Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygiaz and Galatia,a having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesusc would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a visione of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospelh to them.
There are moments when we feel confused by the circumstances of life. The passage that I share with you is one of those that when you read it you ask yourself: What is this doing here? but also, I believe this passage presents us with the dilemmas that the missionaries experienced in the fields. So, I share with you some things we learned with Jacqueline my wife from this passage.
I. God guides his work sovereignly.
Here we see Paul and his group wanting to do what God had commanded them, preach the gospel. However, everything seems confusing, they are in their second trip through large regions, but the Holy Spirit prevents them from going to the South and later He does not allow them to go to the North, they have traveled a lot, and everything seems confusing. Even when they have a vision after having traveled from east to west, the vision is not clear enough.
This is like our personal experiences in the mission field, we know the general will of God, but nevertheless this passage shows us that God guides his work and his people, BUT SOVEREIGNLY.
Sometimes he decides to give us the details, sometimes he doesn’t. Because he is Sovereign.
II. God guides his work and sustains it.
But not only does God guide sovereignly, but also sustains his work. Some scholars estimate that the journey took about 4 months. Can you imagine walking through mountains full of dangers, in the sun, without supermarkets where to stop to buy something, without enough money for the trip? That happened with the group. Without hotels to rest, only a God who strengthened them in everything.
But again, our experience with God has shown us that even though the road seems hard, suffocating, dangerous, God sustain his work always. The passage tells us that the team reached its destination, BUT BECAUSE OF GOD.
III. God guides his work with purposes.
In the end what was the purpose of the trip? Well, I think there are many. In Troas it is noticeable that the team found Luke. Luke himself in writing goes from using the third person to the second, assuming that He was now part of the mission team. A golden collaborator, whom God would use to write part of the New Testament and one of the few who would be with the apostle until his last days become a team member.
Interesting also, that the Macedonian man was a woman, because the first God touch with the gospel into Philip was Lydia. God didn’t allow Paul to go to Asia, but he took him to a woman who was from that area. Paul would enter Ephesus two years later with the support of this believer.
Finally, in Philip a church was established with Lydia’s family and the jailer’s family. This church would help Paul again and again financially. It is after establishing this church that Paul’s ministry becomes more stationary, going from city to city to settle in Corinth for almost two years. Well, this new church was not very generous to Paul, but God had taken Paul and his team Sovereignly, he held it with purpose. Paul testifies about this in the letter to the Philippians 4:15: And you yourselves, Philippians, know that at the beginning of the gospel work, when I left Macedonia, no church participated with me in my income and expenses, except you.
SO, BRETHREN, WHEN THE JOURNEY BECOMES DIFFICULT, CALM GOD GUIDES US SOVEREIGNLY, WILL STRENGTHEN US ON THE JOURNEY AND GUIDE US TO HIS PURPOSES.