Encountering the Holy Spirit
I was blessed to have a visit from Annette who had been visiting our church. At 14 years old she came to know Jesus at Vacation Bible School. She shared with me that her husband decided at 14 years old that he was not going to be a preacher but was going to join the navy... even though he had never seen the ocean! He was in the Vietnam war standing on the captain’s nest when he made a promise to God. If God would let he and his men get home to their families he would serve God the rest of his life. The Naval officer and his men got home to their families and within three years he was a pastor! She had a wonderful life with him and encountered Jesus many times.
After the death of her husband Annette continued learning about the Holy Spirit. She spent a lot of time teaching about the Great Awakening in China and speaking to women about marriage. Annette moved to Wilmington five years ago, after her fiance's death. She is involved with the Celebration Choir and loves traveling with them! I have seen her when she sings with them and it is obvious she is using one of her gifts! She has 24 grandchildren!
Annette was living across town and felt she wanted to find another place to live. She attended church but did not feel she was growing like she was supposed to. She began to ask God to find her a cheaper place to live near a doctor and a bank. She also wanted a church within walking distance. And above all she wanted a church where she could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit!
Annette knew the Holy Spirit would help her discern what was best for her move. There are numerous examples of the Holy Spirit as a guide in the Bible; from the guiding of the people of Israel through prophets, signs, vision, to Jesus and Paul. And certainly in the forming of the early church. Annette was specific about being near a doctor, a bank and a church….the right church for her. While some of our decisions may not be spelled out in Scriptures the Holy Spirit will guide us. He will give us discernment for big and small decisions. As we develop a greater sensitivity to His guidance, we will worry much less about those decisions. We will build trust. Exodus 31: 3, “‘...and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…’” Exodus 35: 31, “‘...and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills..’”
Before long Annette had found a cheaper place and of course if was close to a doctor and a bank. And it was within walking distance to a church! She soon visited the church and said she felt the Holy Spirit as soon as she walked in the door! She said she thought, “God is in this room!” Exodus 25: 8, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” She came to the 8:15 service and visited the Connection Cafe before trying Sunday School. She kept thinking, “this is what I have been looking for!” When she walked into Sunday School she was told it was perfect timing because they were beginning a new series that day. The new series was learning about the Holy Spirit! She decided to stay for the 11:15 service too! Annette said she went home elated. She knew this was all part of God’s plan.
When I have decisions I ask God to open the door or slam it shut so I cannot mess up! Throughout Paul’s life he interpreted open and closed doors as evidence of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. 1 Corinthians 16: 8, “‘But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.’” God surely “opened the doors” for Annette!
The Holy Spirit is our guide, not our controller. He lives in you and in me. He communicates God’s will to Christians. God speaks through the voice of His Spirit who lives in us. Because He lives in us, He has direct access to our minds, emotions and consciences. Sometimes we have to seek Him for a season and other times we can sense His guidance immediately. The Holy Spirit can change circumstances and enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The Holy Spirit is our guide and He reveals the way of truth. Let’s trust Him with our decisions, big or small! Acts 13: 52, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”