“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them”…. (Acts 16:25)
Paul and Silas had been falsely accused, beaten unfairly, thrown into prison and yet…they were praying and singing hymns to God. Paul and Silas are a true picture of the most important thing we are to do in all of scripture…believe. Jesus had just fed the five thousand when the crowd asked Him a question. They were in awe of His miracles and wanted that same power.
They asked, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” John 6:28
On the surface, what Jesus says is both unexpected and anti-climatic.
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29
That’s the answer? They wanted the “wow” factor. How do we heal, feed five thousand and walk on water? With His answer, Jesus was inferring those aren’t the greatest “works” we do. The greatest “work” is to believe in Him.
“You see, what we believe between our ears is who we are.
Everything flows from what we believe.”
I see many people who are very angry with God, who doubt and criticize the way He runs the world. They are often faithful church goers and claim to believe God is who He says He is. The one thing they lack is belief in Him. This does not mean belief in His existence but belief in His character; i.e. His goodness.
You see, what we believe between our ears is who we are. Everything flows from what we believe. Why is believing in Him the greatest work we do? Because oftentimes our circumstances will make absolutely no sense. We will be unfairly criticized, lose loved ones, be mistreated and in some countries, beaten and put in prison for our faith.
“He is God of all our circumstances. We will give Him what is due Him
…our prayer and our praise.”
Prosperity preachers will tell you to have faith, defend yourself and take control of the situation. Belief in our humble Savior will say believe in spite of what is happening to you. Act on what you know to be true and God will be God in your circumstance. If He comes and delivers, fine. If He does not, it will not change who He is or how we will respond. He is God of all our circumstances. We will give Him what is due Him…our prayer and our praise.
Although they were beaten mercilessly and thrown in prison, their knee jerk reaction was prayer and praise, not self-pity and bitterness. What is in us will come out of us, especially during suffering. As they prayed and praised into the wee hours of the morning, He who is invisible got up and shook that place with His Presence.
“What is in us will come out of us, especially during suffering”
“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.” Acts 16:26
What God did was awesome but it is not the biggest miracle (miracles are easy for God). Paul and Silas’ reaction to their circumstance is the bigger miracle.
“They didn’t need freedom. They were free.”
God wanted to save a jail full of prisoners, the jailer and his entire family. So God placed two of His believers in that prison. They didn’t care what happened to them because they knew God and were thrilled with Him and His Presence. They didn’t need freedom. They were free.
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:29-30
Why could God allow all this suffering? Because Paul and Silas needed no proof of the goodness and sovereignty of God. They walked in it, rejoiced in every circumstance and believed with their whole hearts that God had orchestrated everything. The greatest work they would ever do was done. They believed in the One God sent. Therefore, life was a romance between them and their God. Circumstances (even horrible ones) were just a vehicle to get His will done. The miracle came but their praise didn’t come because of the miracle. Their praise came from what they believed about the worthiness of God and in response to that belief…God performed the miracle.
God is immutable, meaning He cannot change. He is who He is, period.
God would easily and gladly rock our world and everyone around us. The only one stopping Him is us and our unbelief.
Many want to do a miracle…not many are willing to be the miracle.