Lessons for life from Paul and Silas
Faith in God leads to rejoicing in times of trouble. Acts chapter 16
We are in difficult days as we deal with a drastic change in our lifestyles.
We have had to stay home from the workplace.
The children have had to stay home from school.
The return to ‘normal life’ is uncertain with the possibility of the MCO being extended.
Control over our decisions such as “where shall we go to shop, where shall we go to eat, who shall we visit today” has been taken over by others.
We must be careful not to be frustrated by the changes that have taken place through no fault of our own. We all could be frustrated, fearful an become angry if we concentrate on the things over which we have no control. We need to be encouraged by concentrating on the One who is in Control of all things – our wonderful God.
The question “why does God allow these things to happen” has been asked and answered so many times these last two months that we will not spend the time to respond again at this time. What we want to do is answer the question “what do I do today”?
We will look again at Paul and Silas being imprisoned in the city of Philippi. While we are not imprisoned as they were, our movements are controlled by others and we are restricted to our homes. We do have the opportunity to visit with our family and friends by telephone and internet. We should take this opportunity to build our own faith, the faith of those with others, and the faith of those we might influence through the media.
Read from the book of Acts 16:19-40 (If it works for your family, each person could read 5 verses through to verse 40)
We should consider this as an opportunity in the time of trouble –
I. To glorify God. Acts 16:25-34
Paul and Silas were arrested, accused, and assaulted by the citizens of Philippi. They had been preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, but the reason they were accused of wrongdoing was that many people had gotten saved and they stopped buying the idols from the idol makers in the city.
Read Acts 16:20-24
These men were losing money because of the preaching of the Word of God and they demanded that it be stopped.
The judges in the city ordered that Paul and Silas be put in prison, in the most secure part of the prison, in the dungeon, and kept even more secure by locking them in stocks. Stocks are large wood beams with an upper and lower section. Grooves are cut in order that the prisoner’s legs would be placed in it, then the upper section was clamped down and fastened on the lower section. The prisoner could not move and must remain in a sitting position. Here they were having being humiliated by having their clothes torn from them, beaten with rods or whips, put into the darkness of the dungeon, locked down by their legs fastened in stocks.
Paul and Silas had no control over their lives physically, but they could still control their mental and spiritual lives.
We certainly are not in such a bad state of affairs as they were, but we want to understand that while we may not have control over our physical state we, as they, do have control over our mental and spiritual lives.
We should follow their examples and bring glory to His name through our –
A. Prayer Read Acts 16:25a
Paul and Silas believed with all of their hearts that God hears and answers prayer. I am sure that when they were approached by the magistrates, arrested, forced into the judgment area, stripped of their clothing, beaten by the people, and ordered to be thrown into prison, they had been praying and calling up God to help them! I find it encouraging that even though they may have thought that God did not hear them during all of this, they kept calling to Him, they continued to pray. Do we see that even though they may not have understood why God did not stop what was happening to them, they still trusted in Him. They had the peace of God in the midst of the turmoil of the world. They believed God’s word through the prophets –
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
And they practiced what they preached –
Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus
Can you imagine how that Paul and Silas encouraged one another as they suffered physically, but not spiritually. It may be that one of the psalms they sang was Psalm 13. Have one of your family members read this Psalm now.
We not only bring glory to His name by our praying, but also through our –
B. Praise Read Acts 16:25b
As we pray believing that God is going to hear and answer, we begin to praise Him. We remember that He has not left us alone and He has a purpose in those things happening in our lives. Through the knowledge of God’s truth and the experience of His presence, Paul wrote to the Roman believers this wonderful encouragement from God. Please Read Romans 8:28
With that trust in God, we bring forth praise unto Him from our hearts –
Psalms 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
We bring glory to His name through our trust in His –
C. Protection Read Acts 16:26-29
When we think about the protection from God, we immediately think that God protected them from being killed by the angry crowd. We are able to understand what God was doing in their lives because we have before us the whole account of what took place and how it concluded. I am sure at the time of the attack on their persons, Silas wondered – and may have even asked, why Paul did not declare that he was a Roman citizen. If he had made this known immediately, the magistrates would have been afraid to harm them because it was against Roman law. Paul may not have even known why he remained silent at the time but we know that –
1). Paul did not rely on the provisions of Roman law.
He did not reveal beforehand that he was a citizen of Rome. He waited on God’s timing.
2). Paul relied on the power of God!
God was going to work an amazing work that would confuse the jailor and God used Paul and Silas to protect him from harming himself. “…do thyself no harm…”
God’s ways are certainly above our ways! We see that because of their faith in God –
brought glory to His name through faith in His –
D. Promise Read Acts 16:30-33
Who could have guessed that this would turn into an opportunity to present the Gospel?
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
We see that ‘whosoever’ included the jailor that had shown them no mercy or kindness. Just shortly before he may have been pushing them, striking them, cursing them – and now he is begging them “…Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
We know through reading this account in Scripture that God was with them and working through them the entire time. They only knew that He was with them and working through them by faith in Him. Do you have this faith in Him tonight? Your circumstances may not be what you would like them to be. Your circumstances may be stressful and bringing up in you frustration and anger. Where is God in this? He is here “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Have faith – pray, praise, protect others through being steadfast yourself, and trust in His promises.
Do you have family members with you that are not saved yet? Your faith and actions in this time could be the testimony they need to respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
We saw that the jailor’s name was included in ‘whosoever’ shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Is your name there? Call upon Him for salvation tonight.