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?”
Here on Paul’s second missionary journey we see the gospel of God’s grace being brought into modern day Europe, but it isn’t long before we also see:
How many of us believed that when we got saved that life would be easier? If you did it probably didn’t take long for you to realize that in many ways things actually get harder. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Look Jesus didn’t come to remove our troubles but to redeem and refine us. When we are saved there are some problems that come to an end while others are only just beginning. 2 Timothy 3:12 says “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” Here in Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in trouble, not because they’re out of God’s will, but because they are in God’s will! They are experiencing problems not because they are doing the wrong thing but because they are doing the right thing. But it’s in the midst of the persecution that we see the:
Here in Acts 16 we see prayer and praise in the mist of problems and prison. So powerful was this praise that every door was opened and all the chains were loosed. I wonder today if we really understand just how powerful these spiritual weapons of prayer and praise are. Prayerful praise doesn’t just shake things up it opens doors. Paul and Silas had been falsely accused, stripped, severely beaten with wooden rods, and thrown into prison. Now here they are, sitting not just in jail but in the inner dungeon, with no idea of whether the next day would bring release or retribution. So what was their response to the persecution, what do we find them doing? Are they complaining about the unfair treatment? Are they demanding to know how God let this happen to them? Are they bitter, angry, or resentful? Are they discouraged or depressed? Are they shouting insults against the jailer and the authorities? No, they are rejoicing, giving thanks as they sing hymns of praise to God. Their response to the persecution is praise. Satan the enemy had tried to derail and destroy their ministry. He tried to cause them to become weary and worried, to become bitter and give in to a bad attitude, so that they would question their calling and quit. As I’ve said many times, the source of most of our pain is Satan and sin but we have a God that can turn tragedy into triumph. What Satan intended for harm God uses to arm. Satan wanted to plant seeds of doubt and despair but instead there was a harvest of praise. Paul and Silas not only knew what to do but who to look to. Instead of focusing on their chains they focused on Christ, choosing to cry out in praise instead of pain. Prison can chain the hand but it doesn’t have to chain the heart. Are you letting your problems dictate your praise or are you praising into your problems? So many of us let the pains of this life put our praise into prison. Don’t let the hurts hold back your heart, don’t let it cause you to hang your head, look up and let out your cry of praise even in the deepest prisons. They chose to offer a sacrifice of praise instead of protest. They chose praise instead of pity. How about you, how will you respond to the pain, will you retaliate or rejoice? They praised in the midst of the persecution because they were:
Scripture says that “at midnight” Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. What will you do at midnight? Psalms 119:62 says, “At midnight I will rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws” In many ways midnight is a milestone, the night is half over and with each minute we get closer to the dawn. The question we face is whether we will make it until day break. I think the answer depends on what we chose to do in the dark and difficult times and how we prepared while it was still day. How we come out of a trial often depends on how we went into it. Paul as he mentored young Timothy told him to be a good soldier. Soldiers prepare and practice for battle in time of peace; they don’t wait until war breaks out to work out. When the enemy is closing in, you don’t have time to figure out how to work your weapon. It’s time for the church to face the truth, we are in a battle, Christians are not pacifist they are proclaimers of truth. If you are a believer then it’s time to join the battle. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” When Paul and Silas began to praise God in song they were using spiritual weapons, what about you when things go wrong are you going to pray and praise? When things go wrong are you in the habit of praying or are you in the habit of cursing. In the midst of the problems will you proclaim His name or complain? What will you do at midnight, will you turn to God or will you turn on God? The 25th chapter of Matthew tells us about the ten virgins that took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom, five were wise and five foolish. The foolish ones didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, where the five wise ones took extra oil along. At midnight when the cry rung out that the bridegroom was coming the foolish found their lamps going out. They also found that they could not make it in on the other five’s oil. They had to go to buy oil and while they were going the bridegroom came. The five that were ready went in with Him and the door was shut. If we don’t stay filled up on the things of God then in the midst of our trial at, midnight, we may find our lamps going out. How prepared for persecution are you? When the “prisons” come will you have a song for the night? Will you be singing in the suffering?