Today is our first full day in Greece, which was Macedonia in biblical times. Because we are walking out Acts 16-21 on this Footprints of Paul tour, it seems most appropriate to begin with God’s Word about the Apostle Paul being sent on this, his second missionary journey …
That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days. Acts 16:9-12
Philippi was the first city in Macedonia to hear the gospel.
Let that settle in your heart for a moment.
Consider the powerful teaching in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which would be written much later to these people whom he loved.
Just outside of Philippi lies a little town where Paul landed in Europe when he first arrived in Macedonia. We know it by its biblical name Neopolis. For a period of time it was known as Christopolis and now it’s known as Kavala.
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed. Acts 16:13-15
Here I had the privilege of baptizing my dear friend and Sister-in-Christ, Lynn, near where another devoted sister, Lydia, was baptized long ago by Paul.
One of my favorite stories as a child was that of Paul and Silas singing hymns of praise to the Father while in prison here in Philippi…
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
Oh, the takeaways from this story are many and I could expound upon the merits of prayer and worship in the midst of life’s birth pains, but I’ll save that for another day. For now you need to know that the story of Paul and Silas is not to be missed because it ends in the single most important person every breathing person must ask, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer from Paul is …
“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Acts 16: 31-34
[I can’t visit Philippi and remember Paul and Silas without a little Sara Groves’ “Eye on the Prize” in my head.]