Acts 16:23-36 New International Version
23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 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. 27 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. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 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. 35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”
Paul and Silas were jailed for preaching about Jesus. They were arrested, flogged, jailed, put in chains. The Greek word plege (verse 23) means severely flogged, causing a deadly wound; a death-stroke. They were in severe pain, practically near death, in a dark and dirty jail. And yet they were still praying and singing hymns to God (verse 25). Why? What do they know that we don’t?
For us, what do WE do when we are “in chains”? When we are under pressure at work or at school, with family crises — when we are buried under our problems?
What do we get when we praise God?
1. Praise ushers us into God’s presence.
Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
When we are ushered into God’s presence, it does not mean that God was not already there. It means that praise ushers us into an awareness of God’s nearness, it ushers us into belief, into an increase in faith. There are two people that I would like to quote because they explained it so much better.
John Piper says:
[Being in God’s presence] means that we taste or feel or realize the reality of God more directly, more authentically, more intimately, more effectively. In other words, his presence as we experience him is the heightening of his reality in our lives either for good, if we are in his grace, or for ill, if we are under his wrath.
James 4.8a Come near to God and he will come near to you.
These are invitations into the fuller, more intense, more certain, more joyful, more satisfying, more transforming experience of the reality of God.
Mark Roberts says:
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it means to live all of the time in God’s presence. I’m not focusing on the fact that God is always present in my life. This is a given, a wondrous implication of God’s grace. He is always with me. But am I always with him? To be sure, since God is with me, then I am with him. But I am wondering not so much about this reality as I am about my awareness of it. Am I living each moment with a sense of God’s presence in my life?
Psalm 116:9 NLT And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!
Do we walk with an awareness of God’s presence every minute of every day? Do we even realize that every event in our lives is affected by how we perceive God? If you have not already done so, welcome God’s presence in your life today! Especially because …
2. Praise ushers us into God’s power.
Acts 16:26 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.
From Dale A. Robbins:
Paul and Silas knew the secret of how to lift their hearts above their troubles and enter into God’s presence and power. Through praise and worship their hearts were raised into the joyous presence and peace of God, and provided God a channel for his power to operate in their circumstances. God’s presence responds when we move upon Him with worship! Lifting up Jesus Christ through praise and worship invokes the Lord’s presence and power to flow in our midst.
There is power in true worship!
What are the prisons in our lives? What are the chains in our lives? God will break the walls of your prison; He will break the chains holding you back. He will shake the foundations of your life – your beliefs, your feelings, and your convictions.
God’s presence responds with power when we worship.
WHAT IS GOD’S PROMISE FOR US?
Praise ushers us into God’s pardon.
Acts 16:30-31 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Praise ushers us into God’s salvation! Paul and Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and your household!” (verse 31) The jailer took them to his house because he wanted them to preach to his family.
In verse 31, the Greek for household oikos can mean a household, a family, even a lineage, or a nation. God promises us that when we believe, we can pray for the salvation of our families (even our descendants and country-men!) and He will arrange circumstances so that they will have every opportunity to hear His word and be saved. He can even soften their hearts so that they will be more open to His message. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but it will happen!
Every Christian living today had someone pray for him/her to be saved – either a family member or a friend, but most often it is a parent, a grandparent or a child that prayed. I know someone who was a drug addict during his teens until his thirties, but his parents and sibling prayed for him, and he was saved! He is now drug-free (over 20 years) and is a lay pastor in his church.
That is the power of God’s promise for each one of us! Let us claim the promise … and our household – even our descendants will be saved!
Praise the Lord!