The apostle Paul lived a life of hardship as a messenger of the gospel, yet he never lost heart and always glorified God through his experiences. On one particular occasion he and his companion Silas, had just cast a spirit of divination out of a slave girl. The girl’s owners were very unhappy and had Paul and Silas stripped, severely beaten, and thrown into a maximum security prison. See Acts 16:16-24
But Paul and Silas are men of God who understand that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 Many believers today seem to have forgotten this truth and instead of worshiping the God of the present they focus on the next life where one day things will be blissful and they will be free of the troubles of this world.
Take a look at the response of Paul and Silas to what is certainly a potentially devastating situation. We read in Acts 16:25 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Several years ago I did a study on the word “hymns” in this passage and what I discovered changed my understanding of this passage forever.
The Greek word here is the word hymneō and refers to the “great Hallel” (Psalm 113-118&136) My first discovery was that Paul and Silas weren’t singing “The Sweet By-and -By” or “I’ll Fly Away”. No, they were singing God’s word which is filled with promises and prophetic declarations. If you’ll take the time to study these passages of scripture the first thing that hits you is: a call to worship the Lord. Psalm 113:1 says, “Praise the Lord!” or another translation is “Hallelujah!” It’s obvious that Paul and Silas knew that no matter what they went through God is good and deserves praise.
Now these passages are rich with truths and I encourage you to study them for yourself, but to whet your appetite let’s look at two passages that will confirm what they were singing and also reinforce the power of prophetic declaration through song.
Psalm 114:7 “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob,” Psalm 116:16 “O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.”
Now look at Acts 16:26 “Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”
Paul and Silas sat beaten and naked in a dark and dirty prison and began to invoke the presence of God through songs that declared His promises. They called for the earth to tremble at His presence and the earth trembled. They declared their identity as servants of God and that God had loosed their bonds and the God of the present broke through the darkness and invaded their situation and everyone around was loosed from their bondage.
When we find ourselves in times of trouble we must believe that God is the God of the present and that no matter what the situation He can breakthrough, but we must posture ourselves for victory by calling on the presence of the Lord. We must use the greatest weapon He has given us, His word.
But to use His word effectively we must believe that He is a rewarded of those who seek Him, Heb 11:6. We can declare God’s promises over our lives until we’re blue in the face, but until we come into the reality of who we are and Who He is it is all for naught. We must change our mindsets and renew our minds to the fact that God is still in the business of rescuing us in the here and now.
I challenge you the next time you are in a challenge to call on the presence of the Lord and declare what His word says He will do. He promises He won’t disappoint.
God bless you all,