"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (Romans 8:14)
The Apostle Paul is clear - being God's child means being led by the Holy Spirit. Being fruitful and purposeful in our Christian life, and making a difference for all eternity, comes down to being led by the Holy Spirit.
For our church this year, being led by the Holy Spirit is not optional - being led by the Holy Spirit is essential to our growth and effectiveness. I made this point in the preaching on Sunday morning - making room for Jesus is making room for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit!
Being led by someone, as in the picture above, is easy because it is so tangible. Someone is grabbing by you hand and taking you forward. But how does the less tangible Holy Spirit lead us?
8 Different Ways
I am listing 8 different ways you can cultivate your walk with the Holy Spirit this year below. I'm certainly not intending for you to do all 8 simultaneously. That would be impossible. But pick one, and plan a pattern of practicing this way for the next month. Skim over the ones that don't strike you if you're pressed for time. And then set a time, place, and frequency that you think is a stretch, but not impossible, for the next month. And see what a difference this makes to your relationship with the Holy Spirit.
1. Read the Bible with others (Colossians 3:16)
This verse in Colossians talks of letting the message of Jesus dwell amongst us richly, and then lists a bunch of ways to practice this with other believers: teaching, admonishing, through psalms, hyms and songs. All of it by Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us, encourages us, and leads us as we get together with other believers and encourage each other in the Bible. Is this a pattern you need to grow this year?
Possible Action-steps: Join once a week or fortnight with other C3 Wenty church members to encourage each other in the bible. Our coaching huddles would be perfect for this purpose as well.
2. Pray with others (Acts 4:23-31)
The church in these verses was experiencing persecution. Peter and John, key leaders in the church, had been put in prison. What did the believers do to overcome their fear and isolation? They came together and prayed. The Holy Spirit moved in their midst, and they were emboldened to keep representing Jesus to a hostile world.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us and leads us as we get together to pray with other believers. Is this a pattern you need to develop this year?
Possible Action-steps: Do the same as suggested in #1 above, but with prayer either as the focus or included as well as bible reading. Coaching huddles would again be perfect for this.
3. Read / Listen to the Bible by yourself (Hebrews 4:12)
This verse describes the powerful living and active influence of the Bible on our hearts. We can't avoid getting together in community for this, but God also wants us to personally experience the Bible's living and trans-formative influence on us as individuals.
The Holy Spirit is the living and active influence at work through the reading of the Bible. Is this a pattern you need to develop more this year?
Possible Action-steps: Set a time, place, and frequency for personal bible reading/listening that you think is a stretch, but not impossible, for the next month and see what a difference it makes.
4. Pray by yourself (Luke 5:16)
Jesus, as our model, had a very close relationship with God the Father. How did He cultivate this close relationship? Lots of time alone together with His Father. This is not nearly as easy for us, fast paced and busy as our lives are, but it is necessary to grow in.
The Holy Spirit is experienced in this more personal and private way and the results are life-changing.
Possible Action-steps: Like #3 above, set a time, place and frequency that is challenging but not impossible, and go for it for a month. I'd suggest letting someone else know the pattern you're pursuing, to help you by keeping you accountable.
5. Cultivate silence and solitude (Ps 139:7-12)
I am almost definite the writer of this Psalm, King David, penned these words of poetic beauty as a result of times of communion with God in silence and solitude. The words I've particularly referenced above speak of the inescapable nature of the presence of God.
The Holy Spirit is present both in the midst of our lives, but how hard it is sometimes to notice this above all the din. Getting away and being alone is not easy, nor comfortable, but in giving ourselves enough time to calm down we will surely discover Holy Spirit treasures He's been waiting to reveal to us.
Possible Action-steps: Plan in once a week, fortnight, or at least once a month, to get alone for 2-hours minimum. This may sound extreme, but you'll take 15-20 minutes to just calm down. The next 40 will be various levels of personal thought exploration. And then you'll find a silence within that becomes an openness to the voice of the Holy Spirit beyond you. It could be an active 2-hours of solo time - a bush walk where you're unlikely to see others, for example.
6. Fasting for the Holy Spirit's leading (Acts 13:1-3)
Church leaders were needing fresh direction. What did they do? They prayed and fasted, and the Holy Spirit spoke. We need to regularly go beyond our ordinary practices and habits if we are to really keep our hearts hungry for the Lord.
I personally find this one of the hardest ways to be led by the Holy Spirit but one of the most powerful.
Possible Action-steps: Join together with a couple of other friends at church who are hungry like you, and practice fasting together. There will be other church-wide fasts coming up for us in the year, so you could also jump in on one of these.
7. Cultivating the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:3-8)
This passage refers to Spirit-given gifts. These are gifts God gives to each of us for the purpose of serving and equipping each other and for the mission of Jesus in the world.
If you've never really explored discovering and using your gifts from the Holy Spirit, this is a key way the Holy Spirit leads us all in the Christian life.
Possible Action-steps: Talk to me about discovering your gifts or putting your gifts to work in church. There are plenty of spiritual-gift surveys to help in the discovery phase, and there's plenty of work to do for the mission of Jesus through our church in the putting your gifts to work phase.
8. Going on Holy Spirit assignments
Acts 13:1-3, quoted above in #6, is meant to be normative for our Christian lives. We need to regularly listen for, and follow, the assignments God sends us on by His Holy Spirit.
Possible Action-steps: If you don't open yourself up to the daily leading of the Holy Spirit, starting each day with a simple prayer asking what the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through you will be powerful. Also, listening to the Holy Spirit together as a church is crucial - it's what was happening here in Acts 13:1-3.
You've got options for growing your relationship with the Holy Spirit now. 8 of them. Choose one, set a pattern, go for it for a month, and do it with others in our church community.
This year, we are all going to grow in being led by, empowered by, and fruitful in the Holy Spirit!