In Acts 16 we find Paul and Silas falsely accused, beaten and throw into prison with their feet locked in chains. You would think they were on the FBI’s top 10 list. But they were much more dangerous than that.
They preached the Gospel and cast out demons. Hell can’t stand up to that power.
So, tossed into prison without good cause, what did Paul and Silas do? Around midnight they had a praise and worship session while the other prisoners listened. They didn’t pray, “Oh, Lord, look upon our circumstances. We were falsely accused, beaten, put in prison with vile, dangerous criminals. Please show your favor upon us and get us outta here.” No pity party there. They praised God in spite of their circumstances. How can you do that? By knowing who God is and that He loves you while working out all things for our good if we love Him.
For Paul and Silas God caused a great earthquake shaking the foundations of the prison, opening all of the gates and loosening all of the prisoner’s chains. The poor guard woke to such a shock seeing the gates open and thinking everyone had escaped that he was about to kill himself. Then the most amazing thing in verse 28. “But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
Amazing. No prisoner escaped. I’m sure they weren’t all innocent. Some were probably wicked, dangerous men. They had a perfect opportunity to hit the road, but they didn’t. Why not? Why wouldn’t guilty men awaiting the death penalty, beatings, enslavement, or at least long prison terms jump at the first chance at freedom? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I have a theory.
They were awestruck by the power of God. Remember, they were listening to Paul and Silas sing praises to God and then suddenly the earthquake happened. They knew it wasn’t a coincidence. They were filled with wonder by the manifest power and glory of God.
Where has that wonder gone?
And I’m not asking that about non-believers. I ask it on behalf of those of us who claim to follow the Great I Am. Where has that wonder gone?
Do we believe that God stopped manifesting His power when the Bible went to press? God’s not dead. He’s surely alive. And because He is alive, He is still working miracles amongst those with the faith to believe He will and He can. God isn’t just keeping our mansion in Heaven swept until we arrive. He’s still wanting to work through the lives of those with the faith to believe. Even churches today seem lackluster in their enthusiasm for who God is and what He can do. A few years ago I attended a Christmas Eve service to hear the greatest story ever told; the story that saves, that heals, that restores, that redeems, that transforms, that breaks generational strongholds, that resurrects, that renews, and it seemed as if the pastor was bored delivering the message. I certainly was.
Our culture, our nation has drifted so far from God that it feels like the Church is getting pulled out with the same tide. Where is the righteous anger from the pulpit about the egregious abortion laws being passed in various states across the nation? That’s another topic. But it goes back to the main idea. We’ve lost our awestruck wonder of who God is and His power. We’ve lost reverence for Him. We’ve lost our fear of Him. We treat him like a kitten when He’s a fierce lion. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis from Chronicles of Narnia, He’s good. He’s the King, but of course He’s not safe.
Our nation, our Churches need to wake up or this evil tide sweeping our land is going to drown us and bring the wrath of God that we deserve.
We need to wake up to His wonder. And if you don’t believe that God still performs miracles today, ask me. I have at least 3 personal ones that I can share with you.
They will leave you awestruck.