Part 2: The Spirit Guided Life

{Colossians 1:9-10; NLT}
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

When I was in Boy Scouts I was introduced to wood carving. I bought the Boy Scout whittling knife, which I still have, and my parents bought me an inexpensive set of carving tools. I spent some time whittling, but it was harder than I imagined it would be and so I gave it up for other, much easier pursuits, like playing with my GI Joes.

Carving remained in the back of my mind as something that I would like to do some day. During one our early conversations Jenny asked what I liked to do, and in the midst of that conversation I mentioned that I would like to learn how to carve one day. That conversation got me thinking that I need to stop saying, “Someday I would like…” and actually make someday a reality. I jumped on Amazon and ordered a book about wood carving, a carving set, and a block of wood so I could get started.

When the stuff arrived I looked at the book and thought, “This is going to be more difficult than I thought it was going to be.” I made a few practice cuts, but I basically put the stuff down in the basement and didn’t use it. That was partly justified because of the relationship I was building with Jenny and then getting ready for our wedding. Then again I wasn’t too motivated to do much carving because it seemed too hard to get started and I didn’t even know how to begin.

Last Christmas a carving set caught my eye and my in-laws bought it for me for Christmas. So last January I thought I would just dive into carving and so I went into the basement and began cutting away. I carved a simple cross. When I that finished I thought I would carve a heart for Jenny for Valentine’s Day. A couple of days before Valentine’s Day, as I was trying to finish up with the heart, ¬†I cut myself. It was bleeding bad enough that I asked Jenny to take me to the emergency room.

From that incident we decided that it was time to ask for some help when it came to carving.  Through the connections of my in-laws I was invited to a carving group which met on Tuesday mornings. There I got the help and instruction I needed begin to carve. While I am still in the beginning stages of carving I now have a foundation to build on, and I am very thankful for that hands on instruction that I received.

My experience with carving mirrors my walk with Jesus. In a lot of ways I have taken what I will call the self-help approach to following Jesus. I have bought books, listened to sermons, and tired to figure things out on my own. I have been burned a couple of times which made me step back for awhile, but after I time dive in and I try again to figure things out on my own. This self-help approach to following Jesus just doesn’t work. We just can’t learn everything we need to know from reading books, even the Bible.

Jesus knew of our need for help, and so he promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth. The Bible is a great blessing, but without the Holy Spirit’s guidance we will not be able to accurately apply it to our lives.

We have been promised a guide, but many of us don’t make use of him because we are trying to figure things out on our own. What we need to do instead is to ask for help. The Holy Spirit wants to guide us along the way of Jesus, but we need to turn to him first.

In Colossians 1:9-10 we read this great prayer the apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians. There are two basic parts to this prayer. In the first part Paul asked God to fill the Colossians with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom so they could know God’s will. This knowledge and wisdom comes through the Holy Spirit.

In the second part of the prayer Paul reminded the Colossians why the Holy Spirit’s guidance was so important: so they can live lives worthy of Jesus. The only way the Colossians could live the way Jesus lived was through the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding given to them by the Holy Spirit.

If we are going to arrive at the correct destination, lives that honor Jesus, then we need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. We need to make this prayer our prayer, because we realize that we can’t follow Jesus on our own. The bottom line is that you and I need a guide to help us navigate through life. While I do believe the Holy Spirit guides our lives in subtle ways even before we ask for help, he will be much more effective when we actually turn to him for help.

Spirit guided lives begin with our asking the Holy Spirit to guide us. Until we go to him for guidance we miss out on the wonderful blessing the Holy Spirit is to our lives.

Questions to Consider:

  • Have you tried the “self-help” approach to following Jesus?
  • Why is the “self-help” approach to following Jesus so attractive?
  • Have you asked the Holy Spirit to guide your life?
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