In the story, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the central figure was on a journey that had a definite destination. You too are on a journey, with a prescribed destination. Along the way you will encounter all sorts of people and experiences. Some will be great and wonderful and others will not be good and pleasant. To successfully reach your destination, you will need help. On any journey, a tour guide, map, or compass, are tools to use to help you find your way.
I remember my first visit to Fort Worth in America. I hired a car at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to drive a short distance to my hotel and got lost. We stopped at a fast food place and obtained directions (we had almost reached our hotel), but it was not a pleasant feeling at 8:30 at night when we were travel weary. Since then, I make sure my car is equipped with satellite navigation and I follow the Prompts on the screen and obey that infuriating voice that tells me it is making readjustments to my course because I missed my turn. every time that thing went ding-dong, the voice said, "recalculating route" but it got me there!
You and need help to live the way God wants us to live. It is a great and exciting life following Him, but God expects us to use all the natural faculties with which He created us, but there is also the aspect of walking by faith that He demands of us. The just shall live by faith. This is so important God placed it in the bible four times! Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38 all say much the same thing. See also Hebrews 11:6 and James 2:20-26.
God has given us all that we need in ways far better than maps satellite navigation aids to help us reach our destination safely.
Our road map is the bible and our helper is the Holy Spirit.
Some people would like to see everything ahead of them before embarking on the journey, but it really does not work like that. We might not have all the answers, or know everything that lay between where we are now and where we will finish up, but we have help. If you see a difficulty ahead you’d probably want to avoid it or not move on, but that problem might be the very situation that you could use to prove that God’s word works. As wonderful as it would be to see the whole picture before we get started, God usually leads us one step at a time — after we get started.
This has certainly been true in my life. My ministry vision originally came in the 1970 era, but although I was deeply involved in Christian life, it was not put into effect until recently. Little by little in a progressively expanding vision, my little local church is now a worldwide ministry. God’s instructions and provision for moving toward that goal came one step at a time and we are to yet fully move into it.
Our text in the King James Version says, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
The word Led is the Greek word Ago. The picture painted is that of wrapping a rope around the neck of a goat or a cow and then start pulling on that rope until the animal followed.
Anyone who has tried to lead a goat knows that it is hard to get it to move. My father in law once owned a farm on which his sons grew sugar cane and he had a large herd of cattle. Getting those cows and bulls to move how we wanted to when we wanted to, was often very hard. Leading a large cow by a rope around its neck is in my opinion a real achievement, but eventually the time arrives when the animal decides to cooperate and follow that gentle tug. From that point onwards, it can then be gently led to where its owner wants it to go.
An elderly lady who lived near to my home on the mountain had a very large bull. It was a real gentle giant of a thing and this dear little lady used to take it to various vacant plots of land each morning to graze and leave it there until leading it back home each afternoon.
She had a rope around his neck and held one end of it, but the animal walked gently along behind he, almost on her heels. She really did not need that thin rope at all as it hung down in a graceful arc as the bull followed her like a puppy dog. I’d occasionally come out to greet her and pat the bull. If bulls could purr like cats, that thing would have purrrred away as he lowered his head for a stroke! That bull was almost as tall as I was, but as gentle as anything. She would say goodbye and continue on her way, merely starting to stroll on casually as if the bull were not there and the bull would follow.
This reminds me of Jesus’ statement about knowing His sheep following Him. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: John 10:27.
The act of following Him is interesting. The Greek word is Akoloutheō and it means the act of following our course, but it is much more than that. There is the aspect of being in such a union with Him that we are walking the same way as He walks, as a companion, or someone to accompany Him.
This is a relationship that comes with close intimacy.
A shepherd in bible terminology has a close relationship with his sheep. He knows each and every one as an individual and calls each one by a uniquely distinctive name. You too have a uniquely distinctive name by which you recognize yourself and others recognize you and He knows you by your name. Such a shepherd cars for his flock almost as if each sheep was a human being and when it is time to move somewhere, he merely tells them, Come on boys… follow me, turns and starts walking. Those sheep follow him, because they have learned to recognize everything there is to know about the man.
They have done so by constant association — by relationship.
Equate that now to being led by the Holy Spirit. He knows what is best for us in every way. He knows where to go and where not to go and wants to lead us in such a way that we simply follow Him. This is often a learning experience in which we need to pay careful attention to His tugging and pulling in our hearts, training ourselves to recognize Him; His ways, mannerisms, likes and dislikes and His soft gentle voice.
The Holy Spirit does not "force you" to obey Him. He prompts you, tugs on your heart, and pulls on your spirit to get your attention. Sometimes His tugs may be so gentle that you almost miss them, but if you will train yourselves and become sensitive to Him, He will gently lead you exactly where He wants you to go with your life.
Please remember that He is the Spirit of Truth and can always be trusted. See John 16:13. He may lead you to do something that you might not fully understand or see (yet). He may also stop you from doing certain things also for very good reason. Sometimes He does not need to explain His reasons to us, so we need to know how to trust Him.
The early church experienced this kind of thing in many ways. Acts 16:6-7 is an example. They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn't let them go there either.
We know that God wants everyone to hear the Gospel, but at that time, The Holy Spirit stopped them from going to Asia to preach! We may never know the reason, but Asia is now opened up.
Being led by the spirit is not fantasy, guesswork or wishful thinking and it is not being super-spiritual. It is supposed to be the normal way of life in which He leads you and advises you and teaches you by that inner still small voice. You don’t need to have an earth shattering experience with bolts of lightning or wait until an angel comes to visit you. I suggest that it is a dangerous thing to seek out and depend on such things, but follow your “instincts” to the witness of the Spirit inside you. There are ways to check. Sometimes if it does not sit right in you, it is often not right. On occasions that first instantaneous impression is the voice of the Lord speaking to you.
Stop and listen.
Check it out in the Word of God. If it is contrary to Godly, biblical principles I’d advise you to be cautious. Obtain Godly counsel and advice to confirm things.
I tell my people to check me out all the time as the church did in Acts 17:11.I
Sometimes say, that if I am saying something vastly different to what other reputable ministers are saying, it means one of two things. The first is that I am in error and deserve sanction. The other is that I could be the first one to receive this word of God—with a very big proviso, that others will eventually receive the same things. After all, the bible says that the Holy Spirit confirms things. See Acts 20:23.
Some people embark on projects and then ask God to bless them. He is not obliged to do that, if He never asked it of you, but if God has you on His assignment, then He will provide all that is necessary to get the job done. For example Jesus haas despatched His disciples and told them not to rely on their own natural resources, but trust God.He did not tell them that poverty was their lot, Poverty is a result of the curse. WhenHe told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had to become one of His disciples, He wanted to teach the man that his provision came from God. He wanted to teach this man how to tap into God's resources.
In Luke 22:35, Jesus asked them if they ever lacked.They never lacked one thing! Then Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out without a wallet, traveling bag, or sandals, you didn't lack anything, did you?” “Not a thing!” they answered.