by Jon Walker
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)
It’s a book I’d been searching to find, so when I located it on the library shelf, I was jazzed. But as I approached the front desk, I felt the Holy Spirit check me.
You know what I mean? That “holy nudge” the Newsboys sing about: “It’s like a circuit judge in the brain … a Spirit thing … There to guard my heart but hard to explain ….”
We know the Spirit of Christ is working within us, teaching us to think and act like Jesus, and so this Counselor nudges, prompts, rebukes, and protects us as God writes the law on our hearts instead of stone tablets.
Responding to the Spirit’s nudge, I looked at the book in my hand. The cover didn’t give a clue as to why the Spirit was prompting me. In fact, my motive for reading the book was a very good one, related to ministry. Yet I was certain the Spirit thing meant I wasn’t supposed to read the book. I admit I thought for a few seconds about ignoring the Spirit’s direction. I mean, I couldn’t see anything wrong with it. Then, like a child who has weighed the pros and cons of disobedience, I turned around and put the book back on the shelf. My hesitant obedience emerged, not so much from an attempt to be pious, but from my memory of standing too many times on the wrong side of God’s direction. This child has burned his fingers enough that it seems futile to argue with God over how hot the stove really is.
Isn’t that what faith must be? Trusting God when he tells us the burner is hot enough to hurt us – even if we don’t agree. Trusting God when he tells us that reading what appears to be a harmless book will take us somewhere he doesn’t want us to go. Becoming like Jesus means we develop discernment in spiritual matters: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)
Spirit warning – A Spirit nudge may be a warning against impending danger, a Holy Ghost flare to guard your heart. Once, a friend of mine was driving toward a green traffic light, but he sensed an extraordinarily strong prompting from the Spirit to hit his brakes. My friend did, just as a semi-truck ran a red light into the intersection. Had it not been for his instant obedience, my friend probably would have been killed.
Spirit stop sign – A Spirit nudge may be a red flag from God telling you, “Don’t go there.” A dog I owned years ago helped me understand this: He was used to being on a leash, and when I would take him to a neighbor’s field to run, I would simply say “No” when he approached a place he shouldn’t go. The dog had done nothing wrong, and my warning wasn’t a rebuke – it was a caution for his own protection.
Spirit “shush” – My experience is that, if we listen, God will give similar warnings when we’re in conversations. He may prompt us when were stepping too close to a sinful topic, an unfair comment, or gossip.
Spirit timing – Sometimes the Holy Spirit may be telling you the timing isn’t right. When I was in graduate school, I planned to buy a computer through an educational discount offered by the university. When I turned in my paperwork, however, they told me the program had been discontinued for a few months. I was very angry at God.
About two months later, the university re-opened the discount program and the computers available for purchase that time were upgraded models bundled with software that cost extra two months earlier – and the whole package was priced cheaper than the previous one.
Can you say, “Spiritual egg on my face?” Turns out God does know what he’s doing!
We have this Spirit inside us, and God wants us to listen to him. When we ignore him, there’s little difference between us and non-believers who live their lives disconnected and independent from God: “But people who aren't Christians can't understand these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT)
· Be sensitive to the Spirit – Ask God to teach you to hear his still, small voice and to be sensitive to promptings from the Spirit. Then believe he will guide you through the many decisions and details of your life.
· Start an obedience list – For the next few weeks, keep a list of all the times you sense the Spirit prompting you. This will help you learn to be sensitive to the Spirit, but it also will strengthen your resolve to obey God’s guidance.
· Align with God’s Word – As you learn to walk in the Spirit, God will never ask you to do anything that violates his Word. His promptings will always line up with the Bible, but they may not square with your traditions.
· Blow it? Remember grace – If you miss the prompting or disobey it, confess it to God and he will be faithful to forgive. Fall upon his grace and remember that you are in the school of Christ. He knows you’re learning, and he wants to teach you.
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.