Pastor David Moore
Old Testament reading: Psalm 127:1-5 (NIV)
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for He grants sleep to those He loves.
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
Theme: Today we see how the gospel changes people’s lives and the circumstances around those changes. The three people Luke writes about are Lydia, a slave girl, and the jailer.
New Testament reading: Acts 16:13-34 (NIV)
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. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were 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.
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling. The girl 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.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled 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.
When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown in prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 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. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 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 family.
Lydia in the gospel is an example of the religious person conversion.
The slave girl in the gospel is an example of the oppressed person conversion.
The jailer in the gospel is an example of the secular person conversion.
Lydia: A religious person is often religious because it is useful. I want God to bless me, take me to heaven, solve my problems. Lydia was converted through rational discourse.
The slave girl: She is opposite to Lydia in all parts of her life. She is owned, powerless, exploited, and demon possessed. The girl was converted by an encounter with God’s power deep in her. She is a victim of both physical and spiritual oppression. She has become free because of a confrontation of powers and structures that have bound her spiritually, socially, and economically. The Holy Spirit has confronted and broken the oppression in her life and she is converted.
The jailer: is a rational sort of guy, doesn’t need much of an emotional connection or deep conversation. A man of honor, and practical, accepts his fate and the consequences of his failure. He is not seeking God. God comes to him. The jailer is just doing his job and cares less if Paul or Silas live following their beatings.
God came to the jailer in the way he needed to be presented with the gospel. An earthquake shakes the foundation of the jail, the door opens, and the chains are broken. The jailer is going to accept his fate by killing himself for what has happened. The jailer is stunned; grace and love are shown to the jailer, he is aware these men have something he is lacking – joy, power, understanding of God, and how they handle suffering. The jailer wants to understand there is a significant difference in these men. He is converted. ~D. Moore
Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
What did we learn from these three conversions?
The gospel is for everyone.
There is not a type of person who is inclined toward faith.
There is not a cultural type that fits the gospel.
The gospel transcends all the nonsense and makes people we wouldn’t normally associate with as brothers and sisters.
The gospel comes to people in the way they need it to come to them.
Jesus presented Himself differently to different people. He spoke to them in a way they could hear Him. ~D. Moore
This week: Pray for wisdom and compassion in being available to the unbeliever in a way they can hear the gospel.