Dates with God

Do you like action movies? If you do and you haven’t read the book of Acts, you really should. Its formal name is “The Acts of the Apostles.” But the activity of the Holy Spirit reads like the script for an action movie. Nowhere is this truer than in Chapter 16.

The Apostle Paul and his companions are first headed to the province of Asia to preach the Word but are stopped by the Holy Spirit (we’re not told how they are stopped).  Then, as they are headed to Bithynia, again “the Spirit of Jesus” stopped them from going there (again, we’re not told how).

Luke then reports that Paul had a vision:

A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.  Acts 16:9-10 (NIV)

Like any good action movie, this scene sets up a series of exciting events: three dates with God in the Macedonian city of Phillipi.

  1. At a gathering of women, they meet Lydia, a merchant who trades in purple cloth, who was a believer in God: As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying (v.15). Paul did the talking, God acted.
  2. A woman who has some sort of demonic prophetic ability is following Paul and the rest announcing they are “servants of the Most High God. Paul becomes so annoyed by this that he takes the ability away from her. Paul acted out of frustration. God, in a plot twist, would use it for good (Luke, in verse 18, refers to it as “a demon within her.) People were using her for profit, Paul’s frustration led to her being healed. And that led to…
  3. Those who had profited from her ability ultimately had Paul and Silas jailed. This is the climactic moment in our Biblical action movie:

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” Acts 16:25-18 (NIV)

And that leads to our third “date with God:”

29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he 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, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Acts 16:29-34 (NIV)

We tend to consider Paul as the leading actor in this story. His is a supporting role; The Holy Spirit is the star. A recap of this storyline reveals what’s in it for our lives:

  1. God closes doors to us and redirects us to the work He wants us to do.
  2. God opens hearts (Lydia)
  3. God capitalizes on our impulsive behavior (Paul’s frustration with the female slave).
  4. God capitalizes on our misfortune (Paul and Silas were in prison for God’s purposes).

In what action story does God want you to play a supporting role. Are you willing to follow the director’s lead and not be a prima donna actor? Ask, listen and say yes, and He will create an award winning script for your life!

Pastor Jerry Bader

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