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The Holy Spirit Guides Incrementally

April 1, 2015

Fortunately, while we need the Holy Spirit’s divine guidance, He doesn’t dump it on us all at once. In John 16:12 Jesus says to the disciples, I won’t tell you everything I know because you cannot handle it all right now. It is more than you can bear – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in every way. The flip side of the coin is in verse 13 when Jesus affirms, “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” Already in the larger context of this passage, Jesus’ followers have made all sorts of promises…and they are embarrassed and sorrowful when they break these promises… many of them within the next 24 hours. Yet Jesus looks beyond the immediate stresses and worries and tenderly affirms them. The reality is the disciples can’t handle the truth – at least not all of it – right now. And that’s okay. The Holy Spirit’s role is to guide them into all Truth and He will do that… yet He will do it in stages, in bite-size chunks they can handle. The Holy Spirit guides incrementally.

I have been privileged over the years to hear testimonies from faithful servants of God who served for 20, 30, even 40 years in various parts of the world – the Philippines and other parts of Asia, various countries in Africa, and to a lesser extent South America. If you had asked them when they were 20 or 25 years of age if they could have imagined that God would take them to such-and-such a place and they would do such-and-such work and for 25, 30, 35 years and see God do such amazing things… If you had asked them when they were 30 years of age if they were going to be there for that long doing those kind of things, they all would have said, “I could never do that…” possibly with that “deer-in-the-headlights” look! Yet as God led step-by-step, incrementally, and they just followed each step of the way… WOW! Look what happened! God’s Spirit just kept leading & guiding and they kept following each step of the way. They were available for God’s service and as they let Him guide their life, they found themselves doing amazing things they never would have thought possible.

Mark Maxwell, president of Prairie Bible Institute recently shared some examples of how when God is at work, we can just sit back and watch Him put the pieces together. One example is the story of how God led Brian Doerksen, a world-recognized worship leader, to Three Hills to begin a new worship arts program at PBI.

Jesus encourages the disciples that He will lead them incrementally, slowly, step-by-step. They don’t have to worry about all the details now. Even as they have followed behind his literal footsteps over the past three years, they will need to continue to follow the Holy Spirit step-by-step as He leads the way after Jesus is gone.

This post is the second in a series on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, taken from a sermon preached at Prairie Tabernacle Congregation on March 29, 2015.

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