The title of “When God says No!” is perhaps not a very catchy or appealing title but actually when God is saying, “No” to one thing, He’s saying, “Yes” to something else. God’s “No” to Bithynia at this time became a “Yes” to Lydia and Philippi.
Timing is crucial.If Paul had tarried in Bithynia he may have missed the meeting with Lydia in Philippi. This meeting was a divine appointment. The Bible says that Lydia was a worshipper of God. God had been preparing her heart to receive Paul’s message.
God prepares us for a people and a people for us. We just need to trust His direction.
Lydia was a seller of purple. She was a well to do agent of a purple dye company from Thyatira. Purple cloth was extremely expensive – it was a symbol of status and wealth. The dye for purple was made from a juice found in minute quantities in shellfish. It took thousands of crustaceans to make a yard or two of purple cloth. So, to sell this cloth Lydia will have been mixing with very rich and influential people.
Lydia is believed to be the first European convert and the Orthodox churches have given her the title of, “Equal to the Apostles” which signifies her importance and level of holiness.
The Lord opened Lydia’s heart and her and her household got baptized. Then she invited Paul to stay at her house. Later, when Paul had gone to jail and been released (Acts 16:30) he, along with Silas, headed straight for Lydia’s house.
So after the “No!” he received from God, Paul met this wonderful lady, Lydia, whose heart was responsive and open to the gospel who became a big part of the Church at Philippi – a Church that was a constant source of supply for Paul – financially and spiritually. This connection was extremely significant
God’s “No!” to Bithynia became a “Yes” to Philippi!
This happened because Paul listened to and obeyed the Holy Spirit
God has a plan for you. Don’t be discouraged if you sense a roadblock. God has a greater purpose.
God has good plans for you – to give you a future and a hope.
Compare 1 Peter 1:1 “To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatians, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
So, there was a Church there at some point in time.
Sometimes God’s “No” isn’t a “Never”. It might just be a “Not Now”.
Sometimes in our own understanding we might think, “It can’t do any harm to go there and encourage these people but the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5,”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
God directs our steps and our stops.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel “, so it seems crazy that God would forbid Paul and his companions to preach the Gospel somewhere.
But sometimes what is good is not necessarily God’s will or God’s timing. The Spirit did not permit Paul and his companions to preach the Word in Asia at that time Maybe the people in Asia weren’t ready to hear what Paul had to say and /or maybe their journey would have been unfruitful – meanwhile God had people ready and waiting in Macedonia who were keen to hear the Gospel, like Lydia the Philippian jailer and the slave girl who had a spirit of divination and needed to be set free. Individuals are important to God and He knows the divine appointments He has set up for you. God’s timing is also significant
Never be disappointed when God says, “No !” If He does, it’s because there’s a greater, “Yes!” further down the line.
Philip the Evangelist left revival to minister to one person who was travelling.
Sometimes the “No!” may not make sense to you, but God does not waste His children. There’s too much invested in you for God to send you somewhere that’s not helpful to you or that’s not in His good plan for your life.
Today I drove out on the country lanes to get to the school I’ve been working in this week. Every time I get to a particular intersection something unusual happens – the voice of my satnav says, “Take a sharp left” but the map indicates to turn right. It’s very confusing. The first time I followed the voice and got completely lost; the second time I followed the map and reached my destination.
Often in life we hear conflicting messages and we don’t know who to believe. We don’t know where to turn next. The good thing is that God can guide us.
Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ” This is the way, walk in it, ” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left”
If we ask God, He will guide us always. There may be a clamour of voices, but the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit is all we need to hear.