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  • Writer's pictureFirst Pres Bakerstown

The Holy Spirit: OnStar Navigator by Pastor Paul Becker

Acts 16:6-40

Acts 16 is a pivotal chapter in Acts and the advancement of the gospel.  This is the chapter where Paul and his companions Silas, Timothy, and Luke traveled to the edge of Europe, specifically the city of Philippi. For many of us, our faith has roots in this missionary journey of Paul!

The chapter is significant as it illustrates:

  • the guidance of the Holy Spirit in missionary endeavors, (vs. 6-10)

  • the inclusive nature of the Gospel and its power to transform people’s lives

  • Lydia (first convert from Europe) and her family (vs. 11-15)

  • the Jailer and his family (vs 16-34)

  • the power of prayer and worship, (v. 25)

  • the value of strategic engagement with societal structures. (vs 35-40)

The Guidance of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit doesn’t give us a checklist of places to go, people to see, and things to do. No, the guidance of the Holy Spirit is discerned by a fellowship of believers who are united in a single purpose: to be Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:8) When Paul’s team was prevented or permitted to work in places, they attributed it to the Holy Spirit. Imagine being part of a church that lives in openness to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We’d live with the expectation that we are to reach people.  We’d celebrate ministries that panned out and thank the Lord for the things that didn’t. Don’t you want to be part of a group of believers who seek and test the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

The inclusive nature of the Gospel and its power to transform people’s lives:  Lydia and the Jailer were not Jewish and part of God’s covenant with his chosen people, Israel.  Lydia and the jailer were Gentiles and yet Paul’s mission team engaged them with the good news of Jesus Christ.  The lives of Lydia and the Jailer were wholly transformed to the point that they and their entire families were baptized in obedience to the call of Christ on their lives. Luke tells us that these two families were transformed by joy.  We can be certain that they were influential in the birth of the church in the city of Philippi.  In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, joy is a major theme!

The Power of Prayer and Worship: Paul and Silas were put into prison when Paul released a girl from the possession of an unholy spirit. This spirit gave the girl the power to tell people their futures. This girl was a slave to some savvy businessmen who made money on her spiritual power. Having lost their business model, the girl's owners pressed charges against Paul and Silas. They were charged with promoting a god who wasn’t on the official Roman-approved list of gods. And guess who wasn’t on that list?  The resurrected Jesus! While in prison Paul and Silas worshipped God with prayer and hymns. God caused an earthquake that shook the prison and freed Paul and Silas from their chains. Other prisoners were also set free. In desperation, the Jailer prepared to kill himself, but Paul assured him that all the prisoners were present. Paul and Silas didn’t flee because the Holy Spirit didn’t lead them to flee. The Jailer fell at Paul’s feet and asked how he could be saved.  Paul told him to believe in Jesus.  With joy, the Jailer took Paul and Silas to his home. The Jailer’s entire family was baptized and became followers of Christ. In this story, we learn that prayer and worship have the power to strengthen believers (Paul and Silas), convict sinners (Jailer and family), and free everyone from the prison of sin and fear.

The value of strategic engagement with societal structures: Paul and Silas could have escaped the prison but instead, they remained as prisoners under the law. As a result of their obedience to civil law, the salvation of the Jailer and his family occurred.  And then, when the Magistrate saw Paul and Silas after the earthquake, Paul invoked his right to be properly charged as a Roman citizen. Paul’s assertion of being a Roman citizen made his original arrest illegal. As a result of this new development, Paul and Silas were released and escorted out of the city. From this - and other events in Paul’s life - we see that there is strategic value in engaging societal structures, like the law. In 2023, the Session of FPCB began a mission partnership with a ministry called LifeWise Academy.  The ministry offers bible instruction for public school students under a Constitutionally protected right to be released from school for this instruction. Click here to learn how LifeWise is an example of how Christians can engage societal structures to share the news about Jesus. Though mention of LifeWise has been offered in previous editions of The Map, you will be given more information about our partnership with LifeWise. There will be a Sunday when a LifeWise representative will be present to share the fruits of the ministry since its start in January 2024.

Acts 16 is a chapter that is worthy of our attention and imagination. Let us pray for hearts that are open to the reality and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  May everyone at FPCB be united in our stated mission to be On a journey to follow Jesus, grow together, and make disciples!

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