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The Prison Experiences Of The Bible
THE PRISON OF HIS PRAISES
Having lost in a fire virtually everything they owned, the Spafford family made
new plans, including a move from
In spite of much careful preparation, Mr.
Spafford's plans suddenly dissolved when the ship carrying his loved ones was
rammed by another vessel and sank, carrying his four beloved daughters to the
bottom. His wife arrived in
At that place, Horatio Spafford took a pen and paper and wrote these words while passing over the spot where his daughters perished:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It took great faith for Horatio Spafford to write those words. God took the worse prison experience of his life and turned it into a prison of praise and hope.
Paul and Silas found themselves in a difficult prison of oppression and suffering. In that prison they experienced the great grace of God. They received everything they needed transform a prison of pain into a prison of praise. I would like to examine their experience for a little while today. It may be that someone here is locked away in a prison of pain. I want you to see that God can take your pain and turn it into praise for His glory. Let’s notice some of the facts pointed out in this passage as we think on the subject: The Prison Of His Praises.
A. v. 19-21 The Misery Of The Accusations – Ill. The context. Paul and Silas are falsely accused by selfish men, who cared for nothing but money. These men did not care for the poor demon possessed of whom they made their living. They were not above lying and scheming to exact revenge on those they felt had done them wrong.
The problem with their story is the fact that nothing those men said about Paul and Silas was the truth. All they had done was preach the Gospel and set a poor tortured soul free from bondage. They were doing their best to serve the Lord and still trouble came. Have you ever been there?
B. v. 22-23
The Misery Of The Arrest
C. v. 24 The Misery Of The Accommodations
Most likely, they would have been thrown into a deep, dark cell that would have been the nastiest place you could ever imagine. They would have been chained amid mud, filth and human waste. It would have been a dank, dark, dreary, dirty, disgusting, dangerous dungeon. They were there for no other reason but for faithful, obedient service to the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you ever been there?
I know that I touch this note a lot in my preaching, but God never said this
life would be easy. The Bible is very clear that the opposite would be true. Ecc. 2:17, “Therefore I hated life; because
the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity
and vexation of spirit.” Ecc.
2:23, “For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart
taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.” Other verses teach the same truth,
Jesus told His disciples that
trouble was not a possibility; it was an absolute certainty,
There are going to be some rough times along the way. There will be some hard times, times when trials and suffering will dominate you life. There will be times when you will do your best to serve the Lord, but He will still put you in a prison situation. It will be a place of misery and suffering. Sometimes it will be worse than you can ever imagine. Spouses die, diseases come, children rebel, marriages fail, and sometimes life hurts. And all the good deeds, good prayers, good hopes, good wishes, and good thoughts will not be able to prevent you from going into a prison experience from time to time.
I know that is not what anyone wants to hear, but those are the facts as the Bible declares them. There will be some places of misery along the path of life. Have you ever been there?
If you have, I need to tell you that you will probably go there again. If you haven’t I can say that you will go there some. If you are there right now, I want you to know that there is hope in your place of misery.)
II. v. 25 IT IS A PLACE OF MINISTRY
Place Of Personal Ministry – When Paul and Silas found themselves in
this prison experience, they were hurting, humiliated and in need of some
encouragement. After all, they had followed the Lord to
These men knew something that so many
saints never get a handle on. They knew the best place to find the help of a
Friend in a difficult situation is to turn to the throne of grace. The saints
have a Friend Who cares deeply about them, Heb.
4:15-16. He has promised to hear their prayers, Jer. 33:3. He has promised to answer their prayers,
When you find yourself locked away in a prison experience, you can always find a friend Who cares and Who is available to help you. Learn to lean on Him in prayer and your prison will be transformed.
B. A Place Of Profound Ministry – As they prayed, their prison was transformed from a place of pain into a place of praise. Paul and Silas began to sing songs of praise unto the Lord. We do not know what they sang, but we can be sure that they did not sing “Gloom, despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck we’d have no luck at all. Doom, despair and agony on me.”
These men are in a terrible predicament.
They have been serving the Lord faithfully. They followed Him even when His
will did not make sense to them. Now they are in a prison because they did the
right thing. They are in a prison because they have been lied about. They are
in a prison, wounded, bleeding and chained. Yet, they are filled with the
praises of the Lord. They had learned the profound truth of
Ill. Charles Spurgeon said, “Any fool can sing in the day. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but the skillful singer is he who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by.... Songs in the night come only from God; they are not in the power of men.”
When we find ourselves in one of the bitter prisons of life, and we turn to the Lord for the help we need to make it through that prison, God can turn our sighing into song. He can turn our trials into testimony. He can turn our pain into praise. He can take a time of profound heartache and transform it into a time great help.
May God help us to do as many of the great
saints of God have done. May He help us to have a song in the midnight hour.
May He help us to be like Job,
C. A Place Of Powerful Ministry – “and the prisoners heard them” – This phrase means that the other prisoners were “listening intently” to Paul and Silas as they prayed and praised the Lord. They were amazed by what they were hearing! Here were two men who had been severely beaten, carelessly thrown into the inner prison and fastened down in the stocks. Yet, they are not moaning and groaning. They are praising their God and singing love songs to him. That is a powerful ministry!
I would just remind you that a lost world is watching you and me as go through our prison experiences. They could care less about us when we are filled with joy and everything is going well; but they are all eyes and ears when trouble comes into our lives. They watch us to see how we will react when the pressure is place on our lives. They want to see if our faith is real when we go into the prison house of suffering.
III. v. 26-33 IT IS A PLACE OF MAJESTY
A. v. 26 The Majesty Of God’s Power – Notice the language of this verse: Suddenly, foundations of prison shaken, immediately – This is a verse packed with action! All of a sudden, God moved in power and one moment all the prisoners were chained down and the next moment, they were all free! One moment, things looked bleak, but in the next moment, the power of the Lord changed the situation and things began to look better!
Did you notice that even though they were free, they were still in prison? They were made free while they were still in their prison experience. God can and will do that in your life. When He does, it is a display of awesome, Almighty power!)
B. v. 27-33
The Majesty Of God’s
Providence – Why did God allow these men to go through this prison? All
they had done was serve the Lord! After that are released, they go meet with
the brethren and immediately leave town. Is it possible that God allowed Paul
and Silas to be beaten, thrown into prison and locked in the stocks just so He
might use them in
What we face in life is part of God’s plan
for us. His plan is a good plan and He knows what He is doing. Our duty is to
trust Him at all times and realize that even the things that hurt us are sent
to grow us and to shape our lives for His glory, Heb. 12:6-12;
Conc: When the prison door slams behind you and you find yourself locked down tight in the shackles of your pain and problems, you may feel that there is no reason to praise the Lord. If you will turn your heart toward Heaven, He will hear you and He will help you to lift your voice in praise to Him. You will also find that He will give you peace in your heart that He will use your prison for His glory and for your good.
Malcolm Muggeridge, a Christian writer, said this, “Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.”
If you are in a prison experience today let me encourage you to bring your need to Him. Let me encourage you to allow Him to turn your prison of pain into a prison of praise. If there are needs, bring them to Him.