Obeying His Promptings
Do not miss this truth: Responding to the Holy Spirit in obedience is key. This part of the conversation is yours—your willing submission to what the Holy Spirit tells you. He teaches you how to listen to the Father, communicating the truth in a way you can receive. According to your spiritual maturity, He shows you how to apply biblical principles to your life. Your part is to obey Him, and as you do, He strengthens you (1 Pet. 5:10).
It is not a mystery how Paul was able to endure such heartache and persecution. The apostle had learned to listen closely to the Holy Spirit and had drawn the encouragement he needed from His constant presence. How did Paul do so? He learned to walk by the Spirit (as he described in Galatians 5:16-25).
Paul learned to deal with his troubles in God’s way, rather than the ways of the world. When we experience difficulty, our human nature tries to express or quench it in ungodly ways: through possessions, addictions, immorality or other ways. However, Paul realized that if he listened to the Spirit—handling his adversity as Christ would—he would be liberated from the worries and discouragements of this life.
You can be freed, too. You can crucify the desires of the flesh—those things that are subtly destroying you and causing you heartache day by day—by learning to walk by the Spirit.
Perhaps you are wondering what the phrase “walk by the Spirit”means for your life. How do you do that? How can you live each moment in dependence on the Holy Spirit, sensitive to His voice and obedient to Him?
To walk in the Spirit means obeying His initial promptings. You do it by going through each day aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence with you. You submit to Him as you feel Him pulling you in a certain direction or tugging at your heart to take a particular course of action, even if you don’t quite understand why.
For example, you may be convicted to drop a conversation, turn away quickly from a television program or leave a place that is questionable. Whatever it is, do so immediately—the Spirit is warning you about a temptation to sin that you may be unable to resist unless you obey Him instantly.
Perhaps there is someone who comes to your mind during the day. You know he or she has been going through a difficult time and could use some support. Call or write that person. The Spirit will give you the right words to encourage him or her. He wants to minister to that person through you and is sure to bless you as you do so.
The Holy Spirit may guide you to pursue a route or a risk that you never imagined you would take. The wisest thing to do is to submit to His plan regardless of whether it makes sense to you. The Spirit of the living God knows all things, including the future, and His direction is always for your benefit.
The Ultimate Conversation
This is the way the ultimate conversation becomes real in your life—you obey the initial promptings of the Holy Spirit. And as you do, the voice of God becomes stronger and more prevalent in your life. Eventually, you begin to see spiritual realities that only a person who is in constant communion with the Father can perceive (Ps. 25:14).
Elisha was just such an individual (2 Kings 6:8-19). When the Arameans gathered against Israel and surrounded the city of Dothan, the prophet was unafraid and unmoved. His servant, on the other hand, saw the multitude of soldiers, horses and chariots and was terrified. He cried: “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (v. 15).
Elisha remained calm. “‘Do not fear,’” he replied, “‘for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (vv. 16-17).
While the servant saw that the enemy had encamped around the city, Elisha perceived the greater spiritual reality: that God was fighting the battle for them. Because of this, he remained confident and secure. Likewise, the more you obey the Spirit and the closer you grow to the Father, the stronger your faith and assurance.
You can see this truth demonstrated throughout Scripture:
- “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).
- “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? ...Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spiteof this I shall be confident” (Ps. 27:1, 3).
- “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea” (Ps. 46:1-2).
- “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jer. 17:7-8).
This does not mean that if you walk by the Spirit you’ll never be afraid. Nor does it signify that you will automatically see the Lord’s angelic host, as Elisha and his servant did. The point is, when you engage in the ultimate conversation of prayer with the Father in a real and living way, you begin to know and understand things that are apparent only to those who understand the deep truths of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:6-16).
As God Himself says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer. 33:3, NIV). You experience more of the Father’s faultless character and grow more confident in His provision for you.
Therefore, I challenge you to begin each morning with a prayer that goes something like this: “Father, I want You to guide me and lead me today. Speak to my heart. Make me sensitive to Your promptings and to what is happening around me in the lives of those I meet. Fill me with Your supernatural joy, and use me today for Your purposes. I surrender fully to You.”
If you yield to the Holy Spirit and depend on His ability rather than your own, He will enable you not only to live a life that is pleasing to Christ but also to experience God in ways you never thought possible.
Charles F. Stanley is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, where he has served since 1972. Through his radio and TV program In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley, he has become one of America’s most beloved pastors. He’s the author of more than 50 books, including The Ultimate Conversation, from which this article is taken. Copyright © 2012 by Charles Stanley. Reprinted with permission by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
To watch Charles Stanley explain the importance of the Holy Spirit click here.
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