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Chaplain-in-Chief's January Sermon

We continue our study of the Holy Spirit

Preparing to Hear the Holy Spirit

Read Acts 13:1-4


            Making sure that we receive as well as communicate the correct message is of extreme importance. You may have heard of the church which stopped ordering from a certain store in the city.


The manager called and asked if there was a problem. The church secretary said, “Do you remember the pencils we ordered a few weeks ago for placement in our pews?” The manger replied, “Yes. Did you not receive them?” The secretary said, “Well, yes we did received them; but they did not have the name of the church on them as we requested. The message read ‘Play golf next Sunday.’”


This was not the message the church wanted to communicate. This morning we want to consider communication; not from person to person, but rather from the Holy Spirit to the Christian. How can we be sure that the guidance we are receiving is from the Holy Spirit? Let us note four items in providing an answer. First,


I. Hearing the Holy Spirit involves faithfulness in the Christian Life


            Our faithfulness in the Christian journey puts us in the place where the Holy Spirit can guide us (Acts 13:1-4). This is well illustrated in our Scripture text. The believers in Antioch ministered unto the Lord and fasted; that is, they placed spiritual development before physical need. Their relationship with God was more important than any other item in life.


            In this spiritual condition of yieldedness to the Lord, the Holy Spirit gave His guidance. They were in a spiritual position to be led. The Spirit thus guided them to send forth Paul on his historic missionary journeys.


           A second reality is


II. Hearing the Holy Spirit involves listening for His voice or guidance


            You remember the number of times John in the Book of Revelation stated, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Rev. 2:11). The more we listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit the more attune we become to His guidance.


            I remember taking two years of Latin in high school. On the first day of the course the teacher introduced herself and then began to speak what we did not understand. After what seemed like an eternity, she began to speak in English. She told us that as we went through the semester we would begin to understand her questions. Sure enough, the more we listened the more we understood. Understanding the guidance of the Holy Spirit comes as we listen for His leadership. So in some ways learning to understand the promptings of the Holy Spirit is akin to

learning a foreign language; the more we

listen the more we understand. Also


III. The Holy Spirit speaks in many different ways


            He speaks, for example, through the Word of God. If we are not faithfully exploring the Word of God every day, we have closed a vital link for Spirit communication. Jesus told His first century disciples that the Holy Spirit would guide them into truth, and that He would show them the things of Christ, and that He would glorify Christ, and that He would bring to their remembrance what Christ had taught (John 16:12-15). The Holy Spirit uses the Scripture to do this. Let us never neglect the daily study of the Bible.


            The Holy Spirit also uses life circumstances to communicate to us. Life is a great adventure. It is filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly – but through it all there is a great adventure. As believers we are traveling with God. C. S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Read the book of Psalms or the book of Proverbs and learn what certain Old Testament saints heard from the Spirit out of life experiences. Let us learn to look at each event and pray, “Holy Spirit what are you teaching me now?” Life is not happenstance and life is not accident for the child of God (Rom. 8:28).


            In addition, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through conscience. Charles Stanley states, “The conscience is that inner capacity within each of us to discern right from wrong, wise from unwise.”[1] When one becomes a believer, the task of conscience increases. The conscience becomes a divine tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to guide the child of God. The conscience gives that uneasy feeling when a certain decision is not correct. The Apostle Paul spoke of this Holy Spirit work when he wrote to the church of Rome, My conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 9:1-2). In conclusion,


IV. There are spiritual markers that line up when the Holy Spirit is guiding us.


            This helps us answer the question, “How can I tell the difference between the Holy Spirit’s guidance and some other guidance?”


            In the little island of Inagua in the Bahamas there is a commercial port that off loads scores of ships. There is a unique navigational system used to bring the ships in safely. There are three large wooden posts located to one side of the harbor. When the ship’s captain has so aligned those posts that they appear as one, he knows he is in position to safely enter the harbor. [2] The Holy Spirit has given us markers that when aligned assure us that this is Holy Spirit guidance.

            One such marker is peace. The Apostle Paul spoke of the peace of God which passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7). Paul stated that this peace guards the heart and mind. Although difficult to define, this peace would seem to be an inner tranquility or absence of conflict in the decision making process. If this peace is lacking, tread softly in making that decision or going in that direction. The leading of the Holy Spirit will give us inner peace and assurance rather than turmoil and uncertainty.


            Another marker is the Word of God. The Bible was written by men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:20-21). The Holy Spirit will never guide us to go where the Bible forbids us to go. The Bible is God’s mind in print. The only way we can know what the Holy Spirit thinks abut something is to read the Bible. Just about every decision that we will ever make will find a guiding principles in the Scripture. The Bible of all markers the Holy Spirit will give us is the greatest and must never be violated.


            One last marker is wisdom. Wisdom is seeing life through God’s eyes or seeing our problems through God’s principles. The question thus becomes, “Is this the wisest thing that I can do at this time?”


            When these markers line up, we can walk forward in the assurance of the Spirit’s guidance.


[1] Charles Stanley, The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers), p. 190.

[2] Ibid, p. 165.