Acts 20:1-6 (NIV)
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.
Paul has no fear, yet he runs away from a potential trap. Why doesn’t he just assume that God will rescue him?
Because that’s not how it works.
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” – Luke 4:12 (cf. Deuteronomy 6:16)
Intentionally walking into a trap would be the height of arrogance.
(Note: The Holy Spirit will later specifically direct Paul to walk into a trap. That’s different.)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; – Proverbs 3:5
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; – 1 Corinthians 1:27
Biblical wisdom trumps secular wisdom, but that doesn’t mean secular wisdom is useless. The Lord said, “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16b
Just as Paul shrewdly avoided trouble, so should we.
But sometimes the spirit tells us to do something surprising. How can we know when it’s from God and not something else?
The key is prayer. Without prayer, the Lord’s leading can be impossible to discern – but He honors humble requests.
Do you need guidance on a tough issue? Try asking for a sign.
I know that sounds silly, but it’s perfectly legit. But pick an appropriate sign. It can’t be just anything; it needs to point clearly in the right direction. If God wants you to do something, He’ll open a door.
Ask the Lord to make your decision obvious. That’s a very reasonable request.
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