In last month's letter we discussed how Jesus did not leave us as orphans to find our own way through a lost and dying world, but sent the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth. As one example, we looked at how Paul & Silas discovered it was not the "present hour" plan of the living Christ for them to go preach in Asia or Bithynia at that time, but rather to go and preach the gospel in Macedonia.
Acts 16:6-10 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
As we read the rest of the story in Acts chapter sixteen we find that Paul and Silas obeyed the instruction they received from the Holy Spirit and much good fruit was produced. They not only led a woman named Lydia to the Lord and baptized her, but also her entire household. Next they cast a spirit of divination (a fortune telling spirit) out of a girl. By obeying the "present hour" instructions from the living Christ via communication received from the Holy Spirit, souls were being won for the Kingdom of God and a lady was delivered from the power of the devil. Certainly, for the moment, it appeared that Paul and Silas had certainly heard correctly from the Holy Spirit. But look what happens next to Paul and Silas as a result of their obedience:
Acts 16:22-24 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
What was Paul and Silas' "reward" for obeying the instructions they received from the Holy Spirit? They were spoken evil against, beaten with many stripes, thrown into prison with their feet held fast in the stocks. Put yourself in Paul's shoes for just a moment. You obeyed the vision you received from the Holy Spirit. People have been saved and delivered as a result, but now you are chained to a wall with your feet in the stocks. Your back aches from the pain of many lashes and you can feel the blood from the wounds soaking through your garment. Your friend Silas is chained there with you because he believed you heard from God through a vision. It is at times like that when the enemy assaults our mind with the question, "Did I hear from the Holy Spirit or not?"
In the early days when I was first learning to hear from the Holy Spirit, I made the mistake of judging whether or not I had accurately heard from Him by looking at my circumstances. Somehow I had the notion that whenever I obeyed God, the end result would not only be help for the people but also my personal circumstances would be pleasant as a result. That is naïveté that does not take into account the fact that we are warring against a real enemy … the devil. Many Christians do not like to hear this but the truth of the matter is: we are in a war! Our warfare is not against people, but against the devil and his operations working through people:
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Let me try to say this in very simple terms. The Holy Spirit leads us into warfare to bring salvation and deliverance to people through the gospel. The devil, our enemy, launches his forces in opposition in order to get us to stop. Normally, the results of those enemy attacks are negative circumstances. One of the first things we must learn is that we cannot judge whether or not we heard from the Holy Spirit based upon our personal circumstances.
What if Paul would have had that attitude? Based on his and Silas' personal circumstances at the moment, Paul would no doubt have said, "Well, one thing is for sure. I can't trust those dreams and visions anymore. Look at what happened to us as a result. From now on … I … will decide where we go and what we do." And that is precisely why the devil launches such opposition against everybody who desires to be led by the Holy Spirit. The enemy wants us to forsake the genuine leadership that comes from the mind of Christ by the Holy Spirit and substitute our own human reasoning instead. God forbid!
The enemy has been very successful using this tactic against God's people. That's why our churches, for the most part, are full of "programs" instead of "power." We have substituted programs spawned from human reasoning for the genuine leadership of the Holy Spirit that proceeds from the mind of the living Christ.
By the way, God did not leave Paul and Silas in that condition. They knew the secret of bringing His power on the scene. Rather than spend their time in complaining over their dire circumstances, they chose rather to sing praises unto God at midnight (the darkest hour). God sent an earthquake to set them free and even more fruit was gathered into the Kingdom of God as they led the jailer and his household to the Lord.
We are not to be led by our circumstances. We are not to be led by the reasonings of our own human mind. We are to be led by the Holy Spirit as He brings us instructions from the mind of the living Christ.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
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