Called to Joy


PrayerSearch me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalms 139:23-24).  Lord, You are the only true God, maker of all things visible and invisible, Holy is Your name.  Show us today Your specific plan for our lives.  Reveal in us the spiritual tools that You have provided for us through the presence of Your Holy Spirit.  Direct us to a place of service for You.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen!

Main Scripture: Read Romans 12:2.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

Associated Scriptures:

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long (Psalms 25:4-5).

Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your name lead and guide me (Psalms 31:3).

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalms 143:10).

Correlative Quotes:

There are definite patterns to how God Calls.  Studying biblical call experiences reveals three primary patterns, or ways, God calls.  God calls through sudden experiences, reasoned decisions, and the prompting of others.[1] – Jeff Iorg

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.[2] Oswald Chambers

The Lord’s call to service requires total surrender. A life of surrender says, God, whatever, whenever, wherever, and however You want it, my answer is yes.[3] – Charles Stanley


Historically Strategic:

Philippi is an ancient city in the present-day country of Greece on the continent of Europe.  The City of Philippi was established by Philip of Macedonia who was the father of Alexander the Great.  Philip realized its strategic location, halfway between Athens Greece, the center of Greek life, and Troas the gateway to Asia.  Its location for trade and the protection from Rome and Athens made it an extremely important city.[4]

10 miracles in Paul’s first visit to Philippi: Acts 16 9-39

The first miracle involves a change of mind.  Paul had a desire to finish evangelizing the remainder of Asia.  Instead, he traveled to Macedonia due to a vision.  God gave Paul a vision that came at night.   It concerned a man calling for Paul from Macedonia.

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. From Troas, we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there for several days. – Acts 16:9-13

The missionary party first attempted to go to the western province of Asia whose leading city was Ephesus.  However, after receiving the vision, they proceeded to Troas to take a boat to Macedonia.  The leading city in that region was Philippi.

Paul’s goal in Philippi was to evangelize the city and plant a new church (vs. 13).  This particular miracle applies to the location where Paul was led.  They had planned to visit a local synagogue to begin teaching the Gospel.  However, there was no synagogue at Philippi.  The general requirement for a synagogue was ten Jewish males.  Since there was no synagogue, the Jewish population must have been small.[5] – John Walvoord and Roy Zuck

A place of prayer, which may have been a place in the open air or a simple building was located by the Gangites River about a mile and one-half west of town.[6]

According to verse 13, on the Sabbath day, the evangelists went out of the city to a river, where prayers were commonly made, and the group spoke to the women that they met there.

The next miracle involves the conversion of Lydia (Acts 16:14).  Lydia was from Thyatira, a city known for its commerce in Asia Minor.  She was a worshiper of God, a term used for Gentiles.  She was not a proselyte to Judaism, but she did worship Yahweh.  Even though she believed in God, Lydia was not in the body of Christ.  However, when the Lord opened her heart, Lydia responded to Paul's message.[7]

The fourth miracle involves Lydia’s whole household being saved and baptized.  Acts 16:15 (NKJV): “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So, she persuaded us.”  The members of her household probably refer to servants as well as to her children, if she was a widow.

While in Philippi, Paul cast out an evil spirit.  This represents the fifth miracle in this city.  The account is described in Acts 16:16-18: “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.

This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying: “These men are the servants of the Most-high God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”  And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit: “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour.”  So, Paul called out the demon by speaking directly to the spirit.

As a result of this episode, Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned.  That literally opened the door to another evangelistic opportunity.  Another seemingly catastrophic event becomes another miracle by an act of God. 

Acts 16:19-24 (NKJV) describes this incident: “Then the multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

God’s action allowed Paul’s punishment to give him an even greater opportunity to witness for Christ.  Paul and Silas were singing in the inner prison.  Their euphoric songs gave special significance to the theme of joy in Acts.  Also, these miracles and related bliss indicate their frame of mind as Paul penned the letter to the Philippians.  Psalms 42:8 tells us: "At night His song is with me."

Their praying and singing were heard not only by God but also by the other prisoners. This was certainly an unusual midnight experience in a prison.  Then there was the supernatural occurrence.  The earth began quaking, the prison shaking, doors were flying open, and shackles dropped to the earthen floor.

Because the jailer was responsible for any escaped prisoners, he drew his sword.  His desire not to be brutally punished led to thoughts of suicide.  But Paul, seeing what was about to happen, reassured the guard that the prisoners had not escaped.  The other prisoners were so impressed with the God of Paul and Silas that they did not dare flee.

Going into Paul and Silas' cell, the jailer was trembling. He asked the prisoners, what must I do to be saved?  The crisis, that could have been the end of the jailer’s life.  However, instead of becoming the opportunity for the prisoners to escape, the quake opened the door for the jailer’s salvation.

All that was needed for justification was faith in the Lord Jesus. The jailer had asked what he should do. Instead of works that he could do on his own, the jailer only needed to believe in Jesus and accept him as Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9).

The Philippian jailer and his whole household were baptized.  This describes the next miracle: “…and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:33, NKJV).  Salvation is the birthplace of inner joy.

Acts 16:35 (NKJV) describes the ninth miracle.  Luke, the author of Acts, writes: “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officer, saying, ‘Let those men go.’ The tenth and final miracle in Philippi was the complete release and expression of remorse on the part of the magistrates.  No Roman citizen was supposed to be scourged. When the local rulers discovered that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they immediately released them and apologized.  Thus, Paul and Silas left Philippi victorious.  Acts 16:40 tells us: “So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.”

Summary Statement:

When Paul arrived in Philippi, he didn’t hesitate to submit himself to the Great Commission commandment.  God was faithful to respond to Paul’s actions and, as a result, a new church was started in a very short time.  Those who are joyous, share their joy to others.  In this case, Lydia and the Roman jailer were the benefactors of the joy that filled Paul and Silas.  Experiencing joy in the lives of others draws us closer to God and gives us the incentive to develop joy ourselves.

Lessons within the Lesson:

Why were Paul and Silas joyous while facing difficult times in Philippi?

How did Paul and Silas share their joy with Lydia and the jailer?

Thinking back on your salvation, how did God fill your life with joy?

How has your joy to impacted the lives of others?

[1] Jeff Iorg, Is God Calling Me? Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee, copyright 2008

[2] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest,, November 3, 2015, Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law.

[3].Charles Stanley, How God Calls, In Touch Ministries, , Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, copyright 2015,

[4] Information adapted from The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. , Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright © 1988.

[5]John Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament, Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law,  Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.

[6] Information adapted from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Database Copyright, Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, © 1996, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved

[7]Adapted from Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Notes & Outlines ACTS, , Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, copyright 2012, Through the Bible Radio,