Where or What is Your Bithynia?
“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. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.” Acts 16:6-8
It is our natural inclination to resist, to question or to be at least somewhat suspicious of change. If the question is where or what is your Bithynia, we could paraphrase it to say where or what is the thing in your plans that the Spirit of Jesus is restraining you, prompting you or not permitting you to go to or to do? What plan(s) have you been contemplating or preparing for, but suddenly find you are not sensing the same enthusiasm or confirmation in your spirit that you originally had for them?
This is a subject not often talked about in spiritual discussions or in sermons as a general rule. It is probably on par with exhortations to listen for the answer from God as equally important in prayer as speaking.
It should be that the believer considers everything that is begun in faith remains subject to change as the Lord leads. Those changes may be small or great. It is up to us to be ready to hear and ready to relinquish our plans and submit to God’s will, however He may direct us.
The challenge is to know the voice of God and have confidence in what we sense in our spirit, that it is indeed the will of God. Oftentimes, we look back after we have pushed through resistance to attain some desired plan only to fail or fall very short of it, that our failure resulted from ignoring God’s checks and warnings. All along the way we had several moments when we were minded to pull back or suspend our forward movement altogether. But we pressed on despite the inner witness we felt to cease going toward with our original plan.
The key is to be able to recognize the difference between discouragement, fear or pessimism that proceeds from our emotions, and an inner witness of thought, consideration, or an actually Word of prophecy that is spiritually discerned. God can speak to us in dreams, in thoughts, directly or indirectly from Is Word, from a trusted spiritual source, or on those rare and wonderful occasions, the audible voice of God.
However the message may come to us, we would do well to heed it. Bithynia is a metaphor for our plans. No matter how sincerely we may desire to go there, when God says don’t do it, that must become our new heading if we are to attain His desired end.
Have you heard from the Lord? Have you confirmed your hearing by the word of two or three witnesses? Have you made your plans? Have you begun your journey toward your destination? Are you listening daily to hear from the Lord what your next steps should be? If you are, then all you need to do is be ready to stop, to go on, or to change course at anytime.
Is there any word of confidence in the message of bypassing Bithynia? Yes. If God is saying don’t go there it is for your benefit to heed His call. Why should you suffer loss or pay the penalty for taking a course where He is not taking you?
When He closes and no one can open it, He also provides an opening that no one can close. When our Bithynia closes, God opens up a Troas for us and there He provides for greater works to happen in us and through us. In obedience to His leading we are blessed and many others receive the Gospel. And the Kingdom of God is multiplied on the earth.