The Book Of Acts Is A Book Of Conversions: -- It is the historical record of the apostles fulfilling the Great Commission of Christ, "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15). They did so in Jerusalem, Samaria, Caes-area, and in the uttermost parts of the world. The did so with great success.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were on their Second Journey and came to Troas. There, Paul received a vision of a man saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us" (vs. 9). They set course immediately. While in Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia, they taught and baptized Lydia and her household. This initial success was quickly countered with an altercation with the local law enforcement. Though Paul and Silas were put in jail, they were not set free from their responsibility to preach the gospel of Christ.
Jesus said to "let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Everyone has a light, one that is not meant for hiding but for shining. Never is this more clearly seen than through Paul and Silas' behavior in their dark prison cell.
What can we learn from their shining example? --
You Will Face Many Temptations To Turn Off Your Light: -- Paul and Silas had every right to be discouraged. Their robes were torn off of them, they were beaten with "many blows," thrown into the most secure cell, and had their feet fastened in stocks (Acts 16:22-24). This was a device used to spread the legs as far apart as possible, to ensure cramps and discomfort. What was their reaction in all of this? Did they grumble and compplain? Did they threaten to quit or surrender? "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God" (vs. 25). Their candles were literally burning the midnight oil.
The darkest tmes are when you must shine all the brighter. Your attitude reveals a great deal about your character. Christians ought tobe people who respond differently to tragedy and calamity than the rest of the world. We see the bigger picture. We know God is still in control. We believe He has the power to work everything together for good.
Paul and Silas were singing "hymns of praise to God" in prison. It's as if they were thanking God for the privilege of persecution. When disaster strikes, don't look for the "off" switch. Press "on".
You Never Know Who Can See Your Light: -- The Lord was not the only one hearing their prayers and songs. "And the prisoners were listening to them" (vs. 25). The sounds in their cell were as important as the words of their sermons on the streets. Remember, Paul and Silas had received a vision to go to Macedonia, concluding that God had called them to go preach the gospel there. And they were not about to quit preaching. Even in jail, they saw and opportunity to turn those prisoners into bond-servants of Jesus Christ.
People are watching you, too: in your neighborhood, in your classes, on your team, at your work. They notice that you are different. They don't hear the same words coming out of your mouth that they hear from other people. They don't see you going to the same places and participation in the same activities as those in the world. Or do they...?
While our words are for listening, our deeds are for seeing. Give those around you something good to watch. Let them see Him who is the source of all light.
You Can't Be A Light Without Sending The Light: -- Souls were saved the night Paul and Silas let their light shine. After the earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison, the jailer awoke to find all the doors opened. When he learned that none of the prisoners had escaped, he fell at the feet of Paul and Silas and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved" (vs. 30)? The jailer went to these men with a question he knew they could answer. He could see tht they were living the kind of life they were preaching and singing about.
You have souls to rescue, souls to save. Make sure that people know where to find you. If they can make no distinction be tween you and the rest of the world enslaved in sin, what reason would they have to ask you about salvation (1 Pet. 3:15)? And make certain you're prepared for the opportunity. Paul and Silas "spoke the Word of the Lord to him" that night (vs. 32). How much would their flame had been extinguished had they not been able to answer his question of eternal life?
There are some people whom you alone can reach. Be sure to leave the light on for them. The same jailer who had fastened the feet of Paul and Silas in the stocks was baptized and set free from the bondage of sin. Think about him the next time you are tempted to hide your light under a bushel.
By Bubba Garner in Biblical Insights, Vol. 8, No. No. 11, Nov. 2008.
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