How Can I Recognize the Guidance of the Holy Spirit?

I’ll start with a story. I’m writing this the day after Valentine’s Day, so the story is appropriate. Many moons ago, not long after I was saved I began asking God, if it was His will, to help me find a Christian wife.  After a time, I thought He was speaking the name of a sister in the Lord to my heart. I had not dated this girl. We were friends and in a Bible study together. (For our younger readers who feel that God is leading you to be married, a Bible study is a great place to look!;) One night, the nudge was so strong that I determined to ask her if the Lord was speaking to her about me. He had. We began slowly and cautiously. Neither of us wanted anything in our lives that was not in God’s will. We began to pray. Let me pick up this story at the end of this article. (To be continued…)

Last month we shared about Christ being in each believer, and the fact that each of us is also in Him. One great reference of this fact is in the prayer of our Lord recorded in John 17, especially verses 20-26.

It’s clear that Christ is in me through the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not physically live inside of individual believers. On that last night with His disciples, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us and in us. (John 14:15-18)

He also told them that the Holy Spirit would act as a Counselor to convict, comfort, teach, guide, speak, and glorify Jesus. (John 16:5-15)

I have never heard the voice of God audibly. Have you? How can we recognize His voice, His calling, His leading and guiding? Jesus said that His followers, His sheep, would know Him, be known by Him, and recognize His voice. (John 10: 1-18) How does this happen?

Let me ask you a question: Are you a good listener? Are you attentive when someone is speaking with you, or do sounds just bounce off your ears? Do you listen, or are you just thinking of what you will say next? When you pray, do you talk to God? I hope so, but I also hope that you are quiet and listening! Being a good listener takes practice.

When you pray, practice listening for God’s voice within.

Have you ever thought you heard God’s voice but weren’t sure? What do you do when this happens? How can you know the will of God? Let me give you 4 ways to be sure that you’re being guided by the Holy Spirit.

  1. First, there must be a Witness in Your Own Spirit. This comes through prayer.
  2. Next the must be the Witness of the Word. Compare this leading with the Word of God, the Bible. Your leading must be in agreement with God’s revealed will for all of us. That is found nowhere else except in the Bible. It is our GPS. If the “leading” contradicts God’s word in any way, it’s not from God.
  3. I call this next witness the Witness of the Brethren (and Sisteren;). Share your leading with brothers and sisters that you know. Share your leading. Ask trusted friends to pray about it with you.
  4. Finally, there is the Witness of Your Circumstances. You keep walking step by step and listening. Keep moving in and towards the leading. When it works out, you will know you are in God’s will and have heard His voice.

Then, stay on the path. The above 4 witnesses are check points to revisit along the way. Be humble: Pray, “Lord, You know how dense I can be. Please may Your leading very clear.” As a fully dedicated follower of Christ, a disciple, you know that He will answer that prayer.

Now, back to my story:

(1)  We had a witness in our own spirits. (2) We both had the habit of daily devotions with the Lord in His Word.  Of course, we were praying about our relationship and for God’s will. He began to confirm the witness in our hearts with His word. It was so cool. We didn’t go hunting for verses to confirm our will. But we kept receiving confirmation, separately, day after day! (3) We sought counsel from friends, including pastors. When once confessing our temptation in the flesh, one pastor said, “What are you waiting for? I’ll marry you right now!”  (4) The circumstances worked out. There were obstacles. There was Spirit led hesitation. He drove us to our knees and caused us to commit to Him no matter what happened with us – even if we were to spend the rest of our lives apart.  We wanted God’s will above all. One of our prayers was, “Lord, if You can’t use us better together, then don’t let us come together.” So many circumstances worked out! I’ll tell you one. One leading couple in our lives opposed our marriage because I had been divorced. But when we shared all that I’ve told you here, and more, they blessed our union. The wife served in our wedding.

That was over 42 years ago.  We follow the same pattern today. We’re older than many of you, but we still look for these indicators to know the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives. Our hearts desire is that God would use us up! Then, take us home.

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