Daily Thought - "the Prisoners Are Listening To You – What Will They Hear?"

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. – Acts 16: 25 (NLT)

    I think sometimes we can fail to take seriously our responsibility as Christians. I know we do not like to talk about matters such as heaven and hell, especially in the new church growth theologies, but we need to remind ourselves what is at stake. I am always stunned to hear the enthusiasm Christians display at the thought of Jesus coming back soon. Quite frankly I think it is selfish. What about our unsaved family members? What about our unsaved friends? What about the person in the pew next to you that thinks they are saved but are not? There is a real place called heaven, where God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more pain and suffering. There is a real place called hell, where people will spend eternity separated from their Creator. I know these topics do not draw high offering numbers so too many preachers these days leave it alone. God help those who need to hear the Gospel from us because while evangelism is a gift – witnessing is everyone’s responsibility.

    Has it ever occurred to you that YOU might be the only chance someone has to see Jesus in action? YOU might be the only chance they get to hear the Gospel message. YOU might be the only saved person on their friends list on Facebook. They might have 200 friends bombarding them with the lies this world sells and the misery of the enemy with every post and then they have you. That one person they know that goes to church and believes in God. What do they see? Are we any different than the 200? Are we just as hateful, mean-spirited, bigoted, nasty, or distasteful? Or are we salt in their world of unpreserved conversations? Are we light penetrating the incessant darkness they live in? I have told this story before but I had an employee who worked for me who was saved. Everything was Jesus and everyone knew it. I had another employee at that time who was unsaved and could not stand the saved woman. She would try and start fights with her, complain about her to management and eventually even filed a complaint with the Human Resources department of my company to try and get her fired. The saved employee never gave into her flesh. She simply returned love for the hate she received. She returned mercy for the merciless treatment she received. No matter what was thrown at her – it was still Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – with love. When the other woman’s life fell apart who do you think she ran to? She ran to the woman who only returned love for the hate she was giving and she was led to the foot of the cross and God saved her. What does God’s Word teach us?

    Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. – Colossians 4: 6 (NLT)

    It would have been understandable from a worldly perspective for the saved woman to respond in kind to the harassment she was receiving. But she understood that her life was no longer her own. Her responsibilities were now much larger than the pettiness of this earth. She understood that this woman needed to know Christ. She needed to see Christ. So the question God is asking us today is – how are our conversations? Are they gracious and attractive? Are they seasoned with salt to provide the flavor of God and the preservation of the Holy Spirit? How are our responses to people? Do we have the right response for people or do we give as we get? Can people tell that there is anything different about us when they hear us talk? How about when they see us post on Facebook? How about from our tweets? Do they see the love of Christ or the judgment of religion? Do they see the humility of Christ or the unbridled arrogance of religion? Let us always reflect to Scripture:

    You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. – Philippians 2: 5-8 (NLT)

    We are supposed to aspire to be Christlike. To have the attitude of Jesus. Humble and obedient. Because in a world of complete uncertainty I can promise you one thing beloved – people are watching you. If they know you are a believer they are watching you. The people in this world are desperate for God even if they do not know it. He is what they are chasing because He is what is missing in their lives. They are dying for a reason to believe just as much as they are willing to accept a reason to not believe. The question is which will we give them?

    The key verse for today comes from when Paul and Silas were sitting in prison. They were under heavy guard and their feet clamped into the stocks in the inner dungeon. Stocks were not merely designed to ensure the prisoners were secure but also to inflict pain and punishment. Most theology for this verse surrounds how two people could still sit there in the middle of one of the worst experiences in their lives and sing praises unto God. However, I want to focus on the end of the verse, which a lot of people cast aside. God wastes nothing in His Word beloved. It says that the other prisoners were listening. Can you imagine? They all saw these two dragged in after being beaten with rods and stripped of their clothes. They saw them dragged into the inner dungeon and clamped into the stocks. Yet all of a sudden from the inner dungeon they start hearing…”How great…is my God…sing with me…” What must they have been thinking? How does something like this affect people? Scripture as always gives the answer:

    Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” – Acts 16: 26-28 (NLT)

    Did you catch the really important part there? WE ARE ALL HERE. The other prisoners must have been positively affected because when offered their opportunity to make a run for it they chose to stay with Paul and Silas!!! On top of that the jailer then asks how he too can be saved!

    Just like that woman in my office all those years ago. Beloved, the prisoners are listening. They need to hear Jesus. They need to see Jesus. We might be their only chance to really see and hear Him. Not in tones of condemnation and judgment but rather in sweet melodies of grace and mercy. Jesus went to that old wooden cross for them too. I thank God my friend Annie didn’t give up on witnessing to me. The world doesn’t give up its own without a fight. Thankfully we do not need the weapons of this world to defeat the forces of darkness. We just need faith to pray and the understanding that everywhere we go – people are watching us. Every post we make on Facebook or tweet we send – people are listening to us. The prisoners to this world are watching and listening; praying for the key to open their cell doors. Jesus is that key and we might be their only chance to reach for it.

    Rev. Anthony
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