In the text God used Paul and Silas to interfere with the enemy’s program. They were on their way to the temple but this day they stopped to minister to a woman who was being expoited for money. We as Christians are called to interrupt the enemy’s routine and to be careful that we are never too busy doing our thing that we forget that God has positioned us to stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters.
Even though Paul and Silas were on a mission to preach and teach the Gospel, they were not ‘too busy’ to stop and minister to this young woman who was being exploited by others. When will we get to the place where we will be willing to interrupt our routine, in order to interfere with the enemy’s program? It is time to move beyond the routine and reach out to our brothers and sisters right where they are. In fact is past time to do this! Paul rebuked the enemy and cast out the spirit of divination that was being used to exploit and abuse her. We too must live our lives in such a manner that when we too can have power with God!
You cannot and will not have any real power if you don’t live out your faith in the crucible of trials and tribulations. You learn how to to get victory by getting victory. To get the victory, you have to stay in the battle! Staying faithful during all failures and remaining trustworthy during all triumphs will give you the power to do all that God has called you to do. We have to walk in the authority that Christ has given us as believers. That authority comes not from naming and claiming, but from remaining and sustaining. Remaining faithful and sustaining our commitment to God in the face of all opposition. The church has been sidetracked by being overly concderned about health, wealth, and prosperity of the believer. We need to be concerened with the spiritual health, spiritual wealth and spiritual prosperity of the unbeliever. In a day when people are sick with sin, and poor in spiritual understanding, and destitute in knowing the ways of the Lord, we need to be very concerned about that! What good is physical healh when our spiritual health is giving us a death sentence? What good is physical wealth, when the over emphasis on this causes us to lose our perspective on the importance on having wealth in heaven. Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also!
What good is earthly prosperity when the focus on it will only serve to doom and damm our eternal posterity. You want real power with God? Learn to trust, and obey, there is no other way. Paul and Silas were not concerned about themselves their concern was for the woman and her eternal soul. You have to admire the clarity of their thinking. Paul and Silas’s did not allow the enemy to co-opt their testimony. They rebuked the enemy and took authority over him. We too must not allow the devil to co-opt our walk and our testimony. We have seen only too recently the absolute devastation that ensues when you allow your testimony to be co-opted by the world. When the enemy tries to co-opt your testimony and interfere with the work that the Lord has called you to do, our response should not be some luke-warmed over ‘I’ ain’t perfect’ excuse. We should be ashamed and grieved when we find ourselves in this situation. The Bible says Paul was grieved in his spirit not for himself but for what he saw the enemy doing to this young woman. He doesn’t rebuke the woman, he rebukes the spirit that is using the woman to bring a cloud over the work that God has called them to do. This takes real courage. It takes courage to make a stand against wrong and to speak out against those who seek to profit from their wrong. It takes being sold out to God to such an extent where you do not fear what men can do to you. Your reverence for God should cause you to stand up, speakup and speak out against any attempt to cloud and co-opt what God is doing.
We are tempted to think that when we have done the right thing, that this is all we have to do. Once you have done the right thing in a world of wrong things, it is never that simple. After Paul and Silas do the right thing (what God has called them to do) , they are falsely accused, mistreated, misaligned, beaten and incarcerated. The enemy will try and make you think that he has all this power so that you will be afraid to do what God has commanded! Paul and Silas did not let fear fool them! They did not let adversity advert them from their God ordained purpose! Don’t let fear fool you! Don’t let adversity advert you from God’s ordained purpose for your life!
I would like to focus on the the jailer for a moment. When Paul and Silas are brought to prison the jailer is commanded to take control of them. When the jailer saw what had happened to Paul and Silas, his concerned was not for them but for himself!
He was charged with keeping them under lock and key! He saw how savagely they were treated! It would not go well for him if these two men got away from him! Given this fact, he preceded to put them into solitary confinement. They were put as we say “under the jail” They were put in the jail of the jail! When you commit crimes in prison this where you are put! Paul and Silas had committed no crime at all! But they were treated like they were a serious threat to society! Out of fear the jailer reacted harshly towards Paul and Silas! He not only put them in solitary, but he put their feet in stocks! Not socks! Stocks! Clamps made of metal or wood! This was done to restrict a prisoner’s range of motion! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall that night in jail! I can see in my mind the enemy talking to Paul and Silas! “Well a lot of good your faith is doing you in here!” “See if you had just kept your mouth shut and went on to prayer meeting, you wouldn’t be here now!” “Silas, where does Paul get off running his mouth and getting you in trouble too!” “If God really was with you, do you really think He would have let them beat you like that!” Oh, I know he must have had a field day with them!
But precious hearts, because Paul and Silas trusted God! Because they knew in whom they believed, they were unmoved by troubling thoughts! They were unshaken by their current circumstances! They were unaffected by their present problems! They were undeterred from their primary purpose which was to make the Gospel known to all men! Contrast Paul and Silas with the jailer. They were fearless and he was fearful. You see my brothers and sisters God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of a sound mind! When others are fearful and shaken by the events that unfold around them we the people of God should be able to stand, steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord!
The text says that at midnight, Paul and Silas, prayed and sang praises unto God: And the prisoners heard! How many of you realize that in order to be able to pray and sing praises at midnight, you have to be able to pray and sing praises at Noon day. The Bible says in Jeremiah 12:5, ““If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses?” In other words, if you can’t hang in there when the going is easy, what chance do you have of hanging in there when the going is tough? Lord, help me to run with horses! Lord help me to continue to stand even in the swelling of the Jordan! Lord give me the ability to pray and to prase you even at midnight!
Somebody today is locked in, and locked down today. You don’t see anyway out and it doesn’t look like you will be able to survive the condition you find yourself in right now! I want to let you know, don’t give up and don’t give in! Just begin to pray and give God praise! Midnight is a good time to pray! At midnight is a good time to give praise! I don’t know what Paul and Silas sang! Maybe they sang, I will trust in the Lord at all times, and His praise shall continually be in my mouth! Maybe they sang, I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress… In Him will I trust. I don’t know what they sang! But whatever they sang, and whatever they prayed, and they praised! Can you see God working? In the midst of your desperate condition! Can you see God working! In spite of the determination of the enemy to exploitate our every weakness and every short coming, can you see God working? There may be racial bigotry and hatred blinding the minds of men! But I can still see God working! It was Prayer and Praise that saved the day! The same thing that it took for them to get free, it will take for us to get free! Prayer and Praise will save the day! That is what prayer and praise will do! The Bible says that men should ALWAYS pray, lifting up holy hand without wrath and doubting! The lifting up the hands holy hands is the worship and praise that comes from having talked to God and trusting Him with our lives!
When they got through giving God the Glory, and when they got through giving God some praise, the Bible says that there suddenly was a great earthquake, and the foundations of the prisons were shaken. Immediately all of the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. Saints of God! Let’s stop crying about our circumstances and pouting about our problems! For if we give God the glory He will shake the foundations of prisons! The prisons of fear will fall! The prisons of hatred and injustice will fall! Every door will be opened! “There is power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain, break every chain!” God will make a way for all men to escape the evil of this world! He is the open door through which all must enter! When we stand for God in an ungodly world, He will loose every one’s bands that receive our testimony! When the world sees us unmoved by our trouble, and unshaken by our circumstances, it will lead them to the question all must ask? What must I do to be saved? What must I do to be able to have faith like that? What must I do to be able to rejoice like this? When we stand steadfast unaffected by our problems and undeterred from our mission God can use us for His Glory!
I am speaking to someone here today! It is midnight and God is talking to you! If you want to be free from oppression, and invulnerable to exploitation! You need to let God have His way in your life! God wants to save you! Saved from hate! Saved to Love! Saved from bigotry, and saved to seeing all men as brothers! God wants to save you! That’s what prayer and praise will do! God wants to save you! Saved from fear to faith! Come and let God give you courage! If you need a heart! Or you need a brain! Or you need to find your way home! The answer is not in OZ, but it is in God! That’s what prayer and praise will do!