- Sermon Notes
RIGHT PLACE RIGHT TIME
Sometimes we find ourselves in the right place at the right time.Perhaps some of you sports fans are familiar with the story of Steven Bradbury…
2000 yrs ago a Philippian Jailer was also in the right place at the right time - & his life radically changed too – Paul was on his 2nd Missionary Journey - with Silas - and the Bible tells us they came upon the city of Philippi - a Roman colony - in Macedonia.
In vs 16, the text says “we”, not they, not Paul & Silas, but “we”. So we know that the author, Luke, a physician, was traveling with them!
We are told of a fortune telling woman in this town – followed them around for many days –
So of course you now have her owners upset about losing this revenue – so they drag Paul & Silas down to the city leaders.
Focus on the Conversion story in our text which is always a great reminder about transformations, you and I, repenting and changing - reflect about your own conversion.
The theme of the chapter is also Paul & Silas’ response to suffering.
So think about your conversion and consider what we can learn about suffering for Christ.
I.Be Strong in the Lord
Discouragement often comes with troubles and we have to be very careful because the discouraged heart does not respond as God desires.
There is a lot for us to learn out of these verses. We need to take hold of these spiritual lessons for our own lives. How we respond to difficulties and troubles is an indication of our maturity.
Vs 24 put in inner cell like max security – now in Philippi the actual jail cell has been discovered – you could walk into it today…
Their feet were fastened into stocks – spread wide -position placed to cause maximum discomfort –
Vs 25 midnight praying and singing hymns to God – other prisoners listening – they were singing – we understand why they are awake – but praying and singing – not sulking or complaining, but singing – Paul was praising God. Every single prisoner awake and listening
Perhaps they were having a conversation about their circumstances - hymn “great is thy faithfulness” - from Jeremiah in Lamentations 3 written during dark times.
Lamentations 3:21-24; This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.”
We are not surprised that they are going through troubles. Jesus Himself said,
John 16:33; These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
We are not surprised that they are suffering. Jesus also said,
John 15:20; Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
What surprises us and encourages us out of the story, is how they respond to that suffering, to that tribulation.
Vs 26 Violent earthquake – doors flew open – all chains came loose - Not luck, not fate, not a coincidence – but God answering the prayers of His people!
This is not an earthquake story as critics may say.
Jailer awoke to draw his sword to kill himself - but no one was gone –
Philippi is part of the Roman colony – soldiers often retired right where they worked - this Jailer probably a retired Roman soldier – he knew the risks...if he lost a prisoner he would be executed.
Acts 12:19; When Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution.
Why would they stay in prison after this – who does that?
Well if you hear someone praying, followed byan earthquake, followed by chains and doors blowing off - - think about it - -
Their suffering lead to freedom, to a powerful witness in the prison, they were more calm in such surroundings than you and I might be when we misplace our phones, our wallets or our keys.
A. Praise, not complaining pleases God
Complaining is a common way that people respond to problems and it isn’t very helpful.
Where does it come from? The attitude of complaining actually comes from immaturity and lack of faith. Many people also complain about God, almost as if they thought they could harass God to do what they want.
It’s interesting that Paul wrote to the church that was started in this very city of Philippi, saying…
Philippians 2:14, 16,; Do all things without grumbling or disputing;…holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. Do all things without grumbling or disputing… holding fast the word of life.
B.God will respond to His people
This guy has seen a lot as a Roman soldier – tough – but this Jailer came in trembling when he saw Paul and Silas –
Critics often say this event never happened – a typical tremor – that Luke blew it out of proportion.
- The Jailer was there and didn’t see it that way – He trusted what he saw, not some scholars in the 20th or 21st Century…
- Luke was along as a scribe - not in prison but certainly witnessed this great storm event.
The Jailer was in the right place at the right time.
Paul says believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved – that’s it, that’s all? - you don’t need to “do” anything – it's already been done for you on the cross – it's already happened.
How’s your memory bank about your conversion?
In essence Paul says, put your personal trust in Jesus who has already done what needed to be done.
ILLUS - I imagine many of you can relate to this story; someone you know says, “I want to come to church, I need some religion back in my life”…
- Acts 16:31 so Clear – how to get eternal life, securea spot in heaven, have a personal relationship with God, What did Paul say....how does one become a believer - “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
The added “household” has been greatly misunderstood for much time – Paul is not offering eternal life through the Jailer, but is offering his household the same invitation as the Jailer.It so happened the entire family believed - but there is no guarantee this will happen.
Are you like the Philippian Jailer today? You looking for activity to earn eternal life – not necessary – you must trust... Jesus Christ has already done it for us.
II. Trust that God has a plan
Paul and Silas are just trusting God in this. They’re not asking God for an earthquake.
Now we see that this was about the heart & conversion of the Jailer.
A.God uses believers to advance the Kingdom
He will use our faith to touch others – people will watch…you will often find yourself in the right place at right time.
Vs 25 makes a point of telling us that as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, the prisoners were listening to them.
In a similar way, the Jailer saw their heart and their character and their faith and when Paul called out that he should do no harm to himself, he responded, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Our faith has a direct impact on those around us. When people see you going through troubles and yet your faith is steadfast, it’s powerful evidence that your faith is real.
You never know who is listening or watching as you go through trouble.
Our children & grandchildren are watching to see how we will react, our neighbors & co-workers are watching…
B.Simply wait on the Lord
ILLUS - A pastor of a so-called mega-church once said that people don’t understand the word “saved” and we shouldn’t use it…
God wants to bless and pour out His favor...
All the prisoners & the Jailer found themselves waiting on the Lord through Paul.It must have been a powerful moment and Paul knew God Himself was in control of that moment.
C. God transformations us
Why did he phrase his question the way he did? Sirs, what must I do to be “saved”? -
The demonized girl following Paul – shouting - “these men are servants....to be “saved” –
Then suddenly the jail is open and prisoners set free - “must I do to be saved”?
As followers of Jesus Christ we often share and people blow it off like the Jailer – we get discouraged, lose hope – perhaps even quit sharing our faith all together?
But learn from the Jailer –a lot of times people store what we say for months or years until a crisis comes along and all of the sudden they remember what they heard…their memory banks do business with God.
Medical – Parenting – Marriage – Family – Financial suddenly people pull it out of the memory bank to speak with God.
I’ve talked to friends about Jesus & extended family – to no observable change –
We never know how God might work – you keep sharing your faith with people who are not going to respond. It’s not over yet –
I Cor 15:58; Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Share your faith –God will use it. Their are Philippian Jailers all over Hillsboro, your neighborhood and the State of Oregon – share it and they will file it away – many won’t want to speak with you – it's ok.
We’ve got to be careful not to orchestrate God’s timing – remember the harvest is His and right around the corner awaits an opportunity for us to be a part of someone’s story about being in the right place at the right time.
Acts 16:22-34 NASB