The first time Paul and Silas set foot on European soil they get a fine initial welcome from God-fearing Lydia. But then things turn ugly.
Paul and Silas free a slave girl from an evil spirit. That runs them into deep trouble with the girl’s owners, who had profited handsomely from her misery. Angry about their loss of revenue, they take revenge by having the missionaries flogged and thrown into jail. Paul and Silas must stand uprights throughout the long night with their feet painfully secured in stocks.
Despite their agony God gives them the power to endure and to turn this calamity into an opportunity to spread the gospel. They keep on “praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” That the Spirit gives them such power of faithful endurance is miracle enough. But then God sends a violent earthquake that throws open the prison doors and frees the prisoners from their chains. The jailer goes into a panic. If his prisoners escape, he knows he will be publicly humiliated, tortured, and executed—along with his family. To forestall those horrors, he’s about to take his own life.
Paul intervenes. Looking beyond his own agony, he reaches out to the desperately lost soul. Paul reassures the Philippian jailer that the prisoners have not escaped. This leads the jailer to ask the question: “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas show him how to escape not just the wrath of earthly authorities but also the judgment of eternal God.
Hearing the gospel, the jailer believes and is baptized, along with his whole household. He’s instantly transformed. Before his conversion he was a needlessly cruel “host.” He gave Paul and Silas a very rude welcome. But now the jailer treats them with genuine hospitality. Incredibly, this new and surprising way of living pops up in someone who has been a believer for less than ten minutes! From there it can only get better.
Here’s your chance to practice worshiping God anywhere, just like Paul and Silas did! Wherever you go this week, challenge each other to worship God. Start up a song and your family members will likely join you. You can memorize this simple phrase: In song and prayer, God is there.