I was stirred in my heart a while ago by the call of God to Paul to Macedonia. In this article we are going to work through the 16th chapter of Acts. We will learn about how Paul worked through what he faced in Macedonia and the result of his obedience.
Acts 16:9 says, ‘During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” ’
The Macedonian call is a call from within your spirit to meet a need outside!
Apostle Paul was stopped by the Holy Spirit twice from engaging in ministry in the province of Asia and Bithynia— so that the Lord could bring Him to the right place – Macedonia!
“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.”(Acts 16:6, 7)
We also see here in vs. 6 that the Lord is leading Paul and his traveling team to God’s will because “they had already taken the first step to look for opportunities to serve Him. They had already set out to explore and use available arenas to minister the Gospel!”
In vs. 12 we read that they came to the leading city of Macedonia, Philippi. According to history, this happened in the spring of AD 52, 21 years after the crucifixion. This was the first time Europe was touched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ when Paul entered the city of Philippi!
Acts 16:13-15 says, ‘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.’
After reaching Philippi, they went looking for a place of prayer. They sought a place where they could connect to the Lord in the Spirit.
Interestingly it was a woman named Lydia who opened her heart to receive Christ, not a man. But in the vision Paul saw in Troas, it was a man calling him to come to Macedonia! Well, that didn’t confuse Paul, as any person irrespective of gender, was equally valuable in God’s eyes.
The rest of the ministry in Philippi is opened up by another female slave, who happened to be possessed by a spirit of divination. The deliverance of this girl led to Paul and Silas being severely beaten and imprisoned.
Acts 16:16-19, 22-24 says, ‘Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.’
In the vision that Paul heard the Macedonian call, God hadn’t told anything about the persecution that they would face there. But that didn’t take Paul by surprise and neither did he quit Philippi because God didn’t tell him in the vision about the persecution. Paul was prepared to face whatever it took to open up the city to the Gospel.
Prison gave Paul and Silas the time and space to pray and praise God in hymns. God interrupted their praise with an earthquake, shaking the foundations of the prison, opening prison doors and loosening the binds of the prisoners (vs. 26). Watching the intensity of God’s intervention, the jailor and his family gave their lives to the Lord and was baptized (vs. 27-34).
What resulted from Paul’s labour in Philippi led to the planting of the Philippian church.
We read in his letter that the Philippian church partnered with Paul in the work of the Gospel (because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now–Philippians 1:5).
The church also catered to his personal needs – ‘Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.’ (Philippians 4:15, 16)
May the Lord open our hearts to understand the reward of obeying His directions. His directions for our lives would have moments of challenges that would test our faith but simply obeying Him and paying the price, always opens doors of temporal and eternal rewards.