1.29.11 Bethel AM Acts 16:10
Title: Going against the Grain:
Going up against tough stuff in ministry.
Necessary for Robert E. Lee to establish a beachhead through which he could weaken the North.
Necessary for Eisenhower to establish the beachhead at Normandy to begin the monumental task of depriving Hitler of the means to fight
Necessary for MacArthur/ Nimitz and others to establish beachheads along the islands of the South Pacific if the hope of reaching Japan was to be realized.
So while we may read that God superintended the mission change into The district of Macedonia, we need to appreciate on the back side, just why that was so significant.
The first gospel inroads into Europe
The first female convert of a church, cutting across the male dominated culture of the day.
The first of the we sections of Luke’s account.
As such, according to Luke they have traveled to the first city, leading city of the district of Macedonia… reflects some local pride that may have suggested Luke was part of the founding and early development of the Philippian church.
Philippi: Why Philippi?
It enjoyed a population conducive to outreach… In that with no synagogue and large Jewish presence, it was a city where good ministry could still be done– we might call it cutting edge ministry to people not usually singled out for this kind of attention.
It enjoyed certain natural advantages; we might call them resources:
A strategic commercial location and the necessary land/ sea routes
A fertile soil and conditions right for a bounty in agriculture
A medical school with alumni distributed through the known world
Yet functioning and prosperous gold mines.
Add to this the many retirees who had settled in the region as a result of it’s Roman domination.
It enjoyed a rich history, owing its origin to Phillip of Macedonia in 356 bc– recognizing its importance.
It was a city even Luke took some personal pride in, calling it,the leading city of the district.
Big idea: ministry on the cutting edge often cuts across the grain of the world’s view of what’s possible.
In fact, John Stott writes as he begins a discussion of this section of Scripture, “( these narratives are not) particularly notable in themselves, but… They demonstrate how God breaks down dividing barriers and … unites in Christ, people of very different kinds.” pg. 262
WHAT PAUL FOUND
There was No synagogue ; Jewish law required the presence of 10 male head of households. In a male-only world of Judaism there simply was no place for women to worship.
There was no church of consequence.
There was a place by the river, (Gangitite River)
It was to this location that Paul and his companions arrived.
What the woman had come to do~
To recite the Shema
To pray the Shemoneh (a liturgy of 18 blessings)
To read from the law and prophets
To discuss what they had read
To hear from a traveling teacher
To receive a blessing
That was then, this is now
I find that everyone who walks through life is looking for a similar kind of validation; they want to know that there is order to life; they would like to know there is some blessing (privilege) for them in this life.
And usually they are looking for some understanding of the meaning of life.
So while the unsaved may not be coming to church, they are looking for these questions and other like them to be answered.
This woman from Thyratira:
A business woman of her day of some means
She had connected with the local synagogue
Likely a widow, or unmarried…
This woman first intrigued by the God of the Jews, was wooed, and ultimately surrendered to the self proclaimed king of the Jews.
She first opened her heart to the Christian message and then opened her home to the Christian mission.
Let no one suppose that true faith can accomplish much without its desire to be faithful in true obedience.
If this church represents a series of firsts…and The Lydian Lady, one of many firsts, then… (3) questions:
1. Could your life be the first of many friendly faces that warms another toward a relationship with Jesus Christ?
2. Could your occupation, your financial success, be the first of many investments on the work wants to build in this place.
3. Could your home be the first of many beachheads from which fellowship, worship, prayer, and outreach launch out?