John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Romans 8:5-6: Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
I preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit this past week and for me it was a Spirit led sermon. Let me explain that further because it sounds like I am boasting. Having thought about this sermon for several weeks, I had an idea of just how I wanted the sermon to go. However, somewhere along the way, the Spirit moved me in another direction. The sermon that I wanted to preach was changed into a sermon that the Spirit led me to preach. And before I fully realized it, I was led to give more of a testimony about how the Holy Spirit of God has moved in my life since I gave my life to Christ at the age of twelve.
I gave three examples of my life when the Holy Spirit moved powerfully within me. The first was when I was twelve years old and struggling with the decision to give my life to Christ. The Holy Spirit was drawing me to God and guiding me to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. I remember that powerful and irresistible feeling within me that was calling me to publically confess my belief in Christ. I compared this impression to the feeling that the two disciples had on the road to Emmaus when Jesus came up and walked alongside them on Resurrection Sunday. The two men were kept from recognizing Jesus at first but they both had this response after Jesus revealed himself to them: They said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
The second example of the Spirit’s work in my life was during a time of deep personal distress. I felt the overwhelming peaceful presence of the Spirit come over me and engulf me, giving me assurance that God, through His Holy Spirit, would guide me through this difficult period in my life. It was a feeling of complete peace and calm that overcame me and it gave me an unquestionable belief that everything would work itself out in the way that God intended.
The third example of the Holy Spirit moving powerfully in my life was about eight years ago when God was calling me to ministry. I had been struggling with my calling into ministry, mainly because I was convinced that God could not – and would not – use someone like me to minister to others. I didn’t have great speaking skills, I felt as if I didn’t know the Bible as well as I should, and I looked at myself in terms of my sinful nature, instead of as someone being led by the Spirit. I came up with every excuse possible to deny my calling, but God would not let me go. Every time I tried to convince myself that God was not really calling me, God put someone in my path that steered me back to God’s will for my life.
One night as I went to sleep, I remember praying to God for guidance. I continued to put off this decision to answer God’s calling because it just didn’t make sense to me. Sometime during the night, I had a vivid dream in which I was “floating” above the clouds. It didn’t seem like a dream – I felt as if I was literally flying or floating above the clouds.
Then the clouds began to part and I saw what appeared to be a town below. It was not a modern town but it appeared to be a town that looked like it belonged in the early 1900’s. I saw many plain white buildings below and I remember seeing a white church with a large steeple. As I drew closer, I saw a group of men standing in front of the church and all of them wore dark pants, with a dark jacket and a white shirt without a tie.
At this point, I was getting close to the earth below and this group of men that were assembled in front of the church. I remember descending very quickly upon this group of men and I remember thinking that I was actually going to “collide” into them. Then very suddenly as I came upon the men, one of them turned around and was face to face with me, and he said, “You are going to be a pastor.”
And immediately, I realized that the man speaking to me was my grandfather, who passed away in 1981, when I was 17 years old. In that short time span of 17 years, he had a profound impact on my life of faith. He demonstrated for me a life that loved and honored God.
I woke up immediately and was so shaken that I could not go back to sleep. I remember getting up in that early morning hour and reading my Bible and praying to God for several hours. During that time, I decided that I was going to obey God and serve Him for the rest of my life. And I also knew that I had to tell my wife about my decision that we both had wrestled with for almost a year.
I didn’t say anything to her that morning because I was still in a state of shock. When I got home that afternoon, we sat down and I told her about my dream and my decision to dedicate my life to serving God. She agreed, we hugged, and I began to cry like I have never cried in my entire life.
For the third time in my life, I felt a sensation come over me that was so peaceful and comforting – that I cannot fully describe it. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and my mind and told me that I had made the right decision. And God – through His Holy Spirit – has been with me every step of the way since. There have been many joys and disappointments in my calling – but God, through His Holy Spirit, has used all of these circumstances to mold and shape me into who I am today.
I cannot do what I do in ministry without the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. I continue to rely and call upon The Holy Spirit to guide me in my calling and in my ministry.
Ephesians 1:13: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.