This is what the Lord said to Saul, (later Paul) on that hot and dusty Damascus road. When we are born again, we have a glimpse of what the Lord has in store for us…visions of the work He wants to accomplish through us. But suddenly fear and doubt take over, for the visions are so large and we feel so small and inadequate. That’s when we need to take a look at this Scripture again, for the Lord says that He was with Paul not only then, but would be into the future… revealing to him more as Paul obediently moved forward. So much, that later in his ministry, Paul proclaimed in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Please remember this, you too can do all things through Him that gives you strength.
I use the King James version of this Scripture today… because it states that it was the Church that God was adding to daily…(other versions say – God added to their numbers). So what was so different about this particular group of people? What we saw was unity and mutual care for one another. There was fellowship, prayer, and the breaking of bread among them…but there was also evangelism outside the four walls. The early Church was a delicate balance of both inward and outward focus…and God added to their numbers daily.
Nothing divides a workplace or a Church more than grumbling, complaining, and gossip spreading. Suddenly you have one side pitted against another…flamed by second-hand information, false assumptions, and passive-aggressive behavior. My mantra during all the years I managed large medical staffs used to be, ” I will act, but I refuse to react to you running in my office tattling on someone else.” Satan loves to divide and wound groups of people who were once one happy family. So ask yourself the next time someone grumbles and murmurs against another to you, “Do I want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution?” For it’s so much easier to talk about a person than to talk directly to them.
Earlier in the day, Paul and Silas had been stripped, severely flogged and then thrown into prison. So we now find them hours later holding their own praise and worship service to a rather captive audience of fellow prisoners and guards. They could have wallowed in their sorrow and pain, but instead chose to worship God. When we praise God in the midst of impossible situations, the atmosphere changes and with it, our attitude. Our eyes are taken off the incurable, the grief-stricken, the hopeless dilemma…and allows God to work in miraculous ways. It says here that the earthquake caused all the prison doors to open…not just the one to Paul and Silas’s cell, and that everybody’s chains came off…not just theirs. When our focus is on praise rather than on self-pity, everyone around us will be blessed.
Philip, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, had found a Ethiopian eunuch traveling the road between Jerusalem and Gaza. The eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah, but was perplexed, so Philip started with that scripture, (Isaiah 53:7-8) and explained to the eunuch the good news of Jesus. Later as they traveled together, they came upon some water and it’s here the eunuch asks, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” Now in some late manuscripts verse 37 is added which says, “Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ The eunuch answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ ” Baptism is the public demonstration of a personal decision…it symbolizes spiritual renewal, forgiveness of sins, adoption by God and eternal life. If you are a Believer but have never been baptized…ask yourself the same question the eunuch did, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”