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The Scriptorium

Slandered, Beaten, Jailed, Singing

Here's how to handle adversity. Acts 16.19-30

The Gospel to Europe (5)

Pray Psalm 54.1-3.
Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them.
Selah

Sing Psalm 54.1-3.
(Beatitudo: Father of Mercies, in Your Word)
Save us, O God, by Your great Name; vindicate us with power.
Answer our prayer, remove our shame, in this our desperate hour.

Strangers and foes against us rise, threatening woe and strife.
They have not set You in their eyes, but seek to take our life.

Read Acts 16.1-30; meditate on verses 19-30.

Preparation

1. What happened to Paul and Silas?

2. How did they respond?

Meditation
As we might have expected, the owners of this now demon-free little girl became irate at Paul’s having brought their little gambit to an abrupt end. So they dragged him and Silas before the local authorities and trumped up some half-truth to get even with them (v. 19).

As the crowd heated up (v. 22), the magistrates stripped and beat Paul and Silas with rods and threw them in jail – no hearing, no trial, no opportunity to explain themselves (vv. 23, 24). What would you and I have done? Probably sulked in our cell and feared what tomorrow might bring. Perhaps we would have prayed, but the prayers would have been for our safety and wellbeing, I suspect. Paul and Silas? They sang (v. 25).

God’s thunderous, earth-shaking response to the singing of Paul and Silas was a resounding indication of His approval of their faith (v. 26). The jailer prepared to kill himself because that would have been easier than the punishment he expected from the Romans (cf. Acts 12.19). Paul stayed his hand, however, and the jailer fell down before him with that classic question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (vv. 27, 28)

It does not please the Lord for His evangelists to be supplied with “earthquake in a jar” to set people up for the Gospel. It pleases Him for us to live by faith and to respond in faith and rejoicing to all the outward circumstances of our lives, be they ever so dire. Paul and Silas were singing about the salvation they possessed and they longed for others to know. God moved heaven and earth to reach one man and his household with the Good News of salvation (vv. 29, 30).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Paul and Silas were falsely accused. Beaten. Bloodied. And locked with their feet fastened in the stocks.  In a dark prison (Acts 16.23, 24). And to show their complete rage with all this injustice and pain, they were praying and singing hymns to God (Acts 16.25). Typical behavior? I think not.

In fact, the astounding thing is, the jailer’s question. Mainly what it wasn’t. It was not, “Where can I get the same lawyer?” Or, “Tell me again your plan for retaliation.”

No. Paul and Silas had so proclaimed the message and power of Jesus Christ by their response to this situation, that the first question the jailer had was: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Their attitude, their demeanor, their courage, and their joy screamed that they lived in another realm. One that was inhabited by them with their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Do our lives scream the same thing?

“I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope” (Ps. 16.8, 9).

“I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end” (Ps. 119.112).

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink,” [or are stuck in some loathsome prison], “or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10.31).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2.10).

“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5.15-18).

If we truly believe the words of Scripture, and we live accordingly, then our lives too, will scream that we live for the Savior. So that when we are slandered, beaten, or jailed, we also will be singing!

And then observants will ask us, “What must I do to be saved?”

For reflection
1. What do we learn from Paul and Silas about dealing with trials and adversity?

2. In what ways is it clear to the people in your Personal Mission Field that you dwell in another realm?”

3. Whom can you encourage today to trust in the Lord and rest in the joy of their salvation?

No trouble, however grievous, should hinder us from praise. Christianity proves itself to be of God, in that it obliges us to be just to our own lives. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 16.25-34

Pray Psalm 54.4-7.
Pray for persecuted believers around the world. Call on the Lord to help and uphold them, and to give them strength to persevere amid their trials as followers of and witness to Jesus.

Sing Psalm 54.4-7.
(Beatitude: Father of Mercies, in Your Word)
You are the Helper of our soul; You will sustain and bless.
Recompense evil to our foe in Your great faithfulness.

Willingly will we praise You, Lord, gladly adore Your Name!
You have redeemed us by Your Word and blessed us by the same.

From all our trouble, by Your grace, You have redeemed us, Lord.
While all our foes in sad disgrace reel backward from Your Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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