As Acts 16 opens, we meet Timothy. The believers spoke well of him. Paul wanted Timothy to go with him on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews. They traveled and delivered the message from the apostles and elders and the churches were strengthened in the faith and they grew daily. Paul had just appealed to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem about the Gentiles not being bound by the “law”, so why did he circumcise Timothy? My husband pointed out 1 Corinthians 9:19-23: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” So Paul, became like those he was with to win them, but he points out that he was not free from Christ’s law, so he didn’t go against God’s law. We have to remember that while we live in this world, we are to not be OF the world. We are not to do sinful things and use the excuse that we are trying to reach those around us. I pray that the Holy Spirit will take us to those who need to hear the Word, but the Power of the Spirit keep us from falling into sin and temptation.
In verses 6-10, it is important to note that the Holy Spirit kept them from preaching in a few places. After a vision, Paul knew it was time to go and preach the gospel. We have to remember that the Holy Spirit has a time and a purpose for sharing His Word. I pray that we can discern God’s time and be willing to live by His timing and prompting and not our own.
Next, we see the men going to the river to find a place to pray. When they got there, women had gathered. One of the women,Lydia, had been a worshipper of God, but as she listened to the message Paul gave, the Lord opened her heart and she and the members of her household were baptized. She invited the men to stay at her home. How many have worshipped God their whole lives and have never had their hearts openend to His Word? I pray that the Lord will open the hearts of those who hear His Word and respond.
The men were on their way to a place of prayer and met a slave girl who had a demonic spirit and was predicting the future. She was earning a great deal of money for her owners. She began following the men shouting “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She continued following them and shouting, until Paul became annoyed. He turned to her and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” When the spirit left her, the owners became angry because their hope of money making was gone. Did you notice that even the evil spirits recognize the Holy Spirit? Also note, those same spirits have no power over the Name of Jesus Christ. I pray that others can recognize the Holy Spirit in me. I pray that I can begin to fathom the real power of the Holy Spirit.
They took Paul and Silas before the authorities and accused them of throwing the city into an uproar by advocating unlawful customs for Romans. Because the crowd became involved, the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten and thrown into prison. The jailer was commanded to guard them. He put them in an inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. I just LOVE this next part, gets me excited every time I read it: “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 everyone’s chains came loose.” The jailer woke up, saw the doors open, and he decided to take his life when Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” I pray that we can give so much prayer and singing to God that others begin to listen. I pray that we can give so much worship that we can move the earth. I pray that we can be examples of what we should be. Paul and Silas and the others could have escaped at this point, but that wasn’t God’s plan. Because they were faithful, a soul was won to Christ. The jailer fell before them and wanted to know what to do to be saved. They told him to believe in the Lord Jesus and he would be saved, along with his household. They spoke the word of the Lord and that night, he washed their wounds, and his family was baptized. The jailer was overjoyed that he and his household had come to believe in God and fed the men.
The next day, the magistrates ordered the jailer to release the men. Paul was not so keen on the idea and said, “No!” He said that he, a Roman citizen, had been beaten, without trial and thrown into prison, and the magistrates wanted to get rid of him quietly. He refused and sent word that the magistrates could come and escort them, personally. When the magistrates found out they were Roman citizens, they came to appease them and escorted them from prison with the request they leave the city. Paul and Silas, first visited the home of Lydia and encouraged her family in the Lord before leaving. I pray that we can be so bold to stand up for what we believe and never miss an opportunity to encourage others, even in times of distress.