One of two studies about Paul’s experience in Philippi
“And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ ” (Acts 16:30).
The Apostle Paul and Silas are imprisoned in Philippi when they go there on the second missionary journey. Paul’s healing of the slave girl with the spirit of divination prompts their imprisonment.
The miraculous opening of the prison and loosing of the prisoner’s chains startles the jailer, causing him to decide to kill himself to escape punishment. Paul stops him from doing so, and the jailer comes before Paul and asks the question in this verse about salvation—the greatest question one could ever ask.
The jailer, no doubt, has some knowledge of Paul’s life and of the message he has been teaching in the city. Since Paul has not escaped after he is set free, the jailer realizes he is dealing with something and someone special.
With this incident, Paul has left a powerful message about the influence we can have over others if we will just be honest and sincere in living the life Jesus wants us to live (Paul’s answer next week).
“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth” (James 3:14).
Many times in scripture, the word bitter is associated with food or taste but also many times it is used as a metaphor to describe extreme jealousy. It is used in the latter way here.
Bitterness in the scriptures is symbolic of affliction, misery, servitude, or wickedness or it can mean a harsh and hateful attitude. Envy means jealousy. So “bitter envy” describes one who is jealous of a fellow Christian and has a seriously hateful attitude toward him. This attitude comes from one who is trying to promote himself.
James says don’t boast about such an attitude because when one does so He is “lying against the truth,” meaning he is only deceiving himself about the reality of the situation.
Heeding admonition like that found here will do as much to get one’s heart in the right place as any teaching that can be found in any other scriptures. Bitterness can work to destroy a person’s heart and can cause him to lose focus about what is really important and what is beneficial spiritually.
“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).
Today is what the world is celebrating as Mother’s Day, and it gives us an opportunity to honor those who fill this most important role.
This day is not a religious holiday. And we know this day has nothing to do with the honor and reverence we give to Jesus on the Lord’s Day, but mothers are mentioned throughout the pages of both the Old and New Testaments in significant ways.
In His dying moments, as recorded by John, Jesus leaves a wonderful example of the kind of care one should have for his mother. Because of His concern, He turns the care of His mother over to one of His closest friends.
A well-known saying is that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. This statement is always made to give honor and credit to the mothers of the world who take seriously their responsibilities as mothers. Jesus’ Mother Mary was obviously one of those mothers.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Optimism is at the center of this message the prophet Jeremiah writes to his Jewish brethren who remain in captivity in Babylon. This verse is in the middle of a letter he pens for their encouragement.
Even though some of the things that have happened to the Jews might appear to be against them, God says, through the prophet, that He knows what He is doing and that all things will work out for good. God always has in mind a decided purpose that will eventually work out to the end He intends.
Life will get better for the Jews because God desires for them peace, not evil, and he has great plans for their future—plans that should give them hope.
The New Testament has many messages that should be as encouraging to us as this message must have been for the Jews. Despite any negative experiences we may have, we should never forget that God has given us the greatest message of hope possible—we have the hope of an eternity of bliss in heaven because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.