AND THE PRISONERS WERE LISTENING
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them.
Paul and Silas were smack dab in the middle of the will of God. They were in exactly the right city (Philippi), doing exactly what God called them to d preach the good news of Jesus Christ and confront the deeds (and demons) of darkness. And you know what happened to them? Trouble with a capital T!!!!!
They ended up before the authorities, charged with leading the Philippians into unlawful customs. As a result, Paul and Silas were beaten over and over again with rods and thrown into the inner dungeon of the prison, undoubtedly a dark, rat infested, and rancid place. To keep them secure, the jailer put their feet in the stocks and locked their hands in chains.
They were aching... bleeding... and hurting. The situation could not have been worse. All hell had broken loose against them. UGH!
WHAT TO DO?
What do you do when you are smack dab in the will of God and all hell breaks loose? What do you do when your situation is just awful and everything is going wrong? Do you gripe and complain? Do you curse God and die? Do you get bitter and hateful?
Paul and Silas began to pray and sing hymns of praise. WOW!!! In the midst of the worst of circumstances, they CHOSE to praise God and sing to Him anyway. "And the prisoners were listening to them," the Bible tells us. That is so profound. The prisoners were listening not because they were great singers... but because they had a song even through the midnight suffering. WOW!!
GOD IS OVER IT ALL
The Sovereign God of the universe is over every single thing that comes into our lives. He is over all the good things... and all the bad things. While He does not cause the bad things (see the Book of Job), He allows the bad things to come into our lives for a reason. And what is that reason? IT IS TO GET OTHERS TO LISTEN. People can see the reality of Christ in our lives much better when we are suffering. When Christ is praised even in the midst of problems and hardships, prisoners take notice. "There MUST be something to this Christianity thing," they surmise, "because how else can these praises be explained?"
GOD BEGINS TO WORK
Without question, God begins to work when we begin to praise. He is greatly honored when we CHOOSE to rejoice in the Lord and sing His praises in the midnight hour. When we honor God, He honors us (1 Sam. 2:30)... and miracles begin.
God sent an earthquake... unfastened the chains... opened the prison doors... transformed the prisoners (none of them escaped)... and saved the hardened jailer and his entire family. AMAZING! All because of two guys who prayed and praised when life was caving in.
A NEW RESPONSE TO SUFFERING
Perhaps life is caving in on you today. Perhaps you have been grumbling, griping and complaining over your circumstances. Make a choice today to sing His praises and thank Him regardless of the situation. He will respond to your song... and the light of the love and power of Jesus will shine through you to those "prisoners" who secretly watch your life to see if this Christianity thing really makes a difference.
What an opportunity we have in our suffering to see God do miracles and bring people into the kingdom as a result of our praise!
From His Heart Ministries can be seen on LightSource.com. This is another opportunity to reach people throughout the world with the love of Christ. Tell your friends and check us out.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls.
Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast. Click here to become a ministry partner.