Summary: Sermon is dedicated to the wonder of Grace – 1. Grace is Unmerited 2. Grace is Unearned 3. Grace is Limitless 4. Grace is Transformative
Title: “I’m Thankful for … Grace.”
Sermon is dedicated to the beauty of Grace – 1. Grace is Unmerited 2. Grace is Unearned 3. Grace is Limitless 4. Grace is Transformative
Grace and peace this morning from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Our story this morning takes place around 25 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Apostle Paul has come to faith and is now traveling with Silas, Timothy and maybe Luke on what has been usually called his Second Missionary Journey.
In our passage, the Apostle Paul and his company have been sharing the Gospel in the city of Philippi. One of the leading ladies of the area, a woman by the name of Lydia has fallen under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and has come to faith. She has repented of her sins, confessed that Jesus is Savior and LORD and has received the infilling presence of the Holy Spirit.
And she was not the only one. The Bible tells us that her whole household came to believe in Jesus. Her whole household was Born Again. Her whole household were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And her home became for a short time Paul’s missionary headquarters as they shared the message of Jesus.
However, as we have read this morning, it didn’t take very long for Paul and his company to face some spiritual warfare. The Devil was not happy with the Apostle Paul and his company sharing the message of salvation. It all came to a head when Paul cast out the evil spirits that who were possessing a young girl who had the demonic gift of fortune telling.
Her owners went ballistic and demanded that Paul and Silas be arrested for preaching idolatry against the Roman gods by proclaiming that Jesus is the true and only King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For the Philippians, true worship was seen as worshiping Caesar (Claudius or Nero), Zeus or one of the other many gods/goddesses of the Romans, Macedonians and Greeks. That was what they had been raised to believe. They had never heard about Jesus or the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.
Now, these owners didn’t really care about the gods/goddesses. They really didn’t care what Paul and his friends were saying or promoting. What they cared about what the fact that their money ticket – this possessed girl was now free of her demons and believed in Jesus Christ. She was out of the fortune telling business which meant that they had lost their meal ticket.
These men caused such a disturbance that Paul and Silas were quickly arrested and just as quickly were beaten with rods. Now, what that mean was this; both Paul and Silas were stretched out and their legs, their backs and their sides would beaten with rods made out of oak, chestnut or beech tree wood.
By the time they were through, the men’s clothes had been torn; their back, legs and sides had been severely beaten and they found themselves chained up in the deepest part of the local prison. In a matter of minutes they had gone from being housed in one of the finest homes in Philippi to being in the muck and mire of a filthy prison floor, chained, bleeding and in inexorable pain.
It is there of course that one of the greatest acts of grace was experienced. Right at the time of midnight when their backs, their sides and their legs had to be screaming, the two men started a prayer, praise and worship session. The rest of the prisoner’s had to be thinking that these two Jewish men had gone crazy. Who sings in the middle of the night after their bodies have been badly beaten and their feet chained in stocks?
It was right about then that the Bible tells us that an earthquake happened that not only shook the ground but literally freed Paul and Silas. Everyone’s jail doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were loosened.
Now, let’s pause for a moment. If you don’t think that it was God at work; how were both the jail cells and the shackles affected? No one lost their lives – the ground shook a little but more importantly the doors and the shackles were loosened. That my friend was the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY at work; making a way for an even greater miracle to happen.
The earthquake not only got the jailer’s attention but it caused him to come under conviction. The Holy Spirit used the humility of Paul and Silas, the singing of Paul and Silas and the earthquake to create an evangelistic event.
In verses 29 – 32 we have the Apostle Paul leading the jailer and his family to faith. They wanted to experience the type of relationship with God that these men experienced. They wanted to be born again.