Appleton City First Christian Church

(DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

Notes from Rev Mark Alterman

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The Readers

We first meet some of the believers from Philippi in the book of Acts.  We learn from chapter 16 that when Paul and his missionary team first came to Philippi, they found a women’s prayer group that met outside the city limits by the river side.  Lydia was a wealthy business woman who had a large house and an active business.  She bought and sold purple fabric and garments.  Purple was the color of royalty and the die was expensive.  She evidently was used to hosting traveling merchants, and it was natural for her to host the missionary team.

At the other end of the social spectrum was a young girl who was enslaved and exploited for what her owners considered a gift—the ability to tell fortunes.  She followed Paul around and he became annoyed.  He said her “gift” was a demon and drove it out.  When her owners saw they could no longer profit by exploiting her, they got angry and had Paul and Silas thrown in jail.

That’s where they met the jailer.  God broke them out through an earthquake.  The jailer feared his prisoners would escape and he would be humiliated, so he prepared to fall on his sword like a good Roman.  Instead, Paul told him how to be saved forever.  He first tended to Paul and Silas’s wounds then brought his family in to hear Paul present the Good News.  The whole audience accepted the News, were baptized, and rejoiced.

In Philippians chapters 2 and 4 we meet a few more real people.  Paul mentions his plans to send Timothy to them as soon as he learns his verdict.  Timothy at times was shy and timid, but he was real.  Paul said he is the only one he could trust to genuinely care for them.

The Philippians had sent one of their own to assist Paul in his prison ministry.  Paul needed someone to go shopping for him and do other errands.  He needed someone who could take care of all the details required by Paul’s unique ministry.  So, the church sent Epaphroditus; but he got deathly sick and almost died.  Paul said God answered the prayers of many and spared his life.  But when he had recovered, he was homesick and desperately missing his friends back home.  Paul sent him back and asked the believers to welcome him as a hero.

In chapter four we meet two women who had partnered with Paul in spreading the Gospel when he first arrived.  But now, something had come between them.  Paul urged the rest of the sisters and brothers to help them work out their differences.

All of these real people are role models for each other and for other.  In chapter 4, Paul adds one more role model—himself.  He says we should imitate whatever we see in his life that is God’s work in him.

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