Summary: That which flows from us because of who we are and what we are about may be our best service.
Text: Acts 16:22-30
Most of the things we do for God we do on purpose. They are intentional, they are consciously planned. But sometimes our most meaningful acts are performed spontaneously or unconsciously. They are not planned; they just flow out of who we are and what our lives are about. Matthew 5:14-16. 14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15“nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
I.The Unintentional Witness of Paul and Silas
A.Paul and Silas intended to preach the gospel.
1.Read Acts 16:22-30: They came to Philippi to perform one kind of ministry, but they ended up performing another.
a.They had come to Philippi to preach the gospel but they ended up in jail.
b.They had come to set people free and their freedom was taken away.
2.But in their imprisonment they provided an unintentional witness.
B.Paul and Silas’ respond to their confinement.
1.Instead of cursing God or crying to him as many a prisoner must have done, they chose to sing to Him songs of praise.
2.And the prisoners heard them - And doubtless with astonishment. Prayer and praise are not common in a prison. The song of rejoicing and the language of praise are not usual among men lying bound in a dungeon. From this example we may learn:
1)The value of a good conscience, the knowledge of being right with God. This is the peace of Jesus that can be in all our hearts.
Romans 8:31b (NASB) If God is for us, who is against us?
2)That as Christians the sources of our happiness is within us. External circumstances cannot destroy this peace and joy.
Philippians 4:11b, 13 (NASB) ”…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
“13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
3)Whatever befalls us in this world cannot destroy this peace. We may be incarcerated but our spirit cannot be bound, we may lose earthly comforts or physical health, but nothing can separate us from the presence and sustaining grace of God.
Read Romans 8:28-39
3.We, too, have choices with regard to how we will respond to life’s “unfair” blows. We can be broken by them or stew in resentment over them, or we can properly look within them as a reason to praise God.
C.In their response they performed an unintentional witness.
1.Paul and Silas sang because of their faith, because of their confidence in Christ; that He was with them and giving them strength.
2.And all the time they were giving witness to those around them. Those around them witnessed their faith and were blessed by it.
II.Unintentional But Not Accidental
Despite the way it sounds, these unintentional acts do not happen incidentally. Like any skilled professional who makes a difficult task look easy, we need to apply diligent effort to strengthen our faith to be as Paul and Silas. We must apply ourselves in order for the world to see the light of Christ in our lives. We can accomplish this by:
A.Laying Aside the Old Self, and Putting On the New Self
1.As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1-14 we must:
b.Set our minds on things above, not on the things that are on the earth - 1-4
Love H, S, S, M; Seek first K, R T, H, R, P, GR, E, WoP
c.Lay aside our old self and stop doing the things upon which God’s wrath is going to come one day - 5-9
1)What is that “old self” or “old nature”? It was each person before he or she came to know Christ.
2)The person enslaved to sin and without hope.
d.Put on the "new self", according to the "image of Christ" - 10-11
1)We need to rid ourselves of the old life and put on the new way of living given by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.
2)But how is this accomplished? How can we “put off” and “put on”?
3)Paul explained that we are not left alone in the process. This new self is being renewed in knowledge.
Colossians 3:10 (NASB) 10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
4)Every Christian is in a continuing education program.
e.Developing "Christ-like" qualities - 12-14
1)This knowledge is Christ-likeness. The more believers know of Christ and do his work, the more they are being changed to be like him.