Mercedes does not like it when I tell her “no.” Many times I tell her “no” and she will say, “But I want it, I still want it.” Of course, Mercedes is learning what “no” means. She knows full well what “yes” means. You know what else that Mercedes has learned, and we really did not have to teach her this at all, she has learned how to help herself. She does not need to wait for a “no,” or a “yes.” She just does, then we have to say “NO.” For example, do you know how many times she just helps herself to the refrigerator? Do you know how many times we have caught her trying to get cookies? Do you know that she is only three years old? It seems like just yesterday she was a baby and could not do anything on her own. Then, when I do give her a cookie she will say, “After this one I can have a second…” Okay, I never imagined being told by a three year old how things would be. I was running behind a few weeks ago and pulled into Dunkin’ Donuts and as soon as I pulled in she said, “I’m hungry, I’m so hungry.” I gave her one donut and she said, “I get two donuts.” Then sometimes she’ll add, “Four, six, seven, ten!” But she doesn’t ask and when she is told “no” she does not handle that too well.
Now, why do I share that? We all have to handle a “yes” and a “no” sometimes. We all have to tell people “yes” and “no.” We just do, that is part of life. The thing is that we must be in communication and relationship to hear these and give these commands. Sometimes we must ask permission.
Today, we look at a passage where the Apostle Paul is told “no” twice by the Holy Spirit and then the Holy Spirit tells him exactly what to do. The theme today is The Holy Spirit’s Yes and the Holy Spirit’s No; Paul, Silas and Timothy Follow the Spirit’s
Lead. Let’s look at the short passage and I want to challenge all of us to also follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.
Let’s read Acts 16:6-10:
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
- In verses 6-8 the Spirit tells Paul and his companions not to go north or south.
- They pass through the Phrygia and Galatia area. Remember that Paul had written a letter to Galatia later on.
- Interesting that we can do studies and we can know that Paul likely took a common Roman Road called the Via Sebaste which was a Roman Military Road.
- But the next part is most interesting. They were forbidden or kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in Asia. Now, this is not the same as modern Asia. This would be more like modern Turkey.
- What do you do when you are kept or forbidden from doing something? The Apostle Paul was a driven personality. He got things done. Nothing stood in his way, but right here, we see that God is His Master and He obeys.
- In Today’s day we have action movies where the main characters are celebrated for disobeying commands. I think of Jack Bauer in the hit show 24. In just about every season he is on the run, yet he is saving the country. Our culture celebrates rebellion. Not in this case.
- The Apostle Paul is submissive to the Holy Spirit.
- In verse 7 they were trying to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them. I love Star Trek that is no secret, but what I love best, is in Star Trek III when Admiral Kirk stole the Enterprise in order to get Spock back. Rebellion always makes a movie more exciting because you may not see that coming. The celebrated Browns Coach, Paul Brown, was a football genius. He was also in charge, no one crossed him. One day he was sending the player out with the play and the quarter back, Otto Graham, shook his head “No.” There was a look of terror on the player’s face. That young player did not want to go back and tell Paul Brown “no.” In reality, Otto Graham was just playing a trick, Otto Graham was not a rebel.
- Neither was the Apostle Paul, he recognized that Jesus was the Lord. Do we? Do we understand that He is in charge. You see we have gotten away from a society where we realize what it means to serve a sovereign King. We think that our voice always matters. Certainly God’s Word says that He wants and even desires to hear from us, but He is the Lord. He has no room for rebels in His Kingdom. He is the Lord.
- Some have asked me “Why should I serve Jesus?” Why should you follow Jesus’ “Yes” and Jesus’ “No”? You are bought with a price. Jesus has redeemed you and set you free. He died in your place and saved you. Jesus loves you and loves us all. (John 3:16; Romans 3:21-31) Jesus has called you to take part in what He is doing. To some extent He gives you a choice, but He is the Lord. Listen, your sovereign Lord has called you on a mission. How do you know? You are here. If you are a Christian, you are called to be a follower of Christ and you are called to be a part of His army, a part of His mission. He is your Lord. He is Your King. Notice that the Apostle Paul did not waver, he did not rebel.
- Do you realize that Paul’s obedience in traveling through these cities in verse 6 meant something like a 400 mile difference in journey? All by foot!
- So in verses 9-10 Paul is told by the Spirit to go west. Paul continues to obey.
- A vision appears to Paul in the night.
- Paul is told to come to Macedonia.
- Why? They are to go down there to help them.
- So, verse 10, they immediately decide to go down and preach the Gospel to them.
- Notice that Paul received two “no’s” and then a “yes.” Notice that Paul was obedient.
- Are we seeking the Holy Spirit? Are we in a place to hear from God?
- God speaks through his Word, the Bible. Are you in the Bible? The Holy Spirit will speak to you through the Bible.
- God speaks through the church, especially smaller groups and prayer partners. Are you connected?
- God speaks through our reason, are you learning?
- All the other avenues must be confirmed by God’s Word.
I had a middle of the night vision before. I woke up and Mercedes said, “It is scary in my room, there is thunder and lightning, and she proceeded to climb in our bed.” There is no questioning. If we say “No” there is a middle of the night temper tantrum. Plus, it is hard to say, “no” in the middle of the night.
But you know what, she is three years old. We are trying to teach our strong-willed child. We will. She will learn. She will learn that her parents have a will. Her parents have a desire and cares and her parents have a “yes” and a “no.” Sometimes she will have to ask and be in a relationship to know our “yes” and “no.”
The question is do we know God’s “yes” and “no”? Are we in relationship with Him? Are we seeking Him?
Do you know Him?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)