“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, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not.”

Acts 16:6-7

If we’re “walking the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1), we’ll also be “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14)—and sometimes He says “No,” “Not yet” or “Never” to our plans (Lk. 22:42).

So often an idea will pop into our minds and immediately we feel an urge to act upon it.  And, sometimes such “spontaneous combustion” is of the Lord; other times it may be little more than a “hair-brained idea” or passing fancy.

That’s why we must always “be still and know that He is God” (Ps. 46:10) and remember “His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways—for His are infinitely higher (Heb. ‘gabahh’—‘lofty, exalted, lifted up on high, etc.’) than ours” (Is. 55:8-9).

Now, there’s no doubt Paul and Silas’ desire to go into “Phrygia, Galatia and Bithynia” were for the purpose of spreading the Gospel and strengthen the churches in their faith (v.5).  Yet, they were “forbidden” (Grk. “koluo”—“to prevent by word or deed, hinder, prevent, to withstand, curtail, etc.”) and “the Spirit suffered (Grk. ‘eao’—‘permit, allow, commit to, let be, etc.’) them not.”

How did He do this?

We’re not told; however, since He changes not (Heb. 13:8), we must believe it was through the use of their “circumstances”—i.e., the things that happened to them.  Closed doors should never be viewed with disdain or discouragement if we’re “trusting the Lord with all our hearts and not leaning upon our own understanding—for He has promised to guide direct our paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Likewise, sometimes the Holy Spirit will interject a seed of “Divine doubt” within us, whereby we’re uneasy in our projected course-of-action.  Someone once said “Caution is the twin of wisdom” and so often that is true when it comes to stepping out by faith; however, again, only the Holy Spirit can show us if our caution is rooted in His counsel or our own cowardice.

In Paul and Silas’ case, their “closed doors” were simply God’s way of positioning them for a greater, more pressing work:  The Macedonian Call (vv.9-40).  By “waiting upon the Lord” (Is. 40:31) they were able to see Lydia converted (vv.11-15), a “certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination” set free (vv.16-24) and a Philippian jailer and his whole family brought into the Family of God (vv.25-34).  And, who knows what God did in and through those changed lives after the “discerning duo” left?  Glory!!

What’s the Spirit telling you today, Pilgrim?  Do you have some decision that’s been weighing on your heart, yet you’re torn as to what you should do?  Again, “be still and listen.”  Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment (James 3:13-18).  Ask Him to help you seek His “best,” not just what’s “good.”  If He says “Wait,” then wait.  But, if He says “Proceed full-steam ahead,” do not hesitate, contemplate or procrastinate; act now.  He’ll guide you.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated July 28, 2010

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