Acts 16:6 "They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them."
The second and closing part of the post will then deal with the "Little Picture of God's Will" with regards to how to practically hone-in on God's will for the reader. I will be utilizing a teaching I heard years ago that used the acrostic M.A.P. Hopefully, the reader will find this post helpful in grasping God's Big and Little Picture for their life.
Grasping "God's Big-Picture" for Discerning His Will by considering the A,B,C's of discovering what He desires
In the opening text of Acts 16:6, we find the Apostle Paul being hindered by the Holy Spirit from entering into the region of Asia Minor (Ephesus, Mysia). Why would God prevent this great missionary from sharing the Gospel in that land at that time? We discover in Acts 16-17 that God had a mission for Paul to achieve first - namely going over to the region of Macedonia. The fruits of Paul's Macedonian mission can be seen in the letters he wrote to the churches in that region: Philippi, Thessalonica and Corinth.
We then find after Paul had completed his assignment, the Lord had lifted the restraints and Paul was then permitted to freely enter into Ephesus.
How is it that Paul was able to discern the Spirit's leading and promptings? I would suggest that God's way of leading His people entails a combination of interior promptings, circumstances, people and of course the objective, infallible Word of God. We will list four major components in discerning God's Will. Notice the following ABC's of discerning God's Will:
You and I dear friend cannot expect to detect God's leading and promptings if we are operating outside the known will of God. Paul was obeying God in his work of spreading the Gospel. Obedience to Christ's Lordship positions us in ready mode for sensing God's direction.
It is impossible to hear God and know His will apart from the Bible. The Bible was revealed by God for the sake of "us and our children" (Deuteronomy 29:29). God's Word is the objective standard by which all the other methods of discerning God's will are evaluated.
How often do we take the time to "read" our circumstances. God is creative in the ways He guides His people. Circumstances are a big indicator of what God is doing in our lives. Certainly Paul had to read his circumstances and make an informed decision. He had Divine guidance from God for sure, but the circumstances acted as a secondary method of confirming that he and his companions had to go one way, rather than another.
This refers to the internal leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Godhead Who indwells us and is fully God. He speaks to us from the moment of the new-birth / conversion (Romans 8:14-16). By the scriptures the Holy Spirit inside our human spirit delivers insights and illumination (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). The Holy Spirit is the One who provides warrant or justified reasons for why we believe we are saved, Jesus is Lord and the Bible is true (1 Corinthians 12:1-3; 12:12; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 2:20,27).
Grasping "God's Little-Picture" for Discerning His Will by considering the A,B,C's of discovering what He desires
Then we can take what we learned from "God's Big-Picture" and utilize what we saw from a suggestion made in a teaching by Dr. R.C Sproul concerning our "M.A.P" or what we can also call "God's Little Picture":
Motives + Abilities = Passion.