Am I Being Guided By the Holy Spirit? (Acts 27:1-11) March 11, 2012
The title of today’s message is purposefully written in the form of a question. Receiving the Holy Spirit’s guidance is the blessing that God’s people must enjoy the most. You must ask this question to yourself every moment for the rest of this week. The fact that we have been saved means that our fundamentals have been changed through our belief in Jesus Christ (from curses, fate, and destiny to the source of blessings, from the devil’s children to God’s children, from failure to victory). To what extent did our future have been prepared? Our future has been prepared until the time when we will be used as the witnesses in Jerusalem (individual), Judea (family), Samaria (region), and to the ends of the earth (world). All the accounts of what happened to God’s people recorded in the Old and New Testaments are the evidence of this blessing. Escaping from the 400-year-long Egyptian enslavement was not the end. The Israelites had to go all the way into the land of Canaan. It was the land of new promise. God had prepared the blessings that even their descendants would enjoy freely. At this point, we must ask this next question. This may be the question that all believers ask as they go through conflicts. We all know that we must go to Canaan, but how do we get there? We all want to receive answers, enjoy blessings, pass those blessings down to our children, and ultimately stand as those who save the world, but the reality is difficult and problems and conflicts persist. This is how the Israelites were when they were going through the wilderness. God’s answer is, “Follow me.” This is what we call “receiving the Holy Spirit’s guidance.” Jesus said in Mt.4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” If you just follow Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit’s guidance, He will do the work. For that reason, God is with us from the moment we were saved (indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Immanuel). God will definitely work with His power (work of the Holy Spirit). Do not fall into complaints, resentments, of discouragements in any circumstances, but receive His guidance (guidance of the Holy Spirit). If you are really guided by the Holy Spirit, no one can block the blessings, answers, and future that God has prepared for you.
1. First, we need to have a look at unbelievers who do not receive God’s guidance in today’s passage.
1) In Acts 27:9-10, God warns them through Paul that the voyage to Rome would be too disastrous and suggests postponing the trip. But it says in verse 11 that the centurion, captain, the owner of the ship, and everyone else did not listen to Paul. What was the consequence? They ended up going through a time of despair. It would have never happened if they just listened to Paul and took his advice, but they ignored him.
a. Why did the centurion ignore Paul? He was a general of the great Roman Empire; his authority, power, and pride were too strong. People think science is absolute. Science is only a way through which we observe and discover how God created the world and is moving it. We have forecasts based on scientific research, but how often do we have the correct forecast for the day and what can we really do against natural disasters like tornados?
b. Why did the captain ignore Paul? He relied solely on his experience and skills. How embarrassed was he when the storm came? Never rely solely on your own experience and skills, but receive God’s guidance.
c. Why did the owner of the ship ignore Paul? He did not want to be at loss. He did not want to listen to Paul and cancel the voyage, because he was blinded by the money he would make through the trip.
d. Why did everyone else ignore Paul? They complained in verse 12 that the port was unsuitable to winter in. We often block ourselves from receiving God’s guidance because we only look for things that can make us comfortable. God tells something even to unbelievers through signs, but we ignore God’s voice and end up falling into disasters because we only seek comfort for our flesh.
e. It says in the latter half of verse 12 that the majority decided to sail on. This is inanity of majority rule. Positively speaking, it is democracy, but negatively speaking, it is collectivism. The truth is not something that can be decided by majority rule; ever since the Genesis 3 incident, men have fallen into arrogance, their own experience, self-benefit, expediency, and selfishness.
2) Do you know what is really frightening?
a. We are so used to these imperfect things that make us ultimately fail. Even after we accepted Christ into our hearts, we are so used to the unbelievers’ way of thinking and their lifestyle, which prevents us from receiving the Holy Spirit’s guidance. God may possibly have given us countless opportunities for blessings and answers (sometimes through problems), but we might have lost hold of them because of our arrogance, experience, calculations, expediency, and majority rule.
b. These things are in fact what we learn at school. “What guidance from God? I can decide for myself.” “I decide, and I take responsibility.” Existentialism, expediency, and experientialism from which these thoughts stemmed from are what the school teaches us. So is evolutionism. Evolution is all about survival of the fittest.
c. This is why we are eager to raise elite Remnants who study within the power of the Gospel with specialty and objectivity. They do have the worldly specialty and subjectivity, but they hold onto God’s guidance, plan, and power not only in decisive moments, but in every moment.
2. If you really are God’s person and willing to live by God’s guidance, you must train yourself for at least three things.
1) You must meditate upon the Word and receive His guidance.
a. God has put together the accounts of people who triumphed through His guidance, and gave them to us as the Bible so that we can receive His accurate guidance in the midst of all problems and incidents. God wants us to seek wisdom, the way, and His voice from the Bible. That is why it says in Joshua 1 and Psalm 1 that smooth and well is the way of someone who meditates on the Word day and night.
b. There is comfort (courage) in the Word (Ps.119:52), light (vision and hope) that shines unto one’s path (Ps.119:50), and the wisdom that makes one wiser than one’s enemies (Satan), teachers, and elders (Ps.119:98-100: the Word reveals what God wants you to do right now – renew and challenge). When the day begins, or when you are facing an important and urgent time or in a time of leisure, try to hold onto the Word just a little bit for receiving the guidance from the Holy Spirit (Prayer Journal, Bible, or Pulpit Message). You have something to say before God if things do not work out even after trying all these things.
2) You must find God’s guidance from the message of the Lord’s servants and the blessings of the Pulpit.
a. It says in Amos 8:11-13 that people in the end times will tremble in thirst and hunger for they did not listen to the Word. On the other hand, in Ezekiel 47, it says that those whom God has chosen will live through the water of life flowing from the pulpit.
b. If you can really yearn for the Pulpit message and apply it to everything that happens in your life, you are being guided by the Holy Spirit. God let Peter listen to His Word through Cornelius (evangelism). That is why I urge you to organize the Pulpit message and meditate on it.
3) If you hold these two things and start to pray(5 prayer), God uses everything around you to guide you.
a. You will receive God’s guidance and discover His blessings even from what you studied at school, what you read, and what you experienced in the world. We call this the blessing of specialty and uniqueness. The door of answers that unbelievers can never understand will open.
b. Paul, in today’s passage, was someone who went from region to region for evangelism and missions. He had both the spiritual and worldly senses. He knew what would happen in the future. We must go to unbelievers with this mystery. This is evangelism.
After preparing everything for us in advance, God wants us to receive His guidance. The important thing is the attitude of our lives that desires to receive His guidance. I hope you enjoy the blessings of Proverbs 3:5-6.