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Experiencing God 13 - God Speaks Through Circumstances

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Reading: Acts 16:6-10
When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. Acts 16:7-8 (NIV)

I.   Serve where God Blesses

     A.  Go where you Can

           1.  We don’t find any regret or remorse when they couldn’t preach in some places.

                 a.  They just seemed to accept as a matter of fact that these doors were closed

                 b.  No guilt either! (They had just had a division over Mark.)

           2.  The apostles simply did what they could

                 a.  They simply preached where God allowed them to be.

                 b.  Without trying to bash down the doors that they understood God closed.

           3.  God doesn’t call us to everything, but He does call us to something.

                 a.  This is the great lesson of adulthood: we are limited.

                 b.  It’s not our job to save the world; someone Else has that job

                 c.  Let’s faithfully do what God asks of us.

     B.  Be Attentive to God’s leading

           1.  How did they (do we) know God’s leading?

                 a.  Was it through a special prophecy?

                 b.  Was it other visions?

                 c.  Was it simply the circumstances (v.7)?

           2.  They payed attention to it.

                 a.  Whatever happened they attributed this direction to God.

                 b.  They looked for his leading and saw it.

           3.  Do we pay attention?

                 a.  Are we looking for God’s leading?

                 b.  Don’t we often just put our heads down and charge? ;-)

     C.  Know when God says No

           1.  He doesn’t always say yes to ministry opportunities. (!)

                 a.  This is astonishing, sometimes.

                 b.  If only God knew what we knew!

           2.  He says “no” here without explanation.

                 a.  He doesn’t justify Himself.

                 b.  He doesn’t have to.

           3.  The apostles didn’t argue with Him about it

                 a.  “Hey, God, what about all those people right here? Why go elsewhere?”

                 b.  They simply saw “No” as “No.”

II.  Allow our plans to Fail

     A.  Don’t go where God Prevents

           1.  They wanted to enter Asia and Bythynia

                 a.  It looks like they tried to go in there.

                 b.  They had ministry plans for Bithynia.

           2.  God didn’t allow them to do that

                 a.  He stopped them in their tracks.

                 b.  It wasn’t Satan, or their inadequacy.

                 c.  God said “Not there. Not now.”

           3.  Their plan had to fail, so God’s plan could continue.

                 a.  God had another plan for them.

                 b.  They let their plan for Bithynia die.

                 c.  They let God change their plan

     B.  Be Flexible about ministry plans

           1.  Do we perseverate?

                 a.  Do we get stuck doing something.

                 b.  Do we get stuck doing it a certain way?

           2.  Be flexible about what we do.

                 a.  When the horse is dead dismount!

                 b.  Go where God is blessing

                 c.  Don’t Go where God says no.

           3.  Be flexible about how it gets done.

                 a.  When there is a better way, try it!

                 b.  Remember that everything must be done in love

                 c.  If one way doesn’t work well, try another.

     C.  When a plan fails, Move On

           1.  They didn’t call a meeting to figure out what went wrong!

                 a.  Probably nothing went wrong.

                 b.  God had something better in mind

                 c.  Don’t find fault, find God’s leading

           2.  They didn’t simply try harder.

                 a.  That’s our solution, isn’t it.

                 b.  God said “No” and that was that.

           3.  They moved on to a new opportunity

                 a.  They didn’t stay there, they moved on.

                 b.  Like Abraham, they didn’t know just where they were going to end up.

III. Be ready for God’s Redirection

     A.  Be lead by God both To and In ministry

           1.  God calls us to certain ministries

                 a.  He gives all of us a “calling.”

                 b.  He tells us what to do and where

           2.  God leads us in those ministries.

                 a.  God continues to give us direction about the “what’s” and “where's”

                 b.  He helps us work on the “how” too

                 c.  We don’t just get an assignment and run — God goes with us.

     B.  Be ready for Mid-Course corrections

           1.  It is rare for things to turn out exactly as planned.

                 a.  I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced it.

                 b.  I always assume there’s more to God’s leading than I understand now.

           2.  God leads us along in His way, in His time

                 a.  When Paul went to Troas, he picked up Luke (You knew that right?)

                 b.  God wanted them in Macedonia.

                 c.  Where does God want you? Me? Us?

     C.  Respond Immediately to God’s call

           1.  When the apostle’s plans got changed, they responded immediately.

                 a.  They didn’t hang around Bithynia to see if God might open the door later.

                 b.  The only thing between Paul’s vision and them leaving was packing up.

           2.  What God calls us to, let’s do now

                 a.  What are we waiting for?

                 b.  There is no reason to hesitate when God calls.

           3.  But, let’s do it together too.

                 a.  Paul didn’t leave the others behind

                 b.  God calls us as a Church to be one

The Bottom Line:

Serve Faithfully and without Hesitation wherever God calls, staying Attentive to His leading.

Hymn of Response: R#597 God Leads Us Along v.1

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