Follow the Spirit

Follow the Spirit

I received this prophetic word on May 14, 2018. May it encourage you to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

My child, I have called you to follow me. I’ve called you not to follow the doctrines of men or the religion of humankind. I’ve not called you to follow the Church, but I’ve called you to follow the leading of my Spirit. For I will lead you and guide you into all truth.

I will make my face to shine upon you and I will show you my way. I will light the way before your feet, for my word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. I will speak my word to you; I will direct you and guide you in the way that you should go.

I will guide you with my eye upon you. I see the way before you, and I will open your eyes to that which I would show you. I will enlighten your eyes.

I will illumine my word within you, and I will grant unto you my revelation. For this revelation comes by my Spirit, and by my Spirit I will open your eyes and I will open your mind and I will open your understanding to that which I desire you to comprehend.

For I have more that I would share with you. I desire to open the heavenlies unto you, that you might see, that you might partake, that you might enter in to all that I have set aside for you. For this is my glory: that you be glorified in me and that you share my glory by contemplating me.

Seek wisdom, and I shall surely grant it, for I am Wisdom to you. I am Peace, I am Life, I am Strength. Follow me. Look not to another, but lean wholly on me. Run after me. I will lead you into all truth and I will make you like my Son.

The Kind Woman of Endor, part 2

Woman of Endor

Rethinking Traditional Interpretations Series

Desperate for guidance about an impending battle with the Philistines, King Saul visits the home of a medium in Endor. He asks her to contact the departed prophet Samuel for him.

The woman contacts Samuel

11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!”
–1 Samuel 28:11-12 NKJV

The spirit whom the woman sees clairvoyantly is Samuel. When she perceives him, she realizes who her disguised visitor is and that Saul has attempted to deceive her.

Does she know this by revelation or by inference? Perhaps a bit of both.

13 And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.”
14 So he said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.
–1 Samuel 28:13-14 NKJV

The woman explains that she sees the spirit of an old man rising from the earth, robed in the mantle of a prophet (1 Sam. 15:27).

The typical Evangelical and Pentecostal interpretation is that this wasn’t really Samuel, but a demon! Booga booga!

I dissent.

Maggie Cole declares, “I strongly disagree with any discussion that considers there was an evil force behind the raising of Samuel because the prophet could only work for Yahweh, even in death” (The Medium of Endor, part 2).

Even Jesus said of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that God “is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:27 NIV)

The passage establishes that the visual and auditory information from the spirit world is being relayed through the medium. By the woman’s description, Saul recognizes the spirit as Samuel.

Then Samuel speaks.

Samuel’s message to Saul

Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.”
–1 Samuel 28:15 NKJV

Samuel declares through the woman that Saul is “disturbing” him, meaning to quiver with violent emotion, especially anger; to trouble; to disquiet (rāgaz, Strong’s H7264). “Called” is qārā (Strong’s H7121), meaning to cry out with the idea of accosting someone. Saul is desperate.

Samuel continues his diatribe through the medium:

16 Then Samuel said: “Why then do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy?”
17 “And the LORD has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David.
18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD…, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day.
19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.”
–1 Samuel 28:16-19 NKJV

The departed Samuel is no happier with Saul now than when in the body. He delivers the same message that he gave Saul when he was still alive, adding a word about Saul’s fate and the outcome of the battle.

The Jewish Apocrypha mentions that Samuel did prophesy after his (physical) death: “Even after [Samuel] had fallen asleep, he prophesied and made known to the king his death, and lifted up his voice from the ground in prophecy, to blot out the wickedness of the people” (Sirach 46:20 NRSV).

The medium delivered a true message from Samuel—and from the Lord. She didn’t sugar-coat it; she gave what she got, even when she knew she was speaking to the king, who had the power to execute her.

The woman’s message from the prophet is so convincing that Saul suffers a terrible moment of recognition.

Then immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night.
–1 Samuel 28:20 NKJV

How the woman of Endor responds

What does the woman do when faced with Saul’s behavior?

She acts kindly.

21 And the woman came to Saul and saw that he was severely troubled, and said to him, “Look, your maidservant has obeyed your voice, and I have put my life in my hands and heeded the words which you spoke to me.
22 Now therefore, please, heed also the voice of your maidservant, and let me set a piece of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.”
23 But he refused and said, “I will not eat.” So his servants, together with the woman, urged him; and he heeded their voice. Then he arose from the ground and sat on the bed.
24 Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house, and she hastened to kill it. And she took flour and kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread from it.
25 So she brought it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.
–1 Samuel 28:21-25 NKJV

When Saul faints at the dire message from Samuel, the woman humbly calls herself his “maidservant.” She urges him to eat, refusing to take no for an answer. She not only bakes unleavened bread, but kills a fatted calf—a costly meal.

Who else in the Bible killed a fatted calf?

Godly hospitality: killing the fatted calf

When two angels and the Lord visit Abraham, he bakes bread and kills a choice calf for a lavish meal (Gen. 18:7-8).

In Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, when the wayward young man returns home, the father, overjoyed, says, “Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate” (Luke 15:23 NIV).

In ancient Eastern cultures, such provision is a sign of hospitality and acceptance. It’s also a demonstration of godly honor and forgiveness:

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
–Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV

Apostle Paul quotes this passage in Romans 12:20, and a similar sentiment appears in 2 Kings 6:22. Jesus encourages us to love our enemies this way in Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27.

Susan Pigott observes that this “sacrificial meal serves as a fitting marker of the end of Saul’s reign and further defines the woman’s prophetic role.” (“1 Samuel 28—Saul and the Not so Wicked Witch of Endor,” Review and Expositor 95 [1998]: 440. Emphasis mine.)

The medium is a discerning woman who delivers a genuine prophetic message. The woman of Endor shows the wayward Saul hospitality, honor, forgiveness—and Christlike love.

Though Samuel’s message to the wayward king is ominous, it contains grace. Samuel promises that, although Saul and his sons will die in battle, they will join him in the afterlife.

Samuel’s mother Hannah prophesied when she dedicated the boy to God’s service: “The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Sam. 2:6 NIV). We see this fulfilled in Samuel’s beyond-the-grave counsel to Saul.

Our lesson from Saul

What does King Saul portray in this account?

Up to this point in the story, he has disobeyed the Lord’s instruction through Prophet Samuel, which results in losing his political position. In extreme military straits with the Philistine army bearing down on the nation, he gives way to fear.

Although he inquires of the Lord for guidance through traditional means, he has already been given direction, and no more is forthcoming. He then seeks a medium to contact the departed Samuel for a different message. He dons a deceptive guise to fool the woman.

We see in Saul disobedience to God; refusal to accept prophetic counsel; jealous pursuit of David, an innocent and loyal subject; callous murder of God’s priests (1 Sam. 22:17-18); cowardice; loss of integrity; and deceptiveness.

Our lesson from the woman of Endor

What do we see in the woman of Endor?

Respect for the law of the land, true gifting and integrity in its use‬—albeit unorthodox in that time and place. Compassion, empathy, kindness. The grace and hospitality of Abraham and the forgiveness of the Prodigal Father. The love of Christ.

What does the Bible say about mediums? Good things, thanks to the kind woman of Endor.

More information:
The Kind Woman of Endor, part 1

The Kind Woman of Endor, part 1

Woman of Endor

Rethinking Traditional Interpretations Series

The Bible mentions several women who, despite living in ancient patriarchal times, are uniquely praised.

Rahab, a prostitute, is upheld as an example of faith (Josh. 2:1-7,15-24; 6:12-25; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25). She married Salmon of Judah and became the mother of Boaz (Ruth 4:21; Matt. 1:5).

Ruth, a widow from the cursed clan of Moabites (Deut. 23:3; Ruth 1:4,22; Isa. 15; Zeph. 2:9), approached Boaz, who married her (Ruth 2-4) and together continued the human lineage of Jesus (Matt. 1:5).

Deborah, a prophet and the only female judge of Israel, advised Barak to attack the commander of the Canaanite army, Sisera, whom she prophesied a woman would kill (Judges 4). That woman was Jael (4:21-22).

Miriam and Huldah were also prophets (Ex. 15:20; Judg. 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14-20).

Another woman is an even greater outlier yet is recounted favorably in the Scriptures. This is the woman of Endor, a medium.

As part of the Rethinking Traditional Interpretations Series, I want to take another look at her story. Please set aside hackneyed traditional interpretations and seek something fresh with me.

Traditional take on mediums in the Bible

In Evangelical and Pentecostal circles, the woman of Endor is consistently vilified and constantly referred to as a “witch,” although this word appears nowhere in the Bible text.

The legal code of Leviticus frowned on the ancient Israelites consulting mediums (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:31; 20:6,27; Deut. 18:9-15). This is because, in the land of Canaan the Israelites were to possess, such mediums—and the inhabitants in general—worshiped other gods using detestable practices, which the Israelites were forbidden to follow (Deut. 18:9-10).

Such proscriptions were not unique to Israelite law. The Code of Hammurabi (1728–1686 B.C.) prohibited sorcery and prescribed the death penalty for those who practiced it. (Lawrence O. Richards, “Magic,” Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, [Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 1991], 425.)

Today in Papua New Guinea, although illegal, villagers still kill those accused of using sorcery against others (In Papua New Guinea’s Sorcery Wars, A Peacemaker Takes On Her Toughest Case). The kind woman of Endor, though, is not identified as a sorceress, but a medium.

Isaiah 8:19-20 advises against consulting mediums on behalf of the living. Instead, “You should follow the teachings and the agreement with the Lord [(Look) to the law/instruction and to the testimony]. The mediums and fortune-tellers … [If they do not] speak the word of the Lord [according to this word], … [they are spiritually blinded…]” (EXB).

Basically, for Israelites, any message from a medium must agree with the Law. This stricture also applied to Israel’s own prophets (Deut. 13:2-3; 18:18; Ezek. 2:7; Jer. 27:16).

Seeing the unorthodox with new eyes

However, we must remember that God led and showed favor to foreign sorcerers and astrologers—elsewhere criticized in Scripture (Isa. 47:13-15; Dan. 2:2-12)—who came to worship the Christ child (Matt 2:1,11-12).

The Nicene Creed upholds the “communion of the saints,” which includes those who have passed into the next life.

Teachers of the Law and Pharisees dragged a woman caught in adultery to Jesus for judgment, but He treated her differently (John 8:2-11). Can we likewise see this woman, the medium of Endor, through Jesus’ eyes?

First Samuel 28 tells the story of this woman who lived in the eleventh century B.C. The account opens with a description of Saul, Israel’s first king, whose monarchy is failing during imminent war with the Philistines.

Saul in trouble

3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had lamented for him and buried him in Ramah, in his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land.
4 Then the Philistines gathered together, and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa.
5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.
6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.
–1 Samuel 28:3-6 NKJV

The great prophet Samuel had prophesied that the kingdom of Israel would be torn from Saul because of his disobedience and delivered to David instead (1 Sam. 15:10-29). This was Samuel’s final prophetic message to the rebellious Saul.

Soon afterward, Samuel died, and Saul had no one to turn to for counsel. Things went downhill for him and the nation.

Concerning the situation with the Philistines, Saul desperately inquired of the Lord, but God did not answer him.

The king received no dreams. He consulted the high priest, who used the Urim and Thummim, a divinely sanctioned casting of lots (Ex. 28:30; Lev. 8:8; 1 Sam. 14:41-42). He approached other prophets, probably those whom Samuel had schooled (1 Sam. 19:19-24).

All to no avail. The Lord remained silent.

Some time before, Saul had expelled all the spiritists and wizards from the land (v. 3) and did not kill them as the Law required. Since he had exhausted all avenues of guidance, Saul broke his own rule and visited a medium at Endor.

The woman of Endor

Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor.”
–1 Samuel 28:7 NKJV

This Bible translation calls her a “woman” and a “medium.” The subheadings of some translations call her a “witch.” But the Hebrew text refers to her only as a woman (‘ishsha, Strong’s H802) with a familiar spirit (‘ôb, Strong’s H178).

Why the woman remained in the area after Saul had driven out the spiritists (v. 3) is not revealed. Perhaps she was an Israelite herself and therefore a follower of YHWH.

“Endor” comes from a combination of the words Eyn and Dor. Eyn means a revolution of time, a generation, or a dwelling place. It comes from the word ‘ayin, which means eye, mental or spiritual faculties, or a spring or fountain. It means “fountain of the circle” or “fountain of habitation.” Endor was about twelve miles northeast of Mount Gilboa.

Endora(I still ponder whether Sabrina’s mother-in-law on the TV show Bewitched was named “Endora” after this biblical figure. In name only, for the woman of Endor was kind, and Endora was anything but!)

Saul’s assurance

8 So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please conduct a seance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.”
9 Then the woman said to him, “Look, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?”
10 And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”
–1 Samuel 28:8-10 NKJV

God had already given Saul a decisive prophetic word through the prophet Samuel that Saul would not accept: “‘You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!’” (1 Sam. 15:10-29).

Saul’s self-will and disobedience in his position of leadership met with irreversible consequences. In the end, he ignored God, Prophet Samuel, and his own law.

Yet he assured the woman that no harm would come to her if she practiced her mediumistic abilities.

What happens when she does? We’ll see—next time.

More information:
The Kind Woman of Endor, part 2

You Can Prophesy

prophesying

You can prophesy, did you know it? If you desire to bless and encourage others, you can deliver messages from God. Here’s how to get started.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prophecy

On the day of Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit on the followers of Christ. The Apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’”
–Acts 2:17-18 NIV

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prophecy. If you’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit, you’ve been given the potential to speak for God.

When Paul placed his hands on [the Ephesian disciples], the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
–Acts 19:6 NIV

Paul told the Corinthians, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. … For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged” (1 Cor. 14:1, 31 NIV).

All Spirit-filled believers have the potential to prophesy. But they must eagerly desire the gift to bless others.

What is the gift of prophecy?

Christian prophet Dennis Cramer defines prophecy as “a supernatural message given for the purpose of ‘strengthening, encouraging and comforting’” (You Can All Prophesy, Arrow Publications, 2003). His definition comes from the words of the Apostle Paul:

But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
–1 Corinthians 14:3 NIV

The gift of prophecy is available to all believers filled with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7). The gift of prophecy is not for foretelling world events, but simply for bringing strength, encouragement, and comfort to those who receive the message. You can prophesy to individuals or groups.

Here are four principles to focus on if you want to prophesy.

1. Esteem the prophetic gift.

First Thessalonians 5:20 says, “Do not despise prophecies.” J.N. Darby translates it, “Do not lightly esteem prophecies.”

The first principle in becoming a prophetic person is to value the prophetic gift. The revelation of the Spirit is precious. Treat it like it’s important and respect the message. (As well as the messenger.)

“I hold prophecy in high esteem.”

2. Believe you can prophesy.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged” (1 Cor. 14:31 NKJV).

You can prophesy. You all can prophesy. You can all practice prophesying so that everybody learns.

Prophesying—speaking a message from the Holy Spirit—is not just for a chosen few who are specially gifted, but for everyone who wants it. That means you. Say with me:

“I can prophesy!”

3. Desire to prophesy.

Believe it or not, a key factor in determining whether you move in prophecy is how badly you want to.

Some believe they’ll deliver a message only if the Holy Spirit overpowers them. It doesn’t work that way. Romans 12:6 says you prophesy “in proportion to your faith.”

You can prophesy. But you must believe it—believe it enough to step out in faith, try, and keep trying. Faith comes to those who prepare for it through desire.

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy” (1 Cor. 14:1 NKJV). Another version puts it, “you should truly want to have the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (NCV).

If you follow the way of Christ’s love, you’ll want the Holy Spirit to use you to speak inspired words of strength, encouragement, and comfort to others.

“I desire to prophesy.”

4. Be eager to prophesy.

Wanting to prophesy is important, but it isn’t enough. You must be eager to do so every chance you get. This is another area where desire will open the door to opportunity.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39 NIV). The word “eager” is zeloo in Greek, which means “to burn with zeal; to desire earnestly, pursue; to envy; to covet.” Strong words, but good advice.

You esteem prophecy. You can prophesy, you want to prophesy, and you have a burning desire to receive and deliver the message from the Spirit. You must be zealous to prophesy at every opportunity.

“I am eager to prophesy.”

Understand that any prophetic message is instigated by the Holy Spirit, not your own desires. Part of learning to prophesy is being sensitive to the Spirit’s nudgings. So be eager without being too aggressive.

Start by ministering to your close friends, then as you grow in your abilities, branch out to other acquaintances who are on the same page spiritually. Be eager but start slow and learn as you go.

Prophetic principles to promote prophecy

This is my daily meditation. if you make it yours, God will use you to bless others with encouraging messages from above.

  1. I hold prophecy in high esteem.
  2. I can prophesy.
  3. I desire to prophesy.
  4. I am eager to prophesy.

Let me know how this has helped you in your life and ministry. God bless you!

Under the Umbrella of God’s Protection

On the evening of December 15, 2017, I was listening to the voice of the Lord within when I saw a picture in my spirit.

It was a black umbrella, and it was open. I wondered what it meant.

UmbrellaLord, what would you say to me about this umbrella?

I will shield you from the fallout. Know that I am protecting you. What will fall on others will not fall on you. Stay under the umbrella of my protection, and I will guard you and keep you.

Lord, what kind of fallout are you talking about?

I felt like it’s things that are falling upon the world.

Lord, what would you say more to me about this?

I just see myself being hidden under the umbrella while flakes, or more like ashes, fall around me.

Is there anything final, Lord?

I will keep you in the hour of trial. I will shield thee and protect thee. Remain under the umbrella of my protection, and I will protect you from the fallout.

Needless to say, this vision and explanation intrigued me. What would be falling upon the world that I needed protection from? I prayed about it over the next few days.

On December 19, 2017, I asked further about the vision and the message.

Can you tell me more about this fallout that you’re protecting me from? Can you clarify, give me more detail about this protection and this fallout?

Political influences are changing the climate of this nation. And I desire that you be immune to their effects. I will cover you. I will keep you from fear.

Though others hearts fail them for fear in this time, I will protect you. I will strengthen you. I will undergird you. I will lift you up in my arms and keep you close to my heart.

Fear not, says the Lord, for all is under my control. I will exert my influence in ways that you have not seen before. Certain things may happen that seem discouraging. But know that I am in control and that I am guiding the courses of all nations.

I will guide not only your path but the path of my Church, the path of all those who follow me and seek my face. And I will put my hand upon this nation.

Know that nothing will befall this world that I do not know about. I have many plans of which you need not be concerned. But look to me and trust in me and find your rest in me, and I will keep you in perfect peace. Fix your mind, stay your eyes upon me, and I will keep you in perfect peace, says the Lord.

Thank you. Is there anything else that you would say to me or show to me?

world in handsI see the hands of the Lord open and cupped together, and they’re holding the world. I’m reminded of that song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

History is mine, says the Lord, the past, the present, and the future. Things will turn out just as I have planned.

Know that I am Lord of time and all creation. And the courses of the nations are set by my determined foreknowledge.

Though the nations rage, I am on the throne. And I will work my plan to the glory of my Kingdom and the praise of my Son.

Follow that King. Serve him and trust in him, and he will keep you safe and lead you along the way everlasting.

The world and the U.S. are in turmoil. But regardless of what happens, God can protect us and keep us at peace as we look to Christ, the King of Kings. Remain under His umbrella of protection and know that He cares for you.

“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
—Isaiah 54:10 NIV