Thursday, January 24, 2019

Listening in Prison - Part 1

...Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening... Acts 16:22-28

During his second missionary journey, Paul and Silas are in Philippi, a Roman colony, and are arrested for teaching “customs that are illegal” for Romans to practice. They are stripped and beaten then put in the “inner dungeon” in shackles for teaching about Christ. The prison guards are warned to make certain they do not escape.
Spiritual listening invites the Spirit of God within us. - Henri Nouwen
We read in verse 25 that “Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners are listening”. I suspect the guards are also listening. Perhaps they all wonder how these men, beaten and chained inside a prison, could be singing? Or, perhaps they wonder who is this ‘God’ they worship? Certainly the grim surroundings is not stopping Paul and Silas.

Blackaby sums up this perfectly: External circumstances do not determine our joy; joy comes from within, from a relationship with Christ. A Spirit-filled life is characterized by unwavering joy. Joy comes in knowing we have been forgiven of sin, born into the family of God, and we have a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father. Irrespective of circumstances, salvation alone is cause for great rejoicing.

For Paul and Silas, their spiritual listening to God most certainly invites the Holy Spirit into their experiences creating a sense of joy even within grave circumstances. However, their testimony becomes a opportunity for God to work in the lives of those who are listening to them. A couple of questions come to mind: Am I spiritually listening to God and finding the Holy Spirit? Who might be listening to my daily testimony and does it reflect Christ? - dho

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