· It is no accident that when the going gets tough, Christians turn to God honoring poetry that is sung. Paul and Silas get beaten and thrown into a prison cell and midnight finds them ‘praying, hymning to God’. (Acts 16:25) They were ‘sing praying’ if you would. Sometimes our struggles are too deep to formulate prayers so we sing. ‘Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. Nobody knows but my sorrows. Nobody knows but Jesus. Glory Hallelujah!’ (negro spiritual sung during the days of slavery in the south) On a lighter note last week Bob Dylan won a Nobel Prize for his song, ‘Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man’. But it follows the same theme – poetry put to song lifts up the soul. Recently country music legend Randy Travis, as he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, spontaneously broke into song, singing ‘Amazing Grace’ to the amazement of the audience. He cannot speak a complete sentence since his stroke 3 years ago but he can sing glory to God! It moved the audience to tears. Arguably the first hymn to show up in the New Testament is fittingly found in the letter to the Philippians; 2:5-11. It honors the humility of Christ in becoming a man and dying on a cross for our sins. It exults in his glorious exaltation from the grave. Every knee shall bow to Jesus Christ for the glory of God the Father. Kind of lifts us out of our old earthly doldrums doesn’t it? Sometimes it takes a dungeon to bring the worship out of us.
· When the jailor believed (Acts 16) in the Lord Jesus Christ it says that he ‘rejoiced greatly’ with his whole household. The apostle Peter says that we ‘greatly rejoice’ because God in his great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – and we have an inheritance that can never perish kept in heaven for us. He rightly concludes, ‘In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer all kinds of trials.’ Kind of nails it doesn’t he? In this old fallen world my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. Maybe it’s because ‘I can’t feel at home in this world any more’ that I can be really happy! J
· Before we get too far from Paul’s jail experience at Philippi in Acts 16, I’d like to say that he walked proud out of the prison cell. “They have beaten us in public without a trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed? But let them come themselves and bring us out.” (v37) Paul stood up for truth proudly and was not afraid to call on, even demand, that the laws of the land be honored. Social media would shame Christians by saying that we are ‘behind the times’ on certain issues or ‘on the wrong side of history’ with our sexual ethics. These same people would scoff that a holy God holds sinful men responsible for their actions. But we know that Jesus went to the cross to save the whole world from their sins. We speak the truth fearlessly, not fearfully.
So, stand firm when the going gets rough.
Doing my best to joyfully serve Jesus,