My teenage daughter has a picture on her wall about Jeremiah 29:11,which says
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope
I read too regularly about young people who feel they have no hope in this life – so much so that they take their own life. The other day I learnt on BBC News that dark, gloomy messages glorifying self-harm and suicide are easily available on Instagram and once a person has clicked on one it creates an algorithm so the person is bombarded with more of the same messages.
How about we bombard our friends and those on our social media feeds with the powerful Word of God?
You have a hope and a future. Jesus died on the cross and took all His sin upon Himself so you could have a hope and a future – in this life and in Eternity.
You are significant. If you were the only person on the Earth God would still have sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you.
You are created in the image of God and are dearly loved.
No amount of heartache, financial difficulty, loss of friendships, abusive relationships etc. can destroy you if you listen to the One who created you, who has a purpose for you and a plan only you can fulfill.
Jesus experienced rejection – He understands. But He wants to comfort you and help you.
Please, please don’t deprive the world of your presence, your life, your contribution.
You are worth more than that.
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.