October 14 – Prison Letters – Philippi, the First Visit

Read Acts 16:1-40

Yesterday, we visited Rome and spoke of Paul’s incarceration there in the early 60’s a.d.  It was from this important city that Paul penned some of his most important communiqués, the “Prison Epistles” of the New Testament:  Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.

Before we embark on a study of one of these letters, Philippians, we travel back in time some 10-12 years from Paul’s imprisonment to his first encounter with people in the leading Macedonian city of Philippi.

Paul’s initial visit there was not accidental.  No, it was strategic and Spirit-directed.  It was strategic in the sense that Paul was not ashamed of the gospel.  Instead, he was constantly looking for new opportunities to share that life-giving message with both Jews and Greeks (Rom. 1:16).  His specific arrival had been directed by the Holy Spirit.  As Paul sought to preach in the province of Asia and in Bithynia, the Spirit had said “no.”  Then, ultimately, He directed Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke to Philippi.

Do you daily seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  His direction is not only important for what we consider to be the big decisions of life like career, spouse, or home choice.  We need Him to point the way in our daily encounters because all of us are ambassadors for the King of Kings!

Having been directed to Philippi, Paul was privileged to see Lydia and her family respond to the gospel and choose to be baptized.  Praise God!  But only a few verses later, Paul and Silas were in a Philippian jail because of their stand for Jesus.  But these servants of God were able to rejoice in their chains.  And God allows them to see even more people come to the Savior!

Can I ask . . . How do you respond when circumstances turn negative?  I often hear people begin to question decisions they made that put them in a position to experience what they may be going through.  But immediate circumstances do not give us the final word on God’s will.  If you, like Paul, have sought the Spirit’s guidance and followed His leading in the decision, there is no reason to doubt when things become difficult.  God must have a greater plan that you are not yet able to see!

Steve Kern

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