Paul – Flexibility in the Itinerary

“You have to be flexible. If you have a plan and just blindly follow it, it’s worse than no plan at all."  (Lou Nicholes - Missionary/Author). … More

Flexibility

Freedom and flexibility are the characteristics of a Christian under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit can only lead us as we are sensitive to His leading. After visiting the churches he had founded, Paul tried to enter new territory for the Lord. He tried to go into Asia Minor, which was situated between the Agean Sea on the west and Galatia on the east. For some reason, for which we are not told why, the Holy Spirit forbade them to enter this Asian province.

From there the missionaries continued north to the border of Bithynia, which is on the Black Sea.  Again they paused to seek the Holy Spirit’s leading (v. 7). Should they go east or west? It is interesting to note that God, in His sovereign grace, led them west into Europe and not east into Asia.  Probably world history would have been different if they had been sent to Asia, instead of Europe.

From here they proceeded through the province of Mysia until they reached Troas. It was here that Paul received what has become known as the “Macedonian call.” It was here that a Macedonian man appeared in a dream with an urgent plea, “Come over to Macedonia, and help us” (v. 9). Immediately the group sought passage across the Aegean Sea to Neapolis, which was a seaport town about 10 miles from Philippi. At this point Luke joined the party (notice the “we” in v. 10).

There are times in our lives that doors seem to open, and then there are times that doors seem to close. In our passage of Scripture today, we first see doors of opportunity closing on the disciples, and then opening in another direction. Struggling with open and closed doors is a healthy part of the Christian life. God will open a door when we are willing to obey His call. Sometimes doors close because we hesitate. Notice verse 10 says “immediately.”  We are not sure that we heard God, so we wait. Sometimes waiting is not obedience, but rather a lack of faith. God will open a door for us when we will allow Him to challenge our plans for our life.

Application

Logic alone should not be the basis for doing something. It is always wise for me to seek the direction of the Holy Spirit before embarking on any important activity. This will be accomplished by meditating on the Word of God, praying and being flexible to His leading.

Acts 16:6-10 (English Standard Version)

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

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