RSS

Tag Archives: Paul

Paul and Silas

When morning came, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” And the jailer reported the message to Paul, saying, “The magistrates sent word to let you go; therefore come out now and go in peace.” But Paul replied, “They have beaten us in public, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not! Let them come and take us out themselves.” The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens; so they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. After leaving the prison they went to Lydia’s home; and when they had seen and encouraged the brothers and sisters there, they departed. (Acts 16:35-40, NRSV)

Paul and Silas should not have been beaten publically before a trial. That was the law for Roman citizens. So when the morning came and they were back in their cells, the police came and said release them, but Paul was like, uhm no way dude! We were not given our rights as Roman citizens so they need to come and walk us out.

And after the officials apologized Paul and Silas went to the home of Lydia and encouraged the believers there before they left.

The picture here is the Basilica of Lydia. It is a beautiful church my wife and I have seen first hand. I stood on the bridge over the river where they claim Lydia and her family were baptized. It is a wonderful cross-shaped area for baptisms.

How do we encourage one another?

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Paul and Silas

One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities.When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. (Acts 16:16-34, NRSV)

This is an interesting section of scripture because there is so much there.

But as I read it this time I was struck with visions of the movie Braveheart. Because it is all about the last line of William Wallace.

You see the movie Braveheart is about William Wallace who marries a young maiden and keeps it a secret because the king has reinstated “an old custom. Grant them prima noctes. First night, when any common girl inhabiting their lands is married, our nobles shall have sexual rights to her on the night of her wedding. If we can’t get them out, we breed them out. That should fetch just the kind of lords we want to Scotland, taxes or no taxes.” Longshanks said. King Edward I of England about Scotland where Wallace was. So Wallace married in secret but it was discovered and the nobleman of England in Wallace’s area came to “take” his right. Which set off Wallace and a battle ensued. Longshanks on his deathbed was waiting as Wallace was tortured at the end of the movie after his capture. And as Wallace was tortured Langshanks waited for Wallace to cry for mercy. But Wallace when he mustered the strength didn’t say mercy, he cried “Freedom!” Because he knew at that point he was truly free from Longshanks and everything that had held him back.

In our reading, we see several people who are captive. The easy to identify captives are Paul and Silas, put in prison for casting out a demon and causing a disturbance in the city. But they are not the only captives. The slave girl is captive to those who own her and the demon. The jailer is captive to society and those who hold power over him. But in the removal of the demon, Paul and Silas freed the slave girl from that which holds her back, because those who owned her didn’t want her free from the demon because of what it did for them. She was held captive by the demon because she was held captive by her owners. And the jailer thought he was free, only in as much, he did what those who had power over him told him or wanted him to. Becuase when he thought that the prisoners were gone he was ready to kill himself rather than face what was to come.

Truly Paul and Silas were never captive because they were in shackles and chains and still were singing praises to God. The man who was having followers of Jesus arrested and killed is now chained, but singing praise to Jesus! Now that is true freedom.

So how does our freedom in Christ change everything?

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Paul’s Conversion

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. (Acts 9:1-22, NRSV)

This is a wonderful text that shows the power of a call from God. Saul wanted letters from the high priest to go to Damascus so he could arrest people of The Way if he found any. The Way is what they called those that followed Jesus. Not Christians, but followers of the way.

And Jesus met Saul on the road, and told him to go into the city. Now, why would Saul do this? He doesn’t believe in or follow Jesus. Why would he listen to a bright light? But he did.

The God tells Ananias to go to where Saul is and to lay hands on him and pray for him. Ananias is concerned because he has heard about the man and doesn’t want anything to do with him. Saul arrests followers of Jesus, puts them in jail, or worse has them put to death. This isn’t someone a follower of Jesus wants to mess with. You would want to keep a good distance between you and Saul as a follower of Christ. But God needs Ananias to go to Saul.

Has God ever called you to do something you didn’t want to do?

Asked you to go somewhere you didn’t want to go?

Ananias was really only trying to preserve his life. But sometimes God asks us to put everything on the line for His will.

And when Ananias was faithful to God, Saul was transformed from a persecutor of the way to a profound proclaimer of the way!

Saul saw the light! Literally and started confounding the Jews by his proclamation of Jesus.

Have you seen the light? Are you being called to do something you don’t want to?

Are you hesitant to follow where God is leading?

Just think of all of the great things that could happen if you are faithful.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Stoning of Stephen

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. And Saul approved of their killing him. That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. (Acts 7:54–8:1, NRSV)

Stephen enraged the High Council so much that they drug him outside of the city and threw their cloaks at the feet of Saul and stoned Stephen as he prayed for Jesus to receive his spirit. Stephen was the first Christian Martyr.

I wonder would we hold our faith so sure that we would die for it?

Are there things that we believe so unswervingly that we are willing to die for them?

Is your faith in Christ one?

And notice the one who kept the cloaks is Saul, the man who is also known as Paul and later becomes the greatest proponent of the Christian faith…

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

open door

But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time. (Acts 14:19-28, NRSV)

God had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles!

God has made a way for everyone to be included and to know they are welcome!

Through the crowds stoning Paul and thinking he is dead, and he rising up and continuing what God had called him to. And because of this, a door is opened for all to come to the mercy of God…

Are you ready to do what God has called you to?

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

humans

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31, NRSV)

God does not need us.

He does not need us to make dwelling places for Him.

He does not need us to serve Him.

He created everything, including us.

Paul looks around Athens and discovers what theAthenians need to hear and he tells them.

He looks at their context and talks to them in ideas and concepts they will understand.

That is how the message of God is received by others. By us understanding who they are and us speaking to them in concepts and ideas they understand.

Here is a cute cartoon about this:

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

martyred…

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. (Acts 7:55-60, NRSV)

Stephen gives a beautiful understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures and how Jesus is the messiah promised by God.

He lays it out and those gathered can’t stand to hear it because it goes against what they were taught and believed. So they rushed him and dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death.

In this scene, we have Stephen taking after our Lord and asking God not to hold the sin of those killing him against them, and we see Saul, who will become Paul and the greatest witness to Jesus in the Greek world.

I wonder how many of us would have stuck to our faith and beliefs if we faced what Stephen did?

Would we be martyred?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 2017/05/18 in Biblical, Devotional, Easter

 

Tags: , , , ,