ACTS 16:6-10: “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
OBSERVATION: How do I view closed doors and delays in my life? As I read the Book of Acts it is easy to assume that the Apostles and disciples simply went from one great victory to another. Yet, the reality is they also experienced daily persecution, delays, closed doors, and set-backs. These verses from Acts give us a glimpse into that and God’s greater purposes.
Everyone needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I would assume the Lord would bless any effort to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, in these verses we see just the opposite. The text says that it was the Holy Spirit who did not allow them to speak the Word in Asia. When they attempted to speak the Word in Mysia, again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So they traveled to Troas – and went to bed. I wonder what the conversation was before they retired. Surely they were wondering why the Holy Spirit would not allow them to preach the Gospel in these areas. Two worthy attempts – two closed doors!
When Paul slept God gave Him a vision. It was a man from Macedonia calling for help. When Paul had this vision he knew that the Holy Spirit was directing them to preach the Gospel there. Here is an important lesson. When God closes one door in our life, when we experience delays that either stop or detour our course, we have a choice to make. We can become stubborn and press ahead ignoring His leading. We can get angry and begin to question the faithfulness and leading of the Lord. Or – we can stop to regroup and wait upon the Lord seeking His fresh direction and His new open door.
As you read the rest of the chapter it is a wonderful confirmation of the great things that the Lord had called them to do. It was not without difficulty. They were thrown into prison for their efforts. Yet, a prominent woman named Lydia and her family came to know the Lord Jesus, and also became a supporter of the disciples. Also, the very jailer who was in charge of Paul and Silas in jail came to faith in Jesus Christ along with his entire family, and they all were baptized. All of these lives would not have been touched if Paul, Silas, and Timothy had not listened to the voice of the Lord, accepting His closed doors, and embracing His new and unexpected open doors.
As I look over my life I have not always walked with this understanding. When doors have been closed, I have tried to break them down. When delays have occurred, I have tried to speed things up. And in all of these times the result was a lack of fruitfulness where I had crashed through or pressed ahead. It is hard to wait and listen, but it is needed. The Holy Spirit sees what we cannot see, He knows what we do not know. To Paul, Silas, and Timothy both Asia and Mysia looked like the perfect fields to sow the Gospel. To the Holy Spirit – it was Macedonia and prison! The evidence is in the fruit.
Lord, give me the gift of being still. This morning I quiet my heart, I stop from all my activity and the urgent demands of the day ahead, and I cry out to You – “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” (Psalm 5:1-3 ESV)
As I watch, lead me into Your perfect will and Your open door. In Jesus Name!