Summary: Look for God’s hand in all of life. We rejoice in his presence when souls are won to Christ. We can also rejoice in his presence when things look critical.
Acts 16 describes the conversions of Lydia and an unnamed Philippian Jailer. Some commentators also believe that the girl with the spirit of divination whom Paul exercised was converted. That may be possible, but we have no information to confirm or deny it. What the Holy Spirit did inspire to be recorded for us shows the hand of God involved in each of the conversions and even the conflicts the missionaries endured. God works through conversions and conflicts.
I have selected the text of Acts 16:6-40 for our lesson. This text divides into six sections. Last week some of you young ladies and young men did a great job of drawing the lesson for me. I’ve put those up on my office door. This week there are several things I’d like for those of you who are budding young artists to draw for me. I want you to listen to the lesson as we go though so you can know what to draw as we get to that section. Give them to me after service if you will, I’d like to see them. I’ll give them back if you want them.
First, the mission team gets the call to Macedonia… 6-10
Second, Lydia is converted at the ladies prayer group by the river… 11-15
Third, Paul casts out the spirit from the slave girl/fortune teller… 16-18
Fourth, Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown in jail…19-24
Fifth, at midnight God interrupts a song and prayer service in the jailhouse with an earthquake, the jailer and his family hear the gospel and are baptized…25-34
Sixth, Paul makes those that beat and imprisoned them scared because he and Silas are Roman citizens…35-40
OK, kids, draw this: Paul has a vision of a man pleading for help.
As we enter our study, Paul and Silas have a new team member, Timothy. They are now trying to figure out where God wants them to go. Not Asia, not Bithynia, so they go west toward Troas where they meet up with another traveling companion named Luke. How do I know this? Because of verse 10, where the pronouns change from third to first person plural. We enter the first “we” section of Acts, where Luke travels with them. Read Verses 6-10
This section shows us that God was directing their mission trip. Just look at it. They want to go East to Asia, God’s Spirit says no. They want to go North to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them. Notice that we have no details at all as to how the Spirit prevented them from going. Just that he did. We do know how God called them to Macedonia. It was a dream that Paul had or more specifically, a vision in the night. What was in the vision? There was a man of Macedonia standing there urging Paul, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”
I find it interesting that this is how they received direction for their mission. It was not extremely clear and certain, because they had to conclude that this is where God was calling them to go. Did you get that?
How do you know God’s will for your life today? Do you pray about what he wants for you? Do you search the scriptures for guidance? Do you discuss things with others who are mature Christians who will pray with you and for you and give you their best counsel? Are there any other indicators that God uses for directing your life?