We had our warmest day of the month today. Just before a predicted change in the weather. I had some meeting scheduled for today. My main one was connect with my Larimer Energy Action Project team members to work on our strategic plan for the this year. The coming months will have some challenging proposals and local elections along with all that is happening on the national scene. Later this afternoon, I went to have my tires rotated and come home with new tires. I guess I’m ready for snow!
BIBLE VERSE TODAY… “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, bypassing Mysia, they came down to Troas.” Acts 16:6-8 HCSB
We read in the Book of Acts the expansion of the gospel. The believers when scattered from Jerusalem, went everywhere and preached the gospel. It seemed every place, every town, was open and available to hear the message of the gospel.
So it is interesting that as Paul and Timothy strike out to take the gospel deeper into the Roman empire that they find difficulty in the place they are to be. They seem for a time to be nomads, playing a game of “blindfold” trying to find the place the Lord had for them. They are prevented from preaching the gospel in Asia, they go into Bithynia and are not allow to preach there; they bypass Mysia and come to Troas. At this point they know more about closed doors than open doors.
We don’t know how or by what means they were prevented from preaching in the other towns, but in Troas they receive direction from a vision. “During the night a vision appeared to Paul: A Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” (Acts 16:9 HCSB)
Finally, some direction. So, they board a ship to cross the Agean Sea and finally come to Philippi through the port city of Neapolis. There they preach the gospel. But just as some people are turning to Christ, they find themselves in prison. At midnight Paul and Silas are praying and singing when an earthquake opens the prison doors. As the guard prepares to kill himself in fear of his superiors for letting the prisoners escape, Paul stops him; shares the gospel and the entire house of the guard come to faith in Christ.
We find an interesting account of not just the preaching of the gospel; and another deliverance from prison; but a record of God’s directing the steps of his servants. It was undoubtedly frustrating and discouraging to Paul and his companions to be “shut out” and prevented from “their” plans. It would seem wherever they went would be fine with the Lord. But for some reason it didn’t work out.
They soon found the direction they needed through a vision. Then when it seems they are experiencing a response, they find themselves in prison after casting a demon from a slave girl and enraging her owners. It would seem that was time for discouragement. Yet, we find them in the middle of the night praying and singing….in prison! Then God shows up and deliverance from captivity comes for Paul and Silas and deliverance from sin for the prison guard and his family.
In our lives, we need to be flexible and open to the Lord’s direction in our work for the Lord. When Paul was in the midst of the “closed” doors, he didn’t know how the story would end. When he was in prison, he had no guarantee that he would be delivered. What we see is a steadfast and persistent focus on doing the Lord’s work and entrusting their lives to Him. They didn’t give up, or become bitter, or give up. We don’t know how long this journey from Derbe and Lystra to Philippi took. Travel in those days was by foot and ship, so it wasn’t just a few days or weeks.
It is always good to read the miracles of deliverance and the end result of “the story.” We often fail to understand the process it takes to get there. We, like Paul, may find where to go, by finding where not to go. Also, in our lives, when the going gets difficult and frustrations arise, we need to continue on, until the miracle comes our way.