Sermon: Trust the Lord and He Will Guide You (Acts 16:6-10)

Trust the Lord and He Will Guide You

Acts 16:6-10

Introduction

Paul, Silas, Timothy and the others in their missionary team are on the road to engage the brothers and strengthen the churches that God had established on their first missionary trip.

They leave Jerusalem and head north.  They go up through Damascus…Antioch…around to Tarsus…then to Derbe and Lystra.  Then something happens that Paul and the others did not expect.  God takes them somewhere else.  Paul and the others are reminded that…

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God has from the foundation of the world decreed what would take place.  This decree engulfs all of His creation.

TT- Our agenda must always be flexible and submit to God’s agenda.
Human need met by text

How flexible are you?  It is perfectly fine to make plans and to seek to carry them out.  We must plan ahead and take certain steps necessary to get to our goal.  It’s as simple as going to the store.  We make plans and preparations.  We make sure there is enough gas in the car.  We have made plans to have enough money for groceries…etc, ect…

What if while on your way something changes?  Are you flexible to submit your will to God’s will?

Here is a quick example…Trippy and I were on our way out of town headed to Bainbridge, ohio when our normal road was blocked by the power company.  The pole was damaged or there was something else wrong, but the entire road was blocked.  There were multiple choices at the=at point.  We could turn around and go home…we could go three or four different routes.  For some reason, we decided to go a way that would add about ten minutes or so to the drive.  After a few miles, there was a lady who had just ran out of her house holding a sign that said “HELP”!  So, I stopped, backed up and pulled in her driveway.  She was an older lady who lived alone.  She was without power.  She could not open her garage door.  And needed to be at a funeral shortly.  It wasn’t life or death…her house was still fairly warm and if she had missed the funeral, the sun would still rise and set.  But I got to share the Gospel with her and it turns out she was already a believer.  She praised God as I opened her garage door and thanked me.

Was that an inconvenience to detour off my selected path?  Why did I choose that route when others would have been just as good?  I’ve concluded that God had me go that way to help one of His children.  There were timing issues…that morning our electricity was off for a little while and we almost didn’t go, but then it came one and so we set out.  If it had not have gone off we would have missed her.

God changed our path and prevented us from taking the road I had thought we would take.

I do not believe in luck, chance, or coincidence.  The Bible is clear on the fact that God is in control of all things at all time.

This experience the other day is an application of…

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Solomon is basically telling us that we make our plans.

Charles Bridges, in his work on the Proverbs makes this point,
Inscrutable indeed is the mystery, how He accomplishes His fixed purposes by free-willed agents…man proposes, God disposes…Man devises and the Lord directs.[1]

This is a great mystery.  We plan and God’s will is accomplished.  Sometimes our plans and God’s will line up.  Other times, like in my example, God prevents us from doing what we have planned.

Through it all, we must be flexible and not get irritated or frustrated when God directs our steps.

This is exactly what happens in our text today.  Paul had certain plans but his steps were already established by God…guess who wins?

Please hear God Word for Grace Community Church today, may He apply it’s truths to our souls today.

Acts 16:6-10 (ESV)
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
9 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.”
10 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.

1.  God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways

6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
            A. Prevented from speaking

TT- Our agenda must always be flexible and submit to God’s agenda.

We should notice first that the missionary team went through the region of northern Galatia… Phrygia and Galatia.  They were there ready to preach and teach those in that region but the Holy Spirit said no.  I hope you find this odd.  Why would the Holy Spirit say no to missionaries strengthening the churches?  We do not know.  Luke doesn’t say why.  Sometimes we wonder why at certain things or events that take place in our lives.  I’m sure Paul and his team wondered at this.  Luke doesn’t tell us what God did so that they knew they were not to speak to those in that region.  Sometimes new believers need a time of struggle.  Sometimes, we can answer questions and counsel before God has had time to work in their lives.  Often in counseling sessions I pray that I would not be working against God by showing the counselees the answer too quickly.  Sometimes God has work to do and most often He does His best work as they struggle and discover answers themselves.

As parents, this is very difficult.  There are times when children need to be miserable and struggle especially over the consequences of sin.  If we bail them out every time they will not learn true repentance.   When God works in someone’s heart over their sin, they walk away with the attitude, I’m never doing that again.

For whatever reason, only God knows, they were not permitted to speak the word in that region.  They were prevented from speaking.

B. Prevented from going

Notice, next Luke reports that they were prevented from going.  Again, Luke does not tell us why or what the Holy Spirit did to prevent them from entering… they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
The term Spirit of Jesus is synonymous with the Holy Spirit.  Most scholars believe this title is used to show that the Holy Spirit was working in cooperation with Jesus Christ, accomplishing His goals in the Great Commission and the expansion of the Gospel.

It is vital for us to not get caught up in the why and how so much and to trust that what God was doing here was perfect and absolute sovereignty in action.  For whatever reason God did not want them to go to Bithynia.

Later, in his third missionary trip Paul would go to these regions and would plant churches but for now it was not the time.

It’s interesting to note that the region where God forbid them to speak and go is the region on modern day Turkey and the region when John writes and addresses churches in Revelation… Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis etc.

C. God led them to Troas

TT- Our agenda must always be flexible and submit to God’s agenda.
8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

Troas was a coastal port city.  It was noted for being the port where one would set sail for Greece,  Macedonia, Philippi etc.  The traveled south west to Troas.  I wonder what they were thinking at that point?  I wonder if they felt a little like the Hebrews when they came to the Red Sea and wondered what was next?  Did God want us to go back home? Did we misunderstand the entire campaign?…

Then, that night something happens that they did not expect…

2.  God’s Plans Are Greater Than Ours
9 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.”
10 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.

God is leading His missionaries in strange ways.  He prevents them sharing the message, He prevents them from going, He leads them to Troas, and then takes them across the sea.  Just as Moses led the Hebrews across the red sea in the Exodus so now the Gospel would also cross the sea and enter into a new land.  The Great Commission is a command of Gospel expansion.

What would be Paul’s response to this vision?  Would he be like Jonah and run from God’s command to go to a new place and preach the message of repentance and faith?  Paul would go.  He would immediately.  I can picture Paul almost starting to walk down the beach into the water seeking to go, forgetting that he will probably need a boat.

His vision is of a man from Macedonia pleading with him to come over to Macedonia and help him.  This word for help Bathason is a very unique word in the original language.  It means to have pity on and help.  It also implies help that only God can offer.  The word is used in only one other place in the Bible…

Mark 9:14-29 (ESV)
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.
15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.
16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.
18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.
22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”
27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

This is the kind of help the man from Macedonia is calling out for in Paul’s vision.  Come and take pity on us and extend the help God offers.

So, things are starting to come together now.  Here they are poised and ready.  God has brought them to Troas the port city in which boats left to go to Macedonia.  Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading for the Gospel.

10 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.

Once the team discussed the vision…they concluded.  Paul did not decide to go for the group.  They concluded together this was God’s plan.  Literally, they thought this through with sanctified minds and concluded together.  How long did it take for the group to obey the call of God?  Immediately they found a boat and sailed away.  The Gospel would for the first time in history cross the Aegean Sea headed to Macedonia.  Probably, the people in Macedonia didn’t even realize what was coming.  God would help them and that region would never be the same again…

It was in Troas that Paul picked up a hitchhiker.  He would acquire an new friend who would never leave his side…Luke finally caught up with Paul and the others.  The reporter and physician would be a vital part of Paul’s team.  He would write an orderly account of Gospel expansion.

We- passages begin Luke’s journey into the unknown with Paul.  They would cross the sea and share Christ with many in Macedonia.

Additional Application

TT- Our agenda must always be flexible and submit to God’s agenda.

I’m sure Paul might felt frustration as they were prevented by God from doing the very things he had been called to do.  Not only that but the team looked to Paul for direction and leadership, which could have added to Paul’s frustration.  But Luke doesn’t say that Paul was frustrated or anxious about anything.

There is one key to this that kept the team on the same page and kept them going.  They believed that a sovereign God was leading them.  When events in life take us a different direction than we had planned, we must see God leading us.  God places the very events that take us a different direction there…

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

The real issue in being flexible and living in light of God establishing our steps is trust.  The real issue is do we trust God?  Do we realize that His ways are not our ways because He is infinitely wise and we are very limited in wisdom.  Not only is our wisdom finite but it also is plagued with sin.

So far in Acts we have seen God leading every step of Gospel expansion…

Acts 8:26-27 (ESV)
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.
27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship

Acts 9:15-16 (ESV)
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

Acts 10:13-17 (ESV)
13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate

Acts 13:2-3 (ESV)
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Exhortation

Do you trust God enough to follow Him or would you rather that He follows you?

We must submit our agenda to God’s agenda…we must follow Him.


[1] Geneva Series Commentaries, Proverbs by Charles Bridges Banner of Truth pg 232

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