When in doubt, wait it out.

We must keep our ears attuned to listen for prophetic words and signs. But again, one must use extreme caution and "wait it out" to see whether the word is from God, lest we be tricked by a false gift or a false impression.

One warning: Be very careful about speaking for the Lord or interpreting His message! 2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us, "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

It's so easy to get a word from God and interpret it totally different than what He means by it. It's better to wait to see how He unfolds it, or even if it's from Him. Even after the prophets of the Old Testament, no one had a clue about what the Messianic prophecies meant until after Jesus' death—and even then many still never got it (also see Jeremiah 23:31-32).

As you can see, determining authentic prophecy and recognizing true prophets is very serious business to God. One can never be too careful. It was no surprise at our hometown revival that it never did rain those three days. But now I'm not deterred. I know prophets do exist and I've become much better at spotting the real thing.

[1] http://christiananswers.net/dictionary/prophet.html, accessed June 15, 2008.

Julie Ferwerda is the author of The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love, and has written for publications such as Marriage Partnership, Focus on the Family, and Discipleship Journal. Find out more:  www.JulieFerwerda.com