(Acts 16:1-10; 19:1-10) We will look at Acts 16 in two separate devotionals. It is a wonderful account of church planting, showing both the rewards and sacrifices that accompany a new work for Christ. Paul had a strong desire to open new work, but he needed direction. Luke wrote that Paul, accompanied by Silas and Timothy, were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6). It must have been frustrating for Paul to be stymied in his efforts to serve God. Ready to go, ready to serve, but waiting! He no doubt spent a lot of time praying, and God sent him a vision, in which he saw a man who was asking them to come to Macedonia to help them. The missionary team, which now included Luke, concluded that this was God’s call to them. “When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10). A successful church planting strategy will always follow God’s directions over the church planter’s personal desires and plans.
We jump forward to chapter 19 to see that Paul’s desire to work in Asia was later fulfilled on God’s timetable! After preaching in Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth, “Now it happened…that Paul…came to Ephesus” (19:1). Ephesus was in the province of Asia. Luke wrote that Paul, after speaking boldly in the synagogue for three months, began to hold daily discussions in the school of Tyrannus. “This took place for two years so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (19:10). It is so much better when we operate according to God’s timing! His timing is always integral to the fulfillment of His will and purposes. “But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord. I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand” (Ps. 31:14-15).
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