But The Spirit of Jesus
This is one of those passages that you read and say, “Huh!” What happened here with Paul and his company? Why would the Spirit of Jesus or the Holy Spirit keep Paul from preaching somewhere? I thought the Lord Jesus said to go everywhere to preach the Gospel? Why keep the apostle from going somewhere there are lost people? You would think that God would want the Christians to go everywhere sharing His message of love, sin, forgiveness and eternal life. Let’s look at this strange situation in the life of Paul and his companions. Let’s take a look at the map on the screen and see if we can at least get this whole thing in our minds.
Acts 16:6-10 NIV
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Are We Hearing the Spirit of the Lord?
If Paul was kept from going into the provinces and regions he had planned then where did God want him to go? Well the rest of the passage tells us that; as Paul had gone to Troas while they were there that night a vision came to Paul, do you think that it was from God? The scripture says that Paul concluded that was the will of God to go to Macedonia to preach the Gospel there. Let’s think about this for a moment. Paul had intended to go into Asia, which today is the western part of central and southern Turkey. And God also kept Paul from preach in the province of Bithynia which was to the north and east of what is now Turkey. Instead God called him to the eastern European country of Greece. This is Paul’s first step with the Gospel into the western world. If God had allowed Paul to go into Bithynia and beyond would Paul had ever returned to go into Greece and eventually to Rome? We will leave that up to God. What we do know is that Paul was kept from going one place so that he could go another. I would like to camp here for awhile. • Does the scripture tell us that God sometimes has different plans than we do? • Could it be that God may have to “keep” us from going someplace to get us to go somewhere else? • Could Paul not know the will of God for his life? • Could it be that you may not know the will of God for your life? • Like Paul, have you been obedient to the Spirit of Jesus? • Are you diligently searching for the will of God in your life? • Have you been willing to change your plans for God’s plans so you too can be obedient to God? The Bible does not always tell us everything the men of God did when they came to a trial or a problem in their lives. What do you think Paul did when there was a blockade everywhere he went? I think he spent time praying to search for the perfect will of God. Paul wouldn’t have tried to go into those provinces if he didn’t think that was what God wanted for their ministry. But since it wasn’t God’s plan then He stopped them. Let’s make this practical for you and me. • Do you need to be searching and praying for the will of God in your life? • If you think that God’s will is this or that and you have spent time praying over it and God closes a door, do you try to go through the window when you see His precious Spirit trying to keep you from what you are doing? • Rather than stopping and going back to God do you push forward to accomplish “what you want anyway?” 1. You want to get married and you think it is right but God begins to throw up His roadblock so that there is doubt about the individual and the event even being right...do you go on anyway and without God’s confidence in your heart? 2. Maybe you want a job and you want it bad and you begin doing whatever it takes to get that job, but God sends His Holy Spirit to touch your heart with caution…do you listen? 3. You desire something that is really not necessary to your family’s needs but you really desire it and think it will be great to have but you hear the voice of God speaking in your heart that it is not right, now, and maybe He says that the money is best spent here or there…do you listen with your obedient ear or rush on and disobey the Lord’s warning? 4. You are dating him/her but they are not a believer and you just “feel” it is right but the caution is coming out left and right…do you go forward knowing the relationship could get very serious and result in love and marriage? 5. Maybe the church is confronted with several new ministries and all of them are good and worthy to do but you sense God is calling you to do something else or maybe just one of them…what do you as a church do? Can God have a different plan for the church than the church is doing? Could God desire the church to go in one direction and the congregation wants to go in another direction? Is it ever possible that God would say to the church today, “Don’t go and preach the Gospel to that group of people but wait on me so that I might tell you to go ….?” This is a message that is saying to each of us… “Are we hearing the Spirit of the Lord and obeying Him?” “Are you hearing the Spirit of Jesus and being obedient to Him?” How do we know if we don’t have a direct revelation from God like Paul had? What do we do? The Life Application Bible gives us some good suggestions to follow to find God’s will for our lives. He will lead us at times in different ways and we need to be open to hearing Him speak to us in varied ways. “When seeking God’s will, 1) make sure your plan is in harmony with God’s Word. (My thoughts here: God will not have a person to marry a non-believer); 2) ask mature Christians for their advice; 3) check your own motives – are you seeking to do what you want or what you think God wants? – 4) pray for God to open and close doors as He desires. Through a lifetime of seeking to follow God’s will I don’t always succeed but going to God and His Word for the answers you need and want is the best way to find God’s hand upon you. Once you know His will from the Word and disobey it then it is harder to truly divine His will without obedience to what you know God is telling you. Obedience is the key. The great hymn is the one I love,
Trust and Obey
1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word, what a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Refrain: Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 2. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil he doth richly repay; not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey. (Refrain) 3. But we never can prove the delights of his love until all on the altar we lay; for the favor he shows, for the joy he bestows, are for them who will trust and obey. (Refrain) 4. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at his feet, or we'll walk by his side in the way; what he says we will do, where he sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey. (Refrain)
Here is my thought. God desires to lead every person by His Holy Spirit and He wants His church to follow Him too. There are times when we think what we are doing is His will and then there are times that He says no! My will is this, do it. My great illustration for that is our deaf ministry. I thought that God would have us start a Hispanic ministry. But look what He has done for His kingdom and for our church. He has brought to us some of the most joyful and loving people we have ever had in this church. Our deaf ministry members are a blessing to each of us and we love you each one! Always be willing to have God speak His word into your life that His will will be done in and through you! Be willing to listen to the Spirit of God as He leads you and our church to be obedient to His perfect will for us and the church.