Bible Studies & Devotionals

From Olive Branch Ministries

By Mark and Tinsley Baker

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The Prisoners Were Listening

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.

So much is said here in this selection of Scripture. I want to look at a few things that were going on. First of all the Apostles Paul and Silas were beaten with rods or some translations say wooden whips. This was not a light thing. It wasn’t a slap on the wrist. This was a severe beating, then they were put in the lowest dungeon in stocks. The jailers life was threatened if they escaped. Yet in the midst of all of this, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord. They must have been singing loudly because the other prisoners heard them and were listening to them. The other prisoners took notice of these guys singing unto the Lord right after a severe beating in the midst of a stinking depressing dungeon where all the refuse was. They had no running water or flushing toilets there. It wasn’t a good place to be in, but they were praying and singing hymns unto God. Guess what, God showed up in a big way. They were rejoicing in the Lord in the midst of what looked to be total failure and defeat. The prisoners weren’t the only ones who were listening. The Lord God was listening as well, because the Word goes on to say, suddenly there was a great earthquake; the prison was shaken to its foundations, all the doors flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. The jailer immediately asked what must he do to be saved. I believe the glory of God filled that place, because the jailer repented and believed and received the Lord Jesus. There was no preaching no sermon no great moving choir that brought tears to everyone’s eyes. Just a couple of beaten prisoners singing praises unto God from their hearts.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.''

He was right there in their midst. Yet instead of moaning and complaining about the circumstances they were praising God. I dare say very few of us have been severely beaten for the cause of Christ and then thrown in the bottom of a dungeon. If we had, would we be praising God and singing hymns?

I would say most of us gripe and complain every time a red light takes too long or when somebody cuts us off in traffic. People hear alright, but most often it is not praying and the singing of hymns that they are hearing is it? No wonder we don’t see the glory of God like they did! We are in the same church, the same body of Christ, the same dispensation of grace. If we want to see the same kinds of miraculous acts we have to start following the examples set before us! What an awesome example that was set. The building was shaken to it’s foundation. Glory to God.

They weren’t mealy mouthed little songs where no one heard but the cockroaches. The other prisoners heard and were listening to them. They sang out loud right in front of them all. They weren’t shy about their love for God were they? Out of the abundance of their hearts their mouths spoke and sang God's glory. No wonder God showed up. He inhabits the praises of his people. This was true worship. He inhabited their praises. He was there with them. They gave God a place to move because of their praises. If they had been gripping and complaining they would have stifled the flow of God, and on top of everything else the jailer and his family would not have gotten saved would they? No, instead of ushering in the presence of God into that place, they would have opened the door to the destroyer.

1 Corinthians 10:9-10. nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

In our day to day walk as Christians what opportunities do we have to declare our witness?

Most Christians would have given up in this situation. They certainly wouldn’t have considered this an opportunity to usher in the presence of God.

There are always opportunities before us. I want you to know people are always watching you. Your witness is your very life. The way you conduct yourself and the way you respond to negative situations will reveal volumes about what is on the inside of you. Paul and Silas were in about as negative of a situation as anyone could get weren’t they? Things looked pretty grim. Try to imagine yourself in this situation. What would you do if you were in a foreign country and were falsely arrested and beaten severely and thrown into the basement of the worst kind of prison. Would you be praying and singing hymns unto God? There is something awesome here if we will but see it. God's glory was poured out! What brought this about? Their attitude in the midst of this crisis was to glorify God.

They weren’t crying and whining. They weren’t blaming God for their circumstances, they weren’t saying well this must be God's will to teach us a lesson. They already had learned their lessons and they were applying the answer in the worst possible circumstances. They lesson they learned was, regardless of the circumstances to give God praise.

Paul said in His epistle to the Thessalonians ---

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

You will notice He did not say for everything give thanks, but in everything give thanks. What would you be giving thanks for in the midst of these kinds of adverse circumstances? For one, you would be giving thanks that God is more than able in every circumstance to deliver you. You would be saying regardless of the circumstances I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. You would be saying by the grace of God I am going through the storm, and I am praising God for victory every inch of the way. What a way to live! Glory to God!!!

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.

If anybody could say these things the Apostle’s Paul certainly had the right to do so. We have got to remember God is no respecter of persons. What He would do for one, He would do for all. Yet we see that our response is what triggers God's response. A positive response with a victorious attitude glorifying God brings victory, a negative response opens the door to the enemy. This is a lesson for us all to see and walk in.

Regardless of your circumstances people are listening to you, and God is listening as well. Let's let our light shine in this world and let others see the true glory of God in our lives.

In whatever circumstance you are in, begin to give God all the praise and glory. He is more than sufficient to meet every need of your life.

Psalms 150:1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

2. Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

3. Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!

4. Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

5. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with high sounding cymbals!

6. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Let the heavens rejoice let the Earth cry out, let the people of God sing and declare His praise all over this land. For this is the time and now is the place where God's people will walk in His glory. Keep on walking and keep on going in the path of righteousness, and see the glory of God poured out on this land. Healing will come, deliverance will come, and restitution will come to the people of God and to this land if God's people will but begin to declare His praises. This is what will set the prisoners free.

Remember God inhabits the praises of His people, and where God is, deliverance is there as well.

-- New Revised Standard with Apocrypha

Philippians 4:8 Finally, beloved, {Gk [brothers]} whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about {Gk [take account of]} these things. Amen.

If you truly want to know for sure that you are a child of God, then I would like to invite you to earnestly pray this prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. Your word says, "…and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (Jn.6:37),

So I know You won’t cast me out, but You take me in, And I thank you for it. You said in your Word, "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'' (Ro. 10:13).

I am calling on Your name, So I know You have saved me now, You also said, "…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Ro.10:9,10).

I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe He was raised from the dead for my justification. And I confess Him now as my Lord, Because Your Word says, "… with the heart one believes to righteousness…" and I do believe with my heart, I have now become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21),

And I am saved! Thank You, Lord!

I can now truthfully say, I see myself as a born again child of God!

Glory to God!!!! Amen.