THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE – 6

Bible Reading: Acts 5:1-16

Before moving on to the third gift of the Spirit in the category of gifts of revelation, I would like to take one final look at two further manifestations of the word of knowledge.

The church in the early chapters of the book of Acts was growing very quickly and the people were united and supporting and caring for one another [Acts 4:32-35]. Ananias and Sapphira were members of the early church, and by a word of knowledge, Peter saw that this couple had lied to the Holy Spirit. They had sold a possession [verse 1], but having made a promise to give the proceeds from the sale to the Lord, they only gave a part of what they had promised. The remainder they kept back for themselves, but then pretended that they had given everything to the Lord. Their sin was deception!

It would not have been possible for Peter to know by human knowledge what Ananias and Sapphira had done, but God knew and revealed it to Peter. The Bible says, “All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” [Hebrews 4:13]. The result of the word of knowledge in this situation was the judgment of hypocrisy, and the purifying of the church! Immediately after the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira, the church experienced an awesome sense of the presence of God and continuing power in the church [verse 12-16].

Some years ago I visited Australia and was asked to minister at a church that I had not been to before. I began by sharing my testimony, but the pastor interrupted me and asked me to move in the word of knowledge. He asked several people to stand up, and told them that I would come and speak a word of knowledge into their lives. At first I was horrified. I had never been put into a situation like this before. As I approached the first person, a woman, I was praying one of those arrow prayers for help. I looked at her and said, “Twenty-seven years ago you had an abortion and have been living with pain and condemnation ever since!” That was all I said. No one touched her, but she fell to the ground in a heap. Sometime later she sat up, and said, “I am free! It has all gone!” A word of knowledge had caused her to face up to her sin and she had been set free!

Questions:

In a few words, what have you learned about the word of knowledge over these past six days?

What impact does the word of knowledge have in ministering to other people?

In what way does it always bring glory to God? How can we avoid taking that glory for ourselves?

Would you ask God to give you supernatural manifestations of His knowledge, and then be open to do this at whatever time He wishes to do so?

THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE – 5

Bible Reading: John 4:1-26; 1:43-51

Before leaving the subject of the word of knowledge it is valuable to see this gift operating in the ministry of Jesus. Remember that although He was always God, that He laid aside his right to minister as God and ministered as a man under the anointing of the Holy Spirit [see Acts 10:38]. He was therefore dependant upon the Holy Spirit and received from the Holy Spirit words of knowledge.

In John chapter four we read of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. Just see how the conversation developed between Jesus and the woman:

 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’  for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” [John 4:15-19]

Jesus could not possibly have this kind of knowledge about the woman at the well. He knew by the word of knowledge both about her past and her present situation. The result of this supernatural knowledge was that the woman recognised that Jesus was a prophet and her heart was opened to Him.

A second example of the word of knowledge in the ministry of Jesus concerned Nathanael. The story is found in John chapter 1. Philip had told Nathanael about Jesus, but Nathanael was very doubtful, and said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip then brought Nathanael to Jesus. When Jesus saw Nathanael, He recognised that Nathanael was an Israelite in whom there was no deceit. Then Jesus spoke a word of knowledge about him. He said, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” [John 1:48]. Nathanael was shocked by these words because Jesus had never met him before, and yet knew him. Jesus knew him not by natural sight but by a revelation of the Holy Spirit. As a result of this word of knowledge, Nathanael said of Jesus, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel” [verse 49].

Questions:

What was the impact of the word of knowledge from each of these two stories from the ministry of Jesus?

Read John 14:12. This verse says that we will do the same things that Jesus did and even greater things. Jesus moved in the power of the Spirit, and in today’s stories we see Him moving in the word of knowledge. What hinders you from ministering in the same way that Jesus ministered?

Could you explain in simple language to someone else the meaning and purpose of the word of knowledge?

THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE – 4

THE PROBLEM OF DEBT – Part 2

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:19-34

Our debt was still not reduced but God had given me a word of knowledge in a dream, that a Chinese man would buy us a house to live in and that this would be the answer to our debt problem.

My wife had laughed at me when I returned from Singapore and heard that I had not met the Chinese man. A few weeks after the trip to Singapore I travelled to Indonesia, and spoke at a Full Gospel Business Men’s breakfast meeting in the capital, Jakarta. Suddenly, as I was speaking, I saw the same man that I had seen in my dream. Although I had never met him before he approached me at the end of the meeting, and asked if I was free for the remainder of the morning. He told me that he had bought a large plot of land in Jakarta in order to build his new bank, and wanted me to dedicate the land to the Lord and to pray over it. That took most of the morning, and then he invited me to have lunch with him.

During the morning I had struggled to know how I could broach the subject of my dream with this man. As we were having lunch he asked where we lived. He followed that question by asking where our income came from. Then he asked me how much debt I had! I wasn’t expecting that and I questioned why he asked. His response left me dumbfounded! He said, “Several weeks ago I saw you coming to me in a dream. The Lord showed me that you were in debt!” We both had a dream and the two dreams were a perfect match! He proceeded to tell me that he would not pay off my debt, but would like to buy a house in London, that he would own, but which we would look after for him and not have to pay rent. He asked me to find the house, let him know the cost, and he would send money through his lawyer! I asked him what sort of house he would like, and he replied, “At least five bedrooms!” The house he bought was four years old, had six double bedrooms, three reception rooms, a driveway and a landscaped garden!

After two years we had paid off our debts, and we lived in that house for eight years before the owner decided that it was time to sell. In those eight years he never once came to see the house. The house was not only a blessing to us, but also to others who needed a home, and who came and nested in the house.

Questions:

What is God’s promise in Matthew 6:33? What does it mean to “seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness? How does that apply to your life?

In what way does this story, written over the past two days, illustrate the nature and character of God?

Why do you think that even after the word of knowledge in the dream God still made us wait before He provided? What lessons can we learn from this?

THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE – 3

THE PROBLEM OF DEBT – Part 1

Bible Reading: Romans 13:8-10; Proverbs 22:7

Twenty-five years ago my wife and I got into serious financial difficulties. We had moved into South London and struggled with the cost of living in the London area. I should not have got credit cards. For two years I travelled constantly, ministering in North America, Europe and Asia. I used the credit cards for all purchases including the long haul air tickets. The money I received from churches and people who supported us did not cover our costs.

We were able to pay our mortgage and general living expenses but only had enough left to pay the minimum 5% payment on the credit cards. In two years I had a £16,000 credit card debt.

One night God spoke to me through my daily Bible reading. He said, “Owe no one anything except to love one another” [Romans 13:8 NKJV]. I put the credit cards in a sealed envelope and made a decision not to touch them again until all the debts were paid. In the following months I was not able to pay more than the minimum credit card payments. One night I became so desperate that I cried out to God and cried myself to sleep.

I woke up at about 1.30am having been startled by a dream. I saw the face of a Chinese man who had sharply defined features. When I awoke I asked the Lord who this Chinese man was. The reply came immediately, “He is going to buy you a house to live in!” Shocked and excited I woke my wife and told her that a Chinese man was going to buy us a house. My wife knows me so well, and knows that 10% of my ideas come from God and 90% of my ideas are just good ideas!

Over the following months there was no sign of the Chinese man! I confess that on a visit to Singapore I kept looking for the Chinese man I had seen in the dream, but never saw him. On my return home from that trip my wife asked if I had met him, and I answered her rather sheepishly. She laughed at me! Stirred up by her laughing I told her that she had a “Sarah spirit!” God told Abraham that He was going to give him and Sarah and son, and Sarah laughed because, humanly speaking, it was impossible.  [To be continued]

Questions:

Do you think that “Owe no man anything” is a commandment for today? Why do you think that God says this? Read Proverbs 22:7

I tried to deal with my debt, then got desperate and finally cried out to God. God does expect us to proactively face our problems, but why do you think that God stepped in when I stopped trying to solve the problem by myself? Do you have a problem that you have unsuccessfully tried to solve by yourself?

In today’s story God gave me a dream. Do you believe that God still speaks and even gives words of wisdom and knowledge through dreams?

THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE – 2

Bible Reading: Acts of the Apostles 9:1-19

A genuine word of knowledge will be very clear and detailed. The Holy Spirit never speaks in vague terms. I have been troubled by the “so-called words of knowledge,” often given in large meetings, when a speaker says something like, “There is someone in this meeting with a heart condition.” I have to question if this is a genuine word of knowledge because of the lack of specific detail and the high possibility of guesswork. The word of knowledge is clear, detailed and leaves a person in no doubt that God has spoken!

Saul of Tarsus had a remarkable meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He had been travelling to Damascus to persecute the Christians in that city. As a result of his meeting with Jesus Saul was blinded, and was led by the hand and brought into the city. The Lord spoke to Ananias, gave him a word of knowledge and sent him to minister to Saul. The word of knowledge was directive and contained accurate information. Ananias was to go a specific street called “Straight,” a specific house owned by Judas, and to a specific man, Saul of Tarsus, whom he would find in prayer [verse 11]. It could not be more specific than that! Ananias ministered to Saul, prophesied over him, his eyes were opened, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and he was baptized [verses 15-18]. Is it conceivable that there would not have been an apostle Paul, but for Ananias who acted on a word of knowledge and was obedient to the Lord.

A well-known pastor of a large church in Australia had a problem with someone stealing ladies handbags in the church services. Whilst on a flight to Korea the pastor had been praying about this problem. Suddenly, he had a vision of a young man with long blonde hair, sitting in specific numbered seat in the large auditorium where the church met. On his arrival in Korea the pastor called one of his elders in Australia and shared the vision with him. He asked the elders to check if there was a man fitting the description of the man he had seen and sitting in that numbered seat. The following Sunday morning at the church service in Australia a man fitting the description of the man in the vision was sitting in that specific seat. He was challenged, repented and turned to the Lord.

In each of these stories we see how the word of knowledge was specific, detailed and brought remarkable results.

Questions:

What were the key characteristics of Ananias’ walk with the Lord, combined with the word of knowledge that made his ministry so effective?

What are the key elements of a word of knowledge, and why do you think that this gift is so powerful.

The word of wisdom and the word of knowledge very often function together. Why do you think that this is the case?

THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE – 1

Bible Reading: 2 Kings 6:8-12

The word of knowledge is very similar to the word of wisdom and these two manifestations of the Spirit work very closely together. Just as the word of wisdom is God revealing a small part of His infinite wisdom, so the word of knowledge is God revealing a small part of His infinite knowledge, normally about a specific person or situation.

Writing about the word of knowledge, Derek Prince says, “Like a word of wisdom, supernatural knowledge does not come by natural reasoning, education, or training, but directly by the Holy Spirit, and it is operated only under God’s control. I cannot have a word of knowledge merely by the exercise of my will. I may need knowledge, and I may be open to receiving it from God, but whether He gives it is ultimately in His hands” [Derek Prince, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” page 73].

In 1971 I got engaged to my lovely wife, Esther. Almost immediately after our engagement we experienced something rather unpleasant. There was a single man in the church who had also fancied Esther and was jealous that she had become engaged to me. He wrote Esther a very nasty poisoned pen letter. Although the letter was unsigned we both knew who had written it.

After prayer I decided to face up this person with the letter that he had written. I went to his home, but his mother told me that he was out for the day, and would not be back until evening. I sat in the car and asked the Lord what I should do. What happened next was a total surprise. The Lord spoke into my spirit and told me where the man was and what I should do! He told me that I should drive eight miles to a local beauty spot and then park the car. I should then walk a quarter of a mile, and I would find him walking on the footpath. That is exactly what I did, and I found him exactly where the Lord showed me that he would be. That is the word of knowledge! Incidentally, the young man told me that he had written the letter, and told me he would not do it again.

That same young man died recently, but before he died he sent us a letter to apologise for what had happened all those years ago. To me it is remarkable how a word of knowledge gave direction, led to a confession of sin and reconciliation.

Questions:

How do you see the word of knowledge operating in the story of the king of Syria and the prophet Elisha from our Bible reading today? What was the result of the word of knowledge in this situation?

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit can still speak today in such a way as He spoke to me in the case of the man who wrote the poison pen letter?

Can you think of another example of the word of knowledge recorded in the God’s Word?

THE WORD OF WISDOM – 4

Bible Reading: Matthew 20:16-26

As a young Christian I faced a lot of opposition at home and especially from my stepfather. He hated the fact that I had become a Christian and often attacked me and cynically attacked the Christian faith. He did everything he could to turn me away from following Jesus.

I had read several times the story of Moses and the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, and of the amazing miracle as God made a way for them when there seemed to be no way. One day my stepfather came into my room and tried to persuade me that the Bible was a book of fairy tales. He told me that stories such as the crossing of the Red Sea were not true. I clearly remember him saying to me that there was a time each year when the waters of the Red Sea receded and were very shallow. He told me that if the people of Israel had crossed the Red Sea, then the waters would have been only six to twelve inches deep.

For a few moments I was stuck and had no answer, but then suddenly I blurted out the words, “How amazing that all those Egyptians were drowned in only six inches of water!” I had never considered that thought before and I was so surprised by those words. The effect that these words had was that my stepfather left the room and never mentioned that story again! As I look back, more than fifty years later, I am convinced that this was a word of wisdom.

In Matthew’s Gospel it is recorded that Jesus said,

You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” [Matthew 10:18-20].

Jesus was speaking to his disciples about a time of persecution, and He promised them that it would be given to them at that time what they should speak, and that it would be the Holy Spirit who would speak through them. Isn’t it exciting that at times when we need supernatural help that the Holy Spirit can speak through us and give us the words that we should speak? Here is the promise of the manifestation of the word of wisdom.

Questions:

Have you ever experienced God giving you words, or an answer, that changed your situation or circumstances and yet had nothing to do with your natural powers of reasoning and thinking? Why not meditate on what happened and take time to thank God?

What do you think is the reason that word of wisdom is so important and has such a powerful impact?

THE WORD OF WISDOM – 3

Bible Reading: Luke 5:4-10

The word of wisdom is a powerful gift of the Spirit. It is supernatural, meaning that it comes directly from the Holy Spirit, and does not have its source in normal human thinking. In my own experience it has caused me to exclaim, “Wow! Where did that come from?” It always has a positive spiritual effect.

Today we will see how this gift operated powerfully in the ministry of Jesus. Here are just a three of the many examples.

The disciples of Jesus had been fishing all night without success. Jesus then told Simon Peter to launch out into the deep and let down their nets. It was now the wrong time of day to try and catch fish, and yet here is a carpenter, by the anointing of the Spirit, telling a fisherman where to catch fish! It was a directive word of wisdom and the result was amazing – they caught so many fish that even the nets could not hold them all. There were even more amazing results! These were deep conviction of sin [verse 8], direction on catching men [verse 10], and the dedication of the fishermen to follow Jesus [verse 11]. A word of wisdom from the Spirit has dramatic results!

The Scribes and Pharisees tried to use a woman, caught in the act of adultery, to trap Jesus. If He disagreed with her being stoned to death, then He was denying the Law of Moses, and yet He was compassionate towards the woman. At this point comes a word of wisdom, and Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” [John 4:8-7]. This word had a double effect. Religious sinners were convicted and a condemned person set free!

Spies were sent by the religious leaders to trap Jesus [Luke 20:20-26]. They first tried to flatter Him, and then asked Him a leading question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Jesus recognised the trap. He asked whose image and inscription was on a coin. Then came the word of wisdom, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” [Luke 20:25]. They had no answer to this remarkable word of wisdom. A word of wisdom had silenced the opposition!

Questions:

How would you describe in a few words the word of wisdom having seen it manifest in the life and ministry of Jesus?

Looking at our three examples today, what were the effects of the word of wisdom in the ministry of Jesus?

In what way was the word of wisdom far more powerful than human wisdom or natural thinking?

Paul makes it clear that we should pursue love and desire spiritual gifts [see 1 Corinthians 14:1]. Why not ask God to give you this manifestation of the Spirit so that you will be more effective in serving God?

THE WORD OF WISDOM – 2

Bible Reading: 1 Kings 3:16-28; Ephesians 1:15-23

One of the most remarkable stories of wisdom in the Old Testament comes from the story of King Solomon. When he first became king, Solomon was humble and recognised his need of God’s help. He confessed before God his inability [1 Kings 3:7,9]. Because of this God gave Solomon a wise and understanding heart [1 Kings 3:12].

Two prostitutes, who both claimed to be the mother of the same baby, face Solomon. The baby of one of the women had died and she had stolen the baby of the other woman. Now they stand before Solomon, both claiming that they are the mother of the baby who is still alive. We now live in an age when we turn to DNA evidence to find out the truth, but in Solomon’s time no such evidence was available.

Now see the remarkable wisdom that God gave Solomon in that situation. It is in no way how one might expect Solomon to act. God’s wisdom is so different from men’s wisdom. The king asks for a sword and commands that the living child be cut in two, and then each woman should receive half of his body. Who would have ever thought of doing something like that? The real mother of the living child pleads that he not be killed but be given to the other woman. That is the heart of a real mother. The one who was not his mother says, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.” Thus by supernatural wisdom the king knows the truth, and the real mother keeps her baby. Now see the much wider implication of this remarkable godly wisdom:

“And all Israel heard of the judgement that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice” [1 Kings 3:28]. One of the effects of supernatural wisdom is that righteousness will always prevail.

For a moment consider another aspect of God’s wisdom – the cross! The Greeks loved plausible words of human wisdom and philosophy. It brought division and favouritism and this had spilled over into the church in Corinth. Paul spoke clearly into that situation by stating that Christ crucified was a stumbling block and foolishness to Jews and Greek. However, to those called by God, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God [1 Cor. 1:23-24]. Once again we see that God’s wisdom is not like man’s wisdom, but instead results in righteousness.

Questions:

In what way is God’s wisdom different to men’s natural wisdom?

Why do you think it is that people prefer to do things in their own way, rather than trust God to show them His wisdom? What happens when we do things our way and don’t seek God’s way of doing things?

Recognising the importance of supernatural wisdom, will you begin to pray Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17 for the leaders in your Church of fellowship?

THE WORD OF WISDOM – 1

Bible Reading: Proverbs 3:1-12

In simple language, wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. It is leaning not on your own understanding [Proverbs 3:5]. It is an acceptance and knowledge of divine revelation. It comes through the consistent reading of God’s Word, over years of experience, and in answer to prayer for wisdom. If we lack wisdom we can ask God for wisdom, and He will give it to us [James 1:5]. In everyday practical matters this will normally come as a gradual illumination of your mind in which you understand what you should do.

The word of wisdom is very different. It is a tiny part of God’s total wisdom directly and supernaturally imparted to a person by the Holy Spirit. By the word of wisdom God supernaturally leads us to know what to do in a particular situation, or reveals the solution to a specific problem. The reason this gift is given by supernatural means is because the results would not be available by natural means. The Holy Spirit imparts this wisdom in a way we could not get it for ourselves.

Wisdom and knowledge often function together. The word of wisdom and the word of knowledge sit together in the Scripture [1 Corinthians 12:8]. When God gives a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom is often needed to know how to apply it. For example, is it to be shared or is it for prayer? Basically, knowledge gives us facts and wisdom shows us what to do about those facts.

Some years ago I was teaching in a Bible School about Jesus ministering under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I made the statement that although Jesus was God, He chose not minister out of His deity but as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit. All He spoke and did was as a man empowered by the Holy Spirit. This caused a fiery reaction from one young lady in the class who challenged me. She shouted out, “How dare you! Only God could calm the storm on Galilee.” For a moment I was stunned and lost for words, but suddenly I found myself saying to her, “Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and it stood still for a whole day,” [Joshua 10:12-15], was he a man or God?” The young lady had no answer and just sat down! I was not thinking about Joshua. I had not been reading that passage recently, so where did it come from. I am convinced that it was a word of wisdom, given by the Holy Spirit at the right moment, to meet a specific need.

Tomorrow we will continue to look at wisdom and consider one of the most remarkable manifestations of wisdom in all of history.

Questions:

In what way does the word of wisdom as a gift of the Spirit differ from the general everyday wisdom we need for living?

Have you ever experienced personally a word of wisdom that brought light and totally changed a situation that you were facing? What were the circumstances and what was the ultimate effect of that word?