Jesus Led into the Wilderness
|Christ in the Wilderness|
In Matthew's gospel, he wrote, "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry." (Mat 4:1-2). Matthew indicated that it was the Spirit Who led Jesus into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted by the devil. That was a difficult, forty-day fast, during which Jesus ate nothing at all. Yet it was the Spirit that led Him to do so.
Moreover, He was living by Himself with the wild animals with angels attending Him. This was not like a fast where you live at home and get to sleep in your own bed. Mark uses a word that seems to emphasize that the Spirit drove Him or sent Him away to the wilderness. "Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him." (Mar 1:12-13). As we can see, the Holy Spirit may lead us into some very difficult situations.
Peter Led to Meet Cornelius
The apostle Peter was led by the Spirit to go with the three Gentiles to the home of Cornelius the Roman centurion.
"Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate; and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.'" (Act 10:17-20)
First the Holy Spirit gave Peter a vision, so that he would be willing to go into the home of a Gentile. And then when the three Gentiles came from Cornelius to call for him, the Holy Spirit told him to go with them.
Paul and Barnabas Led to the Mission Field
In Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were led by the Spirit to go and preach the gospel to the nations.
"Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus." (Act 13:1-4)
This leading from the Holy Spirit came during a time of corporate fasting and ministering to the Lord. Thus the Holy Spirit sent them out.
Paul and Silas Led into Macedonia
The Spirit led Paul and Silas into Macedonia.
"They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas." (Act 16:6-8).
First the Holy Spirit forbid them to speak the Word in Asia, then He did not permit them to go into Bithynia as they intended to do. Afterward, the Spirit gave Paul the famous vision of the man from Macedonia, and they went at once to Macedonia, concluding that God had called them to preach the gospel to them.
My Own Experience
I have also experienced what it is to be led by the Spirit, as every child of God has. A couple examples will suffice.
During a mission trip to Bulgaria in October 2007, I went to a small town called Hisarya, where I ministered in a church one evening. I was led to preach on the topic of "purpose", and the Lord touched lives through His Word. Afterward a lady said she had been feeling useless and wondered about God’s purpose for her life since she had family issues and had just lost her job. Someone at the meeting testified that they were amazed the Lord would bring me all the way from “the ends of the earth in America to come and minister to us on this night.” She said “you were in the right place at the right time, talking to and praying for the right group of people.” The pastor and his wife testified that the previous night they were praying and asking God to help them. They were “expecting Him to intervene in some way, but did not think it would be so soon!” Praise the Lord for what He did that night! Anything good that happened was because of Him, and all the mistakes are mine.
The Lord had put a burden for Eastern Europe on my heart back in 1986 while I served in Berlin, Germany as a soldier in the US Army. Subsequently, during Bible school and graduate school, I received many confirmations from the Lord that I was supposed to go there one day. In fact, I did go to both Bulgaria in 1993 and Ukraine in 1995 on missions trips.
After finishing Bible school and graduate school, getting married, starting to raise a family, and being in the corporate world for a decade, the Lord began to lead us to the mission field of Eastern Europe. Specifically the Lord was leading us to be based in Budapest, Hungary. In June 2006, here is one of the many amazing things that happened through the leading of the Spirit.
I had sent an email to one of my friends from Regent University named John, telling him, “We've been praying and seeking the Lord for guidance and believe the next step is the mission field full time. We are praying through this and investigating an open door for ministry with another couple over in Eastern Europe.” Then I received an email from John in response saying, “Wow Len, big change maybe. I have a friend who wants to rent his house over in Budapest. That's not where you are thinking of going by any chance is it? The house is large and modern and would suit the needs of your family. My friend is a former Regent student and is Hungarian. Right now, he lives in Austria doing a Ph.D. The house is only about 10-12 years old and is pretty nice...I've been there twice--in fact, I was in Budapest two weeks ago. He has been hoping a missionary...could be found to rent it. He is buying a new house in Austria, so you could probably stay as long as you need to.”
There was no way John could have know that Budapest was the exact city in Eastern Europe the Spirit of God was leading us to go to. Just the day before getting that email from John, my wife Jennifer was praying that if the Lord wanted us in Budapest that He would provide us with a home big enough so we could have a place to let guests stay who may come from the US to visit and minister. This place that we now discovered for rent by a Hungarian brother in Christ had four bedrooms in addition to the living room plus two full and two half bathrooms. And since my friend John had just been there two weeks earlier, he was able to send me photos of it by email. When we saw the photos, we could plainly see it would meet our needs perfectly.
Then three months later in September 2006, Jennifer and I visited Budapest as a couple and stayed at that house, so that we could see if this was where God wanted us. The Lord arranged the whole weekend in a supernaturally amazing way. We were able to assess the home that the Hungarian brother wanted to rent to us, in order to determine whether it would adequately meet our needs. Jennifer's assessment was that she had a very positive experience there. She sensed that this was the place the Lord was calling us to live. The grace of God was there. She enjoyed it and wanted to go back there.
As it turned out, we spent the next two years raising support, and by August 2008 we only had a small fraction of our total support raised. We prayed and fasted, asking the Lord what we should do. The Lord spoke to us clearly and indicated that we should "Just go" and He would support us. We received many confirmations of this direction. So our board released us to go, which we did in October 2008. The Hungarian brother held that house for us for those two years while we raised support, and it was there waiting for us when we arrived in October 2008. We lived in it for our first two years in Hungary, and the Lord sustained us there supernaturally for four and half years there in that country, although we never raised more than a fraction of our full budget.
The Lord used Scriptures, dreams, visions, prophecies, and even unpleasant situations, as well as amazing coincidences to lead us to go there. And the proof that it was of Him was in the results that happened while we were there, and the way He sustained us.
Leading You By Eye
Another point I would like to make is this. We all want to get a spectacular vision or dream from God to lead us. And God does use those sometimes. But He wants to be able to lead you by eye. He says, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." (Psa 32:8. KJV). This is the subtle, gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit that we must learn to respond to. We learn to do this by practicing it each day in the moment-by moment situations.
Let me explain this with an illustration. When a maestro conducts an orchestra, he doesn't want to have to wave his baton wildly every time he needs a particular section or instrument to play their part. He wants the members of the orchestra to be so cued in to him that he can simply give them a certain glance with his eyes and they respond immediately.
This is the way the Lord wants us to be. He can give spectacular visions and dreams to lead you, but He prefers to lead you by eye. He wants your attention to be so fixed on Him that any time He wants you to do something, all He has to do is give you a certain look and you know what He means. He can gently nudge you or prompt you with that still, small voice and lead you where He wants you to go, and have you do what He wants you to do. You must first learn to respond to Him in the little things, before you are able to respond to greater things. He who is faithful in the little things is faithful also in much.
Here are some lessons I would like to leave you with about being led by the Spirit. Lead a life of prayer, worship, fasting, and reading God's Word. As we walk each day, we must pray. Walk in humility. Focus on the spiritual, not what’s happening in the natural. Don’t focus on finances, opinions of men, results, or attacks. Prayer is key.
You need to learn to walk through the doors the Lord has opened for you and not kick down any doors that God has His heel on. When you are led by the Spirit, it is like there is a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it." Be very attentive to the voice of the Spirit. Listen to it. The things you are sensing in your heart that God wants you to do will be confirmed by Scripture, other brethren, and circumstances, as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as prophecy and the word of knowledge. For major decisions in life, such as ministry and marriage, ask the Lord to confirm His will by the mouths of two or three witnesses. You should also be accountable to others, such as your elders, for what you sense the Lord is saying.
As you pray each day and ask the Lord what He wants you to do today, He will show you. And as you do that tomorrow, He will show you what you are to be doing tomorrow. And as you do that each day, His plans will gradually unfold, as He takes you on into His greater purposes for you.
Be sure and keep a journal of what the Lord is saying, so you can pray over it and look back on it later to assess what God is saying. I have many pages full of documented leading from the Holy Spirit and confirmations of His leading. This has been indispensable to me in knowing God's will for my life. I hope that somehow these examples I have shared will be helpful to you as you learn to be led by the Spirit.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated. Christ in the Wilderness image by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi - Google Cultural Center, Public Domain.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I also recommend reading Led by the Spirit - Part I, Keeping a Prayer Journal, The Ways of Life, The Way, Will, and Word of God, The Law of Christ, The Spirit's Law of Life, Obedience by the Spirit, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, The Straight and Narrow Path, The Wardrobe of the Saints, Faith Works!, Fruit in Every Season, Practicing Your Righteousness, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, The Voice That Changed Everything, Covenant Prayer, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, and Law of Love in the New Testament.
You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog, such as Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Holy Trinity, and The Spirit without Limit. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org