A Gift Often Left Unopened:
the Holy Spirit
Thanksgiving always begs the question, what are we thankful for? One gift our Father gives us is the Holy Spirit to teach, help, guide and counsel each one of us. John 14:15-17, 1 John 2:27
For years, I felt like God forgot me on this account. There were several reasons for this, but a couple were I really didn’t ask (Luke 11:13) and I wasn’t making an effort to listen. The Spirit is given to help us, but if we aren’t seeking and listening we’ll believe He isn’t there at all.
This gift we have been given is tremendous. If you’ve never stopped to listen to His counsel you may wonder – what is it like? Here is a quote I pulled off a fellow blogger’s site, RunHoly, from a woman and her experience of this gift;
“I know when the Lord is speaking to me because literally the air around me changes. There is a stillness that settles all my raging emotions and questions and simply bids me to be silent, listen, and consider what I hear. And then it’s almost as if it comes from the center of my being–the answer, the revelation, the instruction, and it is sealed in this definite place inside of me that I can’t describe. I only know that I must do what I’ve been prompted to do. If I resist, I can’t breathe, but when I say yes and obey, the most incredible sense of knowing and peace overtakes me, and the matter is settled once and for all.” –Michelle Mckinney Hammond
To learn to listen to the Spirit’s leading in our lives is an art especially these days with all the noise around us and in our heads. Cultivating this habit of being still and hearing the Spirit’s counsel is critical for several reasons:
The Spirit’s counsel:
• Is contrary to man’s wisdom
• Brings God’s power into our actions
• Has fruitful outcomes
• Is different from man’s wisdom
The Bible is loaded with examples of these points but here are two that I recently read. In Luke 5:5, fishermen had been casting their nets all day and catching nothing. Jesus told them to cast the nets out one more time. But what would another cast do when all the previous ones turned up empty? According to the wisdom of the world, it would be stupid to waste time and energy doing exactly what you had done before and what you proved doesn’t work, right? But at Jesus’ word, they cast their nets one more time and caught so much fish that their boat started to sink. The Spirit’s counsel is contrary to the world’s and at His counsel things happen. When He tells us to do something it’s for a reason and when we act according to His instruction, we are acting in a power beyond ourselves. We accomplish what we could never do on our own.
If the Spirit tells us to do something and we don’t or we aren’t listening, we will miss out on the blessing. What if those fishermen just ignored Him? What if they listened but said – you’re crazy there aren’t any fish I’m tired and going home? Often, when we do hear His instruction, we don’t realize it was His instruction and/or we talk ourselves out of following it because it doesn’t resonate with the wisdom we know and miss out on the blessings. God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts and that is why it’s so important to develop the art of listening to the Spirit. God wants to do so much in our lives, but many aren’t listening. And we have to listen to Him because His counsel is different from most counsel we receive. Many are praying and crying out to God, but are they listening to the instruction that will be an answer to their prayer?
Another great example is Joshua who sought and listened to God’s counsel and the accomplishments in his life showed it. The time he didn’t seek God’s counsel in Joshua 9:14 and acted on his own judgment he was defeated. But when he sought God’s counsel and obeyed it, God prospered all his efforts. It was tremendous the nations he conquered and the battles he won. But look at the crazy instructions God gave him, Jericho being a great example. Walking around a city blowing trumpets in order to conquer it? Doesn’t seem like a very effective strategy by the world’s definitions of logic. However, it brought the walls down and the Israelites took over the city. What unique counsel; not something man’s wisdom would suggest. But the oddity of God’s guidance brought glory to whom glory and praise are due – God. There was no doubt it was God’s doing. Listening to His instruction is for our good and His glory. Joshua 23:10, Judges 7:2
A main point of these two scenarios in Luke and Joshua and MANY others in the Bible where we see the uniqueness, contrary nature, power and outcomes of God’s counsel is that we should seek His counsel and not our own. We need to learn to listen to the one He gave us to counsel us, the Holy Spirit. He uses different strategies and if we aren’t listening we won’t know what they are and we’ll act in our own judgment and we will live the consequences of it.
What does it mean to be lead by the Spirit? To listen to the Spirit? To seek His counsel? It means abiding in the entire Word of God to become personally aquainted with His voice to be able to discern it in our lives. It means cultivating the habit of being still in His presence, seeking His counsel, understanding confirmation and acting on it. I’m finding this practice has MANY rewards as I’m learning to listen. When we are listening to His counsel for our lives and walking in it then we are doing His will and not our own of what we think we should do. We are walking in the spirit – literally walking according to His words.
God gave the Spirit to reside with us always to teach, counsel and guide. But if we never stop and listen, what’s the point of this incredible gift? It is like having a present that you never open and use. He has given us the Spirit for our good, to help us and lead us where we need to go, and to fill our lives with actions done in God’s power not ours.
This holiday season take time to consider this awesome gift and show true gratitude by cultivating the art of seeking and listening to His counsel. You never know what will happen – perhaps your nets will break or you’ll conquer those seemingly impossible giants. Whatever it is you’ll be acting in His power that is bound to blow your socks off.