I hope you are ready for an awesome time with God this morning!
4Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
Paul and Silas in Prison
16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.
19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21 “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself.28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.30 Then he 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, along with everyone in your household.”32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36 So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.”
We all deal with emotions. We all have bad day, bad situations, feel at times that our emotions are overwhelming. Paul gives us instructions for this. He writes to his friends in Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4 NIV).
Now remember he is in prison with Silas. He has done nothing wrong except for talk about Jesus!
So here they are beaten and thrown in prison, laying on a nasty, cold, hard, ground with open wounds, maybe a broken nose, a couple of broken ribs. No doctor, nurse, Band-Aids, or ibuprofen. They are at rock bottom.
May you feel like you are there emotionally, broken beaten and in the prison of your emotions! You found out someone you love has cancer or that your kid is on drugs or that your spouse is cheating on you. In these tragic emotional moments, what do you do?
What did Paul and Silas do? They praised God.
What was Paul doing in prison? Rejoicing always.
First, they were praising God for the who, not the what. They were bloody and bound up in prison. If you had asked them, “What are you praising God for?” I don’t think there was any “what” that they could point to. Nothing good was happening, but their God was still good. They weren’t praising God for the what. They were praising Him for the who. You can do that too.
Your circumstances may be bad, but your God is still good. He is near, His promises are still true, His love is still unconditional, His grace is still amazing, His timing is still perfect. You may not like what is going on, but you can still praise God for the who of who He is.
Paul and Silas praised God before He answered their prayers or changed their circumstances. That’s the kind of person I want to be. They were praising God and then He showed up. Paul and Silas were worshiping God in the middle of the night and—boom!—God showed up.
Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! Acts 16:26 NLT
They did not praise God because He showed up; God showed up because they praised Him.
When we praise Him, He will show up. When He shows up, it will change our thinking. If we change our thoughts, we change our life.
In your journal today write down a time when God brought you hope and help in a difficult moment. Write down what you learned about Him through that experience.
This week, as you are faced with handling difficult situations begin to put into practice the words of Paul. Choose joy! And give praise to God for who not the what.