Don’t Travel Alone

guideBev and I were blessed to travel to Israel back in 1999. The trip was one of the highlights of our lives, walking the ground where the stories of the Bible took place, standing where Jesus prayed, walking Mt. Carmel where Elijah encountered the prophets of Baal and called down fire from Heaven, standing in old Jerusalem’s streets, and looking out over the Lake in Galilee.

But, it was a man that made it all so much more meaningful. I don’t even remember his name, but he met us at airport in Tel Aviv and each morning for the next 9 days.  He led us from place to place, told us the stories (He was not a Believer!), and left us at appropriate times in our own reverie.  He was our guide; experienced, informed, and committed to making our trip the best we could hope for.  Without him, we would not have seen half of what we did, nor understood nearly as much.

Here on the cusp of a new year – opportunities stretching out in front of you, unseen challenges waiting for you – do you have a guide?  Most likely you have people who advise and counsel – a physician who helps to keep you well, a financial advisor who makes your investments perform best, a pastor who teaches you eternal Truth, and some friends that are part of your team. But those people are not who I am thinking of at this moment.

I am talking about doing life with an awareness of God’s Spirit, a readiness to let Him lead, to seek His counsel.  Jesus gathered the men with whom He had shared 3 years of life around Him the night before He went to the cross.  Over the Passover meal, He told them that He was going to leave and that He would send the Counselor!  “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” (John 14:16-17, NLT)  “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.” (John 16:13-14, NLT)

All Christians receive God’s Spirit when they accept the invitation He extends to believe in Jesus as Savior. But, not all Christians are ‘owned’ by the Spirit. Some live as though Jesus is a distant Friend or a kind of insurance for Eternity.  They stumble through life, bumbling from one sin to another, their prayers feeble and infrequent, convictions all but invisible, claiming to be loved but yet not living in love.  Others live with an undeniable love for God, not superficial religiosity but heart deep conviction. They endure the storms of life with hope, experience the hatred so common in the world without becoming haters, and have a rock solid hope.  It is the Guide that makes the difference.

Paul tells us that we need to be ‘filled with the Spirit.’  Interestingly, in the Greek text, the verb helps us to know that it is an ongoing, not a once and done experience.  We need to be being filled with the Spirit!  Here the context – ” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.” (Ephesians 5:15-19, NLT)  Paul did not write that to nonbelievers. He wrote to baptized Christians, urging them to drink deeply of God, the Spirit, in order that they would live wisely.

This transformative life is not for an elite group of Christians, for religious professionals, or even for those who gain esoteric knowledge.  God, the Spirit, wants to fill YOU, to be your daily Guide, to make you a beautiful, loving, wise Christian.  Will you allow Him to do that here in the opening days of 2017 or will you try to go it alone?

You do not have to go to a spiritual retreat, find a special preacher, join a specific congregation, or turn into a religious zealot. Many will push those things as ‘the way’ to ‘get the Spirit.’  (I hate that phrase, by the way.)  Just listen, nod, and let God lead you as He will.  The truth is that the Holy Spirit is here now, available to you, and waiting for an invitation.

Oh, when He comes to you in His fullness, life will change. Jesus said He would convict of sin. Yes, when the Holy Spirit is invited into your life personally, presently -He won’t let you keep doing some things that you once did. Ready to change?  And, you will find yourself experiencing things you really can’t explain; inspired moments of when you say, ‘how did I know that?’  You will find new delight in prayer and worship. You will begin to know love that you never knew existed, a deep kind of love that goes far beyond romance and roses!  I am not overselling. This is the promise of the Spirit.  Of course you will still have difficult days, find yourself tempted and tried, and go through spiritual deserts; but you will know (beyond knowing) that you never walk alone.

Hungry for more of God in 2017? Confess that promise that Jesus made, telling you that the hungry will be filled. With a simple faith, in a quiet place, do some real business with God. Tell Him you are hungry to be filled with His Spirit.  Wait! Listen! Engage your heart.  Perhaps you would want to use Paul’s amazing prayer for us, but make it first person.  I have changed his words a little to show you what I mean.  “I am thanking God.  I constantly, ask You,  God, my glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for spiritual wisdom and insight so that I can grow in my knowledge of Who You are.  I pray for my heart to be flooded with light so that I can understand the confident hope You have given to those You called— Your holy people who are Your rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray to come to understand the incredible greatness of Your power for us who believe, the power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at Your right hand in the heavenly realms.” (based on Ephesians 1:16-20, NLT)  He can and He will come to YOU.  Let HIM!

That amazing guide who accompanied Bev and I across the landscape of Israel made all the difference in our experience of the “Holy Land.”  Our Guide, the Spirit, will make all the difference in our journey called life.

Here is a word from the Word. May it be an invitation to a whole new way of living for you. Don’t try to go it alone.  “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”” (Acts 1:4-8, NIV)  Come, Holy Spirit!

_______________

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah

Guide me O Thou great Jehovah
Pilgrim through this barren land
I am weak but Thou art mighty
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand
Bread of heaven Bread of heaven
Feed me now and ever more
Feed me now and ever more

 Open Thou the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow
Let the fiery cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through
Strong Deliverer strong Deliverer
Be Thou still my strength and shield
Be Thou still my strength and shield

 When I tread the verge of Jordan
Bid my anxious fears subside
Death of death and hell’s destruction
Land me safe on Canaan’s side
Songs of praises songs of praises
I will ever give to Thee
I will ever give to Thee

John Hughes | Peter Williams | William Williams
© Words: Public Domain

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