The previous article recently had focused on the truth that God‘s plan and our plans sometimes are not the same. Most people intuitively know that Divine thought is far greater than what man can contrive.
Scripture verifies that repeatedly. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 55:8-9 NASB).
Paul stated … “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:9-11 NIV).
What God has for the Christian far exceeds our thinking or plans. That is an undeniable truth, but the problem lies in one’s willingness to accept God’s way. The Apostle Paul faced these challenges in his own ministry. His desire was to preach in province of Asia but the Spirit hindered him from going. Then he tried to enter Bithynia but again there was divine prohibition. Dr. Luke records that … “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. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas” (Acts 16:6-8 NIV).
Scripture does not reveal why Paul was not permitted to evangelize in those areas, but in the faithfulness of God, the message would be carried by others … “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3b-4 NIV). Scripture not only records Paul’s sensitivity to the leading of the Spirit, but also his failure to heeding the warnings not to go to Jerusalem. He desired to spread the good news of eternal life through faith in Christ. To the churches in Corinth he wrote … “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings” (I Cor 9 22b-23 NIV).
Yet, zeal when not tempered can be overcome by emotion. Determined to go to Jerusalem, the apostle set aside the warnings from other followers of Christ … “Finding the disciples there (Tyre), we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem” Acts 21:4 NIV). “After we had been there (Caesarea) a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.' When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:10-12 NIV).
God’s Plan was for Paul to go to Rome but Paul determined to take the Jerusalem detour. Even the greatest of the apostles was susceptible to failing. Paul would later reflect on his decision to deviate from God’s will and claim the promise that reveals God’s abundant grace ... “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28 NIV). Only God can fix our messes. Praise to Him, for His amazing grace!