11. December 2023 Acts 0

Text: Acts 16:6-10

Theme: Sometimes we are providentially hindered, always for a divine purpose.

Key verses: “Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phyrgia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’ So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there (6-10).

What I believe God said to me: Things to decipher from this passage: 1) “…the Holy Spirit had prevented them…did not allow them…” They were super-sensitive to my Spirit for every step along their journey. They didn’t lean on their own understanding or cling to their man-made plans or preferences. They only went where and when I allowed them to go. 2) “…at that time…” They didn’t see my lack of leading as a permanently closed door. The narrative seems to indicate they were hopeful of another opportunity to go to Asia-Minor at a later time. When I close a door for you, Dwayne, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is forever closed. As you feel led and burdened, you should keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Pray for influence and opportunity to increase in new areas, to make my name famous among the heathens and those who need hope. I’m not bothered by you knocking on doors that are now closed to you. I expect and encourage you to do it. 3) “So instead, they went on through…” This is a very important principle when following me and doing my will. Paul was on a missionary journey. Sitting in one place too long wasn’t part of my commission to him and Silas. Thus, when the route they had planned to travel was no longer an option, they looked for and took another route. Basically, they kept going in a direction they knew they could take. Maybe it wasn’t the most glamorous or appealing option, and it certainly wasn’t what they had hoped for, but they went nonetheless. There are people everywhere who need to hear about the Gospel. Don’t wait until you have the ideal situation to share me. Share me wherever and whenever you can. 4) “That night Paul had a vision…” Visions can be a way to help people discern my will. Paul wasn’t unfamiliar with visions. He had heard from me through visions before–like when I appeared to him on the road to Damascus. That vision led to his conversion to following me. This latest vision of a man from Macedonia asking Paul to come over and help them has since led to countless thousands of people following me. Also note that as they went Paul had this vision. Walk in the direction you know, and trust me to break through (sometimes in unconventional and unusual ways) to show you your next steps. 5) “So we decided…having concluded…” They were so in tune with my leading that they knew immediately what they were to do. They recognized my will through this vision. The vision lined up with their mission to go and tell. Also, the timing of the vision was perfect. They didn’t have other instructions that were suddenly being contradicted and interrupted. They had already been seeking and asking for where exactly to go next. It’s also important to note that apparently Silas didn’t push back on Paul’s vision. No doubt Paul was highly trusted because of his proven track record as someone who loved and followed me closely. So, it was easier to act quickly and decisively in this moment. The more you follow me closely and demonstrate successes in your mission efforts for me, the easier and more likely it will be for other strong leaders to believe you, embrace your calling and want to support you in your missions and ministry for me.

What I said to God: Thank You, my Lord, for meeting with me this morning. My mind has struggled of late to focus on Your Word and on Your presence and Your sacrifice. I have been so distracted by cares and worry about our finances and about project deadlines. Those are no excuse. In fact, I should seek You more when I feel afraid or overwhelmed. You are the Vine, and I am the branch–nothing more and nothing less. I can do nothing without You. Forgive me for forgetting that powerful and precious promise and reality. And thank You for speaking to me through Your Word today. I need to meditate more on this passage about being providentially hindered. How can we know if in fact it is You who is closing a door, rather than the enemy or my own fear and lack of faith? Oh, that I would walk as closely and consistently with You as Paul did, so that I can know immediately to what and where You may be calling us on any given day and hour.