Posted by: peebles | March 6, 2014

Acts 16:22 to 24 (NIV) From prison to praise.

Acts 16:22 to 34 (NIV)
The jailer within our Bible reading, upon receiving the order knew the perfect place for Paul and Silas, his years of inflicting pain upon all who were unfortunate enough to be sent to his jail sent shivers down the spine.
In the darkest, rat-infested part of the jail, right in the inner cell, the jailer put them.
So there they sat with their feet in stocks, unable to move, even to go to the toilet.
This was a very cruel way of trying to humiliate them.
However, Paul and Silas did not let their present short coming get them down.

Notice if you will, that there are two types of people here in our Bible reading from Acts 16, with two different attitudes to the exact same circumstance.

One party are those who wallowed in their position and gave up all hope, while the other party saw that their God is bigger than anything.

They saw that no matter how difficult the times, no matter how hard the battle, no matter how sore the beatings, no matter how dark the hour, God can still bring a miracle.

One party just sat there and listened as the other party started praying and singing hymns unto God.

One party had a negative view on things, while the other party lifted their voices to God.

One party just sat around doing nothing, while the other party prayed and saw a miracle happen.

One party sat in darkness and let the darkness consume their life, while the other party sat in darkness and from there, let His Light of Life shine through them and liberate them.

They turned their darkness into light.

They turned their prison into a place of praise.

They turned their trial into a tremendous testimony.

Something which the world cannot, and never will, understand, is how God’s people, even in their darkest hour, can still pray and praise God.

Quote ~ Listen to the words of this heart-felt worship song by Matt Redman:
Blessed be Your name, when I’m found in the desert place,
Though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be Your name,
Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering,
Though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.
Every blessing You pour out, I’ll turn back to praise,
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be Your name.
Story ~ A few years ago I heard the story of a bird that a woman kept in a cage in her living room. This bird could sing and whistle which sounded like melodies from heaven.
But one day while the woman was vacuuming the carpet she left the bird cage open, and somehow managed to suck the bird into the hover hose.
Round and around the bird went, all the way through the hose until it came into the vacuum bag. The woman in a panic switched off the vacuum and opened it up, to find her little bird shaken and all covered in dust.
The funny thing was that her bird did not want to sing much after that.
And many of us have had a tough day, being tossed and thrown about and even tainted by the discouraging dust of this world and we honestly don’t feeling like singing anymore.
But the Bible says in Hebrews 13:15 (KJV),“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
When you begin to pray and praise God, you will begin to see past the pain and suffering, and as lift your voice to the Lord in worship to Him, you will offer unto the Lord a sacrifice of praise.
It is something that breaks the heaviness, and brings the blessing.
It may cost you pain in the offering, but as you do so, God will lift up your head and your heart.
Even when you don’t feel like praising God in the midst of all your trials, and when things are just not going your way, and you feel as if the tide of blessing has gone out, that is the exact moment when it becomes a sacrifice of praise.

It takes something for you to offer unto God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of your lips worshipping and praise God.

However, when you do you will find in God a new strength and a release in your heart.
Worship helps us prepare for anything.
Worshipping God lifts us up and gives us the strength to keep going.
Worship takes away our insecurities.
Worship takes away our business, and it helps strengthen our weakness.
It helps us re-priorities things and put things in proper perspective.
It helps us focus on Jesus.
It strengthens our resolve to do His will.
Many people can testify that in difficult times, while facing incredible hardship, they find strength in worship to face no matter what, as they sing their hymn of worship unto the Lord.
Worship can help us prepare for the worst that life can throw at us, as God gives us the grace and strength to carry on.
Paul and Silas shone with the powerful presence of God.
These two men shone and refused to give in, as these two men, in the darkest and most dismal place in the jail, started praying, God started answering their prayers, and as Paul and Silas started praising God, even as they praised Him, the answer came.

Even after they prayed they began to praise God for the answer.

They may have prayed and asked God to help they cope with the sore beatings.

They may have prayed and asked God to deliver them from coldness of the cell.

They may have prayed and asked God to bring them some balm to heal their wounds.

They may have prayed and asked God to touch someone to bring them some water or even some food.

They may have prayed and asked God to intervene for the magistrates to come and tell them it was all a big mistake to jail them and let them go.

Even as they were praying and singing unto God, God did something amazing, He caused an Earthquake to happen.

It just goes to show that when you pray God will move heaven and earth just to answer your prayer.

It just goes to show that God can and will do something so amazing and so out of the ordinary to answer your prayers.

Even in the midst of their midnight hour they let their light shine and through their faith in God, they not only saw their own chains fall off, but they saw those of the other prisoners fall off, as well.

The greatest discovery in our generation is that we can alter our lives by altering our attitudes.

Story ~ your attitude to how you do things will determine how you see things.
Two brick layers were working one day on the same building sight, when someone asked them what they were doing one replied with a moan in their voice, “I am just piling one brick on top on another until my back is breaking”.

While the other one had a smile on his face as he worked away and said, “I am not just building a wall, I am building a cathedral.”

When your focus is on building the Kingdom of God, you have a Christ-winning attitude in your life; your eyes are always looking upward and onward, as you press on in God to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Now that is me half way through my Bible notes.
The Bible says in Philippians 2:15 (NIV) so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
Have you ever looked up at the sky at night and seen the twinkle of stars, as they shine from above?
Although the sky is dark, it is almost covered with stars that seem to sparkle, shining brightly from afar.
Even though the stars may be thousands upon thousands of miles away, you can still see them brightly shinning.
The Greek word for shine is, ‘phaino,’ meaning, to give light, to shine, to show and be seen.
We are called to push back the darkness.
We are called to bring the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ into this dark world, while being shining examples for the Kingdom of God in grace, mercy, and love with Christ like compassion to whosoever we may meet.
Even though there is darkness all around us, we are called to shine like stars in the universe.
We are called to be light in the darkest of places, to show fourth His kindness and love, by the way we live our lives for Jesus.
To be seen as examples of what a real Christian should be.
One who lives what he believes, one who is a shining example of the grace of God, by living a God centered life-style.
Let us show this dark world what the grace of God can do by His marvelous, glorious, Light of truth.
Displayed and demonstrated by a changed life, touch by the love of God that is shining brightly for Jesus Christ.
God has called us to be beacons of His light, shinning in the darkness of this world.
May we become a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.
My we shine like stars, brightly radiating the splendor of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, bringing and shining His light of hope and His light of salvation in this world.
Every time we precise the darkness with the glorious light of the gospel, every time we bring His light into this world, we dispel the darkness, for darkness cannot survive in light.
Light will always overpower the darkness, light will always dispel the darkness and light will always prevail against the darkness.
His light will always shine brightly.
Let us shine fourth His truth, let us shine fourth His glory and shine like stars in the universe.
The Bible says in Matthew 5:16 (KJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Story ~ I love the simplicity of this explanation of a little ten year old telling her friend what it means to be a Christian.
To be a Christian is a bit like being a Pumpkin; God picks you from the patch, brings you in and washes all the dirt off you. He then opens the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff.
He removes the seeds of doubt, hate and greed etc, and then He carves you a new smiley face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.
Story……Coach Carter was based on a true story which happened in 1999. Samuel L. Jackson played the part of “Coach Ken Carter”, in the 2005 film. When he walked into the gym, Rick Gonzalez, who played the part of “Timo Cruz”, stood up and quoted part of an amazing poem written by Marianne Williamson.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”
Actually who are you not to be!
You are a child of the Living God.
And you’re playing small does serve the world; there is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were all meant to shine as children do, we were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us, it’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
God is on your side, He loves you, He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.
Rise from your prison to praise him,
Rise from your darkness to light,
Rise from your place of disappointment to a fresh start,
Rise from your place of feeling down to a place of begin lifted and full of joy in the Holy Spirit.
So, let your light shine and liberate those around you.

Now let me quickly finish with this.

Not only where those in the prison all loosed from their physical chains of imprisonment, but the jailer was freed from his spiritual prison of darkness and sin.

The jailer was brought into a new freedom that is found only in Christ and into the kingdom of His glorious light.

This was the same man who watched them get beaten and severely flogged.

But now this man who once stood in agreement watch Paul and Silas being ill treated, he was not rushing into their cell with a light and fell trembling before them.

The jailer took them and gently washed their wounds,

He took them from them from the inner cell to his house,

He set a meal before them and looked after them.

This man who once so opposed the gospel message that Paul and Silas preached has now embraced it, with these words, “Sir, what must I do to be saved.”

And as a result he is totally transformed; he has a radical life-changing experience as he accepts Jesus Christ as his lord and Savior.
Now that is the power of the gospel right there!
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
He could now sing those beautiful words from an old hymn written by Charles Wesley.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye defused a quickening ray—I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

Not only did the jailer come to know Jesus but his whole family where liberated from sin and transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His glorious light.
We are called to be ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit and to shine for Jesus.
For this reason, we are called and gifted of God with His light to shine without limitation.
The emphasis is put on you and me to shine, to excel, to be the best we can be at whatever God has gifted us with; let your light shine.
Liberate those around you by the power of prayer,
The power of praise,
The power of worship,
And by the power of His Presence in you.

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