7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
COLOR: WHITE OR GOLD
SUNDAY JUNE 2ND 2019
TEXTS: ACTS 16: 16 – 34
THEME: WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
This week I attending the Great plains Annual Conference in Topeka Kansas.
Our passage today has a lot to learn or discern for development of our faith journey. This passage also shows the general operation of a community in the time of Paul and Silas which we could see some even today the world we live in. The following bad practices jump out of the passage as I read through it:
- Experience an abuse of power: Here we see a slave owner who over uses the power he had over the slave girl that he owned. He did not care about the welfare of the girl for all he needed is to make money out of her fortune-telling. Here a human being is being used as a commodity.
- A helpless member of society: The slave girl was helpless and was at the mercy of the master. She had no freedom to what she wished to do. We see the forces of the strong verses the weak. The society had allowed this evil to exist as it did in many countries later where humans were helpless before their masters. They are abused and tortured with no questions asked. It was the norm of the time but it was evil and sinful then and is the same today.
- Extortion by the connected: The slave owner used the fortune telling of the slave girl to make money. The slave girl was possessed by the evil spirit. But inside her she recognized Paul and Silas as men of God. This practice should not be viewed different from all the slave owners in our country who used them to profit themselves. What they did to the slaves is well documented and it is not my intention to repeat here today. All I want us to remember is what this man in the bible did though wrong in all angles was an acceptable practice then.
- Uninformed mob to is incited by those in power: The mob can easily be incited by those with bad intensions, like those who shouted that Jesus needed to be crucified. The mob in Jesus time had been incited by the religious leaders. When the girl was healed and the demons left her, she could no longer foretell fortunes and owner felt that they have lost the source of income. They therefore mobilized the mob against Paul and Silas. They took them to the legal authorities accusing them of causing an uproar in the city.
- Authority that does not seek justice but use anything to protect their position: Here again we see the injustice at play where those in authority took Paul and Silas stripped them of their clothes and severely beat them. Then they threw them in jail. They never asked for the views from Paul or Silas for what they had done. Those in authority just choose to punish them. The owner of the slave girl must have been very influential person in the community to be able to mobilize the mob as well as receive favor from those in leadership who ordered the arrest of Paul and Silas and for their beating and finally throwing them to jail. Those in authority were not ready to oppose these slave owners.
- Innocent people being punished for being faithful to their faith: Paul and Silas were innocent and yet they found themselves thrown in jail as though they were criminals. Again, we see the level of injustice that existed at that time. This kind of injustice process is what put Jesus up on the cross. When we become believer in Jesus we have to be prepared because anything can be thrown against us.
- We see God at work and the center of all this: At the end of the process we see God’s mighty work as he shakes the prison gates and open them without any key. This meant all the prisoners could have walked out free if they had chosen to do that. But god had a bigger plan for this event.
With the above in mind we can then try to lift up a couple of faith lesson for our faith walk:
- When we pray things happen: It is amazing what prayers can do. Very often we miss the opportunity of claiming things in the name of Jesus. When people of God pray: gates are opened, rivers are parted, mountains are lowered the valleys and filled up and the roads are cleared. What Paul and Silas were doing was what every believer ought to be doing especially if you are going through a rough patch in your life. Paul and Silas prayed and did some singing. God heard their prayers from heaven and opened the prison gate. As believers we can’t over emphasize the importance of prayer in our life. Prayer as one preacher said is the food for the journey. If you want things happening in your life get to your knees. God answers all prayer. The bible reminds us that we don’t get because we never ask. It is Paul who write this to the saints in Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God” (Philippians 4: 6).
- Nothing is impossible to God: There are many impossible things that have been made possible in the life of believers over the years. It is the word of God that reminds us of this important scripture, “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). The writer of Luke put it this way, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). In our passage today God did an impossible thing of unlocking all the prison jail without using any key or combination. Our lesson today is that even when we are faced with what seems like an impossible task at work or at home or anywhere when we put it to God in prayer God will show us a way to overcome that obstacle. We read stories in the bible of overcomers. The secrete of overcoming comes through prayer and trusting God to guide you through the process. The Israelites had to walk around the city of Jericho 7 times before the city walls collapsed before them and they saw the might hand of God. They had experienced God do what was impossible in the sight and their thinking before. They had experienced the parting of the Red Sea, God providing Manna in the wilderness, water coming from a rock how impossible is that to humans? We have to keep the faith and believe that all things will be possible in God who happens to be our living God.
- God claim his people: In this story God was able to claim the heart of his people. People were able to witness the power of God in front of their own eyes. They truly believed in the God who Paul and Silas worshipped. God claimed the soul of the prisoners that day and the soul of the jailer. The jailer wanted to know what he was required to do to get saved, Paul reply was “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31). We are told that Jailer and his whole family was saved and they were baptized. Paul in the book of Romans explain a simple process that people can follow to get saved. “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10: 9-10). There are key words here that are important to mark in this process of getting to Christ. The first one is to confess. Confession involve speaking out about Jesus. It is like bearing witness that Jesus is Lord. Jesus being Lord mean he will be in charge of your whole life. You agree to put on the York of Jesus which is lighter. The second part is to believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from dead. It is a simple theological assertion that simply means to me that you are choosing to believe in a living God.