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  • Allison Wilcox

Discernment

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshiping 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 after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. ~ Acts 13:1-4



And thus begins Paul's travels...

But there's something else in this passage that I've never noticed before and it intrigues me and perplexes me.

It is the line: "the Holy Spirit said."

What?

I'm used to see "The Lord said," or "Jesus said."

I'm used to seeing the Holy Spirit as the silent part of the Trinity.

As wind or breath that blows as it will.

As tongues fire lighting the heads at Pentecost aflame.

As a dove.

But speaking?

Has the Holy Spirit spoken to you?

I can't think of any other place in the New Testament where I've seen this. (so if you have, please let me know in the comments)!

And that inevitably leads to: how do you know if the Holy Spirit speaks to you?

Which leads to how do you discern God's desires or will or hope for you?

These are rhetorical questions for me. I know lots of Christians might have immediate answers to them. But I have never had a place where I felt the Holy Spirit clearly, plainly and simply spoke to me and told me what to do.

Discerning is almost always more complicated than that.

Sometimes, perhaps God's will is easy to figure out. We do have those moments in our lives where right and wrong are clearly defined. And perhaps sometimes direction can be as clear as it was apparently for Paul.

However, while I'm glad that the Holy Spirit was clear about Paul's path, in my experience when I find my own path to be that clear, it usually means I'm not taking God's action in my life seriously enough.

Does the Holy Spirit speak?

Maybe discernment causes us to train ourselves to listen to the Spirit's words coming out of mouths that are near and dear to us.

Where are the places in your life where God is calling you to discern a way forward? And who are the voices that the Spirit is choosing to speak through to show you that way?

Lord, help me to discern the voices you have sent to speak your will and your love to me. Amen.


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