As we enter into 2016 we want to have all open doors, don’t we?
…….. No good thing will GOD withhold from them that walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11
Have you ever been set on doing something just to have the door slam shut in your face? I was determined to have popcorn balls and ginger bears made for the holidays. But, I couldn’t do it. My granddaughter- Kaylee- jumped right in and we had them as usual.
Doors slammed shut in the Apostle Paul’s face Doors sometimes shut in our faces and our plans are thwarted. At those times we are to thank GOD, not get frustrated (I Thessalonians 5:18). For GOD has a reason each time this happens. It might encourage you to know that doors slammed shut in the Apostle Paul’s face too.
Paul was on his second missionary journey. The HOLY SPIRIT forbid them to go into Asia, then a little while later as he and his team tried to enter Bithynia the HOLY SPIRIT stopped them again. Paul didn’t let these two slammed doors discourage him, instead he led the team down to Traos. There, during the night, Paul had a vision where a man from Macedonia asked him to come help them. Excited the team got ready to leave at once for they deemed this as clear leading that GOD had called them to preach the gospel in Macedonia. They went to Philippi a major city in Macedonia.
Since there was no synagogue in Philippi, women gathered at the river just outside the city gate to pray and worship GOD, the Creator of heaven & earth so Paul went there to speak of JESUS. It was there the team met an interesting woman named Lydia. She was a Gentile, but a GOD seeker. The Greek words in Acts 16:14 indicate Lydia was an eager student who listened attentively and thought through carefully what was being taught before either accepting or rejecting it. Once the light came on she was decisive to grab a strong hold on truth and believe. We know she was faithful to what she believed for she didn’t hesitate, but immediately after accepting JESUS as her Savior, she was baptized.
Lydia was a merchant but not from Macedonia. She was born in the province of Lydia (in ASIA- a territory where Paul had been forbidden to go) in the city of Thyatira. It was a city well known for weaving and dying of purple cloth. Lydia was a courageous, wise, diligent & industrious woman who became a wealthy merchant by taking purple cloth from her home town and traveling clear to Philippi the leading city in the district of Macedonia to sell it to the wealthy. She owned her own home there and was a generous and gracious hostess evidenced when she invited Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke to stay at her house while they were in Philippi (see Acts 16:6-15).
While it is not recorded, Lydia may very well have become evangelical by boldly witnessing of her faith on trips back home to Thyatira (a city in Asia) going there for more purple cloth for her business. For although Paul was forbidden from going to evangelize Asia, Thyatira was home to a significant Christian church, mentioned as one of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. This fact confirms the truth that GOD assigns people territory and work to do in their territory (2 Corinthians 10:13).
Please bear with me as I give you just a little geography and history in order to show you some of the far reaching hidden ways of GOD and perhaps a potential reason for shutting the doors to Asia and Bithynia to Paul and his team.
Thyatira, in the province of Lydia (the very town where the merchant Lydia was from)- stood on the border between Lydia and Mysia– which in turn bordered Bithynia. Thyatira was not only famous for its dyeing and was a center of the indigo/purple trade as well as a trade center for many things for more guilds are known in Thyatira than any other contemporary city in the Roman province of Asia (inscriptions mention the following: wool-workers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave-dealers, and bronze-smiths).
How is it that Bithynia had a well-established church by 111AD, when Paul was stopped from going there? It is highly likely that Lydia who had been so open to GOD and was a quick study anxious to serve the LORD, was given the assignment with the territorial authority to spread the gospel to her home town of Thyatira. Then, in that trade town, some merchants from Bithynia heard the Good News and went home to evangelized their countrymen.
Isn’t it mind-boggling that although GOD shut the doors for the evangelist Apostle Paul to go to both Asia and Bithynia, his 1st convert in Macedonia was from a city in Asia that had trade ties with Bithynia? I submit that perhaps, just perhaps her enthusiastic witness of JESUS while back home may be why there was a thriving church both there as recorded in Revelation and Bithynia also is documented as having a strong church in 111 AD.
I believe GOD honored Paul’s desire for saved souls from both Asia and Bithynia. HE just didn’t use Paul directly. So you and I can be certain that no good thing will be withheld from us either if we are going with HIS instructions and nudges. HE may shut the doors to our witness with some we want to be saved because HE has chosen and equipped another to do the job.
Remember that even if doors seem to shut right in our faces, GOD promises that no good thing will be withheld from us. Just be prepared that it might look a tad different than what we imagine.
GOD made believers a team and HE has assigned to each of us our own territory as well as set the time schedule (Acts 17:26-27) for the specific work we are to do. GOD in HIS wisdom has given us the authority in whatever HE calls us to do (Ephesians 2:10). But warns us not to go into another’s territory. 1Corinthians 12 illustrates this truth as the eye cannot do the work of the hand or the foot the work of the ear… each of us have our own work to do and GOD has equipped and gives us favor for that work.
We however will not boast of things outside our area of authority… but only within the boundaries of work GOD has given us… (2 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).
So if a door shuts in your face, know that GOD has it covered and wait on HIM to direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-7) for your authority lies in what GOD calls you to.
Looking unto JESUS the author and perfector of my faith,