Guided by the Spirit

by | May 28, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Acts 16:6-15

The Book of Acts could be called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” because it is clear that the Holy Spirit was active and in control of the early church. The Holy Spirit continue to guide our lives today. Come listen to how the Holy Spirit led Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke through Prohibition, Permission, Perception and Persuasion and how he continues to do so for us now. The Holy Spirit is always helping us and leading our hearts to Jesus.


Heavenly Father we thank you for these ancient words come now by the power of your Holy Spirit you open our hearts that we might hear that we might understand
that you might draw us to your throne of grace and Jesus we ask this in your mighty name amen you may be seated well happy Pentecost Sunday to everyone as we celebrate the uh the amazing acts today where God opened up the heavens and poured his holy spirit upon his people and in the midst of uh doing an act series that that we’ve been in for quite a while now it’s a little bit anticlimactic to have a Pentecost Sunday right because I feel like every Sunday has been Pentecost Sunday for uh since September when we began all of this in fact you know acts can be referred to as Acts of the Apostles but there’s many people that refer to it as acts of the Holy Spirit because it’s very clear throughout the Book of Acts who’s in charge that the holy spirit is at work guiding the hearts and minds of the disciples and the apostles and what’s going on in the early Church in fact so far as we’ve been looking through uh acts together up to this point we’ve seen the Holy Spirit working to to empower for the witness of the Gospel to others we’ve seen the Holy Spirit speaking through the scriptures we’ve seen fillings of the holy spirit for the work of evangelism we’ve seen the the Holy Spirit filling and anointing people to speak in in foreign tongues in such a way that those who were gathered from different nations could all hear the gospel proclaimed we’ve seen the Holy Spirit poured out to fill the hearts of the Believers with boldness for the for the witness and for the mission they’re on we’ve seen the Holy Spirit filling uh the disciples with prophetic words

we’ve seen the Holy Spirit directing Philip’s steps on where he was to go we’ve seen the Holy Spirit comforting the church speaking to the elders at Antioch through their prayers telling them to send out Paul and Barnabas on Mission and speaking through the Jerusalem Council when they met together we’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work through everything there’s nothing that’s happened that we’ve read that the Holy Spirit hasn’t been directing uh and guiding acts is a book of the work of the Holy Spirit and today the work of the Holy Spirit we’re looking at in particular is the work of the holy spirit in guiding our lives and guiding Our Lives that’s where we are in our passage in Acts 16 this morning how does the spirit guide Our Lives how do we see it at work here in this particular passage and there’s four ways that we’re going to talk about just at work in this passage alone that there’s more but uh and they’re through four P’s I’ve been wanting to do four point alliteration forever it never seems to work out and I will admit I may have stretched it just a little bit but I’ll get there I’ll explain it uh the four P’s of the holy spirit’s guidance are these prohibition permission perception and persuasion yeah very impressive right uh one of them you’ll see I kind of took a little bit of Liberties but I’m gonna explain it we’re gonna get there as we uh work through these uh four P’s of the holy spirit’s guidance in our lives as we see it at work and and act 16. so let’s start in uh in verse six together and just read the first two verses uh and I want to talk about them for just a moment we’re told and they went through the region of phrygia and galatia having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia and when they had come to mycia they attempted to go into bithynia but the spirit of Jesus did not allow them this is a first so far in the book of Acts that we’ve read what the holy spirit’s doing we have not seen this prohibition before but two things happened they’re told that they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go into Asia and they would the Holy Spirit did not allow them didn’t allow them to go where they had planned to go first time this prohibition is mentioned so how did this exactly work this uh this forbidding and this not allowing you know I don’t know if you ever think about it you ever stopped to just wonder because we’re not told we’re not told how exactly the forbidding or the prohibition worked here and you know if you’re like me my mind goes to some kind of Hollywood scene right of uh them kind of walking up to the uh up to uh the road where the sign says this way to Asia and there’s just an invisible wall and they can’t get through it right something spectacular has happened something incredibly Supernatural but that’s not really the picture that we’re getting here in fact if it were something that were that Supernatural we got to believe that Luke would have told us about it he would have wanted us to know about something that was so amazing that would give glory to God in some special way but he doesn’t which leads us to conclude that this wasn’t some sort of Supernatural obvious awe-inspiring event but rather this prevention was through just kind of normal everyday kind of circumstances ones that could easily be confused if this wasn’t the holy spirit’s working this was just circumstance you know imagine it being something like maybe someone got sick and they couldn’t they couldn’t make the journey uh maybe it was something like a natural disaster a flood that happened and the the road got washed out they just weren’t able to to get there it’s something that’s like you know not quite as a Hollywood spectacular you know but but nevertheless ways that the Lord works and prohibiting us to go in a direction that he doesn’t want us to go and another thing that Luke doesn’t tell us and by the way this is the first time in in uh in Acts where we go Luke goes from telling us about them they’re telling us about we this is where Luke joins with Paul and Silas and Timothy on this journey with them and so he’s now a first-hand reporter of what’s going on in their lives but you know he also doesn’t tell us you know it had to be incredibly frustrating you know to not be able to go they had a plan they had a plan this is what they were doing and they felt this is what the Lord this was the mission he had called them on and they were being faithful and they were going where he was leading but they were forbidden to go into Asia and that they were not allowed to go on uh into into galatia as well you know it’s uh it had to have been frustrating for them or sorry they weren’t allowed to go into bithynia but it had to be frustrating it had to be disappointing what’s going on here Lord just trying to do your will I’m just trying to please you I’m just trying to live into the mission and you and and everything’s working against me here what’s going on with this have you ever felt that way before wherever the circumstances just keep stacking up doors keep closing and you’re just trying to do the right thing and you’re trying to honor God and you’re trying to uh to live into what he’s called you to but it can be it can be frustrating and discouraging and and at the same time yeah I know I’ve had that experience in fact uh when I first was was searching the Lord’s call when leaving the Episcopal church and coming into the Anglican Mission and the Americas at the time uh and uh there was a bishop who took me under Gracie and I under his wing and uh and he asked us you know well what what would you do like what kind of ministry do you foresee and I said I think the Lord’s calling us to plant churches I think we have to be about this work and he said okay well if he’s calling you to where do you think he’s calling it to and I said I think it’s in the in the Jacksonville area it’s my heart is there I grew up there I know the people and I think that’s what he said okay great he goes go down there for a week pray meet people and see what happens and so that’s what I did he was willing to pay for it too by the way um and so he sent me down and I prayed and I met and conversation led me to conversation and conversation and eventually the the through the work of what I believe the Holy Spirit it was obvious I met a group of folks out at the beach who had left various churches and and they were getting stuck getting something started and had a passion to see a faithful Anglican expression at the beach and I met with them and I thought this is what the Lord’s doing I wrote a report uh for the for the bishop and I was all excited that this is what the Lord’s doing well as we took the next couple steps through it the Lord closed the door at that time and I was I was pretty upset about it I was like I don’t understand why at this time but the Lord then directed us somewhere else and we were there for for a couple years uh when I’m through someone else that I met the Holy Spirit was working and said hey you know that group at the beach that that you met with I said yeah he goes I think it’s time I think it’s the right the timings right now I said whoa I thought that was done I thought that door had been closed but the Holy Spirit opened it up it opened it up again and into the you know what who could have known two years later that he’d open it up and and we’d be called to come down and to join this wonderful group and to what’s grown now here uh 16 years later from then to what we where we are now at church of our savior praise the Lord but you I couldn’t see it in in that first prohibition and it’s often hard when we when we see that first prohibition and experience experience it uh that there’s some greater permission that’s coming that we just can’t maybe see it in the moment but we have to be patient and wait on the Lord to work because he has something in mind which brings us to verse 8. and verse 8 we’re told uh we’re told this

so passing by myself they went down to Trouse and a vision appeared to Paul in the night a man of Macedonia was standing there urging him and saying come over to Macedonia and help us the Holy Spirit here after forbidding them and not allowing them prohibiting them from going where they thought they wanted to go is now giving an amazing new permission to go in a Direction they had not imagined a place they had not planned on going a new Direction into Macedonia one that’s going to prove to be incredibly fruitful for the for the Gospel Mission that they’re on the closed door of prohibition the spirit often uses that to guide us then to a new and better plan for the mission and purposes that he has for us

you know I think this works practically in our lives as well doesn’t it uh where the prohibition leads to actually something better that we never could have imagined uh and even if when I say better I don’t mean that we’re happier uh but I mean that there’s something more meaningful more purposeful there’s there’s something that we can see the hand of God is on this that I never could have seen before you know the truth is and Hayes I probably should have told you I was going to share this this isn’t about you don’t worry um but you know two times before I met Gracie I thought that I had met the woman that I was going to marry a few times before I’m sure you’ve had this experience before right uh and two times the Lord the Holy Spirit prohibited it and it at the time I didn’t get it I didn’t understand it and it it was frustrating it was painful but then when I met Gracie the Holy Spirit grant us permission and it’s been amazing it’s not easy it’s not easy but it’s uh but it’s amazing and it’s beautiful that what he’s God’s doing for his purposes for the gospel because you know what that’s what marriage is for marriage is yes for for our procreation and further Mutual enjoyment and edification and building each other up but marriage is also about God choosing to bring two Sinners together and the fact that they could ever get along and actually be married is the greatest example of his grace that you could ever possibly imagine to the rest of the world and I never could have possibly imagined at the time when the Holy Spirit prohibited to what he actually had in store for me later on with Gracie for the joy and for the work of his kingdom so at times there’s there’s prohibition but the prohibition leads to a beautiful and Powerful permission for the work that God has for us in store and then the Holy Spirit guides us through perception okay this is the point where I think I might have pushed it a little bit on the peas um so after after prohibition and permission uh through through New Vision verse 10 tells us this

and when Paul had seen the vision immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them all right so this perception uh that I’m using it really is discernment but the deed it didn’t sound as good with the peas um uh it’s discernment is the way that God guides us the holy spirit’s guide guided uh Paul through a vision right a vision that he had I had this dream of this man from Macedonia saying come on over and help us and God the Holy Spirit used this Vision this and often prophetic words that uh to help us and to encourage us and to help guide us but those kind of things the visions and the dreams and the prophetic words uh they all can be incredibly powerful but they have to be discerned they have to be discerned and they have to be discerned together with other people it’s not just your if you receive the vision if you receive the perfect prophetic word it needs to be affirmed and discerned by others so that you know this just wasn’t your idea this wasn’t just your grand idea we’re all called we’re not called to check our brains at the door that’s not what the Holy Spirit wants for us where I was called just to follow a person who claims to have been given a vision by God they may have the Holy Spirit does work that way acts shows us but we have to discern it together to know if this is good and right and what the Lord is doing

because we’re told here that they concluded They concluded the word means assuredly together to infer something together from a variety of data and so Paul shared with them the the dream that he had of what was happening and they sat down together and they discerned it they perceived it they perceived what was going on and what the Holy Spirit might be doing in there they then could look back and see the prohibition and now they’re hearing this Vision like well this must be what the holy spirit is doing we can affirm This Together We believe it you know we’re sinful people we’re sinful people and so sometimes our prophetic word our vision isn’t from God sometimes it’s just our own idea we have to be able to admit that if we’re going to welcome and embrace the fullness of the guidance of the Holy Spirit and and prophetic word and at times visions and all the beautiful things we see happening in Acts we all have to be able to accept that we might be wrong it’s when you think that you can discern it all by yourself and you can declare it to be true and that you could never possibly be wrong it’s no longer the guidance of the Holy Spirit at all it’s now just a sinful desire to manipulate others and to be right yourself

we have to discern you know it’s the same thing with this sermon and every sermon that you ever hear your job isn’t just to take it and to assume well you know he’s the voice of God you know you know you know it might be but you know but you should never accept that you have to together discern it you have to discern it is this the word of God is this true to what God is saying or is it not I’m not asking you to check your brain at the door and we shouldn’t either in the Holy Spirit doesn’t want us to the Holy Spirit wants us to discern together what he’s doing to be encouraged to hear that prophetic word when it’s given and be able to affirm this is true and this is good and this is right and this is what the holy spirit is doing it’s a beautiful thing when we can uh we’re Guided by the Holy Spirit and discern that together and receive that with joy and encouragement and then finally the Holy Spirit guides us through permission permission and we see that I’m not going to read the whole section but in that next section of Paul now them living into the call to Macedonia having been prohibited having then uh been uh been you know given the the permission to go the permission to go they received that uh having now mutually discerned that together now they are there the holy spirit is guiding them through persuasion I may have said permission before but for the fifth is uh the fourth is persuasion and then we see that happening in Lydia as they go and they Minister and they proclaim the gospel uh to this by the way probably very prominent woman she was a dealer uh a dealer of uh of purple and uh therefore she was someone who would have been someone who was important she would have been someone who had a real place and means in her community but but listen to what to what we’re told uh and versus uh about in verses 14. and verse 14 we’re told one who one who heard us was a woman named Lydia from the city of theatra a seller of purple Goods who was a worshiper of God the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul did you hear that part the Lord opened her heart to be able to hear the words the gospel that Paul proclaimed it was the Holy Spirit the Lord who did that work and her life so she could even receive it well what does that mean well we we heard about it in Our Gospel reading didn’t we uh in John 16 verses 8 to 10. if you can’t remember I’ll read it for you again and when he comes the Holy Spirit he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment concerning sin because they do not believe in me concerning righteousness because I go to the father and you will see me no longer concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged that word convict it also means to convince to persuade and so so what we’re being told here is the holy spirit’s the one who’s actually at work persuading Hearts to hear the gospel to receive it meaning to recognize themselves that they’re sinners in need of God’s Saving Grace but then but then hearing and being convinced of the righteousness of Jesus and that he’s gone to be with the father and that our righteousness is in him alone and not in ourselves and finally concerning judgment that the ruler of this world has been judged that the final judgment has been rendered that we have been saved to the victory of Jesus Christ through the cross the Holy Spirit does that work of persuasion of convincing what good news that is for us that all our job is to do is to Proclaim Proclaim in word indeed the gospel to others it’s not our job whether we can convince him or not we can’t convince them all we can do is present it in a loving way in a compassionate way speaking the truth and love which sometimes is tough love but more often is with Grace and compassion and it’s the holy spirit’s work to guide them and to open their hearts that they might receive the gospel in their own hearts and receive Jesus the spirit of Jesus is at work guiding our lives right now just as the Holy Spirit was at work guiding the early church and In this passage and with Paul and Silas and Timothy and Luke as they’re on mission for him through prohibition and permission and perception and persuasion he’s doing that in us and for us and always leading us to Jesus

the father has given all things to Jesus and the Holy Spirit is working to always Proclaim that truth and to drive us back to him Jesus said it’s to your advantage that I go away you know that’s one of the most perplexed under P that’s one of the most perplexing thing passages in all of scripture that I can imagine how is it better how is it to our advantage that Jesus goes away how can it be to our advantage that the Son of God our Messiah wouldn’t still be here with us after the resurrection of course but Jesus said it’s to your advantage that I go for if I don’t go the helper won’t come to you but if I go I will send him I will send him to you and friends we all need the helper we need the help we need times of being prohibited for making decisions that that aren’t good for us and aren’t in accordance with God’s good and perfect and pleasing plan for our lives we need those moments of beautiful permission to take that next step and to experience the joy of what God has in store for us we need the the perception we need one another to mutually discern what the holy spirit is doing in our lives so that we can trust it that this isn’t just an idea of man that this is the work of God in our lives and trust it and move forward and finally we need his work of persuasion in our own hearts making us aware of our own sin making us aware of our righteousness which is secure in Christ when we put our faith in him and that his victory is assured for us but also we need the persuasion that it’s not our job to convict the hearts of others but that he’s at work drawing people as as Jesus said that uh

God’s the one who’s drawing people to himself he can trust the Holy Spirit he’s at work in our lives he is guiding us as we so desperately need amen

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