I Saw Jesus In My Cheerios (ATP)
We recently talked about how visions from God are very very very very very very very rare. What is a vision from God? Are visions different than images and things we see when we pray in the spirit? We also hear a lot about visions and visitations in our circle.
2 Peter 1:19 (NASB)
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
Let me start this by saying something, then we will get back to our scripture. Visions, spiritual leadings, prophets, spiritual dreams, all these things are God’s idea. If He has given them, then they are a good thing. That said, the devil loves to try and manipulate what God has given by playing on the natural desires of people. People WANT experience, and that isn’t necessarily bad. We should want experience, however, only if it is God. With this approach we can desire something rightly, keeping it in its proper place.
The way we do this is by constantly being submitted to His word. The Bible is truth, and we have to approach it as such. We SHOULD NEVER approach God’s word with our understanding but seek it with His intent. How you may wonder will one do this? By being submitted. Submitted to Him, His truth, and His body which is the church. Whenever we reach a point where we cannot be taught, we have reached a point of being deceived. None of us knows everything, we are all in a process of learning.
A simpler way of saying the above scripture would be, “Prophecy can be sure when it is compared to His written word, pay attention to that, it will keep you grounded in a sinful world.” Prophecy in its basic form is inspired utterance, or speech inspired by God. Prophecy can include dreams and visions. Visions in a basic sense are like awake dreams. There are various ways of seeing them but they are definitely a real thing. When I have said that they are rare, what I mean is, rare in comparison to life.
There are 365 days in a year. If someone were having visions half or a quarter of those days or even weekly, that would not be rare. That would be often. Sometimes, unstable people will think they are having visions and/or dreams from God all the time. People like this will often constantly tell stories behind the words, “God said.” The truth is, as the above scripture states, we have a more sure prophetic word, speaking of His established word.
Visions and dreams are simply not needed to carry out day to day tasks. You don’t need supernatural visitations in order to fulfill most daily obligations. Typically speaking, and we see this all through scripture, when God speaks in a supernatural way it is for the purpose of doing something drastic, to save from some imminent danger trying to thwart His plan, or something in this nature. It is not to entertain, or to make someone look good.
Another aspect of this, is most people may never even experience a spiritual dream or vision. Also, if one does, it doesn’t make that one any more special than anyone else. There is a God given office of prophet who by nature will have experiences more often than others, but if they are a true prophet there will be evidences. Look at 1 Timothy 3:1-10. These scriptures speak specifically of church elders such as bishops or pastors and deacons. Notice that these speak of character and stability. Verse 10 specifically says, “These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.” If these offices must be tested and beyond reproach, couldn’t we say that all God’s offices would need these qualifications? The truth is, most people who claim to be prophets, or have a lot of these supernatural experiences, are often unstable and caught up in sin. They bounce around and act goofy. This is not the calling card of a person who walks closely with God, hearing from Him all the time.
Any spiritual experience will not come strictly by praying in the spirit, but certainly can. They come from the will of God and His desire to move. I’ve spent hours praying in the spirit, with no experience at all. Then at other times, while doing something completely mundane and not spiritual, I’ve had a vision. Our hearts should be to seek to know God, not have experience. We can not make experience happen and we should not seek it out. However if we have them, after they are tested with the Word, we can thank God for them.
There are some denominations that believe these things don’t happen anymore. Although I think it is foolish to believe this, I also understand their stance being that many are led astray by false experiences. The safest thing we can do is know where God would have us to connect, connect in faith, trust Him and be thankful. None of us knows it all but that doesn’t mean that some of us can’t know some. We should always have a heart to love God and learn from Him and each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 (NASB)
“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.”