May 30, 2022
These daily devotionals are a time to grow deeper in relationship with the One who died for our freedom from sin. On this Memorial Day, may we take time to reflect on the lives of those men and women who have died while serving in the United States armed forces to insure our freedom. May the Lord bless their families and bless those men and women who continue to protect our American freedom. Thank you, to all military personnel for your selfless call to serve and to protect.
Before we just jump into today’s passage let’s take a moment and gain some context. So, earlier in Acts 16 we see that the Apostle Paul is out ministering with Silas. They reach Philippi, a major city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. There a demon possessed slave girl began to follow and taunt Paul day after day shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” (v. 17) This was true, but you could imagine how well it was going over coming from what others saw as a sort of fortune-teller, and that was not the type of support that Paul and Silas needed. Finally, Paul says to the demon, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her” (v.18) and the demon instantly left the slave girl. This also did not go over very well, as the girl’s owner demanded the arrest of these missionaries. The magistrates (officers or judges of the religious law) did not like troublemakers, and so they had these men beaten and put in jail. Around midnight, Paul and Silas began to pray and sing in jail. God responded by shaking the prison with an earthquake that opened the doors and freed the prisoners. (v.25-26) Only, not one of the prisoners walked out, but the jailer did not know that and so as he was about to commit suicide because of the mess at the jail, Paul stopped him and led him to Christ. The jailer took Paul and Silas home with him for a meal, and there he cared for their wounds from the beatings. Later, the men baptized the jailer’s entire household and they all believed in God (v.31-34).
This brings us to today’s passage, where we see that the next morning the city officials sent word to the jailer to let Paul and Silas go. However, Paul was not willing to sneak out of town because he did not want the new church to be left under a cloud of suspicion. He told them that he was a Roman citizen, and he demanded a public apology for their unlawful acts. According to Roman law, Roman citizens, as both Paul and Silas were, could not be beaten and put in prison without a fair trial. We don’t know why Paul waited until this moment to mention this fact, but God certainly knew, and He used it.
The magistrates respectfully came to Paul and Silas, and although they did not do a public apology, they did escort them out of prison, and politely asked them to leave town. This satisfied Paul, as he was not looking for revenge, rather he wanted protection and respect for the church.
What Paul did is such an important lesson for us. Paul did not campaign for societal change in an unbelieving world. Rather, he worked hard to change the hearts of the people that Jesus brought within his path. Notice that not “all” of the people’s hearts were changed (like the magistrates), and Paul and Silas knew that was the case, and rather than organize a public demonstration (to prove their point), they quietly left. You and I have the opportunity each and everyday to share the Good News about the saving love of Jesus Christ. We must not focus on all of the darkness of this world because the enemy is busy. Rather, we need to be focused on how we are going to allow the Lord to work in and through us to change one heart at a time. Never underestimate where, when, and with whom God will use you. Do you think Paul and Silas thought God would use them to change the hearts of a demon possessed slave girl and a jailer? Probably not, but the connection between the two hearts is rather divinely placed when you stop and think about it. When one is saved it causes the men to be moved to another situation where they are then given an opportunity to present Christ to the other and he too is saved. We have to be willing and open to allow the work of the Holy Spirit to operate in and through our lives at all times to bring more hearts to the Kingdom.
Acts 16:35-40 NLT
35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36 So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.”
37 But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!”
38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city. 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.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for saving each of us. Thank You for the men and women who serve to protect our American freedom. We lift up the families who have lost loved ones in service to our country. Please bless them, Lord. We ask You to help us to allow the Spirit to move freely within us so that we can bring more people to You. We ask all of this in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.