My Gut Says Yes, but the Holy Spirit Says NO

Father talking with son
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If I seek to be a Spirit-led leader, I must expect to hear the Holy Spirit say "no."

"They went throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came near Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them" (Acts 16:6-7).

Imagine the work of Paul and his missionary team in preparation to enter into Phrygia. Surely they had a strategy. The region was not unknown to them and the culture was probably one they understood well. The region seemed like a perfect opportunity for a church plant. We read later in Acts 19:10 that the region was indeed a fertile ground for ministry.

"All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus."

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It's not always easy to understand a "no." But we do have insight into the direction of the Holy Spirit in this case. Perhaps the Holy Spirit knew the time was critical for Paul to meet Dr. Luke. Perhaps the ministry in Macedonia was more important in a timing sense.

I wonder how many ministers and leaders miss a "no" from the Holy Spirit. World history would have been impacted had Paul not been obedient in this one seemingly simple decision to "obey" a "no." Many leaders are challenged when they hear the word "no." Some see "no" as an invitation to press on and find a way. For some, "no" is simply a suggestion.

The difference is that Paul heard a spiritual "no." We don't know how Paul heard from God, we only know that he did. We also know Paul moved with instant obedience to the Holy Spirit.

As we lead our organizations, we must develop confidence in our knowledge that we hear God. We must stay open and willing to hear the word "no."

We must sharpen our eyes and ears and soften our hearts to become willing to hear that our big idea isn't of the Lord. He protects us from ourselves. If we truly expect to receive the favor of God, we must be ready to hear Him say, "No, my son. Not at this time. Check back with me in another season."

Help us, Lord, to receive the favor of a "no."



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Write words that connect your audience's felt need to your message.

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