Where the Holy Spirit Leads

Daily Devotional: Day 151

“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7, NKJV).

Paul, Silas and Timothy traveled together, delivering the decision of the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1ff) to the believers in several cities. Today’s passage tells us that at one point, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word of God in Asia. The Holy Spirit further prevented them from going into the Roman province of Bithynia. Instead, the Lord directed them to go to Macedonia; and they complied (cf. Acts 16:8-10).

Why would the Holy Spirit forbid God’s servants from preaching His word in certain places? After all, God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). On the surface, the Holy Spirit’s decision doesn’t make sense. But if we look at things from a spiritual perspective, it should make sense. We need to understand and respect the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Jesus left Him in charge of the Church. To borrow a term from the corporate world, we might call the Holy Spirit, the Director General of all ministry tasks undertaken by the Church. Knowing this, we will do well to discern the will of the Spirit in all our ministry endeavors.

When Paul and his team were forbidden to preach in Asia and Bithynia, they didn’t fight it. They didn’t blame it on the devil. They humbly submitted to the Spirit’s will. How did they know that the Spirit didn’t want them to go to Asia and Bithynia? They discerned. Today, discernment is one of the critical areas of need in the Church. Without discernment, we would be operating in the dark, thinking we are working for the Lord, when in fact, we are on our own.

Some ministry decisions may appear right in our eyes, but to the Holy Spirit we would be operating against God’s will for us. Additionally, some things may appear to us as ministry opportunities, but to the Holy Spirit, that ‘opportunity’ may not be God’s will for us. At times we are so determined to do what we assume (without discernment) to be God’s will, that we fail to notice the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Bottom lineThe fact that you see an open door does not mean you must walk through it. Not all open doors are meant for you to enter. Some open doors are traps, not opportunities. Learn – by prayer and study of the Bible – to discern what the Spirit is saying in any given situation. Go where the Spirit wants you to go; don’t go where the Spirit doesn’t want you to go, even if you see opportunities; and finally, do what the Spirit wants you to do, according to the timing of the Spirit.

May the Father bless and increase you! Amen.

For further study: Matthew 10:1-15

The Holy Spirit Is Convicting Unbelievers

Daily Devotional: Day 150

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35, NKJV).

Peter made a life changing discovery when he visited the house of Cornelius to preach to him the message of salvation. Up to this point, the Gospel had been preached to only Jews and Samaritans. But in God’s plan, the Gentiles, too, were destined to become part of God’s Israel. Initially reluctant to go to Cornelius’ house, Peter finally changed his mind upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit. After listening to Cornelius’ account of the vision of the angel, Peter became convinced of the character of God regarding His election of people for salvation. Amazed, he declared, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” What can we learn from this passage?

First, God is no respecter of persons. For centuries, most Jews believed that salvation was their exclusive right based on their ethnic identity. But God reveals that He is interested in anyone who sincerely seeks the true God through repentance and righteousness (cf. John 16:7-11). That is what Cornelius did, and God accepted Him. God is not moved by our looks, our race, our ethnicity, our socio-economic standing, our education, etc. Peter least expected that God would appoint the Gentiles for salvation, let alone pour His Holy Spirit upon them. But that day, he discovered that God’s heart is big enough to welcome people of all nations who heed His voice.

Second, regardless of people’s prior religious background, if they seek the truth, God will reveal it to them and lead them to salvation in Christ. Cornelius was a Roman soldier, and not a Jew. But he sought the truth, and little by little, he realized that the true God was not to be found in idols, demonic ceremonies and rituals. God gave him all the help he needed and eventually opened to him the door of salvation. This is an important point for us Christians.

Consider the Bible passage in John 16:7-11. Through the Holy Spirit, God is reaching people of all nations and religions, convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment. If anyone heeds His voice, God will lead him to Christ. We should, therefore, not rule anyone out (regardless of their current religion or lack of religion). God is actively at work among unbelievers to draw them to faith in Christ. Let’s pray that they will not resist the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, let’s reach out to as many unbelievers as we can, trusting that the Holy Spirit has gone before us to prepare the ground for the Word of God.

Have a blessed day, and may the Lord reveal His true nature to you! Amen.

For further study: Acts 11:1-18

Trademark of Honesty

Daily Devotional: Day 78

“But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3-4, RSV).

In the days after Pentecost some of the early Christians sold their property and brought the proceeds to the Apostles, to support the care of Christians in need. A man named Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, also sold their property with the intention of supporting the work of charity in the Church. However, after selling the property, they conspired to keep back part of the proceeds. Today’s Bible passage tells us that they came to Peter pretending that they had brought everything from the proceeds. But the Holy Spirit exposed their deception and Peter sharply rebuked Ananias for it. Let’s break down what this incident means for us today.

First, Satan is a liar and the father of lies (See John 8:44), so when you tell a lie or deceive people, you’re essentially making satan your ally. Lying isn’t just wrong; it’s dangerous. As God’s child, truth should be your trademark. Don’t side with the devil by speaking lies or deceiving people. Every lie you tell has consequences, and sooner or later it’s going to hurt you. Therefore, discipline yourself to be honest always. Second, lying to the Church of God or the Church’s representatives is something God doesn’t take lightly. The Holy Spirit dwells in the house of God, so when you lie to the Church you’re basically lying to the Holy Spirit. Ananias and his wife found out the hard way.

Likewise, when you lie to a fellow believer in whom dwells the Holy Spirit, again you’re lying to the Holy Spirit. You may not fall dead as Ananias and his wife did, but you won’t get away with it forever. Remember what Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37, emphasis mine). You’re a child of God. Consequently, deceiving people is against everything you represent. If you’ve done any of these things, repent and clothe yourself with the truth and honesty of Christ.  

Confess:

By the grace of God, I’ve been born again into the Truth of God. Lying is not my calling. Truth is my trademark and honesty is my lifestyle. By the power of the Holy Spirit in me, I can walk in truth always. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Acts 5:1-11

The Holy Spirit Is Your Prayer Partner

Daily Devotional: Day 7

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Rom 8:26, NIV).

Prayer doesn’t have to be stressful. A key part of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life is to support you in prayer, intercede for you and make up for your limitations. Invite him to lead, inspire and invigorate your prayer life. He understands your heart and can express your needs better than you do. He will speak to the Father for you with mysterious groans which human words can’t express. This does not mean you should quit praying. No, it means keep praying, but don’t do it alone. And don’t beat yourself up when you feel inadequate in prayer. Your prayer life will rise to a new level when you and the Holy Spirit work together. Why bear the burden alone when God has given you his own Spirit as your prayer partner? The Bible says, “And he [the Father] who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:27). Be excited that the Holy Spirit is your prayer partner.

When you pray, be aware that the Holy Spirit is your partner in that exercise. Effective prayer isn’t about how loud you pray, how long you pray, or how eloquent you are. You’ll enjoy prayer better when you understand the Holy Spirit’s role in your prayer life and allow him to do his work. If you don’t let the Holy Spirit help you, prayer can wear you down. When you feel weighed down by prayer, you’re probably going about it the wrong way. Prayer is about relationship, not about routine. God knows about your limitations. Sometimes, you just can’t find the right words to express what’s on your heart. Other times, you just feel overwhelmed and speechless.  Relax, the Holy Spirit gets it. The Father sent him into your life precisely for moments like these. He’s got your back. Be still, and let God be God (Psalm 46:10-11).

Prayer:

Daddy, thank you for sending your Spirit into my heart by which I can call you my Dad. I know that your Spirit intercedes for me. Henceforth, I shall not stress over my prayer life. I cast all my limitations on your Spirit, trusting him to be my sufficiency when I’m weak. In the Name of Jesus, I confess that my prayer life is energized and effective. Amen.

For further study: Zechariah 4:6-10; Acts 4:18-31

In the Spirit,

Pastor Steve

Charis Temple (non-denominational church)

Email: charristemple@gmail.com