2018-12-02 – Acts 16.6-15 – Holy Spirit Leading
2018-12-02 – Acts 16:6-15 – Holy Spirit Leading
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
I pray everyone recovered from Thanksgiving and the Blizzard. Can you believe it is actually December? Time flies when you are having fun.
A Tandem Ride With God
I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn't really know Him.
But later on, when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Jesus was in the back helping me pedal. I didn't know just when it was He suggested we change, but life has not been the same since I took the back-seat to Jesus my Lord. He makes life exciting. When I had control, I thought I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.
But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at break-through speeds; it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it often looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" I was worried and anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure. And when I'd say, "I'm scared", He'd lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord's and mine. And we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found in the giving I received, and still our burden was light.
I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus.
And when I'm sure I just can't do any more, He just smiles and says... "Pedal."
Today we are going to see what happens when we let God’s Holy Spirit take the lead in our lives. I hope you will be encouraged.
Please turn now to Acts 16, verse 6, page 983 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
Last week we read where Paul and Barnabas decided to split up on this next missionary journey, instead Barnabas took Mark with him, and Paul took Silas and then young Timothy. We too should be partnering with each other for success. There is strength in numbers, and we need each other for wisdom and encouragement as we strive to stay on a solid Christ-centered path on mission.
6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia; they had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 Passing by Mysia they went down to Troas.
The title of today’s message is Holy Spirit Leading, and that is exactly what is going on in this first part of our text. The Holy Spirit which is indwelled in their person, is leading them on the path that they should go. I gotta remind you that some of these paths that Paul is undertaking, are completely new to them. As a frequent international traveler, I can tell you there are a lot of places even around our country let alone Asia that is not really hospitable to outsiders. Did anyone see the news this week where a young man named John Allen Chau, a US missionary, was killed by isolated tribe on North Sentinel Island? Somewhere in between India and Bangladesh. Like Paul, he was trying to tell the people about Jesus. One of the last things John Allen Chau said was 'I DON'T WANT TO DIE', but he felt if he didn’t go, who would, and that it was worth the risk. My heart grieves for this young man. This month ahead we are going to be concentrating a little on the International Missions of our Southern Baptist Organization.
So Paul and his contemporaries were sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is clearly seen in many Scriptures, including Acts 5:3-4. In this verse Peter confronts Ananias as to why he lied to the Holy Spirit and tells him that he had “not lied to men but to God.” It is a clear declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. We can also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He possesses the characteristics of God. For example, His omnipresence (all places at all times) is seen clearly in Psalm 139:7, David wrote, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” And in 1 Corinthians 2:10, it says, “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” The Holy Spirit is a powerful advocate, counselor and advisor God within us. We receive the Holy Spirit the moment we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord.
I don’t know where I would be without the Holy Spirit guiding me day by day. And I pray you feel the same.
Paul, in our text today, learned through experience that listening to the Holy Spirit is wise. We all should learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading us as well. All Christians have the Holy Spirit inside them and guiding them. The question is, are you listening?
In our text, there is no clear indication how or why the Holy Spirit kept them from going to this part of Asia, but Paul didn’t question it. This is a good lesson for us as well.
9 During the night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Here is another way the Holy Spirit interacts with us, through dreams or visions.
I have never had a vision per say, but I have had a lot of dreams. There are a lot of visions and dreams spoken of in Scripture. Some key instances you might recall is Joseph and his dreams, as well as his ability to decipher the dreams. Then there was Peter who saw a vision or a dream on top of the roof, which led to him later accepting non Jewish believers into the church family. Dreams are interesting things. I have had a few dreams change my course in life. I am not going to speak of them here and now, but a couple most noteworthy was how my daughter got her name Estelle, and another dream resulted in me having a greater appreciation for mother Mary. Do you have dreams? I would love to hear about them someday. Many dreams are so fleeting, I can hardly remember sometimes the moment after I wake up. I learned a long time ago that some very influential entrepreneurs keep a notepad next to the bed so they might capture some of those dream inspirations.
In this verse here, the dream had Paul go to Macedonia. So that is leaving Asia and going now into Southeastern Europe. These guys were really traveling. And the places they were going by foot and by sea were not known to be the most easily traveled. Many mountains and wildernesses they had to traverse as they followed the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony and a leading city of the district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for several days. 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.
So Paul and Silas and Timothy and probably a few other guys, made their way to Macedonia. Then on Sunday morning they sought out a place of prayer.
Question: When you travel, do you seek out a place to pray or attend church?
I know most people do not as they want to discover the city, shop, or visit friends and relatives. I am not going to tell you not to do that, but I have found that I get the most joy when I visit other places by finding and visiting churches along the path. It is a pure joy to find fellow believers in Christ, people who I might call brother and sisters. People that I can trust and people who know the area and the culture dynamics of the location I am visiting. Not only is it enjoyable for me, I have found it to be of great benefit to me in business. Not to mention it gives me an opportunity to stay the course in my religious observance and my connection with God through prayer and worship. I will encourage you all to do this as you travel. And when you do, get one of their bulletins, and take note of the dynamics of their worship services, and bring it back to us so that we too might learn and vicariously experience the adventure with you. (talk about Brazil trip)
The verse here says that Paul and his band of brothers came upon some ladies in the city and started telling them about Jesus. That would be a subjective opportunity even today that men would talk with women in some cities. Some cities don’t allow event today for men to speak with women on the streets and in the stores. You can be thrown in jail for doing that. So Paul was taking some risk by talking with these women, but in doing so he met Lydia.
14 A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. 15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
The name, "Lydia", means "the Lydian woman", by which she was known indicates that she was from the place called Lydia in Asia Minor. She is also known for being called “The Woman of Purple”. Lydia is considered the first ‘European’ Christian convert. It is believed that she was perhaps a wealthy widow, in that she didn’t introduce a husband and she made an invite to her house directly. Notice that it says that she and her household were baptized, so we might derive that she had children, parents or maybe servants. The fact that she believed then responded immediately with baptism is another example for which we follow in our church here. You first believe, then you get baptized.
Also note the sequence of events that led to Lydia’s conversion. 1) Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to go and preach. 2) as he preached, Lydia was listening.
3) Then notice in our text here says in verse 14, that “the Lord opened her heart”. Then finally 4) Lydia was baptized. These are the normal sequence of events, how most all of us come to know the Lord. And it is exactly what Paul later wrote about in Romans 10. Everyone open up your bibles to Romans 10:13
for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then can they call on the One in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
If you are a believer in Jesus, all of these same sequence of events happened to you: You chose to accept the Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, but the Lord opened your heart. And just as Lydia showed how grateful she was, by inviting these men to stay at her house, the rest of your life you should also be overflowing with amazed thankfulness at the miracle that you too are a believer.
These verses we enjoyed today brings us several tidbits of application that we too should consider adding to our daily lives.
- Be receptive to the Holy Spirit. Like Paul, when the Holy Spirit tells you “no” there is probably a good reason to listen. When the Holy Spirit speaks to you in visions or dreams, consider yourself blessed and follow those dreams. I will add the caveat that you should judge any messages of these types against scripture, and if you have any questions about that, call an elder or call me to discuss. I may not have the answer immediately, but I will certainly deliberate and study to give you the best advice I can.
- When you travel about, don’t forsake meeting for prayer and for church. It will make your life much more rich and joyous, I promise.
- Understanding how salvation came about for “the women of purple” Lydia, I hope you see the importance of sharing God’s word with those you meet. It could make eternal differences in generations of people’s lives.
- Let God’s Holy Spirit take the lead. If you listen and head His direction, The Holy Spirit will lead you on an amazing life adventure. He will allow you to accomplish more than you could ever imagine on your own. Listen and follow God’s Holy Spirit.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation..
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”