Journal Acts 16 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation and notes are mine)


Scripture: 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)


Observation: Being forbidden by the Spirit of God to go somewhere and preach the Gospel…what does that feel like?


Application: I think that I can identify 5 issues in me that would keep me from preaching the Gospel.


  • The first one is Fear. Fear of Man. Fear of Ridicule, and other related fears.
  • The second one is not feeling like I am prepared (which is firmly related to Fear of Man)—I have not practiced.
  • The third one is lack of opportunity (which is also related to issues 1 and 2 above)
  • The fourth one is prequalifying a candidate—too clean/dirty, it won’t take, too good/too bad, etc.
  • The fifth one is being prohibited by the Spirit—which, candidly, I don’t think I have ever experienced in a positive feedback sort of way. (“Lord, I want to preach the Gospel to that guy over there…” “No, son, I don’t want you to do that…I am supernaturally holding you back…” “Ok, Lord, I won’t go because you say so…”)


Nope, I would like to think that I have been supernaturally prohibited from sharing the Gospel, laying hands and praying for the sick, tossing out demons, raising the dead, and all that—but it wouldn’t track true. I fight with the fear of man and usually the fear wins.


These guys, Paul, Silas, and Tim the rookie, were seemingly not afraid.


Back to operational thinking, how did these guys know that the Holy Spirit was preventing the Gospel being preached in Asia and Bithynia? Paul was specifically called out for having a vision in a dream—but what about the others? I have no answer.


It must go back to recognizing God’s sovereignty, that he is the Potter and we are the Clay, he is the Creator and we are the created—He has the right to do whatever He wishes. Man doesn’t get that—it is difficult to think that is fair. But that “fairness” is observing the issue from Man’s perspective. Fairness from God’s perspective is that the totality of Man deserves God’s full, fierce, and total wrath.  Only that is “fair.”


Man today experiences Mercy, not fairness, from God in everyday life. He gives Man, out of His Mercy, life and breath. He also provides a way of Redemption from this state of Sin that Man is in.


The Gospel—so powerful, so incomprehensible—proof of God’s Love and Mercy towards Man because He didn’t have to do it. He didn’t have to provide a way…


It makes me wonder why the Spirit of God prohibited the guys from going to certain places. Should I be listening harder and not just assume that He is sending folks everywhere?


What else am I not listening for?


Prayer: Father, I don’t mean to be whatever it is I am doing. I am aware that I can tend to be double minded, arguing with myself about your Word. That is exactly what I don’t want to be.


I suppose that is why you provide foundations, stuff to grow upon, block by block, focusing on precept by precept—learning how to be mature while practicing on how to be a disciple.



Ricky Two Shoes