When the Holy Spirit Speaks

Last Friday the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He probably speaks to me a lot, but this time I heard him.

I had been mentally prepping for the upcoming Sunday school lesson that I was slated to teach in place of my absent husband. Ironically enough, our topic was—yes, you guessed it—the Holy Spirit. Our recently completed series on the Nicene Creed had spawned a secondary discussion on the Spirit, who gets short shrift in that ancient text. Our class had asked for more teaching and discussion on the mysterious third person of the Trinity.

The previous week my husband had taken us through the Old Testament, showing how the Spirit moved and worked in chosen people to do various special works of God. Leaders, prophets, judges, kings … they only did what they did because the Spirit empowered them to do it.

But then Jesus— I just love that phrase, don’t you? “But then, Jesus…” so much hope and potential! In this case, starting in the Gospels, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in a personal way, revealing more of His personality and purpose (Luke 11:14) in the lives of Jesus followers. He is our comforter, our advocate (John 14:26), the Truth-revealer (Mark 13:11) able to be with each believer at all times and in all places.

The Spirit conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb (Matt. 1:20), the Spirit sent Jesus out into the wilderness to be tested (Matt. 4:1), then brought him back to civilization to begin his ministry (Luke 4:14). The miraculous, courageous, beyond their normal abilities acts of the apostles (in the book by the same name that we mostly just call “Acts”) only occur when the Spirit empowers them—the author mentions the Spirit 91 times. Believers also receive from Him a variety of gifts with which to bless the church (1 Cor. 12).

The book of Acts showcases the work of the Spirit like no other book of the Bible. We could camp out in that book alone for weeks of study and still not cover it all. He’s a tough bird, that Spirit—difficult to pin down logically, to explain his methodology, to predict his next move. He’s a mystery.

And that’s what makes so many believers content to benignly ignore him. We give lip service to a Trinity but practically worship a divine duo—the Father and the Son—instead. I think that’s because mystery scares us. What we can’t understand or predict we tend to push aside.

Does the Spirit work today? Does he still reveal truth? Yes, in accordance with the Scripture (see Mark 13:11). How does he do that? Ah, a question not so easily answered. We can rest assured that He will only guide us into actions or words that correlate with Scripture, that live out its righteous values that reflect the heart of God. Sometimes, though, these promptings to action might look a little strange at first glance.

Peter bucked centuries of tradition regarding food that was considered clean or unclean when he accepted the conclusion of the divine vision he had in Acts 10. Ananias obeyed the command to anoint the killer of Jesus’s followers, Saul, against all logical thought (Acts 9). Many have felt the prompting of the Spirit to adopt, to write a letter of encouragement, to enter the ministry, to sign up for military service, to do crazy things that can’t be otherwise explained. But all Spirit-led promptings align with Scripture and point to obeying God’s call to love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

So back to last Friday. A clear, unmistakable impression led to behavior completely out of character for me: I picked up a stranger on the side of the road.

I know, not a really big deal for most people. But it was a first for me.

On our way to the local library, several miles down the local state highway, I noticed a young woman walking down the road. I only really thought about it when, on our return trip, I saw her again. She had walked about 2 miles.

“Help her.” “Turn around.” “Why not you?” I didn’t hear audible words, but these impressions weighed heavily in my mind as I passed her.  A quick self-inventory revealed that 1. I had an empty seat (which is unusual with my brood), 2. I had extra time and 3. The potential danger seemed negligible. (I did have kids to consider.)

So I turned around, pulled up in front of her, and invited her to ride wherever she needed to go. Ended up taking her about 7 miles down the highway to the next big city. Did I change her life? Probably not. Did I help her avoid walking through dangerous intersections and what was becoming a nighttime venture? Yes. So maybe my obedience helped her avoid something negative. We’ll never know.

I think the most important thing happened to me, not to her. I heard, and listened to, the Spirit. My children witnessed it, too. I've missed way too many of His promptings in the past. Too busy. Too afraid. Too distracted.

I pray that remembering this event makes me more aware of such impressions now, and more willing to pay attention. 

How about you? Have you ever been convinced that God spoke to you, that He wanted you to act in a certain way? What convinced you? Did you listen or ignore the impression? I'd love to hear your story.

Kelley Mathews (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary) has written and edited for the Christian market for more than 20 years. Currently a writer for RightNow Media, she lives in North Texas with her husband and their four children. She has partnered with Sue Edwards to coauthor Mixed Ministry, Women’s Retreats, Leading Women Who Wound, Organic Ministry to Women, and 40 Questions about Women in Ministry. Find her books and blog at KelleyMathews.com.


  • Erin Anderson

    Many years ago, I was told to

    Many years ago, I was told to stop and help a family who had pulled into a parking lot. They had run out of gas. I went and filled their gas can and brought it back with a pizza. (It was late and they had hungry kids.)

    I rarely ever give money to panhandlers and I've never stopped, before or since, to help someone holding a sign by the road. But that night, the Spirit was SO clear, "I need you. This assignment is yours." ☺

  • Vee B. from Memphis TN

    The Holy Spirit

    Well, I was studying the Holy SPIRIT this week and I know that I was lead her as a confirmation to make myself HOLY. Holiness Is required for the HOLY SPIRIT to fully manifest. The sacredness of the HOLY Spirit I feel requires a willing heart and a soul dedicated to living a life pleasing to God. When we follow the HOLY Spirit we are lead to safety and he provides ways of escape. There were times when I didn't listen to the HOLY Spirit and whew it was turmoil for being disobedient to that still small voice pleading for me to follow. Instead, I was like is this God (the HOLY Spirit) or me so not knowing I didn't do anything. Now as I have matured in Christ the reason why my thoughts were insecure was because my faith walk wasn't secure. When we spend time in the Word of God that strengthens our confidence not to trust the voices in our head but to trust that by Truth we will be God led….Vee Barrett

  • Miriam

    Hearing the voice of God

    On the first of January 2015 I heard these words "welcome to the Now "

    I begin researching the word Now and found that it mean here and not 

    I looked in the bible and I must say I never saw the word Now in the bible until  now.

    The Holy Spirit have spoken to me in so many ways with the word Now. I have never had such great time reading the bible until now. Today I read 2 Corinthians 6:2…Behold, 

    Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Personally I believe the

    Holy Spirit wants to clothed all of the children of God for a great feast that's coming shortly.

    And now is the time to pay attention to His instructions. 

  • Jo Anne

    Hearing God’s Voice

    When my Mother had her stroke I had already been caring for my Mother-in-Law in my home.  She was bed-ridden, semi-comatose, with a feeding tube and bed sores.  I went from hospital to hospital looking for my Mother as my phone call had not told me where she was.  I was racing through empty, cold corridors of one of the hospitals and I cried out "I want a life!!!!!!!".  A still, calm voice spoke in my head:  "This is your life".   (sigh)  And it has been……  There were years ahead for me that were terribly difficult and wearisome.  There were lots of tears and depression; but, I never again doubted that personally caring for 3 elderly parents was "my life".