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Recognizing the Activity of the Holy Spirit

We must be people with spiritual minds that respond to the Holy Spirit.  In fact, He fervently wants us to recognize and respond to His activity in our lives. Why? Because He is speaking, guiding, leading and working all the time and we need to pay serious attention to Him. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “The Son volunteered to take unto Himself human nature, to give a perfect obedience to the law, and to die for the guilt and punishment of the sins of men and women. And the Holy Spirit volunteered to take upon Himself the work of applying that redemption. That is His special work, and we must now pay attention to it.”[1]

In this post I want to examine His activity (His “special work”) in our lives.

The Holy Spirit shows us things to come.  John 16:13 says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

The Holy Spirit knows the end from the beginning. He can show us things to come in our lives. He can show us the big things or the small personal details. It’s our job to listen.

Acts 11:27–29 gives us the answer to why He shows us things to come. It is to prepare us for whatever it is. He prepared the disciples and they responded appropriately. He shares so there can be preparation.

What’s exciting is that He’s not just showing large scale, cataclysmic events that are coming on a worldwide level. He’s also showing things that pertain to us personally (read Acts 20:22,23).

When you need to make a decision, have you invited the Holy Spirit to give you guidance? To personally prepare you for what’s coming up?

The Holy Spirit separates and sends.  The Holy Spirit separates us from the familiar and comfortable and then sends us out to the risky and the unknown.

Acts 13:2–4 gives us a terrific example of this. Barnabas and Paul were separated from the others and called to a specific work—they were sent out.

Genesis 12:1­–4 gives another example. God said, “Leave your country, leave your family, and follow Me,” Abram had a choice. He lived in the city of Ur—a rich and prosperous city. He could stay there, all comfortable and nice. He could cling to his riches, religiosity, and respectability, or, at seventy-five years old, he could respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Abram chose to listen. He chose risk. The Holy Spirit shook Abram’s life to its very foundations, but Abram’s listening and responding led to him becoming the Father of Faith. He was separated and sent out.

Have you ever sensed the Spirit separating, calling and sending you? Did you bind the devil when the thought came? Or, did you listen, pray, fast, prepare, submit and go?

The Holy Spirit stops us. Not only does the Holy Spirit separate and send, He also stops us in our tracks.

We see this in Acts 16:6–10. The Holy Spirit can contradict our typical thinking.  Notice that He forbids them to preach in Asia and Bithynia. While preaching and teaching is a good thing, He strategically and intimately stops them.  We must make sure that while we are obeying our general orders from the Holy Spirit that we don’t miss the specific orders. The Holy Spirit should be involved in every detail—the specific and the general aspects of any plan. We must learn to daily trust in His all-knowing wisdom.

After Paul commits to obeying the Holy Spirit’s leading and stops, some great things happen. He obeys, then goes on to Macedonia and begins the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth. It’s not until he stops that the rest of the Holy Spirit’s plan gets revealed. After Paul stops he receives the vision and more of the details.

There are such things as “divine stops.” Have you ever experienced a “divine stop”?

Friends, far too often we just sit and hear another sermon, read another book, or pray the same prayers and miss the activity of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit guides, leads, shows, separates, calls, sends, and stops us. We need to recognize and respond to His activity; to His voice.

What can you do today to specifically hear His voice? It’s vitally important that you do what you need to do so that you hear and act on His voice every time He speaks to you.


[1] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, ( Wheaton, IL, Crossway Books, 2003), 43

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