“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives in you . . .”

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, . . . will teach you all things . . .” (John 14:15, 26)

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. . . . The Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:13, 15)

When we talk about truth in today’s world, it tends to be a blurry concept modified as “my” truth, “your” truth and “their” truth. There is strong resistance to the absolute and unchanging nature of the truth.

This isn’t exactly new. When Jesus was being interrogated by Pilate, He said the reason I was born and came into the world was to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. (John 18: 37-38)

Whether we accept it or not, there is absolute truth, and it begins and ends with God. This truth is so vital to us that God sent His Son to die so that we could know and live in it. When He walked on earth, Jesus taught the truth in the words His Father gave Him; in the same way, the Holy Spirit continues to teach us the truth.

The truth is that God does speak, and we can learn to hear and respond to Him in an ongoing and personal relationship.

We may understand that reading and studying Scripture can help us to know God, but how can we personally relate to the Creator of the universe? We can because that is God’s desire for every believer, and because He has made it possible.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit, who lives in us. As we mature in our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, including how to recognize God’s leading in our lives. As we learn to attune ourselves to God’s voice and His promptings, we will become more and more discerning in knowing His will. As Paul wrote:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

How does the Holy Spirit teach us to discern God’s leading?

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God,” Paul writes in Romans 8:14. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (v.16) The first lesson is to absorb that we are God’s children, and we can be assured that He will guide and direct us.

The second lesson is that the Holy Spirit reveals our sin so we can overcome it. When our wrong attitudes, ideas or actions are brought to our attention, it’s essential to recognize the quality of the Spirit’s voice. His words to us are those of care, concern and correction. They are not cold, dismissive or condemning – that’s Satan’s static, especially when it persists after we’ve genuinely repented. We also need to learn to distinguish self-condemnation when we don’t live up to our own expectations or those of others.

Lesson three is that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. If we aren’t prepared to hear and act on the truth, we won’t hear the Spirit.

If we are assured of our place in God’s heart as His own children, are ready to see and redeem our mistakes, and are prepared to hear the truth, then we’ve laid the foundation for an authentic relationship with God in prayer. One of the most challenging aspects of prayer is that in relationship, communication has to go both ways. Most prayers are monologues, not dialogues. If we want God to speak, we have to stop talking long enough to listen.

So lesson four is that we need to cultivate listening prayer, building in space to “be still and know.” More on this next time.

To review, as we’re learning to recognize God’s handwriting, there are some absolutes we can count on.

First, God’s handwriting doesn’t change. The Bible shows us exactly what His penmanship looks like. It doesn’t change with shifting trends and attitudes and moral standards. It is upright, bold, and clear. It’s only hard to read for eyes who don’t want to see what it says.

Second, God doesn’t write in pencil, code or invisible ink. He isn’t tentative or obscure, and is eager for us to hear and understand His Word and His will. He has proven His love for us by writing in the indelible ink of His own Son’s blood.

Third, Scripture makes it clear that God is our Father, our Shepherd, and that He longs to guide, protect and reassure us. We’re His children, and we can trust His love for us.

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