Fortune Telling vs. Prophesying

After realizing that even the disciples cast lots (practiced divination), I began to wonder what the Bible says about signs and miracles occurring in present day. I was first led to remember that scriptures mention many great things done in God’s name by people other than Jesus. In the book of Exodus, Moses parted the Red Sea, spoke to God through a burning bush, and (along with his brother Aaron) performed many acts of wonder for the Pharoah of Egypt (including the 10 plagues). Peter waked on water (Matthew 14:28-31) and raised Tabitha (aka Dorcas) from the dead (Acts 8:36-42) amongst other deeds. Although I must note the fact that Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a fortune telling slave girl (Acts 16:16-18), I can’t help but wonder if they were actually bothered by the fact that she was following them around shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” or if the real issue was the fact she was enslaved because of her abilities and wanted to be free. Why would a demon make its presence known by advertising for God?

From there I was led to ponder how fortune telling was performed in Biblical times. I thought of people who entered a trance-like state to deliver the messages of the spirit(s) that entered them (i.e. the Oracle of Delphi) … and realized it sounded strikingly similar to the way the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2), making the believers begin to speak in tongues. Could it be that the process is similar, but some were open to receiving power from any source while others (who only believed in the God of the Bible) did not seek power but instead received it as a blessing due to their devout worship? Peter explained the believers’ newfound ability to speak in tongues with these words spoken by the prophet Joel:

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. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below… and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Acts 2:17-21

When I consider these words and the fact the entire book of Revelation is a prediction of the future which came after Jesus died – a vision of the apostle John – I can’t help but feel that the difference between “fortune telling” and “prophesying” is a matter of who/what is credited as the source of information. It seems that those who give the glory to God are prophesying whereas those who do not are fortune tellers.

Over the years, as I came to accept the life path I felt called to and pondered where and when to open up about the fact I believe myself to be a Christian who is meant to use fortune telling in poker, there is one verse that came to mind innumerable times:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

I had been taught to hear those words as proof that you must believe in Jesus to be saved. I thought it was a reminder that I shouldn’t need anything other than the example Jesus set in order to have faith. Yet, just a few verses later, after telling the disciples to believe in him based on the evidence of the miracles they have seen, Jesus adds:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.

John 14:12-14

I have never asked God for any special abilities, but I have never stopped praying that I would live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. I haven’t attended church regularly in years, but I have prayed many times for protection against evil and guidance on what to do with my life. In time, I came to see why God might want to be a fortune telling poker player (more on that in the next post), but first and foremost, I had to accept this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Before I could conceive of why, I had to find the faith to believe that I could. (Reminder: Peter had to believe he could walk on water to stay afloat. Matthew 15:31) Multiple years passed between the time I began to feel messages coming through the cards and the day I began to analyze poker hands from a fortune telling perspective. I did not want to be different from all the Christians I know. I knew they would worry about my fate as soon as I declared what I felt called to do. I hoped there might be an easier way (i.e. succeed as a poker player before admitting the source of my intuition). Yet, what is becoming more and more clear with every word I type here about my spiritual beliefs is that it makes perfect sense that I would not find great success at poker before first explaining why I want to be a winning player. I want you to know that I do what I do because of my belief in God; that any special abilities I have are gifts from the Lord. I hope to be an example of the difference you can make in the world when you have faith. Although my path is one that can lead to fortune and fame, my goal is to fulfill my purpose on earth as God intended.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:6-7

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