Are You Open to the Holy Spirits’ Guidance?
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his followers. As He was going back up to heaven He promised that He would not leave them as orphans but would give them (and us) His Spirit. And He did. Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit into each follower’s life caused a great change in His followers. The abrupt transition of Jesus’ disciples and followers from disillusioned and defeated men and women at Jesus’ crucifixion to triumphant and jubilant men and women after the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit has been considered an enigma of the Church and a historical phenomenon! Those looking on could not understand!
When Jesus was crucified the disciples all ran away leaving Jesus alone and denied even knowing Him. But after the resurrection and Jesus’ victory over death, these frightened men were no longer afraid to follow Jesus even if it meant to the death. And then when they were given the Holy Spirit they were transformed and changed into men and women who were on fire for Christ. They went out boldly and enthusiastically preaching the gospel and healing the sick and feeding the hungry and loving one another without holding anything back. And nearly all of the twelve disciples who had once run away from Jesus in his hour of need eventually willingly died as martyrs for their faith in Him.
After the Holy Spirit swept in like the wind and fell as tongues of fire onto each of the followers of Jesus in the upper room on Pentecost (Acts 2) the lives of these men and women were never the same again! One of the first things Jesus’ followers did after receiving the Holy Spirit was to come together and become the Church. And the main hallmark of that first early Church was love.
These first followers of Jesus loved one another and were family to one another. Scripture says: “All of the believers were together and had all things in common and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:44-47)
Thousands of people in Jerusalem became Christians and joined this very first Christian Church because everyone could see the great love that these followers of Christ had for each other and the way they took care of one another and how they also cared for the poor. Miracles and healings followed them wherever they went. If Christ’s Church could put away all of their criticisms and love like that today, how many souls would be drawn to Christ we can only imagine!
The Spirit gives the ability to preach and teach to some of Christ’s followers and to others the power to heal and do miraculous deeds, and speak in tongues. If everyone was given the gift of preaching and no one was given the gift to help out or do the bookkeeping or manage the affairs of the church or visit the sick or lead the praise and music or build and maintain the building, we would not be able to function. With differing gifts we can all fit together and form the Church! And the Holy Spirit is behind it all!
So one of the first things God did through the Holy Spirit was to put all of these individual followers of Christ into one body which we call the “Church”. Scripture records: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free – all have been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) The Holy Spirit baptizes each one of us into the body of Christ. It is a mystery how He puts us all together into one family making us brothers and sisters in Christ.
Scripture says that the Holy Spirit gives each of us a gift or two as He sees fit so that we can do good works in the body of Christ. Some receive the gift of teaching and some prophecy and others healing or the word of knowledge. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11) What gift or gifts has He given you? If you lack some ability you can ask and God will give you what you need to make a good life. The Spirit is also there to comfort you, teach you, lead you, and work miracles through you. It’s exciting to live life in the Spirit.
Of course we need to be open to the leading of the Spirit in our lives and not push Him away. He will give you nudges and guide you where you should be going. Recently our local news station reported an incident that I believe illustrates this point about the Holy Spirit nudging people. First we see the faces of two of the firemen on the local news as they describe what happened through their tears.
The story goes like this. Two weeks ago we had a winter storm here in Texas and a young mother with her baby girl is driving at night through the snow storm over a bridge when her car careens off the road and rolls down into the raging river below. The car lands upside down in the dark icy waters trapping the mother and baby in the car under frigid waters in the raging storm. No one sees the car plunge into the river so it remains there all night long.
It is sleeting the next morning but someone finally sees the car in the river and calls emergency. Firemen arrive on the scene and find that the car is almost completely submerged under the freezing waters. It is dangerous to even reach the car but several firemen make it. They pull the lifeless body of the young woman out of the car and not seeing anyone else inside, they leave. An icy river is rushing through the inside of the car and no one could survive long under those circumstances.
But as they are leaving the scene one of the fireman hears a voice inside his head crying out, “Help me! Help me!” And he feels an urge to go back to the car one more time. The other firemen argue that it is dangerous and difficult to swim through the freezing waters again to the submerged car. And anyway they have already checked it out and didn’t see anyone else. But then a second fireman hears the voice inside his head crying, “Help me! Help me!”
The firemen swim back through the icy waters and this time they see the baby girl in the back of the submerged car in her car seat, hanging upside down just inches above the rushing icy waters. She is barely alive but her tiny eyes open as the men unhook her from her car seat and gently carry her to safety. The baby had been hanging upside down over the rushing water for twelve hours before the firemen showed up. She was rushed to a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas and is making a full recovery now. The firemen cried as they told this story!
Where did the nudge the fireman got come from? And whose voice did the firemen hear crying out, “Help me! Help me!”? I believe it was the nudge and voice of the Holy Spirit guiding them back to the baby girl. More than several times in my life I have been strongly nudged to do something or pray for someone and I feel that these nudges have been from the Holy Spirit. And I believe that I would have been used more to do God’s work if I had been more open to listen for the Spirit’s voice.
You and I have been guided and nudged throughout our lives by the voice of the Holy Spirit who is with us if we are believers. Let us be more open to listening for the Spirit’s still small voice in our lives guiding us and teaching us and empowering us to do God’s work. Let us be ready for whatever the Spirit sends our way. If we will open ourselves to His guidance, like those first followers of Christ did, our lives will never be the same again!