PAUL’S MACEDONIAN VISION
Scripture: Acts 15:40–41, 16:1–10; Romans 8:14
Memory verse: Romans 8:14
"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God."
Open the class by reading Acts 9:10–12. Tell the students that God told Ananias to go pray for Paul. He assured Ananias He had already informed Paul of Ananias’ arrival. Ask the students how Paul had been informed. Explain that after Paul had been blinded on the road to Damascus, God showed Paul in a vision that Ananias would visit him and pray for him. When Ananias obeyed God and went to Paul, everything happened just as God had said it would. Paul was healed and began his ministry.
Dreams and visions are ways God has communicated with people throughout the ages. From the beginning of the Bible to the end we find God talking to His servants this way.
Tell the students that dreams and visions are not just events in Bible times. God can still speak to believers in these ways today if He so chooses. However, God also uses other ways to speak to His people. This week’s study will describe some of these ways.
Hearing God’s Word
A story is told of a Christian woman who went to visit her sister, who lived across town. Nothing was particularly important about the visit; it would be only a social call. Yet when the woman reached her sister’s home, a strange sense of urgency suddenly came over her. She felt strongly impressed not to visit her sister.
At first the woman was tempted to pass off the thought and go on into her sister’s home. However, the powerful impression returned again. This time she sensed the Holy Spirit was directing her. She prayed for further guidance.
God’s Spirit impressed the woman to visit another family in town that was facing a desperate need. The woman knew very little about the family, but she did know where they lived. Immediately she obeyed the Spirit’s leading and started toward their house, wondering what she would find when she arrived.
When the woman arrived at the house, she learned that the father of this family was deathly ill in bed. Immediately the woman went in to pray for the dying man. God brought a miraculous healing. From that time on the man and his family served God faithfully.
What might have happened if the woman had just ignored the impression to visit the needy family? The man might have died. The family would not have seen the power of God through the healing. The woman’s willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit was important not only to the dying man but to his family also.
God speaks to us through His Spirit if we are in tune with Him and are willing to listen. Paul had an experience like that. Look at Acts 16:6–10. (Instruct the students to find the passage in their Bibles.)
Paul’s Second Journey Begins
Paul had set out on his second missionary journey. This time Paul took Silas with him to be his main helper. Together they visited some of the churches that had been established in Galatia (Guh-LAY-shuh) on the first missionary journey. Two churches mentioned specifically are the ones in Derbe (DUR-bee) and Lystra (LIHS-truh).
Ask: “Who remembers what happened when Paul was in Lystra before?” (Allow responses. Remind the students of Paul’s stoning there.)
When Paul came to Lystra on this second trip, a man named Timothy was added to Paul’s missionary team. Timothy would soon become one of Paul’s dearest friends.
Paul, Silas, and Timothy travelled from town to town, helping the church in each place grow in faith and in number. Paul must have felt happy that God was opening more doors for sharing the gospel.
Paul and his companions continued to travel through the countries of Phrygia (FRIJ-ih-uh) and Galatia. Afterward Paul planned to go east into Asia. There he would share the good news in the large flourishing cities of Ephesus (EF-uh-suhs), Laodicea (Lay-od-uh-SEE-uh), and Hierapo9lis (Hiy-uh-RAP-uh-lihs). No doubt he was excited about the idea of telling great numbers of people about Jesus.
Paul Receives a Warning
Suddenly things came to a halt. Acts 16:6, 7 explains what happened. (Ask a student to read the verses aloud.) Paul did not know about the need in Macedonia (Mas-uh-DOAN-ee-uh);, but the Holy spirit did. The Holy Spirit knows God’s mind and what He wants accomplished and how. The Holy Spirit would not let Paul preach in Asia. When Paul attempted to go north to Bithynia (Bih-THIN-ee-uh), God’s Spirit would not allow that either!
You may wonder, “How did Paul know not to go to those places? How does the Holy Spirit give directions like that?”
The Bible does not tell us exactly how the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul. It probably was not through a voice from heaven that Paul could hear. The Holy Spirit could speak in that way, but it is not His usual method for giving directions.
Ways God Speaks
God’s Spirit sometimes speaks as He did to the woman mentioned earlier. When we are in tune with God through daily prayer and Bible reading, the Holy Spirit may suddenly impress us with a thought regarding something we should or should not do. Such an experience is difficult to explain, as it is a feeling or sensation.
Maybe you have been at school or with friends in your neighbourhood and suddenly you felt you ought to say something about accepting Jesus or attending church. When that kind of impression comes, it is usually the Holy Spirit encouraging you to tell someone about Jesus. It is important to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading immediately. Sometimes there is not a second chance.
God’s Spirit also speaks through the Bible. That is why reading the Bible regularly is so important. God’s Word is a “living: Word. It is much different from any other book. The Bible has life-changing power when it is read prayerfully by a Christian who is sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Through His Word, God gives us special help with our daily plans and decisions. Yet the Bible is useless just sitting closed on a shelf. When you read the Bible, read with an open heart and mind so God’s Spirit can speak to you.
God’s Spirit also speaks through prayer. When you pray, God’s spirit has a good opportunity to impress your heart and mind with important thoughts and directions. Prayer is open communication between you and God.
God can, of course, speak to us through others, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit—the word of knowledge, word of wisdom, interpretation of a message given in an unlearned language, etc. However, it is important to always check a message, no matter how it is given, with the Bible. If it is of God, it will agree with His Word. For example, if you have a strong desire inside you to steal something, that is not God talking to you. His Word commands people not to steal. Be sure your impressions are confirmed by God’s Word before you act on them.
After Paul and his friends had been stopped by the Holy Spirit from preaching in Asia and Bithytnia, they went to a place called Troas. Paul had a unique experience there that shows another way God’s Spirit can speak to us. What was it? (Ask a student to read Acts 16:9–10.)
Paul had a vision during the night. Visions are much like dreams but they are not always given during sleep. They are usually vivid and easy to remember.
In Paul’s vision he saw a man from Macedonia begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). Immediately Paul knew what he was to do—share the gospel in Macedonia.
Ask: “What do you suppose would have happened if Paul had ignored the Spirit’s direction and gone where he wanted?” (Allow responses.)
Most likely Paul’s ministry would not have been successful. Thankfully, however, Paul was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and followed His directions. God blessed Paul’s ministry because of his obedience. The Bible gives a wonderful promise to those who obey God’s leading. (Repeat this week’s memory verse a couple of times.)
Accepting God’s Word
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in our own plans and ideas. Many of them may be worthwhile. However, it is extremely important to seek God’s direction in the things we do. If we will allow Him, He will guide us in the way that is best for us. When we are in His will, we will feel God’s peace in our hearts. There is no better way to live.
The Indian tribes in Southeast Africa consist of approximately 3 million people of Indian origin. Most of the tribes in Southeast Africa arrived in the 19th century as British indentured labourers. The chart below shows the location of some of these tribes:
Country Tribe Number in Country Religion
MAURITIUS Bhojpuri 364,000 Hinduism
Hindi 36,000 Hinduism
Urdu 34,000 Islam
REUNION Gujarati 22,000 Hinduism
Punjabi 3,500 Hinduism
Urdu 900 Islam
KENYA Bengali 1,400 Islam
Gujarati 187,000 Hinduism
Kachchi 70,000 Hinduism
TANZANIA Gujarati 394,000 Hinduism
Hindi 54,000 Hinduism
Kachchi 54,000 Hinduism
MOZAMBIQUE Gujarati 30,000 Hinduism
Hindi 30,000 Hinduism
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for a Vision to Reach the Indians
1. God to impress their spiritual need upon our hearts,
2. Become friends with Indian students and be a channel of blessing,
3. May they see Jesus in us and be struck by His love for them.
"No one is like you, Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power" (Jeremiah 10:6).
Remember: PAUL’S MACEDONIAN VISION
Memory verse: Romans 8:14
"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God."
1. God wants to share with me His purpose for my life.
2. I am God's creation. He has a work for me to accomplish.
3. I will be his messenger to the Indian community.
Pray for a vision to reach the Indians.
Study 8 | Eternity— Apostle Paul | africaatts.org/go-teach