Acts 16:6-15 NIV

[6] 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. [7] When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. [8] So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. [9] During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” [10] 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. [11] From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. [12] From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. [13] 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. [14] 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. [15] 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.


In Acts 16 we find Paul and a few companions on what is known as his second missionary journey.  For whatever reason, God seems to keep closing doors for them and limiting their options: “…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.” (vv. 6-7)

How frustrating must this have been!  Here they are, just trying to serve God and share Him with others, and God is shutting every door they knock on.

That happens sometimes.  It seems like everything we try doesn’t work out, everything we pursue doesn’t go the way we had hoped, we try to move forward and we hit a wall.

We often blame the devil when this happens, but actually the Bible is very clear here that the source of this constant ‘blocking’ is the Holy Spirit.

Why, we might ask, would God prevent His people from doing something that seems really positive and very right?  What is God up to?

Well, in the end, they head down to a place called Troas. During the night Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia who is begging them: “Come over here to Macedonia and help us.” (v. 9) That’s pretty direct guidance! Now it all makes sense. They realise that God had closed some doors because He wanted to open another very specific door for them.

Paul and his pals head to Macedonia, to the Roman Colony of Philippi.  There they meet some wealthy, influential women who are worshipping God down by the river.  Paul shares the Gospel of Jesus with one of them called Lydia, and we read: “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”  (v. 14)

This is the very first time that the Gospel of Jesus is preached in Europe.  Lydia’s conversion becomes the catalyst for a whole community to be reached because we have a whole letter in the New Testament written later from Paul to the church in Philippi.

The obstacles and roadblocks they faced earlier were frustrating and confusing.  But God was very much at work behind the scenes preparing the way for blessing and fruitfulness.

In the same way, right now some of you might be finding that doors don’t seem to be opening up, things don’t appear to be working out, every direction you go there’s obstacles and even opposition.  Be encouraged, God is at work backstage, preparing the way, opening hearts, moving things, because there will be an open door of greater long-term blessing and fruitfulness.  As Gal 6: 9 says: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”