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Weekly posts and an opportunity to ask questions or give your perspective. Let's study the Bible TOGETHER!

14 September 2012

Listening to God - 14 September

Who – or what – is the Holy Spirit? Jesus said He is our Helper.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18 (ESV)

In a sense, the Holy Spirit acts as our conscience. He tells us yes or no to things we want to do. We can’t over-ask of the Holy Spirit. He will give you a clear feeling as to the path He wants you to take (I find that I ask Him more when I think He will say no. Do I hope that I’m wrong and He will say yes instead?). If I ask and then have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, I know the answer is no!

So the Holy Spirit gives us a conscience. What else does He do?

He gives us words to say. We can trust those words just like we trust God to provide our needs. And sometimes, hard as it is, He might tell us to be silent!

…when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11 (ESV)

He guides our path. Paul tells us of one circumstance where the Holy Spirit told him NOT to go to Asia. We can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us in the right direction.

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. Acts 16:6-8 (ESV)

He helps us pray when we don’t know what to say. He even prays for us if we need Him to. We can trust Him to teach us to pray in God’s will.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

Pretty powerful helper! Have you taken advantage of the Helper God sent for you?  The next time you don’t know what to say – or you do know exactly what you want to say (we’ve all been THERE!), take a minute and ask the Spirit to give you the right words – not those angry words – but the words God would have you to say. You’ll be surprised what comes out of your mouth!

We’ve learned that God left us His Word as our Life Manual. He sent his Son to die for our sins so we could be free to come before Him in prayer. He’s given us the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort and even speak for us. But he’s also set up relationships for us. He uses all sorts of people to communicate with you!

God will send people into your path – pastors, teachers, friends – who will give you godly counsel. Some people in your life may appear to give godly counsel, but it’s really not. It’s up to you to use discernment skills (and the help of the Holy Spirit) to make sure that human advice is in alignment with God’s will for your life.

Make sure that your friends/teachers/pastors (I’ll call them mentors for sake of clarity) give you advice that lines up with similar circumstances in the Bible. God hasn’t changed His mind since He gave Moses those commandments! If your mentors try to tell you something that contradicts God, ignore them. Remember, a prophet – one who helps you understand the will of God – must be align properly with God.

Make sure that your mentor isn’t trying to manipulate you somehow. Sometimes your mentor may have an agenda that they don’t even see. All advice given by a mentor should point to Jesus and return all praise and honor to Him.

Make sure that your mentor has your ultimate good in mind. God isn’t in the short-term business. He absolutely helps us short-term, of course, but if the advice given to you won’t help you lead a more godly life long-term, refuse the advice. God wants you to have peace in the short- and long-term.

Sometimes what we think we need is very different from what we actually need. As this week closes, take a few minutes to read this story and ask yourself why Peter didn’t give alms – and how not giving the man what he asked for and clearly needed actually gave him benefits he’d never expected.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. Acts 3:1-8 (ESV)

What will you do with the things you’ve learned this week? How will knowing that the Holy Spirit will show you how to pray – or actually do the praying for you – give you peace and confidence in the week ahead? Can you think of a godly friend who you can bring alongside to help you in times of crisis? Can you think of a friend that is in need of YOUR help?

Will you commit to seeking better communication with God in the weeks to come? Specifically how would you put that into practice? Perhaps you’ll commit to read along with the church’s Bible Challenge. I post the scripture every week if you don’t have them already at readthroughthebiblechallenge.blogspot.com

Maybe that’s daunting. There are 29-31 days in a month. Proverbs contains 31 chapters. Will you commit to reading one chapter per day and writing down the verse(s) that stand out?

It’s probably not a good idea to put a time limit on prayer. If you’re like me you’ll spend more time watching the clock than actually praying. But will you commit to pray every morning and every evening?

If you have accepted any of the challenges and you’d like to have someone alongside to support you and check up on you, feel free to ask me via email. You can also ask a friend. Maybe you can meet with your friend at a local coffee shop once a week. Catch up on the week and challenge each other by asking what verses stuck out in your readings, remind each other to pray, and even pray together before you leave!

I’m excited about communicating better with God. I have many areas of weakness in my communication with God. I pray that you will pray for me as I work with the Holy Spirit to fill in some of my weak areas.

See you next week, when we’ll talk about ways that God gets our attention (ouch!).

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