Saturday, June 20, 2009

Joy in the Jailhouse

(I am recuperating from surgery, and can't sit long, so I'm offering some of my devos from the past. Hope this fave helps you face trials with expectation and faith! This was part of a submission package that led to my being accepted as a writer for WMU's Missions Mosaic magazine several years ago.)

The cell was cold and damp, which made the shackles binding their feet much more intolerable. Their lacerated backs screamed with pain from the beating they had endured. Paul and Silas could have complained to God for allowing such revolting consequences as a result of their obedience to his leading (Acts 16:9-10). Instead, they remained confident that God had led them to this very place:

“About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25

There was another who surely listened as they sang the first century version of “Amazing Grace”. As a mighty earthquake shook the prison, the doors flew open, and all the prisoners’ chains were loosed. The jailer was about to kill himself, thinking his charges had probably escaped. But as Paul shouted “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” the shackler had his sin shackles removed as he fell trembling before the two, asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (verse 30).

This joyous midnight worship service led the jailer to Jesus, causing him to be “filled with joy because he had come to believe in God - he and his whole family” (verse 34).

Lord, in your word, you said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Thank you that we can experience your joy, regardless of our circumstances. May the way your joy shines through us in the midst of difficulties glorify you, and point others to your salvation!

For further study: 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4-7, Acts 5:25-41, Romans 12:9-14,
Psalm 16:11