Paul could never stay in one place when there were open doors for preaching the Gospel to new people. He begins the second missionary journey encouraging many of the churches that he saw on the first journey. They needed the message that God wanted the gentiles as much as the Jews. After the Holy Spirit prevented him from going north and west in Asia Minor, Paul was led to begin preaching in Europe. On the way, he found new partners in Silas, Timothy, and Luke. He also began churches in places that we know like Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth. The gospel was moving forward with God’s power.
God never wastes a hurt - Acts 16:16-40 It was a turning point in the church. Up till now, the Christian church was Middle Eastern and Asian. Philippi begins the move to Europe where the church will flourish. Yet, the beginning is not without challenges. Paul will even find himself beaten and imprisoned. The lesson of Philippi is simply that difficulties produce opportunities. In the church problems often mean that you are succeeding. Instead of moving back in fear or calling a problem failure, God wants us to trust that He has a solution. He wants you to move forward instead of being frozen by challenges.
Following God’s Direction - Acts 16:1-10 Paul had preached across his home area of Galatia, sent them a follow-up letter that we know as Galatians, and attended a conference in Jerusalem defining the role of Jew and Gentile in the new church. What do you do next? What has God got in store for you and how do you know? We often want to do great things for the Lord. We want an evangelism event to have great results. We want the church to grow by leaps and bounds. Yet, it is often the ordinary things that we do and the heart that cares about sharing the message that brings explosive growth. God has a plan and people who do the ordinary things of the Christian faith will find the greatest blessings.
Gentiles (not) welcome - Acts 15: 1-21 - What does it take to be a Christian? It is not an idle question. The early church was divided on the place of Gentiles in what had been a Jewish church. They wrestled with how much of the Old Testament law was necessary for the gentiles and if they could be full-fledged members of the church even with such piety. We still wrestle with the question of belief and salvation. Every denomination uses a different criterion from baptism by the Holy Spirit to devotion to the pope. The text for today is the church’s attempt to solve the question of what makes a Christian.