Intro. Paul and Silas are leading a missions team to bring the gospel to Europe. They are in the Roman colony of Phillipi where they have had some initial success. Their trouble came when Paul cast a demon out of a girl that had been following them, calling out that these men were servants of the most high God who shows us the way of salvation. Paul was not interested in having Satan to be his P.R. man and thus commanded the demon to come out of her. This girl through the demon that possessed her was able to tell fortunes and had brought great profit to her masters. When they saw that she could no longer tell fortunes when the demon was cast out, they brought Paul and Silas to the city magistrates. The charge was that these men who were Jews were troubling the city, teaching customs that were not lawful for them to keep as Roman citizens.
I. THERE WAS AN IMMEDIATE UPROAR FROM THE PEOPLE AND THE MAGISTRATES.
A. The people of Philippi were proud of their relationship with Rome and the advantages that living in a Roman colony brought them.
1. There was an immediate rush to judgment.
2. The magistrates ordered them to be beaten with many stripes and thrown in jail, ordering the jailor to keep them secure.
3. This was contrary to Roman justice upon which Rome prided herself.
4. The magistrates acted foolishly and rashly in ordering such a sentence, without first seeking to ascertain all of the facts.
B. One thing I have learned is not to make a judgment until I have heard both sides of a story.
1. So many times people come in with half-truths or even lies and seek to incite you to a quick judgment.
2. Too many times I have discovered that those quick judgments are wrong.
3. It is a typical sales ploy to get a person to make a decision under pressure before thinking it all the way through.
4. There is another party that is planning to make an offer on the house this afternoon, so if you really think you want it, you had better get your offer in right now.
II. THE JAILOR RECEIVING THAT COMMAND PUT THEM IN THE INNER PRISON AND FASTENED THEIR FEET IN THE STOCKS.
A. Can you think of a more discouraging situation?
1. Far from home.
2. Here on a mission of love.
3. In compassion setting a demon-possessed girl free from her bondage.
4. Trumped up charges.
5. Backs bloody and in pain from the beatings. In the darkness of the inner prison and fastened in the stocks.
6. All of this because you are seeking to obey the command of Jesus to take the good news of salvation and the forgiveness of sin into all the world.
7. I have heard about the Mexican jails, and I would suppose that the jail in Philippi was on that level.
8. The jailor himself seemed to be hard and unfeeling. He is doing his job.
9. They are probably in too much pain to sleep and in too uncomfortable a position being fastened in the stocks.
10. What do you think you would do?
B. At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises unto God. From out of the darkness of the inner prison, the other prisoners heard voices singing praises.
1. That is the victory that only Christ can give in the darkest hours of life.
2. Paul wrote to the Romans that we were more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.
a. This is a good example of being more than a conqueror.
b. We can conqueror the darkest experiences of life, and sing praises after we have been delivered.
c. But to sing praises during the dark night, that is more than a conqueror.
III. GOD'S DIVINE INTERVENTION. SUDDENLY THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE AND THE FOUNDATION OF THE PRISON WAS SHAKEN AND ALL OF THE DOORS WERE OPENED AND THE BONDS LOOSED.
A. When we think of Peter's imprisonment early in the book of Acts, we remember that God sent an angel who loosed Peter from his bonds and as he led Peter out, the doors opened of their own accord.
B. Now with Paul and Silas, God sent an earthquake that accomplished the same purpose. Loosing the bonds and opening the doors.
1. God is not restricted to just one way of accomplishing His purposes.
2. I believe that God does things in different ways so that we will not try to limit God to just one way of working.
3. Jesus in healing the blind.
a. With one He made mud with his spittle and put it in his eye and commanded him to go wash it out.
b. In Matthew 20
, he tells us that Jesus touched their eyes and they could see.
c. In another case he just told the man according to his faith be it done unto him.
d. Yet another case He spit in the man's eyes.
4. It is wrong to try to confine the Lord to doing things just our way or to think that because He did it to me one way, that if He did not do it for you the same way, your experience is not legitimate.
5. People's testimonies of how God worked in their lives are good as long as I do not then think that this is how God does it, and I am looking for a certain experience that someone else testified that they had.
a. Some testify of feeling warm all over.
b. Some testify to having the feeling of that to having warm oil poured over their heads.
c. Still others testify to having the feeling of electrical shocks.
d. These testimonies have a certain amount of sensationalism attached to them and make someone like me feel that I have somehow been shortchanged because I had none of the above.
e. The greatest danger, however, is that I begin to look for some sort of feeling like they described and if I do not get the feeling then thinking that God is not going to work in my behalf.
C. God has ways that you have never dreamed of and resources that you know nothing about.
1. My dad used to be the volunteer chaplin at the Ventura County jail when I was growing up. He would go every Sunday afternoon and hold services for the prisoners.
2. One Sunday as he was talking to the men about the power of prayer, there was a prisoner who was there with a long record and noted for having escaped from prisons all over the country.
3. After my dad left, he turned to the man in the cell with him and said: "Did you hear what that man said, that God can do anything?" "Let's pray and tell God that if He will get us out of this jail by next Sunday, we will go down to where he goes to church." So the two of them knelt and made this deal with God.
4. On Friday the prison guard called out the name of the one man, a Mister Hurst, who was the town drunk, and said, "The judge is in a Christmas spirit and has decided to release you before Christmas." Come on and let's check out.
5. Sunday morning at roll call they called out the other prisoner whose name was Jimmy Reynolds, and told him that he was free to go.
6. That Sunday as we arrived at church, this well-dressed man when he saw my dad drive up, came and opened the door of the car for my mom, and said that he had come to go to church with my dad.
7. My dad invited him home for dinner and then he began to tell us his fascinating stories of a life of crime.
8. Dad made a place in the garage for him to sleep and he stayed with us for a couple of weeks.
a. He would tell stories of how he planned and carried out various bank robberies around the country and how he escaped from various federal and state prisons.
b. I can remember as a little child, how riveted we were to his stories.
c. His parents lived in New York State and were very wealthy. He called them and told them of his conversion, and they sent him some money and toys for all of us kids.
d. When his money arrived he moved on.
e. My dad, after he left, having heard all of these stories of his past, and how he was wanted by the police in so many places, and his prayer for release from prison, asked the sheriff how it was that he was released?
f. The sheriff said, "Oh, Mister Smith that was a mistake, we have been looking for him ever since we released him."
g. He told how they had a card system for each prisoner and that when they had a prisoner that was wanted elsewhere, they would type a red "hold" up in the upper righthand corner of the card. A new trustee had been typing the cards and thought that it would be much neater to type the red "hold" at the bottom of the card rather than in the upper corner, so when they went through the cards that morning, they saw that they had held him as long as they could on the drunk charge and not pulling the card all the way out did not see the red hold.
h. God has ways that you have not dreamed of and resources you know nothing about.
D. Back to Paul and Silas, when the jailor was awakened out of his sleep by the earthquake and seeing the doors opened, he figured that the prisoners had all escaped he pulled out his sword and was ready to commit suicide.
1. It was the law in those days that if a prisoner were committed to your care, and if he escaped, you would have to take his sentence.
2. In Acts 12
, those keepers of the prison from which the Lord freed Peter were put to death.
3. Paul cried to him with a loud voice telling him not to harm himself for they were all there.
4. The jailor called for a light and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, and asked, "What must I do to be saved?"