Day 27 – Acts 16:25-26

“Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.” Acts 16:25-26 Message

When I read stories like Paul and Silas I feel like all my excuses for not being grateful are exposed for what they really are. If I have a bad day I am often so quick to grumble and complain. If things don’t go my way, or as fast as I want, the raw nature of the person I do not want to be comes rising to the surface. Long lines up bug me, slow drivers disturb me, high maintenance believers exhaust me and all of these things expose how shallow or how deep gratitude runs in me. Sometimes I am disappointed to admit, it is pretty shallow and often movable.
Then I look at Paul and Silas, not to judge or be hard on myself but to remind my heart that there is a better way. One that leads to life. One that sees God in every circumstance, and not absent in the moments of trouble. You see, if I can’t shout to God’s reality when the guy ahead of me is moving slow, then how will I ever shout to God’s glory when I am bound, beaten, and living an injustice in my life? If I can’t be grateful when things don’t go my way, how will I respond when real pain and suffering is given to me? I will be off in a corner licking my wounds and telling God and the world how unfair life has treated me. Somehow, I must truly understand this journey of gratitude and how it will affect every area of my life.
True gratitude will give you the ability to sit in a season of misunderstanding, injustice, and personal pain and give you the ability to rejoice in your God. I am not implying that Paul and Silas were happy to be in that place, but they understood something, if they belonged to God, and they were there, God must be up to something. So, why not rejoice? Why not sing? Why not celebrate?
Their focus on God and their song in the night caused heaven to move on their behalf, but also brought an entire family into the kingdom of God. (V.31)
When I consider this, I realize how selfish I really am at times. So much of the stuff in life I don’t like, I want to get out of because I am uncomfortable. Yet, what if there is a family God has hiding that will come to the kingdom because of my praise, because of my gratitude?
The enemy wants us to believe that being grateful is no big deal, after all everyone has bad days, right? Well, even if that is true, it is never an excuse for not finding God and offering Him our gratitude whether in a frustrating line up, or in the dark dungeon of injustice. Every moment is the right time to offer praise and thanksgiving to a God who sees and knows what we can’t.
Maybe right now expressing that gratitude would be a good place to start.

Today I am grateful for His constant reminders to rise higher. I am thankful that He challenges my excuses and reveals them for what they are. I am blessed because men and women have gone before me and left me a legacy to follow, revealing that when Jesus is kept in focus, I can express gratitude in the most unlikely moments. Thank you Jesus for those even today in this generation who are enduring chains and remaining faithful to your name. Thank you for the reminder that this is not about me, but about you and the Honour of your Name.


  1. Reply
    Pat McRae says:

    Today’s reading makes me think of the 21 young men beheaded for their faith in Jesus. We read the Bible accounts of the disciples and others enduring hardship but I for one never thought I would see it in my lifetime. I wondered what they did in their prison cells. Did they sing to each other, and pray? Did they recount this account and wait for the jail to shake? Did others hear their praise and prayers to the lover of their souls? What would I do? Questions that are hard to answer!
    The Holy Spirit asked me a question while I sat pondering these and reading the different translations of the same account. He asked me if I saw it? Saw what? Then in His grace and mercy He showed me!
    We all if we are truthful, or some if not, live in a prison cell created by us, in some area of our life. We know we do not have the freedom in that area of our life that we should have or that we real want to have. We have shook the cell door and it rattles but it doesn’t seem to open. Our feet won’t take us out because they seem weighted down? We want out of addictions, eating junk foods, wasting time, sleepiness, over scheduling our free time, laziness and the list goes on, and on and on. So in this prison, self made, we wait for someone to come along and let us out. We wish it would happen, today, but we do nothing to help ourselves. We don’t even cry out a feeble help. We dream of freedom and talk to a friend about it happening, but the more we look the darker the cell and the harder it is to dream of being free. Our words even start to sound silly to us. A cell made from the lies of the enemy. Lies which we have received as truth.
    BUT Paul and Silas knew the enemies tactics and gave him no room to move into their cell. When the night was the darkest and the coolest and the enemy’s workers were out in full force, Paul and Silas were praying? I wonder what they were praying about. All I know is it was those prayers that filled them with hope and the presence of the King of kings. It was out of these prayers praise so powerful arose.
    Now this is what the Holy Spirit showed me! The other prisoners were listening!!!!!oh can’t you just see it now! One is yelling, “Shut up I want to sleep!” Another is yelling rude remarks and yet another is trying very hard to remain neutral. Another is listening attentively, trying to understand what these guys have because he wants it. And another one is telling everyone to quiet down he wants breakfast in the morning.
    I have always seen the two miracles 1. Men in a prison praying and praising the one true God and 2. An earthquake big and powerful enough to shake the prison so all the prisoners were freed.
    What I did ‘t realize is that this is a today account for each of us! As we pray and praise in our self created cells others are watching and listening. The prayer and praise will bring the spiritual earthquake that will free you and it will also free those watching. So let’s remember the next time the night seems extremely dark and the cell door appears to be locked, that we have the keys that will turn the light on nice and bright, will break the shackles that try to hold us captive, and will swing the door of our cell and many more cells wide open.
    I am thankful for these keys of the Kingdom (prayer and praise) that will not only free me, they will free others as well. I am thankful for how the Holy Spirit shows me the hidden treasures in passages of Scripture. So many times I have read this and the light just came on! I love it! My smile is so large and my spirit is singing! Today I am thankful my cell door is open, the Light shines bright, the weighty shackles sit in the corner and the lies on the wall are coming down, being replaced with the truth of God’s Word. Now my cell is a prayer closet and a room of praise. But the best part of all is others are watching, listening and soon will be free also!!!
    Hallelujah we have such an awesome God!!!

  2. Reply
    Susan Craig says:

    I have to confess that the past 2 days have been difficult ones-feeling shackled and in prison as I recalled the dark years of depression and grief. Just writing about those years had me reliving memories of pain and despair and tears flowed when I remembered the deep sense of loss I had(and still do)felt when my Mom passed away. Why I am mentioning it today is that I made a decision to pray for release of those feelings and asked God to replace them with a positive viewpoint instead. Today I am claiming release from that prison that kept me captive for way too long-victory is mine through Christ Jesus. My mother would not want me spending any more of my time in sadness and pain. I remember the wonderful times we had together when she was well. I also remember her christian testimony and love for the Lord and His people. She was a Godly woman and is free from her prison of pain in this life and is with Her Lord. She is happy so I will be happy too-with the Lord’s help it is possible. I choose joy over despair,happiness over sadness and singing over silence. Praising my Savior for what He is doing in my life and for the freedom from the chains that bound me for way too long. I believe in the power of God to tear down strongholds and free us from the grip of our enemy. Satan has no hold over me because I am a child of the most high God.Satan knows he is going down to the pits of hell to spend eternity there. But not me-my destiny is Heaven thanks be to Jesus who redemmed me and set me free. Praising my Savior all the day and night long!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Reply
      Susan Holmes says:

      Susan, this evening I choose to give thanks for your coments above. One of my memories of you during our time at ‘X’ is of you sitting in front of the children at St. James Church singing a song that I believe you had written. It starts, “God speaks to me when I am down, He tells me not to where a frown ….” Of course there were more words to your song & someday when I pull out the cassette (Jim’s dad was the radio station engineer & had recorded the service that day) I might write them out. I don’t recall seeing many frowns on the cildren’s faces that Sunday morning as you shared the gift God had given you with the children.
      As I read this I feel the excitment of one standing at the prison gates as you toss the shackles off and walk out a free woman. It’s really too bad there is so much distance between NS & Alberta because I would love to give you a huge hug.
      I think part of the reason your comments give me so much joy is that, like so many others, I have been on both sides of those prison gates. I know the oppression of the shackles and I know the joy of feeling them slide off my arms & away from my feet as they crumble at God’s words. This isn’t to say that I have arrived. As I feel that release in one area of my life, I realize there are others where I need to recognize my chains & make that decision to praise my way to freedom. Like Paul, I need to practice praising more in the prison.
      Thank you for sharing your joy with us. I am looking forward to hearing your song again someday … a new song that God has placed in you heart … a seed that grew during those times of darkness & despair & blossomed into a triumphant anthem of joy! 😀

      • Reply
        Susan Craig says:

        Thank you Sue for your comments-you have no idea how much joy I feel when I remember those days long ago at X. I was young and was very much in love with the Lord-He was so close to me in those years. The thing I must say is that He never moved away from me-ever. I moved away from Him and then struggled for years trying to find my way back-not realizing that He was with me all the way-that He never left my side. I will send you the words to that song-it has been years since I have sung it. The music and my guitar have been missing from my life for too long. I have brushed off my newest guitar and am playing it once more thanks to your encouragement and the Lord’s prompting in my heart. Who knows where this will lead but I am feeling more like the girl I used to be all those years ago-it is exciting!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Reply
    Sue Holmes says:

    Picture this …
    Paul & Silas sit in a dark, rat-infested prison at midnight praying & singing. Singing? Really?
    The verse preceding (v24) says that they were put in the ‘inner prison’. That is where all the prisoners were kept at night time. This most likely meant little or no ventilation in an overcrowded prison cell. It would have been damp. They most likely sat in their own feces (just keeping it real). The smell was probably putrid & attracted flies & other insects. We are also told that their legs were in stocks. I cringe to imagine the chafing and pain. Their flesh was probably raw in spots & maybe leaning towards being infected.
    And they sat there praying & singing! The carnal side of me wants to dismiss these two weary travelling evangelists as delusional. After all they had been on the road, they had dealt with demonic harrassment, hauled before the magistrate, stripped & severely beaten, humiliated & then placed in the inner prison.
    And they sang!! They didn’t sing a funeral dirge or some sad “somebody done me wrong” song. We are told that they sang a ROBUST hymn!! The enemy will throw thoughts out there like, “How could they do that?”, “They probably didn’t know what they were doing.” But we have Paul & Silas’s story & it is a story of redemption, celebration & gratitude. Gratitude will naturally produce a song of praise & joy. Nehemiah reminded us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength”. Paul & Silas had an abundance of that joy.
    So what about my story? I have to admit to areas of selfishness in my life where I might choose to whine rather than rejoice & praise God. Areas that in no way whatsoever would compare to what Paul & Silas endured. Areas that have at times lacked in gratitude. I have found excuses more readily at hand than real reasons. Paul & Silas humble me.
    I thank God tonight for His word. I am thankful that His promises are sure. He has promised the strength to endure any ‘prison cell’ we find ourselves in & promised that we won’t be there without Him. I thank Him for the heroes of the faith like Paul & Silas. And I thank Him that He forgives my areas of selfishness that are undoubtedly born of unthankfulness.

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