Tag Archives: Paul and Silas

Blessing God No Matter What

Have you ever had to make a volcano for school? It’s a pretty simple project to do. I like to use a small jar and then build the volcano around it. Once you’re done with that, it’s time to create the lava. The simplest thing to do is put baking soda in the jar, add a few drops of red food coloring and then pour in some vinegar. It’s not a crazy explosion, but what’s in the jar will come out. The same is true when we go through a difficult time. What on the inside of you will come out. How do you react to difficult situations? What do you say when you’re hurting mentally, physically or emotionally?

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a girl who had taunted them for days. When the demon came out, so did her ability to tell fortunes and her ability to make money for her owners. They became angry, got some soldiers and a crowd and made accusations against Paul and Silas. Without a court hearing their case, the guards stripped them, beat them and put them in a dungeon. Their shackles were placed around their arms and legs, holding them in a painful position that prevented them from sleeping. Instead of cursing or demanding that they were innocent, they began to pray and sing praises to God. Verse 25 says the prisoners were listening intently to them when God sent an earthquake that unlocked every prisoner’s shackles.

Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (AMP). Like Paul and Silas, we have a choice to seek sympathy, to demand we were wronged, or we can bless God knowing He’s in control. Other people around us are intently listening to us and our reaction when bad things happen. How you react could set them free or keep them bound up. It’s not easy to bless and praise God in the midnight hour when you’re bound up and in pain, but it is the appropriate response as a believer. He has the power to heal you, to restore you and to vindicate you. It may not happen immediately like it did for Paul and Silas, but it will happen.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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Be Thankful

  
I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). It’s one of those verses we can quickly read over. Paul was wrapping up his letter and was writing several commands for these new believers. He was wanting them to take these instructions and I brain them in their new lives early on so that they would become a habit long term. Each of the things he said were important, but this one always jumps out at me.

He said, “Be thankful in ALL circumstances.” He didn’t say we had to thank God for our circumstances, but that we need to find something to give thanks for. In my most difficult time. I was living minute to minute. I would watch the clock and tell myself, “If I can survive this minute, I can get through this problem.” When the minute would pass, I would thank God for helping me to survive that minute, then the process would start over. I didn’t thank God for the mess I was in. I thanked Him for keeping me alive in it.

Paul, the writer of Thessalonians, had gone through some pretty dark days himself. He learned that if you focus on your problem, despair sets in. If you focus on finding something to be thankful for, praise fills your heart. That’s how he and Silas could praise in prison. I’m sure it started out as a conversation on things to be thankful for that turned into singing praises to God. It was in those praises that God moved the earth and set them free from their chains.

Don’t miss that powerful truth. When you praise, God frees you from your chains. Praise comes from a heart that is thankful. A thankful heart comes from a person who looks for the good in every situation. If you’re breathing, you’ve got something to be thankful for. If you have a bed to sleep in, you’ve got something to be thankful for. Your world may be falling apart, but God has not abandoned you. Give thanks for that. When you learn to give thanks in all circumstances, you’ll learn to praise in all circumstances. 

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Praise in Prison

Our associate pastor was talking this past Sunday and brought up Paul and Silas. He was referencing the time when they were in prison and were shackled down. At midnight they began to praise God and to sing. During that time of praise that all the other prisoners could hear, an earthquake hit under the prison and freed all the prisoners from their shackles. Instead of leaving, every prisoner stayed put. The pastor then said, “Sometimes God will free you from your chains, but leave you in the prison in order to minister.”

That has stuck with me this week. We’ve all heard sermon after sermon about praising God in your midnight, but I never heard anyone talk about what he mentioned. We’re so eager to get the chains off that when they do fall off, we run out of the place God had us. We never stop to think that just because we’re free of the chains it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily free from the prison. There may still be work to do there.

The prison guard heard the chains fall off. He knew the prisoners were free and that he was no match for them. He assumed they had gotten away or were going to. If that was to occur, he would be killed. As his mind raced through every negative scenario, he decided to take his own life. As he drew his sword and held it up to kill himself, the very men that were set free called out to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We’re all here!”

The guard called for lights and went down into the dungeon where Paul and Silas were, fell on his face before them and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The quake that night wasn’t about freeing the prisoners, it was about saving a soul. Paul and Silas were in tune with God enough that they knew not to run in their freedom. Instead, they used their freedom in that dungeon to minister to someone who wouldn’t have listened to the Gospel any other way.

The guard got his family so they could hear the message. They too were saved. Then he took Paul and Silas into his home, cleaned their wounds and fed them. The next morning they were freed from the jail by the city. Even though the chains that bound them had been released, they were still prisoners until the night was over. Had they fled when the shackles fell off, they would not have been legally free and would have been considered fugitives. The story would have had a different ending.

How is your story going to end? We’re all prisoners to something. When we’ve learned to praise in our prison and we’ve been set free, we shouldn’t be so quick to run out of the prison. There may be others who need to be set free as well while you’re there. God can set us free from the things that bind us in order to minister in the place He has us. Where does God have you now? Are you so concerned with getting your chains off that you haven’t noticed others who need your help? Ask God to teach you to open your eyes in the prison you’re in and then start to praise.

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