The Christian's Guide
(Luke 2, Acts 8, Romans 8)
Introduction: We have discussed the gifts given by the Holy Spirit. We have discussed the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our life. What else does the Holy Spirit do for those who are willing to work with Him? Have you ever felt impressed by the Holy Spirit? Have you ever felt the Spirit was guiding your actions? Let's explore what God has to say about the practical leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the willing and attentive Christian!
- The Holy Spirit and Simeon
- Read Luke 2:25. What kind of a man is Simeon?
- Our text tells us that he is on a mission. What is it? (It is sort of a passive mission. He is waiting "for the consolation of Israel.")
- What is the "consolation of Israel?" (The Messiah - Jesus.)
- Why would Jesus be called the "Consolation of Israel?" (When you are feeling bad, you need someone to console you. Israel (and humanity) had become enemies of God. Jesus reconciled us to the Father. Romans 5:10. That reconciliation not only consoles us, but it gives us joy! Romans 5:11.)
- What is significant about Simeon in the context of our lessons? ( Luke 2:25 - The Holy Spirit was upon him.)
- We have been having this discussion about why the disciples had to wait for the Holy Spirit until Pentecost ( Acts 1:4-5), and whether the Spirit was present before that. What does this text tell us? (This clearly shows that the Holy Spirit was present and working at an earlier time.)
- Read Luke 2:26-27. What, as a practical matter, did it mean for the Holy Spirit to be "upon" (v.25) Simeon? (The Holy Spirit did two things for Simeon. First, it revealed part of the future to him. Second, it guided his movements.)
- Let's discuss this for a little bit. We often mention the Holy Spirit helping us to understand the Bible. We often mention the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin. Rarely does anyone tell me that the Holy Spirit has revealed some future event in their life to them or guided them to a certain place. Why do you think this is true?
- Simeon's steps into the temple were guided by the Holy Spirit. Have you felt the Holy Spirit guide you to specific places? Have you heard the voice or felt the impulse of the Holy Spirit?(I did an electronic search of the Bible for the word "voice" and got 198 matches. A large percentage of those matches referred to the voice of God speaking to humans to give them direction.)
- A week ago, my daughter and I were driving back together from Andrews University, where she is a student. We stopped at a rest area and a woman opened her car door and asked me for gas money. I gave her $10.00 - which seemed to satisfy her. When I was talking to my daughter about this situation, and how it made me uncomfortable because I was uncertain whether this was "need" or "fraud," she reminded me of a prior incident years before at a rest area on that same toll-road. That time I saw a couple sitting in a truck and felt God was impressing me to give them money. I walked over to the truck, told them that God had impressed me to give them money, and handed them $20.00. They took the money, thanked me - but did not say anything about having prayed for money. I felt I had done God's will, but was not sure. How can you know unless the other person confirms it? (My wife has had these impressions and has had them confirmed by the "donee." Maybe the people in the truck were praying for more than $20.00. Seriously, I think the problem is that I am not yet so attuned to the Holy Spirit that I can clearly discern His message.)
- Read Luke 2:28-33. Did the parents of Jesus confirm the leading of the Holy Spirit in Simeon? (No. They were surprised ("marveled") by this.)
- The Holy Spirit as Physical Guide
- Read Acts 8:26-39. Notice that we start out with an angel giving Philip directions to travel down a certain road. Then, in verse 29 we have the Holy Spirit giving Philip directions to stay near a chariot. What purpose is being fulfilled by the Holy Spirit?
- Since we have learned that the Holy Spirit can teach us, why didn't the Holy Spirit just directly work with the Ethiopian? (God wants us to be co-laborers with him. In this specific case God absolutely needed a human partner because Philip ended up baptizing the Ethiopian.)
- What does Acts 8:39 teach us about the means by which the Holy Spirit can guide us? (This is literal transportation. Anyone recall "Beam me up, Scotty?" This is what I call real partnership with the Holy Spirit.)
- Read Acts 10:17-20. In this case the Holy Spirit seems to guide by being a simple messenger. Is there more to this than simply alerting Peter that he has visitors downstairs? (Read Acts 10:27-29. The Holy Spirit is used to correct a "law" that discriminates on the basis of race and religion.)
- What does that say about the law which Peter was now violating?
- Read Acts 13:2-5. What new aspect of the guiding of the Holy Spirit do we see here? (This is more than just the Holy Spirit speaking to the mind of an individual. Here the Holy Spirit is speaking to an entire group. The direction is so specific that the Holy Spirit provides the names of individuals to the group and then tells those individuals where to go.)
- Read Acts 16:6-10. What do we learn about Paul's first understanding of his mission? (He was not clear on what God had in mind. He had in mind something that God did not have in mind.)
- How does the Holy Spirit guide in this situation? (The text says that He "would not allow them" to enter Asia. Although it is not clear, this seems to be something more than just a word of advice.)
- Why would the Holy Spirit prevent someone from sharing the gospel in a new area? In the examples we have looked at so far, the work of the Holy Spirit was to lead persons to people who wanted to hear the gospel - not to keep people from hearing the gospel. (We read that the Holy Spirit had a better place for them to go. Paul went to Europe instead of Asia. If you read 1 Peter 1:1 we see that God used him and perhaps other means to reach the people in Asia.)
- What practical lesson do we learn from this? (Paul was a mighty evangelist, and Asia was a great open field for work. What is obvious to us is not always the will of God. God had in mind a different person for Asia and a different mission field for Paul.)
- The Holy Spirit as Spiritual Guide
- Read Romans 8:5-8. What can we do to be sure that the Holy Spirit guides in our life? (Paul teaches us to make the decision to "have our minds set" on what the Holy Spirit desires.)
- What does it mean, as a practical matter, to "have our minds set on what the Spirit desires?" (Paul sets out two alternatives. We can either set our minds on what our human nature desires or we can set our minds on what the Holy Spirit desires.)
- Read Romans 8:9. Are we alone in making the decision and summoning the will to "set our minds?" (No. We ask the Holy Spirit to come into our life and the Holy Spirit will then control our desires. But, the decision is ours to make.)
- How important is a mind controlled by the Holy Spirit? (This verse tells us that we do not "belong to Christ" if we turn our mind over to be controlled by our sinful nature.)
- Friend, are you open and listening for the direction of the Holy Spirit in your life? Have you invited the Holy Spirit to live in your heart and mind? If not, why not confess this right now and ask the Holy Spirit to make you more aware of His leading?
- Next week: Life Through the Holy Spirit.