The Vision, The Venture, & The Victory
Paul has chosen Silas as his ministry partner, and begun his 2nd missionary journey, and something interesting happens in vv. 6-7:
“they were forbidden of the Holy Ghost”…“the spirit suffered them not”
They were sensitive to the leading of The Spirit, as we should be. We should pray every day, “Lord, I’ll go where you want me to go, I’ll be what you want me to be, I’ll do what you want me to do, I’ll say what you want me to say.”
[map] Paul and Silas tried to go south into Asia, but God said no, and put up a roadblock. Then they tried to go north and had the same response. They had come from the east, so west was all they had west to the Aegean Sea and the region of Troas [map], where they awaited further instructions from God. Here are the ruins of Troas…[slide]
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…
This can apply to us personally, to our families, finances, moves, businesses, decisions, dating, our church, etc.
But also, the “stops” of a good man are ordered by the Lord.
Sometimes God closes doors, puts up roadblocks, when we are going the wrong way.
This isn’t an audible voice, but sometimes it’s an inner impression, a lack of peace inside. God sometimes uses outward circumstances to guide us, like a door closing…and the worst thing we can do is kick it down and barge thru anyway. If we insist on having our way God may do something that we won’t like in the end…He may let us!
We need to have God’s wisdom to know the difference between Satan’s hindrances and the Lord’s roadblocks.
Ill.—C.H. Spurgeon, as a teenager, decided to go to a certain college, made an appt. to talk to the president of the school/he went to the man’s home to meet w/ him and the butler let him in, and showed him to a sitting room/president never came, and after an hour of waiting Spurgeon left, figuring it must not be meant to be/…later he found out that the man had been all the while waiting for him in another room!
God divinely guided that day and kept C.H. on the right course.
Man’s disappointments are often God’s appointments! And when God closes one door he opens another. It happens in v. 9…
v. 9-10 He heard the “Macedonian Call”, as the song “Send the Light” says! And they crossed over into Europe…as far as you and I are concerned, that’s the most important call that’s ever been made or answered! Aren’t you glad Paul had the vision and answered the call?
Have you had the vision and answered the call?
Have you had a vision of your relatives walking toward the cliff that leads to hell? Have you answered their call—“come and help me!”?
Have you heard the call from broken homes—come and help us!?
Broken hearts/ruined lives/failing marriages/lost jobs?
Now, they don’t always say it that way…sometimes their cries for help are in the form of rebellion, as often happens w/ teens, but it’s a cry for help!
We all have a God-shaped void inside of us, and often people try to fill the void w/ things of the world, pleasure, sex, drugs and alcohol, material goods, achievement, money, relationships, and even good works and social involvement!
But the only thing that can fill the God-shaped void is God! And as they try all these things they are really calling out, come and help me!
Catch the vision…of people drowning in debt, despair, and debauchery, calling out for a lifeline saying, “come help us!” Now, they may not have a firm grasp of this…they are deceived…that’s why they aren’t beating down the doors of this church to get in here. The church is like Noah’s Ark—people don’t believe or come near us unless the sky starts falling!
But did you know it’s not their responsibility to come to us? It’s really our responsibility to go to them.
Ill.—Evangelist Freddy Gage tells of visiting 2 churches back to back, and it was a great lesson in opposites. He said that 1 church was dying, the other was growing and thriving. The first had a big sign out front that said, “All welcome…come on in.” And it was dying. The other was thriving, but its sign wasn’t on the outside, but just inside the door…you could only see it from the inside as you made your way out… “you are now entering the mission field”. That sign was saying, “go out and bring them in from the fields of sin!” Just as Jesus said, “go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.”
Nowhere does the Bible command sinners to come to church!
Aren’t you glad Paul understood that? He didn’t say from Troas… “hey, ya’ll over there in Europe, you wanna hear the gospel? Come on over, all are welcome!” No, he got in a boat and took the gospel to them!
David Brainerd, won many thousands of American Indians to Christ. He said, “I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went thru, so that I could but gain souls for Christ. While I was asleep I dreamed of these things, and when I awoke, it was the first thought that I had, the thought of this great work.”
He caught the vision, he heard the Indians crying, “Come over here and help us!”
David Livingston, the first man to take the gospel into the heart of Africa, said, “I must open a way to the interior or perish!”
It was do or die…he caught the vision, and he heard the Africans crying, “come over here and help us!”
J. Hudson Taylor, pioneer Missionary to China, said, “I feel as though I cannot live if something is not done for China.”
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said, "Oh, God, what can I say? Souls! Souls! Souls! My heart hungers for souls!"
The story has often been told of the little church in Germany near train tracks that carried Jews to their death.
"Each Sunday Morning," the German man telling the story said, "we could hear the whistle in the distance and
then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!"
"Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us."
We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more. Years have passed, and no one talks about it much any more; but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene."
How dare we sit in our comfortable building and sing our songs and eat our food and enjoy our fellowship, and not walk out those doors into the mission field w/ a vision, hearing the call, and answering it!
That’s the vision…
Paul and Silas got into a boat and crossed the Aegean Sea. They began a new venture.
v. 11 straight course = “a B-Line!” Then it says they arrived the next day. They made this crossing in 1 day!
Now look at Acts 20:6—on the way back it took them 5 days! On the way over God must’ve been breathing into their sails to get them there! There’s no experience in the world like doing the will of God!
The 1st church they established in Europe was in Philippi. When they got there they found a little group of women praying down by the river.
v. 12-13 It was a just a little prayer meeting…just a group of women. Some might have thought, that’s so small, that’s so silly, some may have thought it was sweet. Let’s not despise the small things. It’s from the tiny acorn that a mighty oak tree grows! And God heard these prayers and they are likely the reason for Paul’s vision. Paul saw a man in his vision, and responded, and when he got there, found out it was a woman! Lydia became the first convert on that side of the sea.
“Little is much when God is in it…”
You’ve got to remember something about the start of this first European church: the apostle Paul, prior to his salvation, was a Pharisee. And everyday when a Pharisee woke up he would pray 3 things by custom…he thanked God he was not a woman, he was not a slave, and not a Gentile.
Guess who the 1st 3 converts were in Europe? A woman, Lydia, a slave girl, and a Gentile! Isn’t that just like God? He breaks down our walls of prejudice and bigotry!
v. 14 I see 3 things about Lydia’s tender heart in this verse. She had:
1. An opportune heart—“heard us”…she was ready. Her heart was fertile soil and she was ready to be saved. She was a “seller of purple”, meaning she was in the business of designer clothes. Only the rich and the royal could wear purple. In those days, the purple dye came from a shellfish, and one shellfish would yield only 1 drop of the purple dye. It was extremely expensive. So, she was well to do herself. She would have had prestige and influence, and yet she still had a hungry heart.
I hope you understand that the things in life which really matter cannot be bought w/ money.
Money can buy a house, but not a home.
Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.
Money can buy a clock, but not time.
Money can buy a book, but not brains.
Money can buy food, but not an appetite.
Money can buy position, but not respect.
Money can buy medicine but not health.
Money can buy people, but not friends.
Money can buy insurance, but not safety.
Money can buy amusements, but not happiness.
Money can buy religion, but not salvation.
Money can buy a good life, but not eternal life.
Money can buy a crucifix, but not a Savior.
Money can buy a passport to anywhere…but to heaven.
Lydia had an opportune heart…her prosperity did not satisfy.
2. An open heart—“the Lord opened”…have you ever tried to witness to somebody who was totally closed? You can’t do it. We can open the scriptures but only God can open the heart!
Yes, there’s a divine side of salvation.
Then, there’s the human side… “she attended unto the things…”
She recognized her need. Many today do not.
Joke—drowning man called to another on shore, “I can’t swim, I can’t swim!” He replied, “Well, I can’t either, but I’m not making a fuss about it!”
Some people won’t think much about the Lord unless they sense they are in danger. That’s why we have to preach the gospel, the truth about heaven and hell, sin and salvation!
Some here may be 1 heartbeat from hell and not even realize it. Let’s hope they hear the truth being preached today!
3. An overflowing heart—v. 15 “come into my house”…she said, make my home your base of operations, so others may know!
Paul opened the scriptures, God opened her heart, and then she opened her home!
The home should be a base…home base! A salvation sanctuary. It starts by mom and dad getting saved, getting right, and getting into church. Then they make sure the children are saved. Then they start reaching out to others, having them over, and sharing the truth!
Lydia had a tender heart. Next time we’ll look at the slave girl…a tormented heart, and the jailer…a toughened heart. All were saved, and all here today can be, no matter what the state of your heart.
I expect to meet Lydia someday…but she won’t be wearing a purple robe. She’ll be wearing a robe made white by the blood of the Lamb!
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