Summary: God sent an earthquake to draw out a jailor and saved his entire family. Worship God in the midst of difficulties. Your focus determines your reality.
Amazing, God sent an earthquake to save a family.
• Yes, the foundations of the prison were shaken. Yes, the prison doors were all opened. Yes, the chains were all broken.
• But that was not the purpose of the earthquake. No one got away. Paul shouted, “We are all here!”
Even after their wounds were washed, even after a family was baptised (in the middle of the night), even after they had a wonderful meal in the jailer’s house, Paul and Silas was still around.
• They made no attempt to run. They do not want to. It will probably mean death for the jailor, having failed in his duty to secure the prison.
• They stayed until the next morning, the Bible says. Verse 35 “When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.”
On hindsight, there was only one purpose why the earthquake occurred – not to free Paul and Silas, but to save the jailor and his family.
• God wants to save the jailor and his family. He has 2 obedient Christians. He just needs to create the opportunity.
• God works such miracles today. He opens doors – not physical prison doors, but the prison doors of the heart of those who are lost. He breaks down the chains, not physical chains, but the chains of sin that binds the hearts of men.
• God is concerned with a lost man and his family.
God wants to bring freedom to all men, not physical freedom as such but freedom from sin and death, freedom from condemnation and hell.
• And so He sent an earthquake – one that would not only shake the prison but the jailor. One that would not just change his prison but his life, and his family.
• Isn’t God good? Do you believe that He is that good?
If we care to believe it, then we will pray and expect God to work.
• “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”
• It is a promise, but it is a promise that requires faith on your part. Do you really believe that God will do it?
Look at the attitude of Paul and Silas. Let’s back track a little.
• A girl who was possessed were following them and shouting at them for many days. Paul became so troubled that he turned around and commanded the spirit out. And then the crowd came against them, they were arrested, beaten and flogged.
• So by this time, I believe Paul and Silas were emotionally and physically spent, wounded and drained to the last drop. It just doesn’t get much worse than that.
• And that’s why this next verse is so amazing to me. Acts 16:25 says, “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were complaining about their circumstances.” That’s not what it says.
• It says, “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”
Actually, they have no good reasons to be singing here.
• They were victims of the circumstances. They did nothing really wrong (which probably explains why the magistrates decided to release them the next day).
• In fact, Paul did a good thing – he healed a girl possessed by a fortune-telling spirit. But it angered her owners, who have been using her to earn their living. It really doesn’t matter what is ethically or morally correct, or what is good. You have just taken away my source of income.
• They were wrongly accused, beaten and flogged without trial, and thrown into the prison, for a “crime” they did not commit, without any recourse. Now squatting in the cell with your backs bleeding from the wounds.
And we find them singing. They showed no self-pity or resentment.
• They were singing because they were looking at things differently. They were men of faith. Their eyes were on God.
• That FOCUS changes everything. That perspective changes everything. What are you looking at? Who are you looking to?
When you get into a slump, emotionally or spiritually, it is usually because you zoomed in on a problem. You’re fixating on something that has gone bad. Day in and day out you are focusing all your attention on it.
• The solution is to zoom out and get the bigger picture. Look at the big picture.
That’s what the following college student did in writing this letter.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have so much to tell you. Because of the fire in my dorm set off by student riots, I experienced temporary lung damage and had to go to the hospital.
While I was there, I fell in love with a colleague, and we have moved in together. I dropped out of school when I found out I was pregnant, and he got fired because of his drinking, so we’re going to move to Alaska, where we might get married after the birth of our baby.