Recently I was reminded of the importance of listening to God and obeying him regardless of what he asks. As we grow in Christ, he calls us to a deeper relationship and tests us in how we respond to him. Sometimes this can border on what seems nonsensical, but all the while he is continuing to test our faith and grow us. In a teaching by John Paul Jackson, he notes how God taught him to be sensitive and listen to his voice and above all obey. John Paul talks about how God would tell him to do the most trivial things. For instance, God would tell him to go into a particular store, then once there he would tell him to turn around and leave. God did this repeatedly in different situations. What was going on? God was teaching him to be sensitive to his voice, but also testing John Paul in his obedience. Will you obey in the most trivial things? I have personally found this to be true in my own life as well. There are times God tests me by asking me to do the most strange things. But God is building up my faith so that when he comes to me with instructions, I will not go into a 20 minute argument expecting an explanation of why. God is not required to tell us why. He is the great I AM, he knows all, does as he wishes and does not need our approval. As his servants we should obey in the faithful knowledge that he always knows what is best.
I know all of this is true because God recently came to me and asked something a little out of the ordinary. I am used to this, but there is always still a choice whether to obey or not. God asked me to attend another church recently, a church I knew nothing about. I wondered if I was going to miss my home church services in this request, but found out that this church holds services on Saturday night as well as Sunday. So off I went on Saturday night, not really knowing why God was asking me to go, but welcoming another chance to worship in his house at a different location. While I was there worshiping, I felt the need to pray for the church body. So as I worshipped I prayed for the church as the Holy Spirit led. I left that night still not really knowing what God was up to. But I do know God wanted me there, and I was blessed by the worship and the word preached. A few years ago, I would not have been as sensitive to do such a thing. And while I may never know what a difference my presence and prayers made, God knows. He always has a purpose.
Acts 16 says, “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, bypassing Mysia, they came down to Troas. During the night a vision appeared to Paul: A Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, ‘Cross over to Macedonia and help us!’ After he had seen the vision, weimmediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them.” Acts 16:6-10
We don’t always know who needs help, but God does. It is incredibly important to listen to the voice of God and obey. To go where he directs, for we do not know what blessing may come to those to whom he sends us. John MacArthur tells us in his commentary that Macedonia was located on the mainland of Greece, where the cities of Philippi and Thessalonica were located. He goes to say that going to Macedonia was significant because it was moving the gospel from Asia into Europe. I am thinking this might be important! We do not know why God restrains us in some ways and directs in others, but that is ok, because he knows. We must obey trusting in his sovereign grace.