Pastors BLOG
August 8, 2018, 1:13 PM

The Adventure Begins 51: Lessons From the Early Church - Acts 16:6-34



Jesus said in…

John 10:10-16 (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Sometimes we can feel like sheep that are attacked and scattered. We might even wonder where is the Good Shepherd.

In Mark 4:35-41 we find Jesus disciples in a boat in the middle of a storm waking their master up and exclaiming, “Teacher don’t you care that we’re going to drown” and Jesus response is “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Then He models to them how to deal with such things by telling the wind and the waves to be quiet and still. This story is bookended by Jesus telling parables of a growing kingdom and the story of Him casting a legion of demons out of a man and further commissioning this now free man for evangelism.

Paul’s missionary journeys are one example after another of times when a person might feel beaten up, lost and abandoned. Jesus promised us a full life, not an easy one – and he never said that the wolf wouldn’t come. He just said that He would lay His life down for His sheep and He has and He continues to provide through that sacrifice…

Let’s look at some of those hardships and the subsequent glory of God in overcoming the evil plans of the devil…

Attacked in Lystra

Acts 14:6-21 (NIV)
6 …they …fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country,
7 where they continued to preach the good news.
8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked.
9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed
10 and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!"
12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.
13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:
15 "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.
16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way.
17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."
18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.
20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,

Attacks in Philippi

Acts 16:19-34 (NIV)
19 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.
22 …the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.
23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.
24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Sometimes following Jesus leads to difficult trials. It can lead to hardship and uncertain times.

Jesus told us this would happen…

John 16:33 (NIV)
33 " In this world you will have trouble…

When we look at that statement it can be disheartening – but when we look at the fuller context it brings an assurance that we can trust in…

John 16:33 (NIV)
33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and all that it can dish out at us is comforting – knowing that He has a redemptive plan in our suffering can give us the faith to strive forward.

Your trials will serve a greater purpose in your life and in the lives of others when you trust Jesus with them.

1 Peter 2:19 (NIV)
19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

We’ve looked at the trial/ attacked side now let’s look at the victorious side.

Jesus Victorious in Philippi

Acts 16:19-34 (NIV)
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 everybody'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 family 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 family.

I love this picture of Paul and Silas – chained in stocks in a prison and they begin to sing and praise God. Their reaction had power in it. They invited the glory of God into their situation and whether those chains had fallen or not they were truly free.

This is a model to us – When you are faced with trials begin to praise God and worship Him.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits our praises. He shows up in a very powerful and real way as we look to Him and hold steadfast in our faith despite our struggles.

Jesus Victorious in Lystra

Acts 16:1-3 (NIV)
1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek.
2 The brothers 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.

Here we are reminded why we endure. The jailor and His family got saved and Lystra, where Paul was stoned to the brink of death, is the convert Timothy who Paul would later call His son in the faith. This is why we labor and strive forward for the sheep that are not yet in the pen, whom the Shepherd has also laid down His life for… In order to see the victory you must persevere.

Paul says…

Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (NIV)
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

By Carl Friedel



Comments

08-08-2018 at 2:00 PM
Jo Ann
Such an encouragement!!! Particularly powerful to underscore the significance of enduring trials is the last verse “57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Amen!
We never know where God will direct us but He always has purpose!

Thank you!!
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