16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
If ever there was a story about praising God in times of adversity, this is it.
Paul and Silas did nothing wrong here. Someone accused them of things they didn't do. And for this they were punished. They were beaten. They were thrown in prison. They were locked up tight. After all this these two men sat there and praised God and sang to Him. That alone was quite a testimony to their faith and who God is. Then there was this earthquake that made it so that everyone in the jail could have escaped. The jailer was about to kill himself when a voice came out saying that they were all still there.
I don't know how I would respond to all that myself. Beaten and jailed for something you didn't do. Then there's this opportunity to get away. It certainly doesn't sound like they were treated fairly. There was no trial. One might think if they stuck around who knows what else could happen to them. They could easily be beaten some more, for something they didn't do. But these two men stayed.
Because of their actions the jailer and his whole family turned to God.
People always say that actions speak louder than words. This here is that kind of action. Their behavior caught that man's attention.
Now, we can sit here and think all we want about how we would have personally handled the situation ourselves. As much as I'd like to say I could handle it and I would have done the same... there's a good chance I would have been running for my life when those shackles came off. I don't believe anyone can say what they would do unless they've been there themselves anyway.
All that aside...
What about us? How does this story apply to us? Well, like I said... actions speak louder than words.
Are you ever mistreated? Ever wrongfully accused? Ever hurt? Ever insulted?
Life for sure is not always fair. And how do WE handle these situations? We may never be beaten and jailed for our beliefs... but, how do we act in response to other things... perhaps things that are FAR less serious.
Ever get cut off in traffic? How do you respond to that?
Ever have someone tell a lie about you? How do you respond to that?
Ever get hurt? Ever been in an accident? Ever been overcharged for something? Ever had to wait in a LONG line? Ever lose a friend?
This list of bad things can go on and on... but, how do YOU respond to those things?
I have seen the way most people respond in traffic on the roads and it isn't pretty. On occasion I have to remind myself how pointless it is to get upset over something like someone else driving.
What I would like to do myself, and anyone reading this, is to read through that story again and think about our actions.
What do our actions and reactions say about us? What do they say about the God we love?
I can promise you that your behavior, your actions, will win more people to Christ than any fancy words you can come up with.
I could go on writing about this but I want to leave it with that. I want to really think about it. I want all of us to think about how we respond to bad times. How we respond is going to affect someone... it might be us, it might be someone watching... but it for sure will affect someone. So choose carefully how you respond to things.
Something to think about anyway.
Dear Lord, thank you for today. Thank you for all the blessings you have given us. Thank you for reminding me with this story to always praise you. Help me to always remember that even in hard times, you are God and you are there for me. Remind me of how awesome and faithful you are to me. Lord I pray that my actions and reactions would speak well of who you are.
A new subject or passage each week for all to discuss.
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