At New Passion we have been in our Source Code: A Journey through Acts series for a little over a year now. We took a couple of short breaks and picked back up where we left off a couple of months ago.
Today, I preached out of Acts 16, there are several important things that take place in this Chapter, but the best thing about this post is what happened today AFTER I preached this chapter, so keep reading:
- Acts 16:6-10 – The Holy Spirit does not permit Paul and Silas to go where THEY want to go. He prevents them from going to the province of Asia and into the north region of what we now know is Turkey. Instead Paul receives a vision from Macedonia and there God would start the church of Philippi through his efforts.
- Acts 16:11-35 – God starts to build the church of Philippi with a business woman, Lydia; a (formerly) demon-possessed girl; and a prison guard.
- How did God do this? Well, first with Lydia it began by God not giving Paul his way. He closed doors and took away what some would say were opportunities to share the gospel. Paul instead followed the leading of the Spirit, took the time to invest in Lydia, share the gospel and then she believed; Secondly, with the demon-possessed girl, God allowed Paul to be annoyed and frustrated by the demon constantly proclaiming that they were there to preach the message of salvation, through his frustration, Paul casts the demon out of the girl; finally, with the prison guard, God allowed Paul to be arrested for doing God’s work. Through Paul’s example of true, selfless Christianity, the guard believes and is saved. Paul could have looked out for his own neck, but instead he stayed in prison so the guard did not have to lose his.
Here was my point to our people this morning and where my story comes in this afternoon. Who is it that God wants you to stop, take time with and share Jesus with them? That’s your Lydia. Who is it that God is allowing to annoy you? You know that pesky neighbor or co-worker or the aunt you can’t escape from. Maybe he is frustrating you so you’ll share the love of Jesus with them so they might believe. That’s your demon-possessed girl. Finally, and this is where my story comes in today. What situation do you find yourself in where you feel like you are in prison or like your world is falling a part? Who has God surrounded you with in this moment of your life that you can display true Christianity to, so that they might believe and be saved? That’s your prison guard.
Today, I received a tweet from a young man that I have only met once, but got to be with during a week long camp in Jackson, SC, last Summer. I wrote about my experience at the camp in an earlier post, it was amazing! Here’s what his tweet said:
That made my day! I had the privilege of preaching in the service where Noah placed his faith in Jesus for salvation. That in-and-of-itself is awesome, but what makes this story even greater is the fact that I was going through my own “prison experience,” although it was without the orange jump suit and the jail cell.
I was fired (“laid off”) from my job a week before having the opportunity to go speak at this camp. Needless to say, I had a lot on my heart and mind at the time, tons to worry about with a wife, three kids and bills. I didn’t get my way, God closed a door and allowed me to be placed in a very difficult position, but God placed me in that position at that time for his glory and for the salvation of Noah and anyone else who placed their faith in Jesus for salvation during that week of camp.
Sometimes I wonder if Christians think sermons are just a bunch of fancy talk, but can’t really be applied in their own life and in their specific situations. I think some people get excited to hear a different take on Scripture to bring out a point that they’ve never seen, but by the end of the service, the whole point of the message is lost. Today’s sermon was more than “just a sermon” for me, it was real life, it was my life just a year ago. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to lose my job which freed me up to prepare for a camp where a young man, plus others were saved. Noah, is my modern day prison guard. God used my difficult situation to share Jesus with him. Life is not about me, my job or my comfort; it’s about people seeking and feeling their way towards God to find him (Acts 17:26-27). I want to be a part of helping them find him. Thank you, Shane Padgett for allowing me to be used in the middle of a difficult season and thank you for having such a huge vision for students through PHAT Camp.
What situation do you find yourself in right now? Does it feel like Prison, maybe even Hell? Look around you, those are the people watching you to see how you will respond and how you will act. In the middle of living your faith out, you will have the opportunity to share the answer for your hope. Will you take that opportunity? It’s more than just a sermon….