Sunday, May 09, 2010

Called and led

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 16:1-15


TO CHEW ON: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia but the Spirit did not permit them… Now after he had seen the vision (of a man saying ‘Come over to Macedonia to help us’) immediately we sought to go to Macedonia concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel there.” Acts 16:6-7,10

A reader, Judy, tells of a missions trip she took to South Africa (used with her permission):

"First of all God supplied the funds. In 1966 I taught school on First Nations reserves north of Souix Lookout. I bought two large paintings for $35 each from Norval Morrisseau when he visited the isolated community I was teaching in. During our years of teaching in the Arctic they hung unframed, tacked up with push pins in several homes.

"Fast forward ahead to 2008 when after reading something on Becky's blog I said to Christian, Where are those paintings? I'd done some research on the Internet and realized they just may have some value. I sold one of the paintings for $6,500. Christian said immediately that I should do something very special with this unexpected windfall. I like to imagine our Lord saying on the day I bought the painting, "Do I ever have a surprise for you. It will be arriving in 42 years."

"I heard about the volunteer group in South Africa, again through Becky's blog. One of her daughters had worked in an orphanage and had had a very positive experience. I wanted to teach and found a school along the east coast that seemed to be a good fit. I did make it clear that I did not want to teach computers or run an after school recreation program. They said that was fine I could just be in a classroom.

"I was picked up in East London by a different volunteer group than the one I'd communicated with. I thought that was a little unusual. The next day I found out that the first group (name redacted) had contracted me out to a second group (name redacted) AND . . . . . perhaps you can guess what is coming; they wanted me to teach computers and run an after school recreational program. For a few moments to use my mother's term, I was floored. Then I thought about the lessons I'd learned in home studies the previous winter studying the life of Abraham. Don't focus on the "problem". Focus on God.

"I was sure God could/would enable me to do the tasks but I also knew the desire of my heart and where my strengths lie. I had immediate assurance from Him that there would be a solution to the situation. It took a couple of days until I was at King's Playschool. That was the last name of the people who ran a rural facility out of their home. I had noticed the verse "They shall shine like stars in his crown" from the song "When He Cometh" based on Zech. 9:16, on their sign. So .. . . I knew they were believers but they didn't know I was.

"When I had the opportunity I told Tracy that I was a follower of Jesus Christ, that I knew He had led me to South Africa but that I didn't know what I was supposed to do. She said she'd been praying for someone to relieve her of classroom duties while she dealt with the rest of her life. Here's what was on her plate."

"Pentecostal Pastor's wife of a growing church.
Home schooling their 3 children
Running the school of 50 children and 10 employees
In the process of adopting two black babies who had been abandoned
Teaching a class

"I had three glorious weeks of teaching eager 5 year olds. Most of my ideas were new for them… Both Tracy and I felt so blessed…. Who, but our loving Father, would take a woman from northern North America and team her up with a woman from Southern South Africa at exactly the right time! These kinds of experiences just light a fire under my faith which was already strong. An entire year later I still marvel at it and hope I always do.

They light a fire under my faith too! I never cease to marvel at God’s way of putting together the circumstances of our lives to work for His kingdom and our blessing if that’s our desire.

In today’s reading Paul and Silas were shunted off the track they were on by the Holy Spirit. How that looked, I’m not sure – a feeling of uneasiness, a prophetic message? However it happened, they knew they were not to go to Asia. At Bithynia likewise “the Spirit did not permit them.” The vision to go to Macedonia, then, was most welcome. Here was clear direction .

In Philippi – one of the largest cities in Macedonia – was Lydia and a band of believers who met at the riverside regularly for worship. Can you imagine how she must have felt the morning Paul and Silas showed up and told her the story of how they got there.

Judy’s story shows us that God still works in behind-the-scenes ways. It freights these familiar verses with a new and personal relevance:

“Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:27-28

PRAYER: Dear God, please put my life in the stream of Your usefulness. Help me to hear Your Spirit’s instructions and obey them. Amen.


MORE: Happy Mother's Day! to all mothers reading today.  How appropriate to be able to tell the story of remarkable women in our reading today.

Motherhood stories, in particular, are always heart-warming.



Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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