Our principle for today’s Sunday school lesson was: To walk in the Spirit is to obey the initial promptings of the Spirit. It is based on Acts 10, the story of Peter and Cornelius. We kind of summarized the story, since it was pretty familiar to those present. Cornelius was a gentile who worshipped God and gave generously to the poor. He had a vision in which he was instructed to go get Peter. Meanwhile Peter had a vision about eating foods forbidden to the Jews. After three repetitions, Cornelius and his men arrived at the gate and Peter went with them and Cornelius and his household were converted and became the first Gentile converts.
Not tracking much with the book, we were first asked to name ways in which we hear from the Holy Spirit. Obviously visions and dreams were suggested. Then we added intuition and the counsel of others. Someone mentioned that they hear messages from the Holy Spirit in things like music, movies and books, even sometimes those which are not from the Christian perspective. One of our members mentioned that hearing from the Spirit often happens just in time. We all agreed on that one, as well as the fact that sometimes we realize after the fact how God was leading us, or conversely, how we ignored His leadings and got into trouble.
Then we got back in the direction of the scriptures. We laughed about the fact that Peter needed to be told everything three times, so it seems. Some felt they could really relate to him. It was interesting to note, though, that when Cornelius came to the gate, Peter had no trouble shifting his understanding from the food that was in the actual vision to the fact that God actually might want the Gentiles to hear from Him as well as the Jews. One would think that Peter, on the basis of the vision, was being called to the Gentiles, but that appears not to have been the case. However, when Paul came to Jerusalem to clarify the requirements for Gentile believers, Peter must have remembered, since he supported Paul in not requiring circumcision and other legal requirements, beyond a bare minimum.
Attempting to get back in with the book, we shifted to a discussion of being redirected by the Holy Spirit as Paul was, on occasion. So you have an idea where you want to be headed but run into a closed door. Often it seems that the closed door was necessary for you to even notice a subsequent door that is open. Most of the time, when we look back, we are quite thankful that we didn’t get into some messy situations that way. Of course, even Paul checked with the Lord on those occasions. It may take some discernment to figure out if the Lord has closed a door, or if it is merely a hindrance in our path which must be overcome. In bible times it seems there were often prophets or prophetesses coming along to confirm things. I wonder if that isn’t an underdeveloped gift in todays church?
In closing we were directed to stay yielded to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13-14,
Gal. 5:16-18). We also need to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us (1Thess. 5:19). We closed with a personal story from one of our members about finding a place to stay while her house was being fumigated. Our extended church family is quite a blessing! She was offered a place that even included a doggy door for her two boxers to use. God is good!