Day 34: Acts 16:1-8
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.
Two-thousand years after the book of Acts was written, we are still wrestling to understand the Holy Spirit and how the Kingdom of God continues to increase throughout our world. Two things, however, are immediately clear in this particular passage.
First, our witness for Jesus takes priority over our rights. In his letters, Paul is extremely clear that circumcision, a Jewish ethnic custom connected to the Abrahamic covenant, is no longer a guarantee for belonging to God’s family. The circumcision of Timothy, whose mother was ethnically a Jew, was not to guarantee his salvation. Instead it was for opportunities to witness about Jesus to other Jews. (Non-Jews were never required to be circumcised by Paul.) We must be very wise and submissive when fighting for our entitled rights. Everything is counted loss for the sake of knowing Jesus.
Have you laid all of your claims for yourself on the altar of surrender?
Second, our participation in the ministry of Jesus is only possible as we live in relationship with the Holy Spirit. Over and over again we find the Holy Spirit speaking and leading in Acts. We also find the apostles and followers of Jesus equally following and participating with the Holy Spirit. We are furthering the Kingdom of God and good news of Jesus when we are walking with the Holy Spirit.
Take time right now to listen to the Holy Spirit. What might he be saying to you? Are you responding to his leading with obedience and submission?
Phil Starr | Student Ministry Pastor