Summary: Are you struggling with knowing God’s will? Are you frustrated over some closed doors? God wants you to trust Him. The doors He closes are for a reason and the doors He opens are the right ones for you to confidently walk through. Like Paul and his compan
When God Gets In Your Way
Pastor Greg Tabor
Lighthouse Assembly of God
Read Acts 15:36-16:10
This was Paul’s second missionary journey. The reason for this trip was to visit the churches that he and Barnabas planted on their first missionary journey. They also delivered to the churches the decisions made at the council of Jerusalem, which you can read about in Acts 15. They would also spread the Gospel into new territory. (Because of a dispute, Barnabas and Paul split up and Barnabas did not make this trip, but took John Mark to Cyprus. So Paul chose Silas to go with him on this missionary journey. In Lystra, Paul invited Timothy to join the team. And at the end of our text Verse 10 of chapter 6 reveals Luke joining the team at Troas.) Today we are going to focus in on Acts 16:6-10.
Look in verse 6. It says that they had “been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” And then when they tried to enter Bithynia it says in verse 7 that “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
A couple of things I want to draw from this passage for us to consider:
· The missionary team had a willingness to yield to the Spirit
We have no idea how God spoke to these men, but He spoke in such a way so as to let them know that they were not to cross into Asia or Bithynia. The men’s response to God’s changing their course was complete obedience. They were building God’s Kingdom not theirs. Therefore, they walked in total obedience.
· The missionary team was able to be used by the Spirit, as a result of their yieldedness to God’s will.
They were able to be a part of the expansion of the Gospel into Europe because of their obedience. Imagine the opportunity lost if they had continued into Asia or Bithynia thinking they knew best. An interesting note here is that they eventually do minister in Asia on this second missionary journey, just not at this time. In fact, when Paul eventually arrived in Ephesus, his daily discussion in the lecture hall of Tyrannus resulted in “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10 NIV). Secondly, Peter mentions believers in Asia and Bithynia, along with others, as the recipients of his first epistle. These places were reached in God’s timing. However, at this time God had an assignment for the missionary team. After they had been obedient about Asia and Bithynia, they went to Troas, where Paul had a dream of a Macedonian man calling them to come and help them. They concluded from this that God was calling them to preach the Gospel in Macedonia.
So how do we apply this passage today? I’m sure there are a number of ways. But let’s consider the following.
There are times God seems to get in our way. Our way. Sometimes we have our plans, which may be good, and God either directly tells us “no” or all the evidence reveals that God is telling us “no.” We may feel like we know best and that we have the right plan, but God is leading us in a different direction. Ever been there?
We need to trust God and when it seems He’s standing in the way of the direction we want to go we need to realize He’s not trying to discourage us but rather shutting a door we don’t need to enter before He opens the door we do need to enter. And we may seemingly wander for some time facing shut doors until we reach the place God reveals the door He is opening for us. Many times we have no idea what is really on the other side of those doors God is holding shut. If God let us go through, which He may if we push our way through to teach us a lesson, we might end up in a real mess. Or we might miss something beautiful God is wanting to do through us and in us somewhere else because we are in a seemingly “right” place at the wrong time.
Let me insert a side note here. Satan can also hinder us. Just because we sense a hindrance, doesn’t mean it is God. For instance, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 NIV, “For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us.” We aren’t given the methodology Satan employed to hinder Paul, but we are given the reality that Satan did hinder him. Listen to the Believer’s Study Bible comments on verse 18:
“The word translated “hindered” is a military term, describing the breaking up of bridges and roads to make an invading army’s progress as slow as possible. Satan was engaged in such activity as he attempted to keep Paul away from the Thessalonians. Paul also anticipates that Satan will tempt God’s people by trying to discourage them (3:5). In 3:11 Paul looks to God to clear a path through or around Satan’s hindrances, thus granting him the victory of a return visit to Thessalonica.”