September 9, 2019
Acts 16:25-28 (NIV)
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Q: Did the earthquake set Paul and Silas free?
A: No. They were already free.
What seems to be a fairly localized (i.e. targeted) violent earthquake that simultaneously opens all the doors of this maximum security prison, unleashing everyone from their chains is pretty impressive. However, there is something far more impressive going on here.
Did you catch it?
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
We need to get off the bus here and tour the site. Two prisoners, locked in the “inner cell,” beaten bloody within an inch of their life, with their feet fastened securely between two pieces of wood . . .
Praying and singing hymns to God?!
I would have probably been over in the corner scratching out my U.S.C. section 1983 lawsuit and thinking thoughts like, “So I do all this for you, Jesus, and this is what it gets me?!” And I’d be wondering if I could get my old job back.
What we most need today, particularly in the North American Church, is a New Testament reality check; a Christian worldview.
We must realize that Paul did not write the following words to be printed on our 3A State Championship Bumper Stickers.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”(Philippians 4:12-13)
He wrote those words from yet another prison.
These men crossed the Rubicon of terminal difficulties a long time ago. They found something, or in this case—someone, worth dying for and consequently something and someone to live for. Scratch that last word. It should be “through.” Huge difference. Someone to live through.
Jesus was their secret and they weren’t keeping it a secret. The gospel just does that.
I want you to feel encouraged while at the same time challenged. I want us to reorient our worldview. We must let go of our quest for problem-free prosperity. No—we won’t go looking for persecution and pain. But we will face our present problems “through” Jesus. This will set our feet on the path to real life, deep faith, and holy love becoming healing power.
Somewhere along the way, when we find ourselves in an impossible situation, instead of whining out our “Why me?s” we will instead think to ourselves, “Now what were the words to that Chris Tomlin song? ”
And those other prisoners—those ones whose chains have fallen off and yet they still haven’t found freedom—they will be listening.
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
Are you free? In other words, have you learned to sing songs to God at midnight when life is at its worst? Ready to try it?
For the Awakening,