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Those Unidentified Inner Promptings, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
September 2, 2022 7:05 am

Those Unidentified Inner Promptings, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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September 2, 2022 7:05 am

Flying Closer to the Flame

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Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. Normally, when you and I know that bonds and afflictions await us, we are frightened, but not when the Spirit of God brings a sense of reassurance. Could this not explain the relentless courage and determination of the martyrs and the missionaries of years gone by? It was the Spirit of God. They were bound in the Spirit in the midst of these threatening fears. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues a message he started last time. In this portion of our study, we'll search for biblical direction on how to interpret the guidance from God's Spirit. Chuck titled his message, Those Unidentified Inner Promptings. Let me show you four biblical examples of the work of the Spirit, and one is found in 1 Kings chapter 19.

Not only did they happen then, but they still happen today. Now, if you'd like to take notes, let me give you a title for this first prompting, and then we'll analyze it from 1 Kings 19. Here it is. In times of extreme desperation, in times of extreme desperation, the Spirit prompts hope and encouragement. In times of extreme desperation, you might even add the word loneliness, the Spirit of God prompts hope and encouragement. 1 Kings 19 has an interesting context. It is sort of the climax of Elijah's life, if not 18. Elijah has been the one who stood before King Ahab and pronounced a drought and it didn't rain for three and a half years. Elijah is the one who commanded the fire of God to fall on the altar that was flooded with water and it fell to the amazement of the prophets of Baal, and then they were slain. Elijah is the one who has witnessed the power of God in giving him survival in the midst of a dried up brook in the dry wilderness of his world. He has known the presence of God, and on the heels of these great occasions of victory, when he was most vulnerable, Jezebel, the wife of Ahab the king, threatens his life, and it hits him where he isn't prepared to be hit, and he's devastated. Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, may the gods do to me and even more if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. Now, before you feel kind of easy about all of this and wonder why Elijah made so much of it, chances are good you've never had your life threatened. If you have ever had your life threatened, where it is a serious threat and somebody tells you within the next 24 hours you'll be history, then you understand the feeling Elijah had.

Especially when it was someone in authority who had her henchmen all around and was a wicked woman to the core. She says to Elijah, you're as good as dead. And in an unusual moment of depression and desperation and loneliness full of doubt, don't we all have such moments? He ran deep into the woods and he sat down under a tree and he asked the Lord to take his life. Apparently the thought of suicide did not enter Elijah's mind.

That's another subject. But he does say, verse 4, it is enough, take my life for I am not better than my father's. So he's at the bottom. A more pathetic picture of personal heartbreaking loneliness cannot be found in the scriptures than here. But what does God do? God doesn't shame him, God doesn't rebuke him, God ministers to him. He says to him, verse 11, go and stand on the mountain before the Lord, behold the Lord is passing by. And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces in the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord wasn't in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was this fire and the Lord wasn't in the fire. But after the fire, look closely, there was a sound of a gentle blowing.

Pause right there. The old King James Bible says that there was a still small voice. The new King James renders it in a similar manner but gives this footnote a delicate whispering voice. The new international version of the Bible says, after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Got the picture? Elijah wrapped in his desolation, loneliness and doubt and despair is standing here looking at the fire, feeling the earthquake, this enormous wind is deafening and the Lord is in none of it and all of a sudden I take it that dies away and there is this whispering voice that speaks to him, just like this. Very reliable Old Testament scholars named Kyle and Dalitch write this. It was not in the tempest that Jehovah was and after the tempest and earthquake, it was not in the earthquake that Jehovah was and after the earthquake fire, it was not in the fire that Jehovah was and after the fire a still gentle rustling. It was in a soft gentle rustling that he revealed himself to Elijah. And what is it Elijah does? He wraps himself in his mantle, he senses the supernatural presence of God and he moves toward the mouth of the cave. He doesn't run from God, he moves toward him.

I want to be fair here, I want to be careful but I want to be fair with the scriptures. There have been times in my life when the Lord's promptings have been just as real as Elijah's here. I didn't hear a voice, I did not see a vision but I felt his presence as real as if I could touch him.

It was magnificent. I didn't pray for it, in fact I felt somewhat distant at the time. Now, it's important to remember that not every evidence of the Spirit of God is public or loud or large. Sometimes his best ministry to us is when we are all alone. Take time to be alone. I hope that you have at least one hobby that you can do all alone. I hope that you reward yourself on occasion, you cannot do it of course every day, but that you somewhat regularly reward yourself with walks and quietness.

Do you take time for that? A walk in the woods. There is a sense of gentle blowing that you hear in the forest and it's therapeutic.

Don't be afraid of that. Sometimes it is all that's needed for the scales to be removed from your eyes and for you to see through the harassment and the noise of your day and you come to terms with things. The Lord was in a gentle whispering. I took a walk in the woods a few weeks ago. It was cold, snow was about, and I stood and leaned against a tree. I was knee deep in the snow. I stood there for five, six minutes and listened.

It was wonderful. Scripture says, be still and know that I am God. Elijah was still and that was all he needed to be touched by the living God. Acts chapter 20 is the next stop. The first was in times of desperation and loneliness.

Let's give this one another title. In times of threatening fears, the Spirit prompts a calm determination and courage. My thoughts have to do with Acts 20 verses 22 down to about 27.

A quick word about the context. Paul will not see the Ephesian friends anymore, not until heaven. This is his swan song. These are his elders, men with whom he has had a close relationship for an extended period of time.

It's a moving account because he's saying goodbye and goodbyes are frequently emotional, especially if you're close to the people you're leaving and especially if you won't see them again. What I find interesting in verse 22 is that he is bound in the Spirit. I would love to know what that means.

2022. And now behold, bound in spirit. I think it means bound by the Holy Spirit.

Captured in thoughts of, surrounded by the presence of, unable to get away from the reminders of. I am bound one on one with the Spirit in this. I am on my way to Jerusalem not knowing what will happen to me there.

Except the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city. Look at this, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. This is a premonition of fear.

Ever have them? Not every premonition comes from God, but we know this one did. Verse 23 says it was from the Holy Spirit. He solemnly testifies to me, saying, You're in for trouble, Paul. No matter what city you enter, you're going to encounter intensified trouble.

And that's exactly what happened. He was bound in spirit. He was en route to Jerusalem. He was sure that trouble awaited him.

But don't stop reading. This threatening fear could have seized him and sidetracked him. The Holy Spirit has told him bonds and afflictions await me, but I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course in the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to solemnly testify of the gospel of the grace of God. And now behold, I know that you all, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. And then he warns them about the future of the church at Ephesus.

Normally, when you and I know that bonds and afflictions await us, we are frightened. But not when the Spirit of God brings a sense of reassurance. Could this not explain the relentless courage and determination of the martyrs and the missionaries of years gone by? When you read their lives, you say, shaking your head, I can't imagine how they endured such a thing. How did they live with themselves?

How could they even sleep at night? It was the Spirit of God. They were bound in the Spirit in the midst of these threatening fears. Could this not explain the courage and determination of the Reformers, who though they would lose reputation, occupation, status? Imagine that. For their convictions, they would be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. For their convictions, they would be burned at the stake, in some cases, for their convictions, and they considered their lives worthy of death, to die in such a glorious manner for the Lord. You read these stories and you realize how shallow and superficial many of us live our lives.

How could they do that? They are bound in the Spirit. And I say to you again, I can't make it more clear.

I don't know how to make it clearer than that. There is just that inner prompting, I am here. I am aware of what you're going through. I know of the threats. I tell you, I will take you through them. The flame will not hurt you, I only design, thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

And with that assurance, we're able to go on. Praise God for his Spirit's working. Now, warning here, it is one thing to presume and to be foolish and to be daring and to dance too close to trouble in the energy of the flesh.

This has nothing to do with that. But when the Spirit communicates his presence in a true sense of his incredible power, it is remarkable how fear leaves. And that's what happens here with Paul. Turn from Acts 20 to Acts 27.

Let me give you this subject and then we'll look at it rather quickly. Acts 27, one of the most adventuresome scenes in all the New Testament. If you love sailing, you will love Acts 27.

If you like life in the open sea and the challenge of going from point A to point B in a storm, you are weird, but you will love Acts 27. Because that is what this is all about. I read a story in Sports Illustrated recently of a man just like that and planned to travel across the North Atlantic from New York all the way across to Europe. By the way, he didn't make it.

And that's another subject. They haven't found him, but his friends are so convinced that he made it, they say he'll show up. You'll see him someday on some piece of wood floating up to the shore or he'll find a way. He's a survivor.

I certainly hope he is. But this is that kind of scene, Acts 27. In this account, Dr. Luke is present, which is why he says we all the way through the account.

He's the writer of Acts and he's including himself with Paul. There's a crescendo of danger intensifying as each mile passes in the sea. So let me call it this. In times of potential disaster, the spirit prompts inner reassurance and outer peace. In times of potential, let's call it danger and disaster, the spirit prompts reassurance, inner reassurance and outer peace. I think you'll love this account.

If you're not familiar with it, we'll enjoy it for a few moments. How interesting as it unfolds. When it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. Remember the centurion? We'll see him several times on the ship. And embarking in the Adramidian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, sorry you don't have a map in front of you, it's very exciting when you study exactly where they went. We put out to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus the Macedonian of Thessalonica. And the next day, we put in at Sidon.

And Julius, there's our centurion friend, treated Paul with consideration, allowed him to go to his friends and receive care. And from there, we put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary. You get the picture that the storm is building. You're exactly right.

That's exactly what's happening. And when we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia, and there the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it, so they changed ships. And when we had sailed slowly for a good many days, and with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmon. And with difficulty sailing past it, we came to a certain place called Fair Havens. Isn't that a great name for a harbor? Fair Havens. Makes you want to get a hot cup of coffee and watch shipwrecks there.

Near which was the city of Lycia. And when considerable time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous, you got the picture? It's like a crescendo in this musical score. The wind is building, and the crests of the waves are getting greater, and the currents are getting stronger, and the sails are flapping or straining, groaning under the wind. When considerable time had passed, the voyage was now dangerous. Since even the fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them.

Look at what he says. Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be attended with damage and great loss. This is called a premonition in human terms. Not only of the cargo in the ship, but also of our lives. I sense we're in for severe danger. But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than he was by what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable for wintering, the majority reached a decision to put out to sea from there, if somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete facing northeast and southeast, and spend the winter there. And when a moderate south wind came up, supposing that they had gained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing along Crete close in shore. But before very long, they rushed down from the land of violent wind, called Irakpilo. And when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along. We're in for trouble.

We're out of control. And running under the shelter of a small island called Clada, we were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control. And after that, had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship and fearing that they might run aground in the shallows. They let down the sea anchor and let themselves be driven along. The next day, as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo.

And on the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. And since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. Have you ever been in a situation anything like that?

Maybe not. My brother went through the Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, lost most of his home in the process. And he listened to 150 mile an hour winds throwing timbers through his home like spears and ripping chunks from his ceiling and from his roof and throwing it against garages four blocks away.

Both cars damaged. He said the good thing about it was that all the fences got blown down. The next day, we got to meet our neighbors, which I thought was a pretty optimistic way to look at everything. But in the midst of all of this, they were hiding in the bedroom, the only room in the home that wasn't really touched, he and eight other members of his family, where you know the passing of every hour, you are moving closer to what may be your death. I mean, imagine this. And then on top of everything else, they're at sea. And they're starting to lose cargo.

They've already lost control, and they're afraid of losing life. That's the picture. That's the panic. That's the disaster, the potential disaster.

And so, verse 21, when they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up in their midst. Now watch this. This is terrific. Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. And yet now, I urge you to keep up your courage.

How could he say that? It is the work of the Spirit of God that gives this kind of courage. It doesn't come naturally. And gave them a sense of inner reassurance and outer peace. There's much more on this topic that Chuck Swindoll wants to teach us. He's titled today's message on the Holy Spirit, Those Unidentified Inner Promptings.

So please keep listening. With a few minutes remaining, I want to remind you that Insight for Living offers a wide variety of Bible study tools so you can dig deeper on your own. For instance, you'll be glad to learn that each sermon Chuck delivers in this study is paired with online study notes. We call these free resources our Searching the Scriptures Studies. They're available as interactive PDF documents that allow you to keep personal notes in a digital file.

Or you can print them out if you prefer to study God's Word with pen in hand. All the details are at insightworld.org slash studies. And then over the years, Chuck has been known for his winsome approach, a good sense of humor, and the laughter that so easily erupts when you're around him. And if you've been unsatisfied with what's become a ho-hum existence, if you're longing to break free from the legalism that describes your past, well, you'll truly appreciate Chuck's deep dive into God's amazing grace. His book, called The Grace Awakening, has been a life changer for readers all across the world.

To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash store. Or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. At Insight for Living, we know the price of fuel has impacted consumers all across the world, combined with alarming inflation. The cost of operating a nonprofit ministry has escalated, too.

But we're trusting God for His faithfulness through people like you. Thanks for remaining consistent in your voluntary donations, because you're truly making a difference for those who hear Chuck's daily Bible teaching. To give a donation today, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or you can go online to insight.org slash donate. In March 2023, Insight for Living Ministries is hosting an unforgettable journey to Israel. Carefully plan to deepen your understanding of the Bible and draw you closer to God.

Here's Chuck Swindoll. For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God's children than the land of Israel. The rugged landscape reminds us to find refuge in God alone. The fertile valleys invite us to follow our shepherd. Jerusalem's position at the very center of the world announces the good news of Christ to every nation. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries March 5th through the 16th, 2023. Every time I visited the Holy Land, I returned home with a refreshed heart for God and a renewed vision for the world.

Really, I mean it every time. And so I want you to have the same life-changing experience. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll's study called Flying Closer to the Flame continues on Monday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Those Unidentified Inner Promptings, was copyrighted in 1993 and 2003, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-03 12:55:02 / 2023-03-03 13:04:20 / 9

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