“Even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought.”
Frederick Buechner from Listening to Your Life
We looked on yesterday, watched as Paul sat down, listened and shared by the Gangites River. He told of life and death and resurrection and how the women gathered there could have it too. Lydia heard, took the life, drank living water with greedy thirst. Through receiving, Lydia’s entire household was saved!
Lydia wasn’t finished there. No, she wanted more. More stories from Paul. To know more of this Jesus who now resided in her heart. She invites, urges Paul and his friends to come stay in her home. They accept.
From Lydia’s home, Paul continues doing ministry in Philippi.
One day while on their way to the place of prayer they were followed by a slave girl possessed by a spirit that enabled her to tell the future, earning money for her masters by telling fortunes.
Day after day, the girl follows behind Paul and the rest, shouting,
“These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” ~Acts 16:17 NLT
Paul, exasperated, commands the demon to leave her in the name of Jesus. Instantly it did. Her masters’ scheme to make money is now gone. They are furious. An uproar ensues, a mob formed. The city officials order Paul and Silas to be beaten with rods.
After they were severely beaten, they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them securely. So the jailer placed them in the innermost cell of the prison and had their feet bound and chained.
Paul and Silas undaunted, prayed in the middle of the night and sang songs of praise to God, while the other prisoners listened to their worship. ~Acts 16: 23&25 ~TPT
Paul and Silas are in a tight spot, hands and feet, bound by chains. Their flesh beaten bloody and raw. I imagine the pain, teeth gnawing, jaw clenching. They are undaunted.
They are not discouraged, but remain steadfast in their prayer and praising.
When I am backed into the darkest corner of the prison cell. When the folds of life tainted with worry and fear push me there, when physical pain slays, this is rarely my reaction.
Ann Voskamp in her book The Broken Way says, “Thanksgiving proceeds the miracle.”
Are songs of praise not giving thanks? Is steadfast prayer not faith? Yes, yes it is.
We witness it here with Paul and Silas, we live it in our ordinary life. “Thanksgiving proceeds the miracle.”
Do we rely on this? Or our own strength?
Suddenly a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All at once every prison door flung open and the chains of all the prisoners came loose.
Startled, the jailer awoke and saw every cell door standing open. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself when Paul shouted in the darkness, “Stop! Don’t hurt yourself. We’re all still here.”
The jailer called for a light. When he saw that they were still in their cells, he rushed in and fell trembling at their feet. Then he led Paul and Silas outside and asked, “What must I do to be saved.” ~Acts 16:26-30 TPT
Let’s be honest a moment, when the prison doors opened and the chains broke, I would have torn out of that place without even a glance back. Leaving the jailer standing in shock. I can’t in all transparency say I would have taken the time to share The Gospel. I would have been taking care of me. I suspect I would have justified my actions as well, it was on open door.
When doors open and chains fall, often we go running through, not taking notice of the one left behind. The one who needs to know.
Paul shares The Gospel in an open door of a prison cell. “Believe and you will be saved-you and all your family.” ~Acts 16:30 TPT
The jailor washes and tends their wounds. He and all his family were baptized.
And what of the other prisoners? We don’t know. What we do know, they witnessed Paul and Silas in a bad situation. They sat in darkness as songs of praise were sung. Guttural prayers prayed. Whether saved, or whether not, the seed was planted.
The action is to plant the seed.
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