Summary: God guides. He will show the way as we take the step of faith and do His work. Adopt an attitude of dependence on God always.
God is always at work in your life. He will be there to guide you.
• But He does not do that by dropping a map onto your lap, with clear markers showing you the route.
• You move and He guides you. Abraham did that, Moses did that, Paul did that.
• The Lord has given us the wisdom and the burden in our hearts, to see the needs and do the necessary things. And as you do it, He will be there to guide you. He opens and closes door.
[Acts 15:36] Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."
There is no vision, no angelic call. No dream, no special word from the Spirit.
• This is simply the responsible concern of Paul and Barnabas for the people whom they had led to Christ.
• They remembered all those Gentiles believers who had come to Christ in the cities of Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, and they said to one another, "We have a responsibility to help them grow. They do not yet know the whole counsel of God; there are truths that they must understand. Let us go and see how they are."
The Holy Spirit does not have to speak to you only in supernatural way.
• He dwells in your heart. He has given you eyes to see, a heart to feel, and a burden for things He wants you to do.
• God does not want to give orders to you about everything you do. He is not interested in robots. He does not want puppets that wait for some special feeling before they act.
• Paul did not stay in Jerusalem and ask God, “Lord, what is your will?” And then stay put in Jerusalem waiting for God to show up in a dream or vision.
Paul chose to respond to the burden in his heart.
• The choice is yours. You can choose to respond to what you see as a work that needs to be done, or just stay put. The initiative lies with you.
• God wants you to respond to the needs you see around. There are some things you know you need to do, some things you know God wants you to do. Just do it.
• And when you take the step of faith and start doing what is right, the Spirit of God will be with you in it.
This is what we see here, and Paul teaches it in Phil 2:13 “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”
• Don’t always have to wait for someone to tell you what to do. Jesus dwells in your heart. He moves you by the things you see and feel. And when you take the step to do His work, you’ll find that He is in it with you.
• So do not wait, you see a work that needs to be done for God, just move out and do it. Don’t wait for some particular invitation to come. If you sense an opportunity to show concern for someone, move into it, and God will be with you in it.
[Acts 15:37-41] Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Here is a quarrel between Barnabas and Paul.
• It’s good that Luke puts it down for us to know. Having conflict is normal, even among good Christians who wanted to do God’s work.
• They could not agree whether or not to take young John Mark with them again.
• He was with them on the first journey, but left halfway through (cf. Acts 13:13).
Barnabas was his cousin and wanted to give the young man another chance.
• But Paul did not want to take the chance because the work was important and probably dangerous, and he did not think it wise to take someone they could not count on.
• So we read the sad note that they had “a sharp disagreement”. Who is right? We do not know, and it is not really the important point.
I believe both of these men were right. One was looking at the work and the other at the person.