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By Bill Vincent
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In the last issue of the Concepts of Faith, I wrote about the guidance of the Holy Spirit, specifically "knowing." Let's look at four of the ways that we perceive the Holy Spirit's guidance:
1. Knowing (See Concepts of Faith 1st issue 2018)
2. Seeing (Vision)
3. Hearing (Auditory)
4. Feeling (Kinesthetic)
The most common experience among Christians is to be led by a "knowing." This could be described as "His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit." Others describe this as "I just had this feeling." Some report, "The Lord spoke to my spirit" or "I heard the Holy Spirit say to me..." Those who perceive guidance visually use terms such as "I saw in my spirit..." or "I just saw what God wanted me to do."
In the book of Acts chapter 9, verse 11, the Lord appeared to Ananias in a vision and spoke to him to go lay his hands on Saul that he might receive his sight. This was both a visual and an auditory experience for Ananias. When you look at the circumstances (Saul was persecuting Christians), it would take a very strong impression of some sort to convince Ananias to go pray for Saul. He could have been killed!
Now in everyday life, you generally don't need a strong vision from God about how to proceed with your daily life. You can just follow the subtle guidance and direction in your spirit. However, if you have a vision or an angel appears to you, then it must really be important! There are times when I have what I call "mini-visions." I am not in a trance but perfectly alert when suddenly a scene passes through my mind. This scene is not visible to the physical eye, but through my "mind's eye." Because of this "scene," I become aware of facts about a situation that I had not known before. Or, I know that I am supposed to go to this certain place.
Many years ago, I was driving down the street, minding my own business, when a vision appeared to me. I saw myself walking into the room of a hospital in Tulsa and laying hands on a woman I knew. She jumped out of bed healed of severe back problems. Along with this vision, I felt a very obvious anointing of healing. This vision was so strong that I drove straight to the hospital, asked for the woman's room, walked in and did exactly what I saw in my vision. Now, I did not tell her anything about the vision until later, but she jumped out of bed and danced around the room, praising God with her hands raised in the air exactly as I saw in the vision. It was such a remarkable healing that the nurse ran into the corridor calling out, "There has been a healing in room 2812! Someone get the doctor!"
This incident combined seeing a vision, feeling an anointing, and knowing what I should do. Although this was a very powerful experience, these modalities of guidance happen often to me in a much subtler way. I will have a " ash" of something I need to attend to now, or the picture of a person's face will come before me and I know I should contact them.
To those people who are more inclined to register things in an auditory manner, guidance is perceived by them as "hearing something." The hearing doesn't actually happen with the ear itself, but is expressed as "I heard in my spirit" or "I heard it in my heart or head."
It is of the utmost importance that you exercise discernment in following any form of guidance. There have been Christians who follow after visions, voices, and prophesies because they seemed supernatural. They left a trail of destruction behind them because they did not test the spirits to see if they are of God. One of the biggest mistakes that Christians make is "seeking guidance." When a person gets desperate for guidance or the answer to a question, there are always voices that will rush into that void and fill it with something. The safest guidance is from within you.
It is best to have an open mind and heart so that the Holy Spirit can choose what method He uses to lead you. A good prayer would be, "Holy Spirit, I ask for your direction and guidance so that I may live in God's perfect will for my life. I open myself to Your guidance because you dwell in me." The Holy Spirit never forces anything, but gently directs and guides with joy. If guidance you receive does not bring peace, joy, or confirmation, then it is to be examined very carefully or cast off.
If I don't have peace or know what I am supposed to do about something, I wait. Doing nothing can be a real challenge, but if you don't have the answer, it can be foolish to jump into a decision. When being pressed for a yes or no answer to a commitment, I have found that it is best to decline rather than agree to something that I don't have peace about.
In developing discernment, always pay attention to your first impressions. If you feel uncomfortable, anxious or pressured, then be aware that things may not be as they appear. I have known people who have attended meetings because everyone else gave wonderful reports. Later, great deception was exposed and I asked these people if they had any check in their spirit warning them that something was wrong. Their reply was very alarming, "Yes, I did not feel just right at first, but everyone else thought it was great. And there were healings, so I thought it was just me."
Always trust the Holy Spirit inside of you and proceed with caution if "things don't seem just right." All external experiences should be checked and compared with the witness of your spirit. God has given us supernatural protection, a guide into the truth, if we only listen. Pay attention!