PAUL’S LOCKDOWN: WITH A MAN OF MACEDONIA
In Acts 15: 36 -41 we read that Paul and Barnabas had a “disagreement.” It led to them both experiencing a change of direction in their lives and ministries.
The believers that witnessed it were wise (v40) says that they were both “commended by the believers to the Grace of The Lord.”
Paul (v41) “went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches”.
In Acts 16:1 Paul met Timothy, circumcised him, because of the Jews who lived in that area and continued in his journey (v5) “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers”.
Paul’s plan was to continue to Bithynia and beyond “But the spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (v7b). That night Paul found himself in LOCKDOWN! I think he had a sleepless night of prayerful questioning of the Lord Jesus. His reply was given in a “vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “COME TO MACEDONIA AND HELP US” (v9).
(v10) Paul’s obedient Steps:
- Paul accepted the vision.
- Paul got ready at once to leave for Macedonia
- Paul concluded that God had called them to preach The Gospel
Acts chapter 16 tells us about three people who received Jesus as Saviour and Lord and were released into their gifting.
Lydia was a wealthy woman. A dealer in purple cloth. This cloth was expensive because its production costs and its popularity with the wealthy. (v14) Lydia was “a worshipper of God.” She knew the Old Testament but had not yet been introduced to Jesus and the New Covenant. As Paul spoke to her, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” In The Name of Jesus Lydia was released from her prison of religion. She and her household were baptised. This often happened. When the head of the household turned to faith in Jesus all the members of that household did also. (v15) tells us that Lydia received her Gift of Hospitality! Hospitality that Paul and Silas were grateful to receive after her conversion and, as we see in v40, after they came out of prison.
THE FEMALE SLAVE: (v16-18)
It is interesting that both Lydia and the Female Slave were encountered by Paul and Silas as they were on the way to “the place of prayer.” This female slave was possessed of a fortune telling spirit. She predicted the future for people and made a great deal of money for her owners. For many days she followed Paul and Silas around. Like a town crier she declared, “These men are servants of The Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Eventually Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In The Name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (v18) “At that moment the spirit left her!” The female slave was released from her prison of demonic possession. She received her Gift of Freedom!
Her Masters were not happy. They had Paul and Silas arrested, stripped and beaten with rods and thrown into prison. Their response was to pray and sing hymns, at midnight, in the top security cell. As their fellow prisoners listened to the vocal expressions of their faith there was a violent earthquake. The prison doors flew open and the prisoners’ chains were loosed.
As the Jailer woke up and assumed that everyone had made a run for it. He drew his sword to kill himself, knowing that if he had lost any prisoners that was his fate anyway. Paul cried out, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The Jailer’s reply (v30b), “What must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in The Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – you and your household.” They told him about Jesus and , In The Name of Jesus, the Jailer was released from his prison of Fear of Man and of Rome. He and his household were baptised. The Jailer received his Gift of Joy! “He was filled with Joy because he had come to believe in God!” (v34b)
When we became Believers we too were released, “In The Name of Jesus” from our prisons. It may have been the Prison of Religion, the Prison of demon possession, the Prison of the Fear of Man, or any number of prisons. Know that that is the past! Now we are In Christ Jesus, Set free! We also received at that time special Gifts, given to us, to serve The Living God, enabling us to preach His Good News!
Perhaps in these days of Lockdown we are receiving a fresh vision for our lives. Embrace it. Get ready to fulfil it. Share The Good News.