Christians everywhere are encouraged to walk in the Spirit; to walk as guided or directed by the Spirit of God. The apostle Paul was so sure of the benefits that he exhorted the church in Galatia, “I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to” (Galatians 5:16, TLB). The mining of the treasures in this verse is beyond our devotional scope, but suffice it to say that with the Holy Spirit as our guide, He will not lead us in ways that are contrary to the will of God. What we do not know is how and where the Spirit will lead. It is not always easy following where He leads.
These thoughts came to mind as I read Paul’s exhortation to the elders of the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17). After some words about his service to them, he continued, “And now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead” (vv. 22-23. TLB). Eugene Peterson paraphrases verse 23, “I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead” (The Message). Really? Repeatedly and clearly? Hard times and imprisonment while doing God’s work? Isn’t this where we say “thanks but no thanks” and get off the bus? How about praying for deliverance from Satan’s plans and schemes?
For Paul, none of these options were viable. The only thing that seemed to matter was that whatever the Spirit had told him was in fact God’s will for his life at that point. In other words, God was going to allow him to meet with a predetermined fate. With that in mind and his trust in God, he did not seem bothered by what awaited him for he continued, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (v. 24, KJV). In reflecting on his attitude, the one word that readily comes to mind – WOW!
Paul’s experience reminds us that God often puts His servants in difficult situations in order to accomplish His purposes. It could very well be that some of the situations we are praying and/or fasting against, “binding and loosing,” and blaming Satan for, are situations that have been divinely orchestrated for us to experience for our spiritual growth, for God’s glory, or both. Spiritual discernment is important. The apostle’s attitude reminds us that above all else it is far better to be in the nucleus of God’s will, even in hardships, than to be in comfort outside of that will. There really is no safer place to be.
What would your attitude be if the Spirit of God made it known to you that He would lead you in a way filled with challenges? Could it be that you are already in that way? Regardless of where you and I find ourselves, may we strive always to bring glory to God. After all, it is all about Him and not about us. It never was and never will be (Revelation 4:11).