At midnight Paul and Silas prayed and the prisoners heard them. I can imagine what was going through their minds as they listened to these two men sing praises to God; beaten and locked in stocks in the worst part of the prison for the chief guard had been warned to make sure they did not escape. Yet here they were singing? "Are these men mad?" "What kind of drugs are they on?" "I need to get me some of that" "They seem genuinely happy and at peace. Hmm..."
Two things must be pointed out about their praise. The first that we learnt yesterday is that God inhabited their praise. (Psalm 22:3) Their praise did not go unnoticed by the person to whom it was pointed. God took note and rewarded their faith.
The second is not only did God take note, but the entire prison. That night when the prison walls shook and the gates sprang open,and the stocks and bands were loosed, the prison experienced new life. The prison guard was afraid. Afraid that all the prisoners had escaped and that no one would believe what he had just experienced. He was prepared to kill himself when Paul called out to him that they were still there. His response to this was: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" That night he and his entire family received the gospel joyfully and were baptized.
Our praise is not just to make us feel better about a situation or to send affirmations of faith up to God. Our praise in extreme experiences; at times when, to human eyes, there is no reason to praise, acts as a magnet for others. It provokes their curiosity and then their desire to know this peace; this joy. Remember joy is not just about happiness. Joy is about being at peace in the knowledge that no matter what, God is in control so I do not need to fret and worry, God has this!
The ultimate weapon is at your disposal today. Today is an opportunity for you to harness its power and thereby be at peace and be the peace that draws others to God. How you deal with your stressors signals a response in others for good or for evil. Do not wait. Take hold of God's promises and arm yourself with His weaponry.
Why not take a few minutes to re-read:Psalm 42:5Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thoudisquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praisehim for the help of his countenance.
The power we have over others through our actions should always give us pause before we do or say anything.
We sometimes make excuses and say well it's not my fault if so and so does this or that and by right no one should look at another person and blame them for the wrong that the other committed. In reality, though we know that we each look at and model our behavior on others; whether movie stars or artists or religious men and women, and others look at us and model their behavior on us.
How wonderful then, if we would all move responsibly in that knowledge.
What do you think? Please share.