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December 8, 2008

Obedience Over Sacrifice

All of us can imagine the excitement Paul felt as he traveled through Lystra and Iconium. In fact if you have been on the mission field, you probably can identify with him. He was on his second missionary journey and was excited about the way things were going. Luke wrote, “The churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily” (Acts 16:4-5).

More than likely, Paul had a plan in mind for the ministry he believed God had given his team. Mapping out the details of their proposed journey probably increased their enthusiasm. They thought of the people they would meet and tell of the forgiveness and saving grace of Jesus Christ. But just as they were hitting their stride, God essentially stepped onto the scene and changed their direction—not once but twice. “After they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (v. 7). When he reached the border of Asia, something shifted. The Holy Spirit blocked Paul and his team from entering that region and motivated them to turn toward Phrygia and Galatia.

Have you ever been in a situation when you felt sure of your direction or a decision you had made only to learn that your plans needed to shift? Most of us know what it feels like to see a dream we thought was God-given fall apart or get put on hold. God never really told Paul why he could not go into Asia Minor. But He did tell him where he wanted him to turn his attention and that was to Macedonia. “A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’” (Acts 16:9). Did the people in Bithynia need to hear about Jesus Christ? Absolutely, and they would at a later date.

For that moment in time, the most important thing Paul needed to do was to obey God. Anything else would not accomplish the Lord’s will for his life.

You may feel as though you have the right plan in mind for your company or family. Yet something is blocking you from seeing it through. The smartest course of action you can take is to be still before the Lord and ask Him to make His way completely clear to you. Pressing on and striving to do something that is not His best only leads to frustration and disappointment. Obedience was key to the ministry of Dr. and Mrs. Forrest. They were committed to obeying God and allowing Him to lead and guide them even if this meant a sudden shift in their well thought out plans. They understood the principle of obedience and believed it was far better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).

Taken from the online devotional Grace in The Wilderness©2008