Seeking the Holy Spirit

How to Recognize the Guidance of the Holy Spirit

Hello, my name is Lance Maddox.  I’m the Worship Pastor, responsible for the Music & Worship Ministries at Eastmont Baptist Church.  Our church is currently in search of a Senior Pastor. Our Pastor search team raised the question of “How to best recognize the guidance of the Holy Spirit?”  Using what the bible says about the Holy Spirit and from personal and professional experience, I want to break it down in simple steps of how to recognize His guidance.

  1. Have a personal relationship with Jesus.
  2. Have and recognize the Holy Spirit within you.
  3. See His work through you.
  4. Understand what He wants from you.

1 – Have a relationship with Jesus

In order to answer how we are to best recognize the guidance of The Holy Spirit, we first have to know who IS the Holy Spirit and how do we get Him?  I appreciate our Children’s Pastor, Jeremy for leading out these videos with an introduction to The Holy Spirit. He points out that The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person manifestation of God in Spirit and that He became available to all believers after Jesus ascended into Heaven.  Jeremy also makes it clear that accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the basis for receiving the power of The Holy Spirit. Without Jesus as your Lord and Savior, nothing beyond this would make any sense.

Names of the Holy Spirit

Throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit has many names. To name a few, The Spirit, The Spirit of Truth, The Spirit of Jesus, The Spirit of The Lord, but I think my favorite is The Advocate. The Holy Spirit represents God within us, connects us to Him and helps us become more like Him. He cannot be accepted by the world (John 14:17) because He is not of the world. He desires what is contrary to the flesh. (Galatians 5:17)  God the Father sent Him as a deposit, a guarantee, a “foreshadowing” of what is to come… (John 14:15-17) (Acts 1:4-5) (2 Corinthians 5:5) Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be there to teach them and remind them of what Jesus had already taught them… (John 14:26)

And that leads us to our 2nd step – to Have the Holy Spirit within you…

2 – Have the Holy Spirit within you

The Holy Spirit resides within believers. (John 14:15-17)  We are born of flesh and reborn of Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes you and puts His characteristics & qualities of believers who work to identify those in Him. (John 3:5-6) (Galatians 5:22-23)

Once you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your relationship begins…  With God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Spirit… But before moving on, let me just say that if you haven’t surrendered your life to Jesus and begun a relationship with Him, then now is the time to be confident about where you will spend eternity.  Take time right now to pray. Admit that you’re a sinner and ask Jesus to save you from sin. (Romans 3:23) (Romans 6:23) Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for your sins. (Romans 5:8) Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead and know that He has saved you… (Romans 10:9)

Jobs of the Holy Spirit

If you have already surrendered your life to Jesus, then the Holy Spirit is within you. (John 14:15-17)  He gives you the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2) He is your guide. (John 16:13) (Isaiah 11:2) Your eternal Advocate and Helper. (John 14:15-16, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7, Romans 8:26)  Your source for supernatural wisdom (Acts 6:10) (Isaiah 11:2), discernment (Judges 3:10) (John 16:8-11) (1 Corinthians 2:15-16), understanding (Isaiah 11:2), and knowledge. (Isaiah 11:2) In scripture there are even references to Him providing prophecy (1 Samuel 10:6, Joel 2:28, Acts 2:16-21, Acts 19:6), dreams (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:16-21), visions  (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:16-21, Acts 16:9), and revelation… (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:16-21)

The Holy Spirit empowers (Isaiah 61:1) (Isaiah 44:3-5) (Isaiah 42:1) (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) and gives strength (Isaiah 11:2), but also rest… (Isaiah 63:14)

We cannot recognize someone we don’t know…  We have to KNOW Jesus through a personal relationship in order to have the Holy Spirit within us. (John 14:15-17)  And we need a growing knowledge of what the Bible says about Him so that we can recognize the Holy Spirit within us.  (1 John 4:1-6) (1 Corinthians 12:3) It is at this point that we can begin to see Him working through us… which leads us to step 3 – See His work through you…

3 – See His work through you

In Matthew 4:1, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” And in Acts 16, we find Paul, Silas & Timothy trying to do what they think is right and the Holy Spirit is stopping them…  This teaches us that the Holy Spirit sometimes leads us where we wouldn’t go on our own. At times it can seem bad, but Jesus being tempted by the devil showed His humanity.  Looking at Paul, Silas & Timothy, it can seem like God doesn’t want them to continue spreading the Word, but His plans are over our heads and as the Holy Spirit directed them, Paul received a vision to go spread the Word in Macedonia…  Whether to challenge us or to keep us on His path, it is for us to follow Him and trust Him and God will be glorified!

In Matthew 10, Jesus tells the 12 disciples as He is sending them out to preach the gospel, that if they get arrested not to worry about what to say… “At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”   This helps us to know that in our most difficult times, The Holy Spirit can take control of our mouths and use us to glorify God in Heaven!  This takes a lot of faith and trust as well as patience and self-control. So often, we want to say the first thing on our minds, but what we need is the Holy Spirit to speak words that honor our Heavenly Father through us…

Can We Deny the Holy Spirit?

Can the Holy Spirit be denied? Yes…  2 words that are used in Scripture are “blasphemy” and “grieve.”  In Mark 3:29, it says, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”  Jesus is being accused by His family and teachers of the law of being out of His mind or possessed by a demon… They were crediting the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil…

In Isaiah 63, God’s people “rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit” and God turned against them until they repented…  In Ephesians 4:30, Scripture says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Ephesians 4 teaches about getting along with others and letting the fruit of the Holy Spirit work through you.  To “grieve” the Holy Spirit means to DENY the urging and prompting of the Holy Spirit within you to do what’s right and to blaspheme the Him means to give His credit to the devil…

We finally get to the last step, step 4 – Understand what He wants from you.

4 – Understand what He wants from you

The simplest way to look at this is by reading Galatians 5:22-23.  It lists out the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…  As you walk with Jesus and grow in your relationship with Him, have the Holy Spirit inside you and begin to recognize His work through you, knowing what the bible says about the Him – we begin to see and understand basic principles emerge like how we should treat one another and how we should look different from the world…

In 1 Corinthians 12 (also found in Romans 12), Paul teaches us about how we receive the Holy Spirit.  Through gifts, acts of service, messages & roles within the church everyone has a place and all are important. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…” 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  Gifts of the Spirit that enable us to fulfill our role in the body of Christ can take time to recognize, develop and implement, but each one of us together makes up the body of Christ and we are all to submit to our giftings and use them according to His purposes…

Submit to His Leading

The more you submit to His leading in small ways, the more prepared you are to be used in big ways…   You might feel an urging to speak to someone about Jesus or find yourself somewhere you didn’t intend to be.  It’s not always laid out plain as day, but afterward, it’s usually pretty clear why you found yourself somewhere you wouldn’t have gone on your own or why you spoke to a person you wouldn’t have otherwise.  There are, however, times that we are only meant to plant seeds and not see the harvest. We can’t always expect some grand revelation. It’s all about Jesus and surrendering to The Spirit’s leading. (Romans 12:1)

Test Every Spirit

We can test these “leadings” to make sure it is the Holy Spirit and not just us or something or someone else wanting it to be…  1 John 4 (also found in 1 Corinthians 12:3) encourages us to test every spirit to see if they are from God. It says that ungodly spirits speak from the world’s viewpoint and won’t acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.  In Romans 12:2, it says, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  

This takes it a step further and says that it’s not just about testing the Spirit but making sure that you’re doing what God wants you to do and think and live like God wants you to. That helps you determine what God wants next and whether or not the Holy Spirit is leading you or if the world is.

5 – In Conclusion…

So, to sum it up…  To best recognize the guidance of The Holy Spirit…

You have to 1 – Have a relationship with Jesus and know that He has saved you from your sin, 2 – Have and recognize the Holy Spirit within you which comes from your relationship with Jesus and studying the Bible to know who He is, 3 – See His work through you by trusting Jesus and allowing Him to direct you in small ways so that you can, 4 – Know what He wants from you through testing the spirit that’s leading you and living a life that is pleasing to God …

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