Real Stories

Children love fantasy.  And it is hard even for those in early elementary grades to distinguish the difference between Mickey Mouse and Paul of  Taurus.  So in Bible lessons, tell them “this is REAL.”

Here is the story (for adults too)

Jesus died and rose up into heaven right in front of a lot of people. T hen, fifteen or so years later, Paul, a missionary, went to a country that was not his own. He could speak their language, Greek.  Some exciting things happened in this town of Philippi, in Macedonia.

Paul and some friends (Luke, Silas, Timothy) went to Philippi after dreaming a man called to them, asking for help.  God used this way of telling Paul to go to Europe instead of  to Asia. World history would have been a lot different if they had gone to Asia as planned.  Sometimes God changes our plans.

Paul and his friends met some women down by the river, praying.  One lady, Lydia, was a wealthy business woman in town to make some money.  She was so happy to hear that there was a way for her to be saved from her sin.  She and her family all believed what Paul taught about Jesus being the One who died so they could know God and be close to Him.

A young slave girl was controlled by an evil spirit.  Paul said to the demon, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her!”  And it did.  But now the girl couldn’t tell the future anymore, so her owners dragged Paul and Silas to the judge.  They were mad and lied, saying Paul and Silas were teaching others to disobey the law.  The  lie spread around town until  a mob formed and began beating Paul and Silas right there in front of the judge.  The judge threw them in prison to keep them safe from the mob.  They were chained way deep inside the prison.  Paul and Silas sang and prayed together.

It gets even more exciting.  An earthquake struck.  Their chains fell off.  The prison doors opened.  But, neither Paul or any of the other prisoners left.  I guess they were asking Paul questions or something.  The jailer was really scared because he knew the Roman Judge would have his neck for this big escape.  They told him to calm down, and then told him all about Jesus’ life, death, and going into heaven.  All to pay the price for this jailer’s sins.  He cleaned up their wounds (remember, they had been beaten by the mob) and then asked to be baptized as a sign of  his sins being washed away. Everyone in his family believed also.  Just like Lydia’s .

Now these two families and some other people became the church in Philippi.  They stayed friends with Paul and helped him plant churches in Greece and helped the Jewish Christians during a bad time.  Paul would visit them 2 more times, and then write them a letter from prison in Rome.  They helped bring the gospel to Europe.  Later, Europeans would sail across the Atlantic, bringing the good news of  Christ to America.

This is a wonderful story about how God showed Paul where to go, then helped him with an earthquake, and saved two families and a slave girl and helped a new church get started which then would help send the gospel along into the Roman Empire and Western Europe.  We never know what God will do!  (See Acts 16 for details)

Always Apply the story:

Do you go to church?  Do you have more than two families there? Do you believe Jesus died for your sins? Are you sorry for your sins?  Do you ever tell others about Jesus? Have you ever been in an earthquake?  Isn’t it wonderful to know God saves people–some rich like Lydia, some slaves like this girl, some working folks like this prison guard?  It doesn’t matter what our family is like, He can save anyone!

Reading Philippians

I hope you will join me in reading Philippians during these wintery days.

Bible Input is one of the spiritual disciplines.  Just making yourself do it.  Self-discipline in a spiritual arena.  Self-discipline fights self-indulgence, one of the empty pursuits to which we are all prone.  And it is something we must insist upon our children developing–discipline for the sake of  godliness.

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. ” (Philippians 1:1-5)

From Self-Discipline To Joy

Every time Paul thinks about these people– remembering what happened, how they met, how the whole city got into an uproar over their work together, how he had to flee for his life, then come back later to teach and preach and strengthen them in the Christian faith and way of  living–he is flooded with joy.  He is so glad they met.  He is so happy these Greeks have joined with him– a strictly raised Jewish boy from a “Turkish-Syrian” city–to plant churches.

Remembering all this then causes him to pray.  He thanks God for the way they have worked together with him all these years to tell others the wonderful news about the Lord Jesus Christ.  He wants them to experience again the unmerited favor of God and the peace that brings.  He wants them to remember their work together for Christ Jesus’s Kingdom and to keep on, keeping on.

Take a few moments today and remember who you have partnered with to tell others how they may trust in Jesus for right-standing with God.  See if you don’t remember them with affection and joy and thankfulness.  Why not pray for them today–that they will continue to serve the Lord Jesus Christ whatever their circumstances and will discipline themselves to keep on chasing after knowing God and becoming more like Him? Maybe you should contact them someway.

There are many I remember with thankfulness and affection.  Some I’m able to see and be with, but many are miles away or already in heaven.  But, I’ll never forget Mr. Whitt and Ernie Reisinger who kindly and gently welcomed me as a Christian, then helped me along the way.  I’m sure it took self-discipline on their parts to take time out of busy South Florida ministries to visit a young girl and listen to a young mother’s problems.  We shared the grace and peace that comes from believing.

I hope you will be filled with joy in remembering those with whom you have worked and prayed.