Responding to God's Call
TEXT: Acts 16:6-10
TOPIC: Responding to God’s Call
Pastor Bobby Earls, Sunday Evening, September 18, 2005
Message Preached in view of call to FBC, Center Point, Alabama
6Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Attempting to understand God’s call on our lives can often be one of the most challenging adventures of the Christian life. As Sprit filled believers we have a tendency to expect God to supernaturally reveal His will to us through some special manifestation. I have never seen an angel from Heaven or heard the voice of God audibly speak to me. But I am convinced that God wants us to understand his will or His call on our lives.
How do you know when God is speaking to you? Or, how do you determine what God’s will may be for your life at any particular time?
Here in this portion of Acts we have a clear picture from the early believers on finding and discerning God’s call or God’s will for our lives.
First, We must understand something very basic about God!
Isaiah 55:8-9 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.(NIV)
A. God does things in different ways than you or I do.
Paul starts this second missionary journey with a bitter quarrel with Barnabas his partner in the ministry. Over John Mark Paul goes his way with Silas and meets Timothy at Lystra and takes Timothy with them. He wanders for about 70 days traveling 1500 miles. His desire was to go to Asia but Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit. You can imagine that young Timothy must have wondered if Paul knew what he was doing.
Then ultimately he is led by the Spirit to Philippi and things go from bad to worse then there is a breakthrough that ultimately turns this 2nd missionary journey into one of the most successful! God does things differently than you or I.
Isaiah 55: 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.(NIV)
B. God Sovereignly reigns in all circumstances.
Nothing is beyond his knowledge or reach! He can work all things together for good! Even what seems in human eyes as mistakes or wrong turns! They never cause God to worry or lose control. He is Sovereign!
So let’s learn some lessons here in responding to God’s call and discerning God’s will from the Apostle Paul and the New Testament Church!
I. GOD OFTEN REVEALS HIS CALL THROUGH OUR CONSCIOUS DECISIONS
Acts 15:36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."
Paul and Barnabas decided to go visit the Churches. They made a conscious decision! It seemed the right thing to do! God worked through this conscious decision of Paul.
Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.(NIV)
Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.(KJV)
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)
Some believers are always waiting for God to show them what they should do! God is waiting for them to trust Him by trusting their decisions and going for it! What opportunities have been knocking at your door? What have you been waiting for when you knew what was the right thing to do?
II. GOD CALLS US THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT’S REVELATION. Acts 16:6-10
6 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.
A. There are promptings by the Holy Spirit that guide you as you move through life.
They tried to enter Bythina and were directed not to by the Holy Spirit or by the Spirit of Jesus.
Illus. Example of God’s call on my life. (to preach the gospel, to pastor, to SWBTS, to my three churches) I once again sense the call of God upon my life in a fresh and exciting way! In a wonderful way, each of you have the opportunity to help me recognize the call of God in my life at this moment. As you make your decision this evening, the most important question you have to answer is this one, “Do I believe God is at work in calling this pastor, Pastor Bobby Earls, to FBC, Center Point?” Your vote is not whether to call me as your pastor as much as it is a vote to acknowledge the call of God. Is God calling me as your pastor? Your vote is a recognition of that call.
For those of you who recall Henry Blackaby’s Seven Realities of Experiencing God, Principle # 4 says, “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church, to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways.”
B. There are times when there are direct revelations of the Holy Sprit for Guidance. Acts16:9-10
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.
The Macedonian Call has become a metaphor for Christians who hear and respond to God’s call to ministry, missions and service.
God works in wonderful and mysterious ways often unknown to us. God rarely allows us to see His will for our lives or to understand His call in the beginning. He knows that most of us would run away immediately.
Throughout history God has most often worked through progressive revelation. That is, He slowly, over time, begins to speak to us, nudging us, calling until we finally see clearly understanding his call or will for our lives.
I’ve often described it this way. Imagine you are lost in a dark tunnel. The darkness is so thick that at first you can’t even tell which way is up, down, forward or backward. Confusion, fear, panic, begin to grip your beating heart. But as you continue to search, you see it. It’s all so small at first. Just a tiny particle of light there in the distance. But you turn toward the light. You take a small, clumsy step in the direction of the light, and then another one. After a few more steps, you realize the opening letting in the light is growing larger, all the while flooding the darkness with more light and clarity. Now you’re walking with more confidence toward the light, in the light. Soon, the darkness is vanquished altogether and you find yourself standing in the brightness of God’s clear will for your life.
So if God is at work in your life, calling you to Himself, for whatever reason, listen to your heart, your conscience. But always balance what your heart tells you with what the word of God and the Spirit of God have to say. The word of God’s written revelation will never contradict God’s Spirit speaking to your heart.
“Come over to Macedonia and help us. …..immediately we sought to go.” I stand ready to answer the call of God upon my life once again. How will you respond to God’s call on your life?