Re-working and re-running some thoughts from 2010 . . .
Some are fascinated by powerful displays of the Holy Spirit, I’m probably more intrigued by imperceptible directions. Some look for the signs and wonders, I’m trying to get better at hearing His voice. Some would say that it’s outward manifestations that really indicate your spirituality, I’m thinking it’s more the inward dynamics. That’s probably why a phrase in Acts 19 caught my attention this morning or, . . . maybe it’s the subtle moving of the Spirit.
Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
(Acts 19:21 ESV)
Paul certainly was familiar with the “Richter scale” side of the Holy Spirit. You know, that side of the Spirit that can really shake things up. He had seen visions, done miracles, witnessed countless new believers speaking in tongues and prophesying, indicating that they too had received the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ. But Paul also knew the less obvious side of the Spirit. That one-on-one, inside the head and heart dynamic. Paul knew how to interact with the Holy Spirit or, perhaps more accurately, knew how to let the Holy Spirit interact with Him.
Paul was sent out on his missionary journey by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:4) and, while the Holy Spirit manifested Himself in many physical and mighty ways throughout Paul’s spreading of the gospel, you also know that the Spirit of God was working just as effectively behind the scenes, directing Paul along the way. And it’s the “behind the scenes” stuff that fascinates me. It’s wanting to know that interaction in secret that has compelled me to want to know practically how to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), be “led by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:18), and “live by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).
And so, Paul’s in Ephesus and he has to make a decision as to where he should go next. And he determines he’s to head over to the regions of Macedonia and Achaia, then on to Jerusalem, and then make his way to Rome. But, it’s not just him deciding, is it? It says that “Paul resolved in the Spirit.” The NKJV says “He purposed in the Spirit”, making it pretty clear, I think, that there’s some sort of inner communion / voice / leading type of dynamic going on here. (Unfortunately, the NIV and MSG omit the Spirit’s influence here altogether, and thus I think omit a significant insight into how Paul ticked . . . or how the Holy Spirit was actively ticking in him.)
So, I’m sitting asking myself, “What does ‘resolving in the Spirit’ look like?” What does it mean to purpose to do something in the Spirit? What’s going on behind the scenes?
While I certainly don’t think I have this fully figured out, I guess there are some pieces to this that I’m pretty sure are involved. First, there’s giving the Spirit something to work with and I think that starts with filling up on the Word of God. I’m thinking that the Spirit interacts best with spiritually minded people. That He communicates the mind of God most effectively to those who have sought the mind of God through God’s own revelation. Sure, there may be times when we “hear voices”, but I’m guessing that most often He will assist our decision making as He prompts us by bringing Scripture or a biblical principle to mind.
I’m also thinking that communion is pretty important to practically knowing what it is to “resolve in the Spirit.” Jesus called it “abiding” in John 15. The persistent pursuit of being attached to the Vine. That steady determination to remain “in Him” and keep our lives clear of junk so that He remains “in us.” It’s wanting to know Him. It’s wanting to be known by Him. It’s being heavenly minded. Our focus set on things above and not things of this earth. And, it’s about priorities. Desiring to put Him first in all things . . . and to do all things as unto Him . . . and to desire that all aspects of our lives would, in some way, bring Him glory.
And then, I think it’s about expecting to interact with the Spirit. I’m becoming more convinced that the reason we may not know His leading . . . the reason we haven’t experienced making a decision knowing that the Spirit has participated and guided, is because we simply don’t expect it. We don’t hear His voice because we’re not listening for it. And sometimes, when we do hear it–that inner prompting, that “gut feeling”–we don’t give Him the credit, but think we were the ones who came up with the idea. Oh, that I might expect to interact “real time” with the Holy Spirit. That I might recognize His voice more. That I might hear it more clearly.
O to live in the reality of what happens behind the scenes. To know the Son’s leading for the Father’s pleasure through the “in the secret” prompting of the Holy Spirit.
All by grace. All for His glory.