DARE to Believe God!
Be Led By The Spirit
"Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6). It is His Spirit that accomplishes the work, not our strength. As we allow His Spirit to rule, and guide us, more is accomplished than we could ever do in our own strength.
For God to work through us to accomplish His will, we need to learn how to be led by the Spirit of God. I don't just mean being led on the major issues, but on each and every decision we make. Even as small as what clothes we wear, and what gas station we stop in. That's how involved God wants to become in our lives.
When the nation of Israel was led out of Egypt, "the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night" (Ex. 13:21). I know, I know, sometimes it's easier to follow when there is a visible leading like that. But, we have the Spirit of God living inside of us now, and that is a clearer guide, if we learn to follow it.
Paul said in Romans 8:14 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Therefore, being led by the Spirit is a quality of the sons of God. Who are the sons of God? We are of course. All those who "received Him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His (Jesus') name" (John 1:12).
Jesus Himself was led by the Spirit right from the start of His earthly ministry. "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." (Matt 4:1; Luke 4:1). He (Jesus) is our example. According to his own words in John 14:12: "the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" we are to do the same as He did.
But wait, what if I don't want to be led by the Spirit? After all, if I let the Holy Spirit lead me around all the time, He might make me do things that I don't want to. I'd end up acting strange, and nobody would want to be around me.
In one sense, that's true. When we let the Holy Spirit lead and guide us, He will take us out of our comfort zone, and make us do some things that we don't really want to do. However, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). If we aren't alive any more anyway, it doesn't really matter what people think of us. After all, you can't hurt a dead man.
It's only through our obedience to the Spirit in allowing Him to take us out of our comfort zone that we will grow. If, as I've already stated, we are trying to become more like Jesus. So, we need to learn to do some things we've never done before. That requires taking some risks, but not wild risks, Spirit led risks.
When two parties enter into a covenant, they gain total rights to each other. As part of the covenant ceremony, they give each other their weapons, and their cloaks, just like David and Jonathan did in 1 Samuel 18:1-4. The weapons that Jonathan gave David were probably the best around, since He was the son of the king. By giving David his cloak, he was giving David his authority as the king's son.
We are partakers of the covenant between God the Father, and God the Son, ratified in the blood of the Son (Jesus). As heirs to that covenant, we have a right to everything that our covenant partners (God - both Father and Son) has. They likewise, have a right to everything that we have. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are to make Him Lord over our lives. As Lord, He has a right to everything we are.
Unlike man, God will never abuse that right. Although the Spirit of God leads us so that His purposes may be accomplished, He doesn't use us. When someone uses another, they take something out of them. Whenever God works through us, he imparts something into us.
It is His purposes that are important:
No matter what, by allowing Him to work His will through us, we are blessed. Many times, I have allowed the Spirit to guide me, not knowing what purpose He had, and find out that His purpose is only for my benefit.
So, how do we accomplish this? First, we need to understand what it means to be led by the Spirit. If you take a small child into a shopping mall, you hold its hand. You have to, otherwise the child will wander off, and get lost. That's what being led by the Spirit is. Allowing Him to lead us by the hand. That way, He can show us where to go, what's safe to do, and keep us away from what is dangerous.
Just as that child is led by its father, our heavenly Father desires to lead us. Just like that child is led by the parent all the time, so the Spirit wants to lead us all the time. It doesn't do any good to let the Spirit lead us sometimes, then go off on our own and get into trouble.
To be led by the Spirit, we need to hear the what the Spirit says. A baby only a couple of weeks old will recognize the sound of its mother's and father's voices. Why? Because that child has heard those voices, and learned that they belong to people who love and care for it. Unfortunately for us, we have more distractions getting in the way of our learning the sound of God's voice. But, if we will take the time to be quiet and listen, we will find that He is talking to us.
It isn't necessary to "be spiritual" to talk to God, just talk to Him. Ask His opinion, He'll be glad to tell it to you, and you can be sure He has an opinion (the right opinion) on everything. Don't just wait for "spiritual" issues to talk to Him, our God is a practical God, concerned with our everyday lives.
My wife used to ask the Holy Spirit to take her to the right garage sales. At that time, we were learning how to trust God for our finances, and didn't have much cash available. If we didn't buy clothes at garage sales, we didn't buy them at all. He would direct her to the best garage sales, with exactly what we need, at wonderful prices. How's that for practical.
As we travel now, we ask the Holy Spirit to show us which gas stations to stop at. When it looks like it's time for gas, I'll ask where to stop. The Holy Spirit will tell me which exit to get off at.
One time recently, there were two gas stations right off the exit, but the Spirit led me to one two blocks down the street. The price wasn't any better, but right next door was a church youth group having a car wash in a restaurant parking lot to raise money for a missions trip. We were able to minister to them, and plant seed in that trip.
God will also use circumstances to lead and guide us. Open and closed doors at the right time are a possible sign from Him. But be careful, Satan can open a door too. I have found that when a door opens, I need to ask God if it is the right one. Otherwise, I can walk into an ambush, instead of a blessing.
There are some requirements for being led by the Spirit. I've mentioned several of them in passing, but let's go over them, just to be sure.
Availability - This is the number one requirement to be led by the Spirit. If we are so busy with our own life, that we don't have time for Him, when will He be able to talk to us. It may take some rearranging of what we think are our priorities to become available.
There is a difference between a servant, and one who serves. The servant is available for whatever the master desires, without expecting reward, without setting conditions and requirements. On the other hand, one who serves will define what they will do, and how they will do it. If what the master needs doesn't fall within those bounds, then they won't do anything. God is looking for servants.
Relationship - Have you ever tried to give advice to someone you don't know. I'll guarantee you, they won't take it. We're no different. Without a true relationship, we're not going to listen to what the Spirit has to say to us. We won't even be able to recognize His voice.
I'm talking about more here than just salvation. Yes, when we become saved, we gain a relationship with the Lord. But He desires for that relationship to grow, until we truly know Him.
We must endeavor to make the Holy Spirit comfortable in our presence. If you work with people who talk about things you aren't interested in, you probably don't spend much extra time with them. Why should we expect God to do otherwise? If all we speak is unbelief and fear, why should He hang around to hear it?
Obedience - If we make ourselves available and listen, God will speak to us. Then we have to do something with what He says. It doesn't matter if we like what He told us or not. In fact, we probably won't. What matters is that we obey.
If God tells you to give up smoking, for example, and you don't, He'll wait. But, don't expect Him to tell you what to do about some other problem you're having, because He won't. Every time you talk to Him, He'll just remind you of the last thing He told you. God's very patient and will stay on that subject until you obey.
Taking Chances - When a child learns to walk, they have to take chances. Then when they learn to talk, they have to take more chances. In fact, everything we learn requires us to take chances. This is because the process of learning includes within it making mistakes.
Why is it that we allow ourselves mistakes in the natural, but not in the spirit? I don't mean sin, I mean making a honest mistake. When we are learning how to be led by the Spirit, there's a good chance we'll think He said something that He didn't. That's Okay, go with it anyway. I'd always rather make a mistake in doing more than God said then in doing less than God said. You know something? Usually, when I go the direction that is in God's favor, I've gone the right direction.
For example, when I'm not sure of what to put in an offering, I'll ask God. Sometimes, because I'm distracted, or just my carnal mind is getting in the way, I'm not sure of His answer. You know, I've got more than one answer floating around in my head. Well, in a case like that, it's always best to go with the higher number. That way, I have no chance of cheating God. If I give more than He said, He'll make it up to me.
Swimming Upstream - For some reason, trying to do what God says always brings opposition. Some well meaning saint, who's never tried themselves, will be glad to "straighten you out." It's amazing how us Christians can be used by the enemy sometimes.
One of the biggest problems in the church today is complacency. We reach a "comfort zone" in our walk, and don't want to go any farther. Worse than that, we don't want anyone else to go farther, either.
If God's told you something, go with it. Don't listen to man's wisdom, even if it comes from another Christian. I've learned a secret from God. If you are earnestly seeking Him, and trying to do His will, He won't let you get off track. You might start to veer off a little from time to time, but He will get you right back on.
Continued in the book "DARE to Believe God!"
Copyright © 1997, 2001 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life. All rights reserved.