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Natural Disasters

On Paul’s second missionary journey some definite strong decisions were made that impacted some very important followers of The Way. First of all, Paul wanted Timothy, his son in the faith, to go with them and Timothy’s father was a Greek so Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left on this journey. The Jews didn’t approve of Timothy going but Paul took him anyway and they traveled from town to town instructing the believers to follow the decisions that were made in the church at Jerusalem. This strengthened the church and their faith grew larger every day.

Paul and Silas traveled through Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit kept them from preaching the gospel to Asia at the time. They proceeded to the border of Mysia and headed north. But they were prevented by the Holy Spirit from going there and they went to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia and the man was pleading him to come over and help them. So they headed to Macedonia realizing God was calling them to go there to preach the gospel. They got in a boat and headed to Philippi. It was there that Lydia first believed in Jesus and the Lord opened her heart and she received Jesus and took them to her home.

It was in Philippi that Paul and his companions met a slave girl who made money from predicting the future by telling fortunes. When she saw Paul and Silas she said “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” She continued to do that every day and Paul got tired of it and commanded the spirit of divination to come out of her and it did. Her masters were furious and took Paul and Silas before the rulers and plead their case and Paul and Silas ended up in a Roman prison. Before they put them in prison they stripped them down and beat them with wooden rods. “Welcome to Philippi!!”

So Paul and Silas did what any believer should do when they are in prison. They began to sing and worship the Lord. Of course, the other prisoners were listening to them as they worshipped the Lord while in prison. But then God did something extraordinary…..He sent an earthquake and the prison walls collapsed and Paul and Silas just stayed there. The prison guard thought the prisoners were gone and he prepared to kill himself, but Paul shouted “Stop! Don’t kill yourself because we haven’t left the prison.” So the prison guard asked them how to be saved and then he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and was saved. Here is what happened after the earthquake. 35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36 So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.”

If we had the earthquake happen today we might say “Wow. That was a timely earthquake” and miss just what God was doing. God intervenes at times and we miss it or explain it away, but you can’t deny His timing is always perfect and complete. God’s intervention for Paul and Silas took them from a weak position to negotiate to a very strong position where they were large and in charge. Look at what happens in verse 37-40

37 But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!”

38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city. 40 When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town. End of Story!!

If it wasn’t for this “natural disaster” the guard wouldn’t have been saved; Lydia and other converts would be in fear and trembling; and Paul and Silas would have been convicted. Look around at some of our “natural disasters” and I believe you will see God’s hand in the midst of it all with great purpose. Why? Because He is God and He can do it as it needs to be done. It’s not natural. It’s God!!

The Pilgrimage continues….

David Warren

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