Sunday, May 13, 2012

Acts 16:6-10

Summary retelling of Acts 16:6-10

Paul, Silas, and Timothy set out to go through the rest of Galatia (central Asia Minor), which they did.  God forbade them to go to Asia (which is the same place as what we call Asia) and he forbade him to go to Bithynia (northern Asia Minor).  So Paul, Silas, and Timothy head to Mysia and Troas (western Asia Minor).  Then Paul receives a vision of a man in Macedonia (northern Greece, above the Grecian Peninsula).  The Macedonian man was begging Paul to come and do ministry with them.  Paul and his friends go to Macedon and follow the vision.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul and his friends are forbidden from going to Bithynia.  We might think that it is odd that God would tell Paul and his friends to not go somewhere and proclaim His truth – especially if they want to go!  But God has a bigger plan.  God needs Paul and his friends in Greece.  God is planning to use Peter to reach the people of Bithynia.  (See 1 Peter 1:1)  What we learn here is that my being excited about a particular mission does not mean that I am called to do it.  We must learn to follow God’s calling and God’s leading, not our own desires.  Even if our desires seem to be in line with something God would want us to do, we should be careful to follow only that which God has genuinely ordained.

Why is this such a significant point?  What is the danger of following our own desires – especially when we are convinced they would be pleasing to God?

Second Thought:
Paul receives a vision.  Paul is being called to Greece/Macedon.  It is in Greece/Macedon that Paul has two of his most successful missionary ventures.  Looking from our perspective – that of hindsight – we can absolutely see why God wanted Paul to go west to Greece/Macedon and not east to Asia or north to Bithynia.  What’s neat is that all of this is set up by a vision – what we might call a dream.

Do you put much stock into dreams?  What’s the danger of ignoring dreams?  What might have happened to Paul and his friends had they ignored this dream?  On the other hand, what’s the danger of listening to every dream as though it were a message from God?  How can we tell the difference between dreams we should listen to and dreams that are not worth listening to?

Third Thought:
Here’s a very subtle point.  Did you notice the pronoun changes in Acts 16:10?  Up until this verse, Paul’s and his friends’ movements are always spoken of as “they went…”  But in verse 10 – when Paul receives the vision in Troas – the pronoun changes to “we.”  We are fairly confident that it is in Troas (or the surrounding area) that Paul and his friends meet Luke (and probably Theophilus, the guy financing Luke to collect the history of the Christian movement and write the letters that we now call Luke and Acts).  Not only is it neat to see where Luke comes into the picture, but it is neat to see that Luke is willing to go.  Just like Timothy, Luke is willing to follow this guy who is preaching truth.  Luke knows that what he can learn from Paul is worth giving everything else up.

Is the faith of Luke inspiring?  How does Luke’s willingness to follow Paul and his friends inspire you?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 16:11-15
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