrassed and went to turn it off, but the leader said for me to leave it on.
So there we were, me and this man in the church on our own listening to a message about a snarling dog and the Church not to be afraid.
Within 3 months that man was taking me and the church to the Employment Tribunal. It became the worse 9 months of my life and I nearly ended my pastorate. We won the case but it was a very difficult season. We however walked past the snarling dog, there was much slander, but it was just noise and we survived.
How did I get through this? How did I lead the church through this season? It was because of the original word that God gave me, even though I had changed it.
God had told us it would end in divorce and it had. He then to,d us we could walk past the slander. The word prepared me and the church, we survived because of the word. I survived because of grace.
Sometimes our message from God isn’t all lovely and exciting and positive. It can be quite difficult to receive.
However, we must stay true to what He is telling us. Prophecy encourages, strengthens, comforts and edifies.
But sometimes He wants us to predict a famine.