ACTS 16…FOR AUDIO VERSION GO TO www.timtimmons.com
Five years ago Paul was in these cities and now he returns to find them vibrant and growing…that must have been an encouraging experience for him to see the fruit of his labor. Then he found a special disciple…
1Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra and a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, 2and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. … 5So the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number daily.
Because Paul perceived Timothy to be so special, he believed he could be very effective coming alongside Paul to reach the same people was to reach. Therefore, he required Timothy, as an adult, to be circumcised. What an amazing act of devotion on Timothy’s part, yet probably no one was shocked at this, knowing how faithful and outstanding Timothy had proven to be.
12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days. 13And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.
In Philippi there was no synagogue for Paul and Timothy to orbit around. But where the Jews were unable to have a synagogue they had a place of prayer and these places of prayer were usually by the riverside. On the Sabbath Paul and his friends took their way there and talked with the women who met in that place. They met a special lady that day…Lydia.
14A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.
The extraordinary thing about Paul's work in Philippi is the amazing cross-section of the population that was won over to Christ. Lydia came from the very top end of the social scale; she was a purple merchant. The purple dye had to be gathered drop by drop from a certain shell-fish and was so costly that to dye a pound of wool with it would be the equivalent of a small fortune. Lydia, wealthy woman and merchant prince that she was, was attracted to Jesus.
NOTE her immediate reaction was to offer the hospitality of her house to Paul and his friends. When Paul is describing her character he says that the believer should be "given to hospitality". There is no better place to show hospitality than in someone’s home. In the fellowship of Jesus, your home is an open door!
22The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. 23When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!" 29And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
You just can’t give up, no matter how tough your situation is. The Lord is very capable of coming through on your behalf. Don’t give up on Him, no matter how dark it seems to be! The response from the jailor was incredible! He had been LISTENING in on Paul and Silas as they sang and prayed, then when the supernatural happenings took place, he instantly asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
31They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. ….
After the prison scene was over…
40They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
NOTE 4 things in this chapter…
People came to faith after listening to the Good News—Lydia at the place of prayer and the jailor overheard Paul and Silas singing and praying. All that is required is that you be interested!
Both Lydia and the jailor, once they entered into a genuine faith relationship with Jesus, turned on the hospitality. Lydia invited them to stay with her. The jailor took them home to clean up their wounds.
The entire households of Lydia and the Philippian jailor also came to faith in Jesus. Your influence is very clear and God has brought many around you who will come to Jesus…all for just hanging around these people.
Their hospitality focused around their homes. This is what we’ve lost in many circles—THE HOME. It’s the home where people are most comfortable and feel very safe.
Two questions come to mind…
FIRST—Are you listening with your heart? Are you leaning in to learn more about Jesus?
SECOND—Are you willing to use your home to make people feel more comfortable and safe?
The JESUS MOVEMENT of the 21st Century is happening outside the local, organized church. This movement is the largest, fastest growing movement in our world today. My philosophy of life is to find out where the Lord is moving and go there immediately to be with Him and His people!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
ACTS 16…FOR AUDIO VERSION GO TO www.timtimmons.com
FOR AUDIO VERSION GO TO: www.timtimmons.com
1Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. 4When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses."
Talk about ADD-ONS…circumcision would test out your faith for sure! Again, we see the nature of fallen man wanting to be right as opposed to everyone else. In a sense, it’s much like the NOT INVENTED HERE syndrome that frequently pops up in relationships.
6The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. 7After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8"And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10"Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11"But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are." 12All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
Peter played a great role here among the leadership in Jerusalem and backed up the reports coming from Paul and Barnabas. NOTE he says, “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.” Then he nails the point with, “We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.” By the way, this is how everyone is saved—through the GRACE OF GOD. The only way anyone will get into heaven will be through the grace of God and nothing else or as I like to say, JESUS PLUS NOTHING. Therefore, there is nothing you can do nor is their any doctrinal system that you must believe or follow in order to get in, because it is ONLY THROUGH HIS GRACE. Do you see it? God will deal with each person fairly, knowing each person’s heart, and will appropriate His grace as He wills. Once understood, your pride will take a great beating!
James came to the conclusion that they should not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles. However, he did suggest and all agreed to encourage the Gentile believers to be most sensitive to the Jews and not unnecessarily offend them. So, they sent a letter by way of Silas and Judas which outlined 3 points of encouragement…
28"For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 29that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell."
30So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. I’ve got to believe that these new Gentile believers were greatly relieved that they were not going to be forced into the Law of Moses and especially to be circumcised…OUCH!
Now, while they were there something funny happens… 32Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message. You can count on it…prophets with a word from God, itching to challenge these new believers went a little over time in their speaking…I intimately understand this!
36After some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are."
This spirit of always being concerned about the rest of the fellowship, to see how they are and encourage them to hang in there, is a vital evidence of the fellowship of Jesus. You don’t have to go on a “mission trip” or a “missionary journey” for this…it ought to be present in the local fellowship as well. We are family!
37Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. 41And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Here is one of those incidents that can be found frequently throughout the Bible, where things aren’t going so well, people aren’t getting along or people are acting wrongly toward God and one another. If you were the author of the Bible and you wanted people to be attracted to your message, most likely you wouldn’t include the underbelly of the church of Jesus. You would probably cover it up a bit. But here we have a strong disagreement between Paul and Barnabas as to personnel and they actually parted ways over it. Both were used mightily…just in different directions! It’s almost like this incident happened in order to multiply their effectiveness in visiting and encouraging the disciples throughout the world.
In this chapter you can get a little clearer picture as to how the movement of Jesus multiplies through life-on-life ministry and encouragement in the name of Jesus. NOTE that there aren’t many mass gatherings so far as we observe the Acts of Jesus among His disciples…not many large crusades in stadiums…not many evangelistic blitzes, but in the power of the few the message of Jesus is spread in a viral manner. It’s catching! And, it’s interesting that neither Paul nor Barnabas set out to work alone, but went on their mission trips two-by-two. Maybe Jesus was on to something, when He sent His disciples out two-by-two. Evaluate the things you are presently doing for the Lord and be careful to take another or others along with you. I like to think of this strategy as JESUS FIELD TRIPS! Try it out!