Acts 16:5-12 “5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (KJV).
Paul is now on his second missionary journey and this time he takes Silas with him. It isn’t long before he meets up with Timothy and takes him under his wing. In verse 10 the use of the word “we” indicates that Luke has now joined the team.
As they continue building churches and teaching new believers, everything seemed to be wonderful then the Lord holds up the “stop” sign.
The Lord’s stop sign halted Paul’s original plan to spread and strengthen the gospel message in Asia. This caused Paul and his team to travel through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia. When they reached Mysia, the Holy Spirit put up another road block. This time the Lord sent him a vision to direct his path to Troas.
Once in Troas and receiving the Lord’s new plan, they immediately set sail for Macedonia and the city of Philippi. Along the way to Philippi, they stopped briefly at Samothracia and then Neapolis.
Application: When we are in a dark place, seeking direction from the Lord, we often sit still, waiting for a clear sign and direction before moving forward. Or maybe we are working in a ministry that seems to be slowly depleting itself. Members are falling by the wayside faster and faster, you have tried everything possible, but have no idea how to keep it afloat. So you sit and pray, waiting for the Lord to show you a new direction. Maybe you are waiting for the Lord to pat you on the back and tell you “well done my faithful servant; but I have shut the doors on this ministry”.
I would like to point out that these scenarios are perfectly fine for a Christian to experience. But maybe when the Lord holds up that stop sign, we need to look around behind us, because He is holding up the “Go” sign for us. It might mean that His new plan and direction might be for a new ministry or new location. I am reminded that Paul and his team could have become distraught, depressed, or angry when their plans were changed. But they didn’t, they simply said “Ok, Lord, but which way shall we go now”?
When we are faced with a closed-door from the Lord, maybe we should begin with prayer and keeping with the door analogy, try opening some of the other doors around us.
I can remember being on fire for the Lord, building and working in a growing ministry that was aflame for God. But it did not last long before He quickly shut that door. I was so confused and hurt, I felt like it was something that I had done. I spent a lot of time in prayer, seeking answers. A new door was opened when I stopped focusing on myself and turned it all over to the Lord. My prayer went something like this “Lord, thank you for all of the blessing that I have been given during my ministry and thank you for closing the door. Forgive me for trying to reason with your plans, I am at your service, use me as your will desires for my life and I will follow you anywhere”.
As I waited for the Lord, I dedicated my time in prayer and studies. It was not long before the Lord opened a new door for me and has been using me ever since. We should not be surprised when the Lord changes directions, as long as we understand that we are not the ones in control.
Isaiah 64:8 “But not, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (KJV).
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).
Kyle Idleman’s (2011) book “Not a Fan” is a wonderful reminder of these verses. A fan is someone who gives up hope when their team is not doing so great. But when the team is winning, then they are the best fans. Here is just one of his many great quotes ““The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them” (Idleman, 2011).
The Silent Preacher
Idleman, K. (2011). Not a fan: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.