How does God Guide? Reflections from Acts 16

Devotional Guide for Acts 16 – Click here for the devotional guide in its entirety.

How does God guide?

A.    How does God guide Timothy? The external call of trusted others in the body of Christ (16:1-5).

B.    How does God guide Paul and his companions? What specific instructions and direction did the Apostle Paul and his companions receive from the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6,7,9)?
The Holy Spirit restrains (v.6). The Spirit of Jesus didn’t permit them to go to Bithynia.
The Spirit constrains them with a vision of a man from Macedonia… “concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (v.10).

C.    In The Acts of the Apostles A.T. Pierson discusses the double guidance of God: On the one hand prohibition and restraint, on the other permission and constraint. They are forbidden in one direction, invited in another; one way the Spirit says “go not”; the other he calls “Come”… Pierson gives some examples from the history of missions of this same kind of guidance: David Livingston tried to go to China, but God sent him to Africa instead. Before him, William Carey planned to go to Polynesia in the South Seas, but God guided him to India. Adoniram Judson went to India first, but was driven to Burma. We too in our day, Pierson concludes, “Need to trust him for guidance and rejoice equally in his restraints and constraints.” (Quoted by John Stott, Acts, p. 261)

D.    Can you think back to a time with God led you in the past? How might God be guiding you to serve Him? Do you rejoice equally in his restraints as well as His constraints?

Summary Thoughts on God’s Guidance:

  • Receiving God’s guidance is not only negative but also positive. Some doors close and others open.
  • Receiving God’s guidance is not only circumstantial, but also it involves rational thinking. We must use our minds to mull over our situation.
  • Receiving God’s guidance is not only a personal matter, but also corporate (a sharing of data with others so that we can mull over them together and reach a common mind).

What results when we heed God’s guidance?

A.   SALVATION: People come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
1.    Lydia and her household (vv.11-15). How does the text describe Lydia as well as the process of her coming to faith? How have you witnessed the power of the gospel to transform lives?
2.    The Philippian Jailer and his household (vv.30-34).
3.    Oikos is certainly used sometimes for a family with children.

B.    LIBERATION: People are set free from oppression (vv.16-18).

C.    OPPOSITION: Others oppose the message and persecute the messengers (vv.16-40)
How do Paul and Silas respond to their suffering?

D.    COMMUNITY:  The powerful gospel unifies very diverse people in spite of their economic and cultural differences: A wealthy businesswoman, a slave girl, and a jailer in the city of Philippi. “Racially, socially, and psychologically they were worlds apart. Yet all three were changed by the same gospel and were welcomed into the same church” (Stott, p. 268)
Paul had to exhort this church community at Philippi later on to “stand firm in one spirit” and “to be like minded having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

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