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God’s Helping and God’s Hindering (Acts 16:1-10)

January 29, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon unveils the will of God for His chosen people. Pastor Carter testifies of God’s sovereignty and goodness even when His Will seems obscure. The focus of this sermon is on goodness of God to send Paul a helper to provide comfort and the Helper to provide counsel.

Comfort: God sends Timothy

Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily (Acts 16:1-5;ESV).

Perhaps the loss of John Mark was a little more distressing than Paul anticipated. Thankfully, God is good in that He looks past our faults to see our needs. In doing so, God sends Paul another young man to assist in the ministry named, Timothy, who had good name among the believers in Lystra for his zeal in the Lord. Pastor Carter explains that in this moment, Paul must have been overjoyed to have another young companion who willfully submitted unto and accompanied him in the work of Lord. However, Paul could have easily become lofty due to the success he received from the Lord, until the Lord humbled him and his companions with loving counsel (cf. Romans 12:3).


Counsel: God Sends the Holy Spirit

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us. And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:6-10; ESV).”

Paul and his companions sought to take the Gospel to Asia and Bithynia, but God the Holy Spirit said no. The Lord was more concern with helping these men understand their need of Him rather than His need of them (Psalm 50:7-15). Nonetheless, after receiving a hard no, Paul received a hearty yes through a vision from God the Holy Spirit to take the Gospel to the Macedonians with a grateful heart. God, being a loving Father, even when He says no, is preparing them for a glorious yes. If God had not said no to Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, we would not have heard the angels say, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said…go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead” (cf. Matthew 26:36-46, 27:37-44, 28:1-10).

What do you have that you have not received?

The goal of God is not so much to fulfill our will, but to bend us and mold us into His will (Ephesians 1:11). He is always setting the agenda and He delights in providing for His children, for He is not an absentee Father (Psalm 84:11-12).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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