Acts 16 is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Acts; it’s packed with so much that it’s hard to narrow down just one thing to blog about.
Acts 16:6-12 says: 6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
This passage is so interesting because Paul – one of the most important men in the beginnings of Christianity – one of the most dynamic followers of Christ ever – is directed by God in a way he didn’t expect.
Paul knew his calling and mission from God was to tell the Gentiles the truth about Jesus and the resurrection. As he went about his life – he had one objective, so he headed toward Asia Minor & Bithyna determined to tell them about Jesus, but the Spirit of Jesus didn’t allow him to do so.
I imagine he might have been a little confused or even frustrated knowing he was called to preach the Gospel and yet God didn’t allow him to go where there were so many people who didn’t know Christ. I don’t know about you, but it’s encouraging for me to know that even one of the greatest men of God who ever lived didn’t always have perfect clarity on God’s will for his ministry. At the same time, because he was obedient and patient, he was ready to go wherever God directed him.
The message of the Gospel (Good News of Jesus) did get to these areas at another time; but it was in God’s perfect timing. As Paul was obedient and patient, God directed him to Europe because He wanted Paul to start one of the most significant churches of the NT; the church at Philippi.
Paul was in motion – doing everything he could to fulfill the will of God as he understood it at that time. Think about this; it’s easier to direct a car in motion than one that’s sitting still. One of the keys to discovering God’s will is to be (in motion) doing God’s will now. Think about it.