Summary: Often the commited Christian finds it difficult to discern the will of God. It may surprise you to know that it is possible to be in the will of God and not really be aware of it!
TEXT: Acts 16:6-10
INTRO: In 1984 my family attended a Spiritual Retreat (Conference) in Bertchesgaden, West Germany. This was an annual event for those involved in the Ministry to the Military in Europe. These were "high times", indeed. Not only were we "high on a mountain, nestled in the Bavarian Alps; but we were also lifted to "high" (heavenly) places in the Lord! A few years ago I took a number of our church members to Bertchesgaden.
I don’t remember many specifics of this Conference. I do, however remember a class that was being taught by Dr. Daniel Black on The Holy Spirit. During that class, Dr. Black made a comment that changed the course of my life. Fireworks didn’t go off, and whistles didn’t blow when he made his statement. There wasn’t any emotional display. But, he spoke a truth that went deep into my spirit. It was a simple statement. You may not find it very profound. It was, however, God’s direct Word to me that day. Here it is: "God has a place where you can be your best for Him!" Even as I prepared this message, I sensed a strange "warmness in my spirit" as I thought again of that truth. God has a place where you can be your best for Him!"
Today, if there is anything of which I am sure it is this: "I am not my own, I’ve been bought with a price!" And may I tell you this morning that I am no different than you.
The Apostle Paul had impressive credentials. Paul (whose former name was Saul) was a Jewish Pharisee which had been converted to Christianity. He was a highly intelligent scholar of the Jewish law. He was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus. Scripture tells us that he studied at the feet of the great Rabbi Gamaliel.
However, he did not "boast" in these credentials. He "boasted" rather in the credentials listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28: "... I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me their terrible thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I was in the open sea all night and the whole next day. I have traveled many weary miles and have been often in great danger from flooded rivers and from robbers and from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the hands of the Gentiles. I have faced grave dangers from mobs in the cities and from death in the deserts and in the stormy seas and from men who claim to be brothers in Christ but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food; often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the constant worry of how the churches are getting along …”
Yet in the midst of all that happened in Paul’s life, he was found walking in the will of God! Turn with me please to the Sixteenth chapter of Acts. We will begin reading at verse 6:
"And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."
Now this is one of those passages we often read over, not realizing its significance. This is a favorite text to be read during "missions services", and rightfully so. Especially the part about "Come over to Macedonia and help us". But, a number of years ago while considering the "will of God" I saw something else in this passage.
It would help if you had some background. As you probably know, Paul took what is commonly referred to as "Three Missionary Journeys". This passage speaks of events happening during his Second Missionary Journey, while being accompanied by Silas.
The humanity of the Apostles is seen in chapter fifteen, verses 37-40: "And Barnabas was desirous of taking John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord." We will address that situation more fully later.