Acts 16:25 - where Paul and Silas sang in the jail cell - is a familiar verse. Generally, that is where we start our discussion. But it doesn’t make sense. Why would someone who was snatched in the streets of Philippi; stripped of clothing; tortured; and then thrown into prison; why would they shout victory?!
I’m going to talk to you about the Philippi Incident:
For the last 2-3 months, I’ve been stuck to the Book of Acts. I can’t seem to move past it. I’m beginning to realize the power of the Word and what God wanted to do in the lives of Apostles. It is called the Acts of the Apostles, but it really should be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
It is the strategy whereby the Holy Spirit launched an attack on the kingdom of hell to send 11 men and one more that eventually joined to spread the Word of God all over the world – even before the internet and technology of that nature – and it permeated the world.
And to this day, the Bible is the most relevant Book in the world.
God has a strategy for your life. We are not our own.
For Paul, the Damascus Road experience blinded his natural sight to open up his spiritual sight. God chooses to shut down something to open another in our lives. Paul contributed more to the New Testament than those who had seen the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes. He was impacted outside of the church in a personal encounter with God on the street.
You have to have a personal experience with God for yourself. God used Paul strategically for a divine purpose. Today, we see carefully orchestrated, organized churches with meetings, websites, structures. That is not what happens in Acts.
Paul was not his own. When Paul wanted to go into certain parts of cities and Asia, the Holy Spirit shut the door and didn’t allow him to go. God had him on a specific course. When your life is on a course, you cannot do what others do. It is because God has ordered your steps on that course. The same God who opens doors also shuts doors. We must be submissive enough to His will to understand that we are to rejoice when the doors open but also when the doors close. God closed doors for Paul to arrive at the right place at the right time for a divine purpose.
Some of you have received promises from God, yet everytime you try to act on it, you find God says no. God held Paul back and closed him down. When Paul finally gave up on places that were conducive to his own agenda, that is when he received the vision to go to Macedonia.
Some of you are stuck in frustration that everything you have tried to do was shut down. You need to thank God for every time it was shut down, there was a reason. When God shuts the door, it remains closed. It means you are so precious and purposeful to the plan of God that He doesn’t want you to be anywhere in this season of your life where you will not be effective.
The absence of options is the presence of direction.
The door is open in Macedonia and all of a sudden, Paul is moved in that direction.
Paul was such a unique tool compared to the disciples or any of the apostles. He was an intellectual; he was articulate. He was a prolific writer, profound orator, alpha male, a Type A personality; an aggressive man. He wasn’t intimidated. He was a tenacious, relentless man, and God used him in such a purposeful way. Even when Paul was wrong, he was strong. Even when he was killing Christians, he was strong. He was respected among the Aristocracy. He was diverse in his ability to interact and communicate with others.
When you have a diverse skillset, God will not allow you to waste that resource. He will not pour new wine on an old wineskin. He will hold you back to be used to propel your destiny and purpose. God will put you where you are most effective. You won’t have to do it; neither your team; nor your manager or marketer.
I - the Lord your God – will open and shut the doors, and you will go where I tell you to go.
Macedonia was culturally what Rome was politically. It was the wellspring of cultural intellectualism. It was an area that was great in commerce. Its language had infiltrated the world. God sent Paul to Macedonia because whatever happens in Macedonia would affect the world. God chose to hold Paul back from going into the smaller areas, regions and cities for this very reason. He will hold you back from going to insignificant areas.
It is so incredibly profound how Philippi – a region in Macedonia that was named after Philip the II – impacted the world. It did not have the political weight that Rome had. But Macedonia was powerful, and Philippi was a hub and carried the power of language, communications and speech in the midst of the province of Macedonia.
God sent Paul to Philippi with a strategy. Paul would have thought that when he arrived in Macedonia, he would have been respected as an intellectual and that he would meet with the aristocrats and convene meetings with government as he did with Caesar in Rome. But every time that Paul tried to do something, the door was closed.
Paul must have thought: God, why did you send me here? They always reject me.
And Paul begins to walk away. But then he stops when he sees some women. Paul told himself: If I can’t minister where I want to, I will minister where I can.
One man in the midst of these woman at the river. To be in the company of woman during those times was an insult to his intellectualism. There were no emperors to support him. He comes to the river where the women gather to wash, drink, and bathe. And Apostle Paul begins to minister. See, if you’re not too “choosy” about how and where God uses you; if you don’t let society isolate you from God’s purpose - even if it means doing what others won’t; saying what others won’t – God will use the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.
God does not have a knee-jerk reaction. He has a plan and purpose. When He says no; thank Him. When He says wait; thank Him. When He says stop; thank Him.
God is a strategist. Think about John 1:1. God is an intellectual. You are pregnant with ideas and concepts for such a time as this. Begin to understand your God. He is an intellectual; He is unchanging. Your God has a strategy.
Thank Him for the strategy wherever He takes you. God has a plan for your life.You will live without regret if you get this revelation. What makes hell tremble is when doors close and you still dance.
God is up to something. Even when it looks like He isn’t doing anything; He is up to something. Things will explode when you get to the right spot. If they don’t hear you, it’s not the right time to speak. Stand still and see the hand of God!
Don’t miss Part 2 of this incredible sermon that will be posted here next week: “Why women are so significant?” Subscribe to this blog on the right sidebar and we’ll make sure we send the post right into your inbox.
Before you go discuss your experience with GTH below. Have you had these moments where you have had no direction? How have you faced shut doors in your life? What has been your experience?