(Thunder storms last week knockout our interet. We have restored the modem but are having issues with live streaming. We hope to have those issues resolved by next Sunday. Here is the text for today's message.)
What Must I Do?
There is a question that keeps popping up. The question asks “What must I do?” The implication is there is some action that must be undertaken in order to correct a situation, complete the transaction, or to finalize the process. Perhaps we are ordering something on line and we have entered all the required data. Then, we click on the “enter” button and we find the order is not complete. What must I do? Perhaps I missed checking a box, perhaps I missed a number on my credit card, or perhaps it is just a final review before the transaction is complete.
What must I do? It is a question we find in the Bible. We find this question fairly often in the book of Acts. From the first gospel sermon recorded in the 2nd chapter of Acts, Peter was asked by the crowd, what shall we do? And he answered: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 NASB)
When the gospel is heard, there is the question, what must I do? For some, the answer is to ignore the call of Jesus to accept His yoke. For some, it will incite bitter and vocal rejection. However, for some, the answer is an immediate surrender to the will of God.
This morning, we will see two very different reactions. While our scripture is nearly 2000 years old, the reactions we read are still the same we see today.
A few years ago on a homecoming Sunday, we read in Acts where Paul and Barnabas had completed their first missionary journey and had assembled with the church in Antioch to review their mission trip. A few days after that meeting, Paul took Silas and started out on another mission trip (Acts 15:36). As they started out on this trip, a vision appeared to Paul leading him to go into Europe, to the region known as Macedonia.
They met a woman named Lydia and she was the first convert in the city of Thyatira. They agreed to stay with her for a while as they continued to preach about Jesus (Acts 16:14&15). This introduction brings us to the scripture for today. Let’s open our Bibles to the 16th chapter of Acts and we will begin in verse 16.
It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment. (Acts 16:16-18 NASB)
Imagine, for a moment, that someone interrupted our worship service this morning. It would be annoying. After many days of this, Paul became annoyed and called out the spirit that possessed this girl. Some would cheer that the interruptions had ceased but those who were making money from her were not happy. They had witnessed the power of Jesus and when faced the question of what must I do? They fall into the category of those whose reaction is with the bitter and vocal opposition.
But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.” (Acts 16:19-21 NASB)
Their livelihood had been jeopardized because the demon had been expelled from the girl. Instead of rejoicing that Jesus had helped her become normal, they are upset.
I know, some of you are think this story of demon possession is really in the realm of mythology and fable. Okay, let’s make it more neatly fit a narrative that we can accept today. What if this girl was selling drugs for these men? Paul, through teaching Jesus, had liberated her from this trap and she no longer sold drugs for these men to profit.
The reality is that Jesus causes change. When we accept Jesus, we realize that we must change. In today’s scripture, the girls changed and it cost the men. This is true even if we are having a hard time with the demon issue.
We’re not finished with our scripture. Paul and Silas are taken to the authorities and they want to silence them from speaking about Jesus. They are portrayed as trouble makers. Again, think about the way Christians are portrayed today. We read from God’s word (the Bible) and we are hated and we are labeled as hate mongers in an effort to silence us. This is without benefit of a trial or a reasonable forum. It is mob rule at its best.
The mob rule like Paul and Silas faced.
The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (Acts 16:22-24 NASB)
So, here we see Paul and Silas beaten, thrown in jail, and their feet locked in stocks. They did not break into a chorus of “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me”. No, they understood that when God tells us to cast our cares on Him, it is exactly what He means.
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. (Acts 16:25-26 NASB)
The reaction of Paul and Silas are hymns of praise. They have been mistreated and they praise God. There is no indication that they prayed to be released from jail. When the doors were opened and their stocks and chains were loosened, they remained where they were.
The jailer, saw the results of the earthquake. The prison doors were opened. He considers what he must do. He had lost the prisoners that he was told to guard securely. What happens next brings us to another moment of conversion.
When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:27-30 NASB)
What must I do? There is no question that he was in need of salvation. God had acted in a mighty way and now he must do something.
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. (Acts 16:31-34 NASB)
The first thing required is to believe in the Lord Jesus. We are told the Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to him (the jailer). As a result, the jailer and his those living in his house were baptized that very night. They did not wait for anything. There was an urgency and they were baptized immediately.
Have you met Jesus? Have you reached the point that you are asking “What must I do?” There are only three actions available. You may choose to ignore Jesus and continue your life as if there is no Jesus and no call from Him, you may rail against Jesus and strike out at those who bring His message in an effort to silence the call of Jesus, or you may be like this jailer and many others we find in the book of Acts. You may realize that seeing Jesus prompts you to ask, “What must I do?”
If you are ready to find out what you must do, we are ready to assist you in putting on Christ and becoming a child of God.