Waiting on God
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, After they were come to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 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. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
In our midweek study we have been going through the book of Acts and tonight I want us to notice a few things in particular about the passage before us. In looking at this study tonight I want us to pay close attention to the way that these men waited for the moving of the Holy Spirit before they committed to a moving of themselves in the ministry.
Many times we hear that we should do nothing while we wait for God to give us something to do. That could not be farther from the truth. We always have something to do where we are. If we honestly could not find anything else to do there is always a great need for prayer warriors to press the battle into the devil’s territory. No one is ever at a place where there is nothing that they can do to serve God. And in looking at these great men we see that they were busy about serving God where they were. Oh, yes, we may prefer to do something else, or to be somewhere else, but until God moves us we should stay right where we are and serve God here to the best of our ability. God will move us when He gets good and ready. Notice these men, serving while they waited for the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Many a preacher will discourage himself by refusing to serve where he is. A man may prefer to be here or there, or to be doing this or that, but God doesn’t wonder what He wants us to do or where He wants us to go. He already has a plan and we must simply wait for His time to do His will in His way that we might receive His blessings. Notice verse 7, “But the Spirit suffered them not”. The word suffer used in this sense, means “permit”. This tells us that the Holy Spirit would not permit them to go where they wanted to go. God already had a place for them to go. God was not wanting them to go into Asia. So, Paul stayed in Galatia for a time. This was around 51 or 52 A.D. and Paul stayed with the church where he was. (Phrygia and Galatia were the same land. It was once occupied by the Phrygians but was now also inhabited by the Gauls, (Cauls, Celts).
Notice again that the Spirit suffered them not.
1. Sometimes we are in doubt as to what God would have us to do.
2. Sometimes it may be clear what God would have us do, even though we would rather do otherwise.
3. And sometimes it is just unclear what God would have us do and we must wait where we are.
4. Still, sometimes we may have to make a move in order to know God’s will.
It is not always clear just what God wants us to do; At least not to us. And it is in these times of wondering that God is testing us and we sometimes must simply move to know which way to go. I remember a preacher once telling me about buying a bus for the ministry. He was under the impression that the bus had power steering. When he bought the bus without test driving it, he was upset when he found it was difficult to turn the wheel. Upon returning to the man who sold him the bus and making his complaint known the man explained to him what he had. The bus was equipped with “power-assisted” steering. The man was trying to turn the wheel in the direction he wanted to travel while he sat still. The man told him that he must give it some gas and start forward, then the steering would be assisted by the power of the engine pumping the steering system. He had to get going to get the power he needed. Well, sometimes serving God is like that. Sometimes we have to just get going in order to find out exactly what God has in store. You may ask me for a good bible example of this truth. I’m glad you asked. Abraham heard God say,
“Get thee out of thy country, and from they kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:”
And Abram went. He did not know where he was going when he moved, but He knew that God wanted him to move, and he got busy. Fully knowing God’s will was contingent upon the obedience to the command. Abraham had to move to learn.
We do have a guideline to follow in any and all instances of our service to God and in our lives. We find this guideline in Romans 14:23b. “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Notice the simplicity of this statement.
1. Whatsoever and that means anything that is not of faith, any action we commit, any word we speak, any desire we seek to satisfy, any act of service, anything that we can not do by faith is a sin for us to do.
2. is not of faith and this means that if we can not do this or that without that inner peace that comes with knowing that this is the perfect Will of God our Father then it is sin. If you do something and you are in a turmoil over it, in doubt as to whether or not to do it, then it is sin for you to do it. Wait on God.
3. is sin it is sin! It can not be much plainer than that. If you can not do something by faith, in comfort and with the peace of God in your heart, then it is a sin for you to do that.
There is no room left for doubt as to just what this passage of scripture means. It is simple truth. Paul knew that he could not go to Asia because the Spirit would not allow him, would not permit him to go.
[NOTE] Romans 8:14
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Notice what we learn from this verse. Look at the last half of that verse. “They are the sons of God.” Who are the sons of God? As many as are led by the Spirit.
Look now at Romans 8:14-17 together…
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
1. We are garunteed guidance in verse 14
2. By the same Spirit by which we know that we belong to God
3. And it is for our good, and God’s Glory
The question may be brought up as to why God would not let them go to Asia and to preach in Bythinia. God needs answer to no one as to Himself or His actions. God knows the hearts of men both as individuals and collectively. God already had a plan for Paul and it required that they go to Macedonia. (Verses 9-11)
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. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
Paul and those with him wanted to go to Asia and to preach to them the word of God. Why did God not allow them to god there as they desired? Did not God love those of Asia and want to see them receive the gospel? Of course God loves all people, yet God already had a plan for Paul and He was leading Paul in the way that He would have him to go. Notice what took place because these men were sensitive to the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit.
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. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
This was Paul’s memorable trip to Philippi. There was a “certain” woman there. Notice some things here. In verse 12 we see that they arrived at Philippi and were there certain days, but when the Sabbath day came along notice, they had no synagogue to attend worship. What did they do? They went to the river where prayer was wont to be made. Here in this city with no place to worship the True and Living God there were a handful of souls getting together to pray to the God of Heaven by the river there out of the way and God had already purposed to send this great man of God Paul down there to them and let them receive of him the word of God. Here they were, the bible says, praying to God, perhaps for someone to guide them in knowing this God that they were seeking and God heard their prayer from heaven and answered that prayer by sending them what they stood in need of. And notice that “certain” woman. It was no accident that she was there, and it was no accident that Paul was there. God had this certain woman in mind the whole time. Hallelujah to God, He had us in mind when we did not know Who He was. He had us in mind before we ever knew we were lost. He had us in mind!
In looking at verses 14 and 15 we see the work of God being done, and it was all because of the leading and the working of the Holy Spirit. Now there was a church in a city where no church was before. Now there was a local congregation and the place for worship was there among them, whether it be at the river, or at the house of Lydia.
Next, look at verse 16. You will see a “certain damsel”. Oh, friend, how precious a truth it is that God has the individual in mind. Salvation is not a group action, like a class action law-suit. God works with individuals. Here we see just another picture of one for whom the Lord went out of the way , and in the following verses she receives just exactly what she needs from these disciples of God who were willing to wait for the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Every step of the way, we see that Paul and the disciples with him were needed here. He may have wanted to go into Asia, but God had work for him here and now. There were many to be blessed and God was working now. Notice that the young damsel was possessed; She had a devil. As she followed these men she was mocking them and persisted in doing so publicly until Paul could take no more and He turned and cast that devil out of her. I truly believe that the young lady got saved then and there. Notice what is said in verse 19. Her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone. There was no way they would ever make money of her again. She was a new person, a different person, useless in the work of this bunch of devils. Praise God! The young woman was now a child of God.
And next we see that Paul and his company are forced to suffer for the cause of Christ; All the while maintaining the testimony of children of God, and all of this for serving God when and where God wanted them to be.
We also often fail to realize that God may lead us through hard times. Well, here they are, in God’s will and suffering persecution. Look at the outcome now in the following verses. Paul and Silas are in the stocks, in the dungeon, and singing praises to God. No doubt the jailor must have fallen asleep hearing these men singing. Imagine when he awoke and was about to take his own life until Paul called to him. This jailor came into the prison to them and fell down and begged for salvation. Oh, friend, that was a “certain jailor”. HALLELUJAH!!! They had suffered yes, but look at the reward! In verse 34 we see now that there are more added to the household of faith. Now there is a church at Philippi. Isn’t it a blessing what God will do with us and for us if we will simply follow Him?
Sometimes we need to remember that we are just servants. We have a master and our will is to be to do the will of our master. When we are willing to put our own desires and longings aside, and focus our attention upon His desires, then we can realize the great blessings that He will bestow upon them that are faithful. Sometimes we could accomplish great things if we would just learn to be faithful in the little things, like waiting on God. What if Paul had simply run to Asia? Look at what he might have missed.
1. Lydia and her family got saved.
2. A young woman was freed from a devil and saved
3. That jailor and his family got saved
4. When they moved on there was a church where there had been none before that time
5. We have the beginning of the church to which Paul wrote a beautiful letter which is still one of the books of the New Testament
Sometimes it pays to wait on God.
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