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Saturday/Sunday: September 12, 2022

The Others are Listening

"Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us!' So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there." (Acts 16:6-10)

I think all Christians want to do a big thing for God. We all have a wonderful idea in our mind of how we can serve the Lord i.e. start an Instagram of Biblical encouragement, start a small group among girls in our city, write a book on our testimony. The list of wonderful ideas goes on and on. But if the assignment hasn’t come straight from the Lord, our “big thing” is most likely self-serving in some way even though the intention may be good.

After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, He appeared to His disciples and gave them their assignment – the Great Commission. “Therefore, go and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

So if I am Paul and I have been commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to go to ALL nations and preach the Gospel…doesn’t that include the province of Asia? They physically went to the border and the Spirit of Jesus prevented them from going there.

Fast forward to Acts 16:16, Paul and Silas were going to a place of prayer and were followed by a woman who was known to be able to tell the future. She walked behind them saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” This continued for days and finally Paul commanded the demon to come out. (Let’s go Paul!) This angered her masters because they could no longer profit off her “ability” to tell fortunes. So her masters stirred a mob and Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in prison. They were placed in the inner dungeon, feet shackled to the ground, to make sure they could not escape.

If I'm Paul (thank goodness I'm not because I would have failed miserably), I would be thinking “Soo Jesus you told me to spread the Good News to all nations, I tried to go to Asia, You said no go to Macedonia, I said okay and now I am all bruised and sitting in a prison cell in a foreign country. What the heck is the purpose of this?! I am trying to serve you yet I get to suffer in prison!”

“Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked ‘Sir, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved along with everyone in your household.’ And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized… The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer “Let those men go!” Acts 16:25-35

Paul had a God-centered, others-considered view. When God directs you to go where you don’t want to go, look at the people around you. The people placed in our lives are not placed there by mistake. Our day-to-day actions are testimonies to the love and grace of Jesus Christ. How do we handle ourselves when we are beaten, wrongly accused and thrown in prison? Do we sing hymns and pray out loud so the people around us hear and see God’s goodness? Or do we pout and curse in the corner why God could ever put us in this position? All our “prisons” look different – maybe your husband has been in Triple A for so long and you think he’s ready for the big leagues and you want to serve God there, maybe you want the promotion at work and to serve God by leading but you're still in the cubicles, maybe you've been dating your boyfriend for 4 years and are ready to serve God in marriage, but your boyfriend isn’t quite there yet. All our prisons look different but if we step back and look at things from God’s view, we are going to see so many people around us that need encouragement in Jesus, maybe even in the exact same way we do.

We can serve God from wherever we are. We are placed perfectly where God wants us in that very moment. Satan wants to distract us by getting us to focus on ourselves. Let’s not miss out on the work God has for us, even if we don’t want to be there, by focusing on ourselves. The way we handle ourselves in our prison has the potential to save a life for eternity. Each prison holds a testimony. I believe as Paul and Silas were sitting in that prison they noticed each prisoner there, including the jailer. I believe Paul and Silas saw their suffering so worth it even if only one person came to know Jesus that night. All that is recorded in Acts 16 is that the jailer and all his household were saved, but may we not forget that “the other prisoners were listening.” We all have people in our lives that are listening and watching us, especially if they know we are believers.

As women in Christ, may we be examples of His grace and His strength, even in the midst of our prisons. The others are listening.

Suggested Listening: “My Kind Forever – Live” – Bethel Music

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for giving us perspective through Paul's story. May we live in such a way that no matter what happens, everyone around us is drawn to your glory.

Suggested Reading: 2 Corinthians 12: 1-10

Kendall Oelfke

Baseball Chapel
P.O. Box 10102
Largo, FL 33773

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