Daily D – Acts 16:9-10
Acts 16:9, 10 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (NIV)
What’s the difference between a God-given vision and a personal fantasy? A point of consideration is who gets blessed. Visions from God focus on those who need to know and experience him. Fantasies focus on the dreamer.
A preacher stood before his congregation and declared, “I am a visionary.” This is preacherspeak for, “God has told me what to do, and you are going to do it.” This is frequently followed by projects that make the preacher look good.
Compare and contrast such an experience with what happens here in Acts 16.
1. Paul had a vision.
2. It concerned a specific people group that needed to hear the good news of Jesus.
3. The message of the vision was specifically about that people group and not about Paul’s prominence or significance.
4. Paul told his partners in the gospel about the vision.
5. The whole team agreed on what God was saying and what their next steps were to be.
6. They immediately obeyed what they heard from God.
Don’t miss this. Paul was given the vision. Everyone got to hear it and weigh it. Everyone reached the same conclusion. They heard God and obeyed him immediately.
Dave’s conclusion: The best visioneering is done by teams, not by individuals.
Paul alone received the vision. Paul, however, did not keep it to himself. He told his companions. It made perfect sense to them because of what had been happening to them as recorded in verses 6-8. They had been stymied on their journey by Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God said, STOP. They stopped. Now, God said, GO. They got going.
Note how little ego was involved here. This team of adventurers was living wide-open and full-out in pursuit of hearing and obeying God. They went together. They worked together. They sought God together. They obeyed God together.
You have heard, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go farther, go together.” This was a “farther along” kind of trip.
What happened next? Adventures galore! There was Lydia and her household coming to faith in Christ. There was a demonized girl released from her slavery. There was a tumult and a beating and jail and an earthquake and another household coming to faith in Christ. There was a parade out of the jail. There was a poor little church that became one of Paul’s favorite groups of believers anywhere. He wrote a joyful letter to them we call Philippians.
How well do you hear and obey God? Who helps you make sure what you think you heard is not a fantasy about yourself and is truly God’s will and way to bring others into relationship with himself?
Who helps you go farther even when you would prefer to go faster?
Visioneering and Adventuring under God’s mighty hand are pretty exciting. Share the expedition. Share the joy. Share the love. Share God’s great good news.
I will submit my visionary thinking to faithful friends who hear God at least as well as I do.
Our Father, your visions to me are not about me. Thank you for this truth. Your great good news is far better than anything I could produce or proclaim. Give me ears to hear what you are saying. Give me an obedient heart to do what you say. Give me companions for this expedition who know you and hear you and obey you immediately. Empower us to go farther along with you as you clearly lead the way. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”