Priority Time 2020: Day 21 – Acts 16:1-15

Acts 16:1-5
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

Paul takes Timothy as his disciple and apprentice.

  • Timothy’s Bio:
    • Jewish mother, Greek father.
    • Well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.
    • Timothy was circumcised because of the Jews in the area.
      • Asking Timothy to be circumcised was Paul’s way of majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors.
      • Paul was prioritizing context and culture so they could deliver the decisions reached in Jerusalem without distraction.

What was the result?

  • The churches were strengthened in the faith.
  • The churches increased in numbers daily.

Acts 16:6-10
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Here’s that interesting statement that they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” at that moment in time.

  • They were forbidden for that moment, not forever.
    • The delay was strategic.
    • The pause had a purpose.

They attempted to go into Bithynia, but “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.”

God had a more strategic route for the Gospel: through Europe first (verses 9).

  • Eventually, the Gospel got to Asia and to every place through Paul’s converts in Europe (1 Thessalonians 1:7) and by Paul himself in Acts 19:10, 22, 26 and in Acts 20:4, 16, 18, and finally in 1 Corinthians 16:19.

Personal Application

  • We tried to go back to Memphis. In September 2019, the Holy Spirit provided two red lights.
    • We’ve been forbidden for a season, not forever.
    • We’re also trusting the delay is strategic.
  • The answer wasn’t no for Paul and Timothy, it was wait.
    • In many respects, that’s what I believe God is saying to Karin and me. The answer isn’t no, the answer is to keep serving and to wait actively.
      • The answer is to pray, prepare, and plan.
      • The answer is to ask, seek, and knock.

What happened next?

  • “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night…”
    • “A man of Macedonia was standing there…”
    • …” urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”
  • “And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go onto Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
    • This was the call we received from Bethel Cleveland.
    • God called us to Cleveland for a season.
      • A season to give and receive something.
      • A season of building, translating, and expanding.
      • A season of timing, what is the purpose behind God’s order of priority?
      • A season of restoration.

Personal Application

  • What has God been saying to me recently?
    • I’ve had two dreams in March that I feel are from the Lord.
      • The first dream was a picture of restoration. A real estate agent was walking us through an amazing house. The house was a picture of God restoring our home. It was all about a home base being restored for Mark and Annika. It was about something permanent; a place we could enjoy living in the same city or region. It was about being positioned to be grandparents one day. And the house was a financial gift. The dream was about being fully restored.
      • The second dream I had was about meeting Garth Brooks. He was incredibly down to earth and took a genuine interest in me. After I told him I’d seen him twice in concert, he said, “Let’s not talk about me, tell me about you.” I briefly summarized my story, then I casted the vision for R4R. He said, “That’s amazing and incredibly needed.” He got excited and said, “Do you remember Live Aid and Farm Aid? That’s exactly what needs to happen here. This vision is worthy of that type of benefit concert and I’m going to gather friends from across the music world and make it happen. You don’t have to worry about a thing. This is going to happen.”
    • How will the challenges of the Coronavirus play into everything? What does God want to do in and through these circumstances?
      • I don’t know, but I’m praying for holy breakthroughs.
    • What do I mean by holy breakthroughs?
      • Breakthroughs that are uniquely from God.
      • Breakthroughs that are radically different.
      • Breakthroughs that have been set apart as from God and God’s people.
    • How will God bring good out of this?
      • How will God purify His people?
      • How will God prune His church?
      • How will God draw people to Himself?
        • Most people find Christ in the crisis.
    • What will be the timing of everything?
      • Will this be 3 months or 6 months?
        • What will be the recovery time?
        • When will “normal” resume?
        • What will the new normal be?
        • What will change forever due to this pandemic?

Interactive Prayer
Father, I pray for You to download cures into the minds of doctors around the world. I pray for You to bless us with the best-case scenario. I pray for Your people and Church to be purified and strengthened. I pray for us to rise to the occasion and be known by faith, hope, and love. I pray for You to protect people and give them the peace that comes from Your presence.

Acts 16:11-15
So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Paul and Timothy meet Lydia in the city of Thyatira.

  • What’s the significance of the people you meet along the way?
    • What’s the value of each person?
    • What’s God’s strategic purpose and plan for each person?
    • What if we saw every person from God’s perspective?
    • What role will Lydia play from this point forward?

Lydia: Acts 16:12-15, 40 and Philippians 1:1-10

  • She was a businesswoman.
    • The water of the area was well-adapted for dyeing; no other place could produce the scarlet cloth so brilliantly and permanently. This unique purple dye brought the city universal renown. Lydia was a well-known seller of this product. She was prosperous in that she owned a spacious home and had servants to care for her.
  • She was a devout woman.
    • We’re told that she “worshipped God.” Although she was sincere in her religion, Lydia had not believed in Jesus as the Messiah yet. She listened to Paul and the Spirit opened her mind and heart to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
    • She was baptized, she immediately told her household, and all believed and were baptized. Lydia had the honor of being Paul’s first European convert. I find it interesting and fabulous that no one discriminated against Lydia as a woman, but rather empowered her without limitations.
  • She was a hospitable woman.
    • First came Lydia’s faith, then her household’s faith, then her love of gracious hospitality, and finally her reception of Paul and Silas into her home after their discharge from prison.
    • When Paul left Lydia’s home, he praised God for all she had meant to him and his companions.
    • It’s very probable that Lydia’s home and hospitability became the foundation for the first church in Philippi. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, we can be confident Lydia was included in all the saints at Philippi (Philippians 1:1-7). She was also one of the women who labored with him in the Gospel in Philippians 4:3.
  • Ultimately, Lydia was known for being diligent in business, fervent in spirit, and serving the Lord.

Who’s in your circle of influence?

  • What’s God’s strategic purpose and plan for you?
  • What’s God’s strategic purpose and plan for them?

What can you do during this challenging crisis to be known by faith, hope, and love?

  • Pray through your phone contacts.
  • Encourage people with texts and calls.


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