Not My Plan
Good Lord and God, as I plan my day and days ahead, I pray that You’ll guide all my plans for good.
Read Acts 15:36-16:15
 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”  Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,  but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,  but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.  He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.  Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek.  The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.  Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.  Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.  When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.  So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.  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.  From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis.  From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.  On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.  When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did Paul decide where and where not to go?
This passage describes three incidents that could have damaged the churches, and yet through it all more people heard the good news. First, Paul and Barnabas disagree and part company, with the end result that the ministry is doubled, as Paul and Silas go one way and Barnabas and Mark another! Even in disagreement, the Lord can work out his plans in another way. Second, Paul circumcises Timothy, which seems to contradict all that happened in the Council of Jerusalem. Yet John Stott reminds us that Paul was only showing that, “What was unnecessary for acceptance with God was advisable for acceptance by some human beings” (Stott, Message of Acts). He shows that exceptions are possible without undermining the Gospel message. Third, a dream redirects Paul to Macedonia. This change of direction and the conversion of Lydia’s family affirm that God knows what he is doing and he is really seeking a people prepared to follow his guidance. So we are reminded that, “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (Prov. 16:9, NLT)!
Commit your current plans to God. Ask him to determine your steps; then trust him by waiting to see what he does!
Tell God that you understand and trust that his ways are the best and that you always want to know and follow them.