Summary: We never really know how strong our relationship with God is until we face a severe trial. The darkest times -- our midnights --are the times when our faith is proven. Paul & Silas discovered God was enough at midnight.
THEOLOGY AT MIDNIGHT
A. HUMOR: IF ONLY 4 WEEKS TO LIVE
1. A Bible study group was discussing the possibility of sudden death. The Group Leader asked, "What would you do if you knew you only had 4 weeks of life remaining before your death, and your Judgment Day?"
2. One man said, "For those 4 weeks, I would go out into my community and tell everyone the Good News of Jesus." "That’s wonderful," said the group leader.
3. A lady said, "For those 4 weeks, I’d dedicate all of my remaining time to serving my family, my church, and my fellow man with a greater conviction." "Great!" the group leader said.
4. A truck driver at the back spoke up, "I would travel throughout the United States with my mother-in-law in a Ford Escort, and stay in a Motel 6 every night."
5. Everyone was puzzled by his answer. "Why would you do that?" the group leader asked.
6. "Because," the man smiled sarcastically, "it would be the longest 4 weeks of my life."
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 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 everybody's chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!" 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.” Acts 16:29-32
C. THESIS - YOUR FAITH: REAL OR THEORETICAL
1. You discover your theology at midnight. Until then, it's all theoretical. When midnight comes, you discover the difference between theory and reality.
2. The story as told in Acts 16 goes like this. After casting an evil spirit out of a slave girl, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for disrupting the peace.
3. They were beaten, thrown in jail, put under close guard, and placed in the inner cell with their feet bound in stocks.
4. Parallel: a college student who studies the game of baseball in kinesiology gets a pretty good understanding about how baseball is played, but until they actually get on a field and play the game – it’s only theoretical
5. We can read the Bible, gain knowledge, form beliefs, acquire faith – but it’s never until we’re put in a trial that challenges our faith that we find out how genuine it is.
6. At that moment it’s too late to search the Scriptures; you probably won’t have time to send an email or contact your friends on Facebook or Twitter.
7. It’s in that lonely moment, you discover your “Theology At Midnight.”
I. RESPONSE TO TROUBLES
A. COMMITMENT TO OUR MISSION
1. The first thing we notice, is that Paul & Silas didn’t begin to question whether God had messed up or whether they had miss-heard God. They assumed that since God had led them there, that was still God’s will for them.
2. Major Ian Thomas, founder of Torchbearers International, told what his fundamental philosophy of the Christian life was:
Go where you're sent,
Stay where you're put,
Give what you've got.
3. This eliminates the “Me-centered” attitude of most Americans whose main thought about church is, “What’s in it for me?” instead of “Where do you want me to serve, Lord?”
4. American churches are plagued with lack of commitment. People change churches over the most trivial
complaints: “I’m not fed” “This church doesn’t have the programs I want.”
5. God has called us to First Assembly of God Church. This is the field God has called us to work. Yes, there are others fields and some may be better-looking fields, but God has called us to work THIS FIELD!
6. We should “Go where we're sent, Stay where we're put, and give what we've got.” If God’s the Boss, we should listen and obey what He says.