Where the Holy Spirit Leads

Daily Devotional: Day 151

“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7, NKJV).

Paul, Silas and Timothy traveled together, delivering the decision of the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1ff) to the believers in several cities. Today’s passage tells us that at one point, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word of God in Asia. The Holy Spirit further prevented them from going into the Roman province of Bithynia. Instead, the Lord directed them to go to Macedonia; and they complied (cf. Acts 16:8-10).

Why would the Holy Spirit forbid God’s servants from preaching His word in certain places? After all, God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). On the surface, the Holy Spirit’s decision doesn’t make sense. But if we look at things from a spiritual perspective, it should make sense. We need to understand and respect the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Jesus left Him in charge of the Church. To borrow a term from the corporate world, we might call the Holy Spirit, the Director General of all ministry tasks undertaken by the Church. Knowing this, we will do well to discern the will of the Spirit in all our ministry endeavors.

When Paul and his team were forbidden to preach in Asia and Bithynia, they didn’t fight it. They didn’t blame it on the devil. They humbly submitted to the Spirit’s will. How did they know that the Spirit didn’t want them to go to Asia and Bithynia? They discerned. Today, discernment is one of the critical areas of need in the Church. Without discernment, we would be operating in the dark, thinking we are working for the Lord, when in fact, we are on our own.

Some ministry decisions may appear right in our eyes, but to the Holy Spirit we would be operating against God’s will for us. Additionally, some things may appear to us as ministry opportunities, but to the Holy Spirit, that ‘opportunity’ may not be God’s will for us. At times we are so determined to do what we assume (without discernment) to be God’s will, that we fail to notice the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Bottom lineThe fact that you see an open door does not mean you must walk through it. Not all open doors are meant for you to enter. Some open doors are traps, not opportunities. Learn – by prayer and study of the Bible – to discern what the Spirit is saying in any given situation. Go where the Spirit wants you to go; don’t go where the Spirit doesn’t want you to go, even if you see opportunities; and finally, do what the Spirit wants you to do, according to the timing of the Spirit.

May the Father bless and increase you! Amen.

For further study: Matthew 10:1-15

Legacy of Faith

Daily Devotional: Day 61

“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:3-5, NKJV).

The greatest legacy you can leave, as a Christian, is a legacy of genuine faith in Christ. Yes, you can be remembered for your wealth, your education, your houses, your property, your children, etc. But nothing compares with the legacy of faith. Genuine faith, the Bible declares, is more precious than silver or gold (See 1 Peter 1:6-8). When you leave a legacy of faith, you’ve left a spiritual blessing that can lead generations of people to eternal life in Christ. Note that the existence of genuine faith implies the existence of pseudo-faith. Christianity today, unfortunately, has been adversely affected by an obsessive emphasis, in some circles, on material gain and prosperity. This has produced carnally-minded “Christians” who despise genuine biblical faith, the kind of faith which isn’t to be identified with material gain. With this in mind, let’s turn our attention to today’s Bible text for more on the legacy of faith.

 Paul writes a second letter to Timothy, one of his most trusted co-workers. Timothy’s father was a Gentile, but his mother was a Jew. After expressing his deep longing to see Timothy, he says something very significant. He says that he remembers Timothy’s genuine faith. This faith, Paul recalls, first lived in Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and then lived in Timothy’s mother, Eunice. Notice the legacy of faith:  LOIS………EUNICE……….TIMOTHY.

Note how Paul also says that their faith dwelt, i.e. lived in them. This is an important detail, because only faith that’s alive can dwell in you; and it’s this faith that you can pass on to others. Lois and Eunice left a legacy of living faith to Timothy. What will be your legacy? Aspire to bless your family and your local church with a legacy of genuine faith. Don’t just talk your faith; demonstrate it. 

Prayer:

Father in heaven, thank you for the gift of saving faith. With you all things are possible. Bless me with the passion and the confidence to leave a legacy of genuine faith for your glory.  In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Deuteronomy 6:1-25