Guided by God

Acts 16:6-12
    Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost [God] to preach the word in Asia,
    After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit [God] 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 endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

   God was the guide in this ministry journey. They (Paul, Silas, & Timothy) began moving God's Word in Galatia. When they started to enter Asia, God said: "Stop. Don't go that way!" He did not tell them where they were going. They only knew where NOT to go. So they headed north toward Bithynia. They entered Mysia and God said: "Stop going north!" So they headed west through Mysia until they arrived at Troas. We do not always know the end of the road, but as we go with God He will direct our paths.

   While in Troas, Paul received revelation in the form of a vision or picture of a man of Macedonia asking them to come help him. They still did not know the end of their road or who it was they were going to find, but they knew that God was directing the trip. In Troas the writer of the book of Acts (Luke) joined them. The pronouns in the record switch from "they and them" to "we and us." Whenever you see this change in Acts you know that Luke has joined the team.

Acts 16:11-15
    Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
    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.

    Paul, and Silas, and Timothy had traveled throughout Phrygia, Galatia, and Mysia. In Troas they had picked up Luke and Paul saw a vision of a MAN asking for their help in Macedonia. After traveling to Macedonia they spent certain days in *Philippi and then went out by a river where there were women praying. God had been directing their path throughout this journey; but as yet the Word of God does not record that any that they spoke to believed until finally they spoke to Lydia. Lydia attended to the Word of God and she and her household believed. It was in fact this one woman to whom God had been guiding these four great men of God. Look at all that God will do to reach one hungry person.
    In Biblical culture it was unusual for a woman to make a household decision. To do so most likely meant that she was a widow. In any case, Paul was not limited by the knowledge he had received in the vision of a man asking them to come to Macedonia. He spoke the Word of God to everyone and Lydia believed. The record says that Lydia was a seller of purple. In fact, the city of Thyatira from which Lydia came was known for the selling of purple cloth.
    It was also very "out of culture" for men to stay with a woman. Lydia constrained them which means that she asked them at least three times. It was proper in Biblical culture to refuse such invitations the first two times. If the person was really serious about the request they would ask again and again until it was accepted. Lydia constrained them and Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke stayed with Lydia as they continued to hold forth God's Word in Philippi. What a tremendous record of a move of God's Word directed by God.

Gladly Acts
Chapter 16
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© Copyright 2000 Michael Cortright