Good evening y’all. Happy Monday 🙂 . Today we are studying Acts chapter 16.
In this chapter we see Paul and Silas thrown into Jail for doing the work of God. I was particularly amazed at how they both handled the situation. Rather than grumble and lament, they chose to praise God even in the prison! I can’t say I would have done the same if I was in their shoes! (I’m still work in progress 🙂 ) .
I did a couple of research online and I stumbled on an article by Stephen J Cole titled: How to be right when you’re wronged. It’s a long one but I will encourage you to read the whole article. I have picked out extracts from it to share today. Full article can be found here
I pray you are blessed as you read, just as I was blessed and challenged to learn to be joyful and give thanks in all situations starting from now 🙂
How to be Right When You’re Wronged (Acts 16: 16-40) – Stephen J Cole
Don’t be surprised! Just because God is the omnipotent Creator does not mean that He will spare you from intense trials. It is false teaching that Christians are exempt from the common trials that come upon the entire human race: sickness, poverty, tragedies, and death. And, in addition to these common trials, we can expect even more trials because we are Christians.
Whatever form it takes, you should not be surprised when you are treated wrongly. God does not give Christians an exemption, even when they are in the middle of doing His will and pursuing His kingdom and righteousness. Paul and Silas did not sit in jail lamenting, “Maybe we missed the signals! Maybe God didn’t mean for us to come to Macedonia. Are we out of the will of God?” Being in the will of God is not a guarantee of protection from trials. Our trials do not mean that He does not exist or that He is not loving and good. He has a greater purpose that we often do not understand. Our responsibility in such difficult times is to trust and obey Him.
Paul and Silas, their rights having been violated and their backs torn open, their feet in the stocks and locked in the dark inner prison, were praying and singing hymns of praise to God at midnight (16:25)! That convicts me of my lack of joy and my grumbling over the minor irritations in my life!
Paul and Silas would not have been rejoicing in the Lord in the dungeon at midnight under these awful circumstances if it had not been a regular part of their everyday lives. They had a daily habit of mentally focusing on how great and wonderful God is, and on the many blessings that He daily heaps on His children. The greatest blessing is His gift of salvation by His free grace. Thus Paul could say that the life he now lived in the flesh, he lived by faith in the Son of God who loved him and gave Himself for him (Gal. 2:20). As you know, when he later wrote to this Philippian church from a prison cell in Rome, the major theme of that letter was joy in the Lord in spite of our circumstances. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 3:1). “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
I wish that Paul had said, “Rejoice in the Lord as a general rule.” But, always? Come on, Paul, get realistic! He also wrote to the Philippians, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14). All things? I could handle, “Try not to grumble too much.” “Rejoice always;… In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). Always? In everything?The man must not have lived in the same world I live in! O, but he did! He was a man who had learned to focus on the Lord and His abundant grace in every situation, and so he was filled with joy in the Lord in every situation, even in severe trials.
He wrote, “We exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5). He told the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (Col. 1:24). Was he a masochist, or what?
No, in this he was simply obeying the words of Jesus, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (Matt. 5:11-12). Or, as James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). Peter echoes this: “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Pet. 4:13). It’s not enough just to grit your teeth and endure trials; God wants us to rejoice in them!
We need to keep in mind that Paul and Silas did not know the end of this story when they began singing at midnight in the dungeon. For all they knew, they would be executed the next day, or left to die a slow death in prison. Their singing was not based on their knowledge of a happy outcome. It was based on their knowledge of a good and sovereign God. While in this instance, His will was to send a powerful earthquake and free them, it doesn’t always work out that way. Many of God’s faithful saints have died for their faith, but like John Hus, who was betrayed and burned at the stake, they die singing.
A cheerful, joyous spirit does not depend on having wonderful, trouble-free circumstances. It depends on daily cultivating joy in the Lord. As G. Campbell Morgan observes, “He did not sing because he was to be let out of prison. He sang because prison did not matter” (The Westminster Pulpit [Baker], 9:314-315). The only way that prison and mistreatment and a raw back do not matter is when the delight of God matters more. As George Muller put it, the chief business of every day is first of all to seek to be truly at rest and happy in God (A. T. Pierson, George Muller of Bristol [Revell], p. 257).
So many professing Christians are grumbling, discontented people. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, they think that they would be happier back in slavery in Egypt than to be with God and His provision in the wilderness. Cultivating joy in the Lord every day is not optional. It is mandatory for all who know His salvation.
Thanks for joining today. Pls feel free to share your thoughts on the chapter.
I’m blogging through the book of Acts a chapter a day with Good Morning Girls. Check us out at http://www.goodmorninggirls.org
Have a blessed evening basking in God’s goodness 🙂
***With God all things are possible***