Scripture reading for June 24th: Acts 15:32-16:15
God can use even our disagreements to further His purposes! Our reading today contains a sharp disagreement between veteran missionaries Paul and Barnabas concerning whether or not to take along John Mark on a missions trip. Paul felt that it was not wise because Mark had left them part-way through their last journey. Barnabas was able to see beyond this flaw and stood up for taking him along. In the end, these two parted company and we have two missions journeys instead of one! It is possible to disagree agreeably!
The Holy Spirit played a major role in direction of these early missionaries. As they traveled from town to town, God used them to strengthen the churches and bring in new believers. They were going to go into the province of Asia, but the Holy Spirit stopped them. Again, they tried to enter the province of Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit of Jesus said “No”. (Acts 16:6-7) Was God opposing His workers by not allowing them to preach in these areas?
God knows everything and has a plan to reach each person, city, and nation. His great wisdom is brought to us by the Holy Spirit. As Paul obeyed the Holy Spirit, he was given a vision of a man from Macedonia standing and calling out to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:9) This vision was Paul’s direction to go there and preach the Gospel. They were led by the Spirit on the Sabbath to a place by the river where some women were gathered for prayer. God opened the heart of one of the women, Lydia, who believed and was baptized along with members of her household. She opened her home to Paul and his companions.
When we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our heart! (Psalm 37:4) We begin to want what He wants! (Proverbs 16:3 AMP) The Holy Spirit resides in us to take the things of God and reveal them to us. When we are open and invite the Holy Spirit to fill us and lead us, it is amazing how divine ‘coincidences’ happen and God moves us to accomplish His will! Why not begin this practice each day and allow the Book of Acts to come alive in your life?