Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Acts 16

Acts 9:16 (Jesus speaking) "...And I will show him how much he (Paul) must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Acts 16:19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials... 22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. ...40 When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.

*****Just a quick note on something that intrigued me and set me to imagining. ... the jailer put them in the inner dungeon. The word inner is ESOTEROS and the definition is given as:

1. inner
2. the inner space which is behind the veil
3. the shrine, the Holy of Holies, said of heaven by a figure drawn from earthly temple

Now this seems like an unusual word choice, to me. By the way, it is used one other time in the New Testament, Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, and curious to me that it is used with a reference to the veil.

So the two believers are in stocks/chains, beaten, bloody, sticky, exhausted, wronged, stiff, stuck and hurting and around midnight, they are also praying and singing hymns to God. It seems that physically they are in prison and bound; but really they are in the Holy of Holies freely communing the LORD of the Universe because the veil that had separated all people had already been torn from top to bottom. Their location may have been a jail; but their presence was with God. And that means, He was with them (never leave nor forsake promise kicks in during these times especially). So that jail with all of its bondage and pain was eclipsed by the presence of God Almighty. And that earthquake, I wonder if it was really the result of Yahweh getting down on His knees to be a little closer to His boys. BOOM.

The definitions came from the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, (no, of course I don't speak Greek. Ya'll know I barely can speak in English. I just love words and looking into them.)

Another comment from the "inner" imagination, no wonder the Lord had Dr. Luke travel with Paul and his traveling buddies. Paul was always needing some medical attention.

Okay, the part which the Lord challenged me with was that Paul knew what he would suffer for the Name of Jesus. (I think Silas is getting the idea, too) But in the midst of the suffering, he was the Lord's chosen instrument to take (Messiah's) message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And that day, he was the instrument which the Father used for giving healing to a demon-possessed girl, salvation to the jailer and his household, and who knows what to the other prisoners. And after all of this,wounded, swollen, bruised, bloodied and sore, he and Silas encouraged the believers before they left.

So, when I am in cruddy circumstances and I know it's going to be cruddy for awhile; why don't I look around and see who all I can impact for Christ's sake? Or how about just in a day's work? When I am uncomfortable, will I be found praying and singing hymns to God? Or will I be praying some, complaining lots and singing the woes of the situation. I have got to remember and act on Philippians 4:9 ( Put into practice what you learned from me (Paul in God's Word), what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.) Lord, please help me to live a life that shows it is Your story not mine, Your glory not mine, Your plans not mine which accomplish the most excellent harmonies. And at the end of a day, let me be found encouraging others. You have not placed any of us in a vacuum; we are all in place, in time and in relationship with the folks You intend for us to impact. Give me eyes to see, wisdom for the way and a heart that beats as fiercely for others as Yours does. May You be glorified in my life and in the lives of those I am destined to encounter. Help me to love my faith-folks well.

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