Summary: What do we do when difficulties arise in our lives. A look at Paul's and his companions time in Philippi Prison
How many of you have seen the Television reality show the “Amazing Race”. For those of you that have not seen it, there many groups of two people (some married teams, some brother’s teams, some sister teams, mother daughter, father daughter, Father son, engaged couples, dating couples and so on). These groups of two travel around the world finding the shortest routes, trying to talk to taxi drivers in other languages and they compete in competitions or what they call challenges along the way. One of the challenges they face is called a “Detour”. A detour is when they have to stop and choose one of the team members to do a task that is usually difficult. In essence, it makes them stop their race to their final destination and work through a task before they continue on.
There was a new city bus driver in New York City and he was on the first day of his new job and route. Things were going well until he realized he took a wrong turn and found himself traveling around and trough a park. Although this was an express run, they were traveling by flowers that were in bloom, the trees were budding and the grass was so green. He was relieved to arrive at the terminal only a few minutes late and thought maybe no one noticed. When they stopped an elderly lady, as she got off the bus, “young man that was lovely! I’ve been riding this bus for years, and that was the first time I was treated to a free tour of the park in spring time.”
Life is full of detours and obstacles. All of us at some point have things come up that throw a loop in our plans and in our lives and in our building of the kingdom. Whether it be an illness; loss of a job; financial stress; troubles at work; troubles with a boss; family troubles; loss of a loved one or many other things that can arise in our lives. All of us have detours in our lives from time to time. In this church today we are in a detour phase with our pastoral search. How will we as a congregation handle this detour time?
Life is not always a wide, easy well marked path. Unexpected detours are sure to arise. This especially may seem confusing if you feel that God has a special plan for your life and your Kingdom work. How do you handle such detours? Or is there anyone here that has never had any detours in their lives?
Well today we are going to look at another detour. Paul and Silas and their companions (Timothy being one of them) traveled to Macedonia after Paul had a vision in Acts 16:9. Paul knew without a doubt that God wanted himself and Silas in Macedonia to preach the good news about Jesus and they started out on their journey without hesitation. Soon after they arrived, verses 11-15 has the account of their ministry beginning and the conversion of a woman named Lydia, but we are going to pick up the story in verse 16 which was read earlier.
Paul and Silas ran into a slave girl who was processed by a spirit and could predict the future. Through this she made her masters a lot of money by her fortune telling. She followed Paul and Silas shouting “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally, Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Verse 18 states: “At that moment the spirit left her.”
Well when the owners of the slave girl realized what had happened to her and realized their hope of making money off her fortune telling was gone they were a little incensed. They seized Paul and Silas and drug them through the marketplace and brought them before the magistrates, the authorities. They brought two charges before the magistrates.
First, they said that Paul and Silas were Jews and they are throwing our city into an uproar, verse 20. This would be a serious offence. The Roman Empire would not tolerate public disturbances especially from foreigners. Randal Deny states that: “Roman peace”, referred to “Pax Romana” “was an important principle of Roman Government.
The second charge is seen in verse 21: they were advocating customs unlawful for us to accept or practice. Rome was unfriendly to new religions.
Well the crowd got into the attack and the magistrates ordered Paul and Silas to be striped and beaten and severely flogged. Romans were known for their brutality in their beatings. This was not a pleasant experience for Paul and Silas. After their public beating they were taken to a prison and left in the hands of the jailor and ordered him to shackle them in an inner cell. Verse 24 says their feet were fastened in stocks.