Acts 16:25-26 (AMP)
But about midnight when Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; suddenly there was a great earthquake, so [powerful] that the very foundations of the prison were shaken and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.
The apostle Paul writes quite often about the mystery of the gospel. He reveals truths to us about why Christ came and what His Kingdom means. The disciples were short-sighted enough to think that He was going to overthrow the Roman government and bring the Jews back to power in Israel.
Jesus told them all along the way that they were made for more than an earthly king. He said, “The Kingdom of God is near,” repeatedly.
In Luke 21:34-36 (NIV), when Jesus speaks of the signs of the temple destruction and end times, he warns the disciples:
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Paul understood why Jesus used this peculiar statement: “The Kingdom of God is near.” Jesus said it so that when trouble comes, we can access its power. It’s near because when you receive the gift of salvation, you become a member of the Kingdom. You take on the Spirit of Christ. That Kingdom lives within you.
Jesus wants you to access it when the “anxieties of life” weigh you down.
In today’s focus scripture of Acts 16:25-26, that mystery Jesus revealed to His disciples is exactly what keeps Paul and Silas going through a tragic time in their ministry.
They were en route to a time of refreshment and reflection at Lydia’s house (she was a businesswoman) and a servant woman with a demon in her followed them on their way. She’d been following them for days and kept yelling at them.
Acts 16:17 reports that she is following them, screaming and shouting: “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” (Acts 16:17, AMP).
That’s actually good news, but it was becoming a major distraction to Paul’s mission—to preach the Gospel. He reacts and casts out the demon.
The townspeople turn on him and Silas because they profited from this woman’s ability to tell fortunes. So, the two disciples are arrested, beaten, and thrown in jail.
They’re in prison for preaching the gospel and freeing a woman from a spirit that twisted her spirituality. Paul and Silas are in an uncomfortable situation—beaten, under guard, and uncertain of their future because of what they preached.
However, instead of dwelling on their misfortune, they do something mysterious and remarkable. Let’s recall the second part of today’s passage, which reports that “…suddenly there was a great earthquake, so [powerful] that the very foundations of the prison were shaken and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened”(Acts 16:26, AMP).
It’s easy to get caught up in the miracles here. Chains broken. Doors opened. A prison destroyed. But the really great stuff here is the peculiar thing Paul and Silas were doing in their circumstances of misery—they were praying and singing instead of fearing, worrying, doubting, or lamenting.
Our lives all have that annoying voice—circumstances, trials, emotional turmoil, physical ailments—following us around, yelling at us. It’s enough to make you snap. But Paul and Silas do something different. Here’s a guideline for all of us for how to find God in the midst of all of the distractions around us:
1. Fight for your position as a child of God. When you are saved, you are given an inheritance as a co-heir with Christ. Own that identity. When circumstances scream at you, scream back with this truth.
2. Live in the Kingdom of God. You are full of the Spirit. That’s His job in you—to remind you whose you are and for whom you were made—eternity with God.
3. Remember the Spirit is a permanent resident in you. Surrender to the Spirit and not your problems and circumstances. That’s how Satan grabs a foothold with you.
4. Make your eternity more important than your today. Take care more of eternity than you do of time. That means it’s your job to focus on faith today instead of the minutia of this world.
When you simply keep your focus on God, He will be your protector, and the troublesome days you experience will only be temporary!