SCRIPTURE READING:
Acts 16

1. THE LORD WANTS TO LEAD YOU AND USE YOU IN THE PROCESS
– Acts 16 records a story of two main characters, Paul and Silas.
– They were travelling around the then known world bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to people of different groupings.
– They would go from place to place as the Holy Spirit led and guided them.
– Wherever they went people’s lives were touched and changed.
– As a result Christianity spread and grew. v5 ‘So the church grew daily in faith and numbers.’
– These were just ordinary people making a great difference in the world.
– God wants to use you and I in much the same way to touch the lives of others and in the process change and influence the world around us.
– Like these disciples, we are meant to be agents of change in the world in which we live.
– God can use us as we follow what He leads us to do.
– Sometimes in the business of life His leading can be drowned out by the urgent and pressing things we face.
– But if we take the time and if we will endeavor to hear what He tells us and take action on that, He will use us and our lives will be filled with purpose and meaning.

2. GOD CAN LEAD US IN MANY WAYS
– We must never limit the way in which God can lead and guide us.
– There are many ways in which God can and will lead us.
– Sometimes it is through the inner sense or witness, as the Bible calls it. It is a sense of knowing deep within ourselves.
– Sometimes He can lead us through His Word, the Bible.
– Often times His Holy Spirit will come and lead and prompt us in a certain direction.
– But there are also other ways in which God can lead us.
– He could use other people to bring His instructions to us.
– He could speak to us through circumstances and challenges we may be facing.
– Here God spoke through a vision. v9 ‘That night Paul had a vision. In his dream he saw a man over in Macedonia, Greece, pleading with him, ‘Come over here and help us.’
– Most versions of the Bible refer to it as a vision, but most versions also refer to it as a vision in the night. Night visions are often referred to as dreams, so there is a good possibility that Paul saw this in a dream.
– In various places throughout the Bible God uses dreams to speak to people.
– I remember one day visiting a certain Pastor in another country. We had discussed certain challenges that I had been facing and before going to sleep he prayed and asked God to speak to me even while I slept and through dreams. I sometimes pray this over my own children when, on occasion,  I pray with them before going to sleep.
– The issue is that God wants to lead us and He uses different ways to do so.
– Our responsibility is to be sensitive to His leading and then to take action.

3. THE KEY IS TO DO WHAT GOD TELLS YOU TO DO
– v10 ‘Well, that settled it. We would go to Macedonia, for we could only conclude that God was sending us to preach the Good News there.’ (Living Bible)
– So we see how Paul gets this leading and direction from God and then he acts on it.
– Often we will hear the word of God, or sense His leading and prompting, but do we act on it, do we respond to it? Or does it get drowned out by all the other demands of life?
– Most versions of the Bible pick up on His immediate response.
– NIV: ‘After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia.’
– God’s Word Translation: ‘As soon as Paul had seen the vision, we immediately looked for a way to go to Macedonia.’
– KJV: ‘After he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia.’
– The Greek word used means immediately, straightway, at once and forthwith.
– Sometimes we lose the momentum of the moment when we hesitate or second guess ourselves and God’s leading.
– The truth is that it is worth taking the risk.
– To obey is better than sacrifice.
– This applies even if it entails effort.
– Paul and Silas had to catch a boat and travel for possibly two days or more to get to where God had shown them that He wanted them.
– Don’t allow the degree of difficulty to determine if you will obey God’s leading.

4. OPPOSITION AND CHALLENGES ARE PART OF THE DEAL
– Sometimes we imagine that if we are following God and in His will for our lives that everything will always go smoothly.
– The truth is that God will work everything out for our good, but opposition and challenges remain part of the deal.
– No sooner did they arrive in Macedonia, a demon-possessed slave girl who was also a fortune teller starts taunting them. This taunting goes on for days, until Paul could not take it anymore. He commands the demon to come out of her and she is instantly healed. As a result of this, Paul and Silas were dragged before judges, then they were stripped, beaten and thrown in prison. Imagine you are a guest in a town, and you are there to do good, but you end up accused, dragged around, stripped, beaten and thrown in prison……….. it’s enough to make most people leave the ministry.
– God used these bizarre circumstances to get Paul and Silas to where they needed to be so that they could meet the man they had seen in the vision who had been calling for help.
– The strange thing about Paul and Silas is that they end up in prison, wounded, with their feet in stocks and yet they could choose to rejoice.
– This remains for me one of the greatest testimonies.
– We too can go through a season where things are not working out for us while at the same time time we are serving God and in His will.
– It’s our response to the opposition that determines the next thing that will happen.
– In the midnight of your life, what will your response be?
– This is one of the wonderful things about being children of God. That circumstances do not need to dictate our state of mind and heart.
– v25 ‘Around midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord…..’

5. THE RESULTS ARE UNBELIEVABLE
– As they pursued obedience to God, He already started using them in wonderful ways.
– The moment we elect to obey and follow the Lord, He immediately begins to use us.
– Lydia was the first result and the first convert and some commentators say that she was probably the first convert to the faith from the European part of the world. So there is the very real possibility that through this encounter the Gospel got into Europe and the rest is history.
– Then they find themselves in prison and God sends an earthquake to release them and all the other prisoners.
– This sets them up for a meeting with the jailer – the purpose of the whole trip.
– It’s hard to believe that all the challenges up until this point had brought them to the destiny moment that God had ordained.
– The jailer is armed and filled with fear and suicidal.
– We would hardly imagine this was a good time to tell him the Good News.
– But often, when people are at their lowest, it is the very thing they need.
– v29-30 The jailer then called for lights and the jailer brought them out of the dungeon and then the jailer asked the following: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
– Paul and Silas had the privilege of leading this man and his family to faith in Christ.
– Then an amazing thing happens, the jailer himself comes and washes their wounds.
– You never know who God will send across your path to wash your wounds and bring healing to your life.
– It did not stop there. At this hour of night the jailer makes them a meal and feeds them.
– As a family involved in ministry, I remember my father telling me that if we would care for and look after the people He entrusts to us, we would never lack and never go hungry.
– The grief and the trauma was replaced with rejoicing. v34 ‘How he (the jailer) and his household rejoiced because all were now believers!’

6. ULTIMATELY, GOD HAS THE FINAL SAY IN ALL MATTERS
– In the end the judges, who had placed them in the prison, had to come down to the prison in person and beg Paul and Silas to leave the prison and the city.
– How sovereign God is in all things.
– v39 ‘So they (the judges) came to the jail and begged them to go, and brought them out and pled with them to leave the city!’
– God resolved the issues and they were able to leave.
– Basically Paul and Silas got off on a technicality. They happened to be Roman Citizens and should not have been treated in the way they had been.
– God, in His sovereignty, has a way of working things out.
– Perhaps you have been treated unfairly – God has a way of working things out.
– Perhaps you have faced injustice – God has a way of working things out.
– Paul and Silas had successfully fulfilled the plan and the purpose of God and God had taken care of all the details. As you endeavor to fulfill the plans and purposes of God for your life, He will take care of all the details.

BY: Andrew W Roebert
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