September 17th

Wind of the Spirit 

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.  John 3:8 NASB 

6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  Romans 8:6-9 NIV 

The Lord recently used some analogies from sailing to help me better understand living by the Spirit.  Since my childhood, I’ve often been involved with sailing in one form or another. One day as I was outside enjoying a breezy afternoon, the Lord reminded me of how sailors recognize the wind.  Wind causes small ripples that darken the surface of the water compared to the areas where the wind is not blowing.  When the sailor looks out across the water, he’ll see a “wind line” moving across the water with the leading edge of the wind.   

When sailors see a wind line approaching, they know to prepare for the increased force on the sails and boat. They may have to shift weight to the windward side of the vessel to compensate or they may have to let the sails out a little to prevent being overpowered by the gust. If they’ve prepared well, the boat will accelerate when the gust hits the sails.   

A wind line will give a general indication of where a gust is coming from, but often more precise information is needed to sail the boat at its ideal speed.  Sailors use “telltales” to help them know the exact direction the wind is coming from. A telltale is simply a little piece of string tied to a mast support or to the sail. The telltale streams in the direction that the wind is blowing.   

As I thought of how this might apply to living by the Holy Spirit, I thought of John 3:8 and Romans 8 (above).  We are called to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, yet sometimes it may seem challenging to know where the Spirit is leading us.  It’s during those times that I turn to spiritual wind lines and telltales for help.  For example, I find that being in the word, praying, receiving Godly counsel from my pastor and other Christians, and keeping a watchful eye on the circumstances the Lord brings me into all help me discern where the Spirit is leading.   

As with the wind, the Holy Spirit’s moves will produce telltale signs that we’ll be able to recognize as we walk with the Lord and become familiar with his character and ways.  Jesus showed us how to do this.  He only did what he saw the Father doing:  "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (John 5:19 NIV).  We know from the Gospels that Jesus spent much time in prayer during his ministry years.  During those times he was no doubt tuning in to the Father’s heart via the Holy Spirit and discerning where the Spirit was working.  He was also sensitive to the people and circumstances that God put him in.  For example, when he withdrew to a secluded place after hearing of John’s execution, a large crowd of people followed him there.  When Jesus saw them, he “felt compassion for them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14 NIV).  

By heeding the signs and following the Spirit where he is leading, we’ll begin to experience the life and peace that comes with living by the Spirit.  When we correctly recognize the leading of the Spirit, we can properly prepare ourselves for the move of his power, just as the sailor prepares his boat for a coming gust.  In doing so, we’ll be best positioned to be perfectly used by God for his purposes. 

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord God, Thank you for sending me your Holy Spirit to guide me in truth, remind me of your words and fill me with your life.  I repent from any times that I’ve quenched the Spirit through disobedience or hardness of heart.  Please forgive me for my pride and for not yielding to your promptings.  I submit myself to you anew today and invite you to lead me once again by the Spirit.  Please help me to discern where you are working and know what you want me to do.  Thank you for the example of Jesus, who always did what he saw you doing.  I want to be like Jesus, obeying you and being led by your Spirit in every action.  I praise you, Lord! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”