God's truth for today's world

The Holy Spirit’s Whisper Introduction

Today, we’re continuing in our message series Need Direction? In this series, we’re learning how to receive guidance and direction from God for our lives. Let’s review some of the key means of guidance that God has provided for us.

  1. The first and most important means of guidance is God’s Word, the Bible. God’s Word provides us with the principles and examples that should inform every decision that we make in life.
  2. The second means of guidance is the Holy Spirit and prayer. Oftentimes we think of prayer as asking God for something. Yet, prayer is meant to be two-way communication. The way that God communicates with us in prayer is through the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday, we talked about the importance of prayer in guidance. Today, we’re going to talk about the Holy Spirit.
  3. The third means of guidance is godly counsel and we’ve had a message on that several weeks back. Getting good counsel from other believers is essential.
  4. Finally, the last means of guidance is simply the circumstances of the situation. This is the least authoritative form of guidance, as God often leads His children to do things that seem to defy natural logic.

Today, we want to become more familiar with the Holy Spirit through the teaching of Jesus. My message today is entitled “The Spirit’s Whisper.” Let’s watch a short video called “Spirit Worship”.

The Holy Spirt was present at creation. He was promised in the Old Testament, described by Jesus and indwells every believer. Yet, many believers have difficulty in hearing what the Spirit has to say to them. Part of the reason is that the Spirit often speaks in a whisper. It’s hard to hear a whisper unless you’re in a quiet place. And it’s hard to hear the Spirit if there are other competing voices.

Let’s read an account of the Spirit of the Lord speaking to Elijah the prophet.

1 Kings 19:11b-13 (NIV)  The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

God’s Spirit spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper. Other voices can drown out the whisper of the Spirit. Your own thoughts can drown out the Spirit’s whisper. The voices of other people and the media can drown out the Spirit’s whisper. The voice of Satan and his demons can drown out the Spirit’s whisper. Each of us hears these four types of voices each and every day, whether we recognize them or not. The voice of the Spirit, our own voice, the voice of other people and the voice of Satan. God wants to teach us this morning to discern the Spirit’s whisper.

Hebrews 5:14 (NIV)  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

The ability to distinguish or discern the good voice from the evil voice can be developed. Today, we’re going to be trained by Jesus to hear the Spirit’s whisper. Hearing the Spirit’s whisper begins with …

1. Love and obey Jesus

John 14:15 (NIV)  “If you love me, you will obey what I command.

In this passage, Jesus repeats this truth four times, in verse 15, 21, 23 and 24 in connection with His teaching on the Holy Spirit. So, it must be very important. Here Jesus states the principle positively. If someone truly loves Jesus, they will obey Jesus’ commands. In verse 24, Jesus gives the principle in the opposite sense. Those that do not love Jesus will not obey His commands. In other words, those who are true believers, those who are Jesus’ disciples are those who love Him and obey Him. The two, love and obedience, go hand in hand. Those who say they love Jesus but don’t obey Him, don’t truly love Him.

The rest of Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit, therefore applies only to those who love and obey Jesus and His Word. Those who love Jesus can …

Receive the Spirit as your Counselor

John 14:16-17a (NIV)  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.

For those who were here last Sunday, you’ll remember that in Luke 11:13, Jesus commanded His followers to ask the Father to give them the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus promises, that He in turn will ask the Father to give believers the Holy Spirit. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as another Counselor. You see, at this time, Jesus Himself was the Counselor of the disciples. However, when He ascended into heaven, He would not be with them anymore. The Spirit would then be another Counselor.

The Greek word for Counselor is parakletos, which can be translated as counselor, strengthener, comforter, helper, adviser, advocate, intercessor, ally or friend. When Jesus says that the world cannot accept the Spirit, He means that the Holy Spirit it only available to believers who love and obey Him. Jesus refers to the Spirit as the Spirit of truth, who is the one who can lead us into all truth and give us the guidance we need in live.

Jesus instructs us to accept or receive the Spirit as our Counselor. Next we are to …

Believe the Spirit lives in you

John 14:17b (NIV)  … But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Although the world or unbelievers do not know the Holy Spirit, believers or disciples of Jesus know Him because He lives in them. At the time that Jesus was speaking to His disciples, the Spirit was living with Him, but He was not in them. The impartation of the Spirit to live in believers began, not at Pentecost, but before that in …

John 20:21-22 (NIV)  Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

From that point on, which was after Jesus’ resurrection, but before His ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit indwelt every believer. At Pentecost, the Spirit was made available to every believer to empower them through the baptism in the Holy Spirit to carry our Jesus’ mission. This empowerment is not automatic, but comes to those who seek and ask for it.

Today, we are speaking of the indwelling of the Spirit that happens at the point of salvation for every believer. If you are a believer in Jesus this morning, one who loves and obeys Jesus, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. Since the Holy Spirit indwells us, we must …

Understand Jesus comes to you by the Spirit

John 14:18, 20 (NIV)  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. … On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

In this passage, Jesus is assuring His disciples that even though He is going to go away to heaven, He won’t leave them alone. After the resurrection and ascension, Jesus Himself will remain in heaven. Yet He will come to His disciples and to all believers through the Holy Spirit who live inside of them. Jesus lives in our hearts through His Holy Spirit. And, as we’ll see in a few minutes, Jesus communicates with us through the Holy Spirit that indwells us. These promises of the Holy Spirit only apply to believers who love and obey Jesus. Those are the only kind of believers there are.

How is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers important with respect to receiving God’s direction or guidance? Our sensitivity to hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice is dependent on our love and obedience to Jesus. When you are loving and obeying Jesus, your relationship with the Holy Spirit is strong and your communication is close. When there is sin in your life, your relationship with the Holy Spirit is affected. The Bible speaks of this as quenching the Spirit. We are commanded in

1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NIV2011)  Do not quench the Spirit.

We quench the Holy Spirit when we sin. We quench the Holy Spirit when we don’t listen to His voice, but listen to or give preference to other voices in our lives. If you can’t hear the Spirit’s voice, the problem is not with the Holy Spirit speaking. Get back to the basics of loving and obeying Jesus and you will hear the Spirit speaking once again.

2. Receive direction from the Holy Spirit

John 14:25 (NIV)  All this I have spoken while still with you.

Jesus, at the time He gave this teaching, was obviously physically present with the disciples. Yet, He was preparing them for the time in which He would be physically absent. We are living in the time of Jesus’ physical absence. We can’t hear Him teach directly.

The Spirit will teach you everything

John 14:26a (NIV)  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things …

In place of Jesus’ direct teaching, the Father is going to send the Holy Spirit to every disciple, to every believer in Jesus. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things, all things that we need to know to carry out God’s plan for our lives. Does the Holy Spirit tell us everything we might want to know? No, God never promises to answer every question that pops into our heads. In fact, Jesus did not answer every question that people asked of Him. The Holy Spirit will teach us everything we need to know to follow Him.

The Spirit will remind you of God’s Word

John 14:26b (NIV)  … and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jesus taught His disciples a lot of things during the three years that they followed Him. How were they going to remember all the things that they learned? Jesus here gives the answer. The Holy Spirit would remind them of His words. Jesus’ words are the Word of God, as is the rest of the Bible. Some people put Jesus’ words above the rest of the Bible. Jesus Himself spoke of the rest of the Bible as the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit will remind you of what you’ve read in God’s Word at the appropriate time. In order to be reminded of something, you’ve got to have learned it in the first place. So, read and study God’s Word, the Bible, daily. At the important times, the Holy Spirit will remind you of what you read.

The Spirit will give you peace

John 14:27 (NIV)  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

At the close of this passage, Jesus speaks of leaving peace with His followers. This peace would come through the Holy Spirit, who would continue to give believers peace in their hearts, even after Jesus was gone. The peace of the Spirit will drive out worry and fear in our hearts, if we receive it. The Holy Spirit lives in you to give you His direction for life.

Practically, how does the Holy Spirit guide believers? The Holy Spirit teaches us as we read God’s Word for ourselves, participate in Life Groups and listen to the pastor’s message. If we allow the Spirit to teach us in that way, then He can remind us of what we’ve learned in times of decision.

The Holy Spirit can also help us to distinguish between different voices as we compare them to what we’ve learned from God’s Word. When we need specific guidance that the Bible doesn’t address, the peace of the Holy Spirit becomes important. As you walk with God, you will learn how to discern the peace of God in your heart. When you are comparing various voices or counsel, the Holy Spirit will give you peace about the Spirit’s voice. When you are contemplating making a difficult decision, the Spirit will give you peace about the decision He is guiding you to make. When you don’t have the peace of the Spirit, don’t make the decision.

Philippians 4:7 (NIV2011)  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This verse speaks of God’s peace through the Holy Spirit as guarding our hearts and minds. The Spirit’s peace will protect us from listening to the wrong voices or making wrong decisions. The Spirit’s whisper can give us the direction we need in life.

Conclusion

Today, we’ve been talking about how to hear the Spirit’s whisper in our lives. It all begins with the foundation of loving and obeying Jesus as a believer. The Holy Spirit lives in every believer as their Counselor, The Holy Spirit will teach you everything you need to know in life. He will remind you of what He has taught you through God’s Word. When you are walking in God’s will, you will experience the Spirit’s peace. Through the Spirit’s whisper, He will guide you in God’s perfect path for your life

Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Need Direction? Message Series

Patient Prayer (Luke 11)
Wrong Decisions (Genesis 15-17)
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