Job 38-40 Acts 16:1-21
‘That night Paul saw in a vision a man from Macedonia. The man stood and begged, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we immediately prepared to leave for Macedonia, understanding that God had called us to tell the Good News to those people.” (Acts 16:9-10 NCV)
One of the most frustrating things when you have great plans to serve God is to get ready to work for Him, and He tells you “No.” Paul, Silas, and now Timothy ran into that problem. They wanted to go into Asia to spread the Good News, but God told them, “No.” When they tried to enter another way, God told them, “No” again. They went where the could without God stopping them, but I can imagine Paul might have been a bit frustrated as he reminded God of his plans. One night, it became clear: Paul and his team were to cross over into Europe and spread the gospel there. He got a vision that a man in Macedonia, modern day Greece, was calling him to share the Good News there. The wording of this passage lets us know that now Luke was an active participant in spreading the gospel.
I don’t know if there’s anything harder to take from God than the answer of “No.” You pray, you plan, you prepare to do God’s work in a specific way, and at the last minute, He tells you, “No.” A true man of faith would immediately accept that answer and seek God’s direction for the future. I talk back to God. “But God, I’ve worked and planned so hard…” You probably know the drill. We seem to think that we can remind God of what we’ve done for Him and what we’ve planned to do for Him as if this was all a surprise that He didn’t consider when He told us, “No.” God knows our heart even before we do. His “No” is actually a gift of mercy that allows us to redirect from something God doesn’t want for us so that we can search for God’s direction in other areas. If the task we had planned on doing was in God’s will to begin with and He told us “No,” we can rest assured that God has a plan to accomplish it. He has a different plan for us. Since He knows our gifts and talents better than we do ourselves, obeying Him when He says “No” will allow us to do a better job of serving Him in other areas. God’s “No” isn’t meant to discourage us, He means to encourage us to seek His will while He opens doors to use the gifts and talents He’s give us to better effect.
Lord, how often do I want to tell You what I’m going to do? When You tell me “No,” remind me that You do that so I’ll be ready and able to do more for You with the gifts and talents You’ve given me. Help me to serve You wisely.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved