Today we enter a mysterious and daunting place, the place where the mind of God executes layer upon layer of His unknowable plan by directing human steps with His Holy Spirit. As you read these Scriptures, think of all that we can’t know about God, and all that we can know with great certainty.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Listening to God
Our always good and always loving God delights in pouring out His power upon us and inviting us into His work of redemption. And yet there are times that His Holy Spirit says “No” to our best ideas and efforts, without explanation:
“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So, they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:6-10)
This passage begs a staggering number of questions. How did Paul get the plan wrong? How did the Holy Spirit re-direct Paul? If Paul set off in a wrong direction, what hope do I have? Why would the Holy Spirit deny these people of His Good News? Through every question runs this constant: God continued to use Paul mightily, He did bring His Good News to the people of Asia and Bithynia and Macedonia in a way and time of His choosing, and it was all good.
Talking to God
Is there someplace that the Holy Spirit is saying “No” to you? Are you able to trust that God knows what you do not? Trust that He is good all the time? Even in that place? Can you open your heart and your mind’s eye to a fresh vision and a new task? Are there any barriers that keep you from sensing the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life? Anything you need to confess?
Responding to God
When we’re having difficulty with the Holy Spirit’s guidance—either wishing it were different, or struggling to sense it at all—we need to be reassured of His great love, wisdom, and generosity toward us. Who is more able to provide this reassurance than God, Himself? Carve out some extra minutes this week to be alone and quiet in His presence, soaking in some of that reassurance.
Surrendering to God
“Good Shepherd, refresh my soul and hold me fast with your Right Hand. Lead and guide me along the right paths for the sake of your Holy Name, and not mine. You are my Savior God, and my hope is in you all day long.”
By Dawn Peterson
A HISTORICAL SIDEBAR
The Reformers upheld the traditionally Western concept of the “double-procession” of the Holy Spirit. Also known as the filioque (Latin: “and the Son”), it teaches that the Holy Spirit is sent (or proceeds) from the Father and the Son. Reformers like John Calvin and Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562) held to this view because of John 15:26. This helps to distinguish the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as separate persons without dividing them into three Gods.