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. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. - Acts 16:6-10 NKJV.
So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. - 1 Kings 17:5-7 NKJV.
Paul received very specific instructions from the Spirit about where he was to go and where he should not go. The Spirit is still busy today leading and guiding us. Sometimes He blocks us. Sometimes He warns us. Sometimes He sends us in another direction. Sometimes He says, “come over and help.”
As a pastor, before I have moved to another pastorate, I have always driven to the area and looked around. We have had some interesting experiences from these trips. On one trip when we had arrived in the area we stopped at a convenience store and when Jeanie came back out she said that she had become dizzy and almost passed out. We decided to drive on to the church facility, and maybe she would feel better by then.
Jeanie was feeling better by the time we drove by the church building, but the car seemed to be having a problem. By the time we had located the parsonage and driven by it the needle on the engine heat gauge had red lined. The electric fan motor had burned out. We had the distinct impression after our excursion that God did not want us to go to that place and had warned us.
Another time when a church was interested in us, we again drove to the church facility, and as we drove into their parking lot the car died and would not start. I walked several blocks to a store and bought another battery and carried it back and installed it. The car started fine and I hoped that the problem had been solved. My mother was in the hospital in Oklahoma City after having back surgery so we then drove on to the hospital and checked on my mother.
When we left the hospital parking garage to return home the lights began to dim on the car, and by the time we were on the expressway they were out. We prayed, and made it to an exit where the car coasted into the parking lot of a hotel, and we stayed the night there. The alternator had stopped working. I believe that coincidences do happen, but the timing of some leaves little doubt of God’s involvement in them. We were able to have the car repaired the next day, but we also had the definite impression that God had given us a warning about that church.
Another time after prayer and fasting for seven days about where God wanted us to go to - a search committee called us on the afternoon of the seventh day. Even though we did not think it feasible for us to accept their call, because of financial considerations, God did confirm that this was where He wanted us and we accepted their call. We received additional confirmation of God’s call to that church as we served there.
Other times the “brook” may dry up as it did for Elijah, and we are forced to move. There are at least three ways that the “brook” may dry up for a pastor. One is for the finances to become so difficult that he is forced to move. Another is for the support of the leaders or members of the church for the pastor to dry up or come to an end. Third, is for the movement of the Spirit in terms of decisions comes to an end i.e. no one being saved, no one rededicating or recommitting their lives, no one joining the church, attendance rapidly declining, and no growth in spiritual maturity of the believers who make up the church. This was why we moved from one church to another church two different times.
Along with these things that may occur, there must also be the still, small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12) confirming His direction for your life. How do you know? You will know when it happens and when He speaks. However, you do have to be watching and listening, or you can miss out on what God has for you.
The Spirit still leads and guides today. What is the Spirit saying to you?