In the previous article, we learned how the life of each and every believer will be a reflection and expression of the things the Holy Spirit is passionate about.
The scripture makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit is passionate about three things: Jesus — Holiness — and Mission.
The Holy Spirit is passionate about Jesus.
He is always looking to reveal Jesus to us, exalt Jesus in our hearts, in our lives and in our world. And in that, we discover that the Holy Spirit is humble, always pointing away from Himself to Jesus, always deferring to the Father and the Son.
Because the Holy Spirit is pure and undefiled, the Holy Spirit is passionate about holiness in our lives. He is the one who convicts us of sin, frees us from sin, leads us in sanctification, conforms us to the image of the Son.
The Holy Spirit is passionate about mission.
He is active and compassionate when it comes to the world. He cares about the plight of the world and the people in the world — He’s active in the world. The Book of Acts is the story of the Holy Spirit on mission in the world through the church.
The Holy Spirit is always going to work in the life of the individual Christian to reveal and exalt Jesus, create personal holiness, and direct, empower and equip him or her for mission — the proclaiming of the gospel to all the nations.
The local church is the collective expression of the Holy Spirit’s passions. It’s a divine collection of individuals who together will live and breathe in response to the Holy Spirit’s passions.
A community of believers will live and breathe in a way that puts the beauty, grace, mercy and love of Jesus on display.
In other words, the local church will live and breathe mission! It will be lit up by the fire of the Holy Spirit’s passion to make Jesus known to every man and woman in the world, beginning with the people that are in our world (where we live, where we work, where we go to school, where we shop, where we hang out, where we work out). But God’s mission doesn’t end there. He desires to make Jesus known everywhere, to everyone!
I want us to ask a few questions:
Have we been drawn into His passions? What has the Holy Spirit done in a tangible, measurable, experiential way in our own hearts in regard to the exaltation of Christ, personal holiness and movement into mission?
Can we say that within our sphere of influence the Holy Spirit has caused us to exalt Christ, pursue holiness and engage in mission?
Are we, as a community of believers, lit up by the fire of the Holy Spirit’s passions? Do we live and breathe in a way that is an outlet for His passion for Jesus, holiness and mission?
In the last article, we also zeroed in on 1 Thessalonians 5:20: "Do not despise prophecies." We learned that one of the most needful and common forms of prophecy in a community of believers is TELLING FORTH the mind of the Lord. We should value and be open to that person in the church who says, "I believe the Lord has spoken to my heart. He’s led me to share it with you." We should value and be open to the Lord speaking to us — leading us to share a word with someone or with the church.
I want to build on the idea of hearing from the Holy Spirit and being led by the Holy Spirit.
I want to hear from and be led by the Holy Spirit. My wife and I want our marriage and family to hear from and be led by the Holy Spirit. The pastoral leadership at Metro desires to hear from and be led by the Holy Spirit. All of us collectively should want to hear from and be led by the Holy Spirit.
BUT HERE’S THE DEAL — There are inherent challenges and messes that we face when a collection of men and women, none of whom are infallible, are endeavoring to hear from the Holy Spirit and be led by the Holy Spirit. There is no formula for this. There’s no Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.
We learn to hear the Spirit and be led by the Spirit. It’s a life-long process in which we come to know His voice more clearly and discern His ways and His promptings more clearly. And along the way, no one gets it right all the time! All of us are going to make mistakes — and I believe that when we look at the Scriptures, we see that the local church is the context in which we experience the Holy Spirit’s design for accountability.
Being led by the Holy Spirit requires humility and creates humility!
We need to be very intentional to hear and be led by the Holy Spirit. There are a few essential spiritual disciplines we need to foster.
Are you intentional, purposeful, disciplined about giving yourself to spiritual practices? By experience, everyone here knows the general rule: If we don't schedule something — it’s not going to happen. The things that we don’t prioritize never seem to materialize!
The truth is that we do prioritize our lives. We can be very intentional about working out — the reality of having to wait for an open treadmill or a certain piece of exercise equipment proves the point that people prioritize taking care of their bodies. And by the way — that isn’t inherently a bad thing. We can be very intentional about hanging out — all you have to do is go to any of the local coffee shops and you find tons of people that planned to meet and hang out there. And that isn’t inherently a bad thing.
Let’s ask ourselves this question: Are we that intentional about prayer — about reading the Word, going to Bible study? We are disciples of Jesus Christ. We are followers of Jesus Christ! Getting to know Jesus, putting ourselves in the place of hearing from the Holy Spirit — should be THE priority of our lives. Most Christians pray, read, go to Bible studies when they’re in a crisis! That’s not a bad thing to do when you’re in a crisis. It’s the right thing to do when you’re in a crisis. But our relationship with Jesus is not a crisis-driven thing.
Crisis should not be the tone and tenor of the Christian life.
The tone and the tenor of the Christian life is set by this: We are radically, incomprehensibly, loved by Jesus! Because Jesus first loved us, we love Jesus. We haven’t been saved to religion; we’ve been saved to a loving, life-changing, personal relationship with Jesus. I get to turn to Jesus in the moment of crisis. But that doesn’t define the way I relate to Him. I want to meet with Jesus, draw near to Jesus, so I can know Him and love Him because that is what Jesus died for me to have!
Think back to God’s intention in creating man. God walked with man in the cool of the day. It was an appointment, an appointed time. The eternal, infinite, omnipotent creator of heaven and earth prioritized time to be alone with man!
It is from the place of intimacy with Jesus that all the rest of the Christian life flows. It’s from the place of personal intimacy with Jesus that mission flows, ministry flows, faithfulness flows, fruitfulness flows. That radically informs the point of meeting like this.
We need to see corporate gatherings as a time when a bunch of redeemed rebels come to be intimate with Jesus. That radically informs the point of our times of personal prayer and reading.
Having the grace to forgive, the grace to humbly confess our sins and be forgiven, the grace to love, the grace to receive love is how a community of believers is supposed to live and breathe! That IS real community! THAT is how a community of believers is supposed to live and breathe!
A community of believers that lives and breathes like that doesn’t just happen by merely hanging out! If a community of believers is lacking in the grace to forgive, the grace to humbly confess our sins and be forgiven, the grace to love, the grace to receive love — it’s owing to the absence of intentional, prioritized time to be with Jesus in the individual lives within the community of believers.
On this side of heaven, it’s not a matter of if we are going to fail in hearing the Holy Spirit or being led by the Holy Spirit; it’s a matter of when are we going to fail. I say that not to condone sin. We will fail in our Christian life. We will fail when it comes to hearing the Spirit and being led by the Spirit — and we need to come to grips with that. Jesus saved us knowing that we would. We need to come to grips with the reality that others around us are going to fail — and their failure can result in us getting hurt, just as our failure can result in them getting hurt
There will (not might) be times when you and I get the leading of the Holy Spirit wrong. My failure to get the leading of the Holy Spirit right is going to affect you. Your failure to get the leading of the Holy Spirit right is going to affect the community of believers you’re a part of. Please don’t misunderstand me when I say this. I’m not saying that to lay some heavy trip on you. I’m saying these things because there is a sense in which we need to give each other permission to fail in regards to being led by the Holy Spirit. In fact, part of learning to be led by the Holy Spirit happens when we fail to rightly discern His leading.
Can you think of a time when you were sure that the Holy Spirit was leading you in a particular way, in a particular course of action — then you stepped out in that thing and then you found yourself thinking… Uhhh, this is not the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Hopefully, in that moment of failing to get the leading of the Holy Spirit right, we learn what the leading of the Holy Spirit does not sound like, doesn’t look like. That begins to refine our sensitivity to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Please remember — Being led by the Holy Spirit is a lifelong process. We will get it wrong. And because of that, we need to give each other room to fail, cover each other’s failures with love, and by God’s grace help one another to see how we missed it, got it wrong. THAT is how a community of believer lives and breathes!
Here's another discipline we want to foster in our lives to better hear, know and be led by the Holy Spirit — It’s rooted in the fact that God wants to speak to us in the normal course of daily life.
Living ready for God to speak to you.
Fallen culture conditions us to respect and expect the spectacular. That influences the church in a very real way. We are conditioned to confuse the spectacular with the supernatural. The Bible says this:
"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin" (Zechariah 4:10).
So the Holy Spirit will speak to us in the littlest things to train us to discern His voice and to be obedient. You never know when the habit of the seemingly small acts of obedience will have a life-changing outcome.
You might not think the Holy Spirit is leading you. You might not think He is speaking to you.
Listen — If you are a son or a daughter of God, He is leading you. So many times it’s in that moment when you think about someone and you think, “I should pray for them.” It is in those moments when we stop and pray that we find our spiritual ears getting fine-tuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit.