Discern the spirit of the prophecy or the attitude it was given to you in.
1st Corinthians 14:3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
Discern the type of Prophetic Word: Forth telling (1st Timothy 4:14) vs. Foretelling (prediction)
Discern the Conditions vs. Promises. What is stated in the prophetic word What is implied by scripture? What is the promise and what are the conditions? What is potential vs. actual
Discern the responsibilities: What is God’s role and what will He sovereignly do? What is my role and responsibility?
Discern the time frame: Is it stated / implied in the prophecy: test it according to Deuteronomy 18:21-22 – If a prophet’s prophecy doesn’t come true in the time it is appointed to come true, he/she is not a true prophet. If timing is not stated put it on the shelf.
Discern the layers of the prophecy. What is known / unknown? What are all the possibilities? What is being said? What isn’t being said?
Submit it to the Elders. All prophecy needs to be given publicly not privately – for the interpretation and application (1st Corinthians 14:29). Because elders are given the task of overseeing the church (1st Peter 5:1-3), prophecy should be submitted for the discernment of the elders of a church.
3. Hold fast what is good
1st Timothy 1:18-20 ASV This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that by them thou mayest war the good warfare;
(19) holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith:
(20) of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be
taught not to blaspheme.
1st Timothy 4:14-16 ASV Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
(15) Be diligent in these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy progress may be manifest unto all.
(16) Take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee.
Before Timothy was sent to Ephesus, church elders (the presbytery) surrounded him and prayed over Him. In that time of prayer, the gift of teaching was given to Him. Other prophecies also proceeded to foretell what He would face. Paul encouraged Timothy to
1) Walk in Faith – Paul encouraged Timothy to stay true to Word of God that was there before the prophecies came. To stay strong and grow in faith. If we need multiple confirmations, we need to ask for it. If the circumstances are overwhelming, we need to ask for grace to go on.
2) Persevere under circumstances – In spite of the circumstances Paul reminded Timothy to keep doing what He was called to do – preach and teach the word – operate in His spiritual gifts.