“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved- you and your household.” Acts 16:31
Welcome back! Hope you had a nice break. Now only two weeks of classes, a few minor recall exercises, and we can enjoy Christmas vacation! Oh, the cushy life of a college student! J
My chapter for this morning has quite a story. Timothy, a young man, joins and is mentored by the veteran missionaries Paul and Silas. They travel throughout modern day Turkey, being led by God’s Spirit where to go (and where NOT to go) with the gospel message, which was an intersting concept to grapple with- preaching the gospel to the “whole world” as our commission is from the Bible, might not mean indiscriminately, but carefully and by the leading of the Holy Spirit- some might not be ready for it when others are.
Paul receives a clear vision as he is in western Turkey to, “come over into Macedonia (northern Greece) and help us.” When in the Macedonian city of Philippi (to whom the book of Philippians was written!) they met Lydia, the “seller of purple” as they went outside the city on Sabbath to find a quiet place by the river to pray. She was converted by their message and welcomed them into her home. Sounds like they found their reason for “coming over into Macedonia and helping them.” THEN they met the prophesing slave girl, delivered her from the demon that possessed her and promptly were “escorted” to the marketplace and publically accused of wrecking their city (when in fact they were only wrecking those slave owners’ income!) Too many believed these “merchants of Macedonia” and Paul and Timothy were promptly stripped, flogged, and thrown into prison! What happened to the reason for “coming over into Macedonia and helping us?”
Then at midnight- in jail- no doubt a bit uncomfortable from the flogging- there sat Paul and his mentee, chained— “praying and singing hymns to God.” And the rest of the prisoners were enjoying the midnight mass! An earthquake, the gates of the prison where thrown open,and the guard was about to kill himself, sure that his prisoners had escaped. But Paul assured him they were all there and in amazement the jailer gave us the familiar verse, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” followed by my text for today. The jailer believed, “at that hour of the night” he took them to his home, washed their wounds, was immediately baptized (along with his whole family), fed them, and they were “filled with joy, because they had come to believe in God.” OK, maybe there WAS another reason to “come over into Macedonia and help us!”
A little asside here before my ah-ha lessons for the morning- Paul apparently had an “attitude” because when the magistrates said they could go free Paul said, “Not so fast—we’re Roman citizens and you treated us unfairly and against Roman law. We’re not leaving without an apology!” The officials could have lost their jobs for such poor judgement, responding to the crowds as they had done the night before. They came a bit sheepishly to “appease them and escort them from prision!” REQUESTING that they leave the city, please. They did, but not before going back to Lydia’s place to encourage the brothers (and sisters I assume since it was Lydia’s house!)
I was thinking again this morning, as I have almost every morning for the last many days, about the student missionary who lost her life on Yap, serving the Lord and dedicating her life to those kids, feeling called to “go over to Yap and help them.” I was reminded today that even when I feel “called by God” the guarantee is not that everything will work out well. For every Lydia there seems to also be a flogging! Or even a death as with missionary James 4 chapters back, or with student missionary Kirsten who died last week the day after I wrote about James. Apparently God knows who is safe to allow the devil to destroy on this earth, knowing that all things are not good, but all things can work for good as He understands the bigger picture. I don’t understand it all but I trust the God who does.
Have a great day understanding and responding to God’s calling in your life.