1 Paul went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers and sisters at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him; so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for the people to observe. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. 6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia; they had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 Passing by Mysia they went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony and a leading city of the district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for several days. 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. 14 A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. 15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. 16 Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the servants of the Most High God.” 18 She did this for many days. Paul was greatly annoyed. Turning to the spirit, he said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! ” And it came out right away. 19 When her owners realized that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews 21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. 24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house. 33 He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized. 34 He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household. 35 When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, “Release those men.” 36 The jailer reported these words to Paul: “The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to send us away secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to appease them, and escorting them from prison, they urged them to leave town. 40 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house, where they saw and encouraged the brothers and sisters, and departed. — Acts 16
Fear, Love, Obey, and Serve
by Todd Bishop
In Acts 16, Paul is continuing his second missionary journey. We read how the Holy Spirit kept Paul and Silas from teaching and preaching in the areas of Asia, but thru a vision they were led to go to Macedonia (northern Greece). Traveling by sea to the port city of Neapolis and then a few miles by land, they arrived at a Roman colony called Philippi.
Outside the city gates, Paul and his companions gathered to pray by a small river, and there they encountered a group of women and began to share about faith in Christ. Lydia and her family “opened their hearts” to the gospel and were all baptized in the river. Afterward Lydia invited Paul and the others to stay in her home as they continued to share and teach.
In Philippi, Paul encountered a slave girl with the evil spirit. When he cast the spirit out of her, it upset her owners, who then incited the crowds to against Paul and Silas. Paul and Silas were stripped down, beaten, and thrown into the jail.
While in jail, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake that shook the foundations of the jail. The doors to the jail were open and the prisoners’ chains fell off. But when the jailer came in, none of them had fled. Instead, Paul told him about Christ, and he and his family became believers.
The Holy Spirit had led Paul and his team to Philippi. Through meeting Lydia at the river, casting out the demon in the slave girl, and the conversion of the jailer, a church would be established as a witness and light in a place where the gospel had not previously been known.
I am a guy who likes a plan, and I like working that plan. I enjoy logistics, and I find it fun to figure out problems. If I put myself in the shoes of Paul and Silas, I probably would be okay after the first and second events. However, by time they were beaten and thrown into prison, I think my enthusiasm and problem-solving skills would be done. Instead, I would be scared, frightened, frustrated, and wondering why God had allowed such a thing to happen. I would be ready to do anything to get out of that situation.
The last thing on my mind would be singing hymns at midnight. More than likely, I would be in tears, trembling and feeling sorry for myself. Yet Paul and Silas were in the jail worshiping our risen Savior. How do I get to a place where my response to stress, fear, anxiety and hopeless is worship?
Deuteronomy 10:12 gives us this instruction. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”
To worship the Lord is to fear Him, to obey His teachings, and to love and serve Him with all we have. Worship is not just an event, it’s a lifestyle. Consider how you would answer these questions:
- How can I serve God today as part of my act of worship?
- What is God leading me to do through prayer and teaching from His Word?
- Is it evident that my choices show a deep love for my Savior?
- How can I show my respect for and awe of the Creator of the universe and Savior of my soul today?
- Invite the Holy Spirit to speak into your soul, and in every situation you face today, ask Him to help you worship God as you seek to love, serve, fear, and obey Him.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.