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ACTS 16 NIV
16Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi
11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district[a] of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatiranamed Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her householdwere baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Paul and Silas in Prison
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
19 When her owners realized that their hope of making moneywas gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”
37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.
It says in verse 6 “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phygira and Galatia having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” So in other words, they had gone and tried to preach in Asia and the Holy Spirit said, “No, not now”. “When they came to the border of Mysha, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them in. So they passed by Mysha and went down to Troas”.
So you go through life, you get rejected, have things that you think are supposed to go a certain way and it doesn’t. You think that, okay, this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m doing a good thing and you get rejected. You get some reason why you can’t do it.
You get told not to do it. You can’t do it. And you think that, my life sucks. I can’t do anything I want to do. But from the rest of it, you see that they weren’t allowed to go in there because God had other plans. He wanted them to go to Macedonia.
So he has two or three, maybe four men. We know Luke’s with them. We know it is Silas and Paul. And up at the beginning it says Timothy went with them. But we don’t know if Timothy’s with them at this point. So you have three men, possibly four going into a foreign land and preaching the gospel. This is dangerous, to say the least, but because they were told to do it and then you have the devil in the form of a divinator, somebody that can tell the future, future a fortuneteller trying to egg them on, trying to to aggravate them.
Well, it finally does aggravate them. And Paul brings out the spirit tells the Spirit to leave and it does. Then they get arrested. So let’s backtrack. So God has told them, no, they can’t go to these places that would be receptive. He sends them to a country that they’re not received well. Then they cast out a demon, which is a good thing, but they get arrested for it.
So is God not there? No. They go into prison and they get locked up. But what do they do now? Do they say “Whoa, my misfortune fortune. My gosh. Where did we go wrong?” No, They sit there and they sing hymns. They praise God in the midst of being locked into a stockade. They’re in there. But the devil made a mistake when he did this. Did you catch it? What was the mistake the devil made? Go back into verse 24. It says, “When the guard received these orders, he put them in the inner cell.” He put them together. He didn’t separate them. He put them both in the same cell. The devil can attack a single person. Paul. He’s not going to win, but he can attack. But two people, the devil doesn’t stand a chance. So they’re in here. Neither one is down. They’re feeding off of each other, and they’re singing praise and hymns to God.
God then causes an earthquake and breaks them free, breaks the chains, busts the stockade open and sets them free. And what do they do? Do they run off? They sit there. Why do you think that they should just sit there? They had the opportunity to escape. Why do you think they just sit there? Maybe because they knew God had a bigger plan.
So the jailer comes in about ready to commit suicide. Because in Rome, if you are told to guard prisoners, especially such high profile prisoners as Paul and Silas were…If you are in charge of keeping such a high profile prisoner under guard and you fall asleep and they escape, earthquake or not, you’re going to be put to death. So the soldier said, I’m going to do it myself. I’m I put myself to death. So it doesn’t say if he says the jailer woke up when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners escaped.
So what does that tell you? He says he thought the prisoners about escape he couldn’t see in the cell. But yet Paul shouts out, “Don’t harm yourself. We’re all here”. Well, if the guard couldn’t see in the cell, then that means the people in the cell couldn’t see the guard. So how did Paul know that the guard was about to kill himself? The Holy Spirit, that little voice in the head.
The jailer can’t believe what he hears. He has the lights come on, sees the lights come on, and he comes in here and he sees them still there, more than likely still just sitting there…could have been standing up, but they’re still in their cell, have not stepped out of the cell. And the Holy Spirit comes to the Guard and makes him realize these people, they could have escaped, they could have let me kill myself. And maybe they thought they couldn’t get past me. They could have let me kill myself, and then they could have escaped. But they didn’t. Now I guarantee you, the Roman guard had heard about this Jesus and the Holy Spirit was working on him. The Holy Spirit already putting to sleep the Holy Spirit opens his eyes and He sees these people are truly men of God.
And then he asked them, “How am I to be saved?” Not. “Why didn’t you escape?” “Why are you still here?” No! He immediately knew why they didn’t escape. He knew why they were still there. And then in that instant, I guarantee you, Paul and Silas knew why all the other doors had been shut, because this one had to be open.
So the Bible tells us that the guard asked him how to be saved and let him know how to be saved. They said, “If you call the name of Jesus and accept Jesus, you will be saved. You and your household” Then they go to the guards house and the entire household is saved.
It doesn’t say how many were in there, but it’s more than likely the guard, his wife, probably a mother, a dad. The whole family lived together. The whole household was saved. So we’ll say six people are saved. And I don’t know that that number is accurate, but we’ll go with six people. So these two men thought the should go here. That door shut. They thought they should go here and that door shut. They thought they should go here and then had a dream. That’s how the Holy Spirit communicates sometimes. Remember last week we went over visions and the ways that the Holy Spirit will talk to you? Well the Holy Spirit talked to them in a dream and said, “No, this is where you need to go.” So all these doors are shut they go into this town where they are stripped naked, beaten, then thrown in a cell all for the salvation of one man? Maybe somebody in the household. But it doesn’t mention anybody, not in the household by name. So God sends them across the country and then through countries for one man. I know you’ve heard the term Jesus will leave the 99 to save the one. Well that’s exactly what He did right here. They went through all of that and saved one man.
Then told that they could leave. Just just go, go, go. And Paul says, No, I’m not leaving. You did me wrong and you want to sneak me out the back door so nobody knows you did me wrong. If the magistrate wants to tell me I can go then you have him come tell me I can go. How many of us today would just go? Paul says, No, I’m not sneaking out anywhere. I didn’t sneak into the city. I’m not sneaking out of the city. Have the magistrate come tell us. So the magistrate is scared to death because Paul has a right to have this magistrate arrested and flog and put in prison for what he did to a Roman citizen.
So the magistrate is scared. And you notice that Paul didn’t tell them earlier “you can’t do this. I’m a Roman citizen.” Because if he had told them that before they were flogged, the flogging would have stopped. It never would have happened. He never said that. He didn’t say it until the very end. He says, “No, he wants me out? Then tell him this and see what he says then”. So the magistrate comes and begs their forgiveness and they leave.
So you may go through life and Paul’s an example. Paul’s an extraordinary, blessed, called individual, but you may go through life and think that whatever the adversity is in your life or the rejection in your life is the devil standing in your way or the devil is doing this. Well the devil does things like he did this morning trying to get this message from coming out and he’ll mess up things. But sometimes when the doors are closed, it’s not the devil, it’s God. So you think “man, I never get to do what I want to do!” Man, I don’t get to do this or that. I don’t get to hang out with friends. I don’t get to get off work early. I don’t get to go shopping at the mall. And that’s not God’s plan for you. Do you think that Jesus, the flesh of Jesus, wanted to be beaten, having chunks of his flesh ripped out. Do you think he wanted to have a crown of thorns placed on his head?
Do you think that Jesus Christ wanted to be mocked in the city center? Do you think that that Jesus wanted to go through all the turmoil that he went through? No, because even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says, Lord, if there is any way, let this cup pass from me. That’s the flesh. But no, he knew God’s plan. The spirit side of him had greater plans. Jesus could have ran away. He could have ran off in the middle of the night, and we’d never be where we are today. The flesh of him could have done it because Jesus was all man and all God but Jesus still had flesh.
Do you think that Paul and Silas wanted to be beaten? Do you think Paul wanted to be eventually beheaded? Thrown in jail? Wanted to be mocked? Paul was a Roman citizen. Paul was a temple guard. Paul had a lush life, and he left it all behind to be thrown in prison, to be beaten, to be starved, to be mocked. And then Luke, who wrote this account, never says Luke was put in prison with Paul. I mean, Luke wasn’t there. And Luke actually visited him in prison. Do you think Paul ever said, “Why am I the unlucky one?” Do you think he ever said, “Why does Luke get to run and gallivant around town while I am here, in a prison? No. Paul never once questioned why he did what he did. He knew when he followed Christ that his ultimate endgame was going to be death, and that if he was not killed, he could count himself lucky. Paul didn’t care.
There’s actually a verse in the Bible that says, Yes, all these things, but I don’t count myself unlucky. I count myself blessed, he said. I get to go share the word of God, and that basically what he’s saying is I don’t care what I have to go through here. My rewards on the other side far outweigh anything on this side. He said Nothing.
God is really working. I mean, really working. All of his hardships, all of his rejections, his adversities played into it. More than likely, this prison, there were other people in this prison, more than likely not just the guard get saved, but other people in the prison as well.
So he never would have been in that position to save the guard and his family. And there’s no telling what that guard went on to do. But he would never have been in that position if he hadn’t taken the flogging. And he would have never gotten a flogging if they hadn’t tried to taunt him because he would have just kept walking through the city.
Nothing would have happened. But no, the devil thought, I’m going to get him. I’m going to make fun of them and then do this and I’ll make fun of them. And the devil thinks that he’s going to win. He always thinks he’s going to win. But what the devil didn’t realize is that God let the devil do that because it helped him in his cause.
Save the person. So he left the devil until they got fed up and cast the demon out, which cascaded everything. So there are things that happen in your life that may seem bad at the moment that may not fit into your scheme of things. There may be doors that shut, opportunities that you think you should have, doors that should shut or doors that should be open, that shut. And you may think that these bad things are the devil trying to get you and sometimes maybe they are, but maybe there’s a bigger purpose behind it. Maybe God’s allowing him to shut that door.
Like with Job and all kind of bad things that happened to Job, killed his wife, killed his family, lost everything, and Job never lost faith. Joe knew “I love my wife, but I’ll see her again. I love my daughter, but I’ll see her again. I have this house here, but I’ve got a mansion in heaven. I’ve got this cattle. But I won’t need food when I get to heaven. I’ve got all these other worldly goods. They’re not going to get into Heaven! Take it all, devil”.
I’m not going to say Job didn’t care because, yes, he cared. But he saw the greater good. He saw the endgame, and he never lost faith. He knew and he knew that God would take care.
Even Christ on the cross, being all God and all man, even Christ on the cross saying “my God, why have you forsaken me?” That was in the flesh. God had to forsake him, and he knew that God had to turn his back on Christ on the cross. Because at that very moment Christ became the sin of us all. And God couldn’t look at him. Jesus was this glorious person but in that moment he was stained black as tar and God could not look upon him because he had taken the sin of the world. This was a man without blemish, without sin, without wrongdoing, and all these things. Bad things happened to him because he had a greater purpose. Paul had all these bad things happen to him, but he had a greater purpose. John the Baptist was imprisoned. The forerunner for Christ was imprisoned and eventually beheaded. Why did he go to prison? To save one woman and he was beheaded for another one. Just because you’re going through bad things does not mean you’re not in God’s will. Doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have great plans for you. It just means that the way you’re going is not the way he wants you to go.
What you’re doing is not what he wants you to do. And you may not like the road that you’ve got to travel to stay in God’s will or to get back in God’s will, because it’s a lot rockier than the path you’re going to choose. It’s going to have cliffs. It’s going to have rapid waters. It’s going to have all kinds of adversity on it because the devil is going to come at you and the devil is going to try to stop you and the devil is going to attack you along the way. But as long as you keep your eye on that path, God will get you to where you’re going. God never said it’s going to be easy and it will be fulfilling. It will be for a greater purpose. It will be for whatever.
So when we were in Tyler and we were at Burger King and the homeless man asked for food, and I gave him food and told him to get whatever he wanted. He looked at me in shock because I’m sure that that man had been rejected multiple times, saying, Now get off me. If multiple times have been told no or multiple times have been given a dollar, but without a thought other than the Holy Spirit, I did do it. I fed that man, the ministry fed that man, God fed that man through me, through the ministry, fed that man and told him, “Get whatever you want.” And he thanked me afterwards and I told him, ‘You’re welcome. God bless you. And walked out.’ Now, that man, for all I know, what could have been about to lose hope. Maybe I gave him. Maybe God gave him a glimmer of hope. But I would rather feed 99 people who are trying to take advantage or don’t really need it than to miss the one person who truly needs it because I’m afraid of getting taken advantage of because that one person may need me more than anybody else I ever meet in my entire life. But if you go and look at it and you say, Why, I’ve got barely enough money to feed myself, why would I feed this guy? I remember the verse we had last week. “I came in, You fed me. I was hungry and you fed me.’ We come across Angels unawares.
We have things, we have roadblocks. We have we have challenges. We have have all kind of things in our life that may seem like bad things or are they’re inconvenient or they’re getting in my way because I’m going this way and I’ve got a plan and I’ve got to go this way to meet that plan. And they keep trying to bring me over here. And maybe, maybe, maybe it’s not adversity, maybe it’s not rejection. Maybe it’s God trying to nudge you this way because the way you’re going, it’s going to lead off a cliff. It’s going to lead to damnation. It’s going to lead to failure. So He’d rather give you a little failure here, a little failure there. Kind of like a pinball machine bumps you this way. That bumper bumps you that way till you finally get into that that bonus round since I’m using a pinball machine, since you get that bonus spot. But you got to you got to hit this part where you’ve got to hit this bar here because God is trying to nudge you in the right direction.
Just because a door closes doesn’t mean another one hasn’t opened. You just got to know what to look for and to pray and to just seek God’s guidance. You know, we all know the verse. “Not my will, but your will.” That’s from the garden of Gasemity. That’s Jesus praying that if there would be any way to let this cup pass from me, but yet not my will, your will be done. Jesus’ flesh is saying “this is what I want. This would be easiest for me. God. So if you can see a way to do it. I appreciate it, bro, but if you can’t, I get it. We’re all good. I’m here to do what you need me to do.”
We say “My way looks really good God. That way you are sending me has a lot of thorn bushes over there. And there’s some tigers and lions and bears. But this way. my God. It’s the golden brick road. Ooh, look at all those flowers but that way you are pointing me is dark and nasty but over over here got a nice, nice little breeze. But if you want me to go that way, I got you. I’ll do it.” And then you go that way. The way God wanted you to go. And as you go that way, you hear of something that happened on that road you were going to take. What happened? Sinkhole the size of New York fell open and everything in it died. And you would have been there. My God, you would have died. So trust God. Don’t trust your flesh.
Don’t trust yourself, and know that if God’s nudging you that way, there is probably a good reason. It’s probably going to be a rougher road but at least you’re going to make it to the road and you’re going to be in God’s will. You’re going to be where He wants you to be. Don’t let closed doors discourage you. Keep going.