“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
In Acts chapter 13, Paul and Barnabas received the commission to go out and preach the gospel. Certain of their calling, they went to many cities bringing the good news to people. However, they were stopped twice by the Holy Spirit during their missionary journey. Something similar has probably happened to many of us: when we hit a roadblock on a path that we thought God wanted us to go, we think: “Am I doing something wrong? Was it really God who told me to do this? If so, why am I being stopped?”
What encouraged me about today’s verses is that Paul and Barnabas didn’t just give up after the first “no”— they didn’t stop after the second “no” either! Instead of going home, Paul and company continued westward to Macedonia and began the long and fruitful evangelism into Greece. What made them continue is what’s important: certainty of their purpose, and being open to God’s leading. The Bible doesn’t tell us what the Holy Spirit did to stop Paul and Barnabas. I believe this is because we need to learn how to hear from the Holy Spirit for ourselves. After we hear the first “go!” we need to continually seek direction from God, and let Him adjust every twist and turn. We should not think that just because God said “do this”, that we won’t encounter hardship or opposition. Some of us get very uncomfortable and discouraged when there is no discernable plan of action, or what we so carefully planned is disrupted. From today’s verses we see that even the apostles learned to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading and to be open, which ultimately shows their trust in God.
Thoughts for the day
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
- Do you feel like you’ve been given a divine opportunity?
- If you haven’t received an opportunity, how do you feel about it? Something worth pursuing or too scary to think about?
- Are all opportunities given by God? Why or why not
Today, take a moment, wherever you are, to REJOICE in God’s goodness: Read a Bible passage or listen to a song that helps you to connect with God.