SEEKING HOLY GROUND IN 2023: REDEEM
We continue our sermon series Seeking Holy Ground for 2023 with the sermon Redeem. It seems that redemption is a lost reality in our society. Whenever we do something wrong, how can we recover? This is the idea of redemption that we are able to overcome our failure in some meaningful manner. We try to make it right by correction, paying a penalty, or seeking forgiveness. Our society has become increasingly judgmental based upon a sense of justice rooted in, at times, simply in popular opinion. This has given rise to the “cancel culture.” Although this is not anything new, humanity has always had numerous ways to cancel others. We struggle to accept that we will fail and we will need to find redemption. Even though our society struggles with allowing for redemption, God does not! God understands that we are lost and need to be saved through grace. Scripture is the story of God’s redemption for all of us. This week we turn to Acts 16:23-34. Paul and Silas are in the city of Philippi seeking to win others to Christ. They heal a slave woman with a fortune-telling spirit. She is returned to her rightful mind, but she could no longer make money for her owners. The owners accuse Paul and Silas of “throwing the city into an uproar” and they incite the crowd to attack Paul and Silas. They are beaten severely and thrown into the inner room of the prison. Yet, despite being beaten and thrown into prison, they help the jailer find the path to the holy ground of redemption! This contains a powerful lesson for every believer as they encounter difficulty, hardship, and uncertainty. This is our prayer that you as you read Acts 16:23-34 you will experience the goodness of our living God and you will be strengthened as you encounter moments of fear and desperation.
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved– you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God– he and his whole household. (NIV)