Read: Acts 16
In this passage, we are following Paul and Silas on their missionary journeys. First, we see Timothy join and note that Timothy chose to be circumcised. This Jewish requirement was no longer mandatory for God’s people, however in order to avoid offending Jews in the area, he made this personal sacrifice. Ministry effectiveness took priority over personal freedom. He didn’t want anything to potentially discredit his message.
Next, we see Paul following the leading of the Holy Spirit, trusting the Holy Spirit for his every move. When the Holy Spirit spoke, Paul immediately obeyed (whether that meant not doing something, or affirmatively going somewhere). The result of Paul’s obedience led to life change in Lydia and her whole family. The same is true in our lives today. Our actions (or inactions) don’t just affect ourselves.
Finally, we see Paul and Silas thrown into prison for removing a spirit of divination from the slave girl. One would think that everyone would be overjoyed having witnessed this miracle of healing. However, that clearly wasn’t the case! Her owners were only interested in their own personal financial position, rather than the girl’s well-being, so they accused Paul and Silas of wrongdoing and they were subsequently beaten and placed into prison.
However, Paul and Silas didn’t let that stop them and continued praising God and sharing the message of the Gospel. The things of this world can’t curtail the work of God! What was meant to stop Paul and Silas just amplified their message. Other prisoners and even the jailer himself came to faith in Jesus. And again, we see the complete life change that Jesus brings. The jailer, on the brink of taking his own life (v. 27), ends up trusting Jesus and bringing his entire family into a relationship with Christ (v. 32-34).
Share in the comments below what stood out to you today and how you can apply this passage to your own life this week.
1) Is there a change that I can make in my life to strengthen my witness to a watching world? (Start or stop doing)
2) Am I closely watching for what the Holy Spirit is prompting me to do? Am I watching for where God is at work around me as my invitation to join Him?
3) Do I truly have other’s best interests at heart? Or am I really only looking out for myself?
4) Are trials silencing or amplifying my witness? Although not pleasant at the time, am I trusting God for the good that can come out of them?
5) Who around me needs to experience the life change that only a relationship with Jesus can bring?
By: Thomas Carter
I have always been struck by verses 6 and 7 where the Holy Spirit prevents Paul from going to several places to preach the Gospel. It seems weird because Paul is called to share (like we are) and going and sharing would be a good thing, but it simply wasn't God's plan, as we see later. It makes me think of something that Nick always says, we aren't called to reach everybody but we are called to reach those God has placed in our lives! Clearly, God had a greater plan for Paul even though it meant that he left some good things behind in order to pursue God's will.
Your question about having the best interest of others at heart really struck me even though I didn't think of that when I read the passage. I have been convicted recently of how I need to truly love people, and something I have been working on is asking people questions and genuinely listening and caring. I have been really amazed at how many basic things I did not know about people I love because I really just didn't care or ask. Really good passage and commentary today!
Chris, I've been convicted of that recently too, to truly love people, genuinely listening and caring. Grateful for you!
Good thoughts on the passage today, Thomas!
Do I truly have other’s best interests at heart? Or am I really only looking out for myself?- I have been very convicted of this recently, over the past few months, really. God is showing me that it is important to serve those around me and in my life with an attitude of expecting nothing in return. I tend to expect others to show me gratitude and reciprocation when I reach out to them, and that is not always the case, leaving me frustrated and with hurt feelings at times. However, if my attitude was simply to serve this person to show Christ to them and love them ONLY because Jesus loves them and me, I would not really ever have those negative feelings! Lord, please give me a selfLESS heart!
Amen, Emily! Such good points.
Thanks for the post today, Thomas.
Thanks for being a faithful Jumpstart reader Lindsay!
Good insight. Serve others and expect nothing in return, and then you may be pleasantly surprised sometime when they do express gratitude or reciprocate. Thanks for the encouragement Emily!
Wonderful blog post, Thomas! One thing that stood out about this passage is that Paul obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit. Lydia and her family were saved because he obeyed. Possibly, Lydia may have witnessed to someone else. That someone may have witnessed to another and so on. Wow! Powerful!
What stood out to me was that the jailer almost killed himself but then Paul said “We are all here .” Then the jailer asked for them to teach him and his family about the gospel?I love that Paul and Silas taught the gospel to the jailer and his household.
Good thought Lyla! Do you think it was any coincidence that Paul and Silas were in the exact spot where the jailer would be at his lowest point? I think I've recently heard that called the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Paul and Silas were there at the exact right time when the jailer had a decision to make. They didn't shy away and used that incredible opportunity to share how to experience true life change. We need to be ready for those around us in similar points.
You're exactly right Norma! It's crazy to think about how that quickly compounds. Just think... if every Christian lead at least 2 more people to Christ, who lead at least 2 more people to Christ, etc. how many people we could reach with the gospel. 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2......... that quickly becomes a big number!
I love the story of the jailer. He was thinking he was a failure, and was ready to end it all. But God had other plans. He used Paul and Silas to speak truth to the jailer. At just the right time, God came into the jailer's life, and he received him as Savior. After that, the jailer's conversion impacted his entire family. God can take the most broken person, and use them in big ways for His glory!
To answer your second question, one thing I need to be more mindful of is the on ramps that God provides. There are so many times where I'm not paying attention to the spirit's leading, and I miss the opportunity. Praying that I can focus on Him more so I can see where He is leading!
Good stuff today, Thomas!
That's great Scottie! I'm definitely guilty of missing on-ramps too. We need to be ready (ex: Prepare to Share), be praying for those opportunities, and then take them when they clearly come up! God doesn't need us, but it's cool how He allows us to be a part of His plan to reach people around us. Grateful for your heart!
Looking out for the best interests of others than myself-a good reminder for me. Thank you, Thomas.
That's a good reminder for me too. Thanks Reva!