North Anderson Baptist Church
You May Need to Change Your Plans To Push Back the Darkness
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  • North Anderson Baptist Church
    2308 N Main St, Anderson, SC 29621, United States
    Sunday 10:30 AM
Our subtitle to the preaching series is “A strategy to locally fulfill the Great Commission.” Whatever we are doing in sharing the Gospel as a church with our community or nation, we need to keep in mind that God may in a moment give us different directions on what He might want us to do. Nothing should be holy and off limits to God’s leadership to either drop from our planned ministry program or to begin a new ministry emphasis. For you personally there may be someone to whom you think God wants you to share your faith and tell them about Jesus, but regardless of what you “think”, always be open for the message from the Spirit of God to give you another person to reach for Christ. The Scripture has a great example of God revealing to Paul and his companions that the Lord had a different plan for their lives and their ministry of pushing back the darkness from the lives of the lost than they originally had thought. In the following passage we will see the way the Lord worked in their lives.
I really appreciate Luke placing this in his history of the church. It encourages me when I see that these wonderful evangelists of the Lord Jesus really desired to go into an area that was darkened and unreached with the Gospel. Twice the Spirit of God “kept” them from preaching the Word in an area they thought they should go. The first area they wanted to go into was in the province of Asia.
Using the map of first century Asia Minor or Turkey of today, you will notice the province of Asia is to the southwest of Asia Minor.
Even though Paul and his companions had preached in Phrygia and Galatia, a logical thing to do would be to go to the closest area around, which would have been the province of Asia. Yet God had another plan and the Holy Spirit stopped them from going into the province of Asia. So, they then decided to go into Bithynia, but again the Holy Spirit prevented them from going that way.

Wow! Their plans just didn’t seem to be what the Lord wanted. Surely they prayed and they sought for directions from God? What happened? Who knows, but it was obvious that God had a reason for them not to go into those areas. How did God tell them no? Who knows; maybe God spoke to them on the road, or maybe Paul had a vision or a dream or just maybe one of them knew from their spirit, that God had something else for them.
So how do you know what God is saying to you? The “Life Application Bible” gives four suggestions from verse 6 on the subject of “when seeking the will of God:”
1) Make sure your plan is in harmony with God’s Word;
2) Ask mature Christians for their advice;
3) Check your own motives - are you seeking to do what you want or what you think God wants? and;
4) Pray for God to open and close the doors as He chooses.
So, what happened to Paul and the gang? When they got the “no” from the Holy Spirit they went down to Troas and spent some time there, I assume, waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal the future for them. Take a look at the map again and notice where Troas is. It is set on the west coast of Asia Minor right below the province of Mysia.

Now, our story about Paul and the directions from God become clear. While in Troas, Paul has a vision at night of a man from Macedonia, which is in Greece, calling out to Paul “begging” him to “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Have you ever wondered why the vision came to Paul and what the man wanted from Him? There was great darkness in that area of the world and God was up to something.

I like this next part of the story because it gives clear directions for us to follow. Once Paul had seen the vision, knowing that it was from God, he had everyone to prepare to go to Macedonia to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. Luke says, “concluding that God had called us…” is a clear indication for you and me, from the Scripture, that God will be specific in His calling of us. This event has always thrilled me and I believe that it can thrill you, too. God does use visions and dreams to help His children to know what His will is for their lives. If we are connected with the Lord Jesus and praying for His will in our lives and we are willing to be obedient, as Paul and the others with him were by not going where God said not to go, then God will be faithful to give us His will for our lives, in His time.

Sometimes we will have to change our plans for our lives to do what God calls us to do. What you wanted to do might be a job that you thought was just right for you and needed and then when all is said and done, there is a closed door. But later God opens another door and clarifies for you that there is another directions and plans for you.
A dear friend this week told me that he had left the job he loved and the town where he had been for years and was happy to go back home to work where he thought it would be the dream job. When I saw him and told him I was surprised he was back in town, he told me the move wasn’t what God wanted for their family and that he was suppose to be back here doing the work and relating to the people whom he cared, for that originally made him happy and blessed. He had seen in his life that what might have been “what he thought was God’s will for his life” just wasn’t so. Fortunately for him, the Lord opened up a position that provided for him to return to the same place of employment.
When pushing back the darkness in the Kingdom of God, there may be clear directions or there might be a step by step revealing process for you. God may give you a partial revelation of His will to follow until He decides to reveal it fully to you. For Paul, maybe they were confused for awhile but he was patient and faithful to wait upon the Lord. That may be what you and I may have to do in searching for God’s guidance in our lives, wait patiently and just be faithful in trusting God’s wisdom for our lives.
We see in the following verses why God directed Paul toward the west rather than toward the east. There are two major stories that follow in the 16th chapter of the book of Acts. One is about Lydia and the prayer meeting down by the river in Philippi. God wanted a woman from Thyatira to come to know the Lord Jesus and help Paul in his ministry as well as helping to establish a church in the Roman colony of Philippi. Lydia was gloriously saved and encouraged the church and Paul in his work for the Lord. What an wonderful and encouraging start to the ministry in the Macedonian area. The man calling to Paul in the vision brought Paul and his companions to a place that many would come from out of the darkness to know Jesus and the Kingdom of God would spread, starting in Philippi on into the European continent.
The second event of this chapter is the experience that Paul and Silas had starting with a slave girl who had a demon in her who could predict the future. She followed Paul around constantly calling out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” You would think that would be good because then everyone could hear who they were and what they taught. But that was not so. Paul didn’t want their ministry and the name of Jesus to be spoken about by a demon possessed slave girl where people might associate Paul and Jesus with the superstition and magic in which the girl was involved. So, because of the constant trouble she caused them, Paul just stopped and turned one day to say, “In the Name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her.” Right away the girl was freed from the evil spirit and her owners were furious for the loss of money that would come now because she could no longer tell fortunes and make them money. They stirred up trouble for Paul and Silas; such that the magistrates eventually took them prisoner and had them stripped and beaten and thrown in the jail.

When they had been severely flogged and thrown deep into the dungeon and placed in the stocks, they knew that God was still with them and they began to praise Him and honor Him in song and preaching of the Word of God. They talked of Jesus and His life and then of the death He died, unjustly, and then of His resurrection on the third day! Throughout the time there, they witnessed to those who might not ever have an opportunity to hear the Gospel. When it came around midnight something happened that was to change many lives in Philippi and the jailer and all who heard the message of God.
When the doors of the prison flew open, the jailer assumed that everyone escaped and because his prisoners were gone, he sought to take his own life when something happened. Paul calls to him and let’s him know all of the prisoners are there and told him not to harm himself. Do you remember that last week I said that sometimes problems come to our lives for the glory of the Lord and that people’s lives are changed because of the problems you suffer? This event in the life of Paul and Silas and the jailor was just one of those. He didn’t kill himself but he came to a saving knowledge of Jesus because of what Paul and Silas did and said while suffering under his care. His heart was so stirred that He asked Paul, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And Paul answered and said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Isn’t that beautiful. Not only was his life changed but also the life of his entire family. But that was not all. God has used this situation in the life of Paul and Silas and the jailor to begin to make a change that would affect the church of Jesus Christ not only in Philippi but the whole of the Mediterranean Sea countries.
God’s changing the plan of sending Paul west rather than east was so significant that the whole history of the western world and Christianity would have been different. You are saved because Paul came west!
We will never really know, on this side of heaven, the affect something we do or say has on another person. How God uses things like the hard times Paul had in his life and the changes God had led him to make in what he thought was the direction of God for him, is miraculous. Let me share this astounding event I heard of just Tuesday morning.
A wonderful friend who is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston, Marshall Blalock, told me this story. We have all heard of the shooting tragedy at Mother Immanuel Church in Charleston. Most of us have heard how the family members responded to the shooter, but I doubt that you have heard this is part of this story.
Within 36 hours of the killing, Rev Anthony Thompson, whose wife had been killed by Dylan Roof, was present for the bond hearing. Roof was on video and the judge and family members were in the courtroom. One by one, the families got up and spoke to Roof who never looked up and remained stone-faced. Each family mentioned how hurt they were, how much they loved their murdered family member and then each one did the unthinkable...they all forgave him. They mentioned their faith in Christ and forgave this unrepentant killer. Anthony Thompson went to the hearing planning on being an observer and no more. But God prompted him to stand, and then to speak. He had no idea what he would say, but the Spirit spoke through him in that powerful moment. He told Roof he forgave him, but then he went one step further. He actually shared the gospel with him and offered him the hope of eternal life. He said, "What you really need is Jesus, you need to confess your sins and give your life to the one who loves you most, and you will be okay." The whole room was stunned. along with a national television audience. A man whose wife was killed in a hate crime showed grace to the killer and then invited him to trust in Jesus as his Savior.

Unbeknownst to Rev Thompson, two members of First Baptist Church in Charleston were serving as english teachers in China. Non-Christian Chinese neighbors watched the bond hearing, and they were struck with awe at what they heard. They knew their American neighbors were from Charleston, so they knocked on Adam and Stephanie's door, asking to talk. When they sat down, they said we have seen these families in Charleston speak of grace and of heaven. We know we need what these people have, can you tell us how we can have this life? This couple rejoiced in sharing the good news that day.

The takeaway, the grace of God is the most powerful force on earth. Nothing else comes close.
I want to close this morning by sharing that same message; what each of us needs is Jesus Christ! We need to confess our sin before a loving and gracious God and receive that grace and forgiveness Rev. Anthony Thompson talked about, to that hardened killer. You might not have killed anyone but the sin you have is as bad, according to Jesus. It needs to be dealt with and you need to surrender to Jesus and give your life to Him completely.

What kind of person are you? Do you speak of the grace and love of the Lord and of heaven in your life so that others who hear and see you will be so touched that they will search out for someone to tell them how to live like you and believe like you?

Today, you can know this Jesus who tells those who killed Him, “I forgive you and love you no matter what.” Come to Him and give your life to the Lord right now!
Are you willing to change all your plans for what God says is His plan for you?

Invitation

Dear friend if you are reading this by way of the internet please know that you are loved and cared for. If you have no relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, then I invite you to trust Him by faith and receive Him as your personal Savior. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sin of everyone in the world that they may have eternal life. All of us have sinned and all are guilty before Almighty God who made us to have fellowship with Him. But sin broke that ability to have a relationship and Jesus has restored the possibility to know God personally through His sacrifice. Please know that if you will seek God and turn from your sin and pray He will respond with His love and give to you a personal relationship through your belief in His Son and the sacrifice He made just for you. He will call for a change in your life too. He wants you to follow Him, not the world, not your own desires, but to follow Jesus. That brings a life change when you turn from sin and self and by faith believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. There is no Savior without Him being Lord of your life. Your willingness to change by following Him daily in your life will be the proof of your faith. When life throws its curves your way and you have found yourself broken by others or by the world let us introduce you to the only One who can help you…Jesus! You can write or call the office and we will follow up by contacting you. Office phone number is 864-225-2575 and the website address is www.northandersonbaptist.com and the physical address is 2308 N. Main St., Anderson, SC 29621. Dear friend if you are a believer and you have been touched by the Lord and you would like to talk to someone at the church just contact us in one of the ways you see above. If you are a believer and would like to talk about the church and your interest in being a part, please call and we can set up an appointment for you and get to know you. It would be a great pleasure to share our Lord’s love with you. This is a loving church and you are important to us, so please let us know what we can do for you in the Lord.Pastor Bill Rigsby

http://www.northandersonbaptist.com