Choosing the Holy Spirit’s Guidance
Sunday School, MBC, October 27, 2013
Did you like to play follow the leader when you were a kid?
Following directions, instead of figuring out everything on your own, can make life much smoother and easier. I have learned the hard way to start off using the directions in order to save myself time and heartache.
On professional football teams, quarterbacks are equipped with a speaker inside their helmet. When the coach calls in the next play for the offense, he uses a radio to communicate it to the quarterback. Once the quarterback hears the play, he huddles the offensive players together, relays the play to them and then carries out the instructions of his coach.
This model is similar to the way Christians should act. God has called us to follow His voice and carry out instructions for our lives. He speaks to us:
READ John 10:27 – my sheep hear my voice …
So what is the key to following Jesus each day? Hearing His voice as we walk in a close relationship with Him. God has not placed a speaker in our helmet, but He has placed His Spirit in our lives.
READ John 16:5-16
One day my secretary’s computer at work broke down. I like to dabble with computers, but I on this day I called IT to see if they could tell me what the problem was and if I could do anything about it. I quickly discovered, however, that I didn’t even know how to describe what was wrong. I didn’t know the names of the files or what was specifically wrong. I just knew the computer didn’t work.
So IT sent out a technician. While working on her computer, he also called the IT office. Unlike me, he knew how to describe what was needed. He used words I didn’t understand, but the person at the office did, and soon the computer was repaired. My need was met because someone came and communicated to headquarters in words I could not express. The apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8 that this is also what the Holy Spirit does for us. When we don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit knows precisely what we need and prays in a language the Father perfectly understands.
We have a choice every day. We can choose to listen to God’s instructions and follow His Spirit or we can ignore those promptings. But ignoring has its consequences.
READ Hebrews 3:7-8 and 3:15
What is the result of ignoring the Spirit’s voice in our lives? Each time we fail to recognize or refuse to follow the Spirit’s voice in our lives, our hearts go harder. Many Christians prefer to call their own plays and live their lives according to their own desires. Making the right choices when faced with critical decisions becomes easier when we remember the following truth: our role is not to call our own plays, but to follow the instructions from our Heavenly Coach given through the microphone of the Holy Spirit.
When we bought our car, we researched and found the one that would be best for us. We took results from research and picked a make we had never bought before. Until that time, I never even noticed this kind of car on the road. After we bought it, I began to notice several cars where we lived. When we moved to Longview, I not only noticed more cars, now there was three the same color as ours in our church.
In the same way, when we accept Christ and His Spirit comes to reside in our hearts, we begin to notice Him working around us in ways we haven’t noticed before. We begin to sense His voice prompting us. Recognizing Him and His work in our lives is the first step we must take.
As Jesus prepared to go to the cross, He wanted His disciples to know they would not be left alone in the world. In our focal passage today, Jesus gave some encouraging words to His disciples prior to His death. He told them that in their grief, He would provide them with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would have three roles in the world.
1. First, the Holy Spirit helps us recognize our need for God – “He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin”. He works in the hearts of those who are away from God.
2. Secondly, the Spirit makes us aware that we are separated from God because of our sin, that Christ is the answer for our separation from God –“because I am going to the Father where you can see Me no longer. The Spirit works in the conscience of individuals revealing truth, but there are many who still want to follow their own way.
READ Romans 1:18-19
3. The third aspect of the Spirit’s work in the world is that He reminds us of God’s attitude toward sin – “in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned”. He shows us the consequences of disobeying God’s Word. God will judge all evil, including Satan himself.
Those are the three main roles the Holy Spirit will play. In verse 13, Jesus specifically addresses the role the Holy Spirit would play in the lives of the disciples.
READ John 14:26
What would the Holy Spirit do for the disciples when Jesus was gone? He would teach them all things and remind them of everything Jesus had said to them. In the same way Jesus taught them and acted as their guide, now the Holy Spirit would teach and guide them.
In the book Healing the Masculine Soul, Gordon Dalbey says that when Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, he uses a Greek word, paraclete, that was an ancient warrior’s term. “Greek soldiers went into battle in pairs,” says Dalbey, “so when the enemy attacked, they could draw together back-to-back, covering each other’s blind side. One’s battle partner was the paraclete.” Our Lord does not send us to fight the good fight alone. The Holy Spirit is our battle partner who covers our blind side and fights for our well being. Tom Tripp, Colusa, California. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.
Why should we follow the Spirit’s lead? According to Jesus, there are at least three reasons.
1. The Holy Spirit guides us rather than forcing Himself on us. Verse 13 tells us this. He will, however, only control our thoughts and actions to the point we relinquish control. As we look for guidance in the decisions we make in life each day, the Spirit is there to help us make the right ones.
Some people say our English word Holy Ghost has its roots in an old Anglo-Saxon word from which we also get our word guest. Whether that is true or not, there is a relationship between ghost and guest. Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit is a Holy Guest in the life and body of the believer. Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
2. We should also follow the Spirit’s guidance because He can be trusted. Jesus tells us that He will “guide us in all truth”. One author states, “The function of the Spirit is not to communicate new truth or to instruct in matters unknown, but to illuminate what is revealed in Scripture.” Bernard Hamm
“He will guide you into all truth.” Truth may be compared to some cave with wondrous stalactites reaching from the roof, and others reaching from the floor, a cavern glittering with spar and abounding in marvels. Before entering the cavern you enquire for a guide, who comes with his lighted torch. He conducts you down to a considerable depth, and you find yourself in the midst of the cave. He leads you through different chambers. Here he points you to a little stream rushing from amid the rocks and indicates its rise and progress. There he points to some peculiar rock and tells you its name, then takes you into a large natural hall, tells you how many persons once feasted in it, and so on. Truth is a grand series of caverns, it is our glory to have so great and wise a conductor as the Holy Spirit. Imagine that we are coming to the darkness of it. He is a light shining in the midst of us to guide us. And by the light he shows us wonderful things. He teaches us by suggestion, direction, and illumination. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
3. Finally, we should follow the Spirit’s guidance because He speaks the words of the Father Himself. Verse 13 says that He will speak only what He hears from the Father.
You see or hear something once. You take no particular notice. A second time and you are intrigued for a moment, a third time and you take notice. The Bible works that way. It does not shriek something, it merely repeats it, showing us something again and again until it begins to register. Herbert O’Driscoll in And Every Wonder True. Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 6.
How does the Holy Spirit speak to us? Scripture, godly counsel, prayer, and the internal prompting in our lives.
How does He prompt us? There are two ways:
1. Through the peace He gives to our hearts.
READ Colossians 3:15
READ Philippians 4:6-7
That peace serves like an umpire in our hearts, letting us know when we are in or out of bounds according to God’s will and Word. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)
2. Through His work with our conscience.
READ Romans 9:1-2
The Spirit will bring conviction when we sin, the truth of Scripture when we are faced with moral dilemmas, and godly knowledge when we don’t know how to react or respond in certain situations.
The human body is a most remarkable machine. It can maintain a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees no matter what the weather is outside. Whether a man is at the Arctic Circle or the equator, his body temperature is about the same. There is an inner mechanism that makes the difference. The Holy Spirit dwells within the Christian to achieve this kind of stabilization in terms of spiritual health. Whether we face good times or bad, whether we are tempted or receiving spiritual nourishment, the Holy Spirit keeps us stable within. Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
Why is it so difficult for us to hear God’s voice during the daily routine of life? With so many voices competing for our attention (newspaper, radio, tv, billboards, opinions of others) we must train our heart to hear God’s voice in the midst of all other messages that come our way. How do we do this? Here are three ways:
1. Put up your spiritual antennas each day and listen for the Spirit’s prompting. Start your morning by meditating on Scripture. Focus your heart through prayer and tune you mind to hear God by recalling Scripture and praying without ceasing. Remember – God is not bound by your schedule or busy calendar. He speaks to you at any time. If you are too busy for God, then you are busier than God ever planned you to be!
2. Keep a journal of the Spirit’s prompting in your life each day this week. Keeping a journal will allow you to see how the Spirit has led you through difficult decisions or convicting sins you are dealing with. Recording those times will help to see Him at work.
3. Pray that God would give you His peace in the critical decisions you are facing.
READ 1 Thessalonians 5:17
By doing so, we can come back to Philippians 4:6-7.
It is possible to place sugar in water (or tea) until the saturation point is reached. Then the water cannot absorb any more sugar. It is impossible, however, to reach a saturation point with regard to the Holy Spirit. Our need is so great. The resources are so unlimited. Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).