There is such a thing as getting ahead of God as well as lagging behind Him. God has enabled us to know where He is leading and what to do when He is leading by the presence of His Holy Spirit. Far too often we rely on our own intuition. We try and figure things out on our own instead of utilizing the wisdom of the Holy Spirit who knows all.
The Scripture says in Romans 8:14:
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
A feature of being one of His is that we are led by Him. Francis Chan in his book “Forgotten God” said,
“If you or I had never been to a church and had read only the Old and New Testaments, we would have significant expectations of the Holy Spirit in our lives.”
The Holy Spirit leads us individually and corporately as the church. In the New Testament John 14:16-18 and 26 says:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
Also, John 16:5-11 says,
But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
And John 16:13-15:
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that He takes of mine and will disclose it to you.
His leading in the church.
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus (Acts 13:1-4).
They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:6-10).
There are some faith traditions that believe that the Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding do not happen in real-time. Some would say you are only hearing voices in your head or that He speaks broadly not to specific situations or on certain issues, almost like we can’t rely on Him to lead us step by step in our daily lives. I see in the Old and New Testaments just the opposite.
The Bible says in Romans 15:4,
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
The Apostles often looked back at the Scriptures to gain insight. They quoted the prophets and were acquainted with the Torah as they pressed through life living for God. Today we have both the Old and New Testaments to guide and instruct us.
Recently, the Holy Spirit spoke to me through a friend of mine who I see almost every morning. I had been praying and seeking God for answers on a situation and this friend stopped me as I was leaving and gave me a set of Scriptures that related exactly to my situation. I found great encouragement from this.
As it concerns our radio broadcast, Meeke and I pray that the Holy Spirit would speak through us as we look at the headlines of the day. We desire that He speak to His people and those who may be listening in that don’t know Him. We understand that we don’t know everyone intimately but we know that He knows and is desiring to use us in this way to share something that would be beneficial for the body! The Holy Spirit is the navigator of our show. Sometimes we start off wanting to talk about one particular topic but God stirs us in another direction. We are open and prefer that.
Led by the Spirit.
I want to go back to the Old Testament to Numbers 9 and read of the foreshadowing of how the Spirit would lead and desires to lead today. Numbers 9:15-23 is vital for understanding God’s expectation of His people:
Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle until morning. That is how it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would comply with the Lord’s ordinance and not set out. If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, in accordance with the command of the Lord they remained camped. Then in accordance with the command of the Lord they set out. If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning they would set out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out; they did what the Lord required, in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses (NASB 1995).
It can be a difficult thing to follow the Spirit. We have to train our hearts to desire to be led. We have to ask God to give us a heart that does not desire to be in charge but is willing to move when He says moves and stop when He says stop.
Karl Barth once said:
“When we are at our wits’ end for an answer, then the Holy Spirit can give us an answer. But how can He give us an answer when we are still well supplied with all sorts of answers of our own?”
Just as the children of Israel were careful to obey the command of the Lord as to when to set out and when to camp, we have to do the same in our daily lives. We have to train our ears to hear the Spirit, understand His promptings, and not fear being led by Him.