Praise Precedes Breakthrough
Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV) But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. In Acts 16 we read of the account of Paul and Silas being beaten and thrown in jail because they cast a demon out of a slave girl that was following them around for days. This meant the masters of the slave girl would no longer earn money from her because she wasn't under the control of a spirit of divination, and could no longer do fortune-telling. Now that she was free from the demon her masters were very upset with Paul and Silas. So they dragged them to the marketplace and had their clothes torn and we publicly beaten and shamed - all for doing the will of God. We could all agree that Paul and Silas has a few good reasons to begin complaining, but that's not what they chose to do. Rather, they began singing praises to God at midnight and He gave them a "suddenly" moment. An earthquake opened the prison doors and loosed their chains! Freedom was at hand. All because they did the will of God and complained not! But that's not all, salvation was also at hand for their jailer. Acts 16:27-34 (NKJV) And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. The jailer went from suicide to surrender! Then he washed Paul and Silas's wounds, then his family was baptized. What a night! They continued to rejoice and God added another family into His Kingdom because of their obedience. Then the day comes and more good news is at hand! Because of the boldness of the Holy Ghost, Paul refused to leave quietly. He asked for the ones who beat them publicly to free them publicly. Acts 16:37-40 (NKJV) But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed. Their enemies were afraid! Hallelujah! They still chose praise over complaining and even left the prison to go to Lydia's house (a woman that was just converted before the jail incident) to encourage others. Don't let the enemy get you down! If God is for you, who can be against you!?