Trouble's all around. Our worst fears have happened. All of a sudden here we are in the midst of adverse conditions. Engulfed with thoughts of fear and defeat. Looking in every direction we find there's no way out. What are we going to do? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like what I just described?
In 2 Kings chapter 6, Elisha and his servant were in just that type of position. They awoke to find the city, to which they were staying, surrounded by the Syrian army. The servant alarmed and in a panic, reacted to the circumstance, exclaiming, "We are doomed sir, what shall we do?" (GNT)
Maybe your problems seems just like that! 'What am I going to do? How will I ever get out of this?' Observing things in the state of the natural mind can almost seem overwhelming. Pressures reveal our character, our faith, and even our dedication to the Lord. This is the moment we can decide to either be a master of the circumstance or a victim. Your predicament can be an opportunity to overcome OR a trial of struggles and defeat. True strength and character are shown in the stand during adversity. Proverbs 24:10 says, "If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small."
Back to 2 Kings, Elisha the prophet of God, said "Don't be afraid, we have more on our side then they do on theirs." I'm quite sure it didn't look like that to the servant. But Elisha saw things differently. He was looking through spiritual eyes. He saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around. And as soon as he prayed for his servants eyes to be opened, he also saw.
When faced with uncontrollable matters, do you see an unsurmountable obstacle? Learning to look past the problem, and see the victory that already belongs to you is key to overcoming. 1 Cor. 2:14, "But the natural man (one dominated by the soul) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Holy Spirit reveals the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)
It is written 365 times in the Bible, "Do not fear". The writer of Hebrews wrote, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Coming to the realization that God is our defender, will strengthen our faith. Ps. 28:6-7 "Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him."
Praise is acknowledging what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do. When we decide to thank Him expressing praise, in the midst of trouble, we loose spiritual weapons and our breakthrough comes. (Read Acts 16:25-26) Regardless of the difficulty, God has already made a way of escape for us. All we need to do is trust Him will all our heart, lean not to our own understanding and acknowledge Him in all our ways, and He'll direct our path. (Pro. 3:5-6)
So take time right now, to lay down fear, put on faith, and praise the Lord for your deliverance from trouble. View your circumstance through spiritual eyes, because there are more with you than there are against you!
Here of late, we've been asked a lot of questions about dreams being a leading of the Lord. Truly we all dream, and find that some of them can be inspiring or enlightening. I remember a re-occurring dream I had many years ago. I would enter into an elevator alone, the doors would close, and it would move to the top floor and stop. At that point the elevator would pivot around and around, stop and then return to the floor where I began, then I would exit. I had that exact dream for over a year. Then one night as I dreamed of that elevator, it was different. I entered the elevator, along with another person, but I recognized what it was going to do. I exited and I watched as it traveled to the top floor, pivoted, and returned to the main floor, where I was standing. I wondered for years what that dream meant. Was God leading me or teaching me something?
It wasn't until years later, I discovered the meaning. I realized I was going through a difficult time in my life, as if I was living the same thing over and over. There didn't seem to be any way out. Thus the same ride on the elevator going no where, unchanging! Then after a period of time, I made some different decisions, that altered my life. That's when I recognized I didn't have to take that elevator. Conclusion: obviously this dream was derived from circumstances in my life. Dreams can be a result of several things. 1) Situations we're experiencing in our life. 2) Thoughts of worry or fear. 3) Watching a bad movie. or 4) Something we ate that didn't agree.
God can and does use dreams from time to time, but we shouldn't look to them as our foremost authority. Although we can learn from them, I don't believe that dreams are the primary leading from the Lord. For direction and leadership we can depend on the Bible. What ever we are facing within life, the Word has the answer. Ps. 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." With each step we take, the Word of God enlightens us in choosing right from wrong. Even for instruction of future events the scriptures will illuminate and give instruction. Anyone wanting to please God, live righteously and holy, will find direction in God's Word.
The Holy Spirit can help lead us into doing what is right. Ez. 36:27 " I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep My judgements and do them." Gal. 5:16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." And of course Romans 8:14, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." In these scriptures, we can see the the Holy Spirit can guide us, if we allow Him.
I know some of you would point out that many people were led by dreams in the Old Testament. Let me just say that these people didn't have the Holy Spirit nor the written Word of God for direction. Today we have both. I would encourage you to examine your dreams to see if they are the product of too many onions on your tacos, a scary show, too much concern or just things you're going through. Put more confidence in the Holy Spirit and God's Word for direction - they're a sure thing!
On one specific occasion, I was at an important meeting, when I realized I left a much needed item at my home. Since I was close to my house, I decided I had enough time to get there and back before the meeting began. As I drove, I felt the urging of the Holy Spirit telling me to take an alternate route other than the one I was on. Instead of 'acting' upon His instructions, I thought my way was better and quicker. Nonetheless, He kept urging me, and I continued resisting. It was when I reached a certain street, only minutes from my house, that I realized WHY the Spirit was imploring me to go a different way. Right in front of me firetrucks were blocking the road, and I was completely halted. Now what? If only I had acted upon His prompting, I would not have been in this predicament.
We spoke last week of being led by the Holy Spirit. Part of being led, is being obedient. Let's face it, if I would have yielded to His instruction, I could have eliminated stress, delay, and frustration. Learning to follow the Spirit's leading involves taking actions of faith! The Bible says, "...the just live by faith." (Heb. 10:38) Faith is being bold enough to step out and DO what He's telling us to do! In my situation, I thought I had the better way. Isn't that the real problem, we think we know it all, like we've got all the answers, right? But, John 16:13 says, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." Many times, He is trying to help us stay out of danger and direct us for purposes unknown. What good is hearing the voice of the Spirit and not obeying? If we ignore Him too long, we desensitize our knowing His voice.
Complying to the leading of the Holy Spirit always involves faith. It's trusting Him with all our heart and not leaning to our own understanding. A person in faith, does something to demonstrate his faith. Abraham, the father of faith, is a great example. He trusted God when he was told to sacrifice his son. Doing all that God told him to do, even to the point of raising his knife to slay him. He knew that no matter the outcome, God was going to do something miraculous. And because he obeyed, his faith was validated! (Gen. 22)
It's not enough to know the principles of faith or entirely quote the Word. These things, although important, are not the result of faith. They teach us what and how to exercise faith, but it's in the doing! "..Faith without works is dead", James 2:14-26. Truthfully, we must live a lifestyle of faith! People that say, 'I tried faith, it doesn't work', haven't made it a life style. They believed they were in faith by listening to someone preach about it, mimic someones actions that acted in faith, and quote the scripture ever so often. But they forgot one thing, to be a doer.
Hearing the Word brings faith which then governs our response. Acting upon the Word, according to your measure of faith, will produce the results for which you're believing God. (Matt. 9:29 "...according to your faith let it be to you". The Holy Spirit's leading, quoting scriptures, and hearing the preached Word are the course to actions of faith!
We challenge you when exercising your faith to completion, by doing something that substantiates it. If you're believing for finances, when you quote "My God supplies all my need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." listen and obey the Holy Spirit to act upon your faith. He may tell you to give a certain amount in the offering. Perhaps you're believing for a healing, quoting, "By His stripes I am healed". The act of faith at the Holy Spirit's direction could be getting up out of bed. What ever the measure of your faith, there is an action that is suitable for it. The Spirit of God will lead you, just obey.
Years ago, we were on a youth outing to another city. Because of the number of people that went, we had to take multiple cars. Some of the people that drove were not familiar with the city freeways, so they were following us to the venue. The driver of the second car thought it would be fun to drive along side of our car instead of remaining directly behind. Much to their surprise the lane they were in, happened to be an exit only lane onto another freeway. So without warning, suddenly they were going east and we were going north. Needless to say, had they been following us, they would not have gotten off course. Going the wrong direction can be alarming and disheartening. To be guided by one that knows the way is, definitely, the safest way to go.
In John chapter 16 Jesus tells us of the 'Helper' that will come after He leaves. In verse 13, He says, "...when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth..." This word 'guide' is likened to a tour guide that is trained to go into unknown territory. How many of you know that this life we live, is an unknown territory? Dealing with surprises and difficult circumstances is similar to traveling in unexplored places. Having a guide that can lead us safely through, helping us to avoid pitfalls, disaster, and danger, will keep us on course and in the Truth. I'm all for that!
Truthfully, people are seeking direction every day. Some refer to horoscopes, palm readers, tea leaves, fortune cookies, ouija boards and various other methods. These are NOT the way to finding the truth or true direction from God. Others depend on dreams, visions, prophetic instruction, angels, goosebumps, and good or bad feelings. Again, these are NOT sound in the leading of God.
Realize that the devil can imitate all the outward signs for guidance. In light of this, we understand that we can not depend on dreams, angel visitations, visions, prophetic words, goosebumps or feelings to direct us. If any of these are prevalent, they will ALWAYS be accompanied by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit if they are from the Lord. They should be disregarded if they are not. The people in the old testament were led by these things because the Holy Spirit had not yet come. Today we can depend on His guidance. And since there are no scriptures to support outward leadings, we know veering from the Word is dangerous and can lead to deception.
Romans 8:14 says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." This IS the true leading from God. If you want to have a guaranteed escort through the course of your life, first become a 'son of God'. Then the Holy Spirit will give you direction every day. Verse 16 tells us how He does this, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit.."! 'Bearing witness', also considered as 'inner witness', is a knowing within your spirit to His leading. We could also say, it's when something just seems right, although your mind doesn't quite understand.
His unction is directed by God and will always be in line with God's will. Some key points to know about the Holy Spirit's leading is: 1) He's a gentleman, He will not aggressively push us into doing anything, He leads. 2) He will never have us do anything that's contrary to God's Word. and 3) His leading will not always agree with our mind or flesh. (Rom. 8:7 "...the carnal mind is enmity against God...." & Gal. 5:17 "...the flesh lusts against the Spirit...")
Along with His leading, God has also endowed us with knowledge and wisdom. In some instances we won't have a leading of the Holy Spirit because we have a knowing about something. For instance, if I know the temperature outside is 110 degrees, I don't need the Holy Spirits leading to know i shouldn't go running. Or if I know it's dangerous to be in a particular place, I don't need Him to tell me not to go. I have the measure of knowledge needed to govern specific decisions. And if I'm going in a direction that my knowledge tells me is good, unless the Holy Spirit gives me a 'check' or 'stop' then I can proceed.
Learning to follow the leading of the Spirit, will help us in every facet of life. Gaining more insight to being led can be obtained by praying. It increases sensitivity to hearing His voice. Be sure that when you begin to experience His leading, obey instantly. This develops your spirit, and keeps the devil from discouraging you. Stay out of feelings, reasonings and self will. Practice by being a listener. Be sure to know who's in the lead. Following the Holy Spirit will ensure peace, safety, and security.
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."