As a disciple of Jesus, do I follow the Spirit’s prompting that leads me to multiply disciples?
Read Acts 8:27-38; 9:10-19
Have you ever experienced “the nudge”? Not the nudge your mom gave you for making noise in church. Or the one from your spouse letting you know you just “over-shared” with your friends.
I mean that divine nudge from the Spirit. The one that lays on your heart and mind, that gives you an idea to act or speak in way that you would never dream of on your own. The one that grabs your imagination and won’t let go.
You may experience it in different ways but I’m sure that at least once or twice as a follower of Jesus, you felt “the nudge.” It compels us; it moves our feet and our mouths to go and do and say what we didn’t expect.
When we act on it.
It’s all too easy to ignore it, to reason our way out of acting or speaking. And when we do, we miss out on a glorious part of being a disciple of Jesus.
I’ve had moments when I squashed the nudge and walked away. Frankly, each time it’s left me uncertain and regretful. I’ve also had moments when I firmly kicked aside my fears and doubts, and stepped into the Spirit’s leading. Those actions I’ve never regretted.
Two things usually hold us back from acting on the Spirit’s leading: We don’t know what to say, and we’re afraid of how people will respond.
In Acts 8 and 9, we find two men, Philip and Ananias, nudged by the Spirit and both faced similar hurdles.
Philip knew Jesus’ voice, and he recognized the Spirit’s direction to open a conversation with this Ethiopian traveler. He didn’t know what to say; he had no idea what questions he’d be asked. He just “opened his mouth” (8:35) and let the Spirit fill it with Scripture and truth. This led to salvation for the Ethiopian—and as history shows us, for many of his people in Africa!
Ananias also followed Jesus. We don’t know his backstory, but his faith had him under fire by Saul, the very man the Spirit was nudging—okay, commanding—him to go and lay hands on. Do you see? By going to Saul and praying for his healing, Ananias could be signing his own death warrant! I’d think twice about this nudge too!
Ananias was afraid, but the Spirit of God gave him insight and courage to carry on the assignment. And bless Ananias for obeying—it was a crucial step in Saul’s journey to becoming one of the most influential disciples in history, and to opening the world to the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
When the Spirit gives the nudge, the call—or the spiritual equivalent of a thump on the shoulder—obedience is the disciple’s response.
When you don’t know what to say, ask the Spirit to give you the words. Be willing to open your mouth.
When you’re afraid of how someone will respond—anger, arguments, rejection, antagonism—remember that their need for the Savior is greater than your discomfort.
This act of obedience may help someone take the first step—or the final step—to salvation through Jesus Christ. It may be the word of encouragement, the act of compassion, that strengthens a floundering faith or opens the door to reach even more people with the Good News of Jesus.
You don’t know, I don’t know, what God will do through these moments. We learn to lean on the Spirit to finish the work for us. The results are up to Him, obeying the Spirit’s nudge is up to us.
Consider this: Can you think of a time when you acted on the Spirit’s nudge? Or when you didn’t act on it? Why or why not? What did you experience differently between the times you did and the times you didn’t? If the Spirit is nudging you today about something, what are you going to do?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to guide me, fill me, and nudge me to act according to Your purpose. Forgive me for the times when I’ve ignored or rejected that hand on my shoulder. Holy Spirit, give me insight to recognize your nudges, and the words and courage to respond. Help me find joy in being part of your work in the lives of those who need you. Thank you for your grace. In the name of Jesus, amen.
–Barb Gerhart, Global Disciples