페이지 정보작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 22:27 조회712회 댓글0건
<Acts 16: 6-15>
The world is changing at an alarming pace. As you probably know, some restaurants have a special room for customers who use cell phones during their meal. Pretty soon, we will be able to check our emails in our cars through the Internet service installed in our cars. Our wristwatches will soon have Internet and email capabilities.
At the current pace, everything will have Internet capabilities in a few years, allowing us to take care of everything from within our house.
Soon, our clothes will be able to check and monitor our physical conditions, notifying our doctors through email if there is something wrong. Our refrigerators will automatically determine the types of food we want and order them in a timely manner. Our scanners will measure our bodies for clothing size and order our clothes automatically. If we like the certain type of clothing that an actor is wearing, we should be able to touch the television screen to have that outfit automatically ordered. We should also be able to take all college courses from our homes, earning a degree without leaving our homes.
The world is advancing at a fast rate. Through our imaginations, those things that we only dreamt about are fast becoming realities. The future will change at a faster pace. In this era of great change, we greet a new year while saying goodbye to an old one.
Life is like a journey. And it is a journey where the future cannot be predicted in the midst of many changes. We have been boarding the vessel called ‘Year 2002,’ yet in a few days, we must board another one called ‘Year 2003.’ We must embark on a new journey to a mysterious destination. No matter what the mode of our transportation is whether it is planes, trains, or ships there are certain safety rules that all passengers must follow. For example, wearing seat belts and not opening windows are some of those rules. The passengers who follow these rules usually complete their journey in a safe manner. But those who don’t not only put themselves in danger, they also endanger the lives of other passengers.
For those of us who are about to embark on a journey to a world of year 2003, after saying goodbye to 2002, we have great expectations while feeling a bit of anxiety. We hold certain fears over what will happen in the future. We need to heed the spiritual safety rules. In order to continue with our journey, through great storms and uncertainties, we need to follow the safety guidelines. I hope that all of us will follow these safety regulations and safely complete our journey into the future.
Today’s scripture talks about Paul’s journey to Europe, where he gained the first convert of Europe in Lydia and established the first church of Europe in Philippi. Instead of preaching in Asia, Paul went to Europe. Had Paul went to Asia, as he originally intended, then the world would be a very different place. Europe would not have become the center of Christian gospel instead, China or Korea would have become the center of gospel and Asians would have spread the word of the gospel to Europeans. Regardless, today's scripture talks about how Paul, who was about to start on an uncertain gospel journey, completely obeyed God and changed the course of world history.
Through Paul’s story, we learn of three spiritual safety rules.
The First Rule: We need to leave our future up to God.
Paul’s future was in Macedonia, in Europe. His future was not in Asia. But Paul did not initially know where he was supposed to go. He had the desire to go to a virgin land, to preach in a land where the gospel had not been introduced. So he set his course due east, to go to Asia to spread the word of the gospel. But the Holy Spirit did not allow him to go to Asia. Paul went to Phrygia and Galatia, the region around present-day Turkish capital city of Ankara (Verse 6)
But the Spirit did not allow him to preach there, so Paul could not stay there long. He went northwest, past Mycia towards Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus again denied him (Verse 7). Because God twice denied him permission to preach in that region, Paul went to Troia (Verse 8).
Troia lies in present-day Turkey, and it was an important port city on the western coast of ancient Asia. In Troia, Paul hears the words that change the course of world history. Take a look at verse 9. “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”
The most important words of this passage is “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Here, Macedonia refers to present day Greece and Europe, the western world. Paul had never been to that part of the world before. There were no Christians there. He never contacted anyone from that region, and had no idea how to spread the gospel in that part of the world. Paul just relied on God, and left his future up to Him.
Now that he clearly knew what God’s intent was, he immediately went to Macedonia with physician Luke, Silas, and other companions. He went to the first city of Macedonia its biggest city and a Roman colony, Philippi. Philippi was a strategic location for the Roman Empire, and many of retired Roman soldiers and their families lived there. The people of Philippi used Roman language, wore Roman clothes, and ate Roman food. Because Rome ruled the world, Philippi was the best location to start the spiritual colonization of Europe. In Philippi, Paul and his companions were able to gain Lydia, the first European convert and the worker who would go on to establish the first European church in Philippi.
During the upcoming year, we must let God determine our future. Think about Paul. He thought that he should have went to Asia to preach. But God did not want that path. God changed Paul’s future. He led Paul to the western world, to Europe. He made Europe accept Christianity first and become the gateway to the evangelization of the world. What would have happened if Paul ignored God and tried to set the course for his own future? The work of spreading gospel throughout the world might have run into some obstacles.
English philosopher and political economist John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was raised and educated strictly by his father, James Mill. The father, who caught on that his son was bright and intelligent, had his son read many books on literature, arts, science, philosophy, and history. The father gave his son the best possible education of the day. But the father felt that Christian religion books were unnecessary and prevented his son from reading them. He did not allow any religious influence in his son’s education. As a result, although John Stuart Mill would later become a great scholar, he often felt a sense of inexplicable emptiness and defeat. John Stuart Mill was starving spiritually. He once compared himself, who had no spiritual guideline from God, to “a well-equipped ship without a sail.”
It is true. Life without guideline from God is like a well-equipped ship without a sail. No matter how well the ship is equipped, it cannot go forward without a sail. Likewise, no matter how educated, wealthy, and powerful we may be, if we do not leave our futures up to God, we cannot go forward.
We do not know what will happen in the year 2003. But we should not try to solve everything on our own, and leave our futures up to God. For God, we must choose the best.
The Second Rule: We need to hear God’s voice every day.
Our decisions and judgments are full of errors. We can make decisions that may seem good now, but bad for our future. But if we hear God’s voice every day and make decisions, we will be blessed in the future even though it may seem like a bad thing now.
When he was in Phrygia, Paul did not know if he should go to Mycia or not. Only after he went to Mycia did he find out that he should go to Troia. Only when he went to Troia did he hear God’s voice and headed to Macedonia. After he arrived in the city of Philippi, he did not know for several days that Lydia was there. When he went to the riverside on Sabbath day, Paul coincidentally met Lydia.
Remember that God’s will is always present progressive. Listen to God’s voice that speaks to you today. Make the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to talk to you, like this moment. I hope that each day, you will be able to hear God’s voice tell you what He wants from you.
In order to listen to the radio, we must turn on the radio. The power must be on. With power off, we cannot listen to the radio. Likewise, if our spiritual power is turned off, we cannot hear God’s intent. Therefore, we must pray and read God’s words regularly. We must turn our spiritual radio power on. We must be able to hear God’s voice.
The Third Rule: We must obey God’s will. After hearing God’s intent, we must follow it. In 2002, we succeeded in some things, and failed in others. Good things happened and bad things happened. We had our ups and downs. But remember that no matter what happened, we were happiest when we obeyed God’s will. Remember that when we sought and followed the will of God and His kingdom, above those of our own, we had our best day.
The event surrounding the acquaintance of Paul and Lydia in Philippi is truly fascinating. By coincidence, both of them left the city to go to Zygaktis River. Paul was looking for a Jewish temple to pray on Sabbath, and went to the riverside to find one. Philippi probably did not have a Jewish temple. According to the regulation, at least 10 Jewish men had to congregate before erecting a Jewish temple and not many people of Jewish faith lived in that region. When Paul went to the riverside, he met Lydia and other women by chance.
These women were probably of the Jewish faith, and they were probably at the riverside to conduct the ritual of cleansing and purification before their Sabbath prayers and meals. If they were not of Jewish faith, then they could have been there to do some laundry, since Sabbath held no meaning for them. Regardless, the Bible does not specify why they were there at that time.
Lydia was a female vendor of purple cloth, and a believer of God (verse 14). Purple cloth was considered the highest of quality, only worn by royalty, nobility, and the wealthy. Accordingly, Lydia probably had a lot of influence in Philippi.
Because she already believed in God, Lydia was greatly graced by Paul’s sermon. According to verse 14, God opened her heart and had her absorb Paul’s words. Paul merely passed on God’s words. And God opened Lydia’s heart. Lydia ended up inviting Paul and his companions to her home, and had each member of her family baptized. She had them stay at her house. She turned into a very active Christian after baptism. And Lydia made all the arrangements to allow Paul and his companions comfortably pass God’s gospel. Paul’s work of spreading God’s gospel probably became much easier with the influential and powerful help of Lydia.
The important thing for us to remember is that the first convert of Europe, Lydia, and the women of the riverside started the first church of Europe in Philippi. This miraculous event took place by coincidence, when Paul followed God’s will. If we do those things that are under our power to accomplish, then God will take care of the rest. Our responsibility is passing on things that God tells us to pass on; the actual work of saving a soul is the work of God.
William Borden received a great dairy as an inheritance, yet gave up everything and went to China as a missionary. Unfortunately, before he arrived at his destination, he died of spinal meningitis in Egypt. The world viewed him as a failure. But God did not see him that way. Before he died, Borden left his life’s motto on a sheet of paper. “No reservations! No retreats! No regrets!” Tens of thousands of young men and women flocked to missions around the world after being influenced by Borden’s motto. Borden, in death, led more souls to God than what he would have led in person.
If we obey God’s will, amazing things happen. In the new year, I hope each one of you willingly obey God’s will. I hope in the name of God and each one of you can accomplish those things that God asks of you.
Paul’s journey to Philippi, after initially planning to go to Asia, is all part of God’s plan. Paul, not knowing what would happen with his next step, still listed to God voice and obeyed His commands. God made Paul lay down the foundation of Christianity in Europe.
I hope that every one of us, who conclude the old journey of 2002 and start a new one of 2003, follow and obey the safety rules of God. Leave your futures up to God. Listen to His voice. And humbly obey His will. And I hope in the name of our Lord that your journey in 2003 is a safe and happy one.
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