Have you ever been in an impossible situation where you are swept along in a series of events which are not fair or reasonable. The situation becomes impossible.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were caught up in a situation. They cast a fortune-telling spirit out of a slave girl who earned a ‘great deal of money for her owners’. The owners who loss this income attack Paul and Silas publicly with false charges, take them to court, and after they incited a crowd the Magistrates threw them into prison with their feet fastened in stocks no less – all without a trial!
I don’t know about you, but my first thought is, “that’s not fair”. Well it isn’t.
What really hits me though, is that all along, Paul and Silas have special rights as roman citizens. At anytime they could have spoken up and claimed that right.
The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. Acts 16:38,39
They do claim that right, not to save themselves, but to show up the Magistrates and teach them a lesson.
So why spend a night in prison?
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Act 16:25
They were praying and singing hymns while in stocks, in a prison. Do we pray and sing to God in our impossible situation?
The encouragement here is that God is a God of purpose, and He has a plan…not just to set them free, but to bring salvation. God loves the Jailer and his whole family. By allowing Paul and Silas to be thrown into prison he arrests the attention of the Jailer… this was his opportunity and Paul and Silas are the messengers.
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Act 16:26-30
And purpose one, freedom, is fulfilled:
He then brought them out… Acts 16:30
And purpose two, salvation, is fulfilled:
…and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. Acts 16:30-34
Paul and Silas knew that they have a purpose to preach the Good News, no matter where God takes them. Even if that means a prison. No matter what situation they found themselves in, their trust was completely in God and His purposes.
Prayer: Lord, help me to completely trust in You and Your purposes. No matter where I find myself, no matter what the situation, help me to be a part of Your purpose in that situation. In Jesus’ Name I ask it. Amen.
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