Newsletter August 2017
Guided by the Spirit
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:6-10)
Have you ever had a plan and somehow things just didn’t seem to work out. If so, what did you do? Did you try to force things? Or did wonder if God might be shutting a door because His plan was different to yours? Did you turn to God and ask for direction?
Paul and his companions had a plan. The next station on their missionary trip was to be Asia, a region they hadn’t preach in until then. Surely the people there needed to hear the Gospel message just as others had. So why did the door seem shut? Why did the Spirit of God forbid them to preach in that region?
Sometimes things seem to make sense to us. We have a plan and pursue it until we achieve our goal. But what if God’s plan is different? What if He has a different priority? Whether in ministry work or in our personal career or family life, we often waste time trying to achieve the goals that we have set ourselves, when God’s plan for us is quite different. Yes, Asia needed to hear the Gospel, but not now. Just across the sea, in Macedonia, the entrance to the European continent, there were people ready to receive the message of the cross, and God wanted to use Paul to bring it to them.
Following Paul’s vision of a Macedonian man pleading for them to come, the group did not hesitate to obey God’s leading. And as they arrived in the city of Philippi, they encountered Lydia, who readily received the gospel and invited them to her house. Everything was working out just as one would expect if God is leading.
However, then events took a different turn. A slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination followed the missionaries, crying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” Despite the truth of her words, Paul recognised their demonic source and cast the evil spirit out of her. This upset her owners, as they had made money with her “gift” of fortune-telling. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten and thrown into prison. Was God still there? Were they still in His will? Why then were things suddenly going so wrong?
Paul and Silas knew who had called them; and they knew that He had called them to Macedonia. If God had allowed them to be arrested and ill-treated as they followed the Spirit’s leading, there had to be a purpose behind their ordeal. And so they worshipped in the midst of their trouble. And God intervened spectacularly: the prison was shaken and their chains and those of all the prisoners fell off. The jailer, about to commit suicide when he realised what had happened, heard the gospel and, instead, found new life in Jesus Christ. Their stay in Philippi finally ended with a victory for God’s kingdom and embarrassment for those who had unwittingly violated the rights of these Roam citizens by beating and imprisoning them without trial.
God know whom to send. He has His purpose and His timetable for every one of us. If we follow His leading we will fulfil that purpose, even though the journey won’t always be comfortable. We don’t see the whole picture, and we don’t know what awaits us in the future, but God does. Let us seek Him and trust the leading of His Spirit. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14) Pastor Konrad