Paul in Prison
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 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 16:25-26
Prison changes a man. Most people who spend any time in prison, come out of the experience with a completely different outlook on life. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s not so good. The Apostle Paul spent a lot of time in prison during his lifetime and instead of letting it harden him, he turned around and made some his greatest contributions to the gospel of Jesus Christ while behind bars.
Paul says in Phillippians 1:12, “The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel”. You may ask yourself, how is that possible? He was arrested in Jerusalem. He spent 2 years in prison in Caesarea. He was placed on a boat and taken to Rome where he was beaten mercilessly. How could he be furthering the gospel?
He furthered the gospel because his mission was far greater than his circumstances. I would guess that in every prison he was in, every soldier he was chained to, and every prisoner that talked to him, he was sharing the life-changing story of Jesus Christ. Regardless of how desperate his situation seemed, he was always looking beyond at the calling that Jesus placed on his life.
In Acts chapter 16 we hear about Paul and Silas casting a demon out a slave girl and then being thrown into prison as a result. Paul and Silas were dragged before the magistrates. They ripped off their clothes and beat them with rods. These rods tore the skin, caused huge welts and bruises and probably broke their ribs. Then they were put in the deepest part of the prison which was most likely damp and rat-infested, and had their feet put in stocks.
It’s at this point in the story where I start to put myself in their shoes. I imagine them sitting there shivering from the cold and the immense pain their bodies were in. Family and friends were hundreds of miles away and all they could see was the darkness in front of them. I’m not sure what I would do, but most likely I would probably have let the circumstances get the best of me and given up all hope. However, Paul and Silas did the exact opposite.
They took one of the darkest moments of their lives and decided to worship God! And what did God do? He shook the ground underneath them.
What would happen if we decided to turn our eyes away from the negatives of life and turn them towards God? Regardless of our circumstances, we need to worship God. When we focus on Him, he will shake the ground beneath us. He will shake up our marriages, He will shake up our attitudes, He will shake up our perspective and most importantly, He will shake up the atmosphere around us.
When Paul and Silas worshipped, they weren’t the only prisoners whose chains broke. “At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” One of greatest weapons we have as kingdom men is our ability to focus on God through the toughest times of life and change the world around us. Paul’s life was a testament to this and we should strive to live out his example.
Today’s Training: Are you currently in a prison? Your prison could be fear, stress, lust, adultery, pornography, anger… the list goes on and on. Are you giving into your prison? Are you letting the walls of that prison keep you from answering the call of God on your life? If so, call that thing out. Confess yours sins and turn your eyes towards God. He will deliver you and change the world around you.