Acts 16: 22. Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.
23. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.
24. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
26. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.
27. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.
28. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.''
29. Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
30. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?''
31. So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.''
Wow, we think we have it bad. When was the last time you had your life threatened for doing the will of God? What did Paul and Silas do when they found themselves in the midst of a mess? They were basically in a giant septic pit under the jail in terrible conditions, having been severely beaten, and bleeding. They began praising God out loud. So loud, in fact that the other prisoners heard them and were listening in.
They weren't singing and praising God for being in this mess, they were praising Him in spite of it. They were praising their deliverer. Get a hold of that! Don’t you know God must have taken pleasure in what He heard? We know He was listening to what they were singing. I can imagine Him saying, Yea those are my boys, and yes I Am their deliverer. For as soon as that sweet melody floated up to Him, the foundations of the jail began to shake. His power literally shook the building. He left no doubt that He was the one and only true God. What an opportunity for God to work through His children. God was glorified in the middle of this, and when God is glorified, people are drawn to Him. Can you see the part we have to play in this? They were set free, and not only them, everyone there was set free, weren't they?
Some would say, well, they were apostles and God did those things back in those days. I would say to them, God would not have set them free if it wasn't His will in the first place, would He? God's will was brought to pass.
Their praise gave God an avenue to move in the middle of their distress. The Word declares that God inhabits the praises of His people, doesn't it? He was most certainly there in the midst, and He will be in our midst when we praise Him as well.
The result of their praise was their deliverance, signs and wonders, and salvation for the lost. This is an awesome example for us. This is an opportunity for us as well, to let God show Himself strong through us to a lost and dying world. Satan tried to kill them, yet they turned the tables on him, God blessed them, and the jailer and his whole household were saved. Wow, what a testimony!
Paul and Silas had a revelation, and because of it, they were praising God in spite of the circumstances. They had more confidence in their God than in the outward circumstances.
Many Christians would moan and complain and some would even blame God for allowing them to get in this mess in the first place.
1 Corinthians 10:9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;
10. nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11. 11. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
12. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
We are being admonished to check our complaining and bellyaching. Destroyed or delivered, the choice is ours. Many as well give up or get discouraged in the middle of life's trials. Sadly, this only opens the door to the destroyer, but it doesn't have to be that way. We should praise God even louder during those times. If you know your God you can stand up and begin to praise Him and declare His goodness. We can give God glory and praise in the midst of whatever Satan throws our way.
Matthew 12:34 "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
It has been my observation that the more you praise God the stronger your faith becomes, and the greater confidence you have in Him. It is a decision we all have to make. Paul and Silas showed what was really on the inside of them. In the midst of everything that was going on, faith filled praise arose out of their heart and came out of their mouth. We can see the end result is that God was glorified.
There is something else to consider as well. People are watching whether we know it or not. Paul and Silas had an audience, and their audience saw the manifestation of the goodness of God. If they had been mumbling and complaining, their audience would have seen that as well, but they would not have seen the awesome manifestation of the goodness of God, because that door would have been closed.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, it tells us to...
16. rejoice always,
17. pray without ceasing,
18. in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19. Do not quench the Spirit.
20. Do not despise prophecies.
21. Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22. Abstain from every form of evil.
Verse 18 says, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Does this mean we are supposed to give thanks for everything that comes our way? No, it didn't say that, it said “in everything”. Are we supposed to praise Him for all the bad stuff that is thrown at us? No again, we are to praise Him in the midst of seeming defeat and tragedy for the victory that has already been freely given to us.
There are always reasons for God’s instructions. God has a purpose in everything we are given to do. It's always in our best interest if we will cooperate with Him.
● It takes our cooperation with Him to see His will come to pass.
● Obeying God's will is what He wants. He wants to see you and those around you set free.
● Our cooperation with Him puts us in a receptive place for this to happen.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
12. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul could certainly say this couldn't he? They proved God's Word to be true in this very difficult situation. So can you. If you are in Christ then you are a child of God as well. Maybe you've never thought about some of these things in this light before, but its never too later to start, so start where you are.
Start now to rejoice always, begin to develop that attitude of praise that Paul and Silas had.
The wings of praise will open the door of blessings that will lift you higher than you could have ever gotten on your own. Soar with the thermals, praise will lift you higher than your own strength could take you. Praise lifts us above the storms of life. Instead of the storm destroying, it will lift us above the danger. The same force that would have destroyed will be used as a catalyst through praise to put you above the very thing that was sent to destroy. Spread your wings of worship and soar with wings as eagles.
Worship is faith in action. It takes courage to stick your wings out in the midst of a storm and begin to soar. Praising God stills the avenger. Make this a habit.
Psalms 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Your confidence will grow as you soar higher and higher. God will take something that Satan meant for destruction and turn it around for our blessing. Talk about mocking the enemy, God gets glorified, and we walk in victory over the adversary. Know this as well, God is seeking those to worship Him in spirit and in truth. This is His desire from us. He is actively seeking worshipers. Will He find them? He’s looking, will you be one of the ones He finds?
Begin to meditate on the goodness of God until it becomes such a reality in your life that the circumstances seem no more than a mild nuisance. Then you too can praise God your deliverer with the full assurance that He will see you through no matter what the circumstances.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.
9. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
The Olive Branch