Today, I want us to focus on verses 6-10 of Acts 16.
In the build up to this chapter, we have seen Paul on his travels, spending time helping to strengthen the churches in the regions he had visited. Now, it seems from this passage that Paul was wanting to head to Asia (not Asia as we know it today, but modern day Turkey), and to preach the word of God there. However this passage tells us that he was kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching there! Similarly, when they arrived at the border of Mysia and tried to enter Bithynia, the Holy Spirit wouldn't allow them to enter there either! And so instead they went down to Troas.
It seems strange that the Holy Spirit would forbid them from preaching the Word in Asia, and from also entering Bithynia. Perhaps at this point we could be tempted to ask the question 'Why didn't the Holy Spirit want the word being preached in Asia?' If we find ourselves asking that question, I think we are missing the point. Of course it was important for the word to be preached there, but it wasn't for Paul to do!
There was a work being orchestrated by the Holy Spirit for Paul to do, and it was important that Paul was in tune with the Spirit and obedient to where he was called to go! I don't exactly know how the Spirit of God stopped them from preaching in Asia. Perhaps it was through a prophetic word, an inward speaking of the Spirit or maybe their circumstances. The important thing for us to see here though is that Paul was hearing where the Spirit of God wanted him to be, and he acted in obedience! And so, Paul went to Troas.
Once in Troas, we read that Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia, standing and begging 'Come to Macedonia and help us.' God makes Paul's journey very clear, and God's plan for Paul is starting to unfold. In Paul's mind, he wanted to reach and preach the gospel in a few cities in his region. However, God called him from Asia, and took him to Europe! God had far bigger plans for Paul... he wasn't going to reach a few cities, but a whole continent! And Paul is obedient to the call, and immediately sought to go!
When we read this passage, we need to remember this: Paul didn't set out to go to Troas. In fact it was his third choice! However, it was the plan of the Holy Spirit to lead him there, and Paul responded beautifully to the Holy Spirit, and was willing to lay down his own will and his own plans in order to be where the Spirit was leading him.
Are we doing likewise?