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. – Acts 16:6 NIV
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The Apostle Paul was a very hard-working Evangelist of the Word with the evidence of his work made very obvious all across the New Testament. He had desired to preach the Word all over what was the gentile world of his time but, in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotional, the Holy Spirit had restrained him from preaching the Word in Asia hence his decision to limit his evangelism activities to Phrygia and the region of Galatia. The spirit of Jesus had prevented them from entering Bithynia when they arrived the border of Mysia (Acts 16:6-8), so they moved on to Troas where at night during his sleep, he had a vision of a man inviting him over to Macedonia to help them. Having being convinced that it was the plan of God for them to go to Macedonia, he set out on the journey with his entourage and eventually arrived at Phillipi which was a Roman colony and the leading city in the district of Macedonia where they remained for several days – Acts 16:9-12.
On the Sabbath day, they went to the riverside where they expected to find a place of prayer and while preaching the Word to the women who had gathered in that location of prayer, the Almighty God opened the heart of one of the women from the City of Thyatira named Lydia who was a dealer in purple clothes – Acts 16:13-14. Although the Bible reveals that she was a worshipper of the Almighty God, she was yet to be baptised so Apostle Paul arranged for herself and family members to be baptised after which in appreciation, she extended an invitation to Paul and his entourage to be hosted in her home – Acts 16:15.
Christians today need to be aware that the Almighty God has a choice on how He desires be worshipped. He is not desperate to be worshipped so much so that He does not have a choice on how He must be worshipped. It not just that He must be served but must be served in the way He has prescribed. A worship done with the best of intentions but in the wrong way will not yield the expected result. It was indeed with good intentions to have the Almighty God lead the Israelites into war that made King Saul lead the offering of the sacrifice required for that to happen but that act done in zeal but without knowledge came with a backlash as the arrival of Samuel just after he finished the sacrifice revealed God’s view about the sacrifice – 1Sam. 13:8-14. Rather than further endear Saul to the Almighty God and so establish his kingdom, it only helped to create a gulf between both of them and took the kingdom away from him. It was not about the sacrifice he made but about him not obeying the instructions of God concerning the sacrifice, which he would have gotten through knowledge, just as Samuel told him.
The Apostle Paul, despite his zeal for the work to which he had been called, never moved without the dictate of the Holy Spirit as a guide, which was definitely why he was triumphant over every evil plan that was placed on his way during is missionary activities. That was why he did not proceed into Bithynia when he arrived border at Mysia. It was not about just preaching the gospel but doing so in the place and at a time that the Lord desires after all it is His message and not your message.
Several Christians today are suffering the repercussion of being spiritually active in situations that the Lord would have preferred that they slow down or remain inactive and unfortunately believe that they are suffering because of the cross. That could just be a self consolatory thought and self deceit. The suffering has to be due to an action that he approved for it to be deserving of recognition and reward from Him.
Similarly, he wants all those who wish to worship, to do so in the name of His son Jesus Christ, whom he had offered as a sacrifice on the cross for the remission of sins. No matter how dedicated one may be to His worship, it may remain unacceptable if it is not done in the name of Jesus Christ. The Bible notes and testifies that Lydia who was very prosperous as she dealt in the trade of purple robes was a worshipper of God but it was obvious that something was missing in her worship just as it happened in the case of Cornelius whose devotion to worship, the Bible also testified to, but in both cases, they had not met Jesus Christ and so something important was missing in their worship – Acts 10:1-6. It took the sermons of Paul on those Sabbath days and the action of the Almighty God to open the heart of Lydia (Jn. 16:8), after all she was not the only woman who was present, for her to notice what was missing in her worship of the Almighty God – Acts 16:14. She was the only one that God singled out for special mention. She and her family eventually got baptised into Christ and her worship was perfected.
It is not about just worshipping God but for those whom He has granted grace so to do, to do so in the way and manner he desires as anything otherwise could have serious spiritual backlash. Do not allow zeal or emotion to lead your worship of the Almighty God. It is the knowledge of how he desires to be worshipped that should be paramount to the one who desires to worship God. Just as he will not accept any sacrifice done with zeal without knowledge of how best it should be done, there is equally no assurance of protection from negative fallouts, for the one that decides to allow zeal to lead the desire to worship Him. Do not just feel like worshipping Him, ask Him how He wants you to express your worship and it is only then that your worship will be acceptable. May god grant us the wisdom to worship Him in an acceptable in Jesus name. Amen.