by Gloria Copeland
Perhaps the greatest challenge we face as Spirit-filled believers is learning to accurately distinguish the leading of the Holy Spirit. It’s not easy, but it is definitely worthwhile. To abide in the Lord and maintain a living connection with Him, we must hear and obey Him.
God told Israel to obey His written Word and His voice. (See Jeremiah 7:23.) He wanted them to know both His general and specific will.
When the army of Israel invaded Jericho, they must have heard God’s voice. The strange battle plan they used wasn’t written in the Law of Moses. And certainly no human being would suggest a seven-day march around a city as the most effective form of invasion!
No, that was God’s plan. When He told Joshua His plan and Joshua followed it, there was victory. To walk in victory today, we must do the same. We must obey the written Word and also be able to hear and obey God’s instructions each day.
Say for example, you are offered a job in another city. You can open the Bible and receive general instructions. But the written Word of God will not tell you whether to take that job or not.
You must be able to discern the voice or the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You must be sensitive to His leadings in your heart.
That kind of discernment and sensitivity can be cultivated in several ways.
#1 – Pray Daily (both in your own language and in other tongues) and meditate on the written Word of God.
The more familiar you are with God’s voice as it comes through the written Word, the more easily you will be able to recognize His voice in your own heart. Through the written Word, your mind becomes renewed to accept God’s way as the right way.
Another major key to developing and maintaining spiritual sensitivity is to stay connected to the realm of the spirit throughout the day. Don’t just have your daily time in prayer and the Word and then forget about God. Stay tuned in to Him. Give Him praise. Consult with Him about things that come up. Pray in tongues on and off throughout the day. Carry a pocket New Testament with you or download a Bible app on your phone, and take a “Word break” instead of a coffee break.
By making God your No. 1 priority and continually walking in love, you can stay connected to heaven 24 hours a day. You can rest in the assurance that you have all of heaven’s resources backing you! The Holy Spirit is constantly with you, ready to talk to you about anything you need to know.
But remember, the Holy Spirit won’t force Himself on you. For Him to be active in your life, you must give Him place. You must be constantly looking to Him for guidance, instead of managing your life according to your own natural plans and ideas.
He will wait for you to draw near to Him-and when you do, He’ll draw near to you. In your car, put in a teaching tape or CD and listen to the Word of God. When you’re dressing for work, instead of listening to secular music, spend time singing songs to the Lord and praising Him.
Little things can make a great difference in your day. I know that from experience. Some mornings I would rather do almost anything than tape the daily broadcast. But as I prepare to go to the studio, I’ll play a praise tape or just begin to worship God. By the time I arrive, my heart will be lifted and strong and I’ll be ready to preach!
Learn to take advantage of such times throughout your day. Take a few minutes here and there to keep yourself strong and built up in the Lord.
#2 – Be Available
If you are faithful to maintain that kind of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, He will enable you to live as an overcomer and be a blessing to many people.
You may not think you have the ability to do anything of consequence during your lifetime. But God isn’t looking for ability. He is looking for availability! All He needs is faithfulness.
He doesn’t necessarily search out a shining star at some university and say, “That guy is a wonderful speaker! I think he would make a good preacher.”
God is more likely to seek out someone like Oral Roberts. He was a 17-year-old boy who stuttered so badly that he could hardly say his own name. He was dying of tuberculosis. But he was available. So God cured him of stuttering, healed his body and made him one of the outstanding healing evangelists of all time.
If you will remain constant in your fellowship with the Lord, it won’t matter what you are in the natural. You may be poor, uneducated or the biggest failure on your block. But those things make you a prime candidate for the calling of God. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:25-31).
The new birth is the great equalizer. It takes you out of your natural station in life and puts you in the Anointed Jesus and His Anointing. It makes available to you the wisdom and ability of God Himself. As you give yourself to Him, He will cause that ability to flow through you by anointing you with His Spirit.
# 3 – Cultivate an Attitude of Dependency
Some people feel self-sufficient. They think they are smart enough or talented enough to do things on their own. Though they may have some good results, they’ll never see the supernatural results they would if they were dependent on God.
For me, self-sufficiency isn’t much of a temptation. In the ministry, everything you have to do is impossible, so I have to begin every day dependent on the Holy Spirit. I rarely do anything in the morning before I pray. I like to connect with God first thing in the morning. I talk to Him about the things I will face that day. If I have a business meeting, I don’t want to be dependent on natural knowledge. If I am ministering, I have to be anointed by His Spirit, or I might as well stay home. I can’t afford to step out of my house before I’ve spent time with God.
The same is true for you. Even if you aren’t in the fivefold ministry, as a believer you’re called to do impossible things. You are called to lay hands on the sick, for example, and deliver the healing power of God. You can’t do that without depending on the Holy Spirit.
Even Jesus had to depend on the Holy Spirit to carry out His ministry. Although He was the sinless Son of God, He never did a single miracle until the Holy Spirit came upon Him.
Even after His baptism in the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord-but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]…” (John 5:30, The Amplified Bible). He could only live and minister in victory by living in total dependence on God.
Jesus walked out His earthly life just the way you and I are called to. He would continually abide in the Father and His Word, be obedient and hear from heaven about what to do. Jesus didn’t live unto Himself. He lived every moment hearing from the Father and obeying Him.
He would minister to people all day long, then spend all night alone with God. Jesus knew He had to receive direction from the Holy Spirit if He was to do what God had called Him to do.
If that was true for Jesus, it is true for you too! So ask the Holy Spirit to help you develop such a habit of dependence on Him that it would be unusual to go more than 15 or 20 minutes without talking to Him and looking to Him for assistance.
Heed the instructions in Colossians 2:6 and “just as you trusted Christ [the Anointed One and His Anointing] to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (The Living Bible).
Become so Holy Ghost-minded that when a symptom of sickness tries to attach itself to your body, the first thing you think about is not your doctor-but the Word of God and the power of His Spirit.
Become so dependent on Him that when you encounter financial trouble, you won’t run to your banker-you’ll run to Him.
The more you depend on the Holy Spirit, the more you open the door for Him to be active in your life. It’s your dependency upon Him that clears the way for Him to move in your life. So don’t make decisions by yourself. You don’t know the future. Lean on the Holy Spirit. He knows what’s ahead!
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