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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Spirit (John 16:7-15)

    Just Sunday I found myself putting God in a box. Have you ever done that? Maybe you have and you didn’t realize that’s what you were doing. Here’s what it looked like for me:
    Jonny was telling my Dad that he had had a really vivid dream about end times, a dream unlike any others he had ever had. Jonny was wanting to know if it was possible that the dream was from God. Right away, my defenses went up. I started thinking, “No way, that’s not a dream from God because God doesn’t give dreams like that anymore.”
    Jonny then went on to quote Acts 2:17 which says, “And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, And your young men will see visions, And your old men will have dreams;” (NASB)
    And right away, my “educated mind” thought, “That verse is grossly taken out of context.” Of course, my Dad knew that too, and he correctly told Jonny about the context, but then the Spirit used something my dad said to correct my own faulty thinking.
    Okay, so the Acts 2:17 verse was taken out of context. It doesn’t mean “last days” as in end times, it means last days as in the days after Christ but before what we know now as Pentecost. It talks about the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit will be given to all who believe, and that the Spirit will enable people on that day, the day of Pentecost, to prophesy and see visions and have dreams. The context applies to the day of Pentecost, not end times in general.
    That being said…the Spirit reminded me that He is God and I am not. If He wants to give dreams to people not on the day of Pentecost, He can do that. He is God, and He can and does use any means of communication necessary to get His message to be known and heard.
    I quickly repented of my foolishness and pride, thinking I could tell God what He could and could not do. Thinking I could put God in a box. Thinking God can only work this way or that way.
    But the God we serve spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He used plagues to communicate with Pharaoh. For Nebuchadnezzar, it was dreams. For Belshazzar, His finger wrote a message on a wall. Our God can even speak through a donkey! He can choose to speak to us anyway He wants to.
    His primary language is His word, the Bible, as we’ve talked about and learned how to study it every day. But, let’s look at John 16:7-15 to learn something really amazing about His Spirit.
    “But I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I am leaving; for if I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world regarding sin, and righteousness, and judgment: regarding sin, because they do not believe in Me; and regarding righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you no longer are going to see Me; and regarding judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them at the present time. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you.” (NASB)
    Jesus told us that it was for our advantage that He went away so He could send the Helper to us. The Helper is His Spirit. The Spirit, we read here, does a few things in our lives: He convicts regarding sin, He convicts regarding righteousness, and He convicts regarding judgment. Jesus told us that when He came, He will speak whatever He hears from God to us.
    He has one goal in all of this, in His convictions of sin and righteousness and judgment, and in Him speaking the words of the Father to us, His goal is to glorify the Lord.
    Every time He speaks something to us, it is for the purpose of bringing GLORY to God.
    He’s free to do that anyway He sees fit. What’s amazing about this passage is that it doesn’t specify how the Spirit speaks to us, only that He does. God knows each of us intimately and uniquely. Because He knows us so well, He knows how to speak to each of us in a way that is clear and unmistakable.
    For example, one of the ways God does and has spoken to people in the Bible is through DREAMS. In fact, the passage from Acts 2:17 that I read this morning tells us that this is one of the means of communication the Spirit does use. The question isn’t whether or not God can still speak in dreams to communicate to His people. The questions is, how do you discern if a dream is from God or not?
    This is where God’s primary language is key. Any dream you might have, if it is from God, will line up with Scripture. Any dream you might have, if it is from the Spirit, will glorify God, since that is the Spirit’s goal.
    Another way that God speaks to us can be through DESIRES He gives us. In fact, there’s a well-known Psalm that says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4; NASB) He will speak to us by giving us desires, if we delight ourselves in Him. Those won’t be sinful desires that He will give to us, rather they will be desires that are in line with Scripture, and they will be desires that will glorify God. This is how we tell the difference between what we want and what God wants.
    God can also speak through opening DOORS for us, making a way through a situation when it seemed there was no way. Paul prayed for this very thing and we can read about it in Colossians 4:3, “praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ for which I have also been imprisoned;” (NASB)
    When God desires that we will go somewhere or do something that is in His plan, He opens doors. How do we check that? Does it fit with God’s primary language, Scripture? Does it bring God glory? If the answer is yes, that very well may be the Spirit’s work.
    God speaks through PEOPLE. In Exodus 18 we get this really great example of God giving direction through someone to another person. Moses was tired and over-worked. He had been put in the unique position of overseeing, organizing, and problem-solving for over 2 million people, all by himself. But God gave Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law wisdom concerning Moses’ leadership. He was able to establish leaders to work under him to handle the smaller things, and then Moses became the leader of the leaders. God gave this wisdom to Jethro to help Moses.
    What about pastors, what about me? God desires to speak through us. That is one of the things that I pray for as I write my sermons and as I humble myself before Him on Sunday mornings. I pray that He will use me to speak to you and I get myself out of the way! There’s an easy check for this too, to see if what someone says to you may be from God: does it fit with His primary language, Scripture; and does it bring Him glory?
    God speaks through PROMPTINGS. Like, you’re going along with your day and the Spirit says, “You need to stop and pray for so and so.” No context, just pray. John 14:26 tells us that the Spirit teaches us all things and reminds us of what Christ has said. He does this by prompting us. For example, we know that God is love, so if we feel the prompting to buy someone’s groceries as an act of love because they forgot their wallet, that may be the prompting of the Spirit.
    He also prompts us to walk in His ways. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with all your heart and not to lean on your own understanding. It tells us that if we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will make our paths straight. He does that through prompting us. So when those promptings come, we can ask: does that fit with God’s primary language of Scripture; does it glorify God? If so, then that may be the Spirit speaking to you through that prompting to act in obedience on what He is leading you to.
    The Spirit also speaks to us through our PAIN. That one isn’t so fun. Romans 5:3-4 says, “And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations (pain, suffering, trials), knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;” (NASB)
    I don’t know about you, but during times of great pain in my life was when I learned the most about God’s character and His love for me, and when I learned the most about who He made me to be. Those times are hard, but He spoke in such a mighty way that I’m glad I went through those things because He was glorified and I was refined. I know Him better because of those times of pain. So, when you’re in the midst of that pain that threatens to drown you in waves of misery, ask yourself: how does this glorify God; how can He use this for His glory? The answer may surprise you.
    Hebrews 1:1-4 tells us that the Spirit does speak in many ways. Scripture confirms that. It is for His glory that He speaks in different ways to each and every one of us because what happens when He speaks and we listen is a deeper relationship with our Creator and a better understanding of our mission and purpose.

1. Look again at John 16:7-15. One of the key points from these verses is that the Spirit will guide us into all truth. Think of a time when you needed to be guided in truth. How did the Holy Spirit help you in that situation?

2. Think through all the “languages” God uses to speak to us through the Spirit (Scripture, dreams, desires, doors, people, promptings, pain), how has the Spirit used those languages to speak to you?

3. How did you discern if what you heard in those times was from God or not?

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