Where Is The Lord Calling You?
By Carter Conlon
Where is the Lord calling you? God has something specific for you to do so He is definitely calling you somewhere. It may not be for the rest of your life–it might be for just a short season.
As we look in the book of Acts, we see the Apostle Paul with some ideas in his heart as to where he should go. "Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them" (Acts 16:6–7).
It is important to note that good ideas are not always "God ideas."Paul was a sincere disciple of Christ who truly wanted to do the work of God–but just as it happened to him, it happens to all of us. There are certain places we want to go and certain things we want to do, and we automatically expect God to go with us. However, sometimes the pathways we choose for our lives during a particular season may not actually be the pathway of God for us.
The passage continues, "So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us'" (Acts 16:8–9). Macedonia was in the western part of society at that time and the people had not yet heard the Gospel. Nevertheless, suddenly a messenger of some sort was pleading with Paul to come help them.
"Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them" (Acts 16:10). So, as Paul and his company headed off to Macedonia, they stopped outside the city by the riverside. They encountered a group of women meeting for prayer and one lady in particular, Lydia, engaged them in conversation. She was a successful merchant and a worshiper of God, yet she did not understand the way of salvation through Christ. However, the Scripture tells us, "The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul... She and her household were baptized" (Acts 16:14–15). Lydia subsequently invited Paul and his company to come stay with her, and her house became the first house church in Macedonia!
THE ROAD IS NOT ALWAYS EASY
The church had been established. People were hearing the Word of God and being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God was clearly on the move! The passage continues, "Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out saying, 'These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation'"(Acts 16:16–17). When the devil knows he is going down, he will try to imitate a Christian. He will pretend and try to get close to you by saying, "Hey, I am with you in this. You are doing a good work here,"Nevertheless, you will sense that something is amiss.
The slave girl followed them for many days. "But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, 'These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.' Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely" (Acts 16:18–23).
This account serves as a reminder that when we obey the will of God we will not necessarily have an easy time. There is no guarantee that we will get a pass through trials and tribulation and trouble. In fact, sometimes obeying the will of God will actually get us into trouble.
"Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks"(Acts 16:24). At midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. "Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed" (Acts 16:26). The Bible tells us that the jailer ended up completely transformed. He took Paul and Silas and washed their wounds. Then he and his family were all baptized that night, and he even brought the men into his house and set food before them.
Remember, all of this started with a man appearing to Paul when he was praying at night, saying, "Come and help us."Imagine what would have happened if Paul had not heeded that voice! What if Paul had gone to Asia, instead, as he had wanted to? What if he had pushed against the Spirit of God, concluding, "Well, Bithynia is a good idea. I am just going to go there"? There would have been no house church in Lydia's home. There would have been no deliverance for the girl who was a captive of darkness being used for somebody else's gain. And at midnight, no songs would have been sung, and nobody's chains would have fallen off. This incredible victory would not have been won!
THROUGH ONE PERSON'S OBEDIENCE
I thank God that history is full of examples of men and women who heard the voice of God and moved in the direction He was leading– even if it meant going to a place of incredible hardship. Many years ago, I was preaching up in the Canadian Arctic to the Inuit people, where I met a lady named Kay Gordon. Kay was twenty-one years old, living in Vancouver, Canada, when she heard about a whole people group up in the Arctic who had never heard the Gospel. Nobody had ever gone there because it was so cold, and very few could survive.
Kay felt the Lord urging her to go to the Arctic with no preparation, no language training–nothing. She just packed up everything and went. That first winter, she lived in extreme hardship. It was incredibly difficult for her physically because she was not accustomed to the cold and did not quite know how to properly heat the small abode where she was living. She almost froze to death that first winter.
Now the Inuit people had never seen a foreigner amongst them. Kay preached about this strange God called Jesus Christ, and they were not interested because they had their own styles of worship. Yet when they saw her go through such hardship for them, their hearts began to open to the Gospel. They asked, "Why have you endured this for us?"Suddenly they began to listen, and conversions to Christ started to take place.
Kay ended up staying for more than fifty years, and the Inuit people loved and highly respected her. By the time I was invited to speak at a Bible school that had been established there, pastors and leaders were being flown in from all over the Arctic by this lady who was now in her seventies. The Gospel had spread like wildfire through the region–all because of the obedience of one 21-year-old girl!
I wonder how many people the Lord tried to speak to before Kay answered. Those who refused to go were perhaps more skilled, more equipped with survival training, or had a deeper knowledge of the Bible–yet they simply were not willing to obey the voice of God and make the sacrifice to go to a place of hardship.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE ME DO?
Imagine what would happen if you and I, along with every believer in Christ, simply said this one little prayer: "Lord, what would You have me do? Where do You want me to go?"
Now, in Paul's case, going to Macedonia was only for one short chapter in his lifetime of following Christ. We do not know exactly how long he was there, but during that season of being in a place that had never heard the Gospel, as well as going through the hardship that he had to endure, great good was done. After Paul and Silas were released from prison, "they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed"(Acts 16:40).
It is just as the Bible says of those who are walking with God: "As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring" (Psalm 84:6). They pass through the valley of weeping, and they make it a place of blessing. What happens is truly amazing when you and I simply have the courage to obey the voice of God.
And so the question remains: Who is calling out for you? Who is asking you to come? Is it the person down the street from you who is filled with despair but whose lifestyle is out of your comfort zone? Sure, you may find it difficult to approach them, but as you sincerely pray, you will begin to feel the cry in that person's heart.
The Bible does not tell us who exactly in Macedonia was the one crying out to Paul. Was it Lydia, who was a successful businesswoman but still did not understand the way to salvation? Was it the captive slave girl? Perhaps it was somebody in the prison who had been crying out to God, saying, "It is so hopeless here. I don't know what I am going to do with my life and my future. Am I destined to live in this godforsaken place for the rest of my days, or is there a way out?" Was it the jailer, who was sick and tired of the anger, the darkness, the way he had to treat the prisoners? Was he fearing for his family? Was he lacking the emotional resources to simply be kind to his wife and children by the time he went home every day?
We do not know who it was, but somebody was desperately crying out for help. Thankfully, God found one man who would be open when the Spirit of God was resisting his own direction and would go to where God was sending him. That is where the power of God is always found. God does not go with us and validate our plans. The way it works is, "Not my will, but Thine be done."
I implore you to have the courage today to say, "Lord, what would You have me do? Where do You want me to go? I do not want to simply live for my will. Let Your will be done in my life!" You will be amazed at the hearts that will be set free, the people who will come to the house of God, the great good that will be done! It is time that each of us become an evangelist–led by the Spirit of God, trusting His power, laying hands on the sick, casting out devils, believing that the Kingdom of God has come–and then watching God do the miraculous!
This newsletter is an edited version of "WHERE IS THE LORD CALLING YOU?," a sermon given on November 28, 2017 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc. You are welcome to make additional copies of this sermon for free distribution to friends. However, for all other forms of reproduction or electronic transmission existing copyright laws apply. This sermon cannot be posted on any website or webpage without permission from Times Square Church. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are from the New King James Version.