Skip to main content

Depending on the Spirit…

By December 5, 2021August 30th, 2022Devotional

Each week, I am in several situations where I listen to pastors preach or people pray. Since I teach quite a bit, I have always taken an interest in how other pastors and people of faith prepare for appearances in front of their audiences.

God speaks through the Holy Spirit to His children and regardless of how the message is delivered to the audience, it is important for God’s ambassador to make sure that he or she is being attentive and “in the Spirit.” That means that they are receptive to deliver the message that the Lord wants them to deliver to the congregation they are a part of.

Throughout the years, I have watched how people prepare their messages. Hopefully, they have prayerfully considered what they are about to say and approach the throne of God with humility and attentiveness. Then the message will also reflect, along with intensive study, what the Lord wants to impart.

Back in seminary, we were taught to study our Bible verses in their original languages. Admittedly, I am horrible in the Hebrew and not much better in the Greek. But, I do remember that we are to preach the active verbs in the passage and then are to use the participles as supporting points for the main parts of the message. This can get a little technical, but throughout my life teaching and preaching, I have found this lesson one of the most important things that I learned in seminary. We had to outline our passages and our themes; and at times, present our sermons to the teacher so we could be critiqued and improve. It was a valuable time in my own spiritual development.

Years after I graduated, I actually taught preaching and teaching at Crossroads Bible College here in Indianapolis. I was blessed to have some really gifted students who developed their own styles of preaching and they serve in different churches throughout the area, including one student who now serves in Guatemala with his family. I still remember administering the final one evening and listening to him address the class with an awesome sermon.

I encouraged my students to have an outline and maybe even bullet points to stay on track during their message but I discouraged a word for word reading of the sermon or prayer. Rather, I encouraged my students to pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to fill in the gaps and give them the right words to speak.

That is one of the toughest things for students to do. They are afraid of making a mistake or forgetting something – or even embarrassing themselves. But the Holy Spirit ALWAYS comes through – ALWAYS! In fact, I would suggest that the best messages and prayers are those that are spoken by men and women who are “in the Spirit.” That means that they are listening to God – open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When we, as believers, have taken the step of faith to trust our eternal salvation to Jesus – somebody we have never seen in person, it only makes sense that we should also yield to another part of the Godhead for help in other situations. Yet, we find it difficult to trust that the Holy Spirit will show up to provide us with the right words to get God’s message across to our audiences.

Sure, the first few times were tough, but as the years have gone on, I have come to depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit in my lessons, sermons and prayers. Rarely do I ever prepare full notes for my messages or lessons to teach. Now don’t get me wrong – of course I prepare and do my research – but when it comes to delivering the message, I trust the Spirit to make sure that God’s message comes across loud and clear.

One of my dearest friends is the best prayer person I know. I have listened to him for twenty years or more and I can tell that he listens and is attentive to the leading of the Spirit. I can hardly wait for Rich to pray – it’s a special time and I can tell when he is really in the “zone.” One of the things that I admire is that he is so attentive to the needs of the group that he is a part of. I feel more in touch with God when Rich is praying. And that’s as it should be. The line between heaven and earth is blurred when time and distance disappear and a great prayer is offered. It fills me up and I can just let the words wash over me – fully present in the moment!

Our verse for tonight is from Paul’s letter to the Romans, the book that sums up the theology of the New Testament. Paul tells his audience, in Romans 14:14-15, “… those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship…”

That means that we can depend, without fear, on the Holy Spirit to guide our steps. My encouragement this evening is that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is one that we can rely on – to get God’s message across without error. My prayer is that all of us can come to know and depend on the leading of the Spirit so that we can preach, teach and pray with authenticity and humility what the Lord wants to communicate through us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…