We continue with our sermon series entitled ‘The Church Growth Toolkit’. Preaching from Nathan Gordon. Service led by Beverley Sills.
Motorists travelling to Sittingbourne using the M2 Slip Road will be familiar with ‘Road Closed’ and ‘Diversion’ signs as roadworks are carried out until January 2023. Despite the attempts to update motorists and ensure signs are visible, the disruption of familiar routes can cause frustration and an enforced exercise of patience. A statement from the National Highways said “We’re doing everything we can to encourage drivers to stick to the approved diversions, which have been chosen to handle the flows of traffic experienced on the M2.
Diversions in Life
Not only are motorists familiar with road closures and diversions, but throughout our lives, there are moments when God may choose to open doors of opportunity and in other cases, He may decide to close doors.
How do we respond to closed doors and blocked routes? – The Apostle Paul along with Timothy and Silas in Acts chapter 16 experienced the realisation of divine closed doors as well as new opportunities to share the Gospel. There’s a lot we can learn from how God’s servants reacted to the sovereign shifts and closed doors that we can utilise in our efforts to experience God’s perfect will.
So how do we deal with roadblocks to our plans and goals?
1. Recognise the difference between good ideas & God’s Ideas – v6-8
- Paul & his companions had good intentions to spread the word in Asia and Bithynia
- Good intentions may not always coincide with God’s will
- Luke records The Holy Spirit blocked Paul’s route to Asia & The Spirit of Jesus blocked the route to Bithynia – Is there a difference between the two? (See Luke 24:49)
Challenge – It’s essential that we seek to discern God’s will through the power of the Holy Spirit, so we can understand the doors God is opening as well as those doors He is closing.
2. Remember God has a greater plan than ours – v9-10
- The group of missionaries believed preaching in Asia would have fulfilled God’s will
- The Holy Spirit led them to focus on a plan they had not even thought about (Macedonia)
- The Macedonian call was not a detailed exegesis, but it gave Paul and co a clear picture of what ministry in Macedonia would entail (“Come over to Macedonia and help us”)
Challenge – When we are convinced about something it’s difficult to dissuade against that plan, but through the Holy Spirit if we trust His plan, we will see the greater purpose that will exceed our vision and ideas.
3. Resolve to embrace the triumphs and the challenges of God’s will – v11-40
- God’s perfect will is not always filled with grandeur and success
- Suffering and trials may be part of God’s plan
- A woman was set free from demonic possession
- Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and thrown in prison
- The jailer and his household received Jesus and were baptised
Challenge – God’s will is never an easy street but it’s the best place to be! never allow the enemy or frustration to divert you away from God’s perfect will.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
1. What is the spiritual process of testing good ideas versus God’s ideas?
2. Read Psalm 37:4 and discuss how this verse can be taken out of context with regard to our desires coming into fruition.
3. Do you think there is ever a bad time to preach the gospel? (Read verses 6-8)
4. Read verses 9-10 & discuss examples in your own life or testimonies of others where God gave clear direction, and it came into being.
5. Paul and his companions experienced the ups and downs of embracing God’s will (see verses 16-40) discuss examples in your life where God’s will was challenging yet rewarding.