Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Finding God's Will

Men who follow after God are often asked, “how does God guide you?” Is it by signs and wonders or a still small voice? Perhaps he guides through open and closed doors or through fleeces laid out? Does God bring to mind things from his word or while in prayer? Is there a special peace that accompanies such leadings? Where does godly council fit in?

I may not be very holy, and I have not followed after God for very long or followed him very well, but I have my answer to such questions. It is not a matter of how to follow but a matter if we will follow at all. The leading of God is not dependent upon the skill of the follower but on that of the leader. No one sings songs about how well they follow after God. Instead, we sing, “He leadeth me! He leadeth me! By his own hand he leadeth me!”

This is a wonder too great to express without the aid of the Holy Ghost. Follow after him and he will lead you. Can it really be that simple? Yes! As surely as he led Abraham and Moses across desert lands, so too will he lead you. As trustworthy as he was with Müller and Taylor, so too will he be with you. This promise is to you and to your children and to all who are far off. He will be your God, and you will be his people. He will be that voice behind you that says; “Here is the way, walk in it.”

Do not concern yourself with how that voice will sound. You might as well fret over whether the voice will be a tenor or baritone as ask whether it will be a sign or a gentle feeling. More than likely, the leading will come in a completely unexpected way. God delights to blow our socks off, he doesn’t often meet our expectations—he explodes them.

Yet I will answer the question asked. God often leads me by not leading me. He lets me go on in silence, not knowing what I am doing. Then later, he turns my head to look back at what has been accomplished since I last found my bearings and I see something wonderful. I see every step carefully placed in the exact right spot. I see that if I had gone to the left or to the right, some disaster would have befallen, yet God led me perfectly though the treacherous minefield—never letting me misstep. I believe that he does it this way, so that I might have full assurance that it was due to no skill of my own. The amazing thing that God accomplished was never in my head: I never knew about it until after it was already too late for me to impact it. Yet it was through my hand that God worked his might upon the world.

Our God is amazing.

Stop trying to figure him out and start following after him!

Self-Discipline

When you think of self-discipline, what type of person comes to mind?

I think of a career marine officer. The type that gets up before dawn, even if there is no particular need to, and goes for a run. His bed is made, his pantry is organized, his diet is fixed. His whole life is regimented.

Perhaps you think of someone else. Perhaps an Olympic athlete or a self-help guru.

Don’t we know that self-discipline is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The very first thing that ought come to our minds should be, “Christian.” Christians ought be models of self-control and discipline. What is more powerful and effective at building self-control, the world or heaven? Yet athletes and soldiers, by exceeding above us, demonstrate the opposite of what is the truth. What is more powerful for building self-control, the law or the gospel(Rom. 6:14, 2Cor. 3:3)? Yet, who in our religious movements are more self controlled, the sects that focus primarily on the gospel or the sects that focus primarily on the law? Look at the Mennonites and the Quakers and be amazed at the power of the law for life transformation. Then look at yourself and feel ashamed that the gospel, infinitely more efficacious than the law, doesn’t have the same affect on your life (Rom. 1:16).

We, who claim to have God over world and gospel over law, all too often have neither God nor gospel. The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power (1Cor. 4:20). If American Christianity has God and His gospel, where is the power? We might as well take the world’s power or law’s power, for apparently they are more effective. And that is what many people are doing. Because of us, God is mocked (Rom. 2:24). Why? Because we are in bondage. Like the Israelites of old (Isa. 52:4-5), the whole world, though us, can see that God is not powerful enough to free His people from their self-inflicted bondage.

Yet there is another way!

Read history. Do you know who it records as some of the most disciplined people who ever lived? Men like Jonathon Edwards, David Brainerd, and David Livingstone. These men could match any Olympic athlete in self-control. Beyond that, they could do it while being mocked, loosing children, being tortured, and even while being put to death. And yet, they were filled with joy for God and love for those that persecuted them. What athlete or soldier has trained themselves so well as this?

Is this not what we should expect? After all the Scriptures say that the world trains and competes for what is perishing but we for what is imperishable (1Cor. 9:25). Therefore, we should run the better. Let us then remember the men who ran well, and set them before us as an example (Php. 3:17, 2Th. 3:9, Heb. 6:11-12, Heb. 12:1), remembering that Him who empowered them to do so abides in us as well.

Rise up Christian. Look to the glory and do not quit the race until it is finished (1Cor. 9:27, Heb. 4:11, Luke 13:24). “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way … For to this end we toil and strive” (1Tim. 4:8-10). Do not be content with reading your Bible every day, staying the course in marriage, or getting to work on time. Yes, do those things, but know that the gospel is more powerful than that. Therefore, excel! Excel far beyond what you ever imagined you could. Live a life that says, “In me, ‘all will see how great, how great is our God.’”

God has ordained that the world would see His greatness and glory through His Church (Psa. 50:2) and through His saints (1Cor. 11:7, 2Cor. 8:23, 2Cor. 3:18). We are to be a city on a hill, a beacon of light to the world (Matt 5:14). And we are to do this, not by our own strength, but by His (Col. 1:29, John 15:5, John 5:19, Phil. 4:13, Prov 3:5).

Take Not Thy Holy Spirit from Me

Psalm 51:11

11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me. (ESV)

David’s cry to not have the Holy Spirit taken from him is a confusing psalm to us. How can a man after God’s own heart be in such doubt over losing the Holy Spirit? We interpret such psalms as spiritual weakness, we say to ourselves, “see even the best of us get down.” Surely, there is a truth to seeing such in these psalms, but I’ve been learning to see them in a different way as well.

When you live past the edge of your comfort zone in Christ you learn how dependent on the Holy Spirit’s work you really are. I’ve learned lately that without God’s help, I’d fall away from the faith very quickly. I find myself having crises where I want to leave the faith, where I want to stop loving God. I’ve been finding that these crises aren’t a mark of unchristian behavior as much as they are a mark of a healthy spiritual weakness. In a life heated by the fires of suffering, which is the fruit of faith, our shortcomings and our dependence upon God rise quickly to the surface. Such utterances are the cry of the poor in spirit as our weaknesses are smelted out of us.

If your Christianity and your walk are of the sort that you can mostly do it on your own power, it is not much of a Christian walk. However if you are living so far past your own comfort zone that there is no way you can get through a moment without His sustaining grace, you are probably walking by the Spirit much more fully. David was one such man of God. Without God’s grace, David knew he would fall, he would trip, he would go headlong, he would drown. Say it however you want, but David needed God in a way we typically do not.

Live such lives! Let God craft for you such a lifestyle as forces you to pray these psalms regularly. Lord Jesus, how can I encourage men to live this type of life: the type that cannot be lived according to our own strength?