prisoners were listening to them, and 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 bonds were unfastened.
This was the reaction of Paul and Silas to their first major opposition in Asia Minor. At Philippi they had great opportunity with the gospel. So much so that demonic powers have fallen (16:16-18). But when people who had made a living from occultism find their trade shutting down by their work, a mob soon turns against their work with the result that the missionaries are imprisoned in the Philippian jail (16:19-24).
But this does not stop the advance of the gospel in the least. Paul and Silas are holding a prayer meeting in their dungeon cell. There, in the middle of the dark night they were praying and singing hymns to God. They turned their worst hour into an hour of worship. They would not turn from their love for the God Who saved them, even when proclaiming His greatness landed them in their present predicament.
And God heard their prayers. At the moment of prayer and praise, God shook the walls of the prison with a mighty earthquake, and although everyone was released from their chains, no one made a break for it. The jailer is amazed. And he had heard the singing just moments before. He needed no more convincing. He ran to Paul and Silas to find out what they knew about this God who saved them, and the jailer was convinced God could save him as well.
The next round of new converts came from the jailer and his household. By the time Paul and Silas left Philippi, they had seen God work in the darkest hearts, through the darkest circumstances, and in the darkest of places to bring the light of the gospel to lives. They left a church there that was born in difficulty, but quickly nurtured in the transforming power of God.
Praise should accompany the gospel. Worship should follow the message of hope in Jesus. And even when circumstances mean that the gospel may not be well received, we should labor on with joy, knowing that God will be glorified in our worship and work. And that alone may be enough for people to see the difference and want to know the God who can be praised in prison walls!
- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.
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