Being Led By The Spirit

Over the past several months, I have been studying and teaching a women’s Bible study on the Book of Acts. The book is a wonderful account highlighting the events surrounding the birth of the early church – Christians – following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. The book is also a wonderful biographical account of the life of Paul.

Within the book, there are all kinds of twists and turns. The Holy Spirit is made evident to many believers in a variety of ways – dramatically through tongues, with the laying on of hands, given to many, given to few, given to Gentiles and given to Jews. The story of life and drama are woven throughout its pages. People die. People are raised to life. Testimonies are shared, speeches are given. People are imprisoned and jailbreaks occur. Amazing miracles are displayed. Demons are cast out. Jesus is proclaimed as the true Messiah. People are saved – even whole households! Gentiles are saved. Jews are saved. Controversy breaks out in communities and among believers. Dissension and discord are found in towns, in synagogues and within the temple in Jerusalem. Shipwrecks, flogging, stoning – these stories and more are all found in this amazing account written by Luke.

Never before have I worked through a full study of the Book of Acts. Many of the stories I have known, but they were in fragments in my mind. A passage from a Bible story was rediscovered from time to time when reading a devotional, listening to a sermon or recalled from a distant Vacation Bible story lesson. The pieces of the puzzle are now all coming together for me – and it has been a wonderful time of discovery.

God’s Word is amazing! No matter how many times you study it’s pages, there are always fresh new discoveries. One of the new revelations to me concerning Paul’s life are the specific times he shares his dependency on the Holy Spirit’s leading in his life. Now, not only is that an important part of each of our lives as a believer, but Paul has such vivid accounts of how the Holy Spirit spoke to him during these early days when the 'Comforter' became a presence for all believers. Listen to these accounts:

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” Acts 16:6-7

This account is just written as fact. No emotion input to tell us how things went or how Paul felt. Was he frustrated? Was he resolved? Was he confused? Just simply stated “but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to."

Soon after, we read:

“During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Acts 16:9-10

Where Paul thought he was headed was northeast, but where the Holy Spirit sent him was due west. Fascinating! Wouldn’t we all like the Holy Spirit to speak so clearly to us when we are confused or disappointed that the obstacles of life keep us from meeting our goals?

Later, Paul speaks again in very specific terms about the Holy Spirit’s leading in his life:

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.” Acts 20:22-23

What is so amazing and fascinating to me is that we have words like “compelled” and “I only know” to show us that Paul knew that he knew that the Holy Spirit was directing him to action – to go to Jerusalem. To confirm to us (and to Paul) that he was correct in his understanding of the Holy Spirit’s leading was a prophecy given to him by Agabus (see Acts 21:10-11) and then his later imprisonment in Jerusalem (see Acts 21:27-36).

Wow! What would it be like to live daily with the knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives? To be confident of that leading? To be at peace with that leading – even when it is not heading in the direction that we thought we were to go? I find great comfort in the passages in the Bible that show us that God doesn’t just “nudge” us once. He will confirm to us His leading through His Word, through prayer, through confirmation of other trusted believers and then through the circumstances and opportunities of life.

What great peace we can have walking in the Spirit each day. May we each entrust to God our plans for His plans – and be at peace along the twist and turns He brings into our daily journey with Him!  

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