Paul has a front row seat in the explosion of the new Christian church, with joyful memories and deep wounds to prove it. He is taking seriously the call to go and make disciples to the ends of the earth. He has a plan, and nothing can stop him…or can it?
Next up on Paul’s agenda, Asia. But the Holy Spirit forbids him to speak the word there. Change of plans…Bithynia. Again, a ‘no’ from the Spirit that doesn’t allow them to minister there.
Do you ever have doors that just seem to keep closing? They are good things. Really good things; Godly things. They line up with Scripture. You wonder why it just isn’t happening. So, you just keep trying harder; look for new avenues. You become more determined, refusing to take no for an answer. But yet, the doors are air tight. Nothing is happening.
David Guzik sums up Acts 16:6-7 this way, “The Holy Spirit often guides as much by the closing of doors as He does by the opening of doors.” This was certainly the case with Paul and his companions. His ministry will eventually take him to these places, but not now. Not yet. God has other plans for this season and this missionary tour.
We know that Paul is disciplined in prayer and fasting, positioning to follow God’s direction. Instead of Paul’s plans, God gives him a vision that leads him to Macedonia. God’s plan was Europe before Asia. Dead ends and temporary disappointments become new directions. Sometimes we don’t get what we want or go where we want – even when they are good things. But obstacles can become blessings when we pray about that ‘no,’ spend time with God and wait to hear what His ‘yes’ is instead. God doesn’t say no just for the sake of no. We need to submit to the ‘no’ to hear the ‘yes.’ The more we fight the ‘no,’ the more we miss out on God’s higher plan. Only the Holy Spirit can direct us when to keep fighting and when to change course. Our job is to be flexible and listen.
The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9.
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