Tuesday, July 4, 2017

unlikely church planters

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Acts 16:6-15
mark this: Philippians 1:3-6
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
At the beginning of Paul & Silas' missionary journey, I doubt that the city of Philippi was on their mind. Sure, it was "a Roman colony, and the leading city" of its district, but it was by no means a Rome or an Athens or even a Corinth. Apparently Paul had a mind to head north towards Bithynia - but the Holy Spirit said "Nope!" So he ends up in Philippi, of all places.
There wasn't much of Jewish population there, seeing as there was no synagogue (which required a minimum of ten men).  So instead of following his usual pattern of starting ministry in a synagogue, Paul & Silas head instead outside the city to the river. Who's there?
Important city officials? Great scholars? Experts in philosophy or religion? Nope- just a bunch of women. No one of significance to the Roman world- but remember- God is no respecter of persons (1).   (After all, my particular church was started by the ministry of two women!)
From these humble beginnings, comes a thriving church, one that brought much encouragement and support for Paul. His affection for this particular congregation leaps off the page in the letter to the Philippians. From the very beginning, they were his partners in the Gospel. They gave generously. He calls them dear friends and fellow workers. (2)
All this started from a businesswoman named Lydia, some other women, a converted jailer and his household. (3) None of these were likely candidates for planting a church, and yet that is exactly what they did. Today, the book of Philippians is know as Paul's joy letter. And this rag tag band of church planters gives me great joy as well because it confirms that the Gospel never rests "on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (4)
(1) Acts 10:34
(2) Philippians 1:4, , 4:1-3, 4:15
(3) Acts 16:34
(4) 1 Corinthians 2:5

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