Read Numbers 17-18, Isaiah 41, and Acts 16 today. This devotional is about Acts 16.
Paul’s second missionary journey got off to a great start! On one of his early stops, he met Timothy who became a trusted fellow-servant and a dear friend (vv. 1-3) and God was blessing each visit with spiritual and salvation growth (vv. 4-5).
Then God directed Paul and Silas away from where they intended to go and into Greece (Macedonia) (vv. 6-12). At first, things started off great there in the city of Philippi when Lydia became a believer and gave these missionaries a place to stay (vv. 13-15). Then Paul and Silas liberated a woman from the demons that possessed her (vv. 16-18) and things changed quickly and drastically. The woman who had been demon possessed was a big money maker for others. Now that her powers were gone, these men wanted revenge so they pressed charges against Paul and Silas of inciting a riot (vv. 19-21). As a result of the criminal charges against them, Paul and Silas were “…stripped and beaten with rods” (v. 22b)… “severely flogged [and] thrown into prison” (vv. 22b-23a).
I don’t think my reaction to these circumstances would have been very happy but instead of being dragged down emotionally, Paul and Silas “were praying and singing hymns to God” (v. 25). God worked miraculously and saved the jailor (vv. 26-34) then worked providentially and had Paul and Silas released (vv. 35-40). So it seems clear that the bad treatment these men received was both to teach them to trust God and to bring salvation to the Philippian jailor. The painful, unpleasant circumstances were part of his plan.
James 1 commands us to consider it pure joy when we encounter many kinds of trials. Paul and Silas practiced that truth and God used them. Are you facing a trial, a difficult time, an unexpected setback after a period of good spiritual growth and blessing? Choose to sing God’s praises and glorify him while waiting to see how he wants to use you in that circumstance.
If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Leviticus 22, Psalms 28–29, Ecclesiastes 5, 2 Timothy 1. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Timothy 1.
Second Timothy is the most personal of all of Paul’s New Testament letters. Although he intended it to be read to the entire church at Ephesus (4:22: “Grace be with you all”), he addressed it only to Timothy (v. 2) and even called him “my dear son” in the same verse. He assured Timothy of his constant prayers for him (v. 3: “night and day”) and told him, “I long to see you” (v. 4). When speaking of Timothy’s faith, Paul noted that it “first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” I believe in divine election—the doctrine that everyone who believes in Jesus was chosen by God based only on God’s grace. One might think that election would look sort of random with a person here and there from various families; however, this passage and personal experience both demonstrate that salvation frequently runs through family lines. This is because God wants—and has always wanted—generations of believers. It is a beautiful thing to see the grace of God saving one generation after another in a human family. As the members of that family trust Christ and follow him in baptism, as they grow in their faith and become holy, an entire family tree begins to show how different it looks when an entire family belongs to God and lives for his glory. If you came from a Christian family, that is something to give thanks for. It is also something to ask God to help you pass on to your children and grandchildren—whether you came from a godly family or not.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.