I read an article in the Wall Street Journal today that listed everything wrong in the world today, well, not all of it.
Before that, I read that a huge group of gas stations in Nevada that has gaming devices in each station was being foreclosed on. The federal government was a bit concerned about going into the gaming business, so they decided to sell the loan. The family that owned the gas station company bought the loan for 50% of it’s original value, thereby cutting their debt in half.
Someone in Florida is naming a ball park after Alex Rodriguez. Grrr.
In Acts 16, we find Paul and Silas in Philippi. They are doing their best to teach and build the church. A young girl starts following them around shouting “These men are servants from the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”
- They were getting acclaim in the local “press”.
- Someone, finally, was listening to them.
- It all felt wrong.
- Her words were very similar to that of a demonized man who spoke to Jesus in Mark 5:7
- Getting acclaim for serving God isn’t usually the norm.
- Having God called the Most High God by non-Christians is highly suspect.
Finally, Paul just turned to her and cast the demon out.
Now, things were back to normal, and before long, they found themselves beaten and thrown in jail. Have you ever noticed that when things are going great, when we are getting acclaim, our temptation is to ‘lean on our own understanding’? We look to ourselves, our own resources, our thinking – the physical – for answers. When the chips are against us, we are back to the only resource that really has power – Jesus.
I don’t know what midnight feels like to you. Sometimes to me it is from emotional pressure, sometimes it comes from physical circumstances. Sometimes it just comes from an insurmountable amount of negative news.
Paul and Silas experienced a midnight miracle that was not only personal, but it was transformational for those around them. How?
They practiced praise. Imagine with me:
“Paul, you awake?”
“Yeah… umph.” Paul groaned and he switched positions. “Boy they did me good this time. How about you?”
“I’ll make it. I was just thinking about the night sky and all those stars. How many of them there are. When they were beating me, I felt so…”
“Little? Yeah – there might only be five of them, but there seems to be 10 or more standing around jeering – then the crowd. You feel like you are an ant by the time they are done.”
“That’s what I’m talking about.” Silas shifted, pushing himself up against the wall the held him captive. “What I was thinking about was that if God can hold all those stars in place, then He is bigger than anything I can imagine.”
There was silence for a moment as both men took in the image. The slowly, Paul’s old craggly voice began “My God is so great, so strong and so mighty…”
“There’s Nothing That My God Can’t Do” Silas joined in with gusto. The stone walls seemed to lean in a bit at first to hear the song, then as the duo increased in strength, their song began to reverberate and the walls seemed to pulse. When they’d sung that song through a couple times, their spirits were gaining strength.
“When I get to heaven gunna walk all around…” pretty soon the other prisoners could not only hear their songs, but if you could see their faces, you would see tears streaming down their faces. The Spirit of God inhabits the praises of His people, and in that jail, that night, the presence of God’s Spirit was palpable. First they were warmed, then their hearts shook. In fact, when the earth started shaking, they didn’t notice at first, because they were being shaken from the inside as well.
As the earthquake strengthened, the jail doors fell open, shackles fell off. Prisoners were set free, but they had already been freed in their hearts. They had experienced the true presence of God. All anyone could do was sit in awe.
Does it really bug you that the rich seem to get richer while the poor get poorer? I challenge you to read Malachi 3:6-4:3.
Do you need a midnight miracle? Join me in a chorus. “My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing that my God can’t do.”