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After Paul and Barnabas parted company, Paul chose a man named Silas to go with him as he traveled to many cities. They encouraged and strengthened the communities of God all along their way.
They traveled to new places, as well as to places they’d been to before. Along the way, Paul invited a man named Timothy to join them… and at some point a man named Luke, also. The Holy Spirit would stop them from going to some places and draw them to go into other places.
Eventually, they went into a city called Philippi. One day, as they were looking around for people praying, there along a river they met a woman named Lydia. Lydia and her whole household believed in Jesus and were baptized.
Lydia begged Paul and those with him, “Please, please, come stay in my house.” And they did.
While there in Philippi, Paul also helped a hurting young lady. But some selfish, greedy people were mad at Paul for helping her. They grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them to the city rulers saying, “These men are throwing our city into confusion because they’re Jews, and not Romans.”
The rulers had Paul and Silas beaten with long sticks and thrown into prison. They told the jailer, “If these prisoners escape, you will be in big trouble!” So the jailer took Paul and Silas into the deepest, darkest part of the prison and locked up their feet so they couldn’t stand up or walk around.
Their bodies hurt badly with owies from being beaten. Do you think Paul and Silas were sad or afraid? Do you think they cried and felt sorry for themselves? No.
Paul and Silas didn’t stew and brew about the mean people. And they didn’t moan and groan about their owies. Instead, they chose to see their situation with Heaven-Eyes. They saw that God was still good, God was still in charge, and God was still deeply involved in their lives. THAT never changed!
So Paul and Silas did what they always did, they talked to God together and sang songs to Him. So there it was in the middle of the night, and Paul and Silas were sing, sing, singin’ and thank, thank, thanking God for His deep love.
I’m so glad I’m free I’m so glad I’m free And now the law of sin and death does not apply to me I’m so glad I’m free
The other prisoners listened. They had never heard another prisoner be happy enough to sing!
I don’t really know what song Paul and Silas sang. But I picked that song because anyone who lets Jesus be their King, can always be free on the inside, even when they feel very bad on the outside. Like Paul told the Galatians, Jesus has set you free, so that you will really be FREE!
Free to live. Free to die. Free to give. Free to not sin. Free to love. That’s a Freedom Jesus gives on the inside, no matter what is happening on the outside.
So Paul and Silas weren’t singing because “that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.” And they weren’t singing to try to get the other prisoners to believe in Jesus too. They were just worshipping because that’s where their hearts were with Jesus.
And even if Jesus doesn’t live inside you just yet, right now you can start cultivating that kind of love and trust and gratitude for all the good in your life. It’s a choice to worship. To come to Daddy’s lap in all circumstances.
God was listening, too. While Paul and Silas were singing, God decided to have a little fun.
God made the prison tremble with a big earthquake — shake, rumble, crumble!!! Then all of a sudden, the prison doors busted open and all the prisoners’ chains came loose.
All that rumbling woke up the jailer. “Wh-wh-what’s going on!?” he said as he ran out and saw all the prison doors open.
The jailer was so afraid, he started to tremble. He thought all the prisoners had escaped and that he would be in huge trouble.
But Paul shouted to him and said, “Jailer, sir. No worries! We’re all still here!”
Why didn’t Paul and Silas make a run for it? Wasn’t this earthquake God’s way of getting them out of jail like when the angel broke Peter out of jail?
Not this time. Paul and Silas had learned to not let assumptions or adrenaline make their decisions. Just like the Spirit of God would draw them alongside to go or not go into certain cities, the Spirit also urged them to stay right where they were.
The jailer still trembled, not because he would be in trouble with the rulers, but because he could see that he was in trouble with an Almighty GOD… because of his sins. The jailer fell to the ground and asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what do I need to do to be saved?”
Paul and Silas told him, “Believe in Jesus, and you’ll be saved. The rest of your household can believe and be saved too!” Then Paul and Silas told the jailer and his household more of God’s Good News.
The jailer washed the blood off Paul and Silas’ owies, and then (even though it was still the middle of the night) the jailer and his whole household had their sins washed away in baptism.
The jailer took Paul and Silas into his house and fed them a nice, yummy meal. Do you think the jailer was sing, sing, singing now too!? Yes. I imagine he was.
Once the sun came up, the rulers sent their police officers to the prison, saying, “You can release those two men.”
So the jailer gladly told Paul that they were free to go. But Paul said to the police officers, “No way. They had us beaten unfairly in front of everyone — even though we are Roman citizens — and they threw us in prison. And now they want to send us away quietly? Absolutely not! They must come and escort us out nicely!”
“Roman citizens? Oh no, we didn’t know that.” The police officers hurried back and told the rulers what Paul had said. They were now the ones trembling, because they had broken the Roman laws of the land by hurting Paul and Silas without a fair trial.
Do you know what those rulers did next? They hightailed it over to that prison and started escorting Paul and Silas out nicely. “We’re so sorry. Uhh... We didn’t know you were Roman citizens. We didn’t mean to break Roman laws. Uhh… Please don’t get us into any trouble. But would you please just get out of here… you know… LEAVE this city.”
But Paul and Silas didn’t leave. Instead, they went right back to Lydia’s house, where they encouraged God’s Family there.
I’m so glad I’m free I’m so glad I’m free And now You’re making me the person I was meant to be I’m so glad I’m free