We once again welcome Rev. Stephen Filyer to FBK as he brings us our message, both in person and on-line. As we approach the middle of summer in Southern Ontario, we know that there are many who take the opportunity to relax and get away from their routine. This year, as restrictions from the pandemic are slowly released, this chance to stop and be refreshed is even more important as most of us have experienced, and are still experiencing, a great deal of disruption and uncertainty in our lives.
We encourage you to continue to reach out to each other, because the time of isolation is far from over. All of us need to know and feel the reassurance of our brothers and sisters in Christ as we seek to discern what it is to live for Him, even in these trying circumstances.
Once again, our opening prayer is the Prayer of St. Francis, a prayer of dedication and faith that draws us into true worship of God, as it calls us to be a faithful reflection of Him in the world:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood and to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Song - "Yes I Will" by Vertical Worship
TODAY'S MESSAGE - Part 2 - "Taking a Knee for Jesus" - Acts 16
In last week’s website message, I presented two fill-in-the-blank sentences:
- I want to do…
- I want to go…”
They were non-threatening and innocuous. Answers could have been as simple as:
- “I want to play catch with my friends” or
- “I want to play in a waterpark.”
I shared with you one of mine: I want to visit my mother-in-law Edna in Alberta.” Why? “Because she plans to turn 95 on August 18.”
Last Sunday’s Reflection Questions:
If you did not participate in that little quiz last weekend perhaps you could quickly catch up by doing so now?
- I want to do…”
- I want to go…”
In today’s highly charged political climate our message title seems controversial and incendiary in nature. But context is important. “Taking a Knee for Jesus” is based on an actual event that occurred– 2,000 years ago. It is re-counted for us here in Acts 16.
A SHORT RECAP – LYDIA
Let’s quickly review last week’s basic story. It dealt with a woman named Lydia. She was a foreign woman from the west end of Asia. She probably was unique in those days; she owned her own business which operated within a geographical area that was very proud of its own ethnic makeup. Nor is there any evidence that there was a “Mister Lydia”.
If Lydia was playing along at home, taking part in to our spiritual “game show,” she might have answered those two questions like this:
- I want to be a church-planter—by hosting a start-up church in my villa.
- I want to provide for that small group both financially and politically.
Here in Canada during the summer of 2020 those answers would both be admirable. In no sense would they be counter cultural. In fact, a local media company might have featured Lydia in a short promotional shot entitled: “Businesswoman gives back.” But 2,000 years ago in Philippi, Lydia’s action would have been not only rare–it also could have been a significant threat both socially and economically—even to the point of threatening the survival of her business.
Reflection: Trying to be "brave" for Jesus
Have you ever;
* Been called to do something “brave” for Jesus?
* What did it “look” like?
* Did it result in losing friends at school?
* Did it cause separation between you and a neighbour or you and family?
* Did it damage your advancement at work?
Being “brave” can come at a high cost.
THE PIONEER MISSIONARY – PAULNow let’s turn the camera lens upon Paul, the Missionary Apostle. His first few days in Philippi were very successful. He was the first to have established a Christian foothold in Eastern Europe and in the process had gained both his first convert and also had a small house-based group of new “Jesus followers.” Things were “looking up.” But this was not mere over-night success. Philippi had not been Paul’s first choice. His answer to original question “I want to do….” would have been “…start a church in Asia.” But life has a habit of “throwing curveballs.” That original focus or goal had to be revised and Paul was now committed to this new “European Adventure.” And that is the point at which we now pick up that story.
THEN TROUBLE HITS – “TAKING A KNEE FOR JESUS”After that successful beginning tribulation arose. A very troubled young woman — today we would refer to her as a victim of human trafficking — began to stalk these members of Paul’s Mission Team. That part of the story begins in Acts 16:16-18:
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. Everywhere Paul and the others went she would follow them around shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Finally, Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.But that meant that this formerly troubled young woman who had been making a fortune while channeling the snake god, Pythias. This lady had become useless, economically speaking. Her owners became enraged that their fortune-teller was now a “fortuneless” non-teller. Acts 16:19. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone… They grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities with “trumped up” charges. These owners were pretty much claiming that Paul’s group were terrorists trying to undermine the Roman Empire. Acts 16:20 and 21:
20 They brought them before the [Roman] magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice…” 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.But after being beaten and thrown into Prison Paul and Silas hosted the very first “all night sing.” About midnight the other prisoners were listening as these two men were praying and singing hymns to God (Acts 16:25-26).
Reflection: Taking an Unlawful Beating for Jesus
In these days “Taking a Knee” means making it known publicly what you stand for. Have you ever:
* Suffered because you “took a knee” for your faith in Jesus?
* What did it look like?
* What were the consequences?
“FROM THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE”
You have probably heard the old expression used when things go from “bad” to “worse.” Some people make a remark about “Going from the frying pan into the fire.” Other people might respond with the phrase, “Cheer up, things could be worse.” 2000 years ago that is just what happened to Paul and Silas—“worse” happened. People in those days had their own “top ten” list of reasonable fears. Instead of “global warming” or concerns regarding ocean levels, these people feared fire and earthquakes. You’ve probably seen pictures of ancient ruins. Most of those buildings fell down because of either earthquake or fire. And unless the very heavy pieces could be picked up for use in other nearby building projects, they usually stayed right where they had fallen.
That night after their beatings these two wounded, suffering men were singing. Let me repeat that…SINGING. NOT “singing in the rain” but singing “through their pain.” And as they did an earthquake struck the area.
Reflection: Responding when “bad” goes to “worse”
Have you ever:
* Seen your situation go from “bad to worse”?
* What did that look like? How did you feel? Saddened? Depressed? Angry? Determined?
How did you respond?
AN EARTHQUAKE DESTROYED MY JAIL CELL
Acts 16:26 “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.
Fearing the loss of his prisoners the Roman soldier in charge prepared to take his own life. Rome would not care that there had been an earthquake.
28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
When the Roman jailor discovered that none of these men had fled the scene his relief must have been over-whelming—his life as a jailor, was forfeit if his prisoners had escaped. So, he asks here:
30 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 [Paul and Silas] replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.
By then, this jailer had brought Paul and Silas into his own home and set a meal before them. Soon his entire household had also joined the Church that met in Lydia’s home.
Meanwhile, back at the jail, political reality had set in. Citizens within the Roman Empire could not be beaten or abused. Even though it was a colony, the Citizens of Philippi shared those same rights. Many of its residents were retired Roman soldiers. Unknown to the City Officials, Paul and Silas were also Roman Citizens. The influential idol-makers had over-reached when they had Silas and Paul beaten. It is noteworthy that on a different occasion Paul had chosen to speak up BEFORE he was to be unjustly beaten. So why did he and Silas keep silent here in Philippi?
Reflection: Suffering for Jesus
Have you ever:
* Felt the need to protect someone for Jesus sake?
* What did that cost?
* Was it financial, emotional?
* Economic or social?
THE ATTEMPTED COVER-UP
The story continues in Acts 16:35 with an attempted cover-up:
When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.”
36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”
37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed.
39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.
The beatings had broken Roman law. Somehow the city officials had to cover this up.
LYDIA’S BRAVE RESPONSE WHEN PAUL AGREED TO LEAVE TOWN
It is at this point that we see more of Lydia’s bravery. Because Paul and Silas had been arrested, this new Church that Lydia was sheltering and promoting would now be suspected of having anti-Roman sympathies. As well as reflecting upon the Church that would also have been very bad for her business — she often dealt with these same Roman officials. But in spite of all this, Lydia immediately, perhaps defiantly, welcomed Paul and Silas back into her home.
Acts 16:40: After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.
The entire Church group had come for encouragement. And they received it from Lydia, the courageous well-known business woman who years before while still in Thyatira must have said, “I want to do… I want to go…” And they also received encouragement from Paul who, by bravely accepting an unlawful beating, had purchased recognition and acceptance for this infant Church in the midst of a race conscious Roman community situated out on the eastern edge of the Empire.
But after this time of reunion had taken place — only then did Paul, Silas and Timothy leave town, having set an example by “Taking a Knee for Jesus.”
Have you ever wondered if you could be as brave as Paul, Silas and Lydia?
I realize that many of the Bible’s examples may seem very difficult to accept or to put into practice. We are not Paul and his example of “taking a beating for Jesus” may seem “a bridge too far” for most of us to incorporate into our own lives. Lydia was so dedicated to her new faith that she risked losing everything–her business, her home, her social status—in order to support her Church and her fellow Christians.
When we come up against such a barrier, perhaps we can remember this bit of advice, recently included on Lee Eclov’s website. He wrote:
Remember: Everything in Scripture is counterintuitive. None of it comes naturally to us … [But] all of it, every word, is God-breathed. And all of it spells out what was once only [an] unimaginable mystery that “grace and truth came through Christ Jesus” and “Christ in you is the hope of glory.”
May God bless you as you continue to both reflect upon and live out His life-giving words.
This scripture is so profoundly convicting. It calls us to so much. Boldness, faith in the Spirit’s power, the example of being an encouragement to our church family members, a passion for the gospel and relinquishment of our plans and agendas. Your ways are so other than ours; counterintuitive in so much of how we view our world. Give us hearts set on You. Eyes eager to see You at work, hands to carry out Your plans, feet ready to move closely behind You and minds consumed with Your love. Make us a passionate people, Father. United in the desire that people grow in their love of Your Son, devoted to the gospel in word and deed because You are worthy and it is worth it.
We, Your children, love You.
We humbly thank You.
In Jesus’ name,
Song - "Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you.
The Lord turn His face toward you,
And give you peace, Amen.
All aboard for some summer fun!
Never fear! VBS (Vacation Bible School) is still here!
Our lives may look different this year, but the fun of VBS can still be experienced in the safety of your home!
This year we will learn how Jesus’ power pulls us through! In hard times, Jesus gives us help, hope, boldness, lets us live forever and helps us to be good friends! A message we all need right now!
After you register at this link: https://vbspro.events/p/events/19d276 we will have pre-packaged kits which will contain all of the gizmos, bible buddies and instructions that you will need to participate each day, available for each child (JK-Grade 5) for pick-up or delivery.
From July 20th through August 20th, you will be able to view the pre-taped stations on your own schedule and at your own pace!
Grab some friends from your “bubble” and enjoy together!
Watch the video for more details and contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and delivery or pick-up times!
The link for this private Facebook event will be released soon!