16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
Just because a person is talking like a Christian it doesn’t mean it is coming from the Spirit of God. I have experienced this on many occasions from those who wish to deceive.
18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
You would have thought good going Paul, you casted out a demon and now this girl is in her right mind. But this didn’t happen; the owners got angry and told the magistrates that they are troublemakers. This is so like today’s world. You do something that is considered good in the eyes of God and someone else thinks you are doing evil. It’s called persecution.
22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Here we have Paul and Silas beaten, doing no wrong, complete injustice in their case. What would we do? Sing praises or get mad?
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
This is faith to the fullest. They could not have sung unless they had abandoned themselves into the hands of an all sovereign God. What was in their hearts was flowing right out of their mouths. They couldn’t help themselves, so true with the scripture that says…
Luke 6:45 (KJV)
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
Praise opens prison doors. What is it we are battling with today? Where are we imprisoned in our minds? What has brought us into a prison where we need freedom? What has locked us up where light only seeps through a cracked wall?
How do we change our hearts from captivity into freedom? It is praise and worship.
Sometimes we have to go back and remember our first love. It believes God gives us promises that He will fulfill. Praise is not a new CD on the top 10 Christian radio station. It comes from the heart. It shakes the foundations of the world and resurrects a foundation built upon solid rock.
Who is the keeper of the prison, those who would wish to imprison us in darkness, without the light of Jesus Christ. Here the scripture says the keeper was woken out of his sleep. How? By the testimony of God’s Spirit working on behalf of the believer, Paul and Silas were shown to be set free.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
When we feel like prison doors are closing in on us from oppression, doubt, despair, injustice it is not our first response to begin praising God. Following Paul and Silas’ example can bring us the breakthrough we need.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
We never know how God is going to use our praises!