Acts 16:27-31 “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.”
Today our society craves comfort, convenience and happiness above everything so when circumstance become difficult we view them as a problem that must be changed. When they can’t be the world says, “what cannot be cured can only be endured.” Christianity gives us a different lens to look through because sometimes these things must be endured because they are part of the cure. As we continue to look at our worship warrior in prison we see that worship that wins involves:
There is power in praise and in singing and praying they saw God’s power. Paul and his companions chose to focus on praise instead of persecution, because they were living to serve the Savior instead of self. Today our Worship wars are waged over our preferences instead of His praise. We have reduced worship to that which moves our hearts instead of the hand of God. We have made it about do I like hymns, or the Gaithers, or contemporary praise songs and what moves me, yet praise isn’t about the people. Today our praise is blocked by preference, we worship together and say “I really enjoyed the worship today, it was good”. Yet can I be so bold as to say who cares if we liked the worship because it’s not about us, it’s time for us to reverse the question and ask ourselves “did God like it?” When we get out of the way we worship, but instead we have substituted His power for our preference. The power of praise can shake the foundations of our prisons, we could walk away free, yet instead many choose the preference of praise, trading freedom for a feel good. Today the church has become content and contained in their cell. Instead of a chorus of celebration there is just the clanging of chains. We choose comfort over care and convenience over conviction. Yet for Paul his circumstances were more than just an inconvenience, beaten and bound, far from comfortable he chose to praise. Because no matter how cruel our circumstances they are never Christ-less, nothing can put us someplace where God is not. Today are you in the deepest pit of despair? Praise God, He is there with you. Are you in chains of habit that are holding you fast? Praise God, He is there with you. Are you a prisoner of Christ? Because you serve Him and declare Him to others, are you rejected by family or friends? Praise God, He is there with you. Why settle for preference when you can have His power?
Paul saw God’s power and more, they experienced His provision and more, because in the power and provision they glimpsed His purpose. What was God’s purpose? God wasn’t just providing freedom for Paul and his friends but also for those around them including the jailer. You see the one who was supposed to be guarding the prisoners and who seemed to be the freest was the one who was really locked up because he was lost. What if our praise brought power that wasn’t just for our provision? Would I be willing praise while I paid with my physical freedom so others could experience spiritual freedom? Would the words of verse 30 “And after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” be music to my ears. When those around us hear our praises and see His power and provision the result will often be that they will want what we have. People are drawn to those who praise in the pain because they see a peace that passes all understanding. We know that God has a good plan for our lives, yet so often faced with a difficult circumstance we choose not to praise but to doubt and worry and complain, and when we do we forfeit the power of praise. Yet praising in the pain is a choice built on the conviction that Christ has already conquered my circumstance. Verse 28 records Paul’s words as he cried out in a loud voice, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here” Paul did not need to leave or run away God had him right where he needed to be and as a result people were saved from death. So often we want God’s power to free us from our circumstances and our praise becomes about our chains instead of those that need changed.
Worship warriors teach us that those who sing while they suffer are those who have learned that suffering is how joy is perfected. What if my pain isn’t really a problem but a perfecting? Worship warriors remind us that those who sing in prison are those who cannot be imprisoned. Today there are many who are trapped by their troubles and imprisoned in their problems yet if we look to our Father we are forever free. Worship warriors also teach us that those who praise at midnight are those who know the light. So today will you choose to live in the wonder of worship or the why and the whine?