Thursday, 3 June 2010

Led By The Spirit

I remember shortly after I was converted to Christianity that I was amazed to read the teaching of Christ in the Gospel of John about the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke of the Spirit leading, guiding, filling and teaching His followers. My amazement grew as I read the account of the Church's birth and growth in The Acts of The Apostles (which some scholars refer to as The Acts of the Holy Spirit). Jesus made the staggering claim that His followers would be better off without His physical presence because they could then experience the gift of the Holy Spirit. Wow!

After I discovered this, I began praying and seeking what Jesus offered. I had had a born-again experience, but what I read Jesus teaching seemed to be supplementary to this. It wasn't long before I did indeed experience a new dimension of the Holy Spirit's presence in my life. I knew that when I committed my life to Christ and received God's gift of saving faith that this was made available to me by the Holy Spirit. Salvation is only possible when the Holy Spirit enters a person's heart. But there is a life in the Spirit that is punctuated by a spiritual upgrade where we begin by humbly openning ourselves up to a fresh experience with God's Spirit. I believe this is revealed in the Feasts of Israel mentioned in Leviticus 23. 

After the Feast of Passover (which foreshadowed our salvation due to the death of Christ) came the Feast of Pentecost (which was the namesake of the history making event recorded in Acts 2). You'll notice that each of the Feasts ("festivals") dramatically forecasted the progression from the Old Covenant to the fullness of the New Covenant in sequential order.

After my experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I found that the Bible came alive. As a teenager I would read between 10 and 20 chapters of the Bible a day. My hunger for God's Word increased dramatically. I began to devouring teaching tapes from the world's best preachers. I read books and books and books. And I found a growing desire to pray - to talk with God. I began praying spontaneously. I prayed for seemingly trivial things. I read the biography of Dawson Trotman (the founder of the Navigators, a disciple-making organisation set up to help Billy Graham to follow-up new Christians). There was one comment in this book that changed my life. The book described the short life of Dawson up until his conversion to Christ and through to the period of him setting up Navigators and ending abruptly when he died 'prematurely' saving a drowning person. The book contained a record of Dawson Trotman's deepest regret just before he died. "I didn't pray for enough! I didn't pray for enough!" he lamented.

Dawson Trotman had prayed for many things. Many of these outlandish prayers were either witnessed or journaled. He would get a large map and lay his hands over nations and pray for them. He would pray for God to change that nation and then made himself available for God to use him in answer to these prayers. Before he died, Dawson had experienced amazing answers to his 20 year old prayers. So amazing were these answers that he began to realise that if he had only asked for more in prayer, God probably would have answered those prayers as well! Just before he died he marvelled that prayers he had been praying for 20 to 30 years had eventually been divinely granted. Thus, his deep regret that he hadn't prayer for enough.
After I read this, I began to pray for more. I discovered that there are some prayers that God will always answer-
Dear God, change my life however You want...
Lord Jesus, have Your way in my life...
Oh God, help me to live for You...
Lord, speak to me and help me to yield to You...
Holy God, bring people into my life who will help me to grow into Christ's image...
Oh God, speak through me and don't even let me know You're doing it...
After I learned to pray in this fashion, I began to sense more clearly the Spirit's leading. I continue to learn what it means to be led by the Spirit. In recent times I have experienced answers to these prayers that has increased my realisation of being led by the Spirit. The other week I was in Los Angeles and was driving to meet some seriously smart Christian scholars at Reasons To Believe. On the way there I was praying for God's guidance. I began to feel that I needed to film an interview with these guys. Then I felt that I needed to do this creatively. Then I weird idea popped into my head. I got there and shared the idea with these guys and they ran with it. After I had completed the filming, one of the admin staff made the comment that this was amazing timing because the one I had particularly honoured was not usually the focus of their ministry and that it was his birthday next week. When I completed the project I sent it to him as a birthday present. He was rapt!

Just this week I felt to ring my brother just before we left for our holidays. I spoke with him at length and encouraged him that God was working in his life. The next day, after we had started our vacation, he sent me a text saying that he had just been sacked. I was able to remind him again that God was working in his life. That same day I felt to pray urgently for someone in our church about 5AM. I did so. Then about an hour after that I received a text from this person asking for prayer.
The more I read God's Word, the more I want to fuel being led by His Spirit and to discover more about what it means to be led by Spirit. Are you reading His Word every day? Are you being led by His Spirit? Do you take all your concerns to Him in prayer- even the trivial ones?
People led by the Holy Spirit...
1. Learn the language of the Spirit through reading the Bible
2. Pray for God to have His way in their lives
3. Are prepared to act on godly promptings.
4. Bring to God even their trivial requests, heart-aches, or thanksgivings.
5. Regard guilt not as condemnation but as the gift of conviction and a message from the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
When I read First Corinthians 12 and 14, I read of an early Church that was led by the Spirit. When I read the Book of Acts, I read of apostolic leaders who were led by the Spirit. I want our church to be led by the Spirit. I hope that we each deepen our knowledge of the Scriptures and thus learn the language of the Spirit. I hope that we increasingly open ourselves to the Spirit and exercise the gifts of the Spirit- but most importantly, that we will bear the fruit of the Spirit as we are led by the Spirit. This will be test of the claim that we are genuinely Spirit-led.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Father, help us to be led by Your Spirit. Prompt us to pray. Cause people to come into lives who will stretch us, challenge us, correct us and encourage us. Increase our hunger for Your Word. Help us to hear You and please You. In Jesus' Name,

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