Summary: Third in a patriotic sermon series.
Paul and Silas were ministering in the city of Philippi when trouble befell them. It seems that the work they were doing was perceived by some to be a threat to their business, so they had them arrested, flogged, and imprisoned.
Ever have one of those days when things don’t seem to be going too well? Well, it was certainly one of those days for Paul and Silas, and I’m sure you’ve had a few of those kinds of days, too.
Interestingly enough, some people mistakenly think that Christians are people who God promises to protect from problems and difficulties. On the contrary, God tells His children that since they belong to Him, not only do they have the usual difficulties that everyone else encounters as they live in this old world to deal with, but now they have Satan as an enemy, which can often compound the problems the Christian encounters.
But take heart! God has a purpose in allowing His children to deal with difficulty. His purpose is to use these times to reshape us into the image of His dear Son, and, in the process, allow us to show a lost world the difference a relationship with God can make in one’s life. You see, the Christian faces the same kinds of problems in this world that everyone else encounters - Christians have to deal with disease, losing their job, raising their kids, working through marriage problems, getting an education, losing a loved one, dealing with change, and living in a nation that has declared war on terror.
Christians face many of the same kinds of troubles that everyone else does. The only difference is that they have a God to turn to in difficult times.
God’s design is for Christians to bear testimony in troubled times to the difference God makes. How can the Christian bear such testimony when facing times of trouble? Let’s see what we can learn from the example of Paul and Silas.
If we are going to bear testimony in troubled times ...
1. We must give our attention to prayer - v. 25a
Three ministers were talking about prayer in general and the appropriate and effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One minister shared that he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. The third suggested that they both had it wrong—the only position worth its salt was to pray while stretched out flat on your face.
By this time the phone man couldn’t stay out of the conversation any longer. He interjected, "I found that the most powerful prayer I ever made was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended forty feet above the ground."
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need," (Hebrews 4:16). The fact is, that every day of my life is a time of need I just don’t always realize it. But when I find myself facing troubled times, I become more aware of my need of the Lord.
It’s in those times especially, when I should turn to Him in prayer! As I do, I can rejoice in knowing that I can come before His throne with confidence because I am His child. As I humbly acknowledge my need of Him, I can rest assured that He will provide me with the guidance, the peace, the calm, whatever I need to deal with the troubled times I am facing.
"God can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him," ~ Jim Cymbala
In his book "My Utmost For His Highest," Oswald Chambers says that it is wrong to say that prayer changes things. Instead, it is more proper to day that prayer changes me so that things might be changed.
Indeed, through prayer, God can use the troubled times I am having to deal with to change me in whatever way is necessary to enable me to respond to the difficulty in the right way and reflect Christ to a lost world.
2. We must center our attitude on praise - v. 25b
"Every problem is an opportunity to prove God’s power. Every day we encounter countless golden opportunities, brilliantly disguised as insurmountable problems." ~ C. Swindoll, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Through praise, we acknowledge the power of God. Praise focuses our attention away from our problems to God’s sovereign power. It causes us to be reminded that God is on His throne and that He is in control.