Hearts sensitive to the Spirit’s voice

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Heart Sensitive Spirit 

Sunday 11/12/23

Title: Hearts sensitive to the Spirit’s voice

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Hearts sensitive to the Spirit’s voice

God Lives Within us! 

Last week Paul spoke in very clear terms that what we do, we involve the Holy Spirit with… even down to our sexual appetites, and expressions. 

This requires a renovation of thought in regard to what is Holy and what is not. What is sacred and what is profane and carnal

God is not ashamed of the work of His hands. He takes unashamed ownership of our bodies as well as that of our minds and wills, our emotions & spirits. 

We have to develop a deep and abiding awareness of this so as to stop treating as non-sacred and not holy the things regarding our persons, our body and our life. 

We belong to Him and He has come to dwell within us in the Person of the Holy Spirit!  

And the Person of the Holy Spirit has a ministry within us. He has a goal and purpose which He is determined to perform.

Paul said to the faithful church in Philippi,

“(6) being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;  (7)  just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.” – Php 1:6-7  

To make this a full connection in your hearts, let’s read what it means to be a partaker of grace. I mean, we talk a lot about grace and how a great number of cases it is referring to God’s influence upon our hearts and its reflection in our lives including gratitude. But, what does being a “partaker of grace” really look like if lived out?

Titus 2:11-15, “(11) For the grace of God has appeared, with salvation for all people,  (12)  INSTRUCTING US us to DENY godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,  (13)  while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  (14)  He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a special people, eager to do good works.  (15)  Say these things, and encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

As such, if we were to see as we ought to see – to consider as we ought to consider – be aware of our real and genuine situation in Christ – our hearts would then press upon us with holy urgency and honest sincere desire to show respect for the abiding presence and work of the Holy Spirit over our thoughts, choices and actions

Last week, you know that we communed with the broken body and powerfully purifying blood of our Lord through communion, but we participate in His death and resurrection every day as we commune with God through the Holy Spirit within us.

Things, such as communion serve as proclamations of our faith – by which I mean our declaration of union with Jesus. They are good and necessary but if they are not the external dramatization of a DAILY, ONGOING communion with the Holy Spirit then it really is very close to meaningless

At that point the best we can hope for from a communion service is a defibrillation of our cold and stagnant hearts.

The regular assembling together of believers was intended to KEEP embers burning which were always ignited. 

What it has come to be is a place to warm our cold hearts at heat emanating from someone else’s embers. This allows us to walk away warmed, but not ignited ourselves. To feel, as it were, the benefits of being on fire, without actually being on fire. 

This is a deadly perversion and fall away from God’s intentions!

Remember if you will the lessons of passion we learned in the pentateuch. God desired not just obedience but willingness and not just willingness, but passion

When taking the Lord’s supper in the communion of the saints, you are communing on three fronts 

  • vertically in your communion with Jesus,
  • horizontally in your communion among the saints 
  • and inwardly in your communion with the Spirit

But the Spirit must come first and the others a result of that inner communion, not the other way around.

The invitation is to enter into that inner communion and receive within it the strength which only He can provide and which He has freely offered you. 

He has come within to live His strength in and through you. This is the ONLY strength we have available to us which enables us to live a consecrated and holy life. 

It is just ONE of the countless benefits God has made and keeps ready for us – things the Spirit was GIVEN to REVEAL to us!

Let’s turn to Romans 8 which offers us perhaps one of the clearest pictures of this afforded us in the scriptures.

Romans 8:3-17, “(3) What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did.”

Now remember that the flesh is not only the source of our weaknesses and earthly cravings but is also the veil over our eyes which obscures our view of Jesus.

The power of BOTH is removed by the Spirit of God. By HIS inner power. Not by our own strength or even devotion, but His Own through us.

“He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His Own Son in flesh LIKE ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering,  (4)  in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished IN us WHOdo not WALK ACCORDING to the flesh but according TO THE SPIRIT.”

“(5)  For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. (6)  For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace.  (7)  For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.”

This is telling us to deliberately direct our mind’s attention towards the Holy Spirit within us. 

  • What He wants 
  • What He directs
  • What He inspires within you

This requires us to be not only familiar with His voice, but His emotions, sensitivities, His behaviors if you will. 

These are all admittedly very poor and clumsy words to use in regard to the Spirit so I pray you’ll forgive me for employing them, but they are the best I can find.

What I mean to say is… we need to learn to be easily influenced by His heart

You know what it is like when you are close to someone, you can sometimes sense when they are uncomfortable. 

You can sense if something offends them, or concerns them. 

They don’t have to say a word, you can just sense it. 

So we can develop a sensitivity to the Spirit of God. An inner knowing of His state of heart – so far as He chooses to reveal it to us. 

Examples of being led by the Spirit, even regarding things we might naturally not have ears to hear, are supplied to us throughout the scriptures. 

Unfortunately, I think so often, we have learned to simply read past them.

A great example of this is found in Paul who was called to the Gentiles. A man who was both devotedly driven to save his brethren the Jews and eminently qualified to do so – was led to devote his life to Gentiles!

  • Paul was also led in a dream to go to Lydia in Macedonia
  • Peter was led to Cornelius in Italy by seeing a vision within a dream to eat meat declared unclean by the ceremonial law.
  • The counsel of Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem were led to bind and loose doctrines regarding circumcision and obligations to keep certain ceremonial aspects of the law.It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit not to lay any greater burden upon you than these necessary things…– Acts 15:28.

All of these are examples where men might easily have thought this voice and leading was NOT from the Holy Spirit and examples like these are riddled throughout the scriptures

I think perhaps the one example that stands out greatest in scripture is one of those I said we have learned to read past. You can probably quote it, but it is quite possible you have never wrestled with it.

Remember if you will, after Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, the Spirit came upon Him and led Him where and why?

Into the wilderness TO BE TEMPTED by the devil for 40 days and 40 nights.

So the Spirit is the One Who led Jesus.

He led Jesus where many of our theologies would deny the Spirit would ever lead anyone! 


When we read in English translations that Jesus prayed, led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil He did not mean it as it sounds to us in our hearing. 

First off, Jesus’ request to not be “led” into temptation is not to suggest God causes temptation, but He is the One Who controls what and to what degree the enemy may tempt us. 

As the scriptures say, God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist– 1Cor. 10:13

Also we see this same truth in Job on Wednesday. 

You and I are not free to be assaulted by the enemy upon his will alone. The devil HAS to submit before the Father, every one of his plans to tempt you. 

It is God, Who is sovereign and is therefore the ONLY clearing house through which temptation has to be approved and allowed. 

The old adage that nothing comes to you, which hasn’t first passed through the Father’s hands has its basis in fact.

This statement from Jesus in His most famous prayer was a rhetorical request, asking the Father for protection from sinning – NOT from being tempted TO sin. 

Some interpreters see this as Jesus asking the Father to remove from us times of trials and testing which could eventuate in a crisis of faith. But this would be contrary to scripture, for Peter tells us that such times of trials and temptations come for that very purpose! They are there to test and try the “GENUINENESS OF OUR FAITH” [See 1Peter 1:7]. As such Jesus would never have asked for such a thing since it would run contrary to the purposes of God – which includes proving you.

Now I want you to see how knowing God and His plans and purposes, lifts a veil from your eyes to see things as “being God” which before you would have rejected out of hand. 

Your theology would not allow God to be the God He is – out of respect for the God you believe Him to be!

A good question at this point is – do you see anything, even in the list of examples which you would not have had ears to hear or eyes to see had it been spoken to you?

Can you see how you could, in some cases, feel compelled to rebuke a thought the Spirit deposited in your heart, thinking it was the devil instead?

I am reminded of the real life story I’ve told you a few times, which I think may just drive this point home for us.

A ‘Word of Faith’ woman had been attending a conference not far from her home and she walked a direct path to it every day. One evening, she sensed an inner nudge NOT to return home the same route she normally took which would have gone right through a dark multi-level parking garage. 

In an attempt to “be a woman of faith” and not succumb to fear, she rebuked that thought, claimed her protection and went anyway. Of course she got robbed! 

This precipitated a crisis of faith. So she sought the counsel of her pastor about this who in his wisdom assured her that God did not fail to honor her faith. 

She pressed her opinion upon him saying, “But I was standing in faith. I KNOW I believed and God allowed me to get mugged anyway!” 

As our Baptist friends had said for so long, this woman had more faith in her faith than she had faith in God!

The pastor then asked her, “Did you have any thought, inner sense or cautionary note in your heart to not to go that way that day”? 

She said, “Yes, but I knew it was just the devil trying to get me in fear so I rebuked him!”

He told her, “No daughter, that was the voice of the Holy Spirit of God, warning you of things to come and you refused to listen. You assumed you had authority and protection against another person’s freewill. The fact that only your purse was stolen is a testament to God’s goodness and undeserved protection.”

Her “theology” numbed her to the recognition of God’s voice and it cost her. It might have cost her dearly, but in this case only a possession was lost! 

There are those in Christ who have so practiced their rejection of God’s voice when He says things they have no ears to hear, that it eventually costs them dearly. 

These often become jaded in their beliefs or lead them to develop belief systems to explain away what happened rather than seek God’s face – allowing Him to answer for Himself and thus, purify their beliefs and reconcile their thoughts to Who He really is as opposed to who they thought or simply wanted Him to be.

I want you to notice. It isn’t’ that this dear woman didn’t hear the Spirit’s voice, it is just that her belief system was so entrenched in her that it did not allow for her to believe God would ever say something like that! 

Ergo she assumed it had to be the devil.  

Now what do you suppose would have happened if Jesus had thought the same on the day the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil for 40 days and nights?

I want you to pay real attention to this because it is a living example of the verses we are reading in Romans 8.

Again, the woman HEARD the Spirit’s leading. It was her MIND which led her to read INTO what she heard.

I was in the Word of Faith movement FAR TOO LONG to not know what was going on here. 

What appealed to this woman, and so many others who followed the Word of Faith movement, was a faith that promised control in and over our lives. 

If there was something we desired we just found ANY scripture we could which seemed to promise it and claimed it as ours.

If there was an obstacle in our way we would just “use our faith” to remove our mountain. 

The one constant was the control all of this allowed us to retain over our lives! Jesus was Lord in issues regarding salvation, but in all practical matters of daily life, we were allowed to maintain our personal lordship!

But what does our passage in Romans say to this?

“…those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.” 

Notice, this woman’s rejection of the Spirit’s voice was not based upon HIM, but upon her! “I know the devil is just trying to get ME into fear, but I am going to claim my protection and I am going to rebuke his lies which are trying to get ME to be afraid. No man has power over ME, I belong to Jesus alone! DO YOU HEAR ME DEVIL!”

It all sounds so empowering, but it is entirely ME focused!

Nothing in those thoughts is a question regarding God’s heart, thoughts or intentions. It is all about asserting control by this nebulus spiritual tool we wield called “faith”. Not trust in God, but faith against the devil!

“(6)  For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace.”

Mind-set of the flesh is death or separation. The mind-set of the Spirit is submission to union and agreement.

“(7)  For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.”

Can you see how the earth-bound outlook of our minds often encourages us in directions which run contrary to “life and peace”?

Under these conditions of heart we are unable to have real trust IN God and so we fail to please Him.

“(8)  Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God.”

Faith is about intimacy in union with God. It is NOT about belief in asserting our assumed privileges of sonship on the world around us.

This is part of what Paul meant when he told the Philippians that they were Partakers of the grace of God WITH HIM. That grace has a voice and it is the voice of the Holy SpiritofGod Who has moved into our bodies and has made them His home… His abiding place! And finally that same Holy Spirit of Grace teaches us that we are to “deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,  (13)  while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ… being eager to do good works.” ~ Titus 2:12-14

We will continue from here next week, learning more and more how to work in submissive agreement with the Holy Spirit of grace.



Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!