Faith. Always an ongoing process. We go through seasons of changes in our faith: summer can mean growth and celebration; fall can mean letting go; winter can mean a dark time of loss or waiting; and spring can mean new or fresh starts.
I’ve experienced many winters of faith. Sometimes feeling imprisoned by faith…waiting, longing, wondering what will happen next. But there is one thing I have learned in the midst of it all…praise changes things, even if it is only my attitude! My praises show my trust and faith that the Lord will work out His purpose. Just as Paul and his companions…
Paul. Asleep. At night. A man appeared to him in a vision. The man pleaded, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (Acts 16:9b Amp)
Immediately, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke, and possibly others set sail for Macedonia, confident that God called them to go there and proclaim the gospel. Landing in Philippi, they stayed for several days.
And were they welcomed with open arms? Well, yes and no.
After preaching, the men baptized Lydia, a seller of purple, and her household. But then…
One day, on their way to the place of prayer, a demon-possessed slave girl, who earned money for her masters by fortune-telling, kept shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” (Acts 16:17 NLT)
After several days of this, Paul became so annoyed that he turned to her and commanded the spirit to come out of her in Jesus’ name. And it left her.
Seeing their hope for profit suddenly disappear, the owners of the slave dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities in the marketplace, charging them with troubling the city and teaching unlawful things.
Their obedience got them flogged, imprisoned, and shackled.
And what did they do? Mope, whine, complain, question God and shake their fists at Him? No?
In the dark hours of night, shackled behind bars for their faith and obedience, the men lifted up sweet prayers and hymns of praise that echoed throughout the prison walls.
And what did God do? Leave them there to suffer and die? No? What did He do?
“Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.” (Acts 16:26 Msg)
Hearing the men’s praises, God released His power. He delivered them, brought them out miraculously! And sent them on their way to finish carrying out His call.
And what do I do?
Though I step out in faith, God does not always release me. I am here, confined in my faith, in peace, obeying what the Lord has called me to do.
, which defined means any warning sound of death, or to ring a bell slowly, solemnly, especially at a funeral.
The shackles of confinement fall away; the bars of imprisonment break apart.
, for “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NIV)
Imprisonment is a condition of the heart, not circumstances. Why do caged birds sing? Because their hearts are free. Songs of freedom come from the heart, not circumstances.
And what do you do?
Have you ever stepped out in faith and obedience to a command of God and all chaos broke loose? Or had some trial or unsettling condition surround you with bars of confinement?
Maybe your peace and confidence deflated like a punctured balloon. Maybe you felt shackled and held hostage like Paul. You probably doubted hearing the voice of the Lord. However, encountering contrary circumstances does not mean you misunderstood the Still Small Voice.
No, my friend, you just encountered the headwind of the enemy. In fact, that opposition can confirm a right choice. So, whether you are like Paul and released or like me and still confined, begin to praise the Lord in those dark hours and watch Him go to work.
***I felt led to rerun this post. Praying for all who read this.