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A Providential Start.

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Good morning if you have your bibles open them up to two places Philippians Chapter 1 and Acts Chapter 16.
We are starting our series in the book of Philippians, and I couldn’t be more excited to preach through this book, this is a book I have studied alot, even taught through a few times, but never have I preached through it.
Now this book is going to be much different than our study in Esther, In fact Philippians is rich with a variety of theological truths.
Paul is the writer of this letter in fact he helped start the church of Philippi, and I will get into how that started in a moment.
Now Philippi was a important city in the Roman empire. In fact it was built by the father of Alexander the Great. Philip of Macedonia, in 42 BC it became part of the Roman Empire. They were also privileged with not having to pay certain taxes other romans did.
The City itself was not inhabited by many Jews. There is no place of worship for the people of God when they arrive.
The Church at Philippi was most likely the first church founded in Europe. It appears from other Scripture that Paul had visited this church 3 times prior to this letter.
Now what makes the church of Philippi unique was its extraordinary giving. IN fact they were super generous.
According to 2 Cor 8:2 which says..
2 Corinthians 8:2 ESV
2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
Though they did not have much they believed what we have talked about as a church that everything belongs to the Lord, and they used it for his kingdom.
In fact later on in Philippians he speaks of their generosity by saying this…
Philippians 4:15–16 ESV
15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.
Philippians 4:18 ESV
18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
The Church at Philippi made sure that his needs were taken care of not worrying about what other churches were doing only making sure they did what they were called to it. Which makes me think about an important principle that we should all think about and that is don’t wait to do what you are called to do thinking someone else will do it, because sometimes no-one else what you are called to do.
This church believed it was called to take care of Paul, and they made sure his needs were taken care of.
Now as I said Paul writes this story and he writes it from prison, He mentions several times in this book how he is in prison, and it is likely that he is writing this letter from a Roman house prison. In fact he talks about how he has got to minister to the badest of bad dudes in Rome the pretorian guard, and these men are the most powerful soliders in all of Rome, and despite his circumstances he is preaching to them and many of them are being saved as we will learn.
Paul in the letter though seems to be hopeful that he will be released from prison and continue his ministry.
Paul is writing this letter in the early 60’s most think around 62 AD.
Now many teachers and scholars say this book has many purposes. The first is to give an update on Epaphroditus. Who was actually sent to minister to Paul but became ill in his journey, and Paul writes to commend him back to the church there.
He also writes this letter for thanking them for the generous gift which I read about just a moment ago to you.
He wants to also update them about his current status, and minister to them saying despite the situation I am in the gospel is advancing.
And he also wants to make sure the church at Philippi remain unified. And we will learn latter that this church does have some sort of division in it, despite its great faith.
He is also telling them in his letter that he is going send Timothy which if you know your bible is Paul’s child in the faith.
He also warns the church of false teachers, something that Paul does in many of his letters.
There is just a few themes in this book one of which I titled the series with and that is Joy. In fact the word joy, and rejoice is mentioned several times in this book, we will see it over and over again. And I believe joy is missing from so many of our own hearts, and to have the kind of joy Paul has is something that I myself deeply desire and pray the church has that joy as well.
Also Unity and Humility is eluted to several times as well.
But for today after this brief introduction I want us to see how the church at Philippi came together. Because of the book of Acts we have the unique ability to see the early stages of how this church was formed. In fact it was a Providential start.
Philippians 1:1–2 ESV
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we see he is writing to the saints of Philippi, and also the pastors and deacons there. He is letting them know this letter is for all the believers in Philippi, including those who preach and teach the gospel, and those who serve the church body.
Some of which we will surly talk about as we look at Chapter 16 of Acts.
And he lays upon them a greeting that we see in many of his writings, and greeting filled with grace and peace in the name of the Father and of the Son, and as we read acts its grace and peace from the Holy Spirit as well.
Because as we will surly see, the Holy Spirit drives them to a place to Minister to.
What I want you to see today is this.. and its fitting based on what we just studied the last couple of months.
But the main idea today is this..

The Church at Philippi got it’s start by the divine work of the Holy Spirit.

lets dig into the text and see how this truth comes alive.
Acts 16:6–10 ESV
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Few notes to take note of today the first is this..

The church must follow the Spirit of God.

In Pauls missionary journey we see Paul had other plans, but the Holy Spirit led him in a different direction, he did not allow him to go to a place where he desired to go. And the Lord made it clear to him where he was suppose to God, and that is to Macedonia, to preach the gospel in this gentile place.
You may have been at a one point or another in your life in a place where God really shift the direction and path of your life.
Even when I came here to pastor I was seeking other opportunities, and I loved to preach, I was just beginning to get more opportunities at a church I was interning at and when brother Nathan called me to come preach two Sundays I said sure with no intention of becoming your pastor at least that is what I thought at first. I came here I remember preaching Romans chapter 8 and being thankful to just open up the word of God to God’s people. It was something I just loved to do. And was talking to another pastor at the time to possibly join their staff in a different position, and through prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit began working in my wife and my own heart giving me a heart for this place for you all and this church.
Not knowing what he would do, just calling me to be faithful to this place. And so I remember going to dinner with Nathan, and bill talking with them about the church, and thinking I might be over my head thinking this is not where I thought my first more full time pastorate would be. I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to live in this state. I had all these dreams of what my first church would look like the programs we had, the way it ran, ect, I will tell you I am defiantly I dreamer, and If the Lord answered the prayers I have had for this church we would be busting at the seams, and I we would all look so much like Jesus, and I believe he can still do that, because if he is in something he can truly do marvelous things indeed.
and I say all this, because if we as a church want to be faithful to God, we have to follow his Spirit, and his word. Even if that leads you down a path of unknowns.
It says in the text I read, that they were called to preach the gospel to them. My goal every time we meet is to make sure Jesus and his word is preached, and any church that is doing that I believe is following the led of the Holy Spirit, because as we learned in the gospel of John that the Holy Spirit reminded the disciples of all that he had taught them, and he leads his church today, through his word.
So when they arrive at Philippi people begin to be changed.
Listen to the text…
Acts 16:11–15 ESV
11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
Second point this morning is this…

The church is made up of converted people.

What do I mean by converted people. Well a converted person is someone who has put their faith, and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord. Someone who has turned away from sin by repentance, and placed faith their faith in Christ. You might go to church, but you are not apart of the church until you are saved.
The first salvation we see in Philippi is Lydia. And what is interesting about this text is where Paul is preaching. Usually when the apostles went to preach they would use a local Synagogue, like a local church for us, but if you remember in my introduction I mentioned the fact that they don’t have a large jewish settlement here it’s made up of mostly gentiles.
Now in the text we are introduced to Lydia, who is a seller of purple goods and a worshiper of God.
Those who sold purple goods at the time were usually well off. The color purple as we have talked about before symbolizes royalty, and they were made from dye that came from shellfish.
Now it also says that she is worshiper of God. There is no reason to believe that she is a Christian nor does it allude to that idea from the text we have. In fact there are many people who claim to believe in God, and worship him yet not truly be converted. That is what I would say Lydia is a women who is seeking for the truth, and when she hears it from God, the Lord does something he does to all people when he saves them. He opened her heart.
In fact the only reason I can have confidence in sharing the gospel or preaching his word or inviting someone to church or doing anything in the name of Jesus is the fact that God can come and change anyone’s heart. And after she is saved we see something happen right she is baptized, and so is her household. There is some doctrine that divides among several denominations about if this is believers baptism like baptists hold to and that is what I believe it’s teaching, but also we have some who think others were baptized most likely sprinkled in Lydias family. But what is clear is that Lydia who was saved was baptized, and she did not want to let Paul go.
She was so changed by God that she wanted Paul to keep on teaching, I wonder if after the service we had people that said keep on preaching, I want to know what the lord has to say. may we be people who desire to never get tired of at-least hearing what God’s word has to say. Even if you get tired of me. Amen.
Lets keep reading about this now growing church.
Acts 16:16–18 ESV
16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
We are introduced to a slave girl who has the spirit of divination and as we have learned in other places in scripture though these people appear to do good they are nothing but agents of the devil, and in this case, they are using her for profit. And she recognizes what many in this city have not to recognize that these people are telling you the way of salvation.
Now to me that seems to be aiding Paul and his ministry, but Paul gets annoyed with it, maybe because she is doing this in a disturbing way, causing disruption, we don’t know but what we do know is this caused Paul to say, “ I command you in the name of jesus Christ to come out of her, an it came out that very hour.”
She was delivered from the hands of Satan over the demon she had, but we don’t know whether she was saved or not, but her deliverance, I would pray that is the case, and I believe that she was, but this led to many getting upset. In fact it led them to be brought before the magistrates let us keep on reading…
Acts 16:19–24 ESV
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Third point this morning is this…

The church will always be attacked for its message.

Paul and Silas who has been faithfully preaching the gospel were taken, just because Paul cast out a demon in the name of Jesus. If you ask me I would be quite excited if someone did that in my town, but as we see they were not so excited because it cost them money, and notice what they say to the magistrates as well. They say These men are disturbing our city. It seemed to me that the demon possessed girl was the most disturbing part but that is beside the point they go with these accusations rather than the truth, so they could rid themselves from Paul, and his friends. Folks if you are following God that tends to happen from those who oppose the teachings of Christ. Because no-one can disprove his message.
They are arrested and its not peaceful. They are attacked, there clothes are ripped off. they are beaten with rods, and inflicted many blows. They are not being treated well all because they freed a lady from her bondage to Satan.
So they are now bonded themselves. Put in Chains. In fact its not comfortable how they are being held. One scholar sets the scene, by saying this… Paul and Silas were taken into the innermost part of the prison, perhaps even down into a dungeon , but we do not know the specifics. In any case, they were put in the most secure part of the prison, and their feet were put in stocks. The purpose of the stocks was twofold. First, the stocks were used to keep the prisoners held securely so they could not get away. Second, the stocks exerted pressure on the feet and the ankles of the prisoner, which was a kind of torture. So here they are beaten within an inch of their lives, taken into the deepest part of the dungeon, put in the stocks that inflicted even more pain upon them, and left there under the watch of the jailer.
The church at Philippi has a really interesting start but it doesn’t end with Paul, and Silas in Chains lets keep reading…
Acts 16:25–34 ESV
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

The church must continue its mission, no matter the situation.

We are studying acts on Wednesday night’s if you are not meeting with us you are missing out, but so far we have seen that the apostles continue to minister despite beatings, and despite being told to stop, and this continues here though they are in prison they are filled with so much joy, and they are praying and singing to God.
The setting for this event is just amazing isn’t it. These men are bound, cant really move, don’t know what is next yet they pray and sing, and in a single moment there is this great earthquake that strikes in such a way that breaks every chain.
And so they are now free, and we are introduced now to this man, who is about honor his code for being a solider because he thinks the men are gone, and during that time if you lost someone you took your life, to gain your honor back.
And Paul and Silas in the moment could have ran could have made sure that they made it to safety, but they cared more about the mission than the situation. So Paul cried out, and said do not harm yourself for we are all here.
And the jailer came called for the lights and rushed in, with fear and trembling, and fell down before Paul, and Silas and says What must I do to be saved?
This is incredible ins’t it not only does he not die, nor does die in his sins, he goes before men who had just been singing, and praying to the Lord, and he knows based on all that has happened to these men, and the earthquake that these guys know the way to the salvation, and he wants to know it for himself. So he asks them what must I do to be saved? That’s my favorite question someone could ask me.
And Paul tells him. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.. Now we know what belief in the bible is, repentance, and faith, and Paul says to him this truth is not only for you, but it is for your whole household who believe in Jesus. And so they preach the gospel to him and to all who are in his house, and the man who was about to take his life ends up hearing the words of eternal life.
Have you ever thought what has happened to you in your life was so you could be in someone’s life sharing with them the words of eternal life. There example here to us is that we must remain pursing Christ in all aspects of our life, because if we do its likely someone else would notice. I am good at Witnessing to someone, or telling them how to be delivered, but I am still working on how I can continue my mission, no matter the situation.
In Moments of suffering we tend to look for comfort when maybe God is asking us to comfort someone else. Paul is singing, praying God, and praying, despite the fact that he is in chains. Talk about a great Christian example when trials come our own way.. Remember the verse I quote often Romans 8:28
Romans 8:28 ESV
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Our purpose in this life should out weigh our circumstances, remember we know what follows in the rest of chapter 8, deliverance from those sufferings even the enemy seems great, And the life of Paul after he is saved by Jesus shows that he is willing to do whatever it takes, and go through whatever it takes in order to fulfill the mission and his mission is to command people to believe in him, and we see that in this very text today.
So after witnessing they get cleaned up and baptize him, and all his family because they also believe, and they eat and rejoice together for what has taken place.
Lets see how this ends…
Few more verses then I have a closing thought..
Acts 16:35–40 ESV
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Paul was told the Jews could go in peace, but Paul used his pull as a Roman citizen letting them know what happened was wrong because what happened to him as we see in the text was wrong, and so they violated his rights as a citizen of Rome, something they should not have done, and they come and apologize to them, and asked them to leave, and on their way out they go and visit the first member of church of Philippi, and continue their journey.
Wild start isn’t it, Man I love to see how God works. It going to be pretty incredible one day when God shows you how he put in you in situations to minister and how he used you to grow his church, this text today really does teach us that we should be people willing to go another way when God calls us there, that the church is to be made up of people who believe in Jesus, and that we should be faithful even if we are attacked for what we believe, and remain focused on the mission we have. Because God is building his church by the power of the Holy Spirit even to this day.
I say our mission statement each and every time we meet and not just as some cute slogan but because I believe in it, if you haven’t read it seriously read it, I love it, and I hope we are all about it one day.
But today you might find yourself not apart of God’s church, and some words from someone really sparked my heart this week he said…
Acts (Set Free)
In modern evangelism, people are invited to come to Christ, but God never invites people to come; God commands people to come to Christ. An invitation is something that you can decline with freedom, but God does not issue an R.S.V.P. because our only hope in life and death is Christ.
The same man would say something we must know.. We must keep in mind that God reveals Himself and His character to every human being in the world. All human beings, whether they profess faith or not, know in the deepest chamber of their heart that God exists and that they will have to face Him at the end of their lives.
So if you don’t know him today he requires you to acknowledge him as Lord, and be thankful like the jailer who had an opportunity to respond before its to late for you. Know for yourself that Jesus died, and rose again, and through him, and him alone can you have eternal life.
The Church at Philippi sure had a wild start but don’t leave here today without being apart of his church.
Let us pray..
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