Monthly Archives: November 2011

Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 10! Part 11

(ver 1.2) This is now Part 11 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God.  These lessons contain critical spiritual information necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to us in the modern world because we are the same church body serving the same God as those in the book of Acts.  My foundational scripture verse for the series is “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). That verse makes it sound essential to be led by God or you cannot be called His child.  Therefore, I believe that it is essential to know this subject.  We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first.   In recent lessons, I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the recorded (direct and indirect stated) methods used by God to lead the early church.  We are beginning to see a set of repeated pattern of the same methods being used by God to build up and grow the Body of Christ.  We are also beginning to understand an emphasis of certain methods of God over others that I have mentioned of how God leads His people.  In the last lesson I introduced you to some new concepts when I described the contributing factors of peace and joy to be necessary for hearing from the Spirit of God.  If you are depressed then you are not hearing from God.  If you are not in peace you are not hearing from God.  We have also seen repeatedly that those in the church that are being led by God are always those that are in unity with the other believers surrounding them.  This means they were not arguing, fighting or debating over what anyone wanted to do individually, but that they were more concerned with what God was doing corporately for the greater plan and purpose of the church.  Those being led today in the Church should be no different.  God is not going to lead one part of a group of believers differently apart from another group of believers so that they fight over who is right and who is wrong.  This is another important key to being led by the Spirit of God.   Hearing from God should always cause love to flow which generates a spirit of oneness, agreement, harmony and unity. 

Today I am only going to teach in chapter 10 of Acts.  It has just been making my lessons too long by me trying to teach on multiple chapters in one lesson.  Acts chapter 10 is only 48 verses long but it is so rich with new information on my subject of being led by the Spirit of God, that this again will probably be a long lesson and I will probably only get approximately half way through the chapter today.  I apologize in advance for the length of the lesson, but I believe this information is really important on the subject of being led by the Spirit of God.   Acts 10 is probably one of my favorite chapters in the book of Acts and hopefully as we go through it today, you will see why I say that and maybe it will become one of your new favorite chapters also.   Let’s start at the beginning with verse 1 and read down to verse 3.

ACTS CHAPTER 10

Act 10:1  There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

Act 10:2  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Act 10:3  He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

It is very interesting for me to see the connecting and developing factors being tied together in these verses.  It is also clear to me that God gives us many new clues and details like the hour of the day that these events occurred in this chapter.  These details certainly have direct meaning and are not there by chance.  There is nothing found in the Bible that occurs there by accident.  Every word has a designed purpose of God.  In the first verse, God is speaking about an Italian man, a Gentile by the flesh.  Up until this point in time, the church was widely a Jewish set of believers that have accepted Jesus.  But, Cornelius is clearly described as a Christian man; he is being labeled as someone who feared God.  To fear God is not an indication of being afraid or terrified of God, but it is more the concept of being in an attitude of awe for God with a great reverential respect for His position, His power, His knowledge and His ability.  This same Greek word is used in Ephesians 5 when God talks about a wife’s attitude towards her husband.  This is clearly not the type of fear that she is to be afraid that her husband will hurt her.  You see the risen Savior Jesus is the husband in this relationship with the church and the church is supposed to treat God with awe and respect.  However, God’s attitude of love was first demonstrated towards us and He treats us with great tender kindness like the very valuable wife that He has given His all to find. 

You can learn this concept of God giving His all by listening to what Jesus said about the kingdom of God when He teaches the parable of a merchant man seeking valuable pearls.  This merchant man goes and sells all that he has in order to buy the pearl of great value that he has searched for and found (Mat 13:45-46).  The merchant man in this parable is a type of Jesus and the pearl of great value is a type of us, the church.  The great purchase price paid for us was the payment of His blood and His life.  This was God giving everything that He possessed to buy us out of our major predicament of sin.    What we learn as the symbolic pearl from this information is that how we view God will determine if God will be able to guide us with His Spirit.  If we view Him as a God that will hurt us if we do not obey or make a mistake, then that is going to affect what we can hear and how we can hear Him.   If someone obeys God out of terror then that someone becomes a slave to that fear.  If someone obeys willingly out of their love for their God then that person actions are founded upon His love knowing if they do make a mistake that He is there to help them.  You see you do not understand how much God values you if you believe that God will hurt you if you do wrong.   One of the most important verses in the entire Bible is the one that states “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8)!   Not God has love for us, but He is that Love for us.  God has not given to us the spirit of fear.  Fear is being afraid or terrified which is really an opposing force to love.  This is why I wanted to briefly try to explain the type of fear being mentioned in Acts that Cornelius possessed that allowed him to hear from God.

In the first three verses in Acts 10, Cornelius is also described to be a giver and this is a characteristic of most real Christians.  Most Christians love to give to others.  The United States gets accused of many things, but the majority of the charity poured out on the world comes from this Christian nation.  Giving may or may not be a factor for what you think about God, the Bible and being a Christian, but giving is a huge factor for if you desire to receive anything from God.  I’m not preaching works based giving; I’m teaching Spirit led giving.  Obeying the law will not justify you, but obeying God will cause great benefits and blessings to occur.  You see giving is tied to receiving everywhere in the Bible.  You can see this as a stated spiritual law of God.  It is called the law of sowing and reaping and it occurs everywhere in the Bible as a predominant theme from Genesis to Revelation. Sowing and reaping is not usually a popular subject and frequently ignored because people teach it only in regards to money, but this subject is found ever present in many areas other than money.  There are over 10 things in the Bible referred to as seeds and if you don’t know them, then your ignorance causes you to potentially miss them.  I have a series of Bible lessons on this subject so I will not repeat them in this lesson.  If you want to read them you can go and see “Understanding Seeds in the Bible”. 

As you can see in verse 2 of Acts 10, Cornelius is praying.  What happens when we pray?  I think I tried to teach you that God hears and will respond.  Here is another very clear example of that in Acts 10.  Cornelius has a vision, but this time it is of a spiritual angel.  So we have the spiritual realm becoming visible to a man in the natural realm through God’s use of a vision.  This is an example of a combined method approach of spiritual communication.  God used both a spiritual vision and a spiritual being or an angel simultaneously.  This is certainly different, but it does happen.  Other times in the Bible, God sends an angel into the natural realm and people see them physically and God can do either.  This is also another example of an open type of vision.  The man Cornelius is wide awake and his eyes are wide open.   These are amazing confirmations that God will still use visions and angels directly in the modern church to give to us a specific message. 

I want you to see the stated order of occurrence in this manifestation of God.  It is stated that Cornelius did three things first before God sent the angel and gave the vision.  Cornelius feared God, gave to others and prayed before God gave him a vision and sent the angel with the message.  Is that not God responding or giving back based upon what Cornelius gave and did first?  Most of the time, I believe that this is the way that things have happened in Acts.  Saul was the only example that I have observed in Acts to be different so far.  Jesus appeared to Saul an unsaved man the first time without Saul asking or doing anything, but notice after that, it was only when Saul prayed to God that God said that He had given to him another vision.  The Spirit of God can do things progressively different as you continue to learn to grow up spiritually.  For, example when I was first filled with the Spirit of God, God spoke to me in an audible voice one time.  He has never done that again since then.  However, that does not mean that I do not hear from the voice of God daily.  It only means that I have grown enough spiritually to discern how else He speaks.  God treats unsaved and baby Christians a little bit differently than the mature Christians because He expects the mature Christians to know more.  This is true for babies in the natural realm and this is true for babies in the spiritual realm.   Let’s now see what God’s response was to what we have seen so far from Cornelius:

Act 10:4  And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

God declares that He has heard the prayers of Cornelius and has seen his giving and it sounds like God sees both of these as being positive things.  Why else are they mentioned?  One key word in this verse is the term “memorial”.  A memorial in the natural is a way to remember someone or something”.  This is what this word means, but it is easily taken the wrong way since God does know everything. What you do or say cannot cause God to suddenly remember you.  God does not step back and say “Oh yea, I forgot about Jim, I guess I better do something.  However, it is clear to me from these verses that God says the angel was sent and the message delivered because of his actions.  What I want you to discover is that Cornelius’ actions and his words were observed by God and thus your words and actions are also viewed by God since God is no respecter of persons.  I also want you to understand that if anything is pleasing in the eyes of God we need to remember clearly what it is that pleases God.  It is not your giving and it is not your praying, but it is only your faith when doing both of these.  You see the Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).  So if you are giving without faith, you are still not pleasing to God and you do it in vain.  If you are praying without faith then you are again not going to be pleasing to God and your words will fall empty.  God places certain priorities on certain things and His Word is first and foremost above everything else and then your faith in His Word allows the connection to take place to access His Power.   If you do things without learning about God’s priorities then you are more than likely doing them out of order.  I do not have time to teach you about faith, but I have a series of lessons that will help you understand this critical subject called “Understanding Bible Faith”.  I bring up faith because it is clearly Cornelius’ faith that played a role in hearing from God even though it was never directly mentioned.  This is just another example of using the Bible to explain the Bible.  If God is pleased with anyone, then God says that they have faith while doing what they have done.  Let’s continue with the angel’s instructions from God:

Act 10:5  And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

Act 10:6  He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

The angel tells Cornelius to send men to Joppa for a man named Peter.  Notice that Cornelius does not know Peter.  Why didn’t the angel just show up where Peter was and tell Peter to go and see Cornelius?  I find it very interesting how God does things in this chapter and that is why I’m spending so much time in talking about it.  Here we have an angel sent by God with a message to tell Cornelius where to go and get another message from God.  Wow, that is just mind blowing, to many Christians.   God tells Cornelius to go find a man named Peter because Peter has a message for him but as we read down in the chapter we are going to find out that Peter doesn’t know this yet.  Why is that?  Do you see what is happening here?  The man Cornelius has a vision and sees an angel but does not get the message from the angel but is told where to go to get the message from a very certain man named Peter.  In other words if Cornelius tried to get the message from the apostle John, he would have missed it  Was it only because the angel did not know the message or was it that God was teaching these people involved some new spiritual lessons on guidance, helping them all to grow?  Both men of God are required to walk by faith and not by their sight.  Cornelius had specific steps of instructions to get Peter and Peter will be given specific words of instruction for Cornelius.  Using this information you should begin to understand how God is going to potentially lead you?  He is not going to tell you everything personally all at once.  Sometimes He will just tell others what to tell you.  Sometimes I am used by God to speak to people and sometimes God uses other people to speak to me.  Sometimes I hear directly from God and other times He does things differently with me reading His word or hearing a preacher or a teacher.  There are so many ways that God can speak that you just need to be observant and attentive enough to hear Him when He does.  That is just the way He does it.  I just try to learn the best that I can to flow with Him and that is all that I can do by faith.

Act 10:9  On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

Act 10:10  And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

Ok, we are about to learn several new things in these verses.  First, Cornelius sends men to get Peter and while they are traveling Peter is described to go up on top of the roof to pray.  So again we see prayer as a major contributing factor for hearing from God.  But, we should soon notice that it is not just the fact that Peter prays, but it becomes more significant that Peter prayed at just the right time that makes all of this really work together.  This is why God is revealing the time factor in this chapter and teaching you that timing is everything with God.  You can be told by God to do something and then do it too early or too late and miss what God wanted you to learn.  During this prayer, Peter falls into a trance.  That is the beginning of a very different manifestation of the Spirit of God.  This is what I call a closed vision.  A closed vision is one where the individual is not necessarily asleep, but not necessarily awake either.  A vision during sleep is called a dream and this is not a dream.  In other words, if you were observing Peter praying you might seem to think that he looked like a statue because he appeared motionless and fixed in one place.  The condition of his eyes could be either shut or open, but they will definitely not be blinking.  It might look like that he was sleeping if was not for the fact that he might be standing up or even kneeling down.  Nowhere in the chapter does it say that Peter was directly lying down.  It does say later in verse 20 that Peter is told to arise and this implies that he was not standing.  But there are a lot of positions other than standing that it could be.  What you need to observe is if God does not tell us the position then the position is not important.  Too many Christians get focused on external things and totally miss the really important spiritual things.  There is an unnamed church denomination that is highly ritualistic.  They think that they will be heard by God by their faithful acts and works.  However, that is just not the truth.  During prayer what is important is the inward position of your heart and not your outward external posture or stance.  Saul saw a vision while he was traveling.  Stephen saw a vision while standing and being stoned.  Here in Acts 10 we now have seen the third and fourth mentioned direct occurrence of someone having a vision and both of these times it was while they were praying.

Act 10:13  And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 

I’m not going to go through every verse, but this one is very good because it tells you directly that Peter heard a voice and we will find out in the next verse that Peter recognized that it was the voice of God speaking to him immediately.  Remember what Jesus said to the Apostles?  Jesus taught them about Him being the Shepherd and them being the sheep in John 10.  Jesus also said that He knew His sheep and that His sheep knew Him (John 10:14).  All of this information in that chapter teaches us that God’s children will recognize His voice.  So God does not have to say “Thus saith the Great I Am”, He just speaks and Peters knows who is speaking.  This is the same way with you and I.  I hear His voice and I recognized Him to be my God and the voice of a stranger I do not follow because the stranger I do not recognize.  That is called spiritual discernment.  The more you understand about the Bible the more recognizable His voice becomes to you.  God will never speak in opposition to His Word, but Satan will. You see in the Bible voices are always spirits and spirits are always voices.   You will either know it or you will be deceived to follow another voice and that is usually fatal.

Act 10:14  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

As you can tell Peter understands who is speaking to Him because He calls Him his Lord.  You may recall earlier that Cornelius had this same response calling the voice Lord.  This was the Spirit of Jesus, the Great Shepherd the familiar known voice that was speaking to Peter.  Here is where Peter’s problem begins, because he knows who is speaking and he thinks that his God is telling him to do something that was unlawful.  Peter is greatly struggling with these instructions from God.  What we learn from this is that God knows what He is doing and you don’t so you should not question, but should be obedient.  As long you know the voice is from Him, you just need to do what He says.  If you read down in the chapter God repeats these instructions 3 times, so Peter is on the verge of rebellion because of his lack of understanding of the purpose of the law.  God says my people are destroyed for a lack of knowing (Hosea 4:6).  So Peter must learn quickly or get left out.  Why didn’t Peter just ask God to explain what was happening?  Did you know that you cannot ask God any questions that are too hard to be answered?  You can ask God a dumb question, but as long as it is not a question of doubt or unbelief then it is a valid question.

Let’s discuss briefly the vision of Peter.  Did you notice that the vision was about food and in verse 10 it said that Peter was already hungry?  Do you think that God can give you any physical feelings?  I know the Bible says that God is a Spirit, but I’ll ask you again, do you think that the Spirit of God can give you a physical feeling like that of natural hunger?  I know for a fact that God can manifest in these ways if He so desires.  After all God invented natural feelings so it is not difficult to manifest them.  Again I will tell you that this is God’s choice and not our choice.  But, God can come into the natural realm to make Himself known for any purpose and in any way that helps to teach us. 

When I was first filled with the Holy Spirit, I felt a strong heat like a fire from the Spirit of God inside of my chest and sometimes it was so strong that it was very distracting.  I feel this heat of the Spirit of God in my chest right now as I type this lesson.  This is clearly a physical feeling in my flesh caused by the Spirit of God residing in my spirit.  If you do not believe me I’m sorry, I can’t prove it to you; this is for my benefit and not for yours.  However, I do know that what I feel physically is scripturally based.  Have you read the recorded words of John the Baptist?  He said of Jesus that “I baptize you with water, but there will come one after me that is greater than I and He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire” (Mat 3:11, Luke 3:16).   I can tell you about this fire from God, but I can’t make it happen for you and neither can you.  However, there is a difference, you can pray in faith and ask God for this experience since it is a recorded promise found in His Word for you.  If you want the fire of God ask for it now. 

Let’s go back to Peter’s vision.  What I found significant about Peter’s vision was the fact that he was feeling very hungry and suddenly God gives him a closed vision about food that needed an interpretation in order to be understood.  Visions and dreams that required interpretations were given by God many times in the Old Testament.  But, this is the first time we can see that God is doing this again in Acts.  Realize that God is still the same God today as He was back then, and He can do whatever He likes.  Just learn to flow and then learn that God still uses dreams and visions that need interpretation.  Verses 11-16 in Acts 10 describe the vision of Peter and since this is not my direct subject I’m going to skip it.  They basically give several symbols, a sheet carrying many wild animals of the earth that are lowered down from heaven.  God tells Peter to kill and eat and Peter tells God I have never eaten what is common or unclean.  God then tells Peter “Don’t call common what I have made clean”.  Uh, oh?  God is definitely teaching Peter something new.  This was God teaching Peter to get out of his box because He was doing a new thing on the earth.

Act 10:17  Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,

Here is what I have been trying to say about Peter’s view of what was happening; that he did not understand what the vision meant yet even though God had just given it to him.  This is what happens to Christians in the church still.  Just because God gives you something does not mean you will understand it immediately.  Peter had a conflict in his mind because he was attempting to interpret and judge the vision by his old knowledge of the law of God.  God declares many things in the law to be unclean for human consumption but, now God has said to Peter to kill one of these and to eat it.   This was a common problem for many converted Jews when they first become Christians.  They tried to hold on to their old traditional understanding of the laws of God too tightly when God was clearly saying “those were only shadows of new coming spiritual things”.  Paul taught this problem in Romans and Galatians and other places.  There was a constant struggle for man to try to keep the law and God is teaching them to be led by the Spirit instead.   However, what God was doing was using Peter’s knowledge of the scriptures in the Old Covenant to bring him a new revelation of what God was doing in the New Covenant.  Go back and reread this chapter again very closely.  It is actually a great lesson to learn many things.  First see what timing plays in everything that occurs.  Then realize that God must be guiding multiple people simultaneously to get all of these things to happen at just the right times.  God gives multiple limited step directions using two types of visions, an angel and a voice directly from the Spirit of God and everything occurs at just exactly the right time.  It is pretty amazing to me.

Act 10:19  While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

I want you to realize that the Spirit of God is directly attributed with speaking to Peter and that this is the second recorded direct example of God doing this in the book of Acts so far.  I’m not sure if I pointed out the first occurrence, but there was one recorded in Acts 8:29 that said the Lord spoke to Phillip directly.  I really do not believe that these are all of the times that God speaks directly, but I do believe that these are mentioned to teach us that God still does this.  I want you to understand also that it does not say what kind of voice these men heard.  It could have been an external audible voice or more than likely it was the internal still small voice of God within them.  Again, how God speaks is not as important as what God says.  I hope you understand that.  You should not really focus or care about the method, but you should care greatly what God said.  Also notice that God speaks while Peter is using his God given mental reasoning faculty to try to determine what the vision means.  In other words Peter was focused in on the very important content of the vision and not the fact that he had just had a great vision from Almighty God.   Wow, what a lesson to learn today.  Don’t stand in awe if God gives you a vision and miss the message!

Act 10:20  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 

While all of this is happening to Peter, the men from Cornelius’ house just so happen to show up and the Spirit of God says they are here and to go down to see them because I have sent them.  Notice God claims responsibility for what is transpiring.  So is God doing it or are the men doing it, or is everyone doing it together?  Take a look at what God is doing.  God is teaching them all spiritual lessons by giving them many different limited steps to follow.  These are examples of God teaching them using tiny baby steps of divine guidance.   Things are beginning to fit together as each part of God’s designed plan is revealed and fulfilled.   The men of God are definitely participating and this demonstrates clearly that they are all being led by the Spirit of God.  What we are observing is men working with the Holy Spirit’s guidance to achieve a greater purpose.  Without the participation of each man and the direction of the Spirit of God, we may not have any Gentiles in the church today. 

Pay attention to the fact in verse 20 that God is directing Peter to not doubt and also to be obedient.  Why is God doing this?  What is doubt?  Doubt is the opposite of having faith.  If you have doubts then you are not fully in faith.  I keep going back to faith, because this is the key factor for following God, being led by God and for being pleasing to God.  Jesus taught Peter about doubt when Peter left the boat to walk on the water with Jesus.  Because of Peter’s doubts God says Peter began to sink (Mat 14:31).  So how does this knowledge that Peter possessed apply to his current situation?  To me it is obvious that doubt causes people to go down or fail.  That would mean the opposite truth would be that not to doubt would cause people to have a successful outcome.  You have to understand that God has not told Peter who was at the door to see him.  God only said, “Men are here and I sent them”.  Here is the opportunity for Peter to doubt.  These men sent by God were all Gentiles and that causes a problem of potential doubt in the mind of a man who feels special for being a natural born Jew.  Peter could have looked at the circumstances and thought that these men can’t be from God.  There was a great revelation coming that everyone is welcome in the New Covenant and not just the natural Jews and that was the plan of God to bless all nations in order to grow the church beyond the borders of natural Israel.  But, Peter didn’t know this yet.  Peter was about to learn a revelation that was hidden in God’s covenant with Abraham and this was how God chose to reveal it to him.  I hope you understand the concept of revelation, I will do a separate Bible study on this subject soon.

Act 10:21  Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

Peter still does not know why they are here even though God had just given him a vision to why they are there.  God even told Peter that He had sent them but, Peter has just not put all of the pieces of the puzzle together yet.  Have you ever realized that God gives us many things using a puzzle format in the Bible?  If you do not understand this then you do not understand the joys found when solving a divine puzzle.   There is great satisfaction gained from solving the complex puzzles given to us by God.  Maybe only computer programmers, like me understand this.  It causes a sense of accomplishment and God uses it to promote your morale, confidence and self-esteem.  God is interested in teaching you how to do things.  It is an error to think that God wants to do everything for you.  God wants you to grow in spiritual things so that you can come up to a higher level.  Did you know that?  I think that is a little bit controversial to many and it sounds like I’m contradicting what I said in an earlier lesson that without God we labor in vain if we do things independent from God.  There is a huge difference from doing your own things in independence and doing specific God kind of things by faith expecting Him to work with you and guide you.  A guide will never come to you and carry you; that would be them doing everything and you watching.  A guide should give directions and show you the way to go and you should make the effort to obey and to follow them.  Wow, that is unity and harmony of God working with you and you following God.

You see when I write Bible studies for you to read, I do it, but I am expecting God to show me what to do using my faith in Him.  This is what is happening in this chapter of Acts also.  If that was not true then God would not be doing what He is doing, the way He is doing it in this chapter.  If God simply wanted to get new information into the hands of the church the fastest way possible, He could have done things in a much more simplistic direct manner with both Cornelius and Peter.  They could have all immediately known everything instead of having to walk by their faith.  However, walking by sight is just not what is happening here in this chapter.  Everyone is working through the process and learning and this is God’s hidden plan.  I pray that I am describing these things in a way that teaches you how God will deal with you.

Act 10:22  And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

I want to reemphasize that Peter still has no clue what is going on or what he is supposed to say to Cornelius.  God has never told Peter that he was to go directly to see Cornelius either.  God has only told Peter I sent these men to you.  So what these men tell Peter is totally new to him and they bring words sent from God through a Gentile man.  Peter is required to believe a message came from God from a Gentilie man.  Cornelius is also required to beleive a message came from God from Peter.  Do you really understand what is happening?  God had just gotten through speaking to Peter directly but never gives any details to what is happening or why.  Peter still does not have a clue what words he is supposed to share when he goes to Cornelius’ house to speak.  Are you learning now what is happening?  Do you see how everyone is required to walk by faith and not by their sight?  I know I keep repeating myself, but that is so very important that I want you to really understand it.  God purposely provides limited instructions in phases and stages of development that all will fit together eventually.

Act 10:22  And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

So this is all news to Peter.  Peter hears about an angel appearing to Cornelius the Italian.  Peter has just had a vision from God that explains the whole situation, but the vision needs interpretation to be understood.  I think I‘ll end this lesson with this discussion.   Let’s review the key points given today:

  1. Cornelius’ giving was mentioned as a key factor for getting God’s attention.
  2. Prayer mentioned as a connecting reason twice for having a vision from God.
  3. Faith is always a key to being Led by the Spirit of God.
  4. An open vision was given to Cornelius and he sees an angel with a limited message from God to go get Peter to hear the real message from God.
  5. Peter experiences physical hunger and is given a closed vision about food and eating that needs an interpretation in order to be understood.
  6. A clear vision was given to Cornelius that needed no interpretation.
  7. God gives Peter a symbolic cloaked vision that needs interpretation.
  8. The interpretation of the vision required Peter’s knowledge of the Word of God.
  9. God spoke directly to the spirit of Peter with a very clear voice but with limited details being given and Peter was required to believe the words of the men sent to him.
  10. Timing in every event mentioned is a key to the success of the whole purpose of God.
  11. Every man involved heard from God, obeyed and cooperated with the Spirit of God to accomplish God’s plan.
  12. The purposed outcome of the plan will be a new revelation from God and the continued growth of the church.

This is what is happening today in the church whether you realize it or not.  God is revealing the Bible, the knowledge of His people is greatly increasing and the church will grow until Jesus returns very soon.  Get into the plan or you will be left behind.  Be in unity, hear His voice and be led and we will exit as the victorious church body of Christ.  Thanks for taking the time to study the Bible today.  I will continue this series soon, but please leave me a comment about how you have heard from God.  I guarantee that He is speaking, just be attentive, pray and listen.  God Bless you and thank you for your time.

To continue reading in the series you may go to “Part 12” now.

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Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 8 – 9! Part 10

(ver 1.1) This is now Part 10 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God.  These lessons contain critical spiritual information necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to us in the modern world because we are the same church body serving the same God as those in the book of Acts.  We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first.   I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the recorded (direct and indirecly statedt) methods used by God to lead the early church.  We have already observed at least 7 different direct methods either being observed in action or described in words.  These methods will be the same ones that God will use to lead us in these last days.  I believe that the church today requires the Holy Spirit’s involvement just as much and even possibly more than the early church.  The early church certainly encountered great physical opposition and persecution, jail, beatings and even death and these are beginning to emerge on the earth again today as Christians continue to proclaim the same Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Living here in the United States it is often too easy to ignore what is going on in the other parts of the world and in other countries.  But, Christians are being murdered, imprisoned and persecuted for doing nothing but claiming to be a Christian.  The Muslim populations of many countries kill people for them just looking or acting like Christians and doing nothing but giving humanitarian aid to their people.  Christians in Egypt are now under attack from the Muslim Brotherhood and they have burned churches and killed several Christians in the streets in name of their new laws.  A recent Christian in Iran was jailed and sentenced to death for not denouncing his faith in Jesus.  These are the types of things that the Holy Spirit’s guidance can be very beneficial to us to help us avoid.  God already knows the end from the beginning but that does not mean everything that happens is set in concrete.  It means we need to learn to hear from God and be obedient to allow us to be in the right places at the right times to help the right people.  If God knows which flights will crash, it would be best just to not be on that flight, do you agree?  I believe that persecution will increase in these last days as we get nearer to the return of Christ.  Let’s continue to go through the book of Acts to study God’s spiritual leading of the early Church:

ACTS CHAPTER 8

Act 8:1  And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

We should recognize what is happening in this chapter because it goes along with many other verses in the New Testament that are pivotal to your spiritual understanding.  The religious Jewish leadership in Jerusalem came down very hard on the rapid expansion of the church of Jesus Christ because they did not believe in the God of their father Abraham anymore.  That statement probably shocks many Christians today that still view Israel as God’s chosen people, but they obviously ignore who it was that hung Jesus on the cross when the God of Abraham came to them personally in the flesh.  This was a clear failure to recognize their God and a direct rejection of their God.  You should learn many things from that reality.  First don’t put your God in a box that limits what He can do.  Because the Jews believed that God was not a man, they failed to see Him when He purposefully chose to come to the earth in the form of a man.  There is a great deal of difference between being a man and appearing to us in the form of a man.  This was God thinking outside of the box and it was a radical approach to take.  The Jews at this time of God’s visitation had replaced the worship of the God of Abraham with a manmade religion full of rules, ignorance and unbelief.  During this time, the church becomes highly motivated to widely disperse from Jerusalem to flee the Jewish persecution and the certain death as we witnessed with the loss of the life of Stephen in chapter 7.  This is a very essential part of my lesson to why it is important to be led by the Spirit of God today.  If you do not see the growing persecution of the church in the modern world then you are living in an ostrich like isolated false reality with your head buried in the proverbial sand. 

Do you believe that these people in the church in Acts fled Jerusalem out of fear or by the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  What was their motivation?  I personally believe that they were led by God to safer places to carry on the spread of the church’s growth in other regions. You of course can believe whatever you like, but only this interpretation fits with my verse that says “those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God’ (Rom 8:14).  So if God was not leading them to flee Jerusalem then they are no longer the children of God.  Yes I know they still had free wills and that they could have been doing things independently from God, but why would God write about their independent actions in a book about the acts of the Holy Spirit?  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  This is the book of Acts written about God’s work in the church and for the church.  Therefore, pay attention to what the church is doing and you should be able to see what God is doing for them.

Act 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Here is an obviously brilliant strategy move that was missed by Satan.  If Satan would have not persecuted the church they may have remained only in Jerusalem and probably never have grown into the rest of the world.  But, since they were being persecuted relentlessly by the Jews, this verse says they went preaching the Gospel everywhere that they traveled.  If someone is preaching Jesus, is this not God working through them to get others saved?  If they were running away from Jerusalem to hide, this would indicate “fear” based actions, but since they are going and preaching this demonstrates “faith” based actions.   Sometimes Satan is just not that entirely smart in what he does and how he does it.  He never should have killed Jesus on the cross and now Satan should have never persecuted the church and helped them to spread the Gospel to the rest of the world.  Probably the church would have been led by God to go to the rest of the world eventually, but this attack by Satan certainly sped up the process tremendously.  I believe Satan is making the same mistake today in persecuting the church.  I believe this persecution will help motivate the people of God to get the message out before it is too late for all of the other people that have not heard about Jesus.

Act 8:6  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Here we again see the church in unity.  It would definitely appear to me that being led by the Spirit of God will promote the spirit of oneness and agreement.  This is the seventh time in the first 8 chapters of the book of Acts that the church is described to be in unity.  I believe that this is a coming sign of maturity for the body of Christ to go out on.  We must begin to unify and become one harmonious group of believers as the Spirit of God continues to teach us and to guide us.   Expect this to happen or do not expect it to happen, but it will happen either way and you might be left on the outside looking in like the natural Jews.  It is better to be in agreement than to be left out, being offended or not in agreement with God.  I just cannot see the church being raptured as a divided body of believers, if we are not ONE BODY in complete harmony then Satan has won.  You see in the Bible Jesus said a HOUSE DIVIDED will not stand (Mk 3:25).  If we are God’s house and we are divided we will also not stand and that only leaves us defeated.  Do you think the church ends this age defeated?  If not, then you better start praying with me for unity and harmony.  Of course what I am saying is that we should pray what Jesus prayed to get in agreement with His prayer.  Go and read it in John 17 and see what Jesus prayed and then see if you can agree and pray with Him.

Act 8:8  And there was great joy in that city.

If you notice this verse says that the church is filled with joy even in the face of all of the persecution that has recently occurred.  This has to be the work of the Holy Spirit!  Joy must be a sign that God is doing great things, like healing the sick, casting out devils, setting the captives free through His saving grace and doing many other miraculous signs and wonders.  Joy is said to be one of the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22).  So Joy should be a fruit present in those being led by the Spirit of God today.  I believe that God will lead His people to help others to spread this same joy.  These are the benefits of being led by the Spirit of God.  If you are in despair and in gloom, downcast, looking down at the circumstances around you, then you are not being led by the Spirit of the Almighty God.  Do you understand that?  There are many other examples of men and women being led by the Spirit of God in this chapter but I’ll end the chapter 8 discussion with one more example of the repeated involvement of angels:

Act 8:26  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

An angel again appears to Phillip and gives him exact directions from God.  This is clearly an external manifestation of the Spirit of God helping to guide the early church.  This is at least the third time that angels were directly used by God in just the first 8 chapters of Acts.  Always expect the involvement of angels and God will use them today as needed.  Let’s move on quickly to chapter 9 and I’ll end this lesson with what we find in this chapter.

ACTS CHAPTER 9

Act 9:3  And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

In chapter 9 of Acts we can see the manifestation of spiritual guidance through God’s use of visions that were first mentioned by Peter in Acts chapter 2.   You may recall that Stephen while being stoned had a vision so this is not God’s first usage of visions in the book of Acts, but we are about to see a new emphasis placed on this subject as a very direct selected method of God to communicate with men on the earth.  Take note of this fact as this chapter begins; Saul is an unsaved man on the road to Damascus. Saul is not born again when this vision occurs and he doesn’t even believe in Jesus yet.  Saul is traveling on the road to Damascus to persecute the church and then Jesus suddenly appears to him in a vision as a bright shining light from heaven.  Spiritual visions are a very legal communication method recorded in the Bible for Christians and non-Christians and these will continue to occur as the Lord desires to get a message to those as He wills.  There are different categories of visions, but this vision was an open type of vision.  Meaning Saul was wide awake and his eyes were wide open while it was happening.  Jesus basically tells Saul in this vision to go into the city and wait there for further directions.  This is clearly an example of Saul being led by God directly using certain limited instructions for guidance.  This is a very important part of learning to be led by the Spirit of God.  God will rarely tell you everything that you need to know and He will normally lead you using a step by step instruction methodology or process.  This method insures your faithfulness and your obedience and forces you to walk by faith and not by your sight (2 Cor 5:7).  This was not a pun that I intended to make but, since Saul was struck blind during this encounter it does apply.  Saul is learning some things from God the hard way because of his past actions.  As you read down in this chapter you will see Jesus also appearing to a disciple in Damascus named Ananias and Jesus tells him what to do and where to go to see Saul.  This proves that God can give a vision to even a lowly disciple as well as a future apostle.  This informs me that even I am qualified to be have a vision if God chooses to do that.   Let’s read about the vision of Ananias:

Act 9:11  And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Act 9:12  And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Jesus appears to Ananias in another open vision and tells him where to go, what to do, who he is going to see and what to say to Saul.  Jesus also reveals that Saul is praying and has seen another vision.  We can conclude from this information that visions can occur many times while you are praying in private since Ananias and Saul are both said to have had visions this way.  This is now God’s display of three different visions in this one chapter.  So visions must still be a significant way of leading people even in the modern church based upon the frequency of the usage in this chapter alone.  I knew one modern day preacher that gave his testimony of how God had given him several visions and in these he was also praying when they occurred.  Therefore, praying and seeing visions is a potential connecting manifestations of God.  But, I want to reemphasize that none of these men asked to see a vision in this chapter; this was clearly God’s choice and not theirs.  I’m just teaching that you should not be surprised if God still selects this method.  Ananias obeyed Jesus’ instructions and goes to the house where Saul is waiting and tells him the Lord has sent me to lay hands on you so that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.   God is obviously working and leading the church to establish the greater purpose and plan of God and these are all examples of what God should be doing today in the church.  Can you see how God is leading every church member in this book?  I know some examples are only implied while others like Saul and Ananias are more plainly laid out.  But, surely you can see how God is working to help guide and grow the church.  Let’s move on to another manifestation of the Spirit of God at work in this chapter:

Act 9:24  But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

Here is another indirect New Testament spiritual concept of the background work of the Holy Spirit.  The Jews were conspiring to kill Saul and Saul knew it.  How did Saul know this?  You could assume many possible explanations of the origination of this knowledge.  For example, Saul could have based this knowledge upon his past experience with the Jews using him to kill the new members in the church.  So this knowledge could have been based upon personal experience of the past.  Now that Saul was a new member of the same body, he may have concluded that he was next on the list to be killed.  However, this is still a mental thought process of reasoning and this could have still been God leading him.  I personally believe that Saul heard from God, but that this hearing from God could have been his intuition at work.  What is intuition?  Females are often attributed with this feature, but it really is more a God quality or a spiritual quality than it is a female only quality.  I really believe that females just normally have a greater sensitivity to listening to their intuition and this helps them more than males that ignore it and fall easily into troubles that God tried to get them out of.  An intuition is like an internal knowing about something that has not yet happened.  Of course an intuition does not mean that what you know will happen, it only means if you do nothing different then it will happen.  In other words I believe that an intuition is a spiritual warning of what might occur if you continue to do nothing to change it.  I have seen examples of this with mothers and their children many times.  Perhaps you have also.  I have seen this occur when one mother just has a sense that something is wrong and she goes and checks on a child and they needed her help.   What do the disciples do with this knowledge of potential danger given to them by the leading of the Holy Spirit?

Act 9:25  Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

You can clearly see they were led to avoid the danger and not to confront it.  This is actually a great lesson to learn from.  Danger and evil exists in the world.  It is often better to avoid these rather than to try to fight against them or to overcome them.   To be led by the Spirit of God to be in the right places at the right times is a very relevant method of avoiding danger, harm or even death as in this verse in Acts.  Learn to listen to your internal intuitions and this could potentially save your life.  Intuition is just an inner state of knowing or consciousness that occurs without any explanation and it could be very easily ignored.  There will usually be no voices heard by you, you just will know something and this is normally the Spirit of God giving you guidance and protection.  What occurred in this chapter based upon this knowing?  The disciples lowered Saul from the city in a basket in the middle of the night and Saul departs to go back to Jerusalem avoiding the eminent danger.  Clearly this was spiritual guidance to me, but yet it is not directly called that so it is easily explained away. 

You are going to have to lern how to read the Bible with your spiritual eyes open wide to see what is being stated at times.  Just learn what I am trying to teach you, that this method of guidance that I am calling intuition from God can be an internal knowing, awareness, consciousness or perception of a coming event in the world that you can avoid if you choose to listen and obey.  This is really not that strange if you think about it.  It happens in the wild animal kingdom every day.   Back before the giant tsunami hit the coasts of Asia and Africa in 2004 killing literally many thousands of people, the majority of the wild animals had already fled to higher ground.  How many people do you think had the same intuition as the wild animals and ignored it and died that day because they were too busy, distracted or occupied with other worldly things?  I think that is a very good question.

That might have been one of my most important points of the entire lesson today about intuition.  This method of spiritual guidance from God is used extensively in the lives of every believer.  It is only when believers ignore this spiritual knowledge that they find themselves regretting that they should have done something different.  Here is another example of this intuitive action of God and it occurs in the same chapter:

Act 9:30  Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Here are the disciples in the church being led by the Spirit of God again by an internal knowledge.  This is not well described and I understand that there are many ways to interpret this information as it is given.  But, that is just the way God wrote the Bible to give every man a choice in what they believe.  Seeing the spiritual things in the Bible is probably the most difficult part of understanding what God has written.  This Greek word in this verse translated as “knew” is an internal perception and awareness that I believe occurred by the work of the Spirit of God even thought this is not directly stated.  We are not clearly informed that this information came from God, nor are we taught directly that this was God leading His church in this verse alone.  That is why we use the Bible to help us interpret the Bible.  These are implied meanings that were hidden within the text.  After all if God would have written everything about every subject in every verse you would have nothing to search to find in the Bible.  Perhaps the next verse will help us to establish the context and the direct association of God’s leading to what is happening in this chapter:

Act 9:31  Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

There is great deal of information in this single verse about my subject of being led by the Spirit of God.  It introduces you to two new radical concepts that I have not directly discussed.  It also shows the purpose or the reason for the leading of the Holy Spirit in this verse and I’ll talk more about that in a minute.  First, the Greek word translated “rest” means to be quiet and at peace.  Wow, that is an important part of my subject to grasp.  If you are not at peace then you are not being led by the God of peace (Col 3:15).  Being in peace and at peace is a major factor for hearing from God.  Remember what has happened to the church in the previous chapters.  The Jews in the synagogues are plotting to kill the disciples, beat them and put them all into prison.  Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews and Saul in chapter 7.  Then in one recent Acts 5 church service a man and his wife both fell down dead because they lied to the Holy Ghost.  How can anyone be “at rest” when these types of events are happening all around them?  I hope that you are getting the concepts that are being taught by God in these verses.  According to God it should not matter what is happening around you if you believe that God is guiding you.  According to God there should exist an atmosphere of being in peace regardless of the external circumstances.  Do you understand this concept of being in peace and its role in being led by the Spirit of God?  If not I may try to get into that in more depth in a future lesson or even later in this lesson.  Just don’t let the concept of “peace” get away from you.  You should be able to judge your heart and see if you are in peace right now.  This will help you to know if you are being led by the Spirit of God.  The other word in this verse that I want to focus in on is the Greek word translated as “comfort”.  Because this act of comforting is the stated work of the Spirit of God by direct association.  Do you recall what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit’s coming?

Joh 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

The Holy Spirit is said to be another Comforter.  That implies Jesus was the first Comforter for the human race because Jesus brought a light into the world that would help alleviate darkness’s dominion over man.   So Jesus was a physical comfort to those that accepted Him while He was present upon the earth.  But, Jesus also left this earth physically and He told us that it was better for Him to go than to stay (John 16:7).  Why was that?  Clearly Jesus leaving us physically left a void or a vacuum that needed to be filled for the church to continue.  Jesus said that His departure was better for us because we would now have an even greater internal ever present comforter that was given called the indwelling Holy Spirit.  You see the problem with a physical Jesus was that He was only one man in a world of millions and now billions of people.  It would have been impossible for a physical Jesus to visit everyone personally and to listen to what each needed.  However, in a Spiritual form He is ever present within every believer and able to listen to and to speak to everyone simultaneously.  This was the wisdom of God being displayed:

Joh 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Can you read these verses and see the intimate working of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts?  This verse describes some of the behind the scene and seldom mentioned works of God in Acts.  The Spirit of God was poured out on the church in Acts 2 and this activity of God permits the words of Jesus in this verse to be fulfilled in every believer that participates.  The Holy Spirit will teach us all things and then the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance what Jesus has taught us.  Right here we have a major clue to how God led the early church in Acts and how He will lead us even today.  Do you remember that the very day the Holy Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem in Acts 2?  Peter stood up and spoke without being prepared to teach or preach anything?  Peter had no notes, no prepared script, no Bible in front of him and yet he declared the precise right things for the moment to get many saved.  How did Peter do this?  This was clearly the Holy Spirit giving Peter thoughts on verses and words to preach to those that were standing around observing.  This is clearly an example of the words of Jesus in John 14:26 being fulfilled.  You can observe this occurring throughout the book of Acts several times.  No one has any prepared notes; they just stand up and speak some very profound truths that came from within them.  I do this all of the time in my Bible lessons.  I start typing a lesson without a plan by faith and some of the lessons that I read after I have finished even I am amazed at what God has done and said.  This is the Holy Spirit bringing to our remembrance what we have learned from the Bible.  It is a mental process or a thought process, but yet it originates from the Spirit of God.  It is very difficult to describe if you have never experienced it, you are either going to have to take my word for it or you are going to have to learn to listen for Him inside of you to learn how it works.  Please note why this is so difficult to understand.  Where do thoughts originate?  They come from the soul realm which is also called your mind.  But, there are three possible originations for every thought that you have.  One possibility is you!  You can have a thought.  Two is God and God can give you a thought.  But, three is Satan and he can also give you many evil and contrary thoughts.  This is where discernment comes into play.  If you have a thought about God, the Bible, Jesus, or things that are good, it probably originated from God.  If you have a thought of lust, sin, or evil doing, then it probably came from the devil.  God teaches us in John 14:26 that He will cause us to remember Him and His Words and therefore any other type of thoughts are probably something you should ignore especially if they are evil.  I could talk a lot about thoughts but I do not want to get into that level of detail in this lesson today.

Let’s discuss briefly the term a “Comforter” or a “Counselor” and find the meaning of this word.  If you research it, you will find that it means “intercessor” or “advocate”.  Both of these are spoken word types of works.  Someone who intercedes will speak words of intercession for someone.  An advocate is a term many times associated with a lawyer.  This is an occupation that is performed by an individual with a specialized education and ability to speak for you.  Therefore, a comforter is always the spoken word based action of an individual to bring help to someone who is in need.  Is that you?  I know it is me; I would clearly have nothing to say without God’s help.  Let’s go back to Act 9:31 again and review the “comfort of the Holy Ghost”.  This Greek word is actually a different Greek word than what we found in John 14 when Jesus was describing the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter.  However it is merely the difference between a noun in one place and a verb in another place.  Let’s look at the definition of this word G3874 in Acts 9:31 found in the Strong’s:

G3874

From G3870; imploration, hortation, solace: – comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty.

Here is a word that is an awesome display of the divine character and nature of God.  God gets accused of orchestrating everything because of His sovereignty, but why would a sovereign God have to “implore” anyone if God was causing everything to occur?  Do you know what “imploration” means?  It is the extended effort of an individual to plead to someone, to beseech someone and to appeal to them to do something.   It is a calling out to come.  How did I teach you that the Spirit of God leads His people?  I tried to teach you that the Spirit of God uses the Shepherd and sheep method.  God calls His sheep to follow Him, and He does this, using His kind and loving soft words of imploration, beseeching them to come and for them to follow where He wants to lead them.  However, God does not ever force anyone to follow Him as I have already stated.  Neither does God yell and demand that you follow Him.  Both of those would violate the character and the definition of what the Bible says about God.  This Greek word as you can see comes from another root Greek word and it has the following meaning:

G3870

From G3844 and G2564; to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): – beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.

This word means “to call to be near”.  Wow, is that God or what?   These are clearly the words and the works of a loving Holy Spirit and not a forceful God.  These are clearly words of a spoken invitation, meaning people who hear the invitation have the choice to do what they want with it.  Anyone can ignore it to do their own thing.  But, by following the invitation, you can see that you will remain close to the one that you need to follow and this is the Spirit of God.  Finally why did God do all of this for the church in Acts 9:31?  I told you that this verse gave us the reason, but I did not tell you what that reason was yet.  The verse has another Greek word that was translated as “edified”.  Edified is a past tense declarative that teaches of a completed action.   Let’s review the Strong’s definition of this word for clarification:

G3618

From the same as G3619; to be a house builder, that is, construct or (figuratively) confirm: – (be in) build (-er, -ing, up), edify, embolden.

Do you see what this word means?  Is God building a house?  If you do not understand this, then you have not read all of my other Bible lessons on God’s Spiritual Family.  There is a new House of God being built in the spiritual realm and God is doing this with us His people.  We are the individual building blocks in this spiritual house of Jesus (1 Peter 2:5) and collectively we are called the New Jerusalem in Revelation.  I do not have time to explain all of that to you, so you will have to go and read and study the other Bible lessons on this subject in order to fully comprehend what I just said.  Just take note that edification is a building work of God.  God is building us up and growing the church and this is His purpose and His plan being fulfilled.  Therefore I have concluded that everything we have observed so far in the Book of Acts is our God doing things to help us, to grow us and to build us up together in unity.  I think I have gone long enough in this lesson so I’ll end it here.

I have been going through the book of Acts to find out how God lead the early church in order to see how God might lead us today.  I have covered a lot of information given to us in only 9 chapters out of 28.  So far we have only briefly looked at one fourth of the book and I’m not sure if I should continue going through every chapter yet.  If you feel this is beneficial let me know and this might help determine how I continue with this series.  Let’s review some of the key points from today so that you do not let them slip away.

God has used at least 7 different direct methods to guide the church in the first 9 chapters of Acts.

  1. Angels
  2. The Written Word of God
  3. Prayer
  4. Dreams and Visions
  5. Inward Witness (Intuition, thoughts)
  6. Still small voice of the Holy Spirit
  7. Preachers with a message from God

There were also five key related subjects that I either reviewed or introduced you to today about the subject of being led by the Spirit of God:

  1. The Church will be in united harmony when they are all led by the Spirit of God.
  2. The Church will be in a state of Joy if they are being led by the Spirit of God.
  3. The Peace of God/Rest will rule the church in order to hear from God.
  4. The Spirit of God is our eternal Comforter and
  5. God will bring to our remembrance what Jesus has taught us.

From these works of God, I said it was the peace that allowed us to hear God speak and direct us.  What I meant by that was if you are in a state of busy, fear, turmoil, or internal confusion, your mind is incapable of hearing anything that God says clearly.  There is a verse that is very applicable to my subject of you having peace and hearing from God and it says “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).  This verse infers that it matters how and even when you can hear from God.  To be still is the opposite of being very busy.  To be still is a form of quietness that crosses into multiple realms of dimension.  There is the physical realm, the emotional realm, the mental realm and the spiritual realm and you can be busy moving around in each of these and miss out on God’s leading.   God is a perfect Gentleman.  Meaning God is not going to interrupt your thoughts to give you His.  That would be the ultimate sign of rudeness and disrespect and God is not that way.   If you want to hear from God you are going to have to be quiet and listen.  This is not always easy, I know.  But, you will be glad if you will try to develop it.  I’m not talking about Yoga, meditation or any other metaphysical type of demonic activity.   That is not what I am teaching you to do.  These are evil acts of Satan designed to attempt to get you off into another direction of spiritual evil guidance.  I guess I better stop here for now because I could talk a lot about the counterfeit that is intended to distract you from the real.  In conclusion I wanted to re-emphasize why the Holy Spirits guides anyone.  We learned today that it was for our edification.  To be edified is to be built up in the Lord.  It is a building process or a spiritual construction process that only God can accomplish.  This is why it is essential to hear from the Spirit of God before you do anything.  I’ll end with this scripture:

Psa 127:1  A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Did you see what God said in this verse about what He is doing?  God is building a house and He even associates it to a city and this is not a physical house or city but it is rather a new spiritual house and city.  He also says if we try to build it independently from Him, then we are laboring, working, extending effort, exerting or struggling in vain.  This means that He must be directly involved in what we do or it is a worthless effort on our part.  Now are you beginning to make the connection to what is happening in the Book of Acts?  God is just doing a spiritual construction process and giving you some of the details to how it works in this lesson, but not every detail is clearly provided.  However, this is why we are studying this subject today.  Thanks for taking the time to read and to study the Bible with me and I pray that you were blessed with new spiritual insight and understanding.  Leave me a comment or press like on this post if you understood the lesson.  It will help me know that I am doing more than just casting God’s pearls before swine if someone actually acknowledges God’s work.  God Bless you until next time.

If you would like to continue reading in this series you may go now to “Part 11“.