WHOA! Anyone hear about this?!
These two guys, who were innocent, doing the right thing, being lawful and actually promoting lawful behavior, were arrested and stripped naked in front of a large crowd and then beaten up in front of them!! No trial, no rights read or anything! Then, they were incarcerated over night.
Then, with raw wounds, likely still bleeding, and severe bruises and likely swollen bodies all over the place, with no morphine or oxycodone on board, chose to pray and sing hymns to the Lord!
Yep, this is the story of Paul and Silas and their experience in Phillippi in the 1st century Roman Empire, as told in Acts Chapter 16.  What a story!  Here they were, chained up, in a dirty, likely stinky, dark  and very uncomfortable prison, wounded, humiliated and in pain, choosing to worship and not wallow…choosing to pray and not throw a pity party, choosing to witness and not whine, choosing to sing and not feel sorry for themselves.  Wow!  Convicting to anyone else?!
And this is how God chose to respond:  He shows up!  There is a shaking…doors open, chains fall off, not only theirs, but of all the other prisoners as well!…and the end result, was salvation coming to one jailer and his entire household, and the government of that city having it handed to them, and the gospel advancing.  Read all of Acts 16…amazing story!
Some reflection and application:
  • When we choose to worship no matter what our circumstances, especially when they are dire and bleak, the Lord shows up and it leads to FREEDOM!…FREEDOM for ourselves AND freedom for those around us.

What a thought!  What if, as believers, we came into every opportunity to worship with that mindset?  Lord, as I choose to worship you, sing to you, pray to you, out of my desperation, I’m trusting you to bring greater levels of freedom in my life, and in the lives of everyone around me in this place!  Wow!

Last Friday night, I had the opportunity to chaperone for a High School choir ‘lock-in’ overnighter.  Late in the evening, as a particular game was winding down, and I had some freedom, I went to the piano in the school’s auditorium, with the intention of playing softly just for me and the Lord.  I started playing an ‘oldie’…”As The Deer” and within a few seconds, one of the other chaperone Moms began to sing…I had no idea who she was or what her background was…turns out she’s a strong believer who loves to worship!  I finished that song, and she simply said…”more!”…so I began to play and sing a sequence of ‘older’ worship songs that I cut my teeth on in the 80s and 90s and she knew and sang along with every one of them!  Pretty soon, another parent came and joined us, and we were singing 3-part harmony worship songs, filling up the public school’s auditorium with praises to Jesus!  It was a Spirit-led moment in time, for sure, and so special.  All these kids were milling around finishing up their game, while we just kept singing away.

Who knows what was taking place in the spiritual realm in those moments, as the Name of Jesus was lifted high, in an environment where that is usually not the case.  Maybe, just maybe, some chains were being loosed, or some doors were being opened in some hearts a little more?  Maybe someone experienced some shaking in their spirit, or nudging toward seeking after the Lord and His Truth?  I certainly pray so, and hope so!

The Lord used that moment to remind me that I am called to lead worship (which is simply helping to turn people’s focus to the Lord) no matter where I am or what I’m doing, whether it is musical or not!  But in instances like this, when it gets to be musical, it’s an added blessing and bonus, and the sense of His presence is sweet, indeed!