4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Here Paul is on a journey, planning to go to Asia and preach there. However, the Spirit of the Lord did not permit him. Why did God’s Spirit stop him? We don’t know. Maybe He knew it would be a waste of time to preach to them, for shortly before his death, he wrote that all of the churches in Asia turned against him.
Paul’s journey was similar to Abraham’s journey in that he was not sure where God would lead him. Many people are led by different things, but Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit. People have their goals in life, but Paul’s goal was to serve God with a perfect heart. God ruled supreme in his life. After Paul worked out his plans to go to Asia, God’s Spirit changed it. So he drew up another plan, but God cut across it again, and immediately Paul dropped his plans and followed God’s leading.
We see a man who knew what it meant to be led by God’s Spirit. Many Christians simply follow their own ideas or the world’s direction. The world and its fashions drives them. However, Paul’s gospel is to be led by God’s Spirit in all things – “not my will, but Thy will be done”. Is this the life that you know?
You do not fall into sin when God’s Spirit leads you! Does He not warn you and guide you? Consider the seven letters in Revelations “let him who has an ear to hear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. Not one church is excluded! If you are not led by the Spirit of God what is the reason? Is it because you are led by your own ideas, idols, lusts, man’s opinions, etc. These idols must be broken in your life.
As Paul wanted to go to Asia, he had a vision of a man from Macedonia crying for help. The next morning he probably got up and shared with the team about the vision. They altered their course and went to Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia.
Three examples of how God helped different people through this altered course:
- On the Sabbath, he went outside the city to the riverside, where he met Lydia, a woman who feared God and was also a businesswoman – a seller of purple fabrics. You cannot stop a true worshipper of God, even if they are stopped in the city, they will simply go outside to worship God. Here Paul met these women, not to woo or flirt with them, or speak of worldly things, but in obedience to God’s guidance and call. Lydia and her household gave their lives to the Lord and were baptised.
- Afterwards a girl with a spirit of divination followed them, saying, “These men show you the way of salvation”, but Paul did not want to be introduced by a demon. So he commanded the demon to depart from the girl, and she was delivered.
- Her masters, who made money from her divination, chastised and threw him and Silas into prison, where they sang God’s praises. God sent an earthquake and opened the prison doors. Then the jailer and his household also came to know the Lord.
According to some historians within 150 years, the whole area there was known as a Christian country. Day after day people were added to their number. Do people find the Lord through your life because He rules supreme in you?
Because of one man who knew the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and had a living relationship with Jesus Christ, the whole history of mankind was changed.
Let Christ rule supreme in your life and countless people can be helped.