Acts 16:6-10 – And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them. This is an odd passage. Why on earth would God forbid Paul and his companions to preach the Gospel anywhere, let alone the Roman province of Asia? And it happened again in Bithynia: “The Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Finally, Paul had a vision in which God told them where to go: “Immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them.”

The forbidding didn’t last that long. By chapter 18 of Acts, Paul is teaching in Ephesus, a city of Asia, and soon a thriving church was growing there. But it sounds weird that God would forbid the Gospel to be preached anywhere. Why?

We don’t know. We can guess, of course; maybe God knew that the people weren’t ready yet, or maybe there was a severe threat of persecution, and God didn’t intend Paul and the other missionaries to go through that experience, at least not right then. Or maybe God simply wanted to get the group to Macedonia faster. We can guess, but we don’t know.

And it’s like that for us today in our lives, too. God does some strange things at times. We may watch a loved one who was baptized into the faith, who was confirmed and seemed to be a strong Christian-but for years now they’ve gone off on their own path, far away from Jesus. We pray for them and hope for them to return, but they seem farther away than ever. And when we talk to them, we seem to be doing no good. In fact, we worry we may be doing them harm. How could God allow this to happen? Surely God wants that person to return!

We are right in thinking God wants that person back in the faith. And Paul was right in thinking that God wanted the Gospel preached everywhere, including Asia and Bithynia. But the details of how God reaches out to people-the mysteries of how God deals with groups of people and with individuals-these are things God has not told us. And it’s hard to deal with.

So what can we do? The same thing Paul and Silas and Timothy did-we can keep trying, all the while trusting God to show the way. Because He will. God brought the missionaries safely to Macedonia, where they met a small group of women praying beside a river outside Philippi. One of them was Lydia, the first documented Christian convert in Europe. She and many others in her city came to know Jesus our Savior, who laid down His life to rescue them and us from the power of evil. This was God’s plan for them from the beginning.

We know that Jesus loves the people we care about, even more than we do. He died for them, after all. And we know that He will do everything possible for them to be His. He rose from the dead so that could happen. In the meantime, we can pray, hope, and hold ourselves ready to serve-however Jesus calls us.

THE PRAYER: Lord, please reach the people I love who are far from You, and bring them to Yourself. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo for Lutheran Hour Ministries.

TODAY – MAY 23 is the last day that you can order tickets if you’d like to attend Crisis Care Chaplaincy Night With the Larks for the game on Thursday, June 23.  Purchase online at Larksbaseball.com.
Enter Promo Code: CRISISCARE.  Tickets are $12.00 for a bleacher ticket and a hat, $20.00 to include all-you-can-eat ballpark food.  Join Pastor Wolfgram at the ball park.

Hope Manor – Sober Living Homes is our 2nd quarter focus for Human Care.  Their mission is to provide an environment where people can apply the tools of recovery in a comfortable, safe and stable environment so that the individual has the opportunity to realize true freedom in sobriety.

Many thanks to all of the volunteers who helped out at Heaven’s Helpers Soup Kitchen last Saturday!  You kindness is greatly appreciated.

Vacation Bible School takes place this week, Tuesday-Thursday from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon.  A special closing service will take place on Thursday at 11:30 am.  We are also planning to join Bethel VBS students in worship at Holy Cross for the Ascension Day Service at 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 30.

There will be no mid-week service at Shepherd of the Valley on May 29 as we will gather with brothers and sisters in Christ at Holy Cross Lutheran for the Ascension Day service on May 30 at 7:00 PM.  Ice cream will be served following the service.

The Election Voter’s meeting will take place on Sunday, June 23.  If you have desire to serve on one of our elected boards, please contact Justin Dever.

Gardeners Wanted:  We are seeking volunteers willing to care for areas around the church.  There is a map in the narthex various sections to weed and care for throughout the summer months.  Your help is greatly appreciated.  Contact LaRae Kuusisto with questions.

Ascension Day is Thursday, May 30.  We will gather with brothers and sister in Christ at Holy Cross Lutheran Church for a 7:00pm worship service.  VBS students are invited to sing at this service along with VBS students from Bethel Lutheran Church.  There will be no Wednesday service at Shepherd of the Valley on May 29.

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